So sub or not to sub

A simple question:

Is adding a sub to an already-good two -channel system a sellout of sorts? My de Capo monitors are wonderfully kaleidoscopic, yet when I throw my ancient Velodyne CH-8 into the mix, I DO get that lower presence that the monitors just can't deliver.

I feel like I'm cheating, though. Like getting a truck with an automatic transition.

Thoughts on adding a sub?

Its all relative...depending upon room size...some monitors can deliver in large settings...others can benefit with the addition of some low end...I wouldn't consider it cheating...its hard to get everything one desires in one product(even so called full range speakers)...unless money is no object...also depends on your listening material...bass driven electronica, reggae, even some rock can use the extra oomph down low...but if your happy with your sub...don't sweat it...if it sounds good....turn it up...haha....merry xmas!
In general the sub helps out the mid-range versus the bass. Get a cheap sub and place it in your system. Barely turn up the volume and hear how the mid-range changes. Probably clearer, less stress sounding than without it. Then you have to find a sub that can integrate with your system, that is the hard part.

Happy Listening.
I'm a believer and use subs in my main system, but I used to own deCapos and I don't think that they're particularly well suited to mate with subs. The deCapo's top end is gently rolled and provides a really good octave to octave balance when used full range. So good, IME, that you don't really notice the roll-off.... until you add subwoofers.

Having spent a fair bit of time with just such a set-up, I could never get a satisfying balance from a deCapo/subwoofer system.

Just one more data point for you.


PS If you do want a full-range system, there are excellent, modestly priced mains that work well with subs - provided you get the proper set-up down. IME, that's much easier with bass management software like Audyssey. Bottom line: I love subs but I think they're best utilized in a system designed to integrate subs from the get-go. Simply adding a sub to an existing system may work out well, but IME that's hard to feel confident about before the fact.
Get a used REL if you are cost sensitive (or even if you're not) as they leave your main speakers unmolested yet enhanced, not unlike my cousin Shirley. You don't need the greasy digital fingers of "bass management" wrapped around the throat of your lower mids and bass to get great sound as you should simply pay attention to sub placement, the sub's frequency range, and level. Note that a good sub "charges" the listening room with the warmth of ambient and instrumental lower frequencies and makes everything sound more realistic, thus making the listener a better person.
Agree with Wolf, sort of. I'm not sure I agree about Shirley but, about a sub, yea. Try to get a sub with speaker level connections and run the signal out of the amp speaker taps. Phase and gain are all you really have to set. I know REL likes their x-over set below the mains low freq but, I've had success with my x-over all the way open.
Wolf, that's what I thought. Now - in relation the the two monitors, where's the best place Shirley would say to put the sub in the room?
Simao, try placement of the sub between the speakers and a little ahead of the plane their on.
I'll always vote for using a sub with bass management -- digital or analog, doesn't matter -- the benefit to the main speakers makes it a no brainer. The reasoning is the same as that used in the main speakers -- they use crossovers so that the drivers operate in their linear region. Why wouldn't you want to do the same when adding a sub?

A significant advantage of a sub is that if it can be optimally placed it will provide a smoother bass response than main speakers placed for optimal imaging.

I have no experience with your speakers and trust Marty's comments.
I have a pair of Verity Parsifal Encores and a Rel Stadium III sub. I've had this system for a couple of years and haven't changed anything. I do on occasion turn off the sub, and sometimes will only play the monitors and let the lower cabinets remain as stands. All different sounds with different qualities. The midrange and staging sound the best with only the monitors. That's in my room.

Room treatment is important when adding more bass because you have additional waves moving around at different frequencies competing with the mains or monitors. I say go for it especially if you like low frequency sound and "movement". Even more if you can treat the room.
I run B&W 804S full-range and two Rythmik 12" subs from line level signal. I used to have a REL Storm III. The 804 + REL sounded better than 804 alone. The setup with the two Rythmiks sounds a lot better than with the REL.

The key is setup: multiple bass sources provide a smoother bass response. Google Dr. Earl Geddes and his theory and multiple setup approach. Very useful!
The Rythmiks provide a level of tuning the REL just does not provide.
Another key is using measurement software (I use REW) and a measurement mic to test multiple room responses from different sub locations, crossover frequencies, gain, phase, etc. Each sub has it's own tuning, so not a trivial task if you plan on evaluating by listening only.

All in all, in my book subs are a must have. Still wondering about hi-passing the speakers so to avoid having them and the speaker amp reproduce the lowest end they really aren't suited for handling (I use tube amp). On the other hand, two additional bass sources smooth out the response further. I guess we get to pick our poison.

Multiple bass sources have the POTENTIAL to provide a smoother response over a wider area, but there is no guarantee.

See the multi-sub paper for details:

and "Getting the Bass Right" for an understanding of small room acoustics:

All of the Harman whitepapers are worth serious study:

Room treatments are of more benefit for higher frequencies than bass, due to the smaller wavelengths. It's not that it can't be done for bass, it's just that they have to be huge to be effective. Bass frequencies interact with the physical room dimensions (again, due to the wavelength) and it doesn't matter if the bass is created by the main speakers or a sub. Since it's the location of the bass source within the room that is important, a sub has a distinct advantage as a bass source over main speakers.

