Why subs?

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Andrew Everard

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May 30, 2007
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eg double basses go down to around 40Hz, a standard 88-key piano below 30Hz (bottom A is around 27.5Hz, while the 97-key Bosendorfer Imperial Grand goes down to a little over 16Hz)), and organ even lower – perhaps down to 20Hz or less, with 64-foot pipes going right down to 8Hz.
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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Most music, that is the majority of all music, is above the sub bass frequency and as such, most hifi speakers are plenty able to reproduce the frequency ranges of this majority. There will always be the odd situation where a sub or subs are a welcome addition, but they are certainly not indispensible.

As for your pictures of the above speakers, hardly mainstream or affordable would you say, except for a lucky few?
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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Andrew Everard said:
eg double basses go down to around 40Hz, piano below 30Hz, and organ even lower – perhaps down to 20Hz or less
Of course they do, but not all of the time and the majority of the range is above sub bass.
 

Frank Harvey

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Jun 27, 2008
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Most movies rarely go below 20Hz, but some people still buy subs that are capable of getting down to between 5 and 10Hz. Do you buy something that can deal well with the music you have, or not bother for the odd few recordings that exceed your system's limitations?
 

Overdose

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What I have seems to do the job perfectly well and the sub that I used, once set up, delivered no meaningful benefit.

By the way Frank, you do realise that it is generally accepted that below 20Hz is inaudible and at 20Hz there is obviously even less going on than at 40Hz. There's not a lot of anything at or below 20Hz for music or movies, so I'm not quite sure what your point is.

The OP asked about the reason for lack of large drivers and the requirements of a sub in a system. It would seem that the obvious answer is demand and that the majority of hifi stereo setups do the job adequately for the majority of the time. If a sub or large driver was imperitive, then more systems would have them.
 

Frank Harvey

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Overdose said:
What I have seems to do the job perfectly well and the sub that I used, once set up, delivered no meaningful benefit.
Then maybe the music you generally isten doesn't have anything below 40Hz?

By the way Frank, you do realise that it is generally accepted that below 20Hz is inaudible and at 20Hz there is obviously even less going on than at 40Hz. There's not a lot of anything at or below 20Hz for music or movies, so I'm not quite sure what your point is.
It's David :)

Yup, fully aware of that. Just making the point that even if there wasn't much going on below the frequencies we're talking about, there are still people out there who like to hear/feel them, and choose their systems accordingly. There is more and more sub 20Hz energy going on in more modern movies.
 

Inter_Voice

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Oct 5, 2010
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From engineering point of view it is easier to obtain the designed speaker sonic signature by using smaller and fewer drivers in a smaller case but at the disepense of having LOW frequencies. Of course with smaller case and drivers the cost is also lower and affordable by majority of hifi lovers.

When the size of speaker case is increase as well as having more drivers especially the low frequency ones, case vibration become more difficult to handle and vibration mode is more difficult to control in order to obatin a good sonic quality.
 

hammill

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Mar 20, 2008
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I would not be without my sub for movies, modern blockbusters make extensive use of low frequencies and the sub makes a huge difference. For music it is usually not that noticeable, but for some pieces it is essential. For example, The Return To Forever live blu-ray has a lot of very low frequency synth and acoustic bass which sounds fantastic through the sub.
 

lindsayt

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Apr 8, 2011
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Overdose said:
What I have seems to do the job perfectly well and the sub that I used, once set up, delivered no meaningful benefit.

By the way Frank, you do realise that it is generally accepted that below 20Hz is inaudible and at 20Hz there is obviously even less going on than at 40Hz. There's not a lot of anything at or below 20Hz for music or movies, so I'm not quite sure what your point is.

The OP asked about the reason for lack of large drivers and the requirements of a sub in a system. It would seem that the obvious answer is demand and that the majority of hifi stereo setups do the job adequately for the majority of the time. If a sub or large driver was imperitive, then more systems would have them.
Far too many subs are good at providing more quantity, but not good at bass quality due to: cones too small or ported box, or sealed box too small, or cones not good enough quality. You may well get better overall sonic results by having a system with a too lean bass without sub-woofers than one with poor sounding sub-woofers.

Most, if not all, of the small speakers I've heard have been hopeless below 100hz. There's a lot going on with these frequencies with rock and pop recordings. Bass guitar and kick drums. If you look at detailed frequency response curves for small ported speakers you will often see the cones starting to roll off below 100hz with port resonance contributing most of the sound at 50hz.

Of course a large driver or sub is not imperative for a hi-fi system. Many people are happy enough with their systems without these. But if you want the most faithful reproduction of all the instruments in your favourite rock and pop bands then a large driver or good quality sub is imperative. Either that or use a line array of smaller drivers with equalisation.
 

ID.

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Feb 22, 2010
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Interestimg thread. I'd assumed it started with home theatre then spread to music.

I agree that a lot of electronic, music, which is what most of my collection consists of, has a lot going on in the sub-bass region, and even music that doesn't apparently have a lot of sub-bass might still have some, and this makes a difference. I think modern production techniques/trends often are far bassier than kusic in the past, particularly pop, so the influences of electronic music are felt through a wider range of music.

While I know I can't hear bass below 20hz, I sure can feel it, and it feels good. Having just added a small sub to 2 smaller speakers, I think I get better, and certainly deeper bass than would be possible without paying considerably more. It does give me a bit more flexibility with layout, and although faffing with the crossover, etc. could be annoying, I actually find it helps me dip the bass right in the frequency band that I was having problems with in my living room.

As someone else mentioned, I can turn the sub off late at night, and because I'm a tweaker at heart, I can even adjust the bass depending on the music I'm listening to.
 

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