Rythmik Vs REL Subwoofers - What to Buy?


I have an L Shaped living/dinning room.  The living room measures 13.5'x18.5' and the dining room measures 10.5'x13.5".  I have a pair of Paradigm Prestige 85F towers along the 13.5' wall hooked up to an ARCAM AVR550.  They are currently placed 8' apart with a 72" stereo cabinet between them leaving 45' on both sides of the cabinet.  This wall shares the outside 13.5' wall in the dinning room.  There are two 3' walls that narrow the opening to the dining room.

I am trying to decide what subwoofers to add to my system.  Three dealers suggested I add a pair of subwoofers rather than adding just one based on my room dimensions and room layout.  I am trying to decide between adding a pair of Rythmik F12 Signature subwoofers or a pair of REL T/9i's or a pair of REL S3's and locate them next to the towers.  However, because of limited space I may not be able to consider the S3 subwoofers, as they will crowd my towers more and it will most likely require moving my towers closer together from 8' apart to 7' apart.  The dealers I have talked to suggested I locate the subwoofers in the corners.    

I have an upright piano along the 18' wall to the right and I would prefier to use just one subwoofer located to the left of the piano located approximately 5' to 6' in front of the right front speaker.  This would prevent cluttering the wall where my towers are located and it would make our room look better.  If I locate just one subwoofer next to the piano, the speaker would point directly into the opening of the dining room.

Could you please advise as to whether to go with a Rythmik or a REL subwoofer?  I like the idea of the Rythmik Direct Servo technology.  The amplifier in the subwoofer has the ability to boost lower bass frequencies at lower listening volumes to prevent fall off.  However, would they sound too boomy?  I talked to a highly regarded speaker manufacturer and he told me if I went with the T/9i's, they rated them to go down to 28 Hz at -6 db.  He told me based on this, they would actually be lucky to play down to 35 Hz.  He went on to say this is woofer rather than subwoofer territory.  I have listened to both the REL T/9i and the REL S3 and I was not able to hear a significant difference in bass extension when they were played with a pair Bowers & Wilkins 702's.  However, I liked the way they blended in with the main speakers.  They were seamless and I swore all of the sound was coming out of the towers.  The problem is there are many recordings that contain bass frequencies of 24 Hz and possibly lower and if I go with the REL's I would not be able to hear anything lower than 35 Hz.  The Rythmik Signature F12's play down to 14 Hz.  The speaker manufacture I talked to makes custom Rythmik subwoofers and he told me the Rythmik subs are the most musical subwoofers he has ever heard.  Rythmik sells only direct and it would be helpful to be able to hear one before making my decision.

I listen to 70% music and 30% HT and my first priority is music.

If you were in my shoes, what would you recommend I do?
3828de89 2fa1 4a5c 8ffc 19c904e4c504larry5729

Yeah, Jim Salk is himself a big Rythmik fan, and builds the F12 and F15 models into his own fantastic enclosures (and into some of his loudspeakers), the best I've ever seen. I copied his "honeycomb" bracing design for my enclosures when I built my F15 HP kits.

One reason audiophiles like the REL's is their speaker-level hookup, the sub taking it's signal from the main power amp, not the pre-amp. Well, in their PEQ and PEQ3 model plate amps, Rythmik provides both speaker-level (on binding posts) AND line-level (on RCA jacks) hookup. I know guys using pairs of F12's with their Maggies, and they feel like they have finally found a sub that blends seamlessly with planars. I concur.

If you have the extra money, the Salk/Rythmics feature very nicely finished real wood veneers, and as I said, incredible enclosures. If not, the standard Rythmiks will do quite nicely! 

Can't speak as to which is better, but you definitely want two subs if you can swing it. Adding a 2nd sub to my system seemed to improve every performance aspect, not just smoother bass. 
The Rythmik is a great buy. I use two F15s fed by line level. Very musical. 
Two REL subs is the way to go if music is your priority. I see that you’re still on fence with which sub best suites your needs 😊

Why not find a dealer that will allow you to audition REL subs or buy direct from REL and take advantage of their generous in-home audition program.

