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I would go for the amp change, but not necessarily with a higher powered version of the same solid state amp. Consider an OTL (the Joule sounds great with your speakers) or maybe Rogue monoblocks. My main speakers go down to 35hz and while I could always use more extension the bass output is more than satisfactory.
Since you specifically mentioned "bass weight" and not bass extension (the Sonatas go low enough) the sub may cause more problems. I've never heard a system with subs that sounded seamless, unless it was designed that way (Pipedreams and Airfoil come to mind, but they use multiple subs). Full range speakers are usually the desingers final statement and simply adding a sub is not that easy especially if the main speakers are ported.
No contest, get the REL. You have no idea how much you're missing, and any amount of words we can say here won't even begin to describe the improvement you are in for. The only people who aren't gaga over RELs are those who haven't gotten them yet or who haven't bothered to spend the time to get them broken in and tuned properly (both of which take a long time). Suggestions: 1. get the biggest REL ST series you can afford, the performance goes up dramatically with each and every step up. For me, one Stadium is the minimum. 2. On a performance per dollar basis, get one bigger one rather than two smaller ones. In other words, one Stadium will significantly outperform two Stratas if you can find a location for it that gives a smooth room loading. Of course, on an absolute basis, two is better. 3. Set the crossover point a LOT lower than you think you should, typically by half an octave or more. If your speakers are good to 45 Hz, start the sub at around 30 Hz (!) and play with it from there. Good listening!
I say change the amp and forget the sub. I have never had good luck with sub/speaker integration. It might be my room. I'm not sure. But I do know, the sub systems I have heard sound too fake to me. Granted, I haven't heard any 5000 dollar subs. But even the paradigm servo 15, which is a great sub, should be kept for the theater. That's my opinion anyway.
Karls is dead-on and I also have to second Glen's opinion on the MITs. The REL blends seamlessly with the few speakers I've heard it with (I use Thiels) and it really is true that you have no idea what you're missing until you hear it. My Strata III (great for a 13' x 17' room) did crossover best almost on top of the Thiel's low boundary but that seems to be the rarest configuration.
Hi Artemus_5; There already appears to be distinct disagreement about subs. I don't know how low the Sonata speakers are rated for-- and that is important here, but if rated to 30 HZ or so, a powerful solid state amp might be all you need, but it would be my inclination to go for good quality sub(s) if you really lust after deep, tight bass.
I recently got Vandersteen 5 speakers that have true built in subs that go to 22 HZ, are very tunable, and have built in 400 wpc amps to drive the subs. I have never heard such great bass, and I love them. But a friend uses REL subs with MG 3.6s very successfully. I think Karls (above) gives good advice.
Why don't you audition some systems with subs and see what you think? Good Luck. Craig
I have full range Aerial Acoustic model 10T speakers that product solid base down to about 24Hz. But I also have a Triad Platinum 18inch sub for the lowest octaves. It makes a difference, it's quite musical, and it's amazing just how much low level musical information is out there (whether classical, pop, folk, movie scores, etc.).
Highly recommend a good musical sub but it should definitely be larger than 10 or even 12 inches if you really want it to reach the lowest of the lows. Rarely a 12inch is useful unless it's a very high quality sub like Aerial's SW12.
More than any other audio component, make certain you know what you're buying because most subs have no musical definition or proper authority and only go boom-boom as the rock the foundation of your house like an earthquake.
Hello Garfish and others. The Sonatas are rated at 20Hz-28kHz. It's interesting to note that the speakers will go low when fed low. Some recordings make me think that a sub might be too much. However the 2nd generation (Sonata II) were given a 2nd 10" woofer which makes me think that the manufacturer thought they needed a little extra bass. The newer CJ amps supposedly have a better bass response than the older amps and that's why I was wondering if it might be the answer. BTW my MF-2200 is rated @200wpc. The MF-2500 @240wpc so there is not a great difference in power.
I just went and saw the Buggtussel factory. They have a subwoofer the Tegmentum 12. I heard this subwoofer powered by their own amplifier and processor unit. I listened to it with the Amygdala's and the Solitarious speakers that Buggtussel also makes. All I can say is I was very impressed. The sub was very musical and very powerful. It blended seamlessly with the other speakers, and coupled well with the room. Something to look at if you are in the market for a subwoofer. I know I am looking to add one soon :)
I'm having good results with Sunfire subwoofers. I know Bob Carver is controversial and often disparaged in the high end community, but his engineering is sound. His True Subs are tight, fast, and go low enough for me. I have a pair of True Sub Signatures supplementing a pair of WATT/Puppy 6s well in the low bass. I have a True Sub Mark II under a pair of Red Rose R3s, and the sub works in the low to mid bass. For this location, it sounds better than the REL Strata Mark II that it replaced. I have a True Sub Junior working with a pair of Proac 1 SCs, and this is effective in the mid bass but not really in the low bass. (The Proacs are in an installation that would not accomodate a sub bigger than the Juniors.) The fact that all these subs are as small as they are is important to the rooms where they are located.
