Subs/Monitors vs Full-Range Speakers - Pros/Cons

I've enjoyed a variety of full-range (near full-range) speakers over the years, but I recently decided to give some monitors a try. Inevitably - as would be expected - I like the strengths of the monitors (imaging, sound-staging, ability to disappear...), but I do miss the extended bass response.

I am currently running the Pioneer S-2EX (truly exceptional monitors ' "junior TADs"). I like them well enough to either keep them and incorporate a sub(s) or trade up to the S-1EX floor-standers - they sound great too (with the extended bass I want), but they just don't image quite as well in my room) - I could live with them though, if a sub setup with the S-2EXs doesn't pan out...

I'm looking at JL audio subs. I would rather utilize one sub ("cost" factor) than two... My concern is whether or not a good sub can truly ever be effectively integrated with monitors. I’m hoping so…

Can those of you having had successful integration with subs provide me with some guidance…Can I get by with one sub or is a stereo pair truly necessary. My monitors go down to 38Hz – is that “40Hz range” crossover point low enough provide a seamless integration (i.e.: will I be able to tell where the sub is when it “kicks in”)? How difficult is placement? General pros/cons…etc…?


Hello, you said "Can I get by with one sub or is a stereo pair truly necessary. My monitors go down to 38Hz – is that “40Hz range” crossover point low enough provide a seamless integration (i.e.: will I be able to tell where the sub is when it “kicks in”)? How difficult is placement? General pros/cons…etc…?"

One sub works , especially when crossed over low for music. There is no stereo signal that low. Crossover below the main speakers 38hz, try 32hz so the sub does not interfere with the purity of essence of the monitors. For seamless intergration do the sub crawl (place sub in the listening position and move yourself around the room, while listening for the most even bass). Do this and you can't go wrong. No downsides just intergrated bass with extension dow to 20 hz flat.
Have integrated JL subs with monitors many times with great success. You should have no problems as long as you cross over low enough so the bass will not intefere with the midrange. Agree completely with acoustat6. JL Audio is an excellent choice and very easy to use but for proper set up it does take time and patience don't be afraid to try different sub locations, one sub should be more than adequate and you could always add another if funds permit. Keep us posted and Good Luck.
I have never been able to find subs that integrate truly naturally with monitors. I even went to a JL demo last Winter and yes the bass was prodigious and as musical as sub 50-45Hz tones can be but I still liked the floor standers better. Is there any way to set up the floor standers so that they image the way you want? Maybe you have to deal with the dreaded "its the room problem" I sure hope not for your sake.
Thanks guys...appreciated!

I am glad to hear from some who have had success with even one sub. I've heard that it can be done. I do remain skeptical though based on the known issues associated with integrating subs. I hope my dealer will allow me to demo one so I can be sure.

Mechans, The monitors just disappear soooo well and they look good! They actually look really great in my room (my wife even likes them). I really want them to work. The S-1EXs are really big in my room - they look a bit gaudy. But, overall, you're likely right that the floor-standers will provide a better solution.

Thanks again...

My experience with modestly priced systems is that setting up the monitors for the best imaging and ambience and then separately setting up the one or two subs for low end is rewarding. The midrange and high range is what you hear, the low range is what you feel. It helps to have a room analyzer but nothing takes the place of careful listening. First set up the monitors where they sound the best. Then, the subs to fill in. The subs should never be "heard". If you hear them while listening to music, the crossover is to high or their gain is too high. You should only notice them if you turn them off. I use an REL and their tuning advice on the Sumiko website is very helpful. Good luck.
I just integrated a sub into my 2-channel analog rig. I don't have monitors per se, but my C & C Abbys are close and in need of LF extension. I bought a NSM 15EXP sub. It's connected from amp speaker taps to sub amp speaker taps. The bass blends well, I can't locate it and only notice if I turn it off. It's not pants-flapping HT type bass, just natural for music. Get a sub and place it correctly. Enjoy.
Integration of monitors and subs seems well understood and solvable. I'm concerned that monitors may not have the dynamic range to represent large orchestrations well. In my experience good floor standers do big sound better than monitors, but my experience with monitors is quite limited. Are there monitors that represent large orchestrations well?

I've used a pair of Velodyne HGS-15s for years, and I agree you should never be aware of a sub as a sound source -- actually, you shouldn't be aware of any of your speakers as a sound source.

I have a single sub with my Dyn C1's crossed over at 34 hz and I can't imagine 2 subs. I get all the low bass I need/want with a single. Like others have said I just want to extend the sub bass not add loudness. Just want what the monitors can not reproduce.

As far as setting the sub up the hardest part for me was getting the timing right. I don't want the sound from the sub leading or lagging my speakers sound. When set up properly you can't tell where the sub is. Mine BTW is located about 6 ft to the right of my right speaker.
Xti16 - dual subs in my system are not for more bass, but for smoother bass response. If properly set up, two or more subs can reduce nulls/peaks where one sub cannot.
I tried feverishly to incorporate a JL Audio sub with my system. John, from Audio Video logic, was kind and generous enough to come over and spend a couple of hours. John brought with him his "tools" and measured pink noise from various positions. We moved the main speakers around, we moved the sub around. Even John agreed that the integration wasn't seamless.

My room produces quite a dip (a "suck out" really) between 80 - 100 cycles. No matter what we tried, the sub couldn't correct this issue (without crossing over at too high a frequency - where we could really hear the sub). I believe that the "monitors" simply do not produce enough energy for my room and I am therefore going to move up to the floor-standers (the S-1EXs).

The S-2EX are astonishingly good. By far the best small speakers I have ever heard at anywhere near their price-range. I can only hope that the much larger S-1EXs provide the same qualities with the needed extra energy and frequency response.

Thank you all for your valuable input. It was fun experimenting with the sub and the monitors.

Sorry to hear the subs didn't work out for you, and good luck with the full range speakers. One advantage of subs though is that those last 10Hz at the bottom can add a lot to the soundstage and ambiance. I've always preferred using subs, even on pretty full range speakers. Two subs are usually better at smoothing out the in-room bass response. A low x-over helps, but one main problem with subs is in the time domain: unless you have them next to your speakers, the low bass will arrive at the listening seat at a different time and confuse the sound. One option I've tried and enjoyed is the TBI (VBT) subs which are small and quick and can be placed beside the mains without dominating a room (see 6moons review).

AS you've experienced, the listening room is often a great obstacle to great bass. After experimenting with dozens of sub setups since my first M & K sat/sub system 25+ years ago, I've finally found bass satisfaction using a Tact system and Lyngdorf corner subs. It allows the monitors to be way out into the room (where they sound and image best) while the subs benefit from the gain of corner placement, all time aligned and with the bass humps and dips evened out. With the bass reasonably flat, the monitors (mids) can shine....
Thanks Richards.

I've heard some great set ups that effectively integrated subs. I my case, the monitors - as good as they are - were just too small for my room.

I now have the S-1EX's set up and I am very happy with the way they "resolved" the issues that most concerned me about the monitors. It was a case of having insufficient energy. The bigger speakers are voiced similarly, but they move more air and provide more bass in a way that suites the room about as well as can be expected (always room for some tweaking though!).

I appreciate all the great input.