Subs: sealed vs. ported

I need to add a sub. I don't have one now, so I'm not replacing anything, and I also don't have much in the way of preconceived notions. My reading is making me think sealed is preferred for music/2.1 channels, and ported is preferred for movies. Is this a fair assessment. I know everyone will have their own preferences for brands/models, and I'm open to suggestions, but it seems my first decision should be sealed or ported (or one of the brands that has ports and comes with plugs?)
REL subwoofer(s) are the best in the business, IMO.
By design, those are sealed sub(s). Even the smallest models sound excellent, very musical.
Everyone has their preferences. Some "Audiophiles" would even gasp at the thought of using sub woofers in a 2-channel rig.

Your initial findings are generally correct. I would first look at your intended uses. Mostly home theater and lots of Deceptacons roaming through your living room? Large ported subs might be to your liking. Want to break out your Massive Attack and Victor Wooten collection? A stereo pair of sealed (REL, SVS SB13s) would probably work better.

Also consider integration with your mains. What are you using, and how low can they go? How about your room size? Do you need stealth for WAF, or can you plop a large ported box anywhere you damn well choose?

I haven't heard any of the ported/sealed hybrid designs, but to me they seem a bit gimmicky. I'm all for tuning (a parametric EQ is a nice feature), but it seems the hybrids are trying too hard to be all things to all people.
I use a Rel Storm III in one of my 2 channel systems - it's a ported design and sounds awesome.

My current mains are Infinity Kappa 7's, circa 1988, which I still like, most days, but they need to be upgraded. Someone here opined that they are 3db down at around 37Hz and that seems about right. I have liked some B&W's, but the PSB Synchrony are what is highest on my radar now. (Subject to change without notice). WAF is less of a concern than for some, she's very indulgent.

I am building as I go, and the mains will stay for a while longer. I have read a lot, since getting time at a dealer with good stuff is kinda tough. The Hsu, SVS, and others get lots of good press, and I'm not opposed to going internet-direct, since they offer trials, and whatever I hear in a store is not likely to bear much resemblance to what I hear at home.

Yes, the most common use will be movies, so dramatic effect is important, but 2 channel is when I'm going to care most about sound quality and integration with the mains and the room. Music is all over the map, from Pink Floyd to Enya, Diana Krall to Dire Straits. My initial thoughts were that the sub would be movies-only, but then reality came home, and to have mains that wouldn't need a sub would cause divorce for cost and WAF reasons.

Sounds like a sealed sub is my best bet - give a little on the explosions, but have better music. I have read good reports on REL as well, but not really looked into them much yet. Not sure I could 'sell' the idea of two subs, but again, that seems to be the preferred option for music. How does that math work? 2 10" = 1 13", for example? All other things being equal?

Thanks again!! I probably have too many questions, but I am not the kind to buy 'something' just to have 'something', I want to get what I will be happy with first time. If that means waiting to save up the $2K, instead of getting the $500 one, then I'd rather do that.
REL subs are simply excellent subs. There are many good companies that make good subs. Personally I have a Revel B15; and if I hadn't gone Revel, then REL and JL Fathom would have been the other two to consider. You owe it to yourself to have REL on your super-short list.
The main benefit of dual subs in my opinion is having the ability to balance the low frequencies throughout the room, especially for music. The downside is you might find yourself looking for another black box to EQ the subs (more boxes and $$$)

I'm personally a fan of sealed subs. I've run a pair of SVS SB12s in the past that offered a great sound (smooth, muscial, well integrated bass)and impressive build quality. In addtion to the REL line, I would suggest taking a close look at the SVS SB13 Ultra.

I'm currently running a pair of HSU ULS-15s. If I can help with any questions about these, feel free to ask.
I've found a used ULS15 that I'm considering. I've looked into the SB13 as well. I'm leaning towards sealed - it seems when I'll care most about sound quality, sealed will be better, even if there's a trade off during movies. Hopefully, since I'm not used to having a sub I won't miss anything.

