Need help with Kinergetics Subs - Newbie

Total newbie question here...

Denon 2805 receiver
Spica TC-50 mains
Kinergetics SW-200 subs
Jamo S3 surround

I have a pair of Kinergetics SW-200 subs that have a problem that I need help troubleshooting. If you're not familiar with these older subs, they are a left and right sub each with two 10" cone speakers. Since my Denon 2805 only has one sub pre-amp out, I split this signal and feed to the L/R channels on the Kinergetics amp.

The problem is when the bass gets to a moderate level, the right sub box (again with two 10" speakers in it) starts to make a loud jackhammering staticy type sound. One of those wrong sounds that makes you run to turn down the volume before your system blows up. Both of the speakers in the right box seem to break down at the same time, so I'm not sure if it the speaker cones / coils or something with the electronics in the box. I usually blow a fuse soon after, too.

I don't see any visible cone damage and the subs sound fine at lower volume levels.

The left speaker box will make the same sound but only at a much higher level. The right speaker box definitely has the problem long before the left does. Am I just pushing the subs too hard for home theatre? They seem to be made to be a very subtle sub.

Anyone familiar with Kinergetic Subs? Are they right for home theatre or am I just trying to do something they weren't made for? I always thought "a sub is a sub" and can be used for multiple applcations, but maybe these aren't cut out for HT.

Anyone have ideas of what the problem is?

Thanks for any ideas / help!

Have you tried swapping the cabinets around i.e. hook the existing right sub up to the left sub output on the amp and vice-versa? This will tell you if it is actually the cabinet or a problem in the amp. If it is the amp, then try swapping the interconnects around between the splitter and the sub amp. If it always stays on the same side of the amp, the amp needs repair. If the problem follows the individual cabinet, the cabinet needs attention.

No, not all subs are created equally. Sean
I have owned the Kinergetics SW-200 for about 12 years now and have had the problem you are referring to. The amp section is the culprit, it is a 150 wpc unit using inexpensive bipolar transisters that clip very easily. The left and right sensitivity knobs are not matched evenly, that is why you are getting more clipping in the right channel. These subs are for two channel music and not HT, you can use them for HT, but don't expect miracles.

I use an outboard amp full range with 95db at 20 hz and no clipping which is quite loud in my 22 x 13 foot room.
I do not use the crossover to the main speakers but run the subs full range up to the 100hz crossover point. I also use my main speakers full range, more transparent sounding. Follow the directions for outboard amp use and try a good sub amp with good current and you should not get any clipping. I use an ATI 1502 ss amp and measure output with a Radio Shack meter and test disc. You might want to try it both ways and see which you prefer, the Spicas don't go very low and might benefit from using the crossover. Either way a decent outboard amp is a must with this system to get the most out of it. Good luck.

I have switched the amp out wiring and the problem follows the cabinet. I actually had an offer for a good deal on a replacement amp, but unfortunately it seems to be more in the cabinet.

I don't know how to further troubleshoot the cabinet.

It's very hard describing the noise... it reminds me of that weird loud deep staticy (yet oddly quiet) sound that accompanies a nuclear explosion in a movie. Just as the mushroom cloud is forming and everything is getting blown away.

Based on that fascinating description, can anyone suggest some things to test or possible causes? Something is getting overloaded (possibly because it is already weakened).

Thanks for your help!

Just to clarify... it's like the sound when nuclear explosions are showed in very slow motion and everything is getting blown away in slow motion (if that helps). Nuclear crackle...
Rich - Thanks for all the very useful information!

The only thing that doesn't jive is that when I switch the L/R wiring, the R cabinet still clips first even being hooked up to the L outputs.

Again... I'm a total newbie with audio equipment. Is an "outboard amp" just a normal amp (like the Kinergetics amp minus the crossover function)?

Currently I'm feeding 80Hz and below to the input on the Kinergetic amp and then just outputting it to the speakers. I'm not using the Kinergetics crossover right now, just the Denon's built-in crossover.

It would be great if just another amp would improve the problem.


Yes, an outboard amp in relation to the Kinergetics amp/crossover unit is just a normal amp, preferrably one with high current for good bass control. The description you give does not sound like clipping, the sound I hear when the speakers clip sounds more like a metallic popping sound. I wish I could help you out but I'm stumped. The crackle static sound seems more electronic to me. Don't forget your summing the output from the receiver so the left and right should be the same. Try lowering the sensitivity knobs to about the 12 o'clock position then raise slowly. I have never had the knobs much past the 2 o'clock position, too much bass and they distort easily.

Wow! TC50s and Kinergetics...does that take me back!! I bought a pair of TC50s in, I think, 1983 and loved 'em. However, they need good amplification to show what they're capable of. Also one of the most holographic speakers I've ever owned.

That was during my most neurotic phase of audiophilia - owned 9 different speaker systems (including one Janus subwoofer) between 1980 and 1986. Those were the days but of course I wasn't married and could buy anything damn thing I wanted any time I wanted.
Well, I bought the TC-50's and Kinergetics based on my audiophile friend's suggestion. I didn't even audition the Kinergetics because they came so highly rated by Stereophile Magazine (I think).

