Speakers with bass response?

I have a decent speaker system, BW N804's but they seem a little bass shy at times, so I tried adding a sub, to see the difference. First; the BW asw500, real muddy at any volume, it's really designed for small HT, next was the BW asw1000, plenty of kick but no clarity or real "musicality", then I went up to their asw 2000, well, it occassionally added some musical low frequency, but muddy, and it seems to clip and pop at any volume. I wonder if I need different speakers to really get that bass I'm looking for, or will a good sub do it, or is it something else in my system?
Components: Classe CA300 amp, Classe cp50 pre-amp, pro-silway xlr interconnects, BW N.804's and the weak link: Technics CD.
Not inexpensive, but the Vandersteen 5s are bass champs, and the bass is highly tunable. The 5s have built in subs that are near flat to 22 HZ-- they are powered by built in 400 WPC amps. Many also like the Vand. 3A/3Asig with subs also.

It seems to me you just need a good sub (or two) that integrates well in your system and room. A friend has a pair of REL IIIs that he really swears by. Good Luck. Craig
Try taking a look at the thread below. Scott did a very nice job of compiling info for those that have never seen that specific magazine. It has a TON of info in it about subs.


As to the weak link in your system, i would definitely say it was your Technics player. However, i would think that it would be more limiting in terms of upper mid and high frequencies than i would the bass department. Sean
You can also try to use a good speaker cables, which would give you a deeper controled bass, and try to get another CD player, but if you are looking for sub which is also musical you should try Sonus Faber Gravis, it's a very nice sub.
I'm not a real big fan of subwoofers, even though they are a relatively inexpensive way to add very deep bass. And I sell what I think is one of the more musical subs out there, especially in its price range - the Hsu's. But I think the best solution is to get a pair of main speakers that does what you want. Good main speakers will be better integrated and (imho) more enjoyable long-term than a satellite/sub system.

I'm not real sure what your top priorities are in improving the bass. Do you most want deeper, louder, better pitch definition, or all three? (Of course you want all three, but unless you are ready to part with big bucks, best to prioritize). And, if you're going to be changing speakers, what do you want to keep about your B&W's, and what would you like to improve on? And, perhaps most important, what particular loudspeaker colorations or inadequacies are you most unwilling to live with?

My taste in speakers runs towards relatively "boxless" sounding speakers, perhaps a touch on the warm side, then in the bass I don't mind trading off some loudness and extension in favor of pitch definition. I really like to be able to easily differentiate all the notes the bass player is playing. And did you know that there's as much difference between cello and double bass as between cello and violin? Yet on many speakers we aren't entirely sure whether we're hearing a cello or a double bass! And to really win me over, when called for drums have to be rendered as a sharp WHACK rather than a fat BOOM, even if the BOOM shakes the room more.

I think that for roughly the cost of your 804's plus a good sub, you can wind up with a pair of full-range speakers that will do the job.

However, I suggest you at least try another CD player (or DAC) first, as that may do more to resolve your problem than you would expect.

Best of luck to you in your quest!
Are you running the b&ws full range? If you dont get the blend from main to sub right it can cause boom or ill defined bass even from a good sub. If you are not using the high pass for the mains you may have to set the low pass lower than you might think. Also, phase is important. That said, I am thinking of upgrading my sub and the right path is not easy to figure out. Im considering everything from a compact (relatively) folded horn to a pair of moderately compact sealed cabinet subs. Good luck.
I was in your position a couple of months ago. I had some B&W bookshelf speakers and wasn't happy with the bass response. Get an all-in one box speaker, don't go the sub route. You will be happier with stereo bass than just a sub. There are tonnes of great speakers in the 804 price range that have great bass and will kill the 804. Check the forums for speaker threads.
Buying a cheap sub with the N804s kind of defeats the purpose of buying good speakers. (Cheap bass sound) A REL Storm III or better is really needed.
Sell the N and pick up Matrix 802 Series 3 for around 2500.00. You will have your bass and save some money. Do not get a sub. A DAC may be money better spent or a Rega CD player. IMO
If you like the general sound of the 804s it would be dumb to give them up. Other speakers may offer better bass response but they won't sound the same. Go with sagarbrie's suggestion and also loose the technics player. It's an injustice to your speakers.

Hey Joeb,
I think Sugerbrie and 2001impala have the right idea. I've heard the N804 w/the Rel Storm III and they are made for each other. The Rel sub blends seamlessly and once you free the N804's from the responsibility of reproducing the LF signal, they will sound much better overall. I came very close to purchasing this combo myself but a friend turned me on to the Revel Performa series and I fell in love. But since you already have the N804's, buy the Rel,(used for about $1200-$1300 on the 'gon) and enjoy the sound. Oh, don't forget to upgrade that CD player. That will make a huge difference as well. Good luck w/your decision.....John
thanks to all who offered advice. Of all the options, the best tweak, and best use of funds, is to get a good cd player. these speakers really are quite remarkeable in their price range, and I don't know of many speakers that can get that good of bass without jumping up quite a bit in price. Although there has been some good comparisons offered. These BW 804's offer execptional imaging, clarity
and depth of highs and midrange, and even good bass response, depending on the recording. but there is a bit of a trade off in "depth" and sound stage in the bass department. but again, this is a very subjective business.
I noticed a great improvement in low end quality when I replaced my 8 year old cdp.

