Should I bother to try a subwoofer?

My speakers are listed as going down to 40 HZ (Dynaudio 1.3 MkII monitors).
There is an REL Strata III available locally that I might snag, try out and re-sell if I don't like/need it. My question is this: since I would not be using this for movies, do I even need this? I mostly listen to classical music, more chamber than symphonic, and occasionally listen to rock, jazz and other pop styles.

Am I likely missing something without that lowest octave? I'm thinking that 99% of the time the sub might not even be in use if it kicks in at 40 Hz.

Any comments, purely theoretical or from experience, will be welcome.
Tostadosunidos, what you will find pretty amazing is not the lowest octave, but the amount that your soundstage will open up with more air around all the individual players on the stage. When I shut off my subwoofers, I use a pair in my system, my soundstage collapses and everything sounds so much flatter. As mentioned I use a pair , however I believe you will get the same results using one.
I am not a big fan of subs for music, your Dynaudios are a very fine speaker that would not benefit from the addition of one.

for those watching TV and need to reproduce the exploding gas truck it is a different story.
Yes, you are missing something, especially with classical music. Try a sub, but don't cross it over too high, and don't turn it up too loud. If your monitors are rated down to 40 Hz, try crossing over at 45 and 50 Hz. With good recordings and good components, you will hear and mostly feel exactly what you are missing.
If you were thinking of buying any other subwoofer besides a REL the results would be questionable, but REL subwoofers don't sound like subwoofers. A REL will produce clean musical bass that will complete your system. You won't believe what you've been missing. Granted, your Dynaudios may be rated to 40Hz, but those little mid/woofers just don't move much air.

You've got nothing to lose. If you don't like it REL's are easy to sell. I say go for it.
Try the REL subwoofer, as I did (with a REL Stentor). I think you'll be favorably impressed with the bottom octave as well as the improved soundstaging (as stated very well by Teajay). If you don't like the change, there are lots of folks who like the REL, and you could sell it easily if it's in good shape. By the way, I'm a music-only listener.
the Rel, which is a GREAT sub for music, will add a lot to your musical experience. Try crossing it over at 55hrz to start and go down from there.

I had a Rel B1 that I used with my Maggie 3.6R's (measured down to 34 hrz, about the same as your speakers), and I ended up with the sub crossed over at about 42 hrz, and not turned up too high on the gain, and man, what a difference.

I currently use a Def Tech Supercube 1 with my Maggie's crossed over at 40 (lowest setting), and once again, it's just sublime to add that sub for the lowest octaves.

Good luck.
"Need"? YES YOU DO! I'm a huge fan of the REL stuff for hifi. A friend turned me on to 'em a year or 2 ago (he has the same main speakers as I do). I bought a clean used one (Q150E) and man...anybody who smugly claims there is "no benefit" from a well designed sub instantly destroys their audio opinion credibility and shall be forever removed from my christmas card list. Read the current issue of "Absolute Sound" for a nice REL review...I've done the experiment of turning the REL off and on to see the difference, and when off it dramatically diminishes every aspect of the overall "life" (tonality, soundstage, dynamics, odor) of my system.
Personally, there are many brands I'd look at before REL, but I would definitely look at a sub. My view is about a 180 from most on x-over frequency. I'd say cross pretty high for best results.

My reasoning is that careful placement of a sub will produce much smoother bass response than any speaker out in space possibly can - due to room modes/cancellation effects. Better yet, use DRC style bass EQ and the improvement is most often not only audible, but pretty startling.

In a carefully treated room, you can fix most of the mess down to 150hz or so and bass busters will usually get you into decent shape down below 100hz. After that, I let my subwoofer and EQ do the rest.

IME, the first benefit of a sub is smoother response in the critical 50hz to 100hz region, the increased LF extension and power are just icing on the cake.

Just one more opinion on this subject.

You are absolutely missing out. When I added a sub to my system it was the most. Dramatic upgrade I did, especially for music but it has to be a good sub. The low end subs will destroy sound quality.
Having owned a pair of REL Stadium 3's for approx. 8 years, I can say with certainty that all of the above posts recommending a REL sub(preferably 2)are spot on!!! As recommended, cross it/them over low and don't turn 'em up too loud.

I doubt Kenscollick has ever heard a GOOD sub used for music. He doesn't know what he's missing. They add much more than just additional low frequencies. As mentioned, they really open up the soundstage, add power and weight to the music, and all the little nuances and musical cues come through more clearly.

