Subwoofer recommendations for mostly music

I don't know anything about subwoofers, so be kind to me! I currently have some sort of Velodyne hooked up to my system. It doesn't seem to add a thing to my system - possibly because it's crap, or possibly because I don't have it set up correctly! I would like to get another subwoofer anyway, so would like some recommendations. It will be part of my HT system, but I really want one that is good for music. I listen to classical, classical rock, jazz and World Music for the most part.

I will be pairing it with bi-wired B&W CM4 speakers (center is a B&W CMC) and I use a Rotel RSX1055 receiver. (I know a lot of people here don't like B&W speakers or Rotel components, but please don't suggest that I upgrade this stuff first - I can't afford to and don't want to!)

Budget wise, I would prefer <$500, if possible - used is fine.
I am not a BIG fan of using a subwoofer for music but the REL stuff is about as good as it gets in my opinion. A Rel Strata Used I believe will run you $850-$950 used here on Audiogon. I know a little out of your budget but I would dare to say well worth the price of admission.

You might want to also consider just upgrading to a Floorstanding Monitor. Good Luck!

If you can hear the effect of the sub woofer in any substantive way you may have it set up improperly. In a music system the only time you should hear the effect of a sub woofer is on very deep notes and you will get a little added warmth in the mid upper bass. Except for that you should hear nothing, and even when there is some bass the "bass" shouldn't draw attention to itself. You should just hear distinctive low notes without and boom. I would suggest that before you start buying other subs that, if you haven't already done so, that you play with the cross over points and woofer level points as well as placement. Also, it helps to have a good sound level meter and test disc to measure the results of your adjustments.
I picked up a REL Strata II in its original box in mint condition for 700. The newer III version is more like 800/850; nicer looking but does it perform any better? I don't know. The II works great and is seamless in integration with my SET system.
"You might want to also consider just upgrading to a Floorstanding Monitor." Hmmmm - the B&W CM4s ARE floor standing monitors.... ??
I'm using a Velodyne HGS-10 with a pair of KEF Reference 104/2s and I find it to be a seamless blend. You are unaware of the sub, except that very low frequencies, e.g. pedal notes of pipe organs, are rendered particularly well. I will be trying a HGS-15 in the system this weekend, and if it integrates as well, I'll add it.

I was in a similar boat as yourself about a month back. I had a subwoofer I was not happy with as it was not very musical and did not handle some HT notes like those found in Lord of the Rings. I was turned onto VMPS as a choice for a sub, and purchased one used on this site. I bought an original sub with all the bells and whistles and so far I love it. It brought great warmth to my Axiom M22's and is killer in HT. Tuned at 19hz it goes very low. The Larger VMPS sub goes even lower. The only problem I could see for some people is the subs size (It uses a 15" passive radiator instead of a ported system) so the sub is kind of large. Second may or may not be a problem. The subs do not come powered, so I bought a used Rotel 980BX amp bridged mono and it is plenty or power. Since I bought both used, I paid about the same for both the Rotel amp and the sub, as I would for a nice powered sub like svs or hsu. I personally found buying seperate pieces leaves me more expansion options in the future, like a possible dual sub system. Just my two cents....
Velodyne Digital Drive series. I have the DD-12 and find it so adaptable to the musice source and the best part is the 6 pre-set eq adjustments you set. So you can have one setting for movies and progress up to six incremental steps to tighter quicker bass. The servo has eight speed settings that you select for each preset and also with the included microphone and video output displaying the equalizer graph and a second video page where you set each level of adjustment. You really taylor the sub to your room enviroment. Check it out, I was sold on my first demo. But I was fortunate enough to have a one on one demo with the Velodyne reps.
I was very impressed with hsu vtf 2
Thank you all for your responses. I will check out all of the suggestions.

I forgot to check last night to see which Velodyne sub I have - I bought it at Circuit City so, not to stereotype a big box store or anything, I am assuming it wasn't hi-fi quality.

Then again, perhaps Newbee and others are right - I am expecting a great sonic difference when using the subwoofer, but there really shouldn't be one as the sub should just blend in with the system.
I finally checked my current subwoofer to see what it is. It's a Velodyne CHT-8. Now you know why I want to replace it!!
a really good way to check out a sub... take the soundtrack to "mission impossible" with and without sub, a bad sub will obviously not blend seamlessly, whereas something like a Rel Stentor will make you sell firstborn to own.
At that price range: HSU VTF-2 (not the STF) the HSU VTF 2..hard to beat at $500
I just installed (and am still tuning) a REL Q108. It made my Von Schweikert VR-1s even more perfect. I set up a small listening room which is 13' wide the back to the speakers, 10' deep (my chair backs up to the wall), and 13' tall. The REL sits in the front left corner out of the way. I loved the VR-1s for their soundstage and clarity but with the lowest frquencies (below 35 Hz) reproduced by the REL, they are perfect. I don't really know its there, except that it seems the bookshelf monitors now how a fuller bass. Not bad for $750! I think the REL line is great for just music. Pick the one that pressurizes your particular room. Good luck!
I have narrowed the field down to the HSU VTF-3 MK2 or the ACI Force. I would love to buy a REL, but they seem to be difficult to find - only sold by Sumiko Audio in the USA and rather expensive - and would love to get the ACI Titan, but it is way too expensive, too.

