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  1. #1
    Dolce far niente bigbossman's Avatar
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    Recommend a good sub-woofer

    Looking to replace my old, deteriorating sub-woofer. The home theater is in a new bigger room, so repairing it isn't in the cards as it is too small for the job.

    Considerations:

    The listening room and adjoining room that cannot be closed off total about 4,000 cubic feet.

    I like to listen to my music as much or more than the home theater thing, so good musical response is desired. FWIW, I'm musically biased towards the blues.

    Don't want to spend more than about $2000

    So far, I've looked at the Velodyne DEQ-12R and 15R series and just yesterday a very nice sounding Martin Logan "Depth i"

    Any other recommendations or experience?
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  2. #2
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    My 10" Velodyne (VA10BVX10) will be 16 years old in 2011. It still adds spectacular low end. I just watched discs 3 & 4 of HBO's "The Pacific". There are many scenes that shine that much more because of having a quality sub. I am not as much of an audiophile as you seem to be. But I have been very pleased with its output.
    It's similar to this. It was ~$800 in 1995.
    Last edited by skijor; 12-31-10 at 10:43 AM. Reason: isn't as old as I thought

  3. #3
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    No matter what you choose, it will lack the true lows unless you get some Violent Bass Air.
    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
    Ski, bike and wish I was gay.

  4. #4
    Senior Member DGozinya's Avatar
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    Velodyne or ML would be good. Others to look at would be Sunfire, NHT, Bag End and Legacy Audio. Depending on your room acoustics, consider two medium priced subs to spread the load among them. It's more difficult to get a flatter response due to modal interferences (standing waves), but 4K sqft is fairly large to get good levels out of one 12" sub.

    The key is to take a listen in your room with your particular speakers. You don't mention what is doing the bass management (crossovers, eq, etc), so that may or may not factor into what sub you need. Some subs have on-board management, some have built-in amps, some have nothing and are just a speaker only.

    What artists are you listening to? I've worked on most of the Alligator Records catalog for the past mumble-mumble years.

  5. #5
    Senior Member DGozinya's Avatar
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    Whoops, just re-read and realized you said cubic feet...at that size a single sub would be fairly sufficient, especially at the $2K price point.
    Now if you are rattling your neighbor's windows, maybe not...but for sane listening levels, you should be OK.

  6. #6
    Dolce far niente bigbossman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DGozinya View Post
    The key is to take a listen in your room with your particular speakers. You don't mention what is doing the bass management (crossovers, eq, etc), so that may or may not factor into what sub you need. Some subs have on-board management, some have built-in amps, some have nothing and are just a speaker only.

    What artists are you listening to? I've worked on most of the Alligator Records catalog for the past mumble-mumble years.
    Bass management is handled by the A/V receiver. I'm looking at powered amp subs only, and most all the one's I've played with have either eq's built in, or a variety of knob adjustments for fine tuning. One even has an "11" on the output knob, as an obvious nod towards Spinal Tap.

    I will audition them at home of course, but I was trying to build a short list to keep from dragging out the process. FWIW, the main speakers are Hales Engineering Group Revelation 3's with attendant center channel speaker. Hales went belly up a while ago, but these are fine loudspeakers to my ear and are very nice to listen to.

    I happen to have most of the Alligator catalog as well. I tend towards the Chicago/Texas blues side of the house - Albert Collins, Albert King, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, SRV, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Blasters, Roy Buchanan...... that sort of thing, with other, lesser known artists tossed in. Also, I like to watch HD/DVD recordings of live shows by some of the signature bands of my youth - Roy Orbison, SRV, The Band, Tom Petty, Steve Miller Band, Eagles, Eric Clapton, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by DGozinya View Post
    Whoops, just re-read and realized you said cubic feet...at that size a single sub would be fairly sufficient, especially at the $2K price point.
    Now if you are rattling your neighbor's windows, maybe not...but for sane listening levels, you should be OK.
    Yeah - cubic. The main listening/viewing room is just a large rectangular family/living room, that opens up into the dining room. While the dining room is off to the side of the main viewing room, because it is adjacent and not separable I included it in my calculations.

