But, I am prejudiced, cause I own them.
I have also heard good things about Hsu subs in terms of sound, but not regarding pairing with Maggies.
Have you checked the Agon post archives?
The Rythmik subs are gaining a reputation as working well with Maggies. A couple of guys with MG-IIIA's have expressed their satisfaction with the F12 and F15 models on the company's forum at AVS. I use the Rythmik/GR Research OB/Dipole Sub with my Eminent Technology LFT-8b's and Quads, but they're not for everyone. Read about that sub on the GR Research website---it's very special, and especially good with planar speakers.
I have long been a fan of REL, I own a REL B2 (circa mid 2000"s). Recently however my brother purchased 2 JL Audio E110's (we have almost identical systems), and I must say that impressed is not strong enough of a word! If I had to recommend a sub I'd say take a serious look for sure. Awesome bass definition and punch!
(1) +1 on the Vandersteen subwoofer
(2) points to consider when considering the contenders and pretenders in the subwoofer arena are laid out in the following article
Why Everybody Needs a Good Subwoofer……And Why a Really Good Subwoofer is so Hard to Find
Audiophiles and music lovers are missing out on one of the most dramatic improvements they can make to their audio system: Powered Subwoofers. Most audiophiles won’t even use the word “subwoofer” in public, let alone plug one in to their precious systems. There is a kind of snobbery that exists in the world of high-end audio aimed primarily at receivers, car audio, home theater and especially subwoofers. As a matter of fact, subwoofers are responsible for many people disliking both car audio and home theater, since it is the subwoofer in both of those situations that tends to call attention to the system and cause many of the problems.
The truth of the matter is that subwoofers have fully earned their bad reputation. They usually suck. Most of them sound boomy, muddy and out of control with an obnoxious bass overhang that lingers so long as to blur most of the musical information up until the next bass note is struck. We have all had our fair share of bad subwoofer experiences, whether it’s from a nearby car thumping so loud that it appears to be bouncing up off the road, or a home theater with such overblown bass that it causes you to feel nauseous half-way through the movie. You would think that high-end audio manufacturers would be above all of that, but you would be wrong. In many cases, their subwoofers are almost as bad as the mass-market models because they too, are trying to capitalize on the home theater trend that is sweeping the land.
You see, it’s very difficult and expensive to build a good subwoofer. One reason is that a sub has to move a tremendous amount of air, which places big demands on the driver (or drivers). Moving lots of air requires a lot of power and that means an amp with a huge power supply, which can cost huge money. Finally, in trying to move all of this air, the driver (or drivers) which operate in an enclosure, create tremendous pressure inside of the box itself. The cabinet walls must be able to handle this pressure without flexing or resonating. Building such a box involves heavy damping and bracing which gets very expensive. When you consider these requirements, you quickly realize that it is virtually impossible to build a really good subwoofer (I mean good enough for a high-end music system) for under $1000. Yet most of the subwoofers out there sell for between $500 and $900. Manufacturers do this because their marketing research has shown them that that is what people want to spend on a sub, never mind the fact that what people want to spend and what it takes to get the job done right may be two different things. The result is that even most high-end manufacturers are putting out poorly constructed subwoofers that just don’t sound very good.
I don’t want to give you the impression that anyone who really wants to can build a good subwoofer so long as they are willing to throw enough money at the problem, because that really isn’t true either. There are some pretty expensive and well-constructed subwoofers out there that you would never want to plug into your music system because they would most certainly make the sound worse. Why? Because of their crossovers. A crossover is inserted into your signal path in order to remove the lowest frequencies (the deep bass) from your main speakers so that they no longer have to do all of the dirty work. The deep bass will instead be dealt with by the subwoofer. The #1 benefit of adding a high quality subwoofer to your system is not how it further extends the bass response, but how it can dramatically improve the sound of your existing power amp and main speakers from the midrange on up. That, my friends, is by far the most compelling reason to add a sub to your high-end music system. Once your main speakers are freed from the burden of making deep bass, they will sound cleaner, faster and clearer, especially in the midrange and midbass. They will also image way better because there will be far less air pressure and therefore resonance and vibration affecting their cabinet walls. And since the power required to make the deep bass is provided by the subwoofer’s built-in amplifier, your main power amp will be free from that burden and begin to sound like a much more powerful amplifier. The one big problem with all of this is that you need a crossover to roll off the deep bass in your system and achieve all of these benefits. And the crossover that comes with almost every subwoofer on the market will cause more damage to your signal than can be overcome by these benefits. That is the main reason that audiophiles refuse to consider adding subwoofers, even very expensive ones with well built cabinets.
