2.1 system vs 2.0 system for Music

How popular are subwoofers these days when used with a dedicated system for a music hi fi. 

It's something I'd like to try out for a while to see what areas of the sound it makes a difference. I'm thinking scale, harmonics, weight, soundstage, as well as bass extention. 

Are there any enthusiasts that have added a sub and won't be without one in their system, or those that tried and found them having an adverse effect on the sound. 

thanks. 

Original Post

Hi INK04. I have used subs with my system for many years from small RELs to the larger BK subs. I have found they added a lot to the sound if set up correctly, particularly with smaller speakers. However, as I have progressed up the Naim hierarchy I have found a sub more difficult to integrate as better speakers and amps have managed to deliver the sound I want. I sold the BK sub only a few weeks ago.

cheers!

 

I still use a sub with a 272 + 555DR / 300DR / Spendor SP2s

However I integrated it using a miniDSP 2x4, setting it up by actually measuring the room response to ensure I get accurate results (I used REW and a miniDSP UMIK-1).

The result is a true in room response 18Hz - 18kHz +/- 4dB in a very difficult room (almost square).  I notice no adverse effects and a much smoother, much more consistent bass response.  The sub also allows for correction of the main room resonance without affecting the midrange or upper bass accuracy at all (as that signal goes straight to the main speakers and not via the DSP).

If I was ever forced to downsize to the point where full sze speakers wouldn't fit, I'd want to audition tne Wilson Benesch Torus (or better still a pair of them!), but as Huge indicates, whatever sub you use, properly integrating them is key for music, unlike cinema which seems To be far less of a challenge to be effective.

Part of the reason why I have been put off in the past trying one is the set up. So it possible to integrate a subwoofer into a system with basic instructions and by ear. Or is it vital that a device such as a mini dsp is used. 

It is something that I would like to add to my system for a while and live with it for a few months. 

Im using a Naim 122x, there are subwoofer RCA connectors at the back. Are there any models of subwoofer that could be connected effectively using this method. Or is it always best to connect using high level method from sub to speaker. 

If that is the case what are the RCA Subwoofer connections for on the 122x

thanks again.

As you rightly surmised, thr Sub out connections are for connecting a sub!

Most subs are best connected this way as it best optimises the group delay problem.

Using an instrumentation mike and REW to actually measure the room is highly recommended (cost is £80 if using an existing laptop); it also gives you a lot of useful information for optimising the sound from the rest of your system as well.   If you really don't want to spend the £80 then using REW's <Room Simulation> dialogue will help a lot.

I have gone down the 2.1 route .... I used a velodyne dd10+ this is a fast little sealed sub..and is stunning. I use this with my pmc 20.21s. The sub has room correction and measures the pmc response and then shapes the response .... fantastic. I suggest main speakers with a natural roll off at about 60hz....with a nice taught agile base the sub then integrates beautifully. I think svs do some good ones the svs 13ultra dsp sealed would also be good.... I reckon 2 subs would be the ultimate.... as it would improve room loading even more. My velodyne gives a nice flat response to around 20-25hz.

I used a REL Strata II sub for several years with various speakers and it definitely gave a nice bottom end extension. I transferred it to my home theatre set-up when I got Focal Electra 1028be speakers as they seemed to reach down a long way on their own.  The problem with subs is setting them up correctly. Initially you think you've got extra weight and extension to the bottom and then later you can realise that this has come at the expense of speed i.e. the bass has lost it's snap and punch.  Expertise is needed. 

ink04 posted:

Im using a Naim 122x, there are subwoofer RCA connectors at the back. Are there any models of subwoofer that could be connected effectively using this method. Or is it always best to connect using high level method from sub to speaker. 

If that is the case what are the RCA Subwoofer connections for on the 122x

Naim provide a sub out on a number of their amps, or sometimes a preamp out which is also suitable. However, they have always recommended that the high level connection is likely to provide better performance, and should be taken from the speaker terminals, not the amp. This is also cheaper, as any old cheap speaker cable can be used, whereas a low level lead of sufficient length, probably needing to be 'slugged' is rather expensive. 

If you want to use a DSP for sub-only room correction, obviously the high level input is not an option.

My own experience is with a Naim N-Sub, which I was lucky to pick up used a couple of years ago, and managed to set up pretty effectively through trial and error, but there is no guarantee that this will work in any given situation. Maybe worth hunting for a REL dealer, there are some who also sell Naim and should be able to help. I would also consider BK.

ChrisSU posted:
ink04 posted:

Im using a Naim 122x, there are subwoofer RCA connectors at the back. Are there any models of subwoofer that could be connected effectively using this method. Or is it always best to connect using high level method from sub to speaker. 

