Need a subwoofer reccomendation.....


My former subwoofer, the Klipsch RW-12d blew its amp board after only 3 years of very "light" work. Just slightly out of warranty, too. After some discussions with Klipsch, I was told a new amp board would cost $256 plus S&H costs both ways or I could drop it off at their local repair facility to save some money in Holland, MI.

I am in Dallas, TX.

Yeah. Since the entire subwoofer only cost $350 through Newegg (on Super sale on one Saturday only), I am not about to pay that kind of money to repair it. Incidentally, I would also like to say the Klipsch tech's attitude was very...un-Klipsch like if you remember Klipsch from back in the day as I do. I point blank asked him if they'd been acquired by Pioneer :) I mention this so that people that might be looking at Klipsch gear right now know that certain things have changed there in just the last few years so...buyer beware.

On to my question...I need a new sub (not THAT kind of sub) and my price range is around $500. I can stretch to $600 if I have to but my wife will start really yelling if I go above $500.

I have conferred with a couple of close friends and we are mostly in agreement and I am staring at the HSU models in that range as well as the Sunfire models. Sunfire makes both a $500 sub and a $600 one but if memory serves, I heard they were having some QC problems when they first came out. Did they ever get those issues cleared up? I am very happy to see they offer a 5 year warranty on all their subs (which is a lot considering you potentially can abuse both an amp and a speaker if you screw around).

The blown Klipsch worked fine in my media room. Here are the specifics....

20x20x13 in feet so a lot of cubic space to fill. The rest of the system is beautiful vintage equipment....

B&K ST-202+ Sonata amp (1993), matching B&K Pro-10 MC Sonata preamp, Oppo Digital BDP-105 as the source, and Monitor Audio Silver RS 8 speakers (10 years old now, I guess they are vintage, too).

You would not believe how beautiful this system sounds. would not REALLY want to listen to a string quartet on it (though you could, the B&K gear DOES have that "soft" tube-like much as you can get from MOSFET electronics) but it truly shines with Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, pretty much all electronic dance music (I drove my wife out of the room playing Chemical Bothers over and over), and it does not do bad at all with large classical pieces like Beethoven's 9th. I highly recommend those Monitor Audio speakers.

But in the end, in a room that size, it was just missing a little punch on the lower end. And a subwoofer is the answer unless I wish to break down the whole system and start over with something more powerful. I can hear my wife screaming even as I type that.

So, HSU, Sunfire, and I am open to any other suggestions you all may have for subs in the $500-$600 range that will will blend nicely with electronics like that, in a room that size.

Thanks for any and all replies...

The speakers you have are very good. I had a pair myself in a room about the same size as yours. Since you already have all the equipment, I recommend you do a simple experiment. Try running your Oppo directly into the amp using the Oppo's built in volume control. With your preamp bypassed, and using some CD's you know well, see how the bass now sounds. I know this may sound like a weird suggestion, but it can actually tell you a lot about your system.
I agree with high bouncer...You have a beautiful vintage MUSIC system and should add a modest "musical" sub!
REL shows up often on the Gon and mostly because people are going higher in the brand's range...
A little patience and barter and you will walk away with a great deal that may be under warranty still! If you go this route save up for their new cables...
A new warranty is nothing to sneeze at but the sound is what a system like yours would benefit from!

Good luck,

Grab that Bag End Infrasub 18 for $450. Problem solved for big room bass under your budget. Your wife might leave for good though.
I recommend that (now) is the time you really need to focus on your room and be confident in your listening skills. You can spend $k's of dollars on equipment, but you'll never achieve total satisfaction until you've done your due diligence regarding the two things I mentioned above. Spend hours refining your listening skills and introducing different room acoustic treatments while evaluating them. While not sexy and a lot of work, you will be amazed at the rewards and money saved down the road. Buying new equipment will only result in you not really knowing what you may or may not need.
This idea of running the OPPO straight to the amp never occurred to me! Yes, in retrospect, I know it can be done, there is very little an OPPO cannot do but I just never put 2 and 2 together on this one. I guess I am getting old. I saw a blown component and thought, "Blown sub, need a new sub."

Huh. I do NOT think it is a weird suggestion at all. Suggestions like this are why I asked. It is a part of getting older, I suppose. Stuff like this does not occur to you. Thanks to you both for the suggestion!
I think Hsu and SVS have the best value for all around subs for music and movies. REL wins for just music because it is sealed and not ported, fast response to transients, accurate bass for orchestra and acoustic bass, and is virtually silent in the room. You know when your sub is properly tuned when you don't know it's there, until you turn it off.
Q: Is your sub really "blown"?
My B&W ASW685 stopped working but it was only a blown fuse (fixed it myself).
This could be your problem.
No, sadly, the amp board is blown. The tech and I went through the steps several times. There are no external fuses and the tech said there were no internal fuses, either.......

