Subwoofer hunt


Hi folks. In the market again looking for a subwoofer...this is to complement my Focal Electra 1008Be with Hegel H160 setup. I was looking at JL E110 sub. Anything else I should be looking at? Also do the amps of these subs blow up frequently?
spoutjack
There are numerous quality subs on the market - Paradigm, SVS, HSU, etc. The setup is much more important than the particular sub. Multiple subs have the potential to provide a smoother bass response over a wider area assuming you have the freedom to place them optimally. Sealed subs have better group delay than ported models. In a music only system, you can get away with smaller less capable subs.

Thanks for the reply bob. Small as in how small you think I should go in for say about 200 sq ft room?
Spoutjack,

Are you open to used subwoofers?

Where are you located?

Bill
http://www.svsound.com/
Check out their sealed subs. A great company!
Check out REL Acoustics  subwoofers...
@yogiboy: checked out SVS. Most of their 12 inch subs but seems Rythmic beats them for music as per the reviews. Anyone compared SVS vs Rythmic?

@alpha3 : Most of the RELs have front and down firing dual driver subs which might make it more boomy. I am looking for a something thats more tight and resolute than boomy sort of. however let me spend sometime and go over them as well :) thanks for the help 
@willland : in the tristate area what do you have :)
Bob is 100% right.  A well set up sub is a marvel. Room treatment, bass traps, EQ and is more important than the brand. Only after you say that you have all that dialed in can you talk about which sub is better.

I love Hsu for a couple of reasons, in addition to the quality of the output. The cabinet finish is amazing, and they are tunable, acoustically and electrically. The VTF-15s let you use it sealed, semi-ported or ported, and have a tuning adjusment for Q, very helpful.

For the money I think they beat everything out there. 


Best,

Erik
@willland : in the tristate area what do you have :)

Sorry to imply anything but I was wondering where you resided so I could scan your local craigslist for good used subwoofers that might meet your needs.

Bill
@willland : Thanks Bill. 
Spoutjack,

Your room isn't much smaller than mine and I have a pair of HSU ULS-15. By small I wasn't referring to the driver size specifically, but the cabinet as well - both contribute to clean bass output. The ULS-15 is an 18" cube and as Erik said the finish is beautiful (mine are Rosewood).

If high fidelity is a goal, then I wouldn't go smaller than a 12" driver in an equivalent 15" cube cabinet. The smaller SVS sealed subs are an excellent value. But, so are the HSU ULS-15, if you can handle a little bigger cabinet.

I wouldn't be concerned about the orientation of the driver. The wavelength of bass frequencies are so long that is not an issue. Also, don't think that a larger sub will be too big for your room; it won't. As long as it's level matched with the main speakers, you won't have any problems. So, in general buy as big a sub as you can afford and a pair is better than just one.

The problem with rooms is that they are bounded and their dimensions determine what frequencies will be problematic (constructive and destructive interference). You can get a room mode calculator at the Harman web site, as well as, an excellent white paper by Dr. Toole entitled "Getting the Bass Right."

-- Bob

Another issue, particularly with stand mount main speakers, is whether or not to run them full range. If high fidelity is a goal, then it makes sense to let the sub handle the bass frequencies. To do that you need to be able to insert a high pass filter in front of the main amps, so the main speakers don't receive bass signals. I'm assuming line level connections.

Some subs (like SVS) have high pass filters built into them. HSU provides an external crossover that can be used with any sub.

If you don't listen very loud (say > 95 dB) very often and/or your music doesn't contain much bass, then running the main speakers full range should be adequate.

-- Bob


@bob_reynolds : Thanks Bob! I am looking into the HSU sealed ones as of now. However, I had read on the JL's site for reviews of one of their models that the amp had failed on the buyer within 6 months of purchase. I was curious to know if HSU subs are reliable.
Spoutjack, 

I've not read of reliability issues with HSU subs. They've been in business for many years. My HSU subs are, I guess, 3 years old. My system is playing several hours every morning and all day on the weekends. I've never had any issues with any of the subs I've owned -- M&K, JBL Pro, SVS or HSU.

