Sub Size for Stereo?

Witterings

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Sep 17, 2020
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If you're adding a sub to your stereo setup, is there a rule of thumb as to whether Bigger is Better or is a smaller sub tighter / faster and therefore punchier bass.

I'm looking at a BK Electronics sub as a most likely contender.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
If you're adding a sub to your stereo setup, is there a rule of thumb as to whether Bigger is Better or is a smaller sub tighter / faster and therefore punchier bass.

I'm looking at a BK Electronics sub as a most likely contender.
Each brand will align their designs in a different way, but essentially bigger is deeper (lower frequency reach). Inevitably physics still applies, so bigger drivers go deeper/lower. To some extent, as with main speakers, smaller drivers seem more agile, but it’s tricky to disaggregate rolled off LF from crisp transients. There is also the choice of sealed or ported cabinets.

I‘d have to research BK’s approach, but I know they’re well respected. SVS are fantastic value and have a great suite of website guides. I think REL have a section which recommends various models if you input your system details.

What amp and speakers is the sub for, and are you wanting one or a pair?
 
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landco

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If you're adding a sub to your stereo setup, is there a rule of thumb as to whether Bigger is Better or is a smaller sub tighter / faster and therefore punchier bass.

I'm looking at a BK Electronics sub as a most likely contender.
If you want to buy a subwoofer in the "Closed Box" acoustic design, then you need a large subwoofer, small models are ineffective and cannot produce decent bass. BK Electronics is the same as REL, only the nameplates are different. I do not recommend buying products from this company; all their initial models (T Zero, T5, T7) are not capable of reproducing normal bass.
 

Witterings

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I‘d have to research BK’s approach, but I know they’re well respected. SVS are fantastic value and have a great suite of website guides. I think REL have a section which recommends various models if you input your system details.

What amp and speakers is the sub for, and you wanting one or a pair?

Only from research I've previously done I think generally BK and REL are considered better for stereo and SVS movies / home theatre ... that said I think the all seem to have a good reputation so there's probably not a huge amount in it.

My sub for my home theatre blew a while back and have been meaning to replace it but knew I was still looking at the possibility of using it for stereo as well so held off for a while but am now ready to press the button ..... personally I'd prefer smaller and certainly initially it'd be a single sub as it's a family room. Whilst it's a nice to have for movies / LFE's I'm not "precious" about "the best" for that purpose just something functional.

At the moment my Amp's an Arcam SA30 so no bass management and would use the high level inputs for stereo and the lows for the home theatre, I have a pair of floorstanders currently and don't need a sub for stereo with them but am very seriously considering changing to standmounts .... in which case it's be ProAc D2R's so am really trying to cover all bases if I do go that direction.
 

JDL

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Jun 13, 2023
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If you're adding a sub to your stereo setup, is there a rule of thumb as to whether Bigger is Better or is a smaller sub tighter / faster and therefore punchier bass.

I'm looking at a BK Electronics sub as a most likely contender.
Hi. I decided to add a sub to my system. I'm a fan of B&W speakers, which I know isn't necessarily of relevance.
However, I decided to add a subwoofer to my 2 channel stereo audio system.
My integrated amplifier has a stated 100 watt per channel output. My speakers are 8 Ohm nominal impedance with recommended input from 20 - 120 watt amplifier.
The subwoofer I added was a B&W PV-1. This is a powered sub with its own 500 watt, Class D amplifier.
The manual recommended that when adding to a 2 channel stereo system the Subwoofer should be wired in parallel with the stereo speakers, to the speaker terminals on the amplifier.
I have found that this sub, blends seamlessly with my speakers. You really don't notice its presence from a sonic stand point as long as the volume on the subwoofer is set correctly, it's great. It's added noticeable and seamless depth to my overall sound. The subwoofer's frequency dial is set to 80 Herz and the volume on the sub is set to just below half. I played around with the adjustments on the sub' and this is where I ended up with, for me, the best integration with my system
I hope this helps, and apologies if it's too long an answer delving into things you didn't ask.
 

abacus

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Sep 24, 2008
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If you want to buy a subwoofer in the "Closed Box" acoustic design, then you need a large subwoofer, small models are ineffective and cannot produce decent bass. BK Electronics is the same as REL, only the nameplates are different. I do not recommend buying products from this company; all their initial models (T Zero, T5, T7) are not capable of reproducing normal bass.
Where did you get details that BK & Rel were the same, (They are different companies with totally different designs)
REL have always been regarded as one of the best, (A lot of users swear by them) with BK as good value from a small company.
A lot of Subs these days have DSP built in, so that you can set it for music or movies etc.
As always try a few out to see which suits you best.

Bill
 

landco

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Aug 26, 2023
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You've made 2 posts in this thread ... both of which are critical a brand that have a huge following and and are widely considered one of if not the best manufactureres of subs for stereo use but have offered absolutely no positive contribution whatsoever.

