................................................................ none at all.
I've never heard an aftermarket sub completely and coherently integrate with the primaries and dissappear.
A few have come close but none totally convincing to my ears.
The most satisfying have tended to be dedicated subwoofer modules built by the loudspeaker manufacturer for a single specific product(ex- Neat Gravitas with Petite monitors,etc.)
I have just ended my search for the best sub. I have listened to almost everything out there. If price is no object, the best sub is the new Wilson Audio's Watch Dog. I heard it with the Wilson Cubs II, which I own, and was a perfect match. If price is an object, it would be the new Revel 15B. The difference between the Revel 15B and the Watch Dog; sometimes when you were listening to the Revel 15B you knew you had the sub on, with the Watch Dog you never knew it was there. This sub has no limitations. If you have fast speakers than either of these subs are outstanding. With the Watch Dog, I watched scenes from Gladiator, U-571, Patriot, Braveheart and T2, and listened to more music then I care to list and it's impressive. My wife will know I have added a new piece of equipment in a couple of weeks when I play either Dark Side of the Moon or The Wall. If you hear about a house falling down in Southern California, it will be mine.
The best blend (other than the Wilson WAMM with its subwoofer) that I have heard was the Muse 18 to augment the Hales Signature 2 (out of production now). The blend was PERFECT.
I have a hard time believing that the REL Storm III would not be mentioned. I have added two Rel Storm III's to complement my Spendor SP-100 Speakers, and I have been astonished with the result.
The REL's have the adjustability that many Sub's lack IMHO.
Agreed with the Rel..All the Rel (Storm and above) are very musical. The 3 major ones that I have listed to are the Velodyne HGS-15, Rel Stadium III, and the Aerial Acoustics..I was kinda waiting on someone to write about these before I give my thoughts ;)
The best REL Sub and one of the best of all is the Studio II
I never thought I would find happiness with a sub-woofer working with the Apogee Divas, but a Muse 18 using the Diva "personality card" brings the Divas alive. Integration is spot on. The Muse company still makes the custom cards available for a wide range of speakers even though the sub is discontinued. The 18 provides three adjustments; level, dampening and delay. The latter allows exact integration with the satellite speakers. Hmm, seems odd to call the Divas satellites.
Krell Master Reference or Wilson XS
The Muse 18 is a great sub for Music. But i'll tell you an incredible sub. Its the Impact sub. It uses 2 12 inch woofers and i think a 200 watt Amp. The sub lists for 2500 dollars. I heard it at the Stereophile show. This Sub sounds amazing. Impact was using 2 subs on these high end speakers they made. This Sub sounded so great on music and movies. Here's a pic of the sub. Go to www.stereotimes.com When your on the site, click on Stereophiles Home Entertainment 2001 Show Highlights Part I. Its the 2nd pic.
For the money and performance, I love the Genesis 900 sub!
Legacy Audio powered Impact sub is very tight and musical, and sized and priced right. I have used it with Apogee Divas, Quad electrostats, and several dynamic speakers to great effect, for music and movies.
Interesting thread, wish I knew more about subs. I have a set-up where I'd benefit from a sub, I'd appreciate some guidance. I have a bedroom setup with a Linn Classik integrated (amp, preamp, tuner, CDP) and four B&W LM1 lifestyle monitors. I'd like to add a very small and relatively inexpensive sub to help out on the bottom end. WAF is a huge issue as you can imagine. Any and all ideas would be most welcome. Jeff
I just got my 2nd Aerial Accountics SW-12 to go with my B&W Nautilus 802's. They "blend" in very well thanks to all the adjustments you can make on the SW-12. The nice part is they have a 400W build-in amp.
I was very impressed when I got my first one as I finally heard what was missing on my 802's especially when playing organ music. However, it's quite a difference when you have a 2nd one connected.
The only draw-back is they are a bit pricey but worth the money.
best subs i've heard are the sub towers of the infinity irs-v's. i'm sure subs of the $135k genesis top model full-range speaker are similar, as they're a similar design, done by the same guy. next best are the vmps larger subwoofers, and they're an absolute steal at the price. no other that i know of can go as low, play as loud, w/as little distortion as these. and, being passive, they offer the ultimate in flexibility for matching any speakers, allowing ewe to choose yer own amplification & choice of x-over. i tink the fact that they're forward-firing, not down-firing, also helps make them easier match w/monitors. caterham1700, i'd wager that a pair of these w/a marchand xm-9 x-over and a quality s/s amp would allow ewe to seamlessly blend w/*many* different monitors. even full-range ones.
ymmv, doug s.
ps - i've never heard the kinergetics sw800's, but from what i've heard about 'em, these wood be worth checking out. (but only infrequently awailable on the used market). jim, a frequent contributor here, successfully mates 'em w/martin-logan cls', & these are notoriously difficult to mate subs with. and, jim's into alfas, so he *must* know what he's talking about! ;~)
Check out Paradigm Servo 15. I have had one for 8 months and am quite happy with it. It blends with my Reference Active 40s, center and surrounds by the same company.
I won't say the Paradigm Servo 15 I use is the best thing out there but I will second Beam's post and add that it is damn good for the dough. Maybe the best sounding serious sub for the money. I don't take any of the "little wonder" subs very seriously. Once you get past the gee-whiz factor they just don't sound as good. Better yet two can be purchased for the price of things like the Muse 18B or Aerial Sub and in my experience two good subs sound better than one great sub when placed carefully.
You can't really expect much from the high-pass section of any sub crossover so if you are really critical about transparency you should run your main speakers full range. You lose any overall increase in system dynamics but you don't mess up everything else just for a few extra dbs of headroom. Using the adjustable low-pass on the crossover, bring the sub(s) in where the mains fade out. Variable phase is a very usefull feature also allowing you to better match the sub to the mains. I've been using Servo 15s with a pair of Paradigm's X30 crossover boxes with Merlin VSMs in a very high end system to great effect for a number of years.
