I need some input regarding a subwoofer purchase. I have a budget ceiling of $700 for a powered sub. My system's front end is digital, and I use a modest tube amp with Legacy Monitors. The system is used in a difficult room-vault ceilings, asymetrical wall placement, etc. I'm looking for something musical, not earthquake replicating. My musical tastes are eclectic: pop, rock, jazz, rap, folk. Aesthetics are probably not a concern as the speaker will most likely be placed out of sight. Should I go new vs used for the best value? Does a "self equalizing" speaker offer that large an improvement over a speaker integrated by ear? Brand and model suggestions? Thoughts, please.
The 10" SVS sub is $400 and the company has a stellar rep, although that is mostly (I think) built on their larger subs which start at app $600 for the 12" model.
However, IME, integration is first priority, before ultimate subwoofer quality. I use the Velodyne SMS-1 sub controller with middling quality subs and am delighted with the performance. Therefore, I'd personally spend less and buy a lower quality sub if that also allowed me to buy a good controller for improved integration. I'm sure others will disagree.
You can get the Velodyne SMS-1 sub controller on line at $400. This has a very flexible low pass filter (and a rudimentary high pass for your mains), room analyzer, and PEq to allow (with some work and some patience) seamless integration of a sub (or subs, up to 3) with many different main speakers. I haven't heard the 10" SVS, but given the company's reputation alone, I'd be awfully tempted to go with that sub and the SMS-1. Caveat: total cost of $800 is a bit over your max.
Marty, thanks for your thoughtful response. It's caught me off guard. You're saying that integration is the priority and that a trade off in the speaker (at my price point) could be considered. Do you think this is the best approach for a room that can sound very different depending on your location within it? I suppose if I can visualize the room's eq's, and I'm aiming (compromising!) for the best overall sound throughout the room, rather than "ideal" at the vaulted "sweetspot" or listening position, I would measure the eq at various specified positions in the room, note curves and try to reproduce a "summed" or average curve that doesn't have pronounced peaks or valleys for all measured locations? Assuming that the above approach makes sense, will the SMS help me achieve my goal?
I'm saying that my mediocre (compared to, say, JL or probably SVS) Velodyne SPLRs sound great when properly integrated with a good controller. They sounded pretty ratty when I tried to dial 'em in by ear. My take is that okay subs can sound very good, if you set them up correctly. I will never again attempt to integrate subs by ear - it's hard enough WITH the SMS! With the SMS, at least you'll eventually get it done right, but it will take some time & effort. By ear.....
As to multiple seating locations:
The Velodyne optimizes for 1 listening position. Audyssey makes a similar system ($2500 and up) that optimizes for multiple spots and multi-channel. No surprise that they also make a cheaper OEM product that's included in a bunch of AVRs and Pre/Pros from Integra, Dennon, Marantz, etc. This system is full range room correction - so you have to like that idea. As a practical matter, the stand alone box is pricey and the OEM product probably means replacing your preamp, pre/pro or AVR and that likely blows your budget.
Another route is from SVS which now markets a stand-alond Audyssey box for bass correction only. However, -and kinda strangely - since it's designed to take a subwoofer (LFE) input, it can't utilize the x-over function in the SVS subs. That is, it must take the LFE output from an av pre/pro, AVR, or external active x-over. It's also $700 or so and also presents budget issues for you.
In summation, no matter which sub I use, I will go for a controller, too, whether Velo's SMS, Audyssey, or some other brand. It's also the advice I'd offer you or anyone else - just based on my own personal experience.
PS If you do decide to go with the SMS, be aware that you need a monitor with S video input to use the room analyzer. Since it sounds like your set-up is AV, shoulodn't be any issue.
Bob is right on. I have the REL mini 108Q and it is great, to 30 Hz. It is a sealed design and is for smaller rooms. I have two Hsu subs, both great and integrate well with music. Your asymmetrical room is an advantage with subs because that may lessen room modes. I just bought a VTF-1 in Rosewood. It is a ported design. It is almost flat to 25 Hz, $550 plus shipping, 30 day return policy, and the finishes are truly beautiful. It is a great consideration. Good luck in your quest!