Very interesting read, here. I had a storm3 it did wonders for my Aerial 10s. When I changed to Montana ESPs I never liked what the sub was doing;and sold it. I certainly concur; bass improvement is found in ALL the components that make up your system.--For me it was more the "tone" of the bass that mattered most to me. I have read threads by people whom have 6 subs.So, yes, we have our special,but different priorities. Tone of bass being mine.
To "piggyback" on the comments by Craig (Garfish), don't overlook the Vandersteen 2WQ sub. I recently added a pair of them (they are intended for use as a stereo pair) to my Vandy 3A Sig's (a reasonably full-range speaker with good response to about 30 Hz), and can highly recommend them. Because the Vandy 2WQ subs come with their own crossover, and are adjustable for both "Q" and efficiency, they are easy to integrate with just about speaker. Both subs have built-in 300 wpc amps as well. In a post I made 3-4 months ago which summarized the subwoofer tests performed by Widescreen Review magazine, the Vandy subs (both the 2WQ and the V2W) were among the highest rated models. You can often find the Vandy subs for sale on A-gon for around $800-850 (infact, there is one currently listed).
I think that you will get more out of the addition of a QUALITY sub(s) than you will an amplifier change. Keep in mind that this requires more physical room space, greater electrical demand, the aquisition of another amp and speaker cables if passive, the purchase of an interconnect or speaker cables if powered, etc... There is a LOT to think about when adding a sub(s).
Obviously, the biggest difference would be if your main speakers are pretty anemic to start off with. That last comment may not apply to your specific situation with the Sonata's, but i included it as a point of reference.
A high quality sub will help the most and be easiest to blend if you take the following matters into consideration:
You can actively cross over the mains at a relatively sharp slope to minimize their load and excursion. The use of a flexible crossover and "Q" or "blending" control is a MAJOR advantage.
You can run two subs and optimally place them ( not tucked away in the corner to go "boom, boom, boom" ).
Sealed designs are best in terms of being "tight" with excellent transient response but typically require very large boxes and BIG power. Second choice would be a very well designed transmission line, but these are much harder to build let alone mass produce. There may be some exceptions to this ( like any other "rule" ) such as the Linn Isobarik ( sometimes called "compound loaded" ) design. Craig's Vandy 5's use a variation of this design along with active equalization to achieve excellent in-room response.
Vented designs ( ported, slot loaded, passive radiator, etc... ) TYPICALLY suffer from poor definition, lack of punch, thicker and muddier sound, etc... This has to do with their measurably poorer transient response and increased ringing. As mentioned, there are exceptions to the rule IF the designers have done their homework. Vented designs, as a general rule, will show higher levels of output and greater low frequency extension. This is typically achieved at the expense of "speed", "pitch" and "definition" though. As George mentioned, "pitch" or "tone" of bass is also very important.
Driver size, excursion and how it loads into the room DOES matter. Front loaded designs will produce the most "punch" but also the highest distortion and ability to localize. Downloaded designs are easier to place, harder to localize and produce less "apparent" distortion. Unless the sub comes with a pre-mounted loading plate, you can fine tune the amount of output, extension and "pitch" of the bass by varying the distance from the driver to the floor. The down-side to downloading is that the drivers are typically of limited excursion and will suffer very noticeable "suspension sag" with age. They are also more prone to blowing up due to reduced power handling because of the natural "driver sag" that takes place. Dipole radiators ( identical drivers mounted on opposite sides of the cabinet ) can produce notably smoother in room response but are also typically lower impedance. This gives twice the radiating area and excursion capabilities when compared to one driver, but you've also got twice the reflected emf and a low impedance to deal with. The same goes for subs with several woofers.
Impedance of a passive sub should be taken into consideration. A lower impedance may offer greater power output capability from an SS amp, but it would have to work a lot harder ( and run hotter ) in doing so. Keep in mind that a lower impedance also reduces damping factor, making the driver harder to control. Very low impedances or very large excursion woofers require BAZILLIONS of watts to control and work best.
Sub cabinets should be deader than dead when you give them the "knuckle test". Otherwise their cabinets will resonate and "clog up" or "congest" the mid-bass, upper bass and lower midrange region. This makes blending very difficult as you typically end up with a sound that is "too thick" and easy to localize no matter what you try.