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/can-anyone-hear-the-difference-when-you-add-rel-subwoofers-wh...
I haven’t heard a REL sub, but I’m sure they’re great. But remember, you won’t get as much of the bottom octave out of them as with Rythmiks. The F12 digs just as low as the F15, but it has slightly less (2-3dB) maximum SPL capability. Same sound quality and character, though.
I've owned both and in the end I kept the F12SE's.  Another benefit is they are built in Texas and the owner and sales staff are easy to reach and quick to help.  Not so the case with REL.  Plus unless you catch a sale the Rythmik's are cheaper and you get a discount for multiples. 
I talked to  RIA, the owner of Rythmik, and I was completely lien away with his knowledge.  He is also an electrical engineer and he was able to talk on a technical level just like Jim Salk can.  Jim Salk feels the Rythmik subs are extremely musical.  He also assured me they were extremely musical and work seamlessly with the mains.  He also told me the REL T/9i’s would be lucky to get down below 35 Hz.  This would prevent me from being able to hear frequencies lower than 35 Hz if those frequencies were recorded.  He also told me the REL’s work more like woofers than subwoofers.  The biggest fear is being driven out of the room. Y too much bass.  All I want is to hear the full range of frequencies as possible.  Musicality is everything.  Eventually, I hope to own a pair of Salk Song3 Encore’s.  They blew everything away at the RMAF last October below $6,000/pair.  
Sorry for typo.  I talked to Brian at Rythmik.  He was fascinating to talk to. Just wish I could listen to his Rythmik’s before pulling the trigger.  However, he does have a 45 day guarantee.
Jackd,

What REL subs did you own and why did you get rid of them?
“Just wish I could listen to his Rythmik’s before pulling the trigger.  However, he does have a 45 day guarantee“

So what’s holding you back? 
Given the L shaped layout, I would consider using the AudioKinesis Swarm.
http://www.audiokinesis.com/the-swarm-subwoofer-system-1.html
Though I use Vandy subs, I have heard very positive things about this system.
Bob

I have a pair of F12SE subs (in a 17' x 17' living room) and am VERY happy with them. I've run them both using the speaker level and line level inputs. They have been flawless since I set them up. Can't speak to the REL, but I have no desire to change what I have now.
The F12 sounds like a very good sub and a great value. I feel bad even bringing this up and muddying the waters, but you might also consider a used Vandersteen 2wq sub. It goes down to 20Hz (-3dB) and it’s an extremely musical sub, but I think one of its major strengths is it has a very unique design that makes it easier to blend the sub with your system. Many people have been very happy with the results they get from adding one of these, especially for music. Anyway, FWIW. Best of luck.

Richard Vandersteen came up with a great idea for his subs: feed-forward. He determined the difference between the signal the sub was fed, and the sub’s output. He then created an electronic circuit that provided an inverse signal to the woofer, to eliminate that difference. So the feed-forward signal is static.

The Rythmik Direct Servo-Feedback circuit is an active, dynamic system; it reacts to, amongst other things, the changes in voice coil temperature (the temperature of the coil in ALL woofers changes in reaction to signal strength and driver-cone motion), compensating for that change in temperature so as to keep the output of the woofer consistent. You can read about that and lots of other technical information on the Rythmik subs on the companys’ excellent website.

Larry,
Just  go buy the rythmik already!  Why start a second thread covering pretty much the same topic?

You mention that the problem is that there are many recordings that contain bass frequencies of 24hz and possibly lower... really?  Like what?  You can barely hear 24hz.  I don’t believe you can hear below 20hz but you can feel it.

So anyhow, , I’m confused as to why a manufacturers freq. response rating is of utmost importance?  You ought to take into consideration your room treatments, or lack thereof, as well.  You give a detailed description of your room shape and size... do you have any room treatments?  Tight, articulated bass with finesse and no overhang are probably more important (especially in music) than eeking out that last 5hz of audible bass.

