Audiophiles telling me subs suck. Because real stereo is 2 speakers. True or false?

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SeattleChris

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Integrating subs can certainly be a challenge. My dual SVS SB-1000 pros are in a small office, and the bass is garbage anywhere but the one place it matters...the "sweet spot" where I sit (where the bass is truly magical). Even with my low pass starting at 80hz the dual subs are invisible. I've also come to really appreciate the parametric equalizer and many other settings in the SVS app to fine tune things.
 
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SteveR750

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There is nothing un-audiophile about adding a sub, though who wants to be labelled as an auiophile anyway! The challenge with adding a sub is to set it up to work with your stereo speakers, rather than against. That is not an easy task to by trial and error and using your ears - this is where a room measurement and correction system is really valuable.
 

AJM1981

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I have two stereo setups with a sub each. From a bit of experience in the production world and as a listener I would like to make a pros and cons list. I think it might help making a choice since a lot is in the gray area of decission making in personal preference cases.

Why to purchase a sub
1) a little extra reach at the bottom edge. It makes bookshelf speakers sound like there are floorstanders.
2. Some music utilizes a subwoofer.
3. Great addition for Jazz, in the sense of being there.
4. Atmospheric movie effects.

I use them a little below the bass extension, to a point that when you turn on the sub there is slightly more presence. But you don't really notice that there is a sub if you don't know there is one. With the right combo in volume, and bass extension point it will do well allround.

against
1)Don't only do it for the explosions in movies. About 90% of movies and series focus on dialogue, so a good midrange coverage is by far more important than deep bass.
2) Also keep it in mind that when your room conditions are ok and you have found the ideal setting for a reproduction of that typical boomy cinema sound, it might be totally off for music.
3)The versatility of a sub is both pro and con at the same time. Dialing up the sub's volume for one track to enhance the atmosphere might be a bad idea for the next track. The weighed settings for a little extra support are usually preferable.
4)Don't really do it for music in general. There are exceptions, but most music doesn't even really utilize a sub. There are also examples of tracks with bloated bass above some sub's frequencies. A sub doesn't compliment those well when you are a bit free wheeling with the sub's volume.
5)A sub requires an amp with a dedicated sub out in order to extend and make the extension dial work and fine tune. Only get a sub if you are ok or prepared to change an old amp. Otherwise don't do it.

You can't just add any sub to your shopping cart. Subs simply require "nerding around" on specs. You 'always' need to know what loudspeakers you stick to in order to find a matching sub. Why? Because you need to find the bass extension point of your loudspeakers in the manual. Your sub needs to cover a (by preference) wide spectrum of frequencies below this point. Otherwise your sub just doubles your woofer output and anyone will kind of regret. It has cost me days until I finally found a match and I am glad I didn't buy just one impulsively.

ow yeah.. for when you have a really small room and no space for a sub. The Arylic A50 (a really small amp) has this double bass setting for cinema. It might sound sketchy but it is effective.
 
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giocap

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Feb 7, 2023
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I have two stereo setups with a sub each. From a bit of experience in the production world and as a listener I would like to make a pros and cons list. I think it might help making a choice since a lot is in the gray area of decission making in personal preference cases.

Why to purchase a sub
1) a little extra reach at the bottom edge. It makes bookshelf speakers sound like there are floorstanders.
2. Some music utilizes a subwoofer.
3. Great addition for Jazz, in the sense of being there.
4. Atmospheric movie effects.

I use them a little below the bass extension, to a point that when you turn on the sub there is slightly more presence. But you don't really notice that there is a sub if you don't know there is one. With the right combo in volume, and bass extension point it will do well allround.

against
1)Don't only do it for the explosions in movies. About 90% of movies and series focus on dialogue, so a good midrange coverage is by far more important than deep bass.
2) Also keep it in mind that when your room conditions are ok and you have found the ideal setting for a reproduction of that typical boomy cinema sound, it might be totally off for music.
3)The versatility of a sub is both pro and con at the same time. Dialing up the sub's volume for one track to enhance the atmosphere might be a bad idea for the next track. The weighed settings for a little extra support are usually preferable.
4)Don't really do it for music in general. There are exceptions, but most music doesn't even really utilize a sub. There are also examples of tracks with bloated bass above some sub's frequencies. A sub doesn't compliment those well when you are a bit free wheeling with the sub's volume.
5)A sub requires an amp with a dedicated sub out in order to extend and make the extension dial work and fine tune. Only get a sub if you are ok or prepared to change an old amp. Otherwise don't do it.