Enter the Vandersteen 2Wq 300 watt powered subwoofer. This is the only subwoofer that is specifically designed to be inserted into the highest of high-end music systems without doing any harm to the precious signal. So how does Vandersteen do it? Simply. In fact his crossover scheme is so ingeniously simple that it’s a wonder nobody else thought of doing it the same way. I’ll spare you an in-depth description and just say that the only thing you end up inserting into your system is a couple of high quality capacitors. That’s it, nothing more! No additional wires or gadgets enter your signal path. Hell, you don’t even have to disconnect the wire between your amp and speakers to add this subwoofer. The model 2Wq sub uses the same basic crossover scheme as the $15,000 flagship Model 5As. As a matter of fact, you can even run the specially designed Model 5A crossovers (M5-HP) with the 2Wq if you want the most transparent sound imaginable.
So what about the other reason to add a subwoofer to your system: for more powerful and extended bass? I don’t care how big your main speakers are, they’re no match for a good subwoofer in the bass. A really good subwoofer can run rings around the best floorstanding speakers when it comes to bass extension, power and control because it is designed to be good at that and nothing but that, whereas main speakers have to be good at higher frequencies as well. Ideally, you want two subwoofers so that you have true stereo separation down deep into the bass. Stereo subs can also help to lessen room interaction problems by providing two discrete sources of bass information. Remember, if you can’t afford to buy two subwoofers at once, you can always add the second one later. Adding a pair of 300 watt powered subwoofers is exactly like adding a pair of 300 watt monoblock amplifiers to your system and upgrading to a pair of better main speakers at the same time. The beauty is that you don’t have to replace your main power amp or speakers to do it.
But there is a problem here as well. Everything comes at a price, and the price you pay with most subwoofers is that when you add them and their built-in amplifiers to your system, they don’t tend to blend or integrate well with the sound of your power amp and speakers. This is especially true if you own a tube amp, because the character of your amp is nothing like the character of the big solid-state amp that is built into most subwoofers. The result is that your system sounds split in half. You can hear where one part of the system leaves off (namely your amp and speakers) and where the other part takes over (the sub and its amp). This is a HUGE problem for audiophiles who aren’t willing to destroy their system’s coherence for additional power and bass extension. Fortunately, Vandersteen has the perfect solution for this problem that is, again, so simple, I wonder why nobody else thought of it first. His solution is to build a very powerful 300 watt amplifier that strictly provides the huge current needed to drive the subwoofer. You can think of this amplifier as only half of an amplifier; or just the power portion of an amplifier. The release of this power is controlled by the signal that is provided by your power amp. Vandersteen’s amplifier needs a voltage to modulate its current output, and what better place to get that voltage than from your main power amp? This way, your power amplifier is directly responsible for the sonic character of the deep bass coming from the subwoofer because it provides the necessary voltage signal. This voltage signal contains the unique and characteristic sound of your main power amplifier and insures that that character is maintained in the sound of the subwoofer itself. The beauty of it is that your amplifier is only providing a voltage reference and no actual current, so it is not taxed with the burden of “driving” the subwoofer in any way. As a matter of fact, your amplifier doesn’t even know that the sub is connected to it. The 2Wq’s potential is almost unlimited given that it will ratchet up its performance as you improve your power amp. Remember that you always want your subwoofer to sound just like your power amp. No better, no worse. NO DIFFERENT!