On the ULS15, Yakbob, do you use the wireless hook up, or is that just a gimmick that costs sound quality. It's not a big factor for me, but I was thinking it could at least help as I go through the placement ordeal. Find the right spot, then hardwire the sub?

I'll check out the REL's as well, since they seem to have a lot of fans. Thanks again..
I have not used the wireless function on the ULS-15s. My subs are set up stereo fashion next to my mains.'s nice to have the option, I just haven't needed it. And yes, it would make finding the right location easier. The only possible downside is interference with cordless phones or anything else that might use the same frequency as the wireless antennae. There are several channel options to combat this however.

You will not give up anything using the ULS-15 vs. a ported sub for movies. These things offer bombastic amounts of bass. My pair are somewhat overkill, but at the time I wanted more headroom than a pair of 12s would give in my room. Large volume, large vaulted ceiling, open floor plan...all that bad stuff.

That said, if sound quality is your main objective, I would still lean towards the SB13+ if your room is on the medium to small size. The ULS could be considered overkill, and while it goes a lot deeper and louder than my SB12 pair did, they required the employment of a sub EQ to tame them. My room had some awful room gain. The SVS subs weren't as chest thumping deep, but in my opinion offered up better sound quality for music. I'd expect the SB13 Ultra to provide better SPL output than the SB12+...maybe as much as the ULS-15. But I don't know for sure.

As a home theater sub, the ULS is flawless, and a great value in my opinion. For 2-channel audio, I'd likely seek out another SVS sealed unit...or two. :-)
I have a SVS PB13 Ultra in piano black in a 14x20 basement. Simply amazing for movies and music. I had a platform from HIFI Pyon custom built for it and I now have an AS-EQ1 to calibrate it to my Casta Model A speakers. I find the output of this sub to be incredible. Ive owned a Paradigm Servo 15(sealed) and a M&K MX350MK2(ported-pushpull) and the SVS just eats both. Ive thought of going with two SB-13 Ultras(sealed) but I'm told for movies my sub would allow more low level output compared to the two sealed subs. If down the road I wanted more I would just get another PB13Ultra or get one SB13Ultra and have the best of both worlds.....Big thumbs up for SVS...Definitely Recommended..
Yeah, I'm not doubting the grin-factor with the SVS PB13 Ultra, or the SB13 Ultra, or really any of the 'real' subs out there, especially since I have no reference. And I'm guessing that placement/integration will make as much or more of a difference than the variances between brands?

I'm not a cheapskate, but I like deals as well. So right at that point when the money's burned almost through my pocket, whichever one I can get 'the deal' on will likely find it's way to my room...leaning towards sealed, liking the SVS, can't shake the ULS15, even though I have seen some disparaging comments on HSU, I can't ignore the reviews either...(There are those who would call a Krell amp 'crap'...;)) Not having much luck finding REL, although eBay has one in Florida for $700, an R505? Any comments on that?
Yakbob - Any input on an REL Stadium III for $1700? One just popped up within 15 miles....A little higher than I wanted to go, but for a one time purchase...?
English, I do not have any experience with the Stadium III. I'd read some of the professional reviews to see if its the one for you. One thing to look into: Can the Stadium be hooked up via speaker terminals and a processor's SUB OUT simultaneously? Since you want use for both HT and music, you want to make sure you'll get the LFE signal for Dolby
material on movies and HD concerts (if that's your thing).

Another model to consider if you're still shopping... the Vandersteen V2W. A used one would easily fall into your budget and they get great reviews. This model falls into the HT category, but uses a similar design to their 2WQ which gets rave reviews as a low end support "woofer" for 2 channel audio. Both models use 3 8" drivers for faster response. The V2W also has a 12" passive radiator to help with movie material. I'd personally love a pair of 2WQ's with a V2w wired via SUB OUT for movies. But 3 big boxes aren't going to happen in my house. ;-)
Thanks again! I'm afraid my head is starting to spin, and if pea soup starts coming out, my wife won't be happy! I'm doing it to myself though. :)

There's a used ULS15 for $700.00, the SVS I haven't found used, so $1600. For that difference, the ULS15 would be the way to go. If I really didn't like it, I could get back most of what I pay.