You can't just add any sub to your shopping cart. Subs simply require "nerding around" on specs. You 'always' need to know what loudspeakers you stick to in order to find a matching sub. Why? Because you need to find the bass extension point of your loudspeakers in the manual. Your sub needs to cover a (by preference) wide spectrum of frequencies below this point. Otherwise your sub just doubles your woofer output and anyone will kind of regret. It has cost me days until I finally found a match and I am glad I didn't buy just one impulsively.

ow yeah.. for when you have a really small room and no space for a sub. The Arylic A50 (a really small amp) has this double bass setting for cinema. It might sound sketchy but it is effective.
You confirm my suspicions. I think i'll stick with towers for a long time.
I am exclusively a music guy.... movies not so much.
 

AJM1981

Well-known member
You confirm my suspicions. I think i'll stick with towers for a long time.
I am exclusively a music guy.... movies not so much.

yeah, good choice

Subs are in so many different flavors given the range they cover, some of them are almost like what an average woofer does and some really dig deep.

Most towers go pretty deep already, a sub with a deep bottom end certainly can scoop up a few extra frequencies beyond what some towers produce beyond the roll off point. But it might not be worth having almost a "dead" sub which only kicks in a few percent of the time.

My current sub is already kind of lazy, but for my three way standmounts it is still a nice addition :) I will use "the war anthem" by Max Richter as a good excuse.
 

The End

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The early 2-channel systems were not stereo, only 2 channels. Soon we got 2-channel and even 4-channel stereo. Later we got 5.1 channels stereo and more. Stereo is space, regardless of the number of channels. Subs are not channels and don't enter into it.
 

AJM1981

Well-known member
The early 2-channel systems were not stereo, only 2 channels.

Let me try to follow this.

Music started mono, so if the source is or was mono, or had mono content,the two loudspeakers only create more presence. Now I don't know if the very first dual speaker setups were released in mono-only times or that they came along with popularisation of the very first stereo recordings. Gap in my history.

Soon we got 2-channel and even 4-channel stereo.

eh.. a stereo recording over 2 channels is technically and by definition stereo. Yes, you can create 4 channel stereo with 2 sets of loudspeakers on 1 amp but what you probably mean is Quadrophonics in which content created for a 4 channel separation was applied.

quote:
“Stereo” is short for stereophonic. It originates from the Greek word “stereos”, which means “solid, firm, and three-dimensional”. Stereo audio has two audio signals designed for two separate audio channels, which creates a perception of space."

Later we got 5.1 channels stereo and more. Stereo is space, regardless of the number of channels. Subs are not channels and don't enter into it.

Dolby Surround or the later Dolby Digital creates a 5 channel separation when the content is 5.1. The sub is the. 1 because it is the bottom vertical aspect of frequencies that it reproduces. Not a channel indeed, but when satellite speakers hardly produce any bass, it can be kind of perceived as an extra channel.
 
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ultraminiature

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I wanted a sub to complement 2 bookshelf speakers with poor bass.
Audiophiles in my area say subs suck.

I ask myselfe Were they right? Or is it BS?
Low frequencies are non-directional. I still know where the Bass in my 5.1 system is.

Having a two way speaker makes the design easier than a 3 or 4 way speaker. Less parameters to handle. The room may have issues at some low frequencies which in turn may mean that placing the sub differently can remove completely or partially the problem. Can not do that with a full range stereo pair and have to go full on room acoustic correction.

I went from book shelf to floor standing three way (four driver units) speakers with massive amplifiers built in and 20-20kHz.
 

podknocker

Well-known member
Low frequencies are directional, but the longer wavelength means they won't bounce of surfaces like the treble frequencies. Bass still travels from your sub to the walls, but most of these wavelengths don't 'fit' into the space, so they produce nasty booming, or modes/standing waves, if the wavelength fits perfectly. If you listen to your HIFI with the windows open, it will sound different, because some bass frequencies can 'escape'. I noticed this decades ago and if you listen to as system from another room, you tend to lose the bass effect. Listening to a system outside will sound totally different to the same system in the middle of your living room, where the bass can sit in the room, rather than escape to the middle of nowhere. If I stand at the boundary to my living room and kitchen, the bass is different to when I enter my living room. It's much better now and without boom, after shoving the foam bungs into my speakers.
 
Low frequencies are non-directional. I still know where the Bass in my 5.1 system is.

Having a two way speaker makes the design easier than a 3 or 4 way speaker. Less parameters to handle. The room may have issues at some low frequencies which in turn may mean that placing the sub differently can remove completely or partially the problem. Can not do that with a full range stereo pair and have to go full on room acoustic correction.

I went from book shelf to floor standing three way (four driver units) speakers with massive amplifiers built in and 20-20kHz.
Interesting but this thread is over a year old...
 