Note that I have all of my system plugged into a SurgeX SA-1810. I think the SA-1810 is cheap insurance.



-- Bob

I found Hsu to be very reliable and the customer service easy and quick to deal with. I had issues related to stock and availability, not reliability.

If you like SurgeX, Furman sells series mode surge protectors at half the price. :) Not all Furmans have SMP, but the one's that have comparable features to SurgeX are less expensive.



Best,


Erik
I've been using a pair of Hsu ULS-15s for six or seven years now. I leave them powered up 24/7 and have not experienced any reliabilty issues. The standby mode is not sensitive enough for the levels I listen at, so they don't "auto-on" unless levels are loud enough to trip them.

I have the pair eq'd with an SVSound AS-EQ1, which does a fantastic job of taming peaks in my room. They've been off the market a few years, but worth seeking out if you have bass/room issues.
I use a miniDSP HD for my sub, works great and integrated with OmniMic fantastically. Also work very well with Room EQ Wizard. The usual issues are users trying to EQ for flat instead of a descending (1-1.5 db/octave) slope, and complaining it sounds flat. :) 

Any receiver with Audyssey or DiracLive should do about the same. 

Best,


Erik

I think for the size room you have a pair of really good Peerless sandwich cone 8 inchers would be good, I used them in my hybrid electrostatic cabinets ad they were wonderful

I had the 10" version with my B&Ws (in NHT Sw2Si cabinets and some extra bracing and stuffing, for years but recently found really rare B&W DM 16 woofers. These used the early 801 magnets, frames, and coils, but are 11 rather than 12 inches.


Nobody mentioned sunfire or vanderstein . I have had alot of subs over the years( rel ,velodyne.sunfire,JL audio jbl and vandys never had a  hsu personally, no opinion there ). I believe treament is a huge part of a room operating properly.I currently run one sub in my audio room ,2 in my ht room .If i was doing it again personnally i would rather have two 10" or even 8" then one 12" .But thats a whole new debate .lol 
good luck ..
Elac SUB 2070 sounds awesome!  Opposed/vibration cancelling configuration, zero cabinet vibration, zero vibration transmitted to the floor.  Effortless.  :-) 

One vote for JL Audio Fathom.
Continuous phase adjustment and auto EQ.
Crucial to get it time aligned with mains.
http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/subwoofer-basics/?page=3
Otherwise, doesn't matter what make it is, it won't sound great.
It is a shame how few sub setups are properly integrated.

I don't think you could go very wrong with your original choice, the JL E-110's. I have the Focal Sopra No. 2's paired with dual JL F-112's, and it's a sublime combination. (My room's about 400 sq ft.) A single E-110 would probably be enough for your size room. You could always try it out, and add another if you're not totally happy with it.

My two F-112's have had no issues for the past year. The amp fuse on one did blow, because of a failure on my receiver's muting circuit. Even though it was no fault of the sub, JL covered the repair (which was really just replacing the fuse) without any complaints. I'm sure if you actually did have an amp failure, they'd take care of you. The overall quality of these subs seem great.

I don't have any experience with the SVS or HSU (I've heard the REL's, was in a totally different setup and room though). Do they sound as good as the JL's? Maybe. I think part of what you're buying with the JL is their reputation, and quality (built like a tank is the best way to describe it). The black gloss finish is good (not as nice as on my Sopra's), about the same as what you'd see on Velodyne subs.

