Vinyl and subwoofers


I have a pair of Thiel 3.6 and a Thiel ss1 sub with the prescribed Thiel crossover. I have a pretty good vinyl rig with a Clearaudio performance se, Stradivari cartridge and a ARC PH8 phonostage. Although the Thiels go down to 20hz, an audiogon member  persuaded me that I was missing something without a subwoofer. What I have heard with the Thiel SS1 sub and prescribed crossover is an amplification of record imperfections I was not aware of without the sub. As well, the overall sound seems often muddied. Has anyone else had this problem with vinyl? Is this a problem with my setup? Any insights are very appreciated.
golferboy
The sub when properly set up will better the mids and highs.  It seems that yours is not set up properly....you shouldn't be aware that there is a sub operating.
I think Stringreen is correct Some of it could also be due to isolation problems with your rack and turntable support but usually it's a set up issue.
x2 and room is treated ? i take it .Bass traps do wonders in my set up 
Bad setup. Acoustic treatment, and EQ are your Rx.

Unfortunately too many times (most of the time) buyers think subs are as easy to set up as their mains. They are not, they are an order or magnitude more difficult and takes specialized knowledge, which anyone can learn, but it takes time.


Contact GIK Acoustics, and either get an auto-calibrating EQ for your sub, or get some one to properly integrate it for you.

Best,

Erik
KAB makes a rumble filter that may help your situation, especially if you witness an unusual amount of cone movement in your subwoofer.  It helped mine - a REL B1 and Sf Cremona Auditor M.  My sub bass system was set up by a trained professional.
Post removed 
just a quick thought here.  Not being familiar with ARC phono stages, I am wondering IF the phono stage is inverting phase, which might account for the subwoofer's odd performance when playing vinyl vs the same sub working fine when playing other sources.  Not saying that it does, just something to consider....  good luck!
I use the Hsu Research ULS-15 Mk II with my system (look it up if you like) and my experience has been that with proper placement, volume and crossover settings, it enhances everything -- including good vinyl recordings.

Good luck!
If the sub is working OK with other sources, I suspect the problem is most likely a less than optimum TT set-up.  Might not be well-isolated.  Might have motor noise breaking through.  Belt tension off. 

Though the ARC PH8 is a pretty good phono stage, you might be getting noise from that unit.  Bad tubes, power supply problems, other issues? 

It could also be that the phono stage is picking up noise from your DAC, computer or digital player.  There's a lot of gain in your phono stage.  Wouldn't take much to introduce noise into the signal.  Might be breaking through inadequately shielded cables.  Try playing vinyl without any digital devices operating. 

Possibly try testing the phono stage with the arm park on the arm rest.  Try unplugging the table and seeing if there is noise coming from the phono stage.  (it's loaded so that shouldn't be an issue.)
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A second thumbs up to the kab rumble filter.  If your cartridge  is picking up low-frequency feedback it will double in the subwoofer and make things really muddy
Thanks tons for all the responses. I have room treatments, a power re-generator supplying clean, constant 120. A Thiel PX02, a passive integrator tailored to the 3.6. My CJ pre inverts the phase, so I switched the red and black at the speaker terminals. I'll try to be more articulate in describing the problem. A scratch on a record or the end of a record will turn into a thump, which is then magnified by the sub. This is not the problem. However, on those records that are poorly pressed, there is sometimes a gravely sound and on some occasions, this gravely sound has a bass component that is amplified by the sub, turning what should be tight bass into extremely bloomy and unmusical bass, which then muddies the music. Back in the day, 35 years ago...when I thought that putting a penny on a headshell might help get more music out of the grooves...I might have damaged more than a few records. If the sub was not there, the gravely sound would still be there, but easily overlooked without the sub. I'm going to recheck my turntable cartridge setup and look into a rumble filter, something I didn't know existed. Thanks in advance for future responses.
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Just read about the KAB rumble filter. I had no idea this problem of pumping woofers was so common. I am still shaking my head. Why didn't the experts who designed the audiophile skyscraper put in a button for the rumble-filter floor in all of the elevators serving the analogue section of the building.
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golferboy
Just read about the KAB rumble filter. I had no idea this problem of pumping woofers was so common. I am still shaking my head. Why didn’t the experts who designed the audiophile skyscraper put in a button for the rumble-filter floor in all of the elevators serving the analogue section of the building.