However, it IS out of warranty, I think I shall open it up just to make sure. Wouldn't it be a great money making scheme to charge people $256 for a "new" amp board when the repair is actually a simple $8 fuse. Note; I am not accusing Klipsch of doing this, I am simply keeping mind :)

Thanks for the tip!
Yes, I called B&W tech (in L.A.) who said "send me the board". As I had to open the box anyway, I looked around (on the board) and found the fuse. I removed and took to a freelance elec-tech here in 'Vegas who provided some new ones.
Popped it in and it worked fine!
Now, if you purchased your RW-12d new within 5 years and
New Egg is an authorized Klipsch dealer, then you should
be covered under factory warranty. If not authorised,
then of course you are on your own.

I know of two or three people who sent their RW-12d's amp
boards to Sybesma's Electronics
and the total cost was around $200.00 but that was a
couple of years ago. May be the same or more now. Funny
thing is that I have owned my RW-10d since 2007 and RSW-
10d since 2008 with never a problem at all.

With that said, you must decide if the
"trouble" is worth it. Personally, I think the
RW-12d is acceptable for HT but so so for music. IMO,
not up to par for music with your B&K, Oppo, and Monitor
Audio rig. If you could stretch your budget a bit, maybe
an SVS SB2000 would do the trick.

I think that there should be a fuse for the amp elements. It is unusual to have none at all especially with the kind of power that subs use. Speakers don't always have fuses I think most don't.
Have not cracked the case yet so I am not sure if a fuse is involved but I did follow up on some suggestions. I found a new REL T7 under full factory warranty from an authorized dealer and since a few of you have at least heard these (more than I can say), can you give me a clue how that sub might compare to the Sunfire SDS-12? The best part is the REL T7 is on sale for the very same price as the Sunfire sub. It seems the dealer needs to clear some floor space because he is bringing in new Sumiko subs. So....I could be getting an $1,100 sub for the same price as the SDS-12 (about $600).

What do you think?

Oh, and FWIW, nearly all my applications are for music, a tiny bit of HT, and a bit more for gaming (Xbox One). But almost entirely for music. I am an old, stuck in the mud, 2 channel-only, aging gracelessly audiophile geek.

Thanks again for all the replies!
You may want to check out this list of the best subwoofers under $500 on the Poor Audiophile:

I would also add HSU to the mix of subs to consider on this list within your price range with my personal preference being to SVS and HSU.
I don't like making recommendations without having first hand experience with a product, so don't take the following literally, or in any way conclusive. Traditionally, Rel has been a sub you would buy for 2 channel music. The Carver is more of a theater product. If you're just using the sub for music, Rel is probably a safe bet. If I were in a position where I couldn't demo and had to take a chance, I would go with the Rel. But remember, that's just my best guess. I could be wrong.
My concern with Rel is that they have limited hook-up options.
I think they insist that you run speaker wire to them and don't have line-level inputs?
Am I totally off-base here?
No, sir, Dweller, you are right. After doing some image searching across the Web, the REL T7 lacks the line-level inputs the Sunfire has which does limit you to running speaker wire to them. This is an important factor in my equation because it makes my (somewhat expensive) interconnect I was using with the Klipsch superfluous and it also means I would need to purchase a new length of rather pricey speaker cable to run to the REL T7.


I have no problem with devoting an entire weekend to dialing in a new sub after spending another $200 on speaker fact, the 25 year old version of me would totally enjoy spending weeks and weeks doing that.

THIS version of me would like to spend a few hours doing a somewhat easier hook up with cables I already own and then retire to the couch to listen to the Crystal Method while sipping from a drink with a little umbrella in it. Line-level inputs make that scenario much more likely.

I do confess I find it odd that a $1,200 subwoofer lacks line-level inputs...or inputs of any other kind. From the photos I saw, there is only ONE WAY to connect this to your system and that is by using speaker wire. Hmmm.
Moot point. Someone just bought the REL T7 I was looking at....
Yes, something about wanting your amp to feed the Rel so it will have the same character as what's coming out of your speakers?
This makes sense but I'd rather have the option if the sub has its own amp.
The marketing hype from REL about speaker connections
maintaining the character of the power amp never made sense
to me, because it assumes that the amp in the sub is
totally transparent. It's hard to believe that an
audiophile that frets over the 3 inch binding strap on
speakers buys that argument.

I think a more plausible reason for Richard Lord originally
using speaker cables, is that integrated amps dominated
their market at the time (probably still do in Europe) and
those integrated amps didn't provide line level outputs.

So what was originally a necessity is now a desired
feature. That's marketing.
I second Tgrisham's suggestion of SVS and HSU. SVS has sealed models based on a 12" driver; HSU's sealed model uses a 15" driver. I've owned both (currently have a pair of the HSUs).
"I was using with the Klipsch superfluous and it also means I would need to purchase a new length of rather pricey speaker cable to run to the REL T7."

There's no need to buy expensive speaker cables to connect the Rel. In this application its just not needed. A basic, well made cable is all you need. A spool of Monster, or something similar is more than enough.

