Bang4Buck: Why subs haven't reached what speakers have (?)

AJM1981

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Mar 26, 2021
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Nowadays due technological refinement, it is an excellent time for getting serious quality speakers as the line between high end hifi and budget hifi are fading. There is a chance of picking up a set of speakers in a range of 75-200 euros and be amazed about how satisfying they sound for what they are.

That doesn't really seem to apply to subwoofers yet, especially for a hi-fi application. Lots of cheaper subs in the 50-200 euro range I came across have frequency ranges that would more classify them as regular woofers. Like.. what is a sub starting at 40hz?

Then there are some user reviews stating that technical problems appear after a while and the picture of typical low quality stuff appears.

The best serious "budget sub" I came across was the small B&W Asw608 for 500 euros that I eventually got for my main setup . Serious because it is heavy enough for its size, has tight bass and received many 5 star reviews. The Wharfedale sw10 for 329 euro is perhaps the most affordable that performs equally.

But then there seems to be a gap and it slowly goes into these ranges occupied by brands like Line, Skytronic and Jamo with all doubtful user reviews.

I wonder why there isnt more choice at the bottom and why there isn't anything basic with decent sub bass and a crossover for like 150-200 without flaws. Maybe I missed some key products on the Dutch market (?)

What are recommendable ones?
 

AJM1981

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Wharfedale sw10 30hz - 150hz€329
Klipsch R12 SW29hz-120hz€338
B&W asw60823hz-140hz€449

These are in my opinion the best candidates for affordable good subs.

I have exclused all "woofers", as in subs that start relatively high with their minimum frequency. Also selected a couple of subs that probably have lasting amps and good build quality.

There is the Skytronic Shfs10b which promises to deliver in range of 20 to 200 hz for 169 euros. But I heavily doubt the quality of the bass and the durability of the amp. One user comment states it isnt powerful, which alone is not really a problem in an average room. Though, another mentions that the 'sound' of the bass isn't good, that is something which would make me skip further thinking about it as an option. Blubbery or hollow bass sound doesn't qualify as useful.

Given the list starts pretty high in price tags. I think it is safe to conclude that there are no really cheap performing / durable subs yet. Maybe some brands might push borders in coming years, but so far.. this is it.
 
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TrevC

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Not sure that's my experience - even at conversational background listening levels a good system should deliver audible benefits.
BK are a couple of miles down the road from me. Might as well be a million miles though, my neighbours don't need any more bass than my small standmounts produce.
I find that the really low bass rumbles that my BK XLS200DF via antimode provides don't actually carry into the rest of the house. I do have a solid floor though.
 
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AJM1981

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This Cambridge sub retails for 400 Euros and starts from 50hz. That is 5 hz lower than my Wharfedale Evo 4.2's standmount regular woofer. Probably useful for small speakers like the Wharfedale diamond 12.0 but 400 euro is a lot of money for such a thing for which 150 euro extra gives one an equal quality branded sub that dives to 23hz.
 
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gasolin

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I had The B&W ASW608, it might sound good but im shure it couldn't keep up in spl where i placed it, to give the bass my mission lx 3 MKII needed.

It didn't sound bad but not tight and loud enough

Most speakers don't have the frequency responce they are rated for, thats why most sub start at 150-200 hz and down, if not using any highpass filter and big floorstand speakers, you might start around 80hz or lower
 
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AJM1981

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I had The B&W ASW608, it might sound good but im shure it couldn't keep up in spl where i placed it, to give the bass my mission lx 3 MKII needed.

It didn't sound bad but not tight and loud enough

Most spakers don't have the frequency responce they are rated for, thats why most sub start at 150-200 hz and down, if not using any highpass filter and big floorstand speakers, you might start around 80hz or lower
I own the B&W asw608. It is described as a musical sub. Given its price, its smallest possible footprint; digging down to 23hz is impressive. It is also way enough power for the average living room. I think it is fair to say that it is a unique piece of techology in its range given the other subs around are all large.

That means, I would not buy it for a large place like a fairly large home theater. Then I would go for a larger size sub and maybe one of the recommended brands.
 

AJM1981

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Apparently I have missed a great budget sub in the Wharfedale Diamond SW150. It looks like decent piece for any living or bedroom, receives 5 stars in many reviews in all aspects, goes under 30hz, has more than just a volume control and is classified as a musical sub for just £149.

Unfortunately it doesn't ship to The Netherlands.






Another world compared to everything in this price range.
 
