MartinC

Subwoofers for Music?

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Super Dealer

It is just more bullshit FUD, the really important issue is that the sub/subs  must be properly integrated ( use a small processor from MiniDSP) so often I see subs that are hardly ‘on’ because without correcting the room’s standing wave bass peaks there is too much ‘boom’.

Keith

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My Samsung soundbar sounds better with the sub.;-)

  • Haha 2

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Super Dealer
2 minutes ago, Iceman 16 said:

My Samsung soundbar sounds better with the sub.;-)

You should add. could to your Kefs, -3 at 43Hz.

Keith

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7 hours ago, PuritéAudio said:

You should add. could to your Kefs, -3 at 43Hz.

Keith

I don't need a sub for the KEFs. I use them in a small lounge and open plan dining area. The bass is just right and sometimes on some very few recordings it’s a bit too much but doesn’t bother me.

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Martin, excellent summary in the first post of the pros and cons of using subs.

I’ve been using them for getting On for thirty years, starting with an early REL. In the early days I “integrated” bunged them on by ear and enjoyed the results although I have no doubt that if I travelled back in time with my current knowledge (such as it is) I would be horrified by the sounds that were coming out of my system!

Oddly enough, it is for classical music that I find a sub most essential. 

I notice that you say that:

There is a HUGE challenge to get a subwoofer to integrate properly with the sound of the main speakers. It is very easy to add a subwoofer and make a system sound worse.

Yes you are right, and whilst it can be done by ear or without much experience of REW my early results, at least, were always sub par. In essence this involves choosing the crossover frequency, the slopes(s) of the filter, the relative gains and the timing between the speakers. All this will depend on the main speakers and the room in which they are used. It isn’t straightforward, although it is fun finding out how to do it. The trick is making things sound better not worse.

The great advantage of using a sub for low bass is that one can position the mains to sound their best, as in giving the most realistic reproduction, freed from the constraints of finding a position that doesn’t boom.

Done right, music such as Gavin Bryars Double Bass Concerto will come to life as its underlying heartbeat is revealed, much of Philip Glasses music will become complete, and the last movement of Saint Saens Organ Symphony will induce a big grin, and all without any thoughts of “slow boomy bass”. 

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19 minutes ago, Camverton said:

Done right, music such as Gavin Bryars Double Bass Concerto will come to life as its underlying heartbeat is revealed

I'll check that out sometime. I don't listen to much classical but have enjoyed the occasional cello concerto. I didn't actually know there were any double bass concertos :). I do find jazz is often enhanced by properly reproducing what a double bass should be contributing.

Edited by MartinC

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It’s a great way of hearing how well a sub is integrated. There is a low underlying pulse which should be an audible foundation but not too obvious. It is at about 60Hz so often around or below the crossover region. Charlie Hayden’s Bass playing is extraordinarily rich and full of character when played on a system with really good bass. This is the track I use to check that I have properly integrated a sub. It is also a track that can induce the room to boom along with the music if things aren’t right! Excellent recording quality from Philips.

Bryars: By the Vaar

Charlie Haden (double bass)

English Chamber Orchestra

James Judd

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Super Dealer
2 hours ago, Iceman 16 said:

I don't need a sub for the KEFs. I use them in a small lounge and open plan dining area. The bass is just right and sometimes on some very few recordings it’s a bit too much but doesn’t bother me.

The size of the room doesn’t determine the bass extension, as to the bass being ‘just right’ the fact is your speakers roll off relatively early  so you are just not hearing everything that is on the record, this may or may not be important to you of course.

Keith

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1 hour ago, PuritéAudio said:

The size of the room doesn’t determine the bass extension, as to the bass being ‘just right’ the fact is your speakers roll off relatively early  so you are just not hearing everything that is on the record, this may or may not be important to you of course.

Keith

No its not important to me. I enjoy listening to music in my system as it is. 

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25 minutes ago, Iceman 16 said:

No its not important to me. I enjoy listening to music in my system as it is. 

Bear in mind that the 43 Hz -3dB figure mentioned above for your speakers will be in an anechoic chamber. What you actually get in your room may go lower, particularly if there is a room mode boosting the level around 40 Hz (which there commonly is in typical UK rooms). 

Whatever, the fact you enjoy the sound you have is obviously what matters :^.

