You dont! If your main speakers are good down to 34-44hz it covers every instrument except organs and synth. Subs are for home theatre boom booms, so leave them alone for real music.
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Yes, I agree with the above poster... I would also not cut off anything below 80Hz from going to your monitors unless they were not designed to reproduce such frequencies. Subs don't do a good job of reproducing mid bass frequencies, and it is difficult to get them to match the tone, attack, and speed of your main speakers. The quality of bass that different subs produce can vary a great deal. Some subs can help the music in certain respects, but other times they can take away from the experience as well.
Well, this is one area I am in the minority, but I like big speakers for my front L/R. I've noticed that in a lot of action movies there is prodigious deep bass in the front channels, and that, contrary to the conventional wisdom about bass being non-directional, I can clearly hear deep roaring sounds and percussive effects coming from the front left or right side. Now, I do realize that the deep LFE rumble sounds are better produced by a sub, but I don't really like a whole lot of that rumble anyway.
There are HT subs and there are music subs. Large speakers create more room problems than small speakers not to mention large floor standing speakers themselves are big reflective surfaces. If you think it is difficult integrating a sub then you have never owned a REL. REL subwoofers will integrate with any speaker from monitors to Quads. Monitors speakers with a sub also give you the flexability of pulling the monitors into the room for a more spacious sound while not sacrificing bass performance. If you are a Vandersteen 1, 2 or 3 owner there are other benefits to using a Vandersteen sub because of how the Vandersteen sub connects to the system. With those systems a Vandersteen subwoofer gives you advantages in increased performance that is hard to imagine.
Interesting the way we all think and hear differently about this. I find a sub to be near essential for music, even with near full range tower speakers. I don't give a hoot for home theater applications, so it's strictly about music for me. Perhaps listening environments vary so much that that is a major factor in our differing opinions? I've used a sub with Maggie 1.6's, my ACI Talisman SE's had built in self powered subs, and I ended up adding one JL Fathom F112 to augment the 32hz. extension of my Tidal Piano Cera's. I cross it over a 40hz. and it is subtle in the way it affects most music. But I love the way it adds ambient cues to music. Small things like hearing the rumble of the stage under the orchestra interact with the whack of a tympani add immeasurably to the sense of suspended reality a good system induces.
Since this post is in the ht forum lets not talk about 2 channel.
i was asking the same question as the OP... not too long ago. it seems to all come down to this... A full frequency range is what you are looking for and for home theater you want a sub even if you have great front speakers. you will have to buy on the upper end of the sub market if you want to use monitors for the fronts. these subs are quicker in reacting at the UPPER frequencies. you may even want to get two of them. they are adjustable in the frequency range... and so is a good receiver, or whatever you are using to drive them.... so you can play with the frequencies on both speakers and subs, maybe you want them to overlap in the crossover area maybe not. it is more about the clarity than the BOOM. but you want both. so.... the floor speakers will give you clarity to a certain mid area then the sub can take over for the lower.
Ray, if you look at the very top of the page, you'll see in the second line "learn-forums-home theater." Still, I'm not sure why whether one has two, three, five, or seven channels really matters with regard to the original question. Unless I'm missing something, differences between two channel and home theater subwoofer use is only a matter of implementation and quantity. I suppose the OP's original question could be interpreted as asking whether there is a better alternative to the THX camp's way of implementing bass management; letting all bass below 80hz. be sent to the subwoofer through the LFE output of the processor?
In many applications, Rrog's point, "Monitors speakers with a sub also give you the flexability of pulling the monitors into the room for a more spacious sound while not sacrificing bass performance," is perhaps the most cogent in a thread with lots of misinformation.
The notion of listening to a sub seems a clear indication the sub is not set up properly. You really shouldn't hear speakers, just a well imaged soundstage. What you do want from a sub is low distortion with minimal overhang. You don't want to be aware of the sub(s) as a sound source.
Personally, I use two towers that are pulled into the room with two 15" subs, but my system does both music and HT, and my processor permits listening with the mains full range or crossed to the subs with but a click of the remote.
Great question and I'd be surprised if there weren't many different opinions and even more forthcoming.
"Textbook" in a home theater setup, you are likely right. However, there's always an exception and let me explain my perspective.
In my opinion, with an LFE channel from the source, then there is really no big, huge advantage to having towers except that many towers tend to push more air. Thus, if you have a larger room, towers are better than monitors. Secondly, even with an LFE, 80 isn't necessarily the best crossover in your particular room. Yes, it's the THX standard, but sometimes you get a better/flatter response by crossing over at 60-75, depending on the crossover options in your sub or pre-pro.
(As an aside, studies from Floyd Toole show that the best setup in a home theater environment is to have 4 subs all at the mid point of each of the four walls. This provides the smoothest overall bass response in the room. These proven research runs counter to the "conventional" wisdom of one sub and in the corner. This model of four subs in the mid-wall points is now the accepted, ideal method for integrating subs in a setup.)
If you are watching TV or listening to stereo sources, then there is not necessarily a dedicated LFE channel. Thus, in many of those cases, the low frequencies are likewise stereo. You could argue that you can't "hear" the low frequencies, but I'd conjecture that you will get better integration top to bottom with towers. My example is simple here. I have Revel M22 mains and the B15 sub. Spectacular combination. I listened to the Revel Ultima2 Salons and the bass was so tight I was amazed there was no sub. That perfection of the crossovers with a tower speaker simply cannot be put into words. You need to experience it to understand.
