Open Letter To REL, SVS, Hsu, etc., et al


Why don’t you include a cd that will actually enable your customers to properly set up their purchase from you? Telling me to choose something with ‘low bass content’ and put it on repeat is pathetic at best. There are very specific and very limited numbers of tones needed to dial in a sub. One of the above companies tells me to use track 4 from ‘Sneakers’, a 29 year old movie, as an aid in dialing in a sub. Maybe in 70 years the track will be in the public domain and they can just rip it for free to whatever medium is current in 2091.
Test tones, as far as I know, aren’t copyrighted, and would cost very little to put on a cd. 50 blank cd’s cost 15.00 retail. Include one with tones and instructions in the box. Tidal, Spotify, Qobuz, etc., etc., would also qualify as a place to put your sub setup tones, along with detailed voice instructions. 
I know many people now use automated setups in their AVR’s, but I’d bet many reading this on Audiogon don’t- most two channel systems are behind the times in this regard.
Or am I missing something?
james_edward
That sneakers track actually sucks too.
But really, you don’t have Tidal or anything? No way to play a YouTube video through it? I agree that they should provide what they think would be the best setup tools, but it’s not like it’s impossible to do on your own.

BTW most people don’t have CD Players anyway, this isn’t 1999.  ;)
I thought about the cd player thing as I was writing- I added the mention of the major streaming services further down in my post figuring that. I bought my first sub circa 2000, and have bought at least one from each of the above companies over the years. Only Hsu ever included an old fashioned cd, but not one with instruction or a good set of test tones- just music with bass.
Google “Focal Audio test tracks” I have 44 of them. I believe the whole set is available for download.
Agree. At the very least, their websites can link to test tracks to download and stream.
HSU has test tracks you can download.  In the time it took you to write your post you could have googled it.

http://www.hsuresearch.com/downloads/

I forgot this is Audiogon, where no snide or snarky comment goes untyped.
Like yours?  You're welcome.
Hsu has included a test CD with music and test tones for years.
@big_greg,
Good one😎
Bob
Sure thing drussell. Those tracks are exactly what will be helpful. I’ve been using a cd from Alan Parsons- ‘Sound Check’ from ‘93. It gives some CD players fits- it has 92 tracks, and navigating them can be a pain. Small quirks make it less than ideal for sub setup, but it’s doable. Ideally if these tracks were available on streaming services, setup would be easier. First world problem though, so I will survive.
Thanks.
Vandersteen has its "Vandertones" files for free download on its web site. Not sure if this will help with non-Vandersteen subs though, since the crossover design on Vandy subs is unique.
@james_edward 
Download REW, buy a UMIK or Dayton EMM-6 microphone, learn how to use them and do it up right.

Failing that, well recorded material trumps test tones 6 ways to Sunday. My fav is a large pipe band recorded out of doors. When the sub is right, it slaps you right up side the head. Ditto Underture from Tommy, The Who 1969 version. A well recorded [in a cathedral with good pipe organ] Bach's Toccata  & Fugue in D in D Minor could get you by as well.

IMO, test tones on CDs are next to useless, but I've only been in this game 50+ years.

see  ieLogical SubterraneanHomesickBlues
@james_edward :  Disregard the usual "asshats" on this site, they know who they are. If they have nothing to contribute why do they not hit the back button and move on???  ( need to feel superior much). Too much pandemic isolation maybe 🤣.

Glad you were able to find some suitable tracks. I have several setup CD's that I use and was going to offer you a copy. Just pay shipping. 😃
vandertones includes a very well recorded acoustic bass scaling above and below the 100-120 hz crossover zone for setting sub level. The actual test tones are unique on centers problematic to most average rooms....but will provide information on how your system performs. FWIW Vandy subs ( model 3 ) include 11 bands of EQ to fix those issues........ since 1977

carry on.
recorded at Oceanway, with a guy who CAN play.... ha.
What do you need with test tracks? Use music. Unless of course you enjoy listening to test racks all day, play more test tracks than music, in which case what are your favorite test tracks to listen to? You could make a compilation tape of test tracks, or even better find a channel and stream all day long. Some of them like the old Stereophile Test CD come awfully close to music. There's the one with the Fender bass guitar. Personally I would be bored out of my mind. But its your system. Play whatever music, er test tones, floats your boat.
Dialing in a sub? All I do, after what I believe is the proper placement, is turn volume to 1/2, turn the crossover to maximum ( because the crossover is handed by the AVR. Also, I’m sure to set the phase to zero if sub is in front, Done! Never had an issue. Then again, this is for dedicated home theater. I refuse to use any sort of sub in a dedicated 2 channel audio system. Subs belong in home theater or in the trunk of a car, period. Once again, if your 2 channel speakers such so bad in bass that you need to "Dr" it with a sub, you bought the wrong set of 2 channel speakers to begin with and they should be replaced Pronto. All my opinion, some may object lol.... 
My only comment about test tones is that they help you quickly realize where you have peaks and valleys....as the tone progresses from 20hz to 150hz you will hear where bass becomes obvious, where there are dropout and where there are peaks.  Then you can try moving the sub to different locations (if you have that flexibility) to see how things deteriorate...or improve.