8^)


https://forum.audiogon.com/search/index?utf8=%E2%9C%93&query=woofer+pumping+

316 search results on woofer pumping at AudioGon

I will hazard a guess that if your Thiel crossover was made when vinyl was prominent, and not a niche in this audio hobby, it would have made with a filtering system, or at least had that option to turn on, and prevent unwanted sub sonic frequencies. These sub sonic frequencies contribute to cone excursion and intermodulation distortion.

So, it does not have the option. I guess I can overlook the Thiel its 2016, but your ARC PH8 ? It is being used with these same Lp’s, same turntable, tonearm, cart designs that have not changed. This is not acceptable for ARC - imo. I assume it must have been a product budget issue for not including it.

Back in the day, 35 years ago...when I thought that putting a penny on a headshell might help get more music out of the grooves...I might have damaged more than a few records. If the sub was not there, the gravely sound would still be there, but easily overlooked without the sub. I’m going to recheck my turntable cartridge setup and look into a rumble filter, something I didn’t know existed.

I am actually surprised that this condition was not noticed with your Thiel 3.6. Curious what amp/s you are driving them with ?

golferboy
Just read about the KAB rumble filter. I had no idea this problem of pumping woofers was so common.
It's almost always a setup problem, not an inherent problem with LP playback. It's best remedied by correcting the setup, rather than by introducing a filter.
ct0517,
I've always noticed it with my 3.6s, in my idiocy though, I just thought it was part of playing records. I agree, the PH8 should include a filter, absolutely. Thiel also had the option of including one in its PX02 (passive crossover for the sub) and perhaps the sub, but those are more than 10 years old. Amp is a Classe CA-2200.
Cleeds,
I fine-tuned the Clearaudio table and cartridge setup with their vinyl for that purpose. If bad setup were the cause, that would mean I've had many cartridges on two tables over 10 years out of whack. Doesn't seem plausible...but who knows.

Cleeds
It’s almost always a setup problem, not an inherent problem with LP playback. It’s best remedied by correcting the setup, rather than by introducing a filter.

I agree with you but this has been my personal experience.

Recording venue noise (source lp)
Turntable rumble (setup issue)

So which is it? The money is on setup sure ......but here is the thing.

imo - anyone that is playing vinyl in a system that does justice to the bottom 2 octaves, and the gear sits on suspended wood floors...that in itself is a room setup issue /error. The person imo, will be doing all kinds of things - filters, isolation, damping, etc.... to overcome problems. This is just one example and does not refer to golferboy’s system...we have no room info?

At some point you need to start listening to the music again and a room sometimes just can not be changed. From friends in the past including myself at one point, I would say the majority, say every 3 / 5 people had systems on suspended floors.

Golferboy - it would probably help if you list 3-4 lps you are having issues with. Then the folks reading the thread can input their actual experiences.
Cheers

golferboy
I fine-tuned the Clearaudio table and cartridge setup with their vinyl for that purpose. If bad setup were the cause, that would mean I've had many cartridges on two tables over 10 years out of whack. Doesn't seem plausible...but who knows.
If you've always had this problem, then it's very likely you have a setup problem. Yes, what you have is a common problem but no, it's not inherent in LP playback. What kind of stand do you have your turntable on? What kind of floor supports the stand? What else are you doing to isolate the turntable system from the room?