Just my 2 cents!
Subs are great for affects , I leave mine off for music . Subs are for people that buy the wrong speakers .
I had Dynaudio confidence 3's (similar in bottom end spec's to your speaker I think) and went to Vandy 5a's with internal 500wpc powered subs.
For me getting the bottom end of the frequency range reproduced at appropriate sound pressure levels was really a big deal and added a lot of enjoyment.
A caveat is that you really need sub(s) that allow themselves to be individually tuned to blend with your speakers and to react appropriately to room resonances, otherwise you are buying a boom box that is maybe only good for movies or whatever.
In my opinion.
Still miss the Confidence 3's sometimes. Seems like every good speaker has certain songs that really make it shine.
"Subs are for people that(dont' you mean who?) buy the wrong speakers." That's the dumbest blanket statement I've read on this forum in a long time!
Yeah...this subject seems to engender some weirdly snarky responses to what is a basic reality: Subs make the lower freqencies audible. Is that so wrong? Also there is something to be said for the imaging capabilities of small baffle speakers that don't have much bass combined with a good sub (like a REL) that can be a magic formula, without having to spend $97,000 on a pair of Rockports (speakers...not shoes).
When you listen to live music, the slam and attack that makes it "live and present" is sub driven.......why is it so wrong to try to have it at home?
I have found that the better the quality of the main speaker the greater the improvement with a sub in added ambience and low level resolution. The addition of the sound of the hall for classical music the greater the retrieval of very low level sounds. I also have Maggie 3.6r's that get well down into the 30's but sound better with a sub crossed over below 40 and volume set so you just barely notice that the sub is on
Very few speakers can do what a sub does. I have Ascendo ZF3s, which go quite deep, and powerfully. I still use Entec LF20 subs, crossed over very low (I think 30Hz). Very often, they are silent, but when called on by the music (organ or electronic, mostly), their contribution to musical enjoyment is significant. It seems like there is often little corelation between speakers' specified cutoff frequency and what I actually hear from the speaker. It is a rare speaker that doesn't benefit from a subwoofer.
Well, I disagree with the above posts all of which think a sub is the answer.
First, if you are happy with the sound, A sub is going to add a lot of low frequency noise which you may, or may not enjoy.
I find sub is not a worthwhile addition, due to modern Rock recordings.
I had a small used sub I bought from a local dealer to use with my small speakers, and discovered while it was wonderful with chamber music, and small Jazz groups, when it was left at the same level, it was way to much with any modern Rock music, which has a LOT of bass.
So between turning it on, off, up down, i finally just got tired of it.
Now i use some bigger speakers again. which are not noted for a lot of bass,(Magnepan 3.6) but what they have is all i want!
So here is a dissenting opinion about a sub.
If you find one used, and try it then do not like it, at least you would not lose a lot of money over it.
Rfogel18 ... Many things seem dumb to the uneducated . Transducers that extend to 19Hz , ( in room) hardly need bass reinforcement . Iv'e tried at least a dozen subs in the last 38 years and usually end up leaving them turned off for music . Regards Tim
There are reasons, other than filling in missing frequencies, to use a sub. One of the benefits of using a sub is that it can free the speaker from trying to reproduce frequencies at the bottom of its range. Many times this will have the effect of allowing the speaker to produce more coherent mid-bass frequencies and decrease the distortion at the lower end of the woofer's range. Because of this I would encourage you to experiment with the crossover frequency. Trust your ears and set it where it sounds best. Everyone's room is different. I also agree that you should not turn it up too high. The effects should be subtle (except for movies!).

Tmsorosk, We are not talking about speakers that extend to 19Hz. We are talking about a minimonitor with a 6.5" woofer that is rated to 40Hz.
I have a question. If you connected a subwoofer to a system with main speaker that have rated output to 19Hz, where would you set the crossover for the subwoofer?
I agree with Rfogel18 completelly. That is a dumb statement. Most speakers just don't go down to the lowest frequencies. Not many are made that do. If you own Revel Salons that go down that low, well good for you, but if you own Maggies, or certain Wilson's, or Dynaudio, or Martin Logan's, or Quad ESL's......

Then a sub is a great addition.

Bought the wrong speakers, please.....
As low as it will go .
I disagree with those who suggest a sub is just for explosions and crashes. REL has a great reputation, it should be a good addition for your Dynaudios. The mistake many make is in the set-up. I find that setting the crossover too high at first makes it easier to find the right phase adjustment. Then set the crossover and output levels too low and inch your way up. When properly tuned in, you should be almost unaware of your sub- until you turn it off. Although there can be benefits using the crossover to cut the lows from your main speakers, I usually like running the speakers with fullrange signal, you may experiment with plugging the ports.
If you get a good price, I definitely say go for it. You may love it, the set-up can keep you busy in a fun way, and if it doesn't work out? It's a REL, and should be easy to unload.
Many thanks to all who responded--I've learned a lot and will be actively looking for a sub. Unfortunately, in the meantime the Strata III has sold (he who hesitates is last), so I'll be searching the archive for threads on good mid-fi subs that might match up well with my Dynas.
Blkadr makes several good points. I run my main speakers full range down to around 50Hz then using a good SPL meter and test disc, blend the subs in near that point where they start to creep into the lower midrange then back them off just a bit.

