What is it about the Sunfire that's "not doing the job" specifically? Are you having integration issues of some sort? I ask because I was able to integrate 10" driver Sunfire subs very successfully with Maggie 1.6's. The Sunfires were not last word in performance by any means, but as long as the level, phase, and crossover points were set properly, I never felt they called attention to themselves and definitely helped to fill out the lower octave. Is your system two channel or are there other speakers in use for Home Theater functions?
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I would look at a VMPS sub, back when I was looking into Maggies many told me to try this sub, as it has some clay ribbon that you can remove or add as needed to speed the woofer. Another way of thinking about it, is it comes from a company that uses a lot of ribbon speakers, in their own speakers. I have had mine for many years and love it still.
LS, you seem to have a case of the planar bass blues. This is caused by your having discriminating tastes, being able to appreciate what planars can do for you from mid-bass to treble. The fact that you find your sub to be too slow is just further evidence of that.
Sorry, but I have never heard a sub which was fast enough for Magnepans. I have rarely even heard a cone speaker which can differentiate notes in the bottom octave, for that matter - mostly they just thump and thud in a sluggish monotone - unless you spend real money.
The only solution which satisfies me, is to buy a planar speaker with as much low frequency extension as the budget allows. Even ancient MGIII's extend the bass down to nearly 30 Hz, which is really plenty low. To test this, put a 12 dB filter with a 30 Hz crossover in front of your sub, and dial the sub down to 30 Hz as well. Then play a record with lots of bass. I think you will be surprised at how little signal comes through. Unless you goose the bass with tons of gain, of course.
I think you have no choice but to save up for pricier planars. Put it down to the cost of having good ears. Good luck!
I recently took one of my Velodyne HT subs to a friends home for audition, also to show him what he's missing with his Maggie 12's. I thought the F1200 sub integrated very nice. They are very cheap on the used market,or if you want to spend a little more and get a newer version look into the Velodyne HGS series.
I don't like or use subs (I say upgrade the speakers/amps, but understand may not be feasible/practical & you may really like what you have) but the rules I have always heard (as subs are so tough to integrate properly) is (1)buy the most expensive sub you can and (2)get one with an included bass amp as running a sub off your amp is pretty much a mess. That bottom bass octave is the toughest to get right and it will cost you. There is music down there! Remember, good bass frames your soundstage.
(you may not be liking the bass because if your amp but I do understand the maggies can be a little bass shy (the 1.7s)).
Unfortunately, so many folks try to use the LFE connection and sub x-over and place the sub behind the plane of the main speakers. First, I would only use speaker connections so everyone is getting the same feed. Next, open the x-over all the way and adjust the phase and gain to match the mains. And last, place the sub on a plane in front of the mains, maybe a foot or so. If you think Vandys or most any phase-correct speaker, this is the design.
I use a pair of velodyne optimum 8 subs with my Maggie 3.7's. They are a lightning fast responding sealed enclosure sub that blend in perfectly with my setup.
My setup is in a very small dedicated room 14x16x8. Associated gear... oppo bdp-95, cary slp-05, sanders sound esl 300.
I have tried ported subs and they do not blend well with the fast transient speed of the maggies, a pair of smaller sealed subs work much better. Larger subs do not respond quickly enough to blend well.... the 8 inch pair I have put out incredible deep bass that you feel when the volume is cranked up. They deepened the soundstage and make my 3.7's sound like 20.7's.
How about the Magnepan DWM bass panel? With a frequency response up to
7Khz it's certainly fast enough. True, it is more of a deep woofer (40 Hz) than a
sub, but that 40-60Hz boost will provide that little bit of missing foundation for
I just got a pair of 1.7s a couple of weeks ago too. I'm not using a DWM, but I
already had a pair of Mirage MM8s, which are *very* quick and lively. They are
9" cubes housing an 8" active driver & 2 passive radiators, powered
by a 1200 w peak class D amp. The diaphragms are very lightweight aluminum
and the surrounds are very compliant and allow for a good excursion. They also
have continuously adjustable volume, 0-360 deg. phase, and crossover from 50-
200 Hz (or none).
Audiovox/Klipsch shut down the Mirage division, but this same sub is still
available as the speakers.com/products/subwoofers/?sku=ESW-M8>Energy ESW-M8. I
have a pair of them positioned in close proximity to the panels, have the
crossover set to the lowest point (50 Hz) and added just enough volume to
flatten the bass down to about 36 Hz, but not so much to be boomy, thickening,
or otherwise intrusive.
I have a friend who's happy with an SVS SB12-NSD with his Maggies. SVS has a
45-day return period, and they pay shipping both ways. That's an attractive no-
risk way to see if you can get one to work for you -- go to www.svsound.com.
I've tried the little Velodyne SPL 8 and the 12" Rythmiks with my MMGs. The Rythmiks are flat-out better subs and sound better than the Velos IMHO, but both worked very well as far as seamless integration goes. IME, the idea that Maggies aren't "Subwoofer Friendly" doesn't hold water.
I would add that bass management software (like Audyssey) almost assures excellent subwoofer integration while IME trying to do the job by ear is very, very tough.
Others may be more skilled at manual subwoofer integration, so it's...Just IME.
