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Use a Subwoofer for Hifi?

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steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
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MeanandGreen said:
I completely disagree. The only way a subwoofer can have a detrimental effect on a system is if it's poorly implemted.

Muddy midrange, poor imaging and a bass dominated sound is a result of a thrown together system with no tuning.

A sub should be subtle and undetectable by ear.
IME the vast majority of 2.1 and 5.1 systems sound terrible now matter what settings are used. Boomy 'one note' subwoofers which are designed for use with movies and low quality speakers will never integrate properly no matter what you do.

However if you're willing to spend a few grand on something like a Genelec or Quested 2.1 system the result will be very different to the 2.1 systems that you'll find in normal hifi shops.

Merry Christmas M&G. :)
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
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18,795
avole said:
...Larger speakers also remove the disconnect between the bass and midrange, which must always exist since the speakers are in different locations.
Not true. With a properly sorted 2.1 system the sub bass sounds like it's coming from the same place as the rest of the music irrespective of where the subwoofer is placed.

For example with my system* if the music or movie requires the sub bass to come from the left side of the sound stage that is where it will sound like it's coming from even though the subwoofer is actually located underneath the right side speaker. Without using your eyes it is impossible to locate the subwoofer in the room using just your ears. The integration is 100% perfect and it sounds and feels like a pair of very larger floorstanders rather than a pair of medium sized bookshelf speakers.

* which comprises DM10 bookshelf speakers playing full range without a low pass crossover in place and the matching AVI 10" subwoofer which very subtly fills in everything below 60Hz.
 

avole

New member
Jul 15, 2016
17
0
0
steve_1979 said:
avole said:
...Larger speakers also remove the disconnect between the bass and midrange, which must always exist since the speakers are in different locations.
Not true. With a properly sorted 2.1 system the sub bass sounds like it's coming from the same place as the rest of the music irrespective of where the subwoofer is placed.

For example with my system* if the music or movie requires the sub bass to come from the left side of the sound stage that is where it will sound like it's coming from even though the subwoofer is actually located underneath the right side speaker. Without using your eyes it is impossible to locate the subwoofer in the room using just your ears. The integration is 100% perfect and it sounds and feels like a pair of very larger floorstanders rather than a pair of medium sized bookshelf speakers.

* which comprises DM10 bookshelf speakers playing full range without a low pass crossover in place and the matching AVI 10" subwoofer which very subtly fills in everything below 60Hz.
If you can't hear the difference, I can. You can't beat a properly integrated bass driver. Subwoofers always feel/sound disconnected. Mind you, I'm not saying they won't help speakers that can't go low, but we are talking HiFi here :) And, yes, you have to spend money on those large speakers, and you may not have a suitable room anyway. However, the money doesn't really come into it - as mentioned, cost of two subwoofers plus stands will probably get you some decent biggies, not to mention sound to die for.
 

steve_1979

Well-known member
Jul 14, 2010
231
7
18,795
avole said:
If you can't hear the difference, I can. You can't beat a properly integrated bass driver. Subwoofers always feel/sound disconnected.
For the vast majority of 2.1 systems I agree that the subwoofer will sound disconnected. Although it would seem that you've never heard one of the rare 2.1 systems that are good enough to be able to integrate 100% perfectly. With a good 2.1 system it will both sound and feel as though the subwoofer isn't there and that you're just listening to a very large pair floorstanders in a 2.0 setup. The only thing that gives the game away is the way that you can physically feel the bass in your chest in a way that you know small bookshelf speakers wouldn't be capable of doing on their own.

As I say though, good quality 2.1 systems are very rare so I assume that most people have never experienced one before (you can forget anything that you've heard at Richer Sounds or similar hifi shops because IME their 2.1 and 5.1 systems are fine for movies but rubbish for music).
 

Al ears

Moderator
steve_1979 said:
avole said:
If you can't hear the difference, I can. You can't beat a properly integrated bass driver. Subwoofers always feel/sound disconnected.
For the vast majority of 2.1 systems I agree that the subwoofer will sound disconnected. Although it would seem that you've never heard one of the rare 2.1 systems that are good enough to be able to integrate 100% perfectly. With a good 2.1 system it will both sound and feel as though the subwoofer isn't there and that you're just listening to a very large pair floorstanders in a 2.0 setup. The only thing that gives the game away is the way that you can physically feel the bass in your chest in a way that you know small bookshelf speakers wouldn't be capable of doing on their own.