That's what I like about the REL's, you don't have to have your main speakers going through a filter mucking things up.

Tmsorosk, you make the dumb blanket statement, bad grammar and all, and I'm the uneducated one? As pointed out by Macdadtexas, few people own speakers that go much below 40Hz. They're giving up a lot of what's in those grooves/digits. If you've "tried at least a dozen subs in the last 38 years" and been unsuccessful, duh, perhaps you bought "the wrong speakers", I mean subs!
As a former full range speaker user and subwoofer hater (except for pro sound use) I found Elizabeth's comments understandable but less valid than usual when applied to a topic including REL subs..."Rock" music can certainly have a lot of bass (as does a lot of the jazz I like...Brian Bromberg anybody?) but the beauty of most RELs is the amount of gain, phase, and frequency adjustment inherent in their design. I adjust the output level frequently (in small steps...I put a "chicken head" amp knob on there so my greasy little fingers can "feel" what I'm adjusting) to fine tune the bass response for certain bass shy or bass bloated wall shaking recordings (do I agree with ALL of the engineering decisions made by the faceless strangers who messed with the sound of my recorded music? NO!)...otherwise impossible with my (and most everybody else's "high endish") preamp. It's nice to be able to do this while leaving the rest of the signal chain and main amp signal unmolested, as, for my tastes, this is all the adjusting my rig it allows me to continue my sonic dominance over these things as, after all, I am the "decider".
Yes, get a sub and set it up as others have said here. Keep the volume low and cross it over low - no higher than 60 htz and 40-50 would be even better.

The stage will open up just as Teajay stated on the first post. Please read his post again. He is spot on and very wise on the topic. I use a Velodyne DD18 sub with my Soundlab M1 speakers and I set them to only handle 16-50 htz or so. The volume is set very low and the improvement is wonderful.

Larger stage, more 3D sound, a foundation and scale not achieved without a good sub. The improvement is HUGE when done right. Avoid the corners of your room, instead place it anywhere between your speakers at a plane just behind them with the sub shooting at a 45 degree angle into the room - if a front firing sub.

Avoid turning it up to much or crossing over to high as these things will ruin the mids and call to much attention to the bass.
The REL sub is fine and will give you a taste of what a sub can do when set up properly. It is down firing and smaller, so closer to a corner is OK, but my suggested set-up could yield better results.

Knowing your room size etc... would help greatly.

You could always pic up a second one for more improvement as one becomes available and you decide you love the improvement that ones gives.
My REL Q150E is side firing.
My REL Q150E is front firing. It sits in a little corner made by a fake fireplace behind the left speaker (firing forward toward the back of the main speaker) and that is EXACTLY where it belongs in my room (I moved it all over the place and pointed it in various directions until it seemd to lock into its current spot).
Yes the Q series is front firing while the Strata III is a downward firing 10 inch driver.

The smaller Q series is fine in the corner etc... Room placement on any sub is a matter of trial and error. Larger subs can overpower a room in the corner however.

I owned the REL Strata III and found it to be quite good.

To bad it sold, but others do show up....
According to REL their downward firing subwoofers are designed for music and their forward firing subwoofers are designed for home theater.
NO! Say it ain't so! In spite of what "REL" says (what the hell do THEY know anyway?)...mine sounds great for music, which is all I use it for. Now I have to go look that up...damn...
"06-28-11: Rrog
According to REL their downward firing subwoofers are designed for music and their forward firing subwoofers are designed for home theater."

Where exactly REL did say that?
Thank you.
If you don't believe a subwoofer can sound good with music, you can go strait to REL!
Think I just wrote their next ad slogan.
Has anyone tried a sub with Sonus Faber monitors?
I have to say, so far I have never heard a subwoofer that I thought I could deal with permanently. It kind of makes the speakers more omnidirectional to my hearing, less point-source, and confuses things a little. But I'm keeping an open mind on this.
The older SF monitors (like my Minuettos) are a tough match for a sub because their upper bass was both elevated (relative to the mids) and a bit ragged. It's hard to find a good place to get a crossover that is both seamless within the mid bass and not too high in overall bass level.

I understand that more recent SF models are quite a bit more neutral in that region, so my comments should not taken as relevant to those circumstances.
Here's the possibly disturbing line from the currrent REL site (the "FAQ'S" section, "6. Which REL sub-bass system is best for me?":

"Acoustically, either the 'ST' or the 'Q' range work excellently in either a hi-fi or home cinema system. However, the inputs on the 'Q' range are slightly more oriented towards home cinema use."