Deliriumbassist

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Apr 27, 2011
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I wanted a sub to complement 2 bookshelf speakers with poor bass.
Audiophiles in my area say subs suck.
Reasons:
1.sound comes from 3 different points , should come from 2 (only stereo music listening for me)
2. Hard to configure and balance with speakers, so you are constantly setting it up-tuning it.
3. "Detached sound" you lose immersivness cause the lower bass comes out of another place. So intruments that are half in the lower mids and half in the deep bass sound wierd.
(I thought super low bass was omnidirectional so this couldnt happen idk.)


I since then got frightened and got a pair of used jamo's tower speakers that have enough bass for me.

I ask myselfe Were they right? Or is it BS?
1. Unless the speaker in question is a true point source, then sound is coming from at least 4 places with a speaker.

2. This isn't a problem with having subs - this is a problem with the sub itself, or the installer.

3. This links to the other two points. Particularly point 2.

Basically, those people are 1) leaning too much into the theoretical/dogmatic to try and justify an opinion in part 1 and 3, because they haven't fixed part 2. Now that's typically down to the particular subwoofer, room AND quality of installation - but then again, it's the same with any other speaker, because that's what a subwoofer is.
 

AJM1981

Well-known member
When you own bookshelf speakers that don't dig really deep, you might really like an additional subwoofer; despite the opinions of others. Just be sure to check the specified bottom end frequency (at which point it rolls off) of your set and check if the sub you are purchasing can connect to that point well. Since the roll off is also a fact, to dial it in a little lower is recommended.

The good thing of a subwoofer is that it is moslty active and versatile. So if you want to alter your opinion from time to time to one of those purists and listen to music without sub; leave it off. If you like to enjoy what's not there or watch a movie or series; turn it on. There is not really any wrong there.

In my case, my both pairs of loudspeakers dig reasonably deep. I bought a sub to have a bit of extra presence of the deepest bass notes in upright bass with Jazz tracks and movies that contain a lot of sub-effects. But what's 'extremely nice' for jazz and gives you the idea of being there a bit more (been to some live concerts) does not work for other bass-heavy kinds of genres. I hate a sub when it comes to 90s dance and club music to which it suddenly sounds like pumping the wall of the neighbor in 4/4 beat (also a bit of thing that producers of electronic dance music nowadays do better by managing sub-bass better. In the past they just tapped in the 909 kick drums and left it as it was) Luckily my amp has a function to cut it remotely.
 
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Fandango Andy

Well-known member
I wanted a sub to complement 2 bookshelf speakers with poor bass.
Audiophiles in my area say subs suck.
Reasons:
1.sound comes from 3 different points , should come from 2 (only stereo music listening for me)
2. Hard to configure and balance with speakers, so you are constantly setting it up-tuning it.
3. "Detached sound" you lose immersivness cause the lower bass comes out of another place. So intruments that are half in the lower mids and half in the deep bass sound wierd.
(I thought super low bass was omnidirectional so this couldnt happen idk.)


I since then got frightened and got a pair of used jamo's tower speakers that have enough bass for me.

I ask myselfe Were they right? Or is it BS?
Too many replies to read them all, so sorry if already covered.

Firstly there are a section of "Audiophiles" who will state (and possibly believe) their opinions as if they were facts.

It doesn't matter how you achieve the sound from your system, as long as you are happy with it.

As for where the sound comes from, the lower a frequency gets the less directional it is. Somewhere below 80Hz it becomes omni directional so it will appear to come from everywhere and nowhere.
 

manicm

Well-known member
Too many replies to read them all, so sorry if already covered.

Firstly there are a section of "Audiophiles" who will state (and possibly believe) their opinions as if they were facts.

It doesn't matter how you achieve the sound from your system, as long as you are happy with it.

As for where the sound comes from, the lower a frequency gets the less directional it is. Somewhere below 80Hz it becomes omni directional so it will appear to come from everywhere and nowhere.

But I'm guessing if the phase is out then you'll know all too well where it emanates. That's why setup is crucial for a sub.
 

Pedro2

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Nov 29, 2010
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Not been here for a while but got some personal experience with using a sub with stand mounts so I thought I’d share them.

First and foremost, don’t be swayed too much by any audiophile rules - subs in 2 channel music systems can sound great, awful and anything in between.
Some subs are designed for home cinema use - they’re great with explosions but not so much with Handel’s Messiah…
Smaller speakers cannot reproduce frequencies below 50hz too well (or even at all in some cases). Most designs try to get round this with varying degrees of success by using ports. I use ported speakers with a sub but have them partially’bunged’.
Even floor standing speakers can benefit from good use of a sub/s - subs tend to relieve the main speakers of trying to reproduce bass that physics won’t allow.
One sub tuned below 80hz can rarely be located by the human ear although I’m told that two subs can be tuned higher than this.
Overall sound quality is determined by your system’s interaction with the room. Sometimes, a sub will help here - sometimes it won’t.
Finally, I think I’d struggle with my system minus the sub - it would sound ok, but nowhere near as good..
 
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