As I say though, good quality 2.1 systems are very rare so I assume that most people have never experienced one before (you can forget anything that you've heard at Richer Sounds or similar hifi shops because IME their 2.1 and 5.1 systems are fine for movies but rubbish for music).
I quite agree. A decent 2.1 amplifier with reasonable control over the subwoofer is rare or expensive like the Parasound Halo Integrated that I will be seriously looking at when funds allow....... or I win the lottery. :)
 

stereoman

Well-known member
Mar 22, 2016
144
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4,595
MajorFubar said:
stereoman said:
I would say - never ! As well as 5.1 and similar setups. The proper stereo setup will suffice in 100% as far as proper bass and soundstage is concerned - the condition being - the right stereo setup. if you feel the lack of bass then you have a wrong system, especially loudspeakers. BUT, adding a sub will please many deep bass lovers because indeed it will sacrifice midrange for the sake of low frequencies which in turn make the overall sound extremely filling. So a matter of taste - but once again - in no case sub is an audiophile aspect to me...although you have audiophile 2.1 expensive systems ( not so many though ).
I'm with you part of the way. If a person finds their setup bass-light and they're hoping a sub will fix it, I agree they're buying it for the wrong reason and they'll probably be disappointed. I can't agree though that subs "sacrifice midrange for the sake of low frequencies". Maybe you think that way because you've yet to hear a sub that's been set up properly, and all you've ever heard is systems where they've been implemented poorly to unnaturally boost the bass.
Ok.
 

avole

New member
Jul 15, 2016
17
0
0
steve_1979 said:
avole said:
If you can't hear the difference, I can. You can't beat a properly integrated bass driver. Subwoofers always feel/sound disconnected.
For the vast majority of 2.1 systems I agree that the subwoofer will sound disconnected. Although it would seem that you've never heard one of the rare 2.1 systems that are good enough to be able to integrate 100% perfectly. With a good 2.1 system it will both sound and feel as though the subwoofer isn't there and that you're just listening to a very large pair floorstanders in a 2.0 setup. The only thing that gives the game away is the way that you can physically feel the bass in your chest in a way that you know small bookshelf speakers wouldn't be capable of doing on their own.

As I say though, good quality 2.1 systems are very rare so I assume that most people have never experienced one before (you can forget anything that you've heard at Richer Sounds or similar hifi shops because IME their 2.1 and 5.1 systems are fine for movies but rubbish for music).
Mind you, I think I know the answer, a two letter word beginning with 'N'.
 

MajorFubar

New member
Mar 3, 2010
690
3
0
luckylion100 said:
http://kenrockwell.com/audio/stereo-subwoofers.htm

He rates 2 subwoofers for serious stereo listening.
Technically he's not wrong but he misses a few important points, one being that it's common for low frequencies to be mono'd anyway during the mixing and/or mastering stage. Even if they haven't, the second point is that any mastering engineer worth his title will have checked the audio for phase cancellation issues using his correlation meter and goniometer, these will visually highlight any phase-related and image-related problems which he should then fix.

Ken Rockwell's website is always an interesting read but sometimes he knows just enough about a subject in order to write a dozen paragraphs and make himself sound like a wise old sage but not quite enough about a subject to know why he's come to the wrong conclusions.

But with all that said, it's difficult to come up with any insurmountable reason why two is a bad idea.
 

Al ears

Moderator
MajorFubar said:
luckylion100 said:
http://kenrockwell.com/audio/stereo-subwoofers.htm

He rates 2 subwoofers for serious stereo listening.
Technically he's not wrong but he misses a few important points, one being that it's common for low frequencies to be mono'd anyway during the mixing and/or mastering stage. Even if they haven't, the second point is that any mastering engineer worth his title will have checked the audio for phase cancellation issues using his correlation meter and goniometer, these will visually highlight any phase-related and image-related problems which he should then fix.

