Now it's subs

I've lived in disdain of subwoofers for years.  The poor integration and indiscriminate screwing up of the voicing of the delivery.  Today I was just testing a recovered old active Gallo sub and it made some just okay speakers sing.  What ?!?!?  Arrrggghhh!!!

Now the contemplation of a very decent sub to pair with my Merlin Black Magic monitors.  System as follows:

Naim UnitiServe server with Pardo power supply, Naim DAC, Manley Jumbo Shrimp pre, Manley Mahi Mahi monos, all Decware cabling.  Thanks for any input regarding fast subs that improve all aspects of imaging, attack, voicing and impact.  Musical tastes mostly jazz, blues, Celtic.  

Thanks so so much in advance.

Hi Doug,

I believe that 90% of the sound quality of a sub comes from the room acoustics, integration and auto-EQ features (if any).

Before going with a sub, make sure your room acoustics are properly dealt with and add bass traps if needed. This will make your room very speaker and sub friendly. Ask GIK Acoustics for the best advice and highest value components. ASC of course is well thought of but uber pricey. If you go that route better to go with an integrator than purchase directly.

After this, if you do not have an integrator you trust, I would consider JL audio subs at the top of my list. Not because of monster drivers or amps but because I really like their auto-EQ features. Not all auto-eq is the same, and they are not all trying to reach the same target curves. There may also be other subs with great sounding EQ features, but get advice on how well that works before buying.

Personally being short of cash and experienced with crossovers and sub integration I prefer to roll my own with Hsu and miniDSP. 

If I had to buy and did not want to spend a week understanding bass room modes and EQ settings I’d go with JL.

There are other approaches of course, such as getting two subs, getting four subs ad infinitum. :) This is just where I would start.


How low do your monitors go?  IMHO, matching a sub works best if your mains can get down to 50hz or lower.

That said, a few recent impressions:

1. The JL Fathom with 10"driver--tight and fast; really quite good with music.  Didn't call attention to itself.  I was surprised because I didn't associate JL with much more than thumping car subwoofers.
2. Vandersteen 2WQ--Even faster and tighter than the JL, but doesn't have the same slam/output capabilities.  The connection is complicated (requires an xover placed between your preamp and amp).  You probably need two if you want to keep up with the output of the JL.  
3. SVS Ultra sealed with 13" driver--Heard this at Magolia (Best Buy) of all places, paired with Sonus Faber Olympica monitors.  This one sounded very thick to me, very "subwoofery."  Given that it was Best Buy, who's to say it was set up well, though.
I strongly suggest you investigate Vandersteen 2WQ powered sub. It is unique in the way it blends with your speakers. I find it perfect with my B&W 684's Can't tell where one drops off and the other begins, and you can feel the vibrations down to 20HZ. Really remarkable. (See remarks above).
Room acoustics are key always. With subs the first thing to get a handle on is interaction with lively floors that often muddies bass and obscures detail. Auralex subdude platforms or something similar does the trick nicely when needed.