    I don't want to rattle the neighbor's windows, but at the same time - if something blows up in the movie, I wanna feel it.

    So far I've talked to engineers/support folks from Triad, Velodyne, and Martin Logan, and their recommendations are vague and seemingly biased - big surprise. Velodyne has been recommended more than once and the Martin Logan sounds spectacular in the listening room, but it is at the high end of the budget. Still - I'll probably take one home next week to give it a test drive and if I like it, it will probably stay.
    Last edited by bigbossman; 12-31-10 at 06:36 PM.
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  7. #7
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    A sub adds so much. If I did it all over again, I'd buy it right after the mains instead of nearly last (center channel came last). I highly recommend exercising whatever you get with "The Pacific". No surprise but there are some scenes with battlewagons lobbing their VW-size shells into shore. They are heard from the point of view/hearing of the marines on the beach so the feel of that power as it roars overhead is superb with a worthy sub and surround.

  8. #8
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
    I don't want to rattle the neighbor's windows, but at the same time - if something blows up in the movie, I wanna feel it.
    Subs can only do so much and moving the floor, your chair and internal organs aren't very effective with air-pressure. Turning up the subs so that you get sensations ends up washing out a lot of the lows. You want some Tactile-Motion from CrowsonTech for the real theatre experience.

    Real HD source comes with separate LFE track that's used by the studios for vibrations & sub-audio signals (down to 1hz!!!). Don't confuse LFE with subwoofer-outputs, which is really extracted from the audio-tracks while LFE is a separately encoded track. That's really the ".1" in the "5.1". But as high-end audio filtered down the prosumer level, things got blurred and confused.

    Many home-theatre seating companies are offering this Tactile-Motion as an option on their chairs, Cineak, Elite-HTS, Fortress, etc. Also many custom-installers are putting it into the sub-floors as well.

  9. #9
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    Since the human ear cannot hear below 20Hz, what good does it do to have a sub that goes down to 1Hz? Sounds like an excuse to unnecessarily lighten one's wallet.

  10. #10
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    It's not a sub, it's motion that is felt.

    It's what you feel when a train goes by. Or a *** goes off. Or the P38 flying over you on a strafing run. Or when the shrapnel from an explosion plinks all around you. These motion/LFE tracks are used to control movement of the sub-floor in theatres and percussion-type of "subs". A large percentage of +$1mil theatre-rooms have them as well as high-end chairs from the various seating companies (think +$10000 per chair, try the Silk-Leather "puppy skin" material from Elite-HTS ).

    And forget about D-box or ButtKickers, they don't have anywhere near the fidelity to reproduce the actual motion created by theatre-level transducers. Do a search for "crowson" or "tactile motion" on http://www.avsforum.com
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 12-31-10 at 09:40 PM.

  11. #11
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    Yes, I understand the whole feeling the T-Rex, explosion, jet fighter roar thing. So 19Hz is going to make that much difference? Okie dokie I'll take your word for it.

    All I know is my 16yo Velo has more than enough "low-end diesel oomph" to give me that wholly-crap-that-was-awesome feeling.

  12. #12
    Senior Member DGozinya's Avatar
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    You also need a HUGE room to get a full wave of 20Hz and below. A 20Hz wave is 56+ feet. 10Hz would be 112 feet for a wave to fully form. Not in MY house, don't know about yours!
    *disclaimer - yes, half and quarter wavelengths will reproduce the sound, and full waves can "wrap around" inside the room, but won't allow it to fully propagate. Tricky thing, acoustical physics.

  13. #13
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skijor View Post
    Yes, I understand the whole feeling the T-Rex, explosion, jet fighter roar thing. So 19Hz is going to make that much difference? Okie dokie I'll take your word for it.

    All I know is my 16yo Velo has more than enough "low-end diesel oomph" to give me that wholly-crap-that-was-awesome feeling.
    Yes, motion contributes to a significant improvement. Over 90% of people who've experienced it in a demo-room ends up ordering it for their home-theatre builds. One of the demos from a video-game maker of racing games has an LFE encoded track that mimics road-surfaces. They drove a real car on tarmac, dirt, cobblestones, grass, etc. using an accelerometer transducer to pick up the motions. In reproducing the scenes in the game, with tactile-motion, you can actually feel the difference in your seat on how the car feels when driving on different road-surfaces. Combined with the audio changes when the car moves to different surfaces, the immersion and realism level is significantly higher and more enjoyable.