Ken Rockwell's website is always an interesting read but sometimes he knows just enough about a subject in order to write a dozen paragraphs and make himself sound like a wise old sage but not quite enough about a subject to know why he's come to the wrong conclusions.

But with all that said, it's difficult to come up with any insurmountable reason why two is a bad idea.
Quite so. Depending on the nature of your standouts you are trying to supplement and the crossover frequencies used the use of twin small subwoofers is best in my opinion and the only supplemented system I ever used had just that with subs situated directly underneath standmounts, not sure why it just looked right. ;-)
 

MeanandGreen

Well-known member
Dec 26, 2012
106
46
18,620
If the room size, shape and layout require it.

Personally I don't have an acoustically treated studio as a living area. I have more than one seat in the living room and also I have things like double doors leading to the hallway and an arch way into the dining room which in relation to where the main sofa is doesn't really allow for a practical 'sweet spot' regarding bass response. It's also a large living area, I've found fully tuneable active subs to be the ideal way of curing the lack of bass overall in my room and evening out the responce across various seats in the room.

I have two Tannoy active subs, both located diogonally opposite each other. They are both set with different cut off points and at different volume levels to suit their respective acoustic locations. The main speakers are Tannoy floor standing speakers with twin 6inch woofers per speaker. My NAD amp has two dedicated sub outputs, there is nothing lacking or compromised regarding the components of the system.

I am confident that any person here could sit in any seat in my lounge and hear a balanced full range sound. Apart from physically being able to see the subs and also the ability feel them, the actual sound itself appears to be coming from nowhere else other than the stereo image created by the main stereo pair of speakers. It's not overblown, bass heavy, muddy or unnatural. If anything the feeling of active subs makes for a much more realistic sounding drum kit for example.

I've been into hi fi for 23 years, had various kit in various houses and I've never had bass as clean or as well defined, or powerful as it is with this set up. The stereo image is also excellent nothing sounds like it's coming from a sub at the end of the room. This system works with both music and movies very well, with excellent clarity.
 

luckylion100

New member
Nov 6, 2011
72
0
0
MajorFubar said:
luckylion100 said:
http://kenrockwell.com/audio/stereo-subwoofers.htm

He rates 2 subwoofers for serious stereo listening.
Technically he's not wrong but he misses a few important points, one being that it's common for low frequencies to be mono'd anyway during the mixing and/or mastering stage. Even if they haven't, the second point is that any mastering engineer worth his title will have checked the audio for phase cancellation issues using his correlation meter and goniometer, these will visually highlight any phase-related and image-related problems which he should then fix.

Ken Rockwell's website is always an interesting read but sometimes he knows just enough about a subject in order to write a dozen paragraphs and make himself sound like a wise old sage but not quite enough about a subject to know why he's come to the wrong conclusions.

But with all that said, it's difficult to come up with any insurmountable reason why two is a bad idea.
Yes I believe I read that, perhaps even on this forum in relation to vinyl pressings and the bass frequencies being in mono.

i think people pretending to know much more than than do is systematic of the internet... I'm but an eager student willing to listen and learn from the wealth of experience and gained knownledge the web offers. I then digest and filter.
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
16
2
0
steve_1979 said:
For the vast majority of 2.1 systems I agree that the subwoofer will sound disconnected. Although it would seem that you've never heard one of the rare 2.1 systems that are good enough to be able to integrate 100% perfectly. With a good 2.1 system it will both sound and feel as though the subwoofer isn't there and that you're just listening to a very large pair floorstanders in a 2.0 setup. The only thing that gives the game away is the way that you can physically feel the bass in your chest in a way that you know small bookshelf speakers wouldn't be capable of doing on their own.

As I say though, good quality 2.1 systems are very rare so I assume that most people have never experienced one before (you can forget anything that you've heard at Richer Sounds or similar hifi shops because IME their 2.1 and 5.1 systems are fine for movies but rubbish for music).
Steve_1979, do you think that you have a good 2.1 system?

If not, can you please nominate a good 2.1 system that you've heard?

Working on the assumption that you do think that you have a good 2.1 system:-

Which very large 2.0 systems have you heard that sounds similar to your 2.1 system (or your "good 2.1 system") in the bass?

You're speaking in generalities.