Do you have anything positive and helpful offer?
Try a simple experiment. Connect a REL subwoofer of the above models (for example, REL T5) to your music system and compare it with any budget bass-reflex subwoofer in this price range. I did a comparison test and I can say that the REL is a poor, ineffective solution for bass.
 

Witterings

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Sep 17, 2020
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Try a simple experiment. Connect a REL subwoofer of the above models (for example, REL T5) to your music system and compare it with any budget bass-reflex subwoofer in this price range. I did a comparison test and I can say that the REL is a poor, ineffective solution for bass.

And so your positivve suggestion is?
 

JDL

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Jun 13, 2023
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I'm surprised nobody mentions the B&W PV-1. Maybe it's not highly rated, I don't know. They were about £1000 new. I got one second hand for £260. It's made of thick cast aluminium. It's designed globe shaped for sonic reasons not aesthetic. It has an aluminium and mica driver on each side. It's 500 watt powered and in my system is very good. It extends the bass down to 16 Hz and if set correctly, I do not notice it's presence or sound as separate from the speakers. It blends seamlessly. It's extremely heavy, very well made and I think, extremely good. But I would say that wouldn't I because I have found B&W generally extremely good. However, I would criticise it if I thought it sounded bad. I don't like it just because it's B&W, but because it sounds excellent. To me, anyway.
 

Witterings

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As I said, any budget subwoofer with a bass reflex will be better. For example, instead of the REL T5, you can take the Yamaha SW200 subwoofer. Cheaper, better bass.

If I'm honest I think many would beg to differ but you put BKElectronics in the same boat of criticism ... could you please expand on how much personal experience you have with their subs, specifically which ones you've owned as from your all encompassing comment you've obviously owned several of their models across the range.

A detailed comparison as to exactly how they compared to other specific brands /models would be greatly appreciated and if you took some room measurements to compare them share them ... obviously you're credibility will be elevated to "The Sub Guru" status?
 
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twinkletoes

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If you're adding a sub to your stereo setup, is there a rule of thumb as to whether Bigger is Better or is a smaller sub tighter / faster and therefore punchier bass.

I'm looking at a BK Electronics sub as a most likely contender.

Well when you buy a subwoofer, especially for Stereo we’re trying to fill in something that's missing. Normal the last few octaves.

Generally, subwoofers are designed to take the burden away from the speakers and amp and this is where high passing comes in. That is why companies like MK only make sub-SAT speaker packages. So yes a subwoofer is a subwoofer is a subwoofer, BUT there are some differences! some lack controls because there expected to be used with an AVR. Some are only low-level and only have 1 LFE input, others have twin RCA low-level inputs. Some have both high and low levels. Something to be mindful of.

When working with stereo the size/capabilities of the subwoofer will be dictated solely by the capabilities of the speakers (as alluded to above) and the size of your room. And will normally be asked to provide a far narrower band of frequencies than that used with AVR’s and these frequencies are normally at the very extreme of the subwoofer's capabilities because stereo amps lack highpass filtering. For example 40hz and down. Rather than 120/80hz and down for AVR.

here is the rub!

In general, a 6-inch woofer won't cut it if your speakers can do 30hz because you can't physically x it over enough, for speakers this capable you're looking at 10inchs at a push 12-15 being ideal. With the caveat that you may have problems with gain in a small room.

Speakers that only do an in-room response of around 40-50hz, somewhere in that ballpark an 8 inch will be great. And should be good in all but the largest of rooms.

Hopefully that makes sense

Edit: sorry i should have put a a couple of brands in there that i feel are very good. Some are new but all can be had second hand some easier than others.

One brand that is looked over quite a bit is Volodyne specifically their ultra models from a few years back (and there previous model before that) absolutely bombproof cones, They start at 8 inches and they have in built room corrrection. Is very good to be quite frankly never heard a performance like it. can be had preowned for around the 200 mark I owned the 12inch ultra 12.

Newer Rels maybe not my first pick these days but seem to be the defacto for 2 channel listening.

BK subwoofers weren't a fan didn't really work in my room, YMMV

SVS Mirco 300 astonishing little subwoofer. smaller than a 12-inch lp (just) unfortunately the smaller subs get the more expensive they get.

This model is supposedly still current and i think the movie rooms sell it , that's the seismic 110 by Anthem has an in room response of 18hz and super long throw cone again built like a tank. Anthems room correction. Has an incredibly flat response, so much so it sounds like it's bearly doing anything till you take it out of the equation, an astonishing little beast. wish i never sold it. Pretty expensive these days new.
 
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If you're adding a sub to your stereo setup, is there a rule of thumb as to whether Bigger is Better or is a smaller sub tighter / faster and therefore punchier bass.

I'm looking at a BK Electronics sub as a most likely contender.
I've never considered a sub before so I'm guessing when I suggest treat a sub in a similar way to standmount or floorstander speakers: It very much depends on room size and whether they suit the rest of your system.

