Are two floorstanding near fullrange speakers and a subwoofer overkill?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Emile, Mar 6, 2003.

  1. Emile

    Emile Agent

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2003
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    0
    I purchased a 5.1 system, with the L/R fronts being floorstanding speakers that start at 35hz. I also have a subwoofer that is full range. I have heard some people claim that this is too much bass, and it would be better to either have satellites and a sub, or floorstanding and no subwoofer. I am just asking because if this is the case then I might be able to return the sub and use that money towards some other part of my system. The only specific reason I really wanted near full-range floorstanding was because I have no bass management for my Dvd-Audio which means most of the bass could come from the floorstanding speakers without overpowering the rest of the sound as the sub would do without control. Thanks for any comments.
     
  2. Greg Kolinski

    Greg Kolinski Second Unit

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2002
    Messages:
    331
    Likes Received:
    0
    You can NEVER have speakers that are too big![​IMG] OK , actually I think you could use the sub cross-over and and use the left/right speakers for the 60 or 80 Hrtz up.And also have a real nice 2 channel set up for music without the sub.I know I like to listen to a lot of 2 channel music with my sub(i call it a sub,its an older mass market,it serves its purpose till I can decide on either SVS or a Dharman)shut off.My mains are Acoustic Research TSW 510's, and go down to about 40 or so.A lot of the older rock I listen to sound better with just my mains and no sub.
    Just my opinion,if I'm wayy wrong ,somebody please correct me
    [​IMG]

    Greg
     
  3. Steve_Ma

    Steve_Ma Second Unit

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Messages:
    423
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't think it's overkill. My mains are rock solid down to about 43hz. I never use them without my sub for movies or music.

    Many would argue there are deminishing marginal returns from using near full range mains and a sub. I do think that point of view has some merit, but I still prefer towers with a sub.

    Also, for what it's worth, I am very skeptical about the claimed frequency response range of many towers. The only way to be sure how low they really go is to measure their response.

    --Steve
     
  4. Greg Bright

    Greg Bright Second Unit

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2000
    Messages:
    263
    Likes Received:
    2
    I'm using a pair of Infinity IL60s with 500 watt 12 in. built-in subs plus a DefTech PF1500 in the corner. I use the mains full-range without the sub for music (unless its pipe organ) and run the mains on "large" with movies.

    I know, already. Multiple low frequency sources cause all sorts of phase, node, cancellation, combing, yada-yada problems. All I can say is that compared to the smaller towers that I formerly used and ran in the"small" setting - a noticeable and marked improvement. Must be a quantity over quality thing to which my ears need adjusted. Also it takes a load off the sub's power amp, which may lower distortion (always a good argument for using a sub in the first place - take a load off the main power amp).

    In my room, to my ears, having three subs in three locations has been a low frequency revelation.

    Greg

    Greg
     
  5. Mike Up

    Mike Up Second Unit

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2002
    Messages:
    393
    Likes Received:
    0
    Having multiple subs can cause problems or can help. It all has to with the rooms and where you place the subs. Myself, I have seen more problems running my Infinity RS2000.4's full range, plus running my Velodyne CT-100.

    I have mid-bass boosting when running my towers full range with the subwoofer at one location. This location is actually the best as the bass should boost when multiple sources are being used. In another location, I experienced cancellations that wiped out most of the low bass by 20 db! However, that was because I had the sub in the 'CENTER' of a wall. I knew having a sub in the center of a square room would cause cancellation but didn't realize it would also do it centered and against a wall.

    Since my Denon runs the mains full range while using Direct mode for analog bypass, I keep the subwoofer output activated which uses it's digital bass management to fill out the low bass of the main speakers. Denon is known for their parallel bass circuit for use in analog bypass. I get a boost in the mid-bass, but it's not bad, just not as accurate.

    If I had full range towers that went below 40Hz(and I mean true 40Hz, not rated 40Hz), I would definitely leave the subwoofer OFF so that degrading interactions would be disabled. However, my sub can go below 30Hz which is unusual for most tower speakers and a very noticeable difference with some music and most movies.