Bob has a point here. Trying to do both pieces at your budget is definitely a bit of a stretch. However, if I were looking for best performance for the $, I'd probably try to stretch, anyway. Here's why:
Warning: the words "slow" and "fast" are used in the following paragraphs as they are commonly seen on these threads. I'm not saying such characterizations are valid, just commonplace among those with opposing subwoofer philosophies. We'll call these 2 groups A) the "slow is okay" camp and B) the "distorted is okay" camp.
The first focuses on high output & low distortion. These subs are often ported designs. The downside is that such designs are often underdamped and strike some as "slow". The other side usually prefers highly damped subs and looks to sealed designs. These "fast" subs generally produce lots of distortion at low frequencies (relative to the ported designs).
The specs "distortion' and "group delay" (respectively) that reflect these performance paramaters are hotly debated. Each side points out that poor performance on the "other side's spec" is usually inaudible - even if the numbers look pretty awful. My point is that I tend to agree with BOTH sides. My subs perform relatively poorly on both specs, but sound GREAT! My take away is that most well regarded subs of EITHER design probably perform "well enough" on both specs, even if the numbers look ugly.
The further upshoot is that poor performance (and the vast majority of sub set-ups I've heard would qualify as "poor performers" to me) is probably due to something else - like poor integration. My experience bears this out. As my measured frequency response near the x-over improved, the system sounded better. Since I didn't expect this result when I started the experiment (long story there), I tend to put a lot of weight on this result. That's why I'd go controller first.
OTOH, you also have to remember, that you may hear hear things I don't/can't. People hear things differently, one to the next. Just because high distortion at 25hz or lots of group delay is completely inaudible to me, that doesn't mean it's inaudible to everyone! So, beware, YMMV.
One day, I'll replace my subs with better performers. The SVS SB12+ that Bob recommends actually performs pretty well on group delay AND astoundingly well on distortion (talking specs only here!). For the money, I agree that they would appear to represent unusual value and I'll probably do that - even if the measured performance benefits aren't dramatically audible.
In the end, I suspect there's a benefit to owning better performing subs. It's just that I KNOW there's a great benefit to well integrated subs. Hence, my inclination to go controller first. Other thoughtful posters obviously feel somewhat differently.
A powered James EMB-1000 or possibly an EMB-1200 used would meet your price target. Very musical subs. I would stack either of them up against much more expensive subs than are mentioned in this thread....I had a 1000 now a 1200.
Marty, Bob, Tgrisham, Ghstudio: Great feedback. This is the kind of feedback I needed. I would have take-away information from these exchanges, no matter what my purchase decision. I've used subwoofer's in my sound systems since the mid 80's, and altho I could have intuited the existence of the SMS-1, I was unaware that a reasonably priced device such as this existed. Pointing out that using one could be a priority, is why I talk to you guys. I gave all your suggestions serious thought and decided to try to get the most woof for my buck in the speaker first, and then followup with the SMS-1 if I can't dial the thing in to my satisfaction. I'm a bit of a tweaker. My son and I spend a fair amount of time "equalizing the room" by ear, each time I change something in my system. If he and I can't get it right, there will be an SMS-1 in my future. I decided to buy a new Velodyne Dls-5000r that I found at my price point. The fun will come in integrating it. Honestly, the Legacy monitors sound pretty good alone. If the integration doesn't go well, it's not that long until Christmas :-) And it won't be in the budget to spend much more for a subwoofer any time soon, unless I win the lottery!
Long story short, I did not buy the Velodyne Dls-5000r. At Larryski2's suggestion, I checked out the Outlaw line, and went with an LFM-1 EX. I'm pleased with my integration efforts and very happy with the product. The Outlaw folks were great to work with, and the speaker was worth the 6 week wait to obtain at it's pricepoint with no charge for shipping (90lb speaker!. Coupled with the addition of a Cambridge DACMagic to my system, my system finally has reached a more musical, fatique free character despite it's digital front end. Larryski2, thanks for the suggestion!