It is not good in business to say my products are good because yours are crap.  Your product should be good enough to just make statements based on your product.  Pretty much everyone knows this...

You seem to really be getting bogged down with specs here and I highly doubt that your musical enjoyment will be compromised because it only plays to 30hz vs 20hz.  I listen to a-lot of bass heavy music that would probably offend most listeners here and I’ve had a few different “entry level” subwoofers from SVS, REL, Velodyne, Emotiva, KEF, Paradigm, Sunfire, etc.  I was not able to integrate any of them properly except for the REL.  The T9i integrates so well that either the bass sounds like its coming from your towers or it is energizing and griping the room as a whole.

It is interesting that you mention that you can’t even her a REL subwoofer, yet you also state that REL’s only play to 35hz and that because of this, bass freq. of less than where the crossover is set will overlap the bass from the mains, creating too much bass and driving you out of the room.  

I’ve found that whenever I was adjusting the volume of a subwoofer, its best to barely be able to hear it otherwise after 30 minutes you’ve had enough. 

In closing, there are probably many great subwoofers out there.  I am a fan of SVS and also REL.  Rythmik looks very good as well but if its true that the owner (?) or higher up employee had to bad mouth REL in order to sell their subs, I won’t support that type of business.  Also, Larry, why spout off he said she said statements when it would appear that you personally have little to no experience with subwoofers?  

Maybe you could share with us the type of music you listen to that is just not going to be musically satisfying playing to 30 hz vs. 14hz...

Nice Paradigms by the way!



I too have a pair F12’s that I use in my home theater setup and couldn’t be happier.
b_limo,

Thank you for your response.  I just want to keep from making another mistake.  After purchasing my Paradigm Prestige 85F towers a friend of mine sent me an article that discussed why a 3 way is better than a 2 1/2 way speaker.  So, from that day forward, I felt I purchased the wrong speakers.  My friend already knew when I was looking for speakers he was going to purchase a pair of Salk Song3 Encore speakers at the RMAF last October and I think he wanted to make himself, as usual, one up me.  Needless to say I no longer want to be around a person who needs to feel I am not on his level.  

It was interesting for you to say you like SVS and REL the most.  I always felt SVS was more for home theater.  The one thing I like about REL is the way they hook up.  It seems like their subs are designed to act more like woofers than act like subwoofers when playing music.  Maybe this is what I should be looking for.  What I don't want is to have a bassy/boomy sound system where the bass masks everything else and it drives me out of the room.  The Rythmik Direct Servo technology makes sense.  When I talked to the owner of Rythmik, he certainly did not bad mouth REL.  He just used his incredible electrical engineering background to explain why he felt his technology worked better.  However, the Rythmik looks too complicated for a beginner to hook up.  They have all kinds of ports and knobs to adjust them, but their sales person basically told me to just use the LFE hook up and use the ARCAM DIRAC system to calibrate everything.  Since LFE is for special effects, wouldn't the subwoofers sound like they are turning themselves on and off when they detect lower bass frequencies than what my towers can produce and sound jerky when playing music?  If this is the case, why do they bother to provide all of these different connections and adjustment knobs if they suggest the LFE connections on their subwoofer and my ARCAM?  Based on some of the conversations I have had with Rythmik, they must be designed to be used by experts and by audiophiles with tons of experience.  Also, because Rythmik sells direct, there are no local dealers who can come to my house and set things up.  Perhaps, this is huge reason why dealers exist.

I hope you can now see where I am coming from and why I am concerned about making yet another mistake.
I have an idea, why not take advantage of the direct seller's 60-90 day trial period and order 2 or 3 subs and then have a thunderdome shoot-out. Winner take all and return the losers. Shipping costs would likely need to be paid, but would be a small price to pay for peace of mind knowing you got the right sub for your room.
I just want to keep from making another mistake. After purchasing my Paradigm Prestige 85F towers a friend of mine sent me an article that discussed why a 3 way is better than a 2 1/2 way speaker. So, from that day forward, I felt I purchased the wrong speakers. My friend already knew when I was looking for speakers he was going to purchase a pair of Salk Song3 Encore speakers at the RMAF last October and I think he wanted to make himself, as usual, one up me. Needless to say I no longer want to be around a person who needs to feel I am not on his level.