Hi cleeds and ct0517,
I have my turntable on the top of a rack 5ft high on top of a 2x2 ft slab of marble. The stand sits on points that sit on carpet and go through to a concrete floor. The speakers are each 4 ft away from the turntable and are also on spikes that go through the carpet into the concrete floor. This is also true for the sub. Since I've started listening to vinyl, I've had 5 different cartridges, two tables, and 6 phono stages. Woofer pumping has ocurred with all configurations, meaning I have got the set up wrong about 10 times. In my mind it is not plausible. Perhaps this pumping is because the Thiels go down to 20hz. As I've said before, without the sub, the pumping has not been audible, just visually bothersome. The worst record for this is Boxer, by the National.
golferboy
I have my turntable on the top of a rack 5ft high on top of a 2x2 ft slab of marble. The stand sits on points that sit on carpet and go through to a concrete floor. The speakers are each 4 ft away from the turntable and are also on spikes that go through the carpet into the concrete floor. This is also true for the sub. Since I've started listening to vinyl, I've had 5 different cartridges, two tables, and 6 phono stages. Woofer pumping has ocurred with all configurations, meaning I have got the set up wrong about 10 times. In my mind it is not plausible. Perhaps this pumping is because the Thiels go down to 20hz.
If you have a subwoofer four feet from your turntable, that's quite likely part of your problem. Please feel free to think it's "not plausible" that you have a setup problem, but consider this: How do you explain that other Lp setups - with bass extension at least the equal of yours - do not have woofer pumping/rumble problems?

Hi Golferboy

"The worst record for this is Boxer, by the National"


The band recorded Boxer with producer Peter Katis, with vocalist Matt Berninger stating, "We recorded a lot of it at home. Probably half and half of home recording and recording with Peter in the studio. We always kind of work that way, going in and out of studios and then back home. We have little home set-ups. .....

taken from here

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxer_(album)

Sounds like a good candidate for recording venue related to me. But I do not own the album.

All the album tracks here. have been listening to it :^)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHaln2drAdc&list=PLVKXUV0dJqqmO-Sac6-4Dl1myCMDGGTAx&index=2

************************

If you bring a woofer into a speaker repair shop to have it fixed, before they give it back to you they run a test signal through it.

from memory sending a 10 - 20 hz through a 12 inch woofer will make it oscillate violently and depending on design it will eventually stop above that.

re your Classe Amp

As a Canadian I have owned my share of Classe amps.

Going from memory again.

Re; The CA series I remember talking to Robert of Classe in Montreal. He told me their design was "more - and smaller" capacitors for quick energy transfer.  The drawback I found with CA - 300 and 400 was a rounded bass. It sounded good - tube like in the mids and higher. But the bass was bettered by both my Krell and modded Music Reference RM9 Tube Amp with KT-88 tubes. I also remember having to have the speakers closer to boundaries with the Classe. The speakers were able to moved back out with the other amps.

You have been through many phono stages. Did any previous pre/phono stages have a subsonic filter ?

Fun thread BTW.
First place to start: What is the subwoofer's crossover point?

In my HT, my mains go strongly down to 29Hz and audibly to 26 Hz. If my crossover to the sub is set higher than 40 Hz, I get muddy bass and lower midrange. 
cleeds,
Can't explain why others don't have the problem and I can't explain why others do. "Not plausible" does not rule out the possibility that the setup is screwy. That said, ok ok, I'll check it. :) Why is having the sub only 4 ft away from table a problem with concrete?
ct0517,
No stage had a filter. I have no doubt that a Krell is better...just wish I had the bucks.

BTW, the query "pumping woofer vinyl" resulted in over 100,000 results on Google.
golferboy
Why is having the sub only 4 ft away from table a problem with concrete?
The concrete has nothing to do with it. The close proximity between subwoofer and turntable suggests you may have some acoustic feedback between the two. That is only going to exacerbate any other problem you're having with setup.

I'm not familiar with your turntable. It's possible that it's just not well isolated. That may also be contributing to your problem.

golferboy
BTW, the query "pumping woofer vinyl" resulted in over 100,000 results on Google.
That is not at all surprising! There are more cheap turntables in the world than good ones. I'd wager more turntables suffer from improper setup than those that benefit from proper setup. As audiophiles, we're just a tiny percentage of those who listen to LPs.

It seems somewhat counter to logic to purchase a subwoofer that now requires a rumble filter.  If you can "hear" the subwoofer operating during normal playback, that typically indicates the level is set too high; turn it down a bit and see if that alleviates your intermittent problem.  Someone else mentioned this.  But as a matter of fact, 30 and more years ago good receivers and integrated amplifiers often did come with rumble filters.  They went away with the purist movement of the late 80s and 90s and possibly the realization that there was more profit to be had by not incorporating a rumble filter.  Do you perceive that the diaphragm of the subwoofer or your main speaker woofer is "pumping" when the problem is occurring?  In that case, and after you have exhausted the possibilities of re-arraging your components (see below), a rumble filter might help.