    In many tower speaker lines, the improvements have more to do with bass capability more than anything else. Most tower speakers only add more or larger woofers as they go up in the model line. Since even the larger speakers, many times, can't even meet what a subwoofer can do, I find buying a separate subwoofer offers higher performance for quite a bit less money. However, many do not like to use subwoofers for music and that's where a full range tower speaker comes in. I however feel that if a good subwoofer is found, it can be very musical. While I found many subs less than musical, I also found many subs that were musical. These musical subs were with an affordable price that's lower than the difference in price between 2 differing tower speakers, where bass output is the only differing aspect.

    My vote goes for a tower speaker with modest bass output and a separate subwoofer. I also would suggest 'powered' tower speakers(built-in powered subwoofer) without a separate subwoofer.

    Good luck.
     
  6. Phil*K

    Phil*K Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey Mike,

    Good to see all that Knowledge back on the forum. I was hoping to lean a little from you with regard to this topic. I've been slowly putting together a little HT system for my daughter. The last piece of the puzzle was a sub. I ended up finding a nice price on an Athena P2 sub for $180. Its a 100 watts down firing sub with an 8" driver, part of their SCT series. I wanted to make sure I liked it so I hooked it up to the mono sub out and left the left/right sub output hooked up to my mains, but turned off the subs. I was really quite impressed with the quality/quanity of bass this little guy put out esp for movies. In music I felt it was a little muddy, but that could have been placement as I just had it sitting in the middle of the floor. Either way I felt it was adequate and wan't going to find much better for the price.

    Anyway, I was reading this thread and decided to try all three subs so I turn back on the power to my mains. I don't think I was getting cancelations but the bass was clearly better with either the mains alone or the Athena alone. The bass just wasn't as crisp and it seemed to add a lot of distortion, which I actually found uncomfortable to listen to.

    I'm not really looking for help to get this set up right as the Athena is leaving my house and headed to my daughters house, but because my knowledge is somewhat lacking I was hoping to pick your brain a little a try to learn some of the dynamics of what was going on.

    Thanks for any input,

    Phil
     
  7. Mike Up

    Mike Up Second Unit

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2002
    Messages:
    393
    Likes Received:
    0
    Phil,

    From having the athena, you could of had boosting at certain frequencies plus cancellations at others. What you describe is what I found with some locations. The upper bass is boosted and the lower bass is gone. Since I don't know for sure, I'm assuming. The upper bass can be emphasized so much that it excites different materials(as I found)and those excited materials are now producing their own resonances which is distortion. This is easily heard being the bass now is very directional and localized.

    I'm not very familiar with standing waves but have a very basic understanding how boosting and cancellations are brought to be with conflicting sound waves of the same frequency. When frequency waves are in time/phase, they will add. When they're out of time/phase they will cancel. The amount of degrees they are out of phase would determine the amount of cancellation or boostings.

    I believe that most powered towers aren't affected negatively because they are usually positioned fairly close to each other. However many say that the powered towers may flatten out frequency dips and frequency boosts that would be there with only one sub. You'd know more than me with your IL60s.

    It's late and I don't know if I even made sense but here's to hoping.[​IMG]

    Have a good one.
     
  8. Phil*K

    Phil*K Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Messages:
    170
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey Mike,

    That made a lot of sense and is probably what was going on. Thanks for taking the time to answer. Either way not desired in my case and I don't need an extra sub as it is.

    I'll try it with only one IL60 on and no Athena and see if that has any effect as you were talking about in the last paragraph. If nothing else just to experiment. [​IMG]

    Take care,

    Phil
     
  9. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    3,184
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't run a "Seperate" sub yet. But my mains have a pair
    of bass reflex 10" passive subs in them (one per cabinent).
    The Manufacturer (AR) lists the FR as 32Hz to 22Khz and that
    is a fairly substantial range for an affordable tower and I
    can understand how someone would be skeptical.