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Brilliant opening post and my sentiments exactly

I’ve been doing this for years simply because my speakers at the time couldn’t go down to the lowest octave very well, a sub simply filled in what wasn’t there for me.
However I had to battle so much “hi fi snobbery” at the time that it was all a bit disheartening trying to discuss it (many folk saying “oh I prefer “tighter” sound without deep bass - so you prefer sound that misses out the lowest octave then? - OK but I don’t ) I’ve even pointed out that many high end manufacturers have the equivalent of add-on subs (eg. Martin Logan have built in powered subs in them powered separately to the electrostatic panels, Anthony Gallo Reference 3 floorstanders have an extra bass voice coil per speaker that you can power as an extra subwoofer etc etc) but the word sub seems to be a dirty word for HiFi

My Quad 12Ls ran out of puff at about 50Hz so I used a sub to supplement it with XO set appropriately.
Then my Tannoy Precision 6.1s arrived and I bought a calibrated miniDSP umik-1 to fine tune and integrate it better to the system.
For even better integration I also bought a DSPeaker 8033 anti-mode DSP which I would recommend using.
I then bought my tannoy turnberry’s but still didn’t really get anything meaningful below 35Hzish.
Forward wind to me moving house and having a room that’s much longer than before and all of a sudden the Turnberry’s sound completely different - plenty of sofa shaking bass and I find I have no need for my trusty BKelec XLS200 subwoofer any more.
Still, it’s not going to waste - I’m going to repurpose it as my TV sub (TV I want to buy has a built in B&W Dolby Atmos sound bar with a sub pre-out - so I can make use of it).

So I would say:
* ignore the myth that big cones are “slow” - get the right sub and you can tune the sound to be anything but slow
* I would definitely invest in a calibrated mic (and use free REW software) plus a DSP for the sub alone to really integrate it well
* a common trope you’ll often hear is “oh you don’t need a sub, most speakers are fine”. Many speakers for many people cannot replicate deep bass at 20-40Hz at the same level as the rest of the frequency curve. To do this you need a big room and a big speaker which not everyone has - or an additional sub. * If others want to listen to “the vocal tones of folk songs sung amongst the accompaniment of rubbing virgin blades of grass together that only needs small drivers” then so be it - if YOU want to listen to that lower octave in your hip-hop/drum’n’bass/edm etc then by all means use and experiment with subs . It’s your music and you who have to listen to it so ignore the naysayers and give it a go (all imho of course )


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2 hours ago, PuritéAudio said:

The size of the room doesn’t determine the bass extension, as to the bass being ‘just right’ the fact is your speakers roll off relatively early  so you are just not hearing everything that is on the record, this may or may not be important to you of course.

Keith

Wrong, the size of the room limits how much it will support the lowest frequencies.  Typically, small rooms won't do below 30Hz without uncontrolled boom.  As a seller of speakers with added expensive subwoofers, you should know this.

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Super Dealer

No that’s complete nonsense, the larger the room the lower the main axial fundamentals  will be, but you can enjoy low bass in any sized room, you may have to use Eq to lower any standing wave derived peaks but that is simplicity itself with contemporary equipment.

Keith

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39 minutes ago, It Cost How Much!?! said:

Wrong, the size of the room limits how much it will support the lowest frequencies.  Typically, small rooms won't do below 30Hz without uncontrolled boom.  As a seller of speakers with added expensive subwoofers, you should know this.

What sort of size room do you have in mind? Do you have a particular experience you're basing this comment on?

I believe bass 'boom' is generally associated with room resonance (modes), the lowest of which will actually be at a higher frequency as room size decreases. Once you get below the lowest room mode frequency you get general 'room gain' but in my own room the response is pretty flat. I wouldn't expect there to be a particular issue below 30 Hz in smaller rooms than mine* but what will be much more is higher frequency room modes sounding boomy.

*My room is about 4.65 m x 3.35 m x 2.35 m (L x W x H).

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6 hours ago, Camverton said:

It’s a great way of hearing how well a sub is integrated. There is a low underlying pulse which should be an audible foundation but not too obvious. It is at about 60Hz so often around or below the crossover region. Charlie Hayden’s Bass playing is extraordinarily rich and full of character when played on a system with really good bass. This is the track I use to check that I have properly integrated a sub. It is also a track that can induce the room to boom along with the music if things aren’t right! Excellent recording quality from Philips.

Bryars: By the Vaar

Charlie Haden (double bass)

English Chamber Orchestra

James Judd

After your precise recommendation. I will definitely check the track up sir :)

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