Hey Doug, you beat me to the punch. I would suggest that the SW800's are probably just about as good as other forward firing, multi-driver subs for most speaker applications -- can't say for sure since I haven't heard them outside of the CLS application. I think this general design (used by VMPS, Genesis, Infinity and others) makes for faster, more articulate sound than single-driver, downward firing subs. Also, as Doug pointed out, passive subs allow for far more flexibility in amp and crossover selection and quality. Front firing subs benefit from positioning along side of, rather than behind, speakers (critical with dipoles and bipoles). What really makes these subs excell with CLS's is the crossover and Compusound software that was designed specifically for the speaker, and the fact that they are line sources. So, yeah, these are the best subs on the planet for CLS's. Although software modifications were once available for other speakers, this really is a dedicated sub system for the CLS. Given their scarcity and sometimes unreasonable asking prices, I would recommend other similar designs in non-CLS applications. I also strongly recommend getting behind the wheel of an Alfa and staying on the throttle for different but equally satisfying music ;-)
If you don't mind providing your own amp and crossover, Dunlavy has some not inexpensive Tower Subs that use the same drivers (and cabinets)as the SC-IVa, SC-V and SC-VI with four (4) 10 inch, 12inch or 15 inch drivers per cabinet (depending on model)
Widescreen Review just reviewed the TWR V's (which I also own). They are huge, effecient and incredibly tight and clean and fast and go well into the teens....and given the square inch of driver area, will move some very serious air.
A not for everyone product (size and price being the obstacle), but if you want a GREAT, and accurate sub, go for it.
It's not a regular catalog item, but Sound Lab does build electrostatic subwoofers that are probably the most accurate subs ever made.
This because of their figure-8 dipole radiation pattern, if nothing else - you see, for the same sound pressure level, a monopole sub puts out 5 db more into exciting the room's resonant modes. And it's the room's resonant modes that keep the bass notes from decaying properly, even with an ultra-fast driver. So the room's sonic signature inevitably muddies the bass. All other subs are inherently compromised in this area by their omnidirectional radiation pattern.
And when it comes to fast drivers, how many subwoofers out there use a driver that can also accurately trace a 25 kHz signal? Not many, I'll bet. You know how a good electrostat can let you hear every fiber in the brush as it caresses the cymbal? The Sound Lab subs can bring this kind of articulation down into the ultradeep bass.
Ultimately, it's all about tradeoffs, and the big Sound Lab subs aren't going to play as loud or as deep, dollar-for-dollar, as a state-of-the-art box sub. They are not the ultimate dinosaur-footfall sub. But they do music second to none, because of their room-friendly radiation pattern, their inherent absolute freedom from boxy colorations, and their ultrafast drivers.
Well if this sounds like the ravings of a proud owner, I can only say, I wish! My showroom doesn't have room for these beasts. Maybe some day...
if you dont mind ugly try jbl pro 4719. it makes the termites run for cover. i have one with a krell kst 100 stapped mono in my theater. it will destroy other so called subs . it has awsome detail for music to . i know some of you think i am nuts but every audiophile who has heard it could not believe the sound. 99db at 1 watt . i have heard the krell beast. yes it is bad to the bone. but get out your wallet. i would put the jbl against the krell . most theaters use jbl pro. i was in vegas last jan . i saw the dts setup jm lab grand utopias 5 of them. halcro amps. and guess what subs.
No longer in production but the last version of the Entech LF 20 was quite impressive. Two 10" long throw woofers, each with its own amp built in. The active crossover built into the subs allowed several frequencies and bass boost if desired. I am using stacked LF 20's (two LF 20's on each channel) with Crosby Quads and they mate seamlessly. In my room, they are plus 3 db at 26 hz. As an aside, their external passive crossover was terrible but easily replaced with two Teflon caps and a TKD pot.
I also have Entec LF20s. They are the best I've heard. I'm moving overseas and can't taker mine with me, which I deeply regret, but they are great.
I own a pair of Talon Peregrines and am currently researching subs as well. A great sub that I had the opportunity to listen to while auditioning the Peregrines was Talon's own sub-The Roc. Not cheap, but very powerful and precise.
A conclusion I am arriving at is that a sub must have an amp with an outstanding damping factor. This seems to be achieved only when using a brutally powerful amp, whether you go passive or powered. I think I'd like to go passive. Mainly because of the flexibility and because I could just get a Bryston 4B ST to drive it and be done with it. Outboard crossovers of high quality are not cheap however,and with the extra expense you go through to achieve this , you could have gotten yourself one hell of a pair of floor standers that do not need the addition of a sub. The answer for me is pretty simple, just go with the Roc. System synergy and all that...but for you, I think it may be more difficult. The Muse Model 18 is probably the best way for you to go. Besides, Kevin Halverson is probably giving them away along with the cards.
Best wishes and good luck. Be sure to let us all know how it works out for you.
Dunlavy! Has anybody seen their new offerings? Can we say "huge"? Their new top of the line sub towers are actually designed to be paired with the SC-VI speakers (as if these speakers did not go low enough already!)
Their top sub weighs in at 600lbs a side! ,with 4 of the same 15" woofers that are used in the SC-VI speakers.
That's 8-15" woofers total! They are rated at 95db/watt @ 1 meter.
I would not want to try to survive a full power assault of a pair of SC-VI's along with these two monster tower subs. Imagine a total of 10 high efficiency 15" bass drivers in a pulse coherent configuration capable of inflicting permanent damage to your ears, and potentially your walls and housing structure also. We are talking about serious overkill here.
The Wilson subs do everything right. Not too bomy but very natural sounding.