Good luck, I'm sure you'll love the subs, no matter which brand you go with! I do strongly recommend to go with sealed, I've had bad experiences with non-sealed designs in the past (especially for music).
If you are looking for musical truth, the Vandersteen approach of connecting the subwoofer with the assistance of a high pass filter directly to your amplifier's output, is a fine way to go. By feeding the subwoofers with the amplifier's signal mates the subs. sonic character to the sound of the rest of the system  When set up properly, it should just sound like your speakers go lower with greater bass power.  You don't "listen" to the subs.  You listen to extended power response as if it's coming directly from your main speakers. I have two Vandersteen 2wq subs. which have adjustable level and "Q".  So you can adjust the relative tautness of the subwoofer response.  I recently traded in my Vandersteen 3A Signatures for Treo CTs.  One of the first things I had to do to properly mate my two subwoofers with the Treos was to decrease their output level as the 3A's sensitivity was 89 db and the Treos 85 db.  Just last evening I further tweaked that output level so the system is congruent.

If you are just looking for more bass, then there are much more affordable paths to follow.  In the end, it depends on why you want the subs.
A big +1 to Hifiman5 comment. 

I recently put together a system for my kitchen and decided on a Hsu VTF-1 MK II to go with a Cambridge cxa80, Schitt Gungnir multibit and Scansonic MB-1s. Because of not being able to do a straightforward placement of all components flexibility was going to be key. The options on the Hsu made fairly quick work without a lot of sub crawling and if it weren't a big black cube would be as invisible as its well blended sound. I'm impressed as hell for the $450 it cost. 
@hifiman5 thanks for the detailed post hifiman5. one quick question, wouldnt the current on the speakers drop if you connect subs to them in parallel? because current would decrease for parallely connected components right?
The Q control is very useful, but -1 for using amplifier outs. Gives you very little flexibility. I'd rather have control over the high pass and low pass. 

The real issue subs face isn't the electronics or the speakers, its' the room. Using a miniDSP and proper room treatment this is straight forward. 

Best,

Erik 
@jldouglas : thanks jldouglas. You think I should give E110's another chance and listen to them with my setup? I was leaning towards the Rythmik F12SE.
Imo a decent sub in a treated room will perform better then a pricey one in a untreated room . Vandy subs are great but the setup can get costly . Its all in your court buddy 
@oleschool: thanks oleschool! :) noted....im trying to decide between E110 by JL and F12SE by Rythmik
thanks for the detailed post hifiman5. one quick question, wouldnt the current on the speakers drop if you connect subs to them in parallel? because current would decrease for parallely connected components right?
No, there would be no effect on the current delivered to the main speakers.  When a powered sub is connected to the output of a power amplifier or integrated amplifier, what the amplifier is driving is the sub's amplifier, not the sub's driver, which means it is driving a very high impedance that will draw negligible current.  The Vandersteen sub Hifiman5 referred to, for example, has a specified input impedance of more than 100,000 ohms.

A consequence of that, btw, is that the cables used to connect amp outputs to a sub that can accept speaker-level signals can be much narrower in gauge than typical speaker cables.

To address your question more generally, adding a load impedance in parallel with another load impedance will only affect the current delivered to the first impedance if the voltage across the paralleled impedances becomes different from what the voltage across the first impedance would have been in the absence of the second impedance.  And that voltage will only change as a result of the addition of the second impedance if the effective output impedance of the component providing the current is high enough to be a significant fraction of the second impedance, or if the component is not capable of supplying the total amount of current that is drawn by the two loads in response to the voltage it provides. 

Very few power amps or integrated amps have effective output impedances of more than a few ohms, and most solid state amps have effective output impedances of a tiny fraction of an ohm, those numbers obviously being insignificant fractions of 100,000 ohms.  So none of this will be an issue with a powered sub.

Good luck.  Regards,
-- Al
 

@spoutjack Did you try the E-110's before, and didn't like them? Or were you just avoiding them based on concerns of amp failure? I don't have any experience with the Rythmik, so it's hard to say. I think it's hard to go wrong with the JL's, but if you have the time and patience, there's lots of alternatives out there to try! Even better, buy both, and sell or return the one you like the least.

