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Subwoofer Isn't Making The Impact I Expected

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#1 of 62 OFFLINE   MattCPT


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Posted August 03 2003 - 08:34 AM

I'm not about to bash my subwoofer, but I do have some concerns. I received my SVS PB-1 a couple of weeks ago and have done my best to properly calibrate it. My listening room isn't an ideal space (13ft.x 23ft. with 8 ft. ceilings, tile floors and an open stair case to the back of the room). I have the subwoofer placed