To those who say a dynamic sub can't be mated with Magnepans, I say you just
haven't heard a successful blend yet. I have a successful blen in my house. I
know that mine isn't very ambitious and part of my success is that I'm not trying
to get the subs to do too much. But still, they're very quick and the continuously
variable crossover (which has to be settable to a low enough frequency--e.g., 80
Hz is too high) and 0-360 deg. phase control makes a seamless blend possible.
I also heard a very excellent setup at my local high end store. These guys are
Wilson, Magnepan, Vienna, B&W, Audio Research, VTL, Ayre, etc. dealers, and
they *know* how to get a good setup. In that case it was a pair of Mag 20.1s
(predates the 20.7s) and a pair of JL Fathom F212s, one each sitting alongside a
Maggie panel. This was a totally seamless setup and at a total list price of $25K
could compete with a $68K pair of Wilson Maxxes.
Also, Terry9 has a good point that more planar bass would be the best solution.
Fortunately, Magnepan makes that possible with their DWM panels. Singly, the
DWMs are a pretty good deal. Although they don't do much below 40 Hz, where
else are you going to find a sub with that much speed for $595? It's far cheaper
to add one or even two DWMs to an existing pair of 1.7s than to move up to a
pair of 3.7s.
BTW, I just got my 1.7s on Nov. 16 and I just looooove them. With my little subs
added in, I'm getting sound quality I could only lust after in dynamic speakers
A couple more thoughts: The B&W PV1D is a fast sub with deep reach for sure.
Also consider/audition the better Martin Logan subs, since they are designed to
blend with electrostatic panels.
Among many other speakers through the years including ATCs, Epos, Apogees and Martin Logans, I have owned and enjoyed Magneplanars since I was a junior high school student in the late '70's - from MG-Is to Tympani IVs which I still have today.
Personally, I would never try to combine a dynamic subwoofer with any of them - regardless of price or quality.
I would first consider your room, and experiment by moving your 1.7s closer to the front wall and/or corners.
You can use blue painters tape to mark the positions and may find that even 6 inches will make a significant difference.
At the same time, you can experiment with pushing your listening chair closer to the rear wall.
Unless its your thing to rock out with hip hop or heavy metal, even the smaller Magnepans are capable of rich, magical, three dimensional sound, hence their enduring business and reputations with audiophiles.
In my experience, the people who speak poorly of them are generally dealers who don't sell them.
I have used Rel subs with my MG3.7s with some success. I think one key to a successful pairing of any dynamic sub with Maggies is what Johnny b said above--Don't try to do too much! If you allow the subs to just provide a little foundation at the low end and don't try to achieve + 6 dB at 20 Hz (don't laugh, this is what a few people want) you can make it work with the REL R series subs. Yesterday I played a few minutes of music through the sub without the 3.7s playing. It is amazing how little in an absolute sense is playing, yet how much it adds subjectively. Getting a good integration is easier with two subs in a stereo arrangement than with one blended mono. Also, if you set up the Maggies to do all they can at low frequency (out 4-5 ft from the back wall for instance), it will make the task easier. CWs advice on room set up is excellent, though I respectfully disagree with his absolute avoidance of subs with Maggies.
Finally, I suspect (but haven't heard in my system) the Fathom subs may be superior to the RELs, but at the cost of the Fathoms, you would do better moving up to the 3.7Rs. While they aren't particularly strong below 40 Hz, they are much, much better overall than the 1.7s.
Brownsfan and others,
If you enjoy subs with your Magnepans, that's great and I wish you happiness with your system. And I agree with the observation that yes, you would want them to be as unintrusive as possible or as Brownsfan puts it to not try to do too much!
I am not a bass freak and have generally had bass challenged speakers throughout my life. I do think imaging is one of the greatest things for an audiophile and my understanding is that very low bass can add space, ambience and room size to imaging?
Nonetheless, the reason I am stubborn on this point is that the unique magic of Magnepans comes from their amazing cohesiveness, which is unmatched by most coned speakers.
In my experience, no matter how fast a dynamic speaker is, it will never keep up with a panel or an electrostatic, so there is inevitably some smearing and blurring of the qualities that you might have purchased planar speakers for in the first place.
I had a pair of Martin Logan SL3s years ago where obviously the manufacturer would go to great efforts to blend the woofer and the panel. I sold them because it wasnt even close.
So if you want to use subwoofers, I would first go to the end of the earth and every conceivable effort to extract the best full range, top to bottom, sound that you can from your room and from your Magnepans.
Then and only then I would add your subs back in and as Brownsfan points out, dial them out of the conversation as much as possible.
Finally, those of you who have been doing this for a while may recall an audiophile classic do it yourself speaker in the 70's / 80's as touted by the Absolute Sound: The Infinity QRS - Magneplanar Tympani 1D.
In that case, the best bass in the world was derived by splicing the Mangeplanar BASS panels onto the Infinitys.
So I would definitely also check out the new woofer panels - combined with 1.7s they could be a new giant killer.
Thanks guys for all the info. I've been playing around with the Sunfire sub I have. Changing positions, fine tuning and level adjustments. It's getting better, now that the Maggies are about broken in.(after 6 months)
Also looking at getting some MYE stands, which will stiffen the panels and I understand helps increase the bass response. I'm just trying to get the best blending of sound I can between the sub and the Maggie 1.7s.