    The AR9's were tested by Tom N. And AR's FR Spec is correct.
    They output 100Db @32Hz which is not bad at all for a non
    "decicated" sub.

    I don't know what kind of power Tom N. sent to the LF side
    when he tested the 9's but I currently send 500 watts rms
    to the low frequency side from a Carver Sunfire sub amp
    that was used in one of AR's High Res sub's (The ARS-500).

    The Bass I get out of my mains is so pleasing that I have
    not been in a rush to get my AV-12 setup built and in fact
    I have put that on the back burner and am going to order a
    second AV-12 and use those for a pair of true full range
    reference speakers that I will be building sometime this
    year.

    I don't think I am going to even bother adding another sub
    onto the HT.. Just because AR lists them at 32Hz doesn't
    mean they stop cold at 32Hz either.. They dip into the mid
    20's and still have reasonable (80Db) of output. And with
    the cabinent tweaks I have done to tighten up the bass they
    are extremely musical. Kick Drums sound the way they should
    [​IMG]

    It's not overkill to have more headroom as long as you can
    properly place and calibrate everything and as long as you
    can straighten out any cancelation issues you may encounter.
     
  10. Emile

    Emile Agent

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2003
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the comments, I think I'll now hold onto my sub specifically for the bass in movies, though I think I'll also try for music just to see if it is decent that way too. What instrument would one have to use to measure frequency range (would a decibel meter do it)? Thanks.
     
  11. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2001
    Messages:
    1,591
    Likes Received:
    0
    No, it's not overkill at all even for music. Larger and more capable mains can give you better dynamics than their smaller cousins even if you set them to small and cut the bass under 80Hz from them. And their bass quality/depth usually doesn't compare to real subwoofers.

    Brett, I have a feeling you will change your mind about not needing a sub once you finish the AV12. [​IMG]
     
  12. Steve_Ma

    Steve_Ma Second Unit

    Joined:
    May 7, 2001
    Messages:
    423
    Likes Received:
    0
    You need two things to test a speakers frequency response.

    The first is a test disk. I bought one from Stryke and it is perfect for the task. You can see it here.
    The second item you need is an SPL meter. The most popular one around is this one from Radio Shack.

    By keeping your volume constant and playing test tones, the meter will tell you (to a large extent) what you speakers are capable of. It's kind of a pain, but a worthwhile excersize (if you're a geek like me who actually enjoys that stuff). [​IMG]

    --steve
     
  13. Zack_R

    Zack_R Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2002
    Messages:
    220
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree with Steve on checking frequency response. In theory, if you calibrate to reference flat level, such as with Avia, your listening should be about the same as whether your speakers are set to large or small where a subwoofer is utilized. I have large floor standers with 15" woofers and run them as small but cross them at 60hz. If a crossover any lower the bass extension for some songs will sound weak

    Checking frequency response beyond just the sub calibrations will let you know if you have gaps in other frequencies. Many speakers can have a high max output at a given frequency but would not necessarilly be proportional to other frequencies at that ouput. This is the common issue with alot of mass market type subs where they play a 35 hz note at 80 db while they will play a 50 hz note at 95 db. It's tough to caibrate a sub for music when you've got a built in down swing.
     
  14. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    3,184
    Likes Received:
    0
    Mike,

    Well, when the AV-12's are done they will also be providing
    the low end for a pair of Planar Ribbon Line Arrays.. So
    I am SURE I will be Impressed by the whole shebang! [​IMG]
     
  15. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Messages:
    3,168
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'll add some more stuff to confuse everybody [​IMG].

    I've read for years since subs became popular that lots of music can actually contain stereo bass. Unfortunately, I don't have any specific frequency numbers for this but from my own experience, I tend to agree. This especially seems to occur with bass guitars and synthesized sound effects. Supposedly, anything below @120Hz is non-directional and many receivers/processors are set-up this way. But I've heard sounds I'm positive are way below this that emanate from just one of my mains (I don't own a sub myself, but have access to one for "playing-around" purposes) but if you use one of the receivers mentioned above, it will get crammed into the wrong channel, i.e. Radiohead's cool mood effect might originate from a distant corner instead of the proper front channel.