Then comes the joys of set up. I'm not wild about trusting wireless, but maybe just use it while I'm searching for the right placement, then hardwire it?

Thanks again all!
I believe so, in fact they recommend speaker level in and LFE. I'm planning on looking at it tomorrow, and IF the guy will deal, we'll see. Thanks for the Vandy recommendation. I have a dealer somewhat close, although he suggested dual PSB's or one JL Fathom, but that's not happening!
I had a REL Stadium II for 10 years in my system and paid less than $4000 new, over 15 years ago.
Can't see how it's still worth $1700 today?
At any rate...... I now have two Vandersteen 2Wq subwoofers which quite frankly make the REL sound unconvincing in comparison?
You could buy a new Vandy for the same price as the used REL and add another one when you have the funds?.......or try and purchase two used ones?
You won't regret it.
Yeah, I let it go...I got a ULS 15 coming for $700. I figure it may be a tad high for used, but if I really don't like I can get most of it back resale. SVS would have been first choice, but for half the money I figured I'd try this. Now the interminal wait for the brown truck. Thanks for all the input. It seems any of the 'main' manufacturers have their die-hard fans, and pros-cons, but ultimately the sonic differences are likely to be negligible in my system at my level of experience. Having nothing now, anything will be a huge improvement. Plus the all-important factor of SWMBO preferring the Rosenut finish to the black.

Next up: center channel, mains and real amplification....
Good to hear English,
I'd be interested to hear your thoughts once you'e spent some time with the ULS. I think you'll find it provides ample amounts of bass. Best of luck.
Not-so-patiently waiting for it...

Since my system is pulling double duty, 2 channel music and HT, are there any tricks/tips for hookup? Again, Yamaha RXA3010 AVR with sub-out. I'm hoping the sub's bass will relieve some of the load on my 2-channel amp powering the inefficient mains and squeeze a little better performance in 2-channel. When I select '2-Channel Stereo' on the AVR, does that drop the sub and make it literally 2-channel (as it is now), or can it be a sub-sat setup?
Ample??? Um...yeah, you could say that!! I have it basically setup - it's in the best spot in the room, just need to dial it in. But there's no lack of output!

Definitely helping the mains. I have an old demo disc I know well, and hearing details I haven't heard out of these speakers before. Not as good as the 805D's I listened to, or PM1's for that matter, but they were in a sound-conditioned room. I know what can be heard, let's just say that, and I know what I've been used to on this system, and there's a definite improvement. These main speakers aren't the best with imaging - they do well with vocals, not so great if lots of instruments get going - but they are having an easier time of it now.
I don't know much (anything) about your Yamaha, so wouldn't be able to offer any advice on settings. I suspect you've fiddled with bass settings "per mode". I know some AVRs offer the option either a basic crossover to the sub, or summing the low frequencies of both the mains and sub. This latter setting can cause bass bloat, especially if your mains aren't up to the task.

Best of luck with your setup!
I ran the AVR's room measurement program. Initially when the mains were still set on 'large', I had no sub on 2 channel, but changing them to 'small' brough the sub into play. There are room problems, watching a movie last night I was getting spurious vibrations from the front wall and fireplace area, and something on the side wall was vibrating too, so I have to tracking down and tuning to do.
I do consulting in sound and vision. In the past I did sell a lot of Rel sub. Also the more expensive ones. I always had stereo highend systems without sub's. For me they were too slow. At this moment Rel is not that big anymore. In europe there are many brands which are superior in subwoofers. Many clients bought other brands and they are all much more happy. For stereo I only found a few fast enough. It needs a 15 inch unit, ( Not made of paper), big amp and sealed. And only one speaker unit on the front side. With Audessey Pro you can get fully stealth low freq. I never thought this was possible. Using it to 120 hz is bringing it to a new level. The Old rel subwoofers like stadium became very noisy above 60 hz. because they were slow like hell. I use a Platinum PLW-15 subwoofer from Monitor Audio. It is so much faster compared to Rel. I would not even dear to sell it to my clients anymore.