    This is the future of theatre. The current state is like when audio went to stereo. Common arguments were, "A single speaker can reproduce EVERY component of a recording, what do we need two for?". While accurate in that all the audio waveforms coming off a single-speaker contains everything on the recording and faithfully reproduces the sound of the original performance, there are certain components outside of pure audio-waveforms that can't be reproduced. Adding differential-timing of waves for left & right ears and the resultant 3D imaging of the sound really improves the experience for the audience. Now we are adding sub-sonic motion to enhance that even more.

    Try moving a chair with a person in it a full 3mm at 15hz using sound-waves. Then try super-imposing a 5mm 5hz movement on top of a 2mm movement @ 19hz. Then try making those motion accurately reproduce the actual motion (velocity & amplitude) that's defined in the LFE track using sound-waves... heh, heh... You simply can't reproduce certain components of a live-experience using just speakers and sound-waves because there's more to it than just sound. What has worked well for enhancing home-theatre experience for people is adding the tactile-motion. Within the same budget, people have gotten more enjoyable and more realistic immersion by spending less on subs and adding the tactile-motion. They are two separate components reproducing different parts of the physical experience that was recorded. Neither one can do both functions by themselves and together, they create a better environment.

    BTW - here's a good test for tactile-motion. Play the scene from The Matrix where they are firing machine-guns out the window at the helicopters. Turn off all the sound and can you feel the spent casings hitting the tiles on the floor? If you've ever fired guns at an indoor range, you know what the sensation of the shells hitting the floor near your feet feels like. This is extremely difficult for subs to reproduce because the amplitude of the motion is very small (spent shells are very light), and the frequency is high. Both at odds with what subs are best at.
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 01-01-11 at 04:06 PM.

  14. #14
    K2ProFlex baby! ilikebikes's Avatar
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    I've had a 10 inch Polk Audio sub for around 8 years now. Sounds great even today. (I have a very small living room)
    You see, their morals, their code...it's a bad joke, dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these...These "civilized" people...they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by DGozinya View Post
    What artists are you listening to? I've worked on most of the Alligator Records catalog for the past mumble-mumble years.
    I used to email w/ Dick Shurman a bunch! Cool guy. Alligator-wise, the Kinsey Report have been an all-time fave of mine.

  16. #16
    Zensunni Wanderer KShep's Avatar
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    JL Audio Fathom-113

    Very musical sub that can meet your cubic volume requirements. I've seen then used on Audiogon for $2200...not including shipping.
    Last edited by KShep; 01-03-11 at 10:15 AM.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by DGozinya View Post
    You also need a HUGE room to get a full wave of 20Hz and below. A 20Hz wave is 56+ feet. 10Hz would be 112 feet for a wave to fully form. Not in MY house, don't know about yours!
    *disclaimer - yes, half and quarter wavelengths will reproduce the sound, and full waves can "wrap around" inside the room, but won't allow it to fully propagate. Tricky thing, acoustical physics.
    You are completely wrong, sorry. You are confusing resonance of the sound with perception of the sound. Or are you claiming that you can only hear 15kHz+ and above if you are using headphones? (1"-2" acoustic space).

    Recommendations:
    Seaton Sound - Submersive
    Elemental Designs - A7-900 or A7-650
    SVS - PB13-Ultra

    Edit: Yes, if you can find a JL Fathom for under $2k then get one. You should try to audition the JL, it will give you an idea of the performance level of the 3 options. If you have only auditioned the small Velodynes then you are definitely missing something (you'll have to decide if it's worth the extra $$$).

    There are a bunch of other options out there as well. You will get a much better bang for the $$$ if you go with one of these internet-direct companies (no dealer network requiring storage of a massive box, etc.).

    AVS Forums is a good place to read about the latest subwoofer offerings.
    Last edited by Greg_R; 01-03-11 at 03:08 PM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member
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    Another alternative is a cheaper subwoofer + some bass shakers. This is a nice option for home theater but not so great for music.