Speaking more specifically, I would say that the AVI based 2.1 system that I heard would sound broadly similar in the bass to some very large 2.0 systems (EG EV Sentry III's). And I would rate it as easily noticeably worse in the bass to some very large 2.0 systems (EG Bozak Symphony, EV Patrician 800's).

So far I have not heard any 2.1 systems that I'd rate as good as the best examples - bass wise - of very large 2.0's. It's possible that there may be some out there, but I've not heard them yet.
 

andyjm

New member
Jul 20, 2012
15
0
0
lindsayt said:
steve_1979 said:
For the vast majority of 2.1 systems I agree that the subwoofer will sound disconnected. Although it would seem that you've never heard one of the rare 2.1 systems that are good enough to be able to integrate 100% perfectly. With a good 2.1 system it will both sound and feel as though the subwoofer isn't there and that you're just listening to a very large pair floorstanders in a 2.0 setup. The only thing that gives the game away is the way that you can physically feel the bass in your chest in a way that you know small bookshelf speakers wouldn't be capable of doing on their own.

As I say though, good quality 2.1 systems are very rare so I assume that most people have never experienced one before (you can forget anything that you've heard at Richer Sounds or similar hifi shops because IME their 2.1 and 5.1 systems are fine for movies but rubbish for music).
Steve_1979, do you think that you have a good 2.1 system?

If not, can you please nominate a good 2.1 system that you've heard?

Working on the assumption that you do think that you have a good 2.1 system:-

Which very large 2.0 systems have you heard that sounds similar to your 2.1 system (or your "good 2.1 system") in the bass?

You're speaking in generalities.

Speaking more specifically, I would say that the AVI based 2.1 system that I heard would sound broadly similar in the bass to some very large 2.0 systems (EG EV Sentry III's). And I would rate it as easily noticeably worse in the bass to some very large 2.0 systems (EG Bozak Symphony, EV Patrician 800's).

So far I have not heard any 2.1 systems that I'd rate as good as the best examples - bass wise - of very large 2.0's. It's possible that there may be some out there, but I've not heard them yet.
Although rather long in the tooth now, I have a Revel B15 paired with Martin Logan ESLs. The Revel has a pretty flexible analogue parametric equaliser, and I have a Krell processor that allows some limited room correction, filtering and basic DSP facilities.

I have a background in audio equipment design, and some relatively decent test gear - calibrated measurement mic, scope, spectrum analyzer, signal generator. It took me weeks of fiddling to get the damn sub to sound halfway decent - to be honest I came close to giving up. As it is, in the right listening position, the sub is not detectable as a separate unit, but does sound fully integrated. The overall sound is definitely better with the sub than without.

One caveat is that as a by product of calibrating the sub, I was also effectively calibrating the room, so a good portion of the improvement of using the sub could be down to the additional flexibility it gives me in correcting for room effects.

Frankly I don't hold out much hope for someone trying to integrate a sub by fiddling with the cuttoff frequency, phase and volume control and listening to the result. Very few would feel confident that they could drill a hole in their speakers, mount an extra driver and get it to sound decent. This is effectively what you are doing when you add a sub. The speaker manufacturer (hopefully) spent some considerable time, effort and money making the drivers and enclosure work together. Adding another driver (albeit in a separate box) is asking for trouble.

Without access to the test gear I have, and plenty of time to waste, I think I would have done far better to buy speakers with better low frequency response than the Logans, and leave the driver integration up to the speaker designer.
 

DocG

Well-known member
May 1, 2012
54
1
18,545
andyjm said:
Although rather long in the tooth now, I have a Revel B15 paired with Martin Logan ESLs. The Revel has a pretty flexible analogue parametric equaliser, and I have a Krell processor that allows some limited room correction, filtering and basic DSP facilities.
Hi Andy, I'm up to something similar: I want to blend a pair of Maggies with a 100 L, sealed 15" Rythmik sub. I have no useful background (reading the internet doesn't count, does it?), but I'll have a DEQX DSP-engine do the work (active XO for the panels and blending in the sub + room correction if needed), using the Behringer measurement mic that came with it and a Windows laptop. The manual should walk me through the process.

I hope I can start with the Maggies this week. Still waiting for the sub to arrive...
 

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