If you can blag a home demo of one sub or both of your aforementioned subs this'll be the only way to know for sure.
 

Tom_1604

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May 6, 2023
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I believe that if one has adequate pair of speakers for music a sub is not generally required. I do have one for movies and even then, it doesn't contribute a great deal. My main speakers have 3 -6-inch woofers and the secondary have 1–5-inch woofers. I have used SVS, RSL-speed woofer, Polk and Jamo. Jamo is a sister brand to Klipsch. I have a 12-inch Jamo subwoofer in the living room and an 8 inch one in my office. I enjoy headphones and a lot of users use EQ to create the desired sound. Most receivers have this feature. You might want to look into your amp/receiver.
 

andybebbs

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Apr 30, 2020
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I was never a sub guy until i tried one with my lyngdorf amp and now it`s the best thing i have ever added to my music system and would not be without it.
 
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abacus

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I believe that if one has adequate pair of speakers for music a sub is not generally required. I do have one for movies and even then, it doesn't contribute a great deal. My main speakers have 3 -6-inch woofers and the secondary have 1–5-inch woofers. I have used SVS, RSL-speed woofer, Polk and Jamo. Jamo is a sister brand to Klipsch. I have a 12-inch Jamo subwoofer in the living room and an 8 inch one in my office. I enjoy headphones and a lot of users use EQ to create the desired sound. Most receivers have this feature. You might want to look into your amp/receiver.
A sub should not be heard (It is set up wrong if you can hear it) it should be felt, or in other words it sounds like it is the speakers that are producing the bass.
In AV the sub has its own dedicated channel, and so you can't make full use of the surround system if it is missing, unfortunately not everybody can have a subwoofer due to room of neighbour limitations, but if you can, go for it.

Bill
 

AJM1981

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Mar 26, 2021
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A sub is a nice experience extension, not that much of a sound extension (technically yes, but not in the same way as the frequencies far above). My sub is DSP configured and is one of the most lazy ones. It barely kicks in given the frequencies the woofers of my 3 way system can handle on their own

I can’t imagine I would ever smack any more cash on any sub for a living room. It provides a tight bass and since there is no noticable "detail" in these frequencies I don't expect any other sub to give a different experience. Nothing else seems that 'interchangeable' as a subwoofer for any random living.
 

JDL

Well-known member
Jun 13, 2023
651
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770
Well when you buy a subwoofer, especially for Stereo we’re trying to fill in something that's missing. Normal the last few octaves.

Generally, subwoofers are designed to take the burden away from the speakers and amp and this is where high passing comes in. That is why companies like MK only make sub-SAT speaker packages. So yes a subwoofer is a subwoofer is a subwoofer, BUT there are some differences! some lack controls because there expected to be used with an AVR. Some are only low-level and only have 1 LFE input, others have twin RCA low-level inputs. Some have both high and low levels. Something to be mindful of.

When working with stereo the size/capabilities of the subwoofer will be dictated solely by the capabilities of the speakers (as alluded to above) and the size of your room. And will normally be asked to provide a far narrower band of frequencies than that used with AVR’s and these frequencies are normally at the very extreme of the subwoofer's capabilities because stereo amps lack highpass filtering. For example 40hz and down. Rather than 120/80hz and down for AVR.

here is the rub!

In general, a 6-inch woofer won't cut it if your speakers can do 30hz because you can't physically x it over enough, for speakers this capable you're looking at 10inchs at a push 12-15 being ideal. With the caveat that you may have problems with gain in a small room.

Speakers that only do an in-room response of around 40-50hz, somewhere in that ballpark an 8 inch will be great. And should be good in all but the largest of rooms.

Hopefully that makes sense

Edit: sorry i should have put a a couple of brands in there that i feel are very good. Some are new but all can be had second hand some easier than others.

One brand that is looked over quite a bit is Volodyne specifically their ultra models from a few years back (and there previous model before that) absolutely bombproof cones, They start at 8 inches and they have in built room corrrection. Is very good to be quite frankly never heard a performance like it. can be had preowned for around the 200 mark I owned the 12inch ultra 12.

Newer Rels maybe not my first pick these days but seem to be the defacto for 2 channel listening.

BK subwoofers weren't a fan didn't really work in my room, YMMV

SVS Mirco 300 astonishing little subwoofer. smaller than a 12-inch lp (just) unfortunately the smaller subs get the more expensive they get.

This model is supposedly still current and i think the movie rooms sell it , that's the seismic 110 by Anthem has an in room response of 18hz and super long throw cone again built like a tank. Anthems room correction. Has an incredibly flat response, so much so it sounds like it's bearly doing anything till you take it out of the equation, an astonishing little beast. wish i never sold it. Pretty expensive these days new.
I hardly ever see stereo speakers that will do 30 Herz in my research on speakers.
 

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