Your problem can also be due to placement of the components in your listening room.  Low frequencies can produce standing waves that contain quite a bit of energy which can induce physical movement of the tonearm/cantilever, generating spurious low frequency interference. Where is the tt with respect to the sub woof?  Try moving one or the other and see if that affects the problem you are trying to solve.  Someone else mentioned this, too.

Do you really know for sure that the sub woof is the culprit? Does the intermittent problem disappear when you disconnect the subwoof and run the main speakers full range?


Hi,
Is there a 'connectivity' set up diagram to show how to set up a sub woofer in a vinyl system i.e. how/where the speaker wires connect and do the main speaker wires change at all?
Bob
The original description was "vinyl sounds muddied."
While all the comments about setup, amps, etc. may have merit, the fact that it appears only on vinyl means - well, it must be associated with vinyl playback.

Two possibilities:
  1. Acoustic feedback
  2. Eccentric recording.
If it’s acoustic feedback being picked up by the cartridge, fix that.
But more likely is #2.

Almost all records have some warpage, which is amplified at 33 1/3 rpm, or 0.5 hz. (33.3 cycles per second/60 seconds per minute = 0.555)
Plus there are various imperfections in the surface. Say there are three imperfections - they will be played back at 1.5 hz.
OR, many records don’t have the spindle hole punched exactly in the center - another source of 0.5 hz.

In all of these subsonic cases, the amp will be pushing or pulling at very low frequencies, which will stress it. And the woofer will be struggling to produce an in-phase signal while the woofer moves in or out, with large excursions.
The simplest form of speaker distortion is the Doppler Effect, but there are other phase-shift effects that will affect the sound you hear. Muddied is a good description.

That’s why amps of vinyl vintage had subsonic filters, usually switchable. And they usually acted below 10 hz. Simple solution (if the slope of the filter didn’t introduce too much phase shift of its own).

In the vinyl era, rumble filters were different from subsonic filters. Rumble filters were designed to mask bearing noise, which occurs in the audible range. Using them eliminates audible sound - better to get rid of noisy bearings.

Subsonic filters were strictly for eccentric recordings. You could actually see the woofer moving in and out at 33 1/3 hz - I thought it looked like they were breathing.
Different problems, different solutions.
You don't need a rumble filter.....  Did you check if the cartridge is mounted correctly...that the mass of the arm is proper for the cartridge compliance, etc. 
I'm almost going to guarantee your problem is acoustic feedback from the sub. I know, because I had the exact same problem, and the way you're describing it was exactly how I would describe it. (And my turntable was also on a very stable surface, a granite countertop.) The way to know for sure is if you have another source besides analog (like digital), if the muddiness is there with both, then yes you may need to look into proper EQ for the sub, but if it's only the vinyl, then its feedback.

The solution is simple: get a 12x12 (or 18x18) stone tile from any building materials store, and put four sorbothane feet on the bottom. Put your turntable on top of that. For me, the bass boominess and rumble disappeared immediately. I have a lot of second hand vinyl, and I never see a rumble issue unless the record has serious warpage. Improper setup can also increase rumble. I have no filters in my system, and it plays everything just fine (even with subs) after doing the fix above. Good luck!
Since you are experiencing this with two different turntables and multiple cartridges, acoustic feedback and physical set up in the room must be part of the problem. Can you try wide frequency response head phones capable of very deep bass with the speakers and sub turned off to see if you get the same muddy bass?

That said, my first thought on reading about your problem is that you have a cartridge-arm compliance mismatch as stringreen suggests. I have a sub that can make noticeable pressure in the room below 10hz, and I am getting real sub bass/woofer pumping problems with certain high compliance cartridges on my medium mass Thorens arm playing certain vinyl recordings. Note that I never get this with digital recordings. Turning off the sub or listening to headphones that drop off below 20Hz seriously reduces the "rumble" with vinyl, but since I am using the sub with monitors I miss the bass extension with the sub out.