In the end though, final tweaking has to be based on how the sub blends with the mains and how it sounds playing music.
100% on this.  The SVS app should have test tones.  

While I'm at it, I wish the SVS app would link both subwoofers (if you're using two+) together to make changes to both woofers instead of having to switch profiles.
IMO there are at least 2 good reasons to use a sub(s) in a high quality 2 channel system. First, many otherwise excellent loudspeakers don't produce deep bass all that well.  Second, for soundstage/imaging, the optimal placement of main loudspeakers often is not the same as the optimal placement for bass response.

Sure, trial and error is one way to get it right. For those of us who prefer to be a little more systematic, without spending too much time on set-up, I agree a test-tone collection might be helpful.  Although, tones are pretty easy to find on the Internet.

https://www.audiocheck.net/audiotests_frequencychecklow.php

You can also generate tones/sweeps with REW.  


Agree- the more basic tools the better at least to get a start and reference point, especially as like you say they're soooo cheap to make, take up hardly any space, far easier to use than faff about with computers or seek out earth-shatteringly dull/ unmusical tracks just for a repetitive bass line. 

Does anybody use electronic piano/ keyboard through the stereo? Playing a chromatic over the whole instrument it's immediately obvious where the resonances/ dips are. The piano sound quality on a pro keyboard is astounding and you've also got all the other instrument synths and sound effects at the press of a key without having to play track snooker.

Just found the velodyne and hsuresearch sites but surprised there's little else obviously out there.

Hi-fi choice did a free system tune -up disc with Isotek years ago that does tone sweeps (pure and 'noisy'), imaging etc- just seen similar for sale for £30!!!!

Also sure you used to get sound demo CD/ DVDs with PC soundcards, AV amps with some interesting things on them (loved the surround sound flying bee one), bit of a novelty but a bit of fun and still loads of potentially useful tracks.





Once again, if your 2 channel speakers such so bad in bass that you need to "Dr" it with a sub, you bought the wrong set of 2 channel speakers to begin with and they should be replaced Pronto. All my opinion, some may object lol....
@audioguy85
Pray, do tell, what perfect HiFi speakers do you own?

Adding a sub properly, i.e. with a crossover to roll the bottom from the mains, reduces amplifier load thus increasing headroom and reducing woofer distortion.

Look at the low end impedance curve of many highly regarded [by some] speakers. With tube amplification, a sub is almost mandatory.

"An articulate, extended and veracious low end adds realism out of all proportion to the numbers." - me
Grab the Jennifer Warnes CD called The Hunter.
That's my sub reference CD for tuning.
none other than the great Max Townshend ; “ pushing the boundaries of audio playback requires more understanding of our art form objectively, not just hearing but understanding through measurements “......

listen and measure......
nice short Q and A with Max, back page TAS , March 2021
Martin Logan subs have a Tone sweep button mentioned in this video. https://youtu.be/wty1M6GzVt4

Good points made above that it would be nice if the SVS app could generate test tones.

Using the tone generator in REW is simple solution.

Is it not more important to use demo material that you are familiar with, so that when you add or take away equipment, you can hear the difference. The most important thing is to keep it consistent. If a demo CD is introducing new content along with new hardware... what’s the point?
I can't agree more with you.  I purchased a pair of REL S2 SHO subwoofers and I still don't know if I have them set up right.  They should have a DVD or online video walking you through the steps.  Great subwoofers though.
I use the stereophile test cd 2 to setup a system in the bass with an spl meter you can really dial in the position of a sub or speaker with the tones on it and also a spl meter with a and c weighting helps because you can blend the bass to the treble better and more consistently.
@audioguy85, Very few speakers have useful output below 40 Hz. Anybody can set up a sub for home theater. It takes a real hero to get one set up for an audio system but, doable. I cheat. I let a computer do it for me. Certain speakers like one way ESLs clean up dramatically when you take the bass away from them but all speakers clean up to some degree.
@james_edward , all the test tones in the world won't help you if the instructions supplied with the sub are out to lunch. The manufacturers know they will not be able to sell subs if they are complicated and if there are add on costs. So, they settle for low pass only crossovers and adding the sub in under the main speakers settling for significant overlap and phasing issues that are hard to overcome without more complex measurement and digital manipulation. Even if you could get the speakers in phase the subwoofers will be starting one to two cycles late. To get the main speakers and subs to start at the same time you have to delay the main speakers and this can only be done digitally. There are ways to overcome this but most rooms and set ups won't allow for it. 
 The DEQX Premate has a good bass management system. Check it out. 
Speakermaster, you need to impulse test each individual speaker and time the impulse to the listening position. An SPL meter can not do this.
You can adjust phase by looking for the loudest volume at the crossover point but you can not time the speakers this way. You can also not determine with any accuracy the frequency response of the various drivers. You have no way of adjusting various factors for the flattest frequency response. You can buy a calibrated microphone and programming to do this if you have a computer hooked up to your system. 
Hsu does include a CD with test tones for bass with their subs.