After having spent time with the amazing Vandersteen Model 5A loudspeakers with their 400-watt powered, metal cone subwoofers, we were reminded of the sound we had with the awesome Audio Research Reference 600 mono power amps. With the Ref 600s there was a sense of effortlessness, openness and unrestricted dynamic freedom that we have only otherwise heard with live unamplified music. Listening to those monstrously powerful amps made us realize that all other systems sound compressed by comparison. Only when we heard the new Vandersteen Model 5As with their hugely powerful built-in subwoofers, did we again have a strikingly similar sonic experience. The reason is that the Model 5As provide a total of 800 high-quality watts, to which you have to remember to add the power of the amp we were using, the ARC VT-100, at 200 watts. This means we were listening to about 1000 total watts of amplifier power – not far from the 1200 total watts provided by the Ref 600s. With the Vandersteen subwoofer crossover and amplifier, you are able to get those hundreds of subwoofer watts to blend seamlessly and even take on the character of the ARC VT-100. It’s amazing! What’s even better is that the price of the system with the Model 5As and the VT-100 is under half the cost of the Ref 600s alone! Since this discovery, we have achieved the same kind of unbelievable dynamics and seamless blending with ProAc loudspeakers and twin Vandersteen 2Wq 300 watt powered subs. So, if you want the sound of Ref 600s but cannot afford them, buy a pair of Model 5As or your favorite pair of ProAcs plus a couple of 2Wq subwoofers and mate them with a VT100 and you’ll get surprisingly close. You can cut the cost even further by running a pair of Vandersteen 2Wq 300-watt subwoofers with your existing speakers. Or mate a pair of 2Wqs with your favorite ProAc. In any case, it is the magic of SUBWOOFERS that allows this to happen. It is for all of the above reasons that there is only one subwoofer in existence capable of integrating seamlessly into a high-end music system, allowing you to reap all of the benefits of having a subwoofer, with none of the drawbacks. And the Vandersteen 2Wq is the one. And just in case you think I am a biased source, our correspondent Blaine Peck (who, for all you know is also a biased source) recently wrote the following, with no discussion between us about the topic prior to his sending us his comments. Whether reproducing the plucked string of an acoustic bass or the sound of an analog synthesizer, the Vandersteen 2Wq subwoofer is a seamless extension of any system. Nothing else need be added! With its internal 300-watt power amplifier, it is the perfect compliment to any sound system. Designed to take on the characteristics of your main stereo amplifier, the amp in the 2Wq will not sound foreign in your system. Also, through an extension of the Vandersteen design philosophy, a unique gradually sloping crossover system is implemented so you simply do not know where your main speakers stop and the 2Wq begins.
Now that your main speaker/amplifier combination need not concern themselves with those power demanding low frequencies, they are freed up to work in a more comfortable range. Yes, now what is coming from your main speakers will sound better than ever.
The 2Wq is not just another subwoofer. It consists of three 8″ floor-facing drivers, each with a massive motor. So why not a more typical single 12″ or 15″ design? Well frankly, the mass of a larger driver will not allow it to respond as quickly as the Vandersteen 8″ drivers to today’s demanding recordings. The 2Wq’s 8″ drivers are designed to handle the content but be “fleet of foot” at the same time. Concerned about where to put them? You need not worry. With the control of both its respective level and the “q” (how loose or tight the low end is) you have the flexibility to place them in a location that fits your living environment and not sacrifice performance. The simple beauty of this product will soon become an addition to your room.
So whether on orchestral music, hard rock or something in between, the Vandersteen 2Wq will exceed your expectations.
I am looking at theSVS subs does aanybody have experience with them?Zardozmike, I used to have a pair of SVS SB12 (smallish, sealed 12"). They were a fantastic pair for music but I felt they did not fill out the lower octaves in my room (large, open floor plan with high ceilings), so I sold them for a pair of HSU ULS-15s. The ULS pair go deeper and with more weight, but are not as seamlessly integrated in my system as the SB12s. I've since switched out my main speakers ( to KEF 107s) and hardly have a need for subs any longer, but I kinda wish I held onto the SB12s. They were of solid build and sound quality. I don't know if one could say the same for their current budget lines (1000), which I haven't seen or heard in the flesh.
The SVS SB13 Ultra in single or dual configuration would be on my short list if I were to trade up again. Also, the Vandy subs if you have the budget for at least two (in a mid to large sized room) or one if your room is on the small side. They tend to be more of a low octave speaker than subwoofer.
What traits are you looking for and in what room size?
Wow, akg, that was a very thourough post. I hope the OP will take your advice, everything you said is true.
Zardozmike, as I said, I have the 2w subs. Using the M5-HP crossover, will seamlessly combine the subs with your speakers. After having been away from the hifi world for 30 years, it was truly revealing how a good sub can influence the sound of a pair of speaker. (As in, they weren't around, then).