They do say "slightly"...I feel better already. Also notice that they no longer make the "Q" series. My beloved Q150E has all the adjustments one could ask for in a sub: Phase, frequency, level for both input types, and a weird 2 position knob for disco freaks.
There's a difference between what manufacturers list as the lower frequency point and what one will actually achieve in room. Before doing anything, buy an SPL meter and test CD to see what your speakers are doing in your room.

The reality is that almost every speaker will benefit from a properly setup subwoofer(s). But, you have to be willing to do the setup. It's not difficult and can be a great learning experience about room acoustics.
06-28-11: Wolf_garcia

"Acoustically, either the 'ST' or the 'Q' range work excellently in either a hi-fi or home cinema system. However, the inputs on the 'Q' range are slightly more oriented towards home cinema use."

That I can understand. But did they actually say "Their downward firing subwoofers are designed for music and their forward firing subwoofers are designed for home theater."?

I highly doubt that.
I use a REL B1 with my Sonus faber Cremona Auditor Ms with great success. My dealer took about 1 hour to dial it in - even though I do not have it located in an ideal spot. Xover is around 32Hz.
I used a REL sub and until it quit working it sounded OK but not any better than the one I replaced (ACI) it with at less than a third of the price.
I'm sorry, but IMHO, crossing-over at or above the -3 dB bass response of your primary speaker - particularly monitor speakers - is a recipe for frustration. Ever wonder why some say subs are difficult to integrate into a 2-channel system? One of those reasons is simply the sub is crossed-over far too high. At least no one here is recommending an 80 Hz crossover point.

The Dynaudio Contour 1.3 MK II has a lower -3 dB response of 43 Hz. Again, IMHO, the best place to start is multiplying the lower -3 dB response by 0.7 for your starting point:

43 Hz x 0.7 = 30.1 Hz

This is assuming you can cross-over your sub this low. Many cannot (and have a lowest cross-over frequency of 40 Hz).

Often, rooms that are appropriate for monitor speakers have natural resonances in the 50-ish HZ range. You need to consider more than just the response of the need to consider the response of the room.

Oh...and keep it away from corners. IMHO, that's mistake #2 that makes subs "hard to integrate".

And my last controversial statement in this post...IMHO you'd be better off with 2 (or more) "lesser" subs than one "more expensive" sub.

Duke over at AudioKinesis has an offering he calls "the swarm". Check it out (at least for some food for thought). I have no affiliation (other than meeting him at LSAF a couple years back).
My post is pretty much is on point with you Nrenter. I think you speak truth!
The thing I posted was pasted directly from the REL site, and it seems REL stuff generally does music very well (a friend has a completely different model than I do with the same main speakers and it works fine). Also...every room differs absolutely, so a corner might sound great for some. REL subs crossover (or appear) wherever you want 'em to. I set the frequency on mine right where my main speakers lose the low end based mostly from listening...and aided by a test CD which I highly recommend if only just for fun (you can see from warble tones or whatever exactly what your room is doing to the sound at your head). It does take a while to dial it I just adjust the level a little here and there. I also think they're expensive new, but, again, used they can be a steal.
I have friends who say

"Oh....your cheating!" when they see my sub in the corner.

And I've also heard

"OH, I thought that was all coming from your speaker, Your using a sub!?)

Like using one is like wearing platform shoes or something?

My sub is crossed low and set at around 50 hz or so. I don't turn it up alot,just know... tastefully!

I run into certain ....mind sets.... that don't like the IDEA of using a sub. These people want a set of speakers to do it all for them, because they FEEL a proper set SHOULD give them ALL the sound.

In large rooms, using big speakers is fine, most people don't have big room.
If you set up good, small speakers on stands and use a quality sub you can get most all the benifits of great sound.

Why try and let the idea of what a thing should do or be. limit you on what you could have?

If I try and run large, full range speakers in my smaller room (11x22), I forfeit good imaging, soundstage, air, depth and so on. I would just get a ham fisted BOOM sound.

Me no like ham fisted booom sound....
True...there are those who are ethically challenged by subs, and I would be also if I spent $6,624.37 on "full range" speakers just to discover somebody gets a similar experience from adding a good sub to a more modest speaker. My groovy sounding Silverline Prelude/REL Q150e combo was purchased (used) for less than the cost of a decent brake job.
I fall into the 2 subs are better than one camp.

At least one person here is recommending a crossover point of 80 hz (or higher). Me.


My earlier post explains my thinking. My own experience leads me to believe that high crossover points work best in most rooms, provided extreme care is used in managing the crossover function. I understand you prefer a different solution, but mileage does vary.