My solution is going to be to experiment with cartridges with very different compliance ratings to try to find the right match with my arm. Maybe also trying a phono amp with sub-bass filter. Curiously two different Grado cartridges with the same compliance ratings have noticeably different susceptibility to this rumble problem on my table.


The first thing that should be addressed is the compatibility between the ARC PH8 and the Strativari cart?

There was never any mention of the OP's room dimensions, or what, if any treatments? Subwoofer placement or any info regarding this. Room treatments. For that matter, the rack's construction...?

For a small room, especially, I find my Vicoustic Super Bass Extreme Panels to work very well. Others have mentioned GIK. They failed to say that these treatments work best in a closed environment.

I can only assume that since the OP stated the TT was 4' between each speaker that the Op's set-up has the rack in the center of the room. The rack... we aren't told what sort of rack, only it's 5' tall.

My fix? Ideally, your tt should not be in the center of your speaker placement. I can only assume that you have limited options on your system /room by either your WACF or your budget. To eliminate the effect of the center position of your rack in your room to a more appropriate place.. this would be a cost factor that you don't want or need? Right?

Try the springs from Machina Dynamica to place under your tt support/platform. A very modest investment. A very important/relevant return for that investment. This will be the best option in terms of value for the dollar you will likely spend in any instance.

Good luck!
Dear @golferboy : As @erik_squires  pointed out the subs set up is not an easy task for say the least.

Problems are not that we need a ruble filter because we need not or bass traps because we need it either.

First than all we need not one but at minimum two active subwoofers wired in true stereo fashion and crossing at around 80 hz-90 hz with the main speakers playing from 80 hz-90hz and up.

You have only one sub that if using two subs we have a hard task to integerated with only one it's a lot harder.

When two subs are well integrated no one can detect not only its position but that we are using subs in the systems other than with organ music or the Telarc 1812.

Seamless integration is the name of the game but really difiult to do it. I took over ayear to arrive " rigth there ".

In the other side we need subs with a very low THD figure. No where we can read your Thiel sub THD.

The best subs for stereo music are Velodyne with a ridiculous 0.5% on THD where the highly touted JL Audio subs has over 5% !!!!!!, maybe your Tjhiel was over that JL Audio figure and this is a deep problem too.

Here is something that I posted years ago on subs:

 https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/do-you-think-you-need-a-subwoofer/post?postid=310058#310058


Btw, JBL made an extensive scientific studies on subs using mathematic models and true and real tests where they find out that for a home enviroment and for stereo music the ideal number of subs must be four and the minimum two units. In that studies they told that as more subs in the room each one sound waves compensate in between disappearing room bass nodules and standing waves and bass excessive vibrations ( of course that the SPL in the set up must be according. ). They did not recomend the use of only one sub.

Regards and enjoy the music,
R.
gloferboy,

My speakers go down the 30hz flat. Yours go a wee bit further.  Did you really need a sub?  If you install the sub and your bass is suddenly exaggerated then you probably didn't need it in the first place. You will have to room tune the wave lengths or E.Q. them to correct the issue..
I personally have found that when one adds a sub to a system that already covers the last octave of usable program material that making it work seemlessly is more headache then it's worthq.  If you do get it properly tuned you've pretty much ended up with what you already had in the first place.
Subs are effective when used with speakers that don't reach further then 50hz or so.  Keep in mind, there is very little usable program material below 40hz anyway.
The Theils are first rate, and in my opinion certainly don't need a sub.  They are powerful below 30hz when the program material calls for it and that is exactly what you want from a speaker.  
Norman

Dear @normansizemore :  """  Subs are effective when used with speakers that don't reach further then 50hz or so.  Keep in mind, there is very little usable program material below 40hz anyway. """

that's a totally misunderstodd of the use of subs  for stereo music. Not only my speakers goes down deeper than yours and that the @golferboy but deeper than 20hz and when integrated my two Velodynes was and is an incredible experience to lisent music on it. Is a new system. Please re-read not only my last post to the OP but this link that can put some ligth about:

https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/do-you-think-you-need-a-subwoofer/post?postid=310058#310058

In the other side there are a lot of sound/music below 40hz even is in stereo fashion.

Regards and enjoy the music,
R.