If your friend is often trying to one up you, he’s probably the one enjoying his system less. It’s a sad truth that some in this "hobby" buy gear for nothing more than bragging rights.

Anyhow, there is no such thing as a perfect speaker, and whether one is better than another depends on good implementation and listener preference. Personally, I’ve heard very few 3-ways I could live with. Most often, they lack coherence and suffer from phase anamolies - doesn’t take a trained ear to notice sound is emanating from 3 separate diaphragms. Of course, that doesn’t apply to all 3-ways but it does seem a problem with the vast majority. The crossover peaks/suckouts, and phase issues(not universal) that often come with 3+ drivers can actually mask detail and nuance. I have multiple 2-ways that can school many a 3-way. In fact, the least refined and most distorted speakers out of my six current pairs happens to be my only 3-ways (Klipsch Heresy 3s). IME, a $5K 2-way will nearly always outperform a $2K 3-way. Quality is better than quantity.
Thanks helomech843.

Needless to say this guy is no longer my friend.  When he sent me that article about 3 way Vs 2 1/2 way speakers, I realized he one upped me on everything he owned.  Real friends don't do this nor do people who have a good self image.  I was pretty angry after he sent this article to me because I thought he knew I was buying a pair of 2 1/2 way Paradigm Prestige 85F towers and never said a word.  If he felt this way about 3 way being better, he should have said so before my purchase.  I listened to B & W;s, Martin Logan Motion 60's, Focal Arias, Golden Ear, Diffinitive Technology and the Monitor Audio Silver 8 and Silver 10 speakers before making my purchase.  When I went to a dealer to listen to the Paradigm speakers, they also carried Monitor Audio.  I listened to a pair of Monitor Audio Silver 8's and immediately told the dealer I did not remember them sounding so harsh.  When I compared them to the Paradigm Prestige 85F's, I decided on the Paradigm.  However, after weeks of listening to them in my home I have found at times the mid voicing to sound a bit harsh and I wish the tweeters were a little brighter.  The REL dealer visited my home and told me my speakers would sound a lot better after he master set them and he also mentioned if I added a pair of REL T/9i's they would clean up the vocals.  Not sure why the REL's would improve the vocals though.  Another speaker manufacturer, who I highly regard, told me the REL T/9i's are rated at 28 Hz at -6 db.  He told me, based on their specs, they would be lucky to play down to 35 Hz.  In the meantime, he pointed out there are many recordings that play down to 24 Hz.  So, if I went with the REL's, I would only be able to hear bass frequencies of 35 Hz and lose the lower frequencies on the recordings.  He also told me the Rythmik subs were the most musical subwoofers he has heard to date.  He also told me they do not pound away the bass and masque the main towers.
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I had been thru a bunch of different subs (Velodyne, M+K, etc) before buying a pair of 12” Rythmik subs about 12 years ago  I’m still using the Rythmik subs today which pretty much says it all.

No experience with REL.  I will note FWIW that (last I looked, several years ago) the Rythmik subs tested vastly better than REL (and, to be fair, most other brands) for both distortion at volume and group delay.  Can’t speak to current models tho.
I owned Rel Storm III about 6 years ago and moved to two Rythmiks F12 in my DIY sealed cabs that blend with the furniture, sound better, and were cheaper.

2 subs is definitely better than one.

Currently I run them in an active system so I prevent the main amp to attempt to reproduce sub 70Hz to very good effect. I run them mono and in series and I'm considering a third sub.