If that is the case what are the RCA Subwoofer connections for on the 122x

Naim provide a sub out on a number of their amps, or sometimes a preamp out which is also suitable. However, they have always recommended that the high level connection is likely to provide better performance, and should be taken from the speaker terminals, not the amp. This is also cheaper, as any old cheap speaker cable can be used, whereas a low level lead of sufficient length, probably needing to be 'slugged' is rather expensive. 

If you want to use a DSP for sub-only room correction, obviously the high level input is not an option.

My own experience is with a Naim N-Sub, which I was lucky to pick up used a couple of years ago, and managed to set up pretty effectively through trial and error, but there is no guarantee that this will work in any given situation. Maybe worth hunting for a REL dealer, there are some who also sell Naim and should be able to help. I would also consider BK.

That's a misreading of the Naim guidance notes in the FAQ.


From https://forums.naimaudio.com/topic/high-level-speaker-connection-of-subwoofer:

"For connection of subwoofers to amplifiers without a suitable (volume dependent) output.

If your amplifier system does not have a line level output which varies with volume (i.e. NOT a tape loop) you can still incorporate a subwoofer - providing this has a high level input."

As stated in the first sentence and with the 'if' in the second, the advice to use the high-level connection only applies if the amp DOESN'T have a low-level (sub out) connection.

I'm using two n-Subs with my 552/500/S-600 system. I have one sub connected via the low-level output from the 552PS using the Naim cable (Din at amp end and two RCA's at the sub end). The second sub is daisy chained from the first via the RCA out from the first sub. Therefore they are dual mono.

Any ideas on how to connect them as stereo subs would be appreciated.

Cheers

Ricky.

I used one of my JL Audio fathom 112's for a short time with standmount speakers(Dyn excite 12's).This was when I still used a SN2,which has dedicated sub outs...quick room calibration with the provided microphone,sounded really good.This was more of an experiment than anything,i have since moved the sub back to home theatre,and have a completely different system.

I used a pair of nSubs for a few years, together with my SL2s. I did manage to get them well integrated, but it did take an awful lot of faffing about. If you can use room correction software it makes life much easier. All being equal, two subs are the best bet, but only if you can integrate them and position them properly. I used to use a pair of Velodyne DD15s, mostly for home cinema use, and their built-in room correction software worked very well.

Don't forget you need to integrate them in terms of time as well as in the amplitude / frequency response.

Due to the group delay of a sub (typically between 1ms and 5ms at the crossover frequency), they will usually need to be closer to the listening position than the main speakers.

With regards 1 sub versus 2 subs.

I have heard the Rel S2 but not yet in my system, so may see if I can get a home demo. However would two subs lower in the price range be better than one Sub. 

For instance would two Rel T5's be better than one Rel S2 which is twice the price of a since T5 ?

my room size is about 13.5ft x 13ft, I also use Rega RX3 floorstanding speakers with Naim 122x/150x/flatcap

In a 13ft long room you'll have a 43Hz resonance.  You're already over speakered by the Regas as they'll have bass response that will already be excessively driving the bass resonance of the room.  Why do you want to make that worse by adding a sub and driving the room even harder?

Huge posted:

In a 13ft long room you'll have a 43Hz resonance.  You're already over speakered by the Regas as they'll have bass response that will already be excessively driving the bass resonance of the room.  Why do you want to make that worse by adding a sub and driving the room even harder?

That's interesting, but I thought that adding a subwoofer wasn't all about bass response, but would also provide a higher level of dynamics. 

I agree, theoretically with Huge's response above. A sub may likely only confound your want of better bottom-end "dynamics". Having had the RX3s home I found their forte more to the mid bass than deep bass response. That said, in a squarish room like yours I'd look more to bass traps that would clean up the bass resonances in your room. This should have the net effect of faster/tighter bass and better overall musical cohesion/timing.

ink04 posted:

That's interesting, but I thought that adding a subwoofer wasn't all about bass response, but would also provide a higher level of dynamics. 

In my experience that's true. It's great to have an essentially flat response down to below 25hz - there's a lot going on down there on some tracks - but the biggest gains were dynamics and also an improved sense of space and the recording acoustic. I put that down to subtle low level low frequency  cues being handled better.

ink04 posted:
Huge posted:

In a 13ft long room you'll have a 43Hz resonance.  You're already over speakered by the Regas as they'll have bass response that will already be excessively driving the bass resonance of the room.  Why do you want to make that worse by adding a sub and driving the room even harder?

That's interesting, but I thought that adding a subwoofer wasn't all about bass response, but would also provide a higher level of dynamics. 

A sub is primarily about bass extension.
Having said that the psychoacoustic effect of the increased bass extension gives an increased sense of weight and scale to the music.

When using a sub, most of the bass note harmonics are presented by the main speaker - this is why it's important to get the integration of the sub -> main speaker right in terms of phase response (i.e. group time delay) as well as frequency response.