Great article AKG! .... Everything comes at a price, and the price you pay with most subwoofers is that when you add them and their built-in amplifiers to your system, they don’t tend to blend or integrate well with the sound of your power amp and speakers. This is especially true if you own a tube amp, because the character of your amp is nothing like the character of the big solid-state amp that is built into most subwoofers. The result is that your system sounds split in half. You can hear where one part of the system leaves off (namely your amp and speakers) and where the other part takes over (the sub and its amp). This is a HUGE problem for audiophiles who aren’t willing to destroy their system’s coherence for additional power and bass extension. Fortunately, Vandersteen has the perfect solution for this problem that is, again, so simple, I wonder why nobody else thought of it first. His solution is to build a very powerful 300 watt amplifier that strictly provides the huge current needed to drive the subwoofer. You can think of this amplifier as only half of an amplifier; or just the power portion of an amplifier. The release of this power is controlled by the signal that is provided by your power amp. Vandersteen’s amplifier needs a voltage to modulate its current output, and what better place to get that voltage than from your main power amp? This way, your power amplifier is directly responsible for the sonic character of the deep bass coming from the subwoofer because it provides the necessary voltage signal. This voltage signal contains the unique and characteristic sound of your main power amplifier and insures that that character is maintained in the sound of the subwoofer itself. The beauty of it is that your amplifier is only providing a voltage reference and no actual current, so it is not taxed with the burden of “driving” the subwoofer in any way. As a matter of fact, your amplifier doesn’t even know that the sub is connected to it. The 2Wq’s potential is almost unlimited given that it will ratchet up its performance as you improve your power amp. Remember that you always want your subwoofer to sound just like your power amp. No better, no worse. NO DIFFERENT!
This is exactly why I bought a REL? Funny this is a plug for Vandersteen. lol.
as as prefaced in the article post, the points of reference in choosing was directed at differentiating quality-built contenders (plural... Emphasis added ) ...
Neither Vandersteen nor REL rule the roost in every system , full stop. ....
ATC and Velodyne instantly come to mind as very fine kit if one can afford them.
The ATC SCM0.1/15ASL Sub or ATC C6 perfectly fit all the key points in the article.... They share that top shelf of contenders in terms of performance but they also cost north of $8000, albeit worth every bit of it.
One would assume that the perfect subwoofer pairing would be separately powered subwoofers built-in to the main speaker or what one may consider as a truly full range speaker.
My experience with this type speaker systems low frequency extension (no experience with Vandersteen) is limited adjustability and most importantly limited placement. Modern subwoofer control technology can make possible placement, as it relates to room node reduction, more relevant than subjective sonic pairing. Using long inexpensive line level cabling and mounting subwoofer/s on dollies to find that rooms best subwoofer location/s can greatly reducing room nodes without sacrificing the sub/s gain and maintaining optimum equalization.
With one or two DD Plus (used 10"s for less cost) one would have the flexibility to attain extremely accurate and flexible integration. You'd also have the ability to model the presentation of most any other subwoofer you desire and store it in one of six custom EQ'd presets as well as other remote controlled adjustments such as volume and phase which can be made from the listening position. Phase often changes from track to track on a single album.
Go to Velodyne.com and compare their Digital Drive Plus User's and Interface Manuals pdf's to most any other setup and placement information supplied by other manufactures.
Too funny how I would see this thread, since I was just thinking the other day how well my Definitive Super Cube 1 was performing. 10" 1500 watt Class D. Also within my system there are also 2 Definitive Tech. 14" 1800 watt Class D subs inside my main 7000SC's. I love my music - all of it and make no assumptions about what I listen to because I'm running 5600 watts of low frequencies! (I'm giggling as I type) Response down to 11 and 13hz if I remember correctly.
If you've ever seen the movie "Interstellar" you'll appreciate what I'm about to say. When their ship takes off from earth, my house lifts off it's foundation and separates as it travels through our atmosphere, dropping stages until it reaches space and sound drops off as my house continues to beam through space. You feel like you are floating for a moment only because the house stopped shaking!
My system is strictly two channel audio just for music. A booming subwoofer is not what I'm striving for. It has to blend in with the music. I'm intrigued by the magnepan DWM bass panel but just not certain yet. I've done research on the suggestions all of you have given me, thanks for the suggestions.
Zardozmike, if you want 'seamless', then I urge you to try/audition the Vandersteen subs. They are without a doubt, as seemless as you can get. I don't know where you are located, but look up Johnny R on Agon, he is a dealer who can guide you. And, no, I have never bought anything from him, but he offers his insight and experience for free.