That again goes with the previous poster about subs. My Revel B15 is a spectacular sub and handles both music and movies exceptionally well. The REL units as mentioned are also absolutely fantastic subs. Most subs don't get to level of the Revel or REL they get very sloppy. Thus, if you don't have an utterly spectacular sub, you can certainly get better overall performance by having towers and a sub.
I don't know ultimately what your goal is with your question, but my advice is to always try and buy the best quality you can within your budget. If I personally have a choice, I try and go with the higher quality speaker--even if it is a monitor--because you tend to get the better tweeter and midrange. Then you can complement with a stellar sub and have a truly magnificent home theater and music experience.
I also arrived at this post without realizing that it was home theater. It is right there at the top though now that I'm here. I have to admit in years of hanging out here I never looked or cared or realized the category was there. I didn't know because Baranowski never caught me and asked to see my hall pass.
Regarding the subject, for me it's towers and two subs. No HT, two channel only and it sounds great. I have tried most every other combo of sub, subs, no sub, monitors, and towers and for me this works best.
Bizango1.... hall pass.... really? all i was saying is there are two vast option ranges when you begin to talk 2 channel set up in relation to tower speakers as aposed to home theater set up with tower speakers. I just want the original poster to have the answers to his questions about HOME THEATER because that is what he is asking about. i was just going off of experience with this forum and getting two channel guys options when i was just looking for home theater answers.
it is just the same when you start to look at reviews for higher end speakers.... when you are looking for impressions on home theater applications.... it is almost always two channel information. try looking up b&w 802, for home theater applications.... good luck in finding that information... even my 804's have very limited reviews for ht applications.....
So if i have offered....sorry....but.... he was asking questions about home theater stuff...
Thanks for all the thoughts so far. While i recognize that i am posting on the HT forum, i am interested in both two channel and theater equally. I've got a single large room (about 4000 cu ft) and need to do one system. I am leaning towards a hybrid approach:
1. Decent tube preamp with HT pass thru
2. Decent monoblocks or stereo amp for main left and right front
3. Basic avr to process and power center and 4 surrounds. Maybe get a better amp for center channel later
4. Mid to hi end main speakers, cheaper surrounds, full range
5. Basic sub, maybe a hsu only for HT
The other approach i was thinking of was two seperate systems. Something super efficient and dynamic for the HT and a big sub, plus something tubey and smooth for the two channel with totally seperate speakers, cables, sources, etc. i have read here that alot of people have seperate HT and stereo rigs, but is that in the same room? I can't get my head around having all those boxes and cables, etc everywhere.
I use my HT setup as my 2-channel setup, so I can only comment from that perspective. My end goals are the same as yours.
I'm personally very happy and satisfied. I use an Anthem with ARC for both 2 channel and HT setup. My only comments on your thoughts are:
1) Don't skimp on the sub. Listen and get the best sub you can afford. It makes a huge difference. This is especially the case if your speakers only go down to 40-30hz. I'm very, very happy with the way my sub interplays with both music and movies. My Anthem allows me to have custom settings for music with the sub crossover, etc. and also totally different settings for movies. Thus, I get the best of both worlds.
2) I can respect your thoughts for a separate preamp just for 2-channel. If you have the cash, go for it. That's all a matter of personal preference. Don't know where you stand on room correction, but I've become a huge proponent since i've seen what it has done in my room. I spent quite a bit of time positioning and testing my speakers. Room correction took it to another great level as the room was playing an effect as all rooms do.
3) I would not skimp on the "basic" AVR (again, don't now what you're calling a basic AVR). If you're serious about your HT experience you'll regret going with a basic one
4) Unless you have an unlimited budget, I'd do one setup and spend the $$$ to find a set of speakers that will do your 2-channel and HT. There are many models and companies that do this and do it very well if not spectacularly well. NOLA, Revel, Focal, ADAM, B&W are but a few that I would strongly suggest you listen to. In fact, the NOLA speakers are some of the most musical and dynamic speakers out there that do an absolutely stunning job with 2-channel and also with home theater. The ribbon tweeter, and open baffle is to die for. The dynamics and also depth of stage you get is wonderful. If you can listen to the NOLA Baby Grands, your jaw will drop. Ditto with the Revels and the Focal Utopia series. You have plenty of options out there.
5) If cost is no object, then look at Audio Research products that will satisfy your tube itch and also be able to do HT and 2 channel with equal authority and grace.
6) i agree with your ideas about the quality progression from fronts to surrounds; however, try to stay in the same brand or speaker family. Otherwise you will notice a difference. I don't care what anyone else says, if you have a high-end setup, you will notice the timbre difference with different speakers from different manufacturers.
Finally, have fun.
Photon46, well put.
As a working musician, in all the substantial post production studios I've experienced they've all had ELF subwoofers present along with some sophisticated equalization. Typically, from the same manufacture to match their main speaker systems such as Genelec, Tannoy, Meyer Labs, and Avalon Acoustics, to name a few. In February I was at a private studio in Nashville using JBL Everest mains with two updated Velodyne 1812's. I have never seen a REL sub in any professional system.
Whenever I ask the question, why not simply use large truly full range speaker systems? The answer I get has to do with control of the ELF and its relationship within the room.
But to the original posters reference to the typical 80Hz home theater crossover point. The need in your question could easily be considered subjective and most tower speakers are not actually full range unless they contain powered subs within such as Vandersteen's.
REL subwoofers were/are not designed for studio use. They are MUSICAL subs and mainly used for 2-ch music systems and as such are simply some of the BEST subwoofers for that application.
For the money, JL Audio makes very good subs for HT. If I cared as much for HT and had an extra few grand laying around, I would get one.
The idea of 4 sobwoofers in a room (a normal person's home theater setup) is a joke.