If you have significant softening of low bass dynamics or a 'one note bass' type of issue than your problem is almost certainly the room not your speakers.  A sub won't solve this problem, in fact it'll make it worse.  To fix this you need to add a load of bass traps, and the only way to find out how much bass trapping you need is to measure the room response with a microphone.  The one in your smartphone may give some indication, but the have very poor / uneven response below about 50Hz and your problem is at 43Hz (almost the same frequency as the issue I have in my room).

In my room the 42Hz resonance was +22dB: It required Bass traps with a surface area of 8m2 to ameliorate it.  Only then could the sub I use work properly.


To improve bass dynamics you may well also need to block the reflex ports in your speaker cabinets as the sound from the port is delayed by a time equal to a half cycle at the port tuning frequency.  This increases the low bass out put (and hence increases the bass extension of the speaker) but at the expense of softening the bass dynamics.  This applies even more so to subs, if you primarily want to improve dynamics: First add enough bass traps, then buy a sealed sub not a ported one.

In my opinion you either need complete flexibility to place the sub where it works best in the room or use a DSP style product to taylor the sub to the room. 

Martin Logan has several subs that have DSP built into the unit. In my experience their subs are fast and musical. 

I'll that being said I am completely against subs in a music system. I have no freedom of placement, nor can I afford the DSP style subs

Brubacca posted:

In my opinion you either need complete flexibility to place the sub where it works best in the room or use a DSP style product to taylor the sub to the room. 

Martin Logan has several subs that have DSP built into the unit. In my experience their subs are fast and musical. 

I'll that being said I am completely against subs in a music system. I have no freedom of placement, nor can I afford the DSP style subs

I use a miniDSP 2x4 to control my sub (crossover and digital room correction).  It cost £105 (about €130).

The sub I use is a B&W ASW610XP also fast and musical (but not designed for driving large rooms).

Ink04,

Another option you have with the RX3 is to try woofers-out versus woofers-in, as well as changing the speaker and listening positions. These can have dramatic effects on where bass modes occur in the room and cohesion relative to the listener. Have you exhausted these options?

This discussion of subwoofers got me thinking so I downloaded some of the Audio Test files from Audio Check and had a quick play using both my ears and the Decibel 10 application on my iPhone (although I can borrow a UMIK-1 microphone). The very rough and ready interrim results are quite interesting and/or depressing depending on one's perspective:

  1. Apparent room resonance roughly around 30Hz or so. An online calculator suggested 42Hz
  2. We both failed the mosquito test miserably but can't wait to try it on our grandchildren 

The room resonance may partly explain some of the impressions when we auditioned speakers last year. I can understand that, as I understand from this thread, integrating a subwoofer properly is not a trivial exercise. And room treatment clearly is important.

In reading some hearing data published online, it was interesting to note that at age 60 (data reference point, not our age) the male threshold of hearing is quite a bit higher than female. Assuming the age qualification, this could be a good excuse for not hearing things you don't want to 

ink04 posted:

How popular are subwoofers these days when used with a dedicated system for a music hi fi. 

It's something I'd like to try out for a while to see what areas of the sound it makes a difference. I'm thinking scale, harmonics, weight, soundstage, as well as bass extention. 

Are there any enthusiasts that have added a sub and won't be without one in their system, or those that tried and found them having an adverse effect on the sound. 

thanks. 

I run 2 Totem Acoustic subs in my system, sealed 8" with ELAC BS244 as my mains. Frankly, it is amazing. I wouldn't say I would never be without one in my system, but, I do believe as long as I use monitors/stand mounts, I will always have 2 subs in my system. 

I use one, half way down a wall, and the coverage is pretty even.

If they start to get too near to corners, or have low ratio distance differences to room boundaries then you can get resonance / dispersion / comb filter problems.

Huge posted:

Yes, subs can be critical of position.  I did like the idea someone had of hanging one from the ceiling!   

Actually, ceiling mounting could make a lot of sense, as in most cases there is no furniture to get in the way, and no danger of tripping over it. Maybe manufacturers should consider that and add ceiling mounting brackets as optional extras.

Innocent Bystander posted:

A sub beneath a standmount speaker - it seems you're in danger of inventing a floorstander!

the size of the subs are so close to that of the speakers it could look pretty decent! and will still go lower than most floor standers I have heard, especially at 4K which this is roughly worth. I am sure I would have to spend twice that to get this performance. 

Huge posted:

Yes, subs can be critical of position.  I did like the idea someone had of hanging one from the ceiling!   

That was me in the Subwoofer in stereo set up thread. Many a true word is spoken in jest as an obvious approach for a more subtle impact on decor would be to cut a hole in the ceiling and mount the subwoofer above. Structural considerations may be required if using a Wilson Benesch, Torus though 

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