Sounds like an excellent resource, full of passion and knowledge. I don't have too much of a bass issue but i'm sure he can help.
You have to move the sub around to get it right...walls and corners can be your friend in what you hear at your listening spot, and a single sub works in MY room because I'm lucky. Dr. Earl Geddes claims (more or less) that one's taste (or opinion on bass quality) needs to be ignored until supported by test data. This is why I don't have him over anymore. That, and he keeps staring at Shirley. In the time it takes to read through white papers and well thought out science backed opinion, you could have moved your sub around a little, adjusted its level, and started having fun.
I tested many Velodyne's for stereo use. To be honnest I did not find them fast enough. The same about the older Rel subwoofers. In the past I sold many rel subwoofers. In the last few years I lend many old customers Monitor Audio subwoofers. They all sols there Rel subwoofer. Because they all went for the much better integration caused of the better response. I would take soem time to test some different subwoofers. And you will hear which one matches best. Room acoustic systems work often good for subwoofers. You get less acoustic problems. Audyssey Pro gives you one of the best integration for subwoofers. Or even the best level in what I call 'stealth' integration. Goodluck!
Wow - you all are awesome. Thanks for pdf's and all the advice.
I am a big fan of sub in two channel systems but you have to run a true highpass crossover. It can not be done well with out it.
Bo1972 what continent and country are you from?
James633, what kind of high-pass crossover do you use, and how is your system set up for this? I have been pondering this route for a while.

Wolf, there's nothing more practical than a good theory. I went over it briefly, tried it out, measured, listened, and confirmed it worked for me. If complex theories make someone frieghtened, it's ok to stay away and pretend they aren't going to work anyway.
Always power sub if you can. No downside.
I don't suffer baloney well after decades as a professional in the music business, and that includes nonesense such as woofer "speed" in reproduction of low frequencies, many (not all) theoretical or supposed scientific explanations of why something sounds good, or blind acceptance of what anybody else thinks is the "correct" or "corrected" sound of music. And, I can spell "frightened." Note that Bo1972 has said that he uses stereo subs at high crossover frequencies which are then squashed by digital compression and limiting to make them THATS music!
I use a Paradigm Signature Servo sub. Nice thing about the Servo sub is that it permits close adjustment for phase alignment, x-over cut-off and loudness. Depending on my mood and planetary alignment, I fiddle with the controls.

Right now, I'm in a "less is more" mood. So, I turned down the loudness and cut back on frequency x-over to about 40 or 50 Hz. I even adjusted the phase alignment to attenuate bass at the x-over point just a tad to reduce what sounded like a bass resonance.

I agree with the comments above that the sub adds presence to the sonic presentation. It seems to enhance imaging and depth of field. The problem is the room. Nevertheless, it is highly unlikely that I would employ the methodologies used by Bo .... So I guess I'm holding where Wolf ... is.

Btw, the more current high-end Paradigm sub offering permit even closer bass adjustment with a built-in bass equalizer mike. One day, I may try that out.
I used the measurements and advice in the HK Whitepapers that Reynolds posted and placed my sub in the corner behind me, facing the monitors. Changed the music incredibly for the better. I set the low-pass crossover at around 60Hz and had to dial back the volume on the sub. But it sounds good.

My "listening room" (i.e. finished basement) is something like 10' by 14' with 7' ceilings, so I don't know how many nodes and standing waves and such there are, but I've been working on amateur room treatments - art canvases; strategically-placed potted plants; a lack of sharp corners - to try and get as much sound as I can.
FWIW, I also found that swapping the Electroharmonix 6922 tubes out of the pre-amp section of the LSA and replacing them with Amperex 7308's also tightened up the bass.
Subs are nowhere if you have good speakers however MAGICO is making the best subs the only ones i could live with.
I have to say that since systems are taste AND room dependant there is nothing that works for everybody, except maybe keeping level under control...I'm sure many digital system squashers sound great to the swquashees (squashoids?), but I'm into "less is more" and ear trustage (!) in both live sound mixing and active hifi listening.

From the Harman web site you can download a room mode calculator that will tell you the frequencies that are relevant for the dimensions of your room.

I suggest you use an SPL meter to match the levels between the monitors and sub. You can download test tones from many places. Even a fraction of a dB is worth correcting.
Bob and Wolf, been thinking about some basement/sound room mods. Not much I can do about speaker placement, but was thinking about using corkwood panels to absorb resonant bass nodes. Are you familiar with sound absorbing decorative wall materials that may take the edge off some bass ringing? One problem area is that my wife hung wall pictures. The pics vibrate at certain frequencies. Was thinking the corkwood might at least deaden some of those vibrations. Suggestions???

Btw, my wife demurred to allowing me to install some dedicated electric circuits. I may run 3 or 4 dedicated romex lines, which would include a 10 to 12 gauge circuit just for the amp. That may be a big help.


I stick little rubber feet under the lower corners of wall art, otherwise the furniture seems to control things somewhat. Bass frequencies are longer sound waves that are harder to wrangle, but I do know that tube traps of some sort can work if needed.