I am using an Elac S10EQ with my Maggie 1.7's. The setup was very easy and fully automatic if you have a smartphone. The app uses the mic on your phone and EQ's the sub for your room. I now have that extra bass that I was missing. At $499 this was also a very inexpensive upgrade that I ordered from Amazon with free shipping and 2 day delivery, and a 30 day return policy. 400 watts of power and all you need is a line out from your pre or integrated. Here is a clip from Andrew Jones on the Elac site:
Automatic Subwoofer EQ System
Goodbye traditional analog controls. The Debut S10EQ subwoofer incorporate an advanced digital control system. Simply download the ELAC SubEQ app for your IOS or Android smartphone and you will have complete control. No more fumbling around the back of the subwoofer. Utilizing the ELAC Sub Control app and your smartphone's microphone, the S10EQ subwoofer will automatically equalize to your room's characteristics using a 12-band parametric equalizer. Full manual EQ is available as well.
JL Audio makes some of the finest subs currently available and very suited to music. Numerous new patents and both the newer less expensive e series or the nice original series (F I think?) are very good. Have heard them many times and a friend is running 2 e models with his system. Also heard good things about the newer rels.
A HSU VTF 15H, with 2 or 4 Soffit Traps from GIK Acoustics and a miniDSP will beat any subwoofer without them for musicality, depth and dynamic range.
The biggest problem in getting subwoofers for high quality loudspeakers is not really the quality of the sub but the integration. The room acoustics behave differently below 200 Hz and especially blow 40 Hz, so adding bass extension moves audiophiles into new territory. Your room rings like a bell at low frequencies, and the bass traps are necessary before EQ will work.
Given a choice of a $40,000 subwoofer "naked" or a single $1,000 Hsu with bass traps and EQ, I'll always take the latter. In fact, I wouldn't do a 2-way speaker without bass traps after hearing them. By the way, Hsu makes very very nice subs for the money. I'm not trying to knock them at all.
I used the Maggie MMG Bass panel with my MMG's a few years back and while I'm a fan of Maggies I can't say that I found anything gainfully enjoyable with it in place.
First of all the additional wiring was something I was trying to avoid. I eventually used a small 8 inch Rel which did the proverbial trick. Rel and Maggie usually make a good match.
I just purchased a pair of the new .7 Maggies after auditioning them alongside the 1.7i's. I may have avoided adding a sub with the 1.7i's but to my ears the .7's struck my ears as a better overall speaker - subjective as that may be. And I saved about $700 for that decision.
The .7's are as articulate as any speaker I've owned, but a sub is definitely required as the listening room in the store was more near field than where I have my stereo in my home.
I'll be going Rel again.
Mike, at what frequency are you crossing-over to the subs, and with what slope? The lower the frequency and the faster the slope (the Rythmik plate amp offers 24dB/octave), the less the subs need to be close to the Maggies. If you put your room dimensions into one of the room mode calculators on the 'net, you can see where the low-pressure areas in your room will be. Put the subs there for the lowest amount of "room boom" your space will produce. Then adjust the phase control on the plate amps for the best alignment between subs and speakers. If you want as much tactile feeling from them as possible, place the subs near your listening position!
The higher you cross-over, the cleaner your Maggies (and their power amp) will be. The lower you cross-over, the more of the Maggie mid-bass will you keep. Rythmik's are as close as you can get to the Maggie slam, but there's nothing like panel bass! I will be soon be setting up my Tympani T-IV's, using the four bass panels of the pair as mid-woofers, with Rythmik F15HP's for only 40Hz and below.
I was about to post my long and detailed response to your post but thought it would be more useful as a separate thread because you could still read my info and there may be responses from other members who utilize a distributed sub array system. It's titled 'Anybody else using a distributed array sub system?' in the speaker section. I think you'll find my info useful since I use very similar speakers to yours (Magnepan 2.7QR).
Hope this helps,
As akg described well, the 2wq subs avoid the major historical problems with sub integration. I run a pair of 2wq subs with Quad esl speakers and the sound is so good i stopped reading speaker reviews. The speaker system seems to have unlimited potential so i just focus on other parts of the system for upgrades. The integration is amazingly seamless especially considering the speed of the quads and difficulty mating to electrostats. I like the sound much better with the 2wqs. The acoustic space is much more apparent especially on live recordings with the subs and obviously the extension is night and day ... I cant say enough about Richard Vandersteens design on these. I do not understand why everyone is not talikng about 2wq subs more often.
I've been using the Rythmik L12 sub for about a week now and so far I find it very close to what I liked about my Rel. Although this doesn't have the neutrik connects like the Rel - a very easy hookup - it integrated into my system easily enough.
Im still tweaking the crossover point and playing with the positioning, but this is a very well made sub, especially for $539 - you can spend the same at a big box store and get far less for your dough.
Imight get the sweet spot this week