musical sub

I need to improve my system with a compatible sub for my system as it has evolved so far. My primary concern is the musicality, although Home Theatre is important, it is not as important as the music enjoyment. We watch a lot of music dvd's and play lots and lots of CD's, and of course third is the home theatre.

For reference, the main pieces of my system so far are:

McCormack HT5 amp (5 channel)
Anthem D2 processor w/ Arc
B&W Nautilus series 804 fronts, HT2 ctr, SCM surrounds
McCormack UDP1 disk player (the upgraded model)
Dennon 3800BDI blu ray player

What I am looking for is something that will add to the system, is very musical, and that will survive eventual component upgrades as I learn more and refine the sound.

Any suggestions on the sub? (or equipment)

Maybe I should explain my unique and probably not common version of "musical". I completely appreciate the tube versus digital sound distinctions. With all due respect for that issue, I may be looking for something that is somewhat halfway between both worlds.

I and my sons are guitar players. As such, I want the details and clarity and the nuances for each instrument that digital gives, but I also love and appreciate the warmth that often makes the performance and voicing more musical and avoids the listener fatigue problems. We watch a lot of music DVD's (some Blu Ray) and get to carefully watch the musicians in action and pick up tecniques and licks. I have heard musical tube systems that are warm but muddy without the detail, and digital systems with details galore but a shrill sound without soul; so neither of those fits me personally.

We have quite a few tube and non tube guitar amps, and each one is fine for their own purposes. I love my favorite tube guitar amp and it is my primary amp, but the digital ones are quite good also and I use them too. I know more about those components than I do about the high end audio equipment that many of you have obviously mastered.

I appreciate all of the advice here and am looking to learn from those who know more and have already gone through this. It is also nice to see this without the blogging wars some sites have.

Thanks and any advice is appreciated. You can see by my name here how I view myself in this arena.

When I started I may have bought some components I would not have chosen now. Time can correct that.

I agree with most in this thread- selection of components can take care of a lot of bass issues. Your B&W's are excellent speakers. They roll off at what, 38 Hz? Good for most everything except pipe organs. However, another consideration that affects bass, be it good or bad, is the room. It's much more difficult to compensate for room acoustics. Big, huge space, you're gonna have some issues with bass. Some would say the biggest factor is in fact the listening space. I think that's a fair statement. I had to have a subwoofer when I went to monitors. The music was thin sounding without it. But you have to find something that's going to integrate well into your system- something that's fast, flexible and will "disappear", otherwise, you'll just have a deep, annoying thump augmenting (or interfering with) the B&W's. You've got to find your own sweet spot, what appeals most to you. "Musicality" is a very subjective term- what sounds good to you is "musical" and it may sound like garbage to someone else. I had a sub before the JL that just kind of tossed a low "hum" out there, and it was indeed annoying. The JL doesn't do that for me. It blends. Some may think my system now sounds less musical, but that's their opinion. I'm the one that listens to it every day, just as you do with your rig. Music, cars, your guitar amp that you prefer- those are YOUR tastes. In the long run, isn't that all that really matters to you? A friend of mine plays guitar, and he despises tube amps for his axe. You prefer your tube amp for yours. See my drift here? You've received some very good choices for a sub in this thread, lots of options. Maineiac brings up the valid point of losing musicality with a sub. But, in the end, it's all up to what you think sounds best for your tastes. If you believe you need a subwoofer, go for it. They're your ears.
a subwoofer that is properly integrated and dialed in can take a system to the next level.

this was hard to accomplish even a few years ago but newer models and systems that employ room correction features make it very easy to do.

there is no reason to not have a true full range system in this day and age.
Check out ACI. Their subs are musical and reasonably priced.

Interesting post, thanks.

You have quite a system and obviously put a lot of thought and experience into it. One item on my system that you mentioned was the B&W's. That brand seems to have strong fans and equally strong detractors, I am not completely sure on them myself as time goes on. I'm not sure as sometimes they seem too bright, but other times quite nice and enjoyable.