If your goal is music, not just LFE for HT, then I would say you are better off with two subs, in stereo, than one. I've been using stereo subs for over a year now and have been thrilled with the results.
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Go for stereo subs if your goal is the best in stereo soundstage reproduction and intergration. I have been bi-amping or have been using stereo subs since 1981. With 2 the soundstage becomes mush wider and much more coherent..I have used 5 different pairs of stereo subs with my Dunlavy SC4's..Currently using a pair of Paradigm Servo15's on Sistrum SP1 platforms..The Dunlavys run full range the Servo 15's roll out at about 45hz. Tom
Bigger is better, if only because the more cone area you have, the less cone excursion is necessary for a particular SPL. Of course there are the spatial issues which others have mentioned. My three front speakers have six SW drivers backing them up, so the LF response is not only there, but has an effortless quality, not usually experienced with the typical long-excursion hard-working powered SW.
At the Las Vegas T.H.E. SHOW 2004 I was taken into a back room and shown a prototype subwoofer that is going to change our ideas of low frequency reproduction for a long time. Think of it, a subwoofer the size of two cigarette packs that can reproduce 40hz. The retail products were slightly larger than 2 shoe boxes and could 25hz with ease; and it is all done through resonance matching and original thinking. The company is TBI [Thorough Bass, Inc.] Toll Free: 877-828-7829.
I agree. I listened to the top-of-the-line TBI commercial offering, an 8" subwoofer that combines bass reflex and transmission line concepts. It was fast and tonally balanced, and integrated well with the main speakers. I think it is the best sub I have ever heard, and purchased two to accompany my Quad 988's (fast enough subs are very difficult to find for the quads). It is very reasonably priced compared to the REL line. I sold my ACI Titan LE sub, which I also like better than the REL's (less boomy).
A good part of it is how loud you want to play, my Nelson Reed 1204s will supposedly do 120 dB at 1 meter but my ears won't. Each has 4 12s and will play cannon shots my older Hsu's won't but the latter work fine on music and are more practical. I would go with stereo also, although opinions differ on this. I like the REL system of using the amp output as signal. I can't do this with the electronic crossovers I use so I run my main speakers full range and keep the signal to them out of the crossover by using Y plugs.
First I would like to thank u for your responses to this thread. J. Gordon Holt, a well known audio guru and multi channel audio enthousiast once said that one subwoofer is much more preferable than two, because u have to deal with room placement and acoustics. With two subs u have more subs/room interaction than with one sub. So his advice was to go with one sub only.
I did not place my two subs for most bass output..They certainly have plenty of output for my tastes. I placed my subs for the maximum in intergration with their fullrange brothers..They are about 5 out about inches from the outside edge of each main speaker and the front is leading the front of the mains by about 2.5 inches.Tom