If you are looking for other CDs to help, Alpine Electronics (the old school car audio folks) produced some great CDs in the 90s with music and test tones.

Two to look for are: Disc Drive and Highway One.
Highway One has some of the cleanest and most dynamic musical test tracks I have ever heard along with many test tones. It is a fabulous demo CD if you can find one. It was made for the Australian market, so tough to find in the states. Subs are fun and rewarding once dialed in. Good luck!
I purchased a pair of REL S2 SHO subwoofers and I still don't know if I have them set up right.
With the rudimentary REL controls, one would have to be very lucky to integrate properly for 2ch music.

It's almost a certainty they might need placement in a non-WAF location
I’ve had subs since I can remember , and trust my ear to set one up properly. I had bi-amped Altecs (which were not technically “audiophile”), but dual sealed cabs were great.

Then came a decent ADS sub (aquired when I sold ADS home and mobile gear.
Today it’s a Rel T9i which is superb and came with excellent docs on setup.
 😜😂😂
From REL T9/i web page:
"Because the additional speed and impact of the new drivers requires greater control or the benefits can be lost before they get to the listener."

This kind of Nonsense by REL is pure malarkey for them with $$, no skill and compromised hearing.

Do the Math!!!

It’s bleeding near impossible to integrate a sub with only a crossover control.

As a composer once remarked "Every other subwoofer I’ve heard just boomed."

Don’t equate More with Better.

Although it's not a bad idea at all, it would result in more tech support calls about tweaking this or that. So it would cost REL money to do this and they wouldn't sell any more subs. Probably would result in more returns as well, when perfection could not be found or room issues discovered that couldn't be solved. Dealers would also not like it for these reasons. 
Hi Guys 
Try setting your Rels between the 10/11
o clock position and away from the back wall about 3-4 feet.
Try two recordings 
1-Road To Perdition 
2-Predator 2.
Hope this help because I am having great results,your volume controls should be 
very low or to your taste.

By the way 
I have two Rels S510.
If you buy a JL Audio Fathom it comes with a microphone which you place at your listening position, hit a button and it sets up the sub with optimal settings. 
Martin-Logan includes ARC with their x series. It can be setup from a smartphone. Better results obtained with the Perfect Bass Kit. It uses 5 positions. Well worth the investment.

I’ve tried setting up a few crossover-only-sub for pals and the best position is rarely friendly.
I think the original question is a valid one, but including various manufacturer names in the thread title without checking whether they provided what was being referenced or not was an error.

Failing to do a bit of homework doesn't detract from the issue, though. There are a lot of manufacturers whose provision for this is deficient or non-existent.

(The CD provided by HSU, BTW, is useful)
I love my subs with my 2-channel system.  I am limited to their locations and have Dr. Hsu's original design, the passive cylinders.  It has a fixed crossover point that is selected by changing out modules in a circuit board accessed from a back panel on the amp.  I use the volume knob on the amp to have the subs blend best for each album.  I can usually keep the volume alone but sometimes there is an album either really lacking or a bit overdone with bass so I adjust.  I am working on setting up a 5.1 system again after many years of no HT and ordered a Hsu VTF2-MK5.  It has the crossover knob like on most subs and I feel it will help me get there.  I do believe a dynamic movie or some music is all I will need.  I used to have a CD I borrowed from a friend that was a car audio judge.  Each track was the next frequency.  I don't remember the full range but it was focused on bass, so probably something like 10-100Hz.  It was fun to play around with along with my SPL meter to plot out the sound from my listening position.  I suppose that could be helpful if placement had some options and you could work towards the flattest curve.  It would be a fun experiment in a dedicated listening room.