Take a look at Scott's ( Sdcambell ) excellent post about the Widescreen review subwoofer "shoot-out". If you can, try to pick up a copy of this magazine as it gives a LOT of data on the subs that they tested and others that they didn't. Hope this helps... Sean
Thanks guys I had pretty much decided on the sub but am somewhat surprised at how many would go with an amp upgrade instead.That being said, I have been looking at the REL storm primarily because the REL and ACI Titan are the only 2 subs that can be connected to 2 channel and 5 channel processor simultaneously. If I understand correctly this is not an option with other subs or am I missing something?
It appears to me that you would benefit more from optimizing what you have now (20Hz-28kHz), and add a sub later if you still felt that it was necessary. Things like dedicated AC mains, cable upgrades (pcs, ics, speaker cable), and possibly stouter amplification, can all have a substantial impact. Not just in the bass, but as someone else commented, across the entire range. I'll third Glen's MIT experience. I just upgraded to MIT Reference speaker cables and ics, and the bass extension and quality was immediately noticeable.
Gold's statement is just un-bright. He just condemned every powered subwoofer from $30k down to $100 without any jusification except that he had a bad experience.
Therefore, with that logic, it should be safe to assume that Gold no longer brushes his teeth because he developed a cavity 20 years ago.
I shall qualify a bit. If one purchases a good or better musical subwoofer and connects it to a good or better high-end system, and if one knows how to properly place and dial-in the sub to match the speakers, then one should be more than satisfied with the reproduction of a larger frequency spectrum.
A response to "Gold": if you have been disappointed with the way that subs reproduce music, then I'm inclined to say that you haven't heard the right sub(s). The Vandersteen 2Wq subs do a wonderful job with music. They are fast, dynamic, and very musical -- perhaps due to their sealed box design, using three 8" drivers rather than one 12-15" driver, and perhaps due to the use of a custom passive crossover that is inserted between the preamp and the power amp.
Please don't get the impression that I am trying to talk you into Vandy subs. However, FWIW, my Vandy 3A Sig's sound even more musical and responsive since adding a pair of 2Wq's, which Richard Vandersteen attributes to the reduced imtermodulation distortion of the main speaker's drivers. The point of my post is to encourage you to explore some other alternatives to subwoofers that may be more musical in your system. Good subwoofers can add a great deal to an already good system.
My Jaguars on their own are pretty strong to the mid 30s. Adding a pair of Titan IIs makes all the difference in the world. It isn't just the added last octave, it is the openess and increased sense of "ease" over the whole upper bass and even into the lower midrange. The soundstage is also significantly expanded and at the same time more focused! I use ACI's passive 85Hz line-level filters in front of my main amp. The Titan II crossover is actually set around 50Hz. You'd think this would result in a hole in the response, but instead it greatly eliminates an otherwise obnoxious room mode at around 70Hz. The bass is far tighter with the subs in the system.
Im not 100 percent sure on this but I beleive that in music all notes carry some bass in them regardless of frequency. Maybe its not so much the note but the the sound of the string off the wooden guitar or the way breath resonates off of a reed. I can tell you that a good sub will add to the entire spectrum. Recently I added a second sub and the difference was more like a cable upgrade then just adding bass.
Powered subs for music, not a good idea. They always mess up something. I have used Stereo Rels, Genesis 928s and single Vel HGS 15, Bag End Infra, Paradigm 15 etc. They always mess up something. Shut subs down and listen for a WEEK, I guarantee you will prefer naked. Eggleston Fontaines, Tyler Reference, Paradox 1s to name a few I have tried with subs.
Many say they prefer monitors w/sub ??? Monitors generally have no mid bass punch and are small sounding, adding a sub and you end up with no mid bass punch, small sound, but some added low rumble.
GOLD's statement may be more of a commentary on the REL than on subs in particular...my friend just hooked up a REL sub to the MUSICAL FIDELITY amp and said the sub sounded "WOOLY"...that is "kinda sloppy..not tight...not hifi"...and its possible that the built in amp has something to do with it ...so Dennis may have a point as well...i would love to A/B the famous REL with the brand new line of subs from ADIRE appropriately called the BRAMHA SERIES...10,12,15...and a monster 18!!...the 12 weighs like 40 POUNDS!!!adire audio.com
You don't have to be into organ music to enjoy the surprises you're in for when you hear the extra low frequencies on many an unsuspecting recording.
I've yet to hear a so called full range passive speaker system. Yes, there are some mega $ systems that go deep but tend to have little or no control of the room.
Subwoofers without room correction and remotely selectable EQ and volume can easily overload a specific recording. Control is key and way fun.
The Aerial SW-12 sub nicely rounds out my nearly full-range Aerial Model 9s. Filling out the bottom octave adds a bit of warmth, fullness and does make a difference wrt to depth and drive on certain music, IMO. It is not just the frequency extension but the drive that a good sub can add because even speakers with specs extending into the lower registers are seldom able to provide the level of drive in those lower frequencies that is provided by a good sub.