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AJM1981

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AJM, of course this is available in check Coolblue.nl for instance
thanks for the link

I am looking for the Sw150 (it has a walnut variation. The one on coolblue is the SW15.

it seems the sw150 is exclusively available in the UK and Australia and skips the EU Might be brexit thing. :)
 

rvdoever

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Oct 30, 2021
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Apologies for missing the walnut in the search. Would also have preferred this finish myself.
 
Designing a high quality subwoofer is a different exercise to designing a high quality pair of loudspeakers. Many loudspeaker manufacturers just don’t do subs, and some make them in order to be able to offer a complete “matching” package with regards to home theatre. Most of these subs are ok to extend the bass of small standmounts, but not floorstanders.

Dont forget that the quoted frequency output of a sub is usually anechoic, so boundary gain of around 3-6dB can be added to the lower registers, although with cheap subs, or indeed with most subs, EQ will be needed to make that extra depth of any use.

The further south you get from 50Hz, the more air displacement is needed, so generally, large, over-engineered drivers are required - on top of this, more and more power is needed the lower the frequency being reproduced. You’ll never see a sub £500 subwoofer throwing out 20Hz, and I doubt you’ll ever see any up to £1k throwing 20Hz out with any meaningful output. And then there’s the question of “quality”, as a figure on paper is meaningless. A sub should be more than a sum of its parts - an exceptional design goes a long way.
 

MUSICRAFT

Well-known member
With all things being equal a subwoofer is the most important component.

I believe to achieve 'realism' requires power and even if the mains go down to 20Hz a subwoofer should still be incorporated because in my experience a subwoofer can inject power into and energise a system like no other component can.

The goal then is to effectively align/calibrate/dial in a subwoofer so that the subwoofer/s integrates seamlessly with the mains and disappears into the soundstage with a deep, sharp, tight fisted, fast and powerful punchy sub bass.

Currently listening to Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack. System already sounded excellent without the sub. With the sub brought into play the performance is simply devastating :)

No power, no depth. No depth, no body. No body, no soul to the sound.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWmrfgj0MZI
 
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AJM1981

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With all things being equal a subwoofer is the most important component.

I believe to achieve 'realism' requires power and even if the mains go down to 20Hz a subwoofer should still be incorporated because in my experience a subwoofer can inject power into and energise a system like no other component can.

The goal then is to effectively align/calibrate/dial in a subwoofer so that the subwoofer/s integrates seamlessly with the mains and disappears into the soundstage with a deep, sharp, tight fisted, fast and powerful punchy sub bass.

Currently listening to Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack. System already sounded excellent without the sub. With the sub brought into play the performance is simply devastating :)

No power, no depth. No depth, no body. No body, no soul to the sound.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWmrfgj0MZI

Thanks for your contribution :)

The thing about Massive Attack reminds about something.

A less mentioned thing that could be positioned somewhere between sub and speaker is bass signature.

My Wharfedale Evo 4.2s are near perfect for the music I listen to (Jazz, Accoustic music, guitars, Classical) But it was like my previous B&W 602/s3 with their huge front bass port was tailored around everything related to Electronic bass. Online reviews mentioned Massive Attack's Angel as a showcase for that speaker, and it was. It had this crispness to the bass which my Wharfedales lack in that region, mostly because it was a bit exaggerated. Both are excellent speakers in their own right.
 

AJM1981

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I have informed about anywhere and it turns out the Wharfedale sw150 seems really limited to the UK and Australia only. I could arrange my own courier service for a pick up but the risk with switches in between is high.

The way from there to here is full customer risk. And when I receive another model or one that doesn't work, the warrantee will be given by Wharfedale Uk and not EU so then it will cost double or triple more to return and rearrange. A bit over the price is ok for me, but would not like to take any risk.

Anyway, I will just add the Sw150 to my comparison list.
+ Many reviews available, Whathifi is extremely positive.
+around 170 euros / discounted
+ Significant amount of well supported 5 star user reviews
+ 35hz bottom
+ classy and premium looks, walnut version looks even better (in my opinion)
- Limited to the UK, Problematic in the EU
? Will this be a succeeder of any current EU available Diamond model in a future release?

I have two reasonable EU candidates for now for my second diamond 12.0 speakers

Wharfedale Wh-S8e
Made for the Wharfedale Diamond 220 line given the circular grill.
+ Goes down to 30hz
+169 euros / discounted
- Can't find any reviews
- Cheap plastic Looks online

Wharfedale Wh-D8
+looks are somewhere between the 150 and S8e.
+Retail price 200 euros / discounted
- goes down to 40hz
- Found 5 star user reviews, but comments like 'can bass really well' are not helpful : )

My Wharfedale Diamond 12.0 set goes down to 70hz on paper but my Arylic amp has a double bass function that pushes it threshold impressively deeper without any trouble.
 

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