  19. #19
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Shakers are horrible with very non-linear frequency-response. They have harmonic resonances below and above the waveforms they're trying to reproduce. The Crowson transducers on the other hand, have flat frequency-response down to 1hz and work quite well with music. At a recent show, Mr. Clark himself admitted after testing the Crowson units that his own products were much inferior.

  20. #20
    Senior Member tizeye's Avatar
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    As noted earlier, check out SVS. Subs are their specialty, not an additional product line. Their subs are very highly regarded. http://www.svsound.com/products-sub.cfm

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by DannoXYZ View Post
    Shakers are horrible with very non-linear frequency-response. They have harmonic resonances below and above the waveforms they're trying to reproduce. The Crowson transducers on the other hand, have flat frequency-response down to 1hz and work quite well with music. At a recent show, Mr. Clark himself admitted after testing the Crowson units that his own products were much inferior.
    No argument here. However, they should be better @ 5x the cost!

  22. #22
    your god hates me Bob Ross's Avatar
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    Hard to go wrong with any of the subs made by Velodyne or Bag End (both mentioned above), but fwiw the most "musical" (sic) subwoofers I've heard in a residential application are those made by REL. (English company, distributed in the US by Sumiko.)

    And Greg_R is correct: You do not need a 50' long room to accurately reproduce a 50' long soundwave.

  23. #23
    Senior Member DGozinya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg_R View Post
    You are completely wrong, sorry. You are confusing resonance of the sound with perception of the sound.
    Hey Mr. Completely...check out the *disclaimer at the end of my COMPLETELY erroneous post. Lighten up Francis F*wad.

  24. #24
    Senior Member DGozinya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Ross View Post
    And Greg_R is correct: You do not need a 50' long room to accurately reproduce a 50' long soundwave.
    reproduce? no, you do not need a 50' room. Accurately?...well that is the devil in the details. And in those details lies a room that can either make the hair on your arm stand on end or sound like BamBam beating on a pillow.

    In 1996 I went to master a record at Gateway Mastering with Bob Ludwig in Portland, ME. At the time I was a budding Audio Mastering Engineer and thought I had heard some good rooms that I felt were fairly flat, with good imaging and transient response. After Bob loaded up a reel of the band's 1/2" analog tape and hit play, I was astonished and dumbfounded at the accurate and just beautiful sound coming from his system. And this was before he had put ANY effects on the tape...just straight from the tape machine. I had heard these tapes in three different rooms prior to this and thought I knew what was on tape. Unreal. Bottom like I never knew existed on the tape. This, THIS was the difference in full wave propagation and half/quarter wavelength, or headphone "faking" of the bottom end on Grados just didn't cut it. Until you hear a room capable of accurately reproducing and SUSTAINING a full 20 Hz wave, you just don't know what you are missing.

    Coming back home and later opening my own place, I tried to build a room that could do that, but lease/build out/money/reality set in. I ran charts of room modal interactions. I hand built a quadratic diffuser to spread the resonances. I did ray tracing of the audio "sight lines" to help focus the imaging. I argued with the contractor why this wall had to be such-and-such. In the end I had a room that could go down to 36Hz fairly accurately (+/- 3 dB <100Hz), and that sounded pretty dern good. I did a little over 4500 CDs/albums in that room alone.

    What I've learned in 20+ years of this cannot be distilled into simple web phrases. There's ALWAYS a "but...and...or..." Acoustical Engineering is a subject that one can devote one's entire life to and earn Masters or PHDs...and no amount of pithy statements on the web will ever equate to time behind the speakers listening and dialing the rooms in by ear and confirming/denying those suspicions with a TEF or other analyzational tools.

  25. #25
    I'm Carbon Curious 531phile's Avatar
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    Make sure to run the cat subwoofer test. It's the only scientific way to measure the effectiveness of Bass. As one of the commenters stated: "If the kitty bounces, bass is good"


    Quote Originally Posted by avner View Post
    I loled. Twice. Then I cried. Then I rubbed one out and cried again, but thanks for sharing.

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