I'm an audiophile in the sense of I like a nice sounding system, but don't know the first thing about what to listen to when picking out speakers. I remember listening to Enya and Dafos when listening to different systems with my friend (lost contact a long time ago). Don't have any audiophile pals to hang with these days. :(

That's also why I haven't upgraded my system. I rather just give someone some money and have them pick something decent out for me.

The TC-50's (and Kinergetics) do blend very well and are awesome for music imaging. They don't cut it for HT, though.

I'm still confused at what the problem is with my Kinergetics, although it sounds like maybe they are actually performing normally. I'm just pushing them (or the amp) too hard. I never set the knobs past 12 o'clock and in fact now have to set the right output to less than 10 o'clock or it will have the "clipping" problem far too easily. I'll have to listen to the noise again (eeeks)... so I can think of a better description. It may be more of a metalic popping but I've extended it to a nuclear explosion in my head because of how fast I dive for the volume control.

Maybe I'll try to see if I can find a devoted audiophile in my area who could come check out my system. They are such old speakers that I hate to put money in them just to troubleshoot them to find out that they are doing what they were designed to do.
Hey... just had an idea. Would it work to use my spare HK AVR 300 as an external amp to test the Kinergetics with a different amp?

Of course the HK is only rated at 50W (?) so it's not that powerful, but could I set it up to drive the subs as main speakers off the HK just for testing? Or is this pure HK suicide?

I'll wait to hear back from you guys before trying...
Hello just thought I would offer some info on my use of the same system. I have the kinergetic SW-100 subs in conjunction with the SW-800 platinum series monoaural subwoofer amplifiers. These Amps have a crossover that will allow the use of other speakers i.e spica TC-50's. These units have selectable crossover slopes and selectable crossover points. The Amperage is 300watts at 2 ohms, however the SW-100's are 4 ohm subs. These amps also have bass level adjustment. This system allows very good integration of the TC-50. The system is exremely holographic and detailed, bass is outstanding in combination with the spicas, HT is not for this system. I am also using the odyssey amp to drive the spicas, thus a very intense and satisfying sound CD and LP. The key is the crossover circuit design. The Subs sit in a stand specifically designed for them with integrated stands that are sand filled and the spicas sit on the stand for a very integrated look.
Familiar indeed. I still listen to my TC-50's, but gave up on the Kinergetics SW-100's sitting beneath them and now use a nice HSU sub with the Spica's. And call me crazy but I do use them for home theater. The system now doesn't sound sound as magical as I remember the Spica-Kinergetics system sounding in its heyday, but it's a way different system and room now, so who knows. But the Spica's are magic enough that the VR-1's are sitting in a box....
I have the same custom sand-filled stand with the SW-200 sitting below the TC-50's. They definitely blend like magic.

I'm very curious if a different amp would clean up the problem. The speakers handle some bassy stuff perfectly. Otherstuff they just fall apart. I can't tell what the difference is. Maybe some scenes are sending <20Hz which is causing the amp to fall apart?

Just a thought.. because your speakers/sub are from a previous "era", try connecting them like they were likely designed to be used: i.e. does the subwoofer amp have speaker-level inputs/outputs? If so, have you tried using them? If this sub/amp/crossover system was designed and sold pre-Dolby Digital/DTS, it may actually sound better if you feed the subwoofer amp a full-range speaker-level signal and let the Kinergetics amp/crossover do it's thing. I gather from other posts here that your system offers a high degree of adjustability in this regard to get a seamless blend between the Satellites (Spicas) and sub.

If you want to try this, you'll have to set your receiver's bass-management properly. Set it for front speakers "large" and subwoofer "no". Set your center channel and surrounds to "small" if you have them. Setup this way, all LFE will get routed to your subs via the front L-R speaker cables and your Spicas should be protected from low bass by the crossover in the Kinergetics amp.

Do not use the line-level output from your receiver's "subwoofer out". Run your front L-R speaker cables from your receiver to the Kinergetics' speaker-level input and then connect your Spicas to the subwoofer amps' speaker-level output. Of course, disregard this if the subwoofer amp lacks speaker-level connections, but I'd be suprised if it didn't as this system was apparently engineered for high-end two-channel music and most two channel pre-amps of that era would not likeley have included a line-level "sub-out" like a modern DD/DTS-era receiver/processor.

Let me know if your system sounds any better set up this way.

The Spica/Kinergetics were definitely made to run as "one speaker". The set-up you described would be the best for the speakers and I did have them set-up this way in my pre-HT days.

Unfortunately the Kinergetics amp does not have a speaker level out. It just has a built-in crossover which you can feed back to your receivers pre-amp in (which my receiver doesn't have) or another amp (which I also don't have).

Interesting that it seems like most HT receivers don't have a pre-amp in. It would be very beneficial for my system.

Also, even if I could set up my system differently, I think I would still have the sub breakdown problem once I reach a certain volume level. The problem is not blending the speakers, it is something to do with the amp (if not the speakers themselves).

I'm curious to see if a different full-range amp would run the Kinergetics better? Not sure what is the best way to demo one. I hate to spend a ton of money on something that may not even fix the prob. And I don't know the first thing about shopping for an amp.

Any suggestions besides the ATI 1502? The ATI is $650 and power rated the same (150x2). I probably don't need more power... just better power if rpw's ideas are correct. Maybe someone can help me locate a good online used amp?

Thanks for everyone's input again!