Great system you have there. The electronics you have are very good, as are the interconnects.

One question though.......... Are you running your B&W Nautilus 804's full range, or are/were you planning to cut them off at a certain frequency and then letting a sub take over???

Because if you are doing that, then I would guess that if you are set on using a sub, then I think that something like an REL Strata III (at least) should do the job. If you are on the other hand, thinking about replacing the speakers themselves......... then the only speakers that I can think of that has the bass response that you want, that also doesn't cost a mint would be one of the Vandersteen models (if you had a system like mine (KEF Reference 102/Adcom GFA-545 Mk II/Adcom GFP-750/MITerminator 2/MITerminator 3), then I would say the starting point would be one of the "2" models (either the 2ce or the 2ce Signatures). But since you seem to have higher-end electronics than I do, then I think you should start with one of the "3" models at least, working up to the "5" if necessary). Try that first to see if that gives you the improvement you are looking for.

But also, I would also think that a CD Player upgrade is in order. The "LEAST" expensive CD Player I would consider would be an Arcam CD72. Either try that first, or a Rega Planet and see if that would gives you the improvement you are looking for. If either of these players improves the bass response that you are getting from you B&W Nautilus 804's, then you may have solved the problem then. If not, then I would go ahead and address the speakers at that point.

Good Luck........

Chas...well, you are the second person to ask if I am runing the speakers "full range", and now I must reveal some inexperience here. As far as I know, I am, I am wired thus: cd to pre, pre to amp, amp to speaker. My sub, is connected to a "reg. out" on the pre-amp. So, maybe you could explain the difference between "full range" and ?
I don't know if the B&W 804's are full or limited range speakers. But if you're in the market for a subwoofer in the $1k to $5k range, I would recommend the following in no particular order:

1. Aerial Acoustic's SW12 12 inch subwoofer at $4500. Infinite configurations/dials, inputs and outputs. Every review of this sub puts it at the top with the best.

2. Bag End's Infru-sub 18 inch subwoofer at $1600. I've demo'ed this sub for several weeks. It was so tight and musical it was almost too tight if you can believe that. Does not offer much in the way of configurations or inputs and outputs. Cheap construction quality and few ergonomics, but it certainly does the job well.

3. Triad Platinum 18 inch sub at $2k. Probably right between the Aerial SW12 and the Bag End subs. Enough configuration dials, inputs, etc. to work with most systems. Very musical but just not quite as tight as the Bag End. I've enjoyed this sub in my 2-channel system for the last 2 years mated with my Aerial Acoustic 10T's. The 10T's are full range and excellent reproducers in the lower regions. The subwoofer simply is there to pick up the lowest octave.

I also have Nautilus 804. Marantz has good bass weight, I found the Rega Planet to be bass light on ProAc 2.5 / Dynaudio 3.0. Cary CD 303 also good in the bass but the sonic improvements were virtually inaudible to me. Since you know you want to upgrade CDP this will at least give ou the full 40Hz (-2db) that N804 can do. I use single (not Bi-wire) Home Depot 12 ga and found no loss in the bass over DH Labs Q-10 external biwire.
Try puttingthe N804 more in a corner. Against the wall won't help since they are front ported. You will loose bass definition though.
Joeb -- Before rushing out to spend money on new equipment, you ought to try a bit of repositioning first. Depending on your room, many things can play into how much bass you receive in your listening position. The general considerations usually are:

How far are the speakers from the rear wall? The closer to the wall they get, the smaller the soundstage, but the more pronounced the bass.

How far are they from the corners? Generally, moving the speakers to corners will increase the bottom end by reflecting the bas outward.

How are the speakers coupled to the floor? My ProAc's are coupled to the floor using 2 inch spikes, but I've noticed that when placed directly on the floor (carpet over hard wood), I get quite a bit more low mid bass, in my case to the point of making the sound muddy. You'll certainly find different results with the B&W's, but playing with the coupling is worthwhile.

How far apart are the speakers? I can't speak for everyone's setup, but in mine the closer the speakers, the more pronounced the bass. This, I believe, is due entirely the the focal point of the sound and should vary from room to room. However, I've noticed that a foot difference in separation makes a huge difference in both the listening position and in the bottom end I get. Also, when the speakers are placed along the long wall in the room (so I have a shorter listening distance), I get a huge amount of bottom end relative to rotating them 90's.

I've listened to the 804's and while I wouldn't consider them bass heavy, properly driven (as your's seem to be) they always seem to provide more than enough bottom end. Anyway, it doesn't cost much to push the speakers around the room and see if any changes in position solve your problem.

-- Ken