Also, regarding connecting the sub either line level or speaker level, I'd try both. I've heard arguments both for and against, the best is to try both and see which you like better. If you're using an integrated amp, speaker level inputs are almost a must (unless you're like me, and only use the subs for home theater / digital music).
Rythmik allows you to audition any of their models in your system, and to return them if unsatisfied, paying only shipping. I would wager you wouldn’t return the F12---it has been found to blend seamlessly with Magneplanars, Quads, BG ribbons, OB’s, and with whatever speakers Sterling Sound Mastering in NYC has in their monitoring systems. Servo-Feedback design which left the twelve woofers in my Infinity RS-1b’s eating my pair of F15’s dust!
@spoutjack:
You can't reliably draw any valid conclusions comparing different subwoofers in different rooms. Every room has room modes and it's quite doubtful that any 2-channel system has employed room mode correction. So depending on the source material and the room, the best subwoofer on the planet will not yield the best results.

Choosing a sub with high pass outputs gives you more flexibility than one without. You may decide to not use the internal filter with your current speakers, but later with different speakers that filter could prove very useful. 

Choosing a sub with one or more bands of PEQ (or choosing to buy an external PEQ device) provides additional benefits of dealing with the room. Ignoring the room can cripple the most expensive of systems.

Just a brief comment regarding Vandersteen subs. They use first order filters which forces them to be used in close proximity of the main speakers; otherwise they'll be localized. This limits one of the main advantages of a sub -- free placement that yields a smooth bass response. It also pretty much forces using a pair; one adjacent to each main speaker.

-- Bob

Apologies in advance to spoutjack...

@almarg ...So if planning to run from the 4 or 8 ohm output taps of an amp into the speaker level connections of a powered sub and the input impedance here, as per the mftr. spec, is 2000 ohm (SVS for their SB1000), the output impedance of the amp would be 0.002 - 0004 of the sub's input impedance depending on the tap used.  Do these values still qualify as insignificant fractions of the much-lower-than-100K-ohm SVS input impedance?  I would think so, but not certain.  Thanks for taking a look.   
@almarg - 
Al, in case of a formatting error to your name in the request above, I'm re-sending.  If you would be so kind, please see my question there.  Thanks in advance. 

Ghosthouse, yes, putting a 2000 ohm load in parallel with the vastly lower impedance of a speaker would result in a change in the overall impedance seen by the amp that is certainly negligible.  For example, if the speaker's impedance is 8 ohms the impedance of the parallel combination would be (8 x 2000)/(8 + 2000) = 7.968 ohms.  Even if the amp has a relatively high output impedance that would result in a negligible change in the voltage it would apply to the speakers, and a negligible increase in the current and power it would have to deliver.

2000 ohms, BTW, is the lowest input impedance I can recall seeing for the speaker-level input of a powered sub.

Also BTW, in most cases the 4 and 8 ohm designations of tube amp output taps do NOT represent their output impedance, despite misleading wording in some manufacturer specs that would appear to indicate that they do.  Those numbers represent the load impedance the tap is optimized to work into.  The output impedance of the 8 ohm tap equals 8 ohms divided by the damping factor of that tap, assuming the damping factor spec is provided and is accurate, and the output impedance of the 4 ohm tap is roughly half that amount in most cases.

Most tube amps have output impedances in the area between a little under 1 ohm and perhaps 3 ohms or so, although there are some designs for which the output impedance can be higher.

Best regards,
-- Al
 
@almarg
Very helpful. Thank you. I also took notes from your line level input discussion in reply to rbschauman’s "Help Wanted Bass" thread.

Regarding the true output impedance of my tube amps, unfortunately I’ve not seen info about damping factor in the mftr. specs. There’s not a lot of love for Stereophile in some quarters, but if you are fortunate enough to own a nice piece of gear they’ve reviewed, the measurements section is a great resource going forward.

BTW - I too was surprised about that speaker level impedance spec for the SVS SB1000.  Double checked it.  Best I can tell, barring a typo on their part, 2K Ohm is the value.  

Thanks again.