Which would be better??
You will need an amp for it but for a couple of hundred you can get a used amp that would work for a sub. An Adcom 545 bridged would be perfect. You should check it out. The VMPS sub is very musical and plays down to 17hz. They aren't called the "Largers" for nothing. The HSU is also good but for the money that VMPS larger will do it all and then some.Final note, VMPS subs have had great reviews for 20 years and are known for having excellent bang for your hard earned money.
I have read that passive subs can be better than active subs, since the enclosure doesn't contain the potential interference from an internal amp. But, I really don't have the room for another piece of equipment (another amp for the sub) so that is why I have been looking for an active subwoofer.

In case I change my mind, though, what amp to you recommend for a sub?? :-)
For music the Force.

The Onix UFW-10 is another really good for music sealed sub you should look at but it only gets down to 25Hz.
I really like what I have read about the Rocket Onix UFW-10. Great price and good looks, too! How important is it for a sub to be able to go below 25Hz?
Well, after all of this, and everyone's recommendations, I just bought the Onix UFW10. Your fault, newbie13. (j/k) I have spent the morning reading reviews by users, etc., and the Rocket really sounds like what I want. What finally tipped the balance, is that the company is based here in Colorado and I can pick up the sub from them tomorrow!

Thank you to all of you who took the time to help me with this decision.
I've a Velodyne DD-18 now after replacing a Velodyne DD-12. It does (as did the DD-12) wonders for anchoring my B&W CDM 9NT's... I listen to vinyl quite a bit and wouldn't think of turning the Velodyne off! I find it hard to understand how yours doesn't add some magic although you didn't put the model in your post. The Digital Drive series is OUSTANDING... and the 12" DD-12 offered me all I could want. The move to the 18" driver wasn't only done as I like what the 12" did so much I figure more of a good thing is a good thing!
Hi Sailfishben - At some point in this thread, I did post my Velodyne model - the CHT-8. nothing even close to the quality that the direct drive Velodyne's are reputed to have! Now you know why I wanted to replace it!

If I had the money, I would have gone for an ACI Titan, but my budget was pretty small, so, it's the Rocket for me instead!
can be used for sub duty. They are better than most of the plate amps that come with subs too. Like I said earlier the VMPS larger for 300 and you're done. You won't be wanting in bass quality or bass power. There's a reason they've sold thousands of those subs and they rarely are up for sale compared to how many are out there.
Hi Oakiris,

I own the ACI Titan II (now called the Titan), and I bought my dad the Onix Rocket UFW-10...

I think that while the Titan is definitely a better sub overall (on both music and HT), you will be very happy with the Onix.

The ACI goes lower, and gets louder... it also integrates very nicely due to its dual variable crossovers, but the Onix, with its 1 band parametric equalizer, is no slouch with respect to integration either...

I think you will be particularly impressed on with the UFW-10 on music... On HT, the 10 inch driver runs a bit out of steam... But unless you are looking to "bring down the house" (and annoy your neighbors) I think it will satisfy. Build quality is nothing less than first rate as well... When you see the woodwork, you will understand what I mean. :-)

Thanks Dave! I know that the sub may bottom out on some of the action movies, but I think it will do just the same. It is definitely better than the Velodyne I have, which only had an 8" driver and (I think) only went down to the mid 30's in low frequency Hz. And, I wanted a musical sub, so I got one. Maybe next year I'll add a second UFW-10 - or go for the 12" model Rocket is supposed to have out later this year.
I just purchased an REL sub The Q150E. One of the main reasons is the unique set up which provides a high level and low level input. The low level is the traditional rca input that is used for the LFE. The high level is a proprietary connector (sub-side). The other connection is down at your main speaker connections on your receiver or amp. They provide a level control for both the high and low level inputs. The idea is that for music the high level signal sends the same signal as your main speakers and the roll-off is controlled by the sub. It works great at filling out the bottom end on music and even SACD and DVD-Audio. The key is you must set up the main speakers for "large" so a full bandwidth signal is sent to the sub.