    And most bass cut-offs aren't what they call "brick wall" types. Some upper bass is probably leaking into somebody's Sunfire right now and some rumbly loooooow stuff is creeping into some dude's Energy satellites.[​IMG]

    My opinion? To avoid weird sub/mains inteference problems, & eliminating possible stereo bass:

    If you can afford to, buy two full-range floorstanders that reach down to a solid 40Hz using the standard +/-3dB scale (since most rock/pop bass stops around 50Hz anyway) and use the receiver's pure stereo mode for music. And just use the sub with movies--the LFE channel will make sure the bass is placed where it's supposed to be. What about older movies with no LFE channel? Well, nothing can be perfect so: I would try just the mains alone, then mains + subwoofer to see which sounds best.

    LJ
     
  16. Brett DiMichele

    Brett DiMichele Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2001
    Messages:
    3,184
    Likes Received:
    0
    Lance,

    I assume the comment about upper bass leaking into somebody's
    Sunfire was aimed at me..

    My mains are internaly crossed at 100Hz, everything from
    100Hz to 20Hz is sent to the dual 10's and the Sunfire amp
    also has a Constant Variable XO which I have set above
    (120Hz) the mains XO.

    Everything is working as it should.. My mains run Large
    everything gets sent to them, there is no "Sub" Per se..
     
  17. Dan Joy

    Dan Joy Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2001
    Messages:
    761
    Likes Received:
    0
    I have two Mirage floor standing tower "spec'd" to 35Hz and a sub (SVS25-31PCi) mixed with some Paradigm AMS300 inwalls. I have my system calibrated with Avia and a rat shack spl meter. From what I have read , avia is meant to be used with small speaker settings. I don't feel that I have any issues with cancellation. I have compared small vs large setting for redboook cd listening and dvd playing. Dvd playing sound better with small setting on deep bass dvds (TLOTR, TPM, Titan AE etc)while I slightly prefer the large setting on redbook. Since my DA5ES receiver won't hold individual settings, I leave it small, thus being a small compromise. Now that I have SACD and DVD-Audio, I am quite pleased to have the towers. Unless you have an ICBM or player with analog bass management, you should have capable front speakers(and a center and rear too if you listen to Multichannel!). Sacd and 192/24 2 channel DVD-Audio is awesome with some thundering bass. A friend has DVD-A with satellites and he was missing so much up front until we ran his satellite into his sub to use the subs crossover. So I guess it boils down to source material, source equipment, and individual preferences, but count me in as a happy owner of lower range towers[​IMG]
     
  18. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2001
    Messages:
    1,591
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just think any reasonably sized towers just don't have the bass quality of a good subwoofer. My speakers have pretty good bass and can really shake you up above maybe 40-45Hz and extend to maybe 30... and it does sound pretty good, but it's nowhere near as good as a vented Tempest. Maybe it's the room placement issues with 2 speakers... maybe it's distortion... maybe it's lack of infrasonics, I don't know. The real subwoofer just sounds more clean and effortless. I'd think it's worth taking the time to carefully set up a crossover and EQ to get a sub to work with music, since in my experience the result is really worthwhile.

    To those who have subs and don't use them for music: What's better about the sound without the subwoofer?
     
  19. Michael Colby

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2003
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    0
    My experience is that subs can help even with near full range towers. I have NHT 3.3s and use two NHT SW3P subs with them. The towers run full range with the subs low-passed at 35 Hz. Using a test disk and spl meter, this set up gives completely flat response to 20 Hz. The subs are used for music and movies. In short, subs + full range towers is not bass overkill.
     
  20. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2002
    Messages:
    3,168
    Likes Received:
    0
    Brett: Honestly, I just pulled that Sunfire subwoofer (oops!: it is actually called a "True Subwoofer"??) example out of thin air (same with the Energy's). If I offended you for some reason--sorry! :b.

    LJ
     

Share This Page