Rythmiks also have a lot more tunning/integration features than the Storm III.
Needless to say this guy is no longer my friend. When he sent me that article about 3 way Vs 2 1/2 way speakers, I realized he one upped me on everything he owned. Real friends don't do this nor do people who have a good self image. I was pretty angry after he sent this article to me because I thought he knew I was buying a pair of 2 1/2 way Paradigm Prestige 85F towers and never said a word. If he felt this way about 3 way being better, he should have said so before my purchase. I listened to B & W;s, Martin Logan Motion 60's, Focal Arias, Golden Ear, Diffinitive Technology and the Monitor Audio Silver 8 and Silver 10 speakers before making my purchase. When I went to a dealer to listen to the Paradigm speakers, they also carried Monitor Audio. I listened to a pair of Monitor Audio Silver 8's and immediately told the dealer I did not remember them sounding so harsh. When I compared them to the Paradigm Prestige 85F's, I decided on the Paradigm. However, after weeks of listening to them in my home I have found at times the mid voicing to sound a bit harsh and I wish the tweeters were a little brighter. The REL dealer visited my home and told me my speakers would sound a lot better after he master set them and he also mentioned if I added a pair of REL T/9i's they would clean up the vocals. Not sure why the REL's would improve the vocals though. Another speaker manufacturer, who I highly regard, told me the REL T/9i's are rated at 28 Hz at -6 db. He told me, based on their specs, they would be lucky to play down to 35 Hz. In the meantime, he pointed out there are many recordings that play down to 24 Hz. So, if I went with the REL's, I would only be able to hear bass frequencies of 35 Hz and lose the lower frequencies on the recordings. He also told me the Rythmik subs were the most musical subwoofers he has heard to date. He also told me they do not pound away the bass and masque the main towers.
I also have auditioned many of those speakers. I owned the Silver 8s for about a year. You're correct, they are harsh - the main reason I got rid of them. My current reference speakers are 2-ways and quite superior to the 3-way Silver 8s - it's laughable really.

The REL dealer is correct. Yes, the Master Set (Sumiko Master Set to be exact) can maximize speaker placement. He's also correct in that subs can clear up the midrange. Even without the use of a subwoofer's built-in high-pass crossover (removes low octave duties from the midbass drivers - less cone excursion competing with midband freqs), they somehow improve the upper freqs, especially when running multiple subs. It's a crazy phenomenon but it's true IME.


@larry5729: All this talk about 2-1/2 way vs 3 way, the sub specs of 35/28/24/14 Hz, what other people tell you (including your "friend", Jim Salk, Brian Ding of Rythmik), is fine, up to a point. But your words remind me of myself when I was new to the hi-fi game, before I had paid my "audiophile dues".

Whether a loudspeaker is a 2-1/2 way or a 3 way is not what matters; what matters is the sound it makes. You keep repeating those sub figures as if they tell one all about the capabilities of the subs, in the same way I looked at the harmonic distortion figures of amplifiers when I was 18, and just getting started.

I'm afraid it's not that simple or easy. You're going to have to do it the hard way, just like the rest of us did. Take a chance, and learned from your mistakes. Not everyone ends up with the same system, we each find the sound we hear in our heads. There is no shortcut. No one can do this for you, you've got to do it yourself. I hope this doesn't sound preachy; I feel your anxiety!

@bdp24 - exactly. For instance, just yesterday I auditioned a speaker that I thought I was going to absolutely love (the Klipsch RP600M), in fact due to glowing reviews from the likes of folks like Steve Guttenburg, I already had in my mind that I was going to buy them. Luckily I found a local store who had them and went to demo them on my lunch break. They sounded better than any Klipsch I had ever heard before, but still waaaaay too harsh for my taste, so I could never be happy with them - just too much HF chiseling away at my ear drums. I like to listen at high volume, so I knew this would definitely not work. Good thing I tried them out first! Now I know.
bdp24, I really appreciated your input.  My problem is I have a wife who already resents the money I have spent thus far with another $5,500 to go.  I just don't want to make another mistake because I know my wife would kill me if I change some of my gear out.  I wanted to buy a system that could play both 2 channel Hi-Fi and HT without having to buy a 2 channel amplifier and an AV receiver to require changing the speaker connections back and forth.  Wish I had known about the Anthem separates and their really nice small dimension mono blocks.  They are really slick and can be stacked with the 5 channel amplifier.  I didn't know you could purchase a HT theater separately that could hook up to an audiophile amplifier for better sound quality.  However, this would have cost me about $10,000 and my wife would have had a bird.  Just wish I could spend the money on the incredible technology out there and be supported by a spouse.  It seems like this hobby is predominately supported by men.  Not sure why men find sound so fascinating.  Kind of like buy a Ford Cobra Shelby.  However, this hobby is a lot less expensive than that hobby.

