Subwoofer hookup

I have a great sounding high end system that I'm very happy with. It consists of Dynaudio Confidence 5 speakers, a Plinius SA-250 Mk 4 power amp, a Mark Levinson 380 preamp, 37 disc transport and 360S DAC with Nordost SPM interconnects. My question is: if I wanted to integrate a subwoofer into this system, how do I do it? Where does one "splice" it in? And if it was doable what would be an appropriate make and model of subwoofer that could seamlessly integrate into this system. I look forward to your response.

Many people on this forum speak highly of REL subwoofers and their natural sound. It seems that another strength is that they are very versatile and lend themselves to different hook up schemes.

I believe REL favors the speaker level hook up method over line level for their subs. I think to do this you'd need to have the speaker binding posts on your amp be shared by both your main loudspeakers and your subwoofer cables. I'm not sure if you could use both bananas and spades simultaneously on the same binding posts or if you'd have to use all spades. This could be tough if they're very thick like the T1s Analysis Plus uses.

Another method would be to use an RCA Y-adapter such as the ones Monster sells and split the output from your preamp. However, if you're using balanced connections this may be a problem.

If you go to this link a PDF file will be downloaded which details the hookup for REL Storms and Stratas:

Have a look and see if this is something you want to do. It's not something I've done personally, but I have been considering getting a REL in the future.

Right now I'm using an NHT SW3P subwoofer. It has a separate outboard amp. My mini-monitors are connected to my Simaudio Moon I-5 integrated through the speaker binding posts. The amp for my sub is connected to the pre-out RCAs on my Sim. This may be another way for you to integrate a sub into your system, but I think REL favors the former method.

Good luck and happy hunting!
I must agree with using REL. The hook-up mentioned above uses 3 bare wires on the end where you would connect the Plinius. I use a Stadium III with my Hales T-8s through an ARC VT-200. The adjustments on the REL are very fine, allowing level and frequency to be adjusted almost perfectly. If you also use your system for home theater, you can run an RCA cable to the REL and have both inputs hooked up at the same time, setting a different level for HT.

Good luck!!!
harvey: the answer to your easiest question (where does one "splice" in a subwoofer?) requires another question to be answered. do you plan to use a powered or unpowered sub? a powered sub is much easier to meld into your existing system than one without its own amp built-in. all of the powered subs i've used over the years were inserted between the preamp and the "main" amp. thus, you run a set of interconnects from your main preamp out into the subwoofer and a second set of interconnects out of the sub and into the main amp. better-quality powered subs allow you to adjust for such variables as volume and slope.

unpowered subs are more difficult to configure than the powered variety but offer a greater degree of flexibility. you can, for example, choose the amp you wish to power it and better integrate it into your soundscape by using a high quality external crossover. 'course we're talkin' a lot more wire and additional pieces to mate with what you already own.

there are many subs to consider these days. i suggest you begin to examine their availability by doing a search on "sub," "subwoofer," or some of the popular brand names, such as "rel" in the audiogon search engine.

finally, you should know that it is very difficult to fully integrate any sub with satellites or "nearly-full-range" speakers. it's not impossible, mind you, but more meddlesome than finding a true full range pair of floorstanders.

i'm sure others will pipe in with their suggestions of particular brands to try. as with everything, do try to try before you try to buy. good listening. -kelly
I suppose I'll throw in my .02 for the Rels. I've actually heard dynaudio confidence 3's hooked up with a rel. Sounded pretty impressive. It was done using the speaker level, which is how I have my rel storm III hooked up at home. It's fairly easy, since the bare wire can be wrapped around the binding posts without really getting in the way of the spades for the speaker cables. If your 380 has two sets of main outs, you can use any sub with a line level input, since most good subs have an internal crossover (although of course you can always use an external, though that's more dough in the end probably). Most subs can also be put 'between' a preamp and an amp, using line level inputs and outputs on the sub, or between an amp and speakers, using speaker level inputs and outputs on the sub. In my experience this generally degrades the signal to the mains, though my experience is not that vast. Just as one final added note, to throw in with cornfedboy, the rels do have many advantages for integration with the mains. however, they're generally crossed over lower than other subs, and it will be a bit more difficult with speakers that won't go very low.

After trying several ways to integrate a sub, I came to the conclusion that the only way to actually improve the system was to use an active x-over. Run interconnects from the pre to the active x-over, then run one pair of interconnects from the x-over to the main amp and another pair of interconnects to a sub amp (or a powered sub). Then run speaker wires from the main amp to the speakers and, if you're running a separate sub amp, from that amp to the sub. Dial in the x-over frequency and volume and you are set.

Being overly simplistic, the active x-over will ONLY give the desired low frequencies to the sub with NONE to the main speakers, while the main speakers will ONLY get those frequencies above the x-over point with NONE going to the sub. The speakers and sub will meld together better than the "passive" or "semi-passive" set-ups described in previous posts and the main speakers will play much clearer with much less effort as they no longer have to deal with power hungry low frequencies. (Passive x-overs don't divide the frequencies very well, so subs and mains still get each other's frequencies. Might just as well turn up the bass tone control- if you have one- and skip the sub!)

Passive installation methods tend to add a little more volume to the bass, but tend to degrade the sound quality of the main speakers somewhat or, at best, break even. An active x-over will significantly improve the sound quality of the sub AND the main speakers.

A modest active x-over starts at around $200 (new) and is well worth the additional expense.

At least, that's my experience.....

I have the same levinson setup with a 336 amp, i was thinking the same. im using all balanced ic so i will use the rca output from the 380s to the sub of choise. this should work fine!