One method that has worked for me in matching a sub with main speakers, is to initially set both the upper frequency and level of your sub(s) a little lower than you would think is needed, listen for a period of time (e.g, a week or more) and then listen without the sub. If you miss how it sounds with the sub in the system, then you are probably on the right track. You can always bump it up a bit and repeat, until you reach a point where the sub is interfering with the balance of your system, then you have gone too far. I suspect many who don't like subs in their systems for music either have them turned up to high, either the frequency, the level, or both, or maybe have a sub that is too slow to mate well with their main speakers. Placement can also be played with. A corner placement has worked pretty well for me. I would like to add a second SW-12 and I am curious to hear from anybody using the AudioKinesis Swarm sub array.
I have been running different bookshelf size mains with a sub for many years. My room has a nasty peak at 40 Hz so it was always tough to get good sound with floorstanding speakers.
My current system is a pair of Revel M106 speakers paired with a REL R305 sub. I run the mains full range and drive the sub via a Velodyne SMS 1 which serves as the low pass crossover and allows me to tame the room mode. The sub is crossed over low with a steep crossover, it'seems just the right amount of low frequency given the decent bass from my mains.
I'm driving the system with a Conrad Johnson Classic 2SE preamp and a pair of Quicksilver Mid Mono amps running KT66 power tubes. My main source is a NAD M51 DAC fed by an OPPO 103d universal player.
For me a three piece system works best. Friends and family are always impressed at the performance of such a small set of speakers.
I'm using Golden Ear Triton One's. The sub is built in and can go to 16Hz. Sean, I think this qualifies as an exception in the case of vented. Dennisj, besides my T1s I know there are other high-end speaker manufacturers that use powered woofers of some kind. Not sure what you believe they are messing up but I do agree there can be an audible difference between a powered sub and non powered.
" I recently got Vandersteen 5 speakers that have true built in subs that go to 22 HZ, are very tunable, and have built in 400 wpc amps to drive the subs. I have never heard such great bass, and I love them. But a friend uses REL subs with MG 3.6s very successfully. I think Karls (above) gives good advice. "
Yeah, my Vandersteen 4As are 3 db down at 24 hz and I really don't think they need any bass reinforcement! My main system speakers roll off at 20 hz, so same thing - BUT I do have a pair of Hsu VTF-15H subs to use only for home theatre use.
I have a friend that sets if home theatres and he says he's never seen any client that doesn't crank the subs up too high - meaning higher than the program material and higher than he set them up using very expensive test gear.
A proper sub used for listening to music should 1 - take the weight off the lowest octave for main speakers that are troubled in that area, and 2 - make their presence felt not as the all to common boom, but subtly as a sense of filling in something you hadn't realized you were missing before you put the sub in the system.
I've also used Vandersteen subs and found them to be excellent value and second their recommendation above.
A second for the Rythmik F12G, a sub made expressly for music reproduction. The G in the model designation is for GR Research, whose designer/owner Danny Richie collaborated with Rythmiks Brian Ding on the design of the woofer (a paper-coned version of Rythmiks aluminum one, for increased low-level resolution) . The Rythmik subs feature a Servo Feedback loop of a new type, differ from (and superior to) older SF designs. For DIYers, the woofer is also available optimized for Open Baffle use, and two of them installed in a Dipole frame is THE sub for planar loudspeakers. Seriously good!
I used a single REL Q150e (150 watt 10") for years with no need for a digital room correction sound nanny (I think they can cloud things with more crap in the mix, plus my largish room has a tall sloping ceiling so it sounds good anyway) as I turn it up or down if needed (easy, and not so often). The mains run full range of course (a REL thing) and it all sounds amazing…got a second REL recently (Q108 MKII) from the same vintage and man…simply better…"charging the room" is part of what they do as that sense of low ambience is part of the natural sound of the world, and should simply be there. I turn the subs down to demo this for friends and they agree with me, and think I'm a wonderful person with great taste.
I just added a svs 12" sub (sealed) to my pair of rega rs5. Crossover set between 60 and 90hz on the sub depending on my mood, no cut-off on the regas.
very enjoyable, i may add a 2nd one later. I used to have vandersteen 2s sig, but now, i can customize the output.
i have always been reticent about using a sub because i thought good integration could be difficult to achieve. Well, This was a false belief. I actually may actually switch to true high-end bookshelves at som point.
Unless you are seriously over driving your amp, the sub is the obvious choice. However, swapping the amp requires no setup. Utilizing a sub, any sub, is all about the setup.
Since you want to run your main speakers full range, then REL is an obvious choice. That's the situation for which they were designed. Setup is no easier nor worse.