bstatatmeister, I have never liked Klipsh.  I think their horns are way too harsh.  You need to listen to the SALK Song3 Encore's preiced at $6,000.  Never heard anything better priced at $25,000.
The store that I went to also had Golden ear Triton reference towers and McIntosh gear. I thought it sounded nice, but wasn't blown away. I still much prefer the Vandersteen Treo CT and the Maggies from my other local dealer. Haven't heard the Salk's but they are on my list of speakers to check out before I purchase my next pair, as well as the Tekton DIs.
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Larry
@bdp24 has been giving you the best advice so far. Don't worry so much about what others like, buy what sounds good to you. Now having said that here is my opinion.

If you do not want to make another mistake do not buy the REL. Buy any other sealed subwoofer that has already been mentioned. I currently own a REL S5/SHO and I am looking to replace it, Probably with a Rythmik or a SVS. The back panels between the REL and the Rythmik are not that much different. They both have a low pass filter AKA a crossover. The Rythmik has  a phase control where the REL only has a polarity switch. The phase control helps with the intergration two or more subs but you can ignore it if it is too complex.  The Rythmik I believe also has a limiter which when engaged will help keep you form overdriving the speaker at high volumes.  They both have line in and speaker level inputs as well as LFE inputs. Rythmik also has an amp option that has an adjustable parametric equalizer (PEQ) to reuduce/eliminate possible excessive bass boom. They both also have a volume control so if there is too much bass you can turn them down.

The REL is more likely to be boomy because of its tuned enclosure and passive radiator.

The main thing is you need a sealed sub for music and a ported sub for HT. A larger sealed sub is a good compromise.
bdp24, thanks for your input.  I listened to a JL E12" series today.  I was not blown away.  They were not boomy which was good.  However, they cost a lot more than a pair if the Rythmik Signature 12".  Surprised you said your REL S5 is boomy and you plan to replace it with either Rythmik or SVS.  I would suggest you talk to Brian, owner of Rythmik.  He is by far the most knowledgeable person I have talked to thus far other than Jim Salk and Salk Audio.  I think I will buy a pair of the Rythmik Signature 12" after talking to both Jim Salk and with Brian at Rythmik.  That Direct Servo technology makes sense to me.  

bstatmeister, I think you need to listen to a pair of the SALK Song3 Encore's.  At $6,000/pair they sounded better than $30,000 speakers at the RMAF last October.  Problem is, they are sold direct and you might have to listen to them at an audio show.  They are simply amazing.  I promise you I do not work for SALK.  I am sure the dealers who belong to this group wish I would be quiet about how great the SALK speakers are.  However, because they are sold direct they can afford to use expensive drivers that really sound incredible.

Whoops Larry, you got me mixed up with somebody else; it wasn't I who said my REL S5 is boomy. I don't own one, and in fact have never heard one. If a REL sounds boomy in a room, the cause is more likely placement than the sub itself.

I actually have spoken with Brian Ding on several occasions, and you're right, a most knowledgeable fellow! Kinda hard to follow, both because of the accent, and because of my LACK of technical knowledge. He's WAY over my head. ;-)

At least in regards to Rythmik’s 18” models, they are extremely “musical” as shown in the measurements, they have little “overhang”, have low distortion, get loud (good for dynamics), etc.