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A simple guide to setting up a subwoofer


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Thirty years ago I used to set up a sub simply by ear. The results were OK and in any case at that time we didn’t have the luxury of REW and DSP. Using REW and a MiniDSP to handle crossover and delay has convinced me that it is all but impossible to integrate a sub well by ear, other than final adjustment of gain for taste. I used to end up with a situation where some recordings sounded right and others not. Get the integration right and that doesn’t happen. 
 

If not using some sort of additional DSP device, I reckon that a continuously variable 0-180 degrees phase control absolutely essential.

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12 minutes ago, Camverton said:

Thirty years ago I used to set up a sub simply by ear. The results were OK and in any case at that time we didn’t have the luxury of REW and DSP. Using REW and a MiniDSP to handle crossover and delay has convinced me that it is all but impossible to integrate a sub well by ear, other than final adjustment of gain for taste. I used to end up with a situation where some recordings sounded right and others not. Get the integration right and that doesn’t happen. 
 

If not using some sort of additional DSP device, I reckon that a continuously variable 0-180 degrees phase control absolutely essential.

If you are going to write such offensive things then you should at least start with a warning. :D

This is not ASR you know.

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@tuga The phase-inverting record labels is a great resource, I've worked with a few bands on the record labels listed and I didn't give much thought they went off for cutting phase was reversed! 4AD (one of my fave labels) recording are all over the place, even tracks on an album are clearly out of phase...

@Camverton To be honest in a domestic environment it doesn't really matter if phase and crossover are right and it's quite clear that most users rarely setup their sub according environment, integration and recording as all their after is 'more bass' and not accuracy. Nulls, peaks and troughs, wavelength, roll-off, phase cancelation etc etc - drop it in the corner set up the crossover roughly according to your speaker frequency response then increase by 10Hz to account for roll-off, if phase is achieved it'll be immediately obvious, finally adjust gain fairly high then use fine control to reduce the frequency of where the sub and speakers overlap. DSP and REW when things get serious!!!    

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1 hour ago, Strider said:

@tuga The phase-inverting record labels is a great resource, I've worked with a few bands on the record labels listed and I didn't give much thought they went off for cutting phase was reversed! 4AD (one of my fave labels) recording are all over the place, even tracks on an album are clearly out of phase...

@Camverton To be honest in a domestic environment it doesn't really matter if phase and crossover are right and it's quite clear that most users rarely setup their sub according environment, integration and recording as all their after is 'more bass' and not accuracy. Nulls, peaks and troughs, wavelength, roll-off, phase cancelation etc etc - drop it in the corner set up the crossover roughly according to your speaker frequency response then increase by 10Hz to account for roll-off, if phase is achieved it'll be immediately obvious, finally adjust gain fairly high then use fine control to reduce the frequency of where the sub and speakers overlap. DSP and REW when things get serious!!!    

I was just relating my experience of setting up subs by ear and by measurement. I used to use your method but it wasn’t until I was more measured in my setting up that I realised just how good a properly integrated sub could be. As to whether it matters that is down to the user, but given how “careful” people who post here are about the sound quality of their equipment I would have thought it does matter how well integrated a sub is.

I take it you’ve set up subs by ear and by measurement? How much difference did you experience using each method?

Subs have something of a bad rep for listening to music. They can certainly have the power to enhance or spoil a system!

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2 hours ago, tuga said:

If you are going to write such offensive things then you should at least start with a warning. :D

This is not ASR you know.

Wash your mouth out :D!

Seriously though, this is an area where measuring is a useful tool not an ideology for its own sake to berate others choice of equipment. Says he frantically getting out of the quicksands of hifi to drier land to read a verbose subjective review - ah that’s better ;).

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14 minutes ago, Camverton said:

Seriously though, this is an area where measuring is a useful tool not an ideology for its own sake to berate others choice of equipment.

Totally agree. I tried to set up my dsp for my active 3 way speakers by ear. As soon as I purchased a Umik 1, and measured using REW, and then using the filters allocated, the job was done, no more fiddling around with settings.

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It’s a reasonable starter guide until he gets to positioning.

The last place you should ever put a subwoofer is in a corner.

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3 hours ago, Camverton said:

I was just relating my experience of setting up subs by ear and by measurement. I used to use your method but it wasn’t until I was more measured in my setting up that I realised just how good a properly integrated sub could be. As to whether it matters that is down to the user, but given how “careful” people who post here are about the sound quality of their equipment I would have thought it does matter how well integrated a sub is.

I take it you’ve set up subs by ear and by measurement? How much difference did you experience using each method?

Subs have something of a bad rep for listening to music. They can certainly have the power to enhance or spoil a system!

I must admit I did go into more detail than just plonk and fiddle, I did set mine up using a Phonic PAA6 which I use on installations and commissioning, it's invaluable to me. I found I have 6db null at 60 Hz making it difficult to dial in the sub without overblowing the bottom and and having to set the roll off to high, corner placement didn't help at all, the best position was behind the sofa roughly 500mm from the corners although the null was ameliorated I used a second smaller unit setting the crossover slightly higher and this smoothed out the response.  

@Beobloke My personal opinion is the majority of subwoofer users I encounter are predominantly for home cinema duties, apart from 'Wammers I don't know anybody else that uses a sub for a stereo setup. As I mentioned earlier for the greater populous that have subs just wants booms, thuds and roars whilst watching movies - corner siting will be perfect for them as wall coupling will get the biggest bang for buck (no pun intended!).

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2 hours ago, Beobloke said:

It’s a reasonable starter guide until he gets to positioning.

The last place you should ever put a subwoofer is in a corner.

Yes and no! In my rooms the best location has been close to a corner, but in that position they have needed the most care in integration to get the impact when the recording demands without an indiscriminate boom.

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I've just taken the time to tweak my old Rel sub.  It now blends that well with a pair of spkrs (on classifieds :o) that I am keeping them.  The threads have many stories & old alleys trod ..however this one not only helped me remember I had a sub...but that it was perhaps worth another play.   Dix points !

:pint:

Edited by garn63
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