My experience is new with this brand, model and hook-up but my first impressions is that it is the most versatile sub I have seen for music and providing accurate control for music.
I recently replaced the Velodyne HGS-10 I used with my KEF 104/2s with a Velodyne HGS-15. Both the 10 and 15 integrate seamlessly with the 104/2s, but the 15 provides more definition of very low frequencies and much more punch for movies. The sub sits out from the corner behind the right 104/2 in accordance with the Rives guidelines (and my own listening), and the Proceed preamp sends everything below 80 Hz to it. I'll start watching Audiogon for a second HGS-15 for the other corner.

I use a KEF 200C for the center channel and KEF 102/2s for surrounds. I'm very please with the sound of this system for both stereo music and movies.

I haven't yet watched any DVDs since I installed my new sub, but I have played a lot of CDs, and the Rocket UFW10 is wonderful for music! I hope to watch some DVDs later this week to see how it does with them.

Thanks again for the recommendation, Newbie13. :-)
Interesting thread. I've never seen so many recommendations for Velodyne subs on a'gon! I own a Velodyne myself and have been quite happy with it, but I haven't shopped subs, so maybe I just don't know what I'm missing.

I have two follow-ups that may also help the original poster:
1.) ported or sealed for 2-channel audio?
2.) what size driver is ideal for 2-channel audio?

I recently subscribed to Richard Hardesty's "Audio Perfectionist Journal." Hardesy argues ported subs are fine for HT but NEVER acceptable for hi-fi music. I found this very interesting, since Hsu Research, a highly-regarded subwoofer researcher/manufacturer, claims its 1220HO (ported) subs are better for music than their sealed models. Most of the sub threads I've seen recommend the 1220HO's for hi-end two-channel audio. I understand why they (the 1220HO's) aren't as recommended on this thread, given the parameters the original poster gave.

However, the conflicting thoughts of Hsu and Hardesty intrigue me, and I wonder how many a'goners have found ported subs adequate or superior choices to sealed.

Also, I believe there's a general principle that the larger the driver the less tight the sound, so is a 10" sub the ideal solution for 2-channel audio, or do you need the extra expense of a 12" with even better quality and engineering (to be as tight as a good 10")?

"Hsu Research, a highly-regarded subwoofer researcher/manufacturer, claims its 1220HO (ported) subs are better for music than their sealed models."

Hsu has no sealed models. Their tubes and boxes are all ported.
I obviously don't have the experience to answer this, Aggielaw. All I can say is that my new, sealed, 10" sub is great for 2-channel music. It probably won't be perfect for HT, but I think it will be O.K.. I suppose if I find it unsatisfactory, I can add another HT-only sub to my system, but this one is a keeper for music!

Right you are - I didn't realize the internally-powered boxes were ported, but looking at the website, they are!

Hsu was a bad example. Rather than hijack this thread with a protracted digression, I'll look for a thread on best subs for 2-channel above $500.

Thanks for keeping me straight, Newbie! :)
I own the REL Strata III which I had also reviewed here at A'gon. During my research while shopping for the sub here at A'gon, AA and other places I came across following comments on many occasions

1)Sealead subs are easy to integrate on both counts room as well as main speakers
2)Sealed subs are faster
3)Rel subs are by far the most musical

With the information I gathered it was a no brainer going for the REL Strata III.
Hi everyone. Well having been a live sound engineer I have bit of a background in sound design and the major obtacle in subs is that what you really want out of them is the lowest octaves but if you seal the box it wont naturally occur without some eletronics because it does not naturally resonate so low, the responce naturally rolls off there unless its huge. The flip side is if you vent or band pass is that your responce is not so smooth and your driver has a tendency to over exert it self on the tuned frequency, making uneven playback. Obviously this effect has been mitigated by crafty designers. The only end around I have heard to this problem, though I havent demo them is by a company called baggend who designed a patented processor to allow for natural effiecient and smooth extension, unfortunately it is a very expensive set up. All in all it is hard to have your cake and eat it too. Maybe some of these passive radiater designs or push pull drivers make most sense?
I'm not sure if this thread is still being used but I came across it because of having the same issue as Oakiris - knowing nothing about subs and not sure if mine is working properly. I've owned the Onix UFW-10 for awhile but only recently hooked it up to my Cary SLI-80. I know I'm not supposed to "hear" the sub, but it just doesn't sound like it's adding much to the bottom end. I'm using it to complement my Silverline Sonatina II's. Any thoughts?
Look into having a custom made cabinet for the TC sounds LMS5400. It will destroy most of the overpriced stuff here.
Its an 18inch woofer that can run over 100db at 20hz with less than 5% thd.
Very linear.
Sub technology has changed alot since the start of this thread. Best subs for the money IMHO are:

Martin Logan

In general, sealed subs sound smoother than ported subs. Avoid VMPS.