@ghosthouse & @almarg 

The web site under Amplifier Specs lists the input impedance at 47K ohms for line level and 2K ohms for speaker level.

I think it's highly unlikely that 2K ohms is accurate; 200K ohms is more likely. I would call SVS to get a reliable value. 

@bob_reynolds 
Yes...thanks for confirming Bob.  The SVS web site is indeed where I got the number I used.  Expect I'll be talking to SVS next week...back and forth between an SV1000 or SV2000.  Will try to remember to ask about that speaker level impedance value.  The good news is, if a 2K Ohm value won't affect the power amps, a 200K value wouldn't either.  
Well, I just chatted with SVS tech support and they confirm that 2K is listed in their internal specs for the SB1000. I'm surprised. But, as Al noted, it's not significant.
Learned stuff, very cool.
Another +1 for Hifiman5.  I have had a pair of Vandy 2Wq subs in my system for about 8 years.  I bought both of them used, and they have been trouble free.  I did eventually upgrade to the battery-biased crossovers, which made a significant improvement in transparency.  All I can say is that, once dialed in, and placed in corners (as per the design manifest), these subs produce deep, clean, musical bass in abundance.  Best of all, they seamlessly blended with both my Vandersteen 1Cs (as you would expect), and my Ohm Walsh 2000s.  I think I am set on the Ohms for good.  However, if I ever upgrade my speakers, I will insist on speakers that will work with the 2Wq subs.  They are in my system to stay.  They are that good.  Also I think they are one of the most underrated subs - or even pieces of audio gear in general - ever made.  
@almarg  
@bob_reynolds 

Gents - took delivery of a pair of the above discussed SVS SB1000 subs.  Currently running them using speaker level input from the amps.  Running the loudspeakers themselves full range.  

I'm using mono blocks now.  In the future, I'll likely use an integrated that might be located 8 - 10' away from the subs.  To keep cable runs short, can I connect the subs' high level inputs to the terminals of my speakers (located right next to the subs)? OR is it essential to connect the subs at the amp?

Thanks yet again for your time. 


Ghosthouse, I would expect it to be perfectly fine to connect the subs to the speaker terminals instead of the amp terminals.

The only conceivable difference it might make that I can think of would be an **extremely** minor difference in the amount of "back-emf" from the speaker that might be received by sub. And if that were to have any audible significance at all (which I very much doubt), who knows, it might even be subjectively preferable.

Enjoy!

Best regards,
-- Al

Al - Your responsiveness and generous help are some of the best things about Audiogon.

Thank you.
Man that will save you some bucks!. I can't say i have ever done that, I run my from preouts myself.
congrats ,,,
@ghosthouse

I don't think there's any reason to keep speaker cables short to the subs. Since the sub has a high input impedance, there will be very little current drawn by it so there will be very little potential for a voltage drop across the length of cable. I think it's acceptable to use any low cost and relatively small gauge speaker cable to the subs.

Thanks for the input Bob.  The only reason for wanting to keep the cables short was simply "tidiness"...cable management, if you will.  Short will let me avoid having a lot of extra length laying around.

FWIW - am going to order a few feet of a Belden 5000 series 12 gauge from Blue Jeans Cable (along with some spade terminations).  

oleschool - I did try using pre-outs from the pre-amp.  I thought that would be the way to go.  BUT when I experimented trying the high level inputs...connecting subs to amp - I immediately thought things sounded better hooked up that way.  Go figure.  

@spoutjack 
I hope the answers to the questions I've asked are helpful to you.  
@ghosthouse  Gotcha! Cable dressing is important. I just bought a spool of power cord so I can do a bit of that.

Just a thought regarding the spade terminations... If you can use banana plugs on your main speakers, then I'd suggest that over spades. I always found them to be a better connection. 

The Belden 10 gauge cable from Blue Jeans was the last speaker cable I bought long ago when I was still using passive speakers. It doesn't lay very well, but electrically works just fine.