There are some benefits for doing it this way. If you're interested, go to Vandersteen's web site and download the manual for the 2qw sub. They do a really good job explaining the technicial aspects. For the most part, the info is generic and not vandersteen specific.
I never had or heard a sub in a 2 channel audio system that was worth its weight. I have heard subs from M&K, Martin Logan, Velodyne, and it wasn't until I added a REL to my system that the whole picture finally was there in front of me :-) I own this primarily to the fact that the REL is hooked up to the same taps as my main speakers and therefore is receiving input signal from the same out put as the mains. This allows a seamless integration and is by no means the dominate sound in my system I love NEVER having to "play with the volume" whenever I change a CD or vinyl. Also, for me its not about maintaining the character of my amplifier (that's done by the main speakers) through the sub. If the sub is integrated properly really amazing things start happening. Lastly, ill say that REL made me turn my whole thinking around when it came to subwoofers, how they sound and how they connect. The forward firing woofer and voice coil of the REL is the best I have heard in a 2 channel system. Not sure about finding a good used one for around $500 maybe...
A guy starts a thread asking for advice on a new sub. He mentions he's super happy with his system at present and gives a budget limit. He immediately gets told he needs to hone his listening skills and gets the hard sell treatment. Good grief, no wonder this board has no little activity.

Stereoisomer, your system is fine and your hearing is fine. You know what you like, which is half the battle. The advice you got from your friends is good. Hsu and SVS are very good options, they are among the top sub manufacturers that sell Internet Direct, which is the very best bang for buck. Buy used and you don't get a warranty and may be buying someone else's abused sub.

I know HSU, since I own one of their products, and can confidently say that they would never treat you as Klipsch did. Their subs sound very good for the money. SVS is also very well regarded. You would get an improvement over the Klipsch with either company. I'd suggest narrowing it down with a model or two from each company and then phoning them directly with questions ready to go.
I looked up a review of this sub and it said Speakon connectors on each end of a 12 gage cable were used as a specialty Neutrik connector wire. The cable was over $100. Nuts. You can buy Speakon connectors for under $10 each (with shipping) and make your own cable. The Speakon connectors are used normally for portable speakers for performing. They are a very nice connector and I put them with females on my living room wall to carry signals to surround speakers. It is a tough reach around my equipment cabinet and these can plug in blind for me. They twist and lock into place till you want to remove them but do not pull loose without the turn to unlock them. My cable from there to my amp uses a Speakon for the wall end and a banana pair at the other end to plug into the amp output. I used 3 single Speakon 4 line connectors to run a three pair of surrounds (side, ceiling atmos and rear pairs). LEts me connect 6 speakers with only 3 connectors that way so less chance of errors working blind. I really see no reason to use Speakon connectors unless this sub has only a female Speakon for the input connector. If so go to parts express
and pick up the appropriate Speakon connector to fit the sub and use a banana or whatever fits your amp output on the other end of any decent wire you wish to use. I do not understand if you are feeding an amp output to a sub amp why you are really carrying any appreciable current but may just be using a simple way of connecting equipment with an impedance matching resistor for the input of the speaker amp. You could probably use 18 gage wire if you wanted! If you are feeding the amp of the speaker with an amp output it is set up like some car audio. For good wire at a reasonable cost try bluejeans cable. I really doubt that using the fancy wire makes a bit of difference from using a good flexible wire with a banana plug or other amp type connector unless the input to the sub is only Speakon female.
If so it seems likely that this sub is not really designed primarily for home use. The Speakon connectors are really good for frequent connect/disconnect sturdy connectors for mobile equipment. They lock into place so are easy to plug in and stay in place till you want to remove them. Bananna plugs come out easily and are not ideal for a stage use for performers.
I second Mattmiller on the REL. I just bought a Rel G1 and it is stunning. Without being broken in yet(maybe 30 hours) and waiting for a custom speakon cord, it does so many things my Svs PB13 ultra didn't do. The remote is definitely a bonus when adjusting volume or crossover. I played some sound effects and actually found my ears to hurt as the room pressurized so I had to back off the overall volume. Everything in my room sounded like it was vibrating apart. Simply stunning.......
j---As you are in Dallas, you may be willing to take a trip to Austin to visit the headquarters of Rythmik Audio, maker of a line of unusually good subwoofers. Rythmik's owner/designer Brian Ding is not an ordinary Hi-Fi guy, having a PhD in Electrical Engineering. He has created a patented subwoofer design he named Direct Servo Feedback. His subs (both sealed and ported, as well as an OB/Dipole model designed in conjunction with Danny Richie of GR Research, known for his high-value OB speaker DIY kits) are making converts of perfectionist sub dislikers such as myself, one by one. Ignore Rythmik at your own loss!
+1 on Rythmik... fantastic subs, and right in your neighborhood (down in Austin). they have a couple of models in your price range. you could do a (whole) lot worse than bryan's subs.
I'll always recommend a visit to for a look a the excellent and detailed subwoofer tests. You'll see that Rythmik, Hsu, SVS, and a select few others tend to perform very well for both ultimate low end extension and high distortion free output, as well as group delay (commonly called "speed" in many of these threads). Some of the better known brands don't fare nearly as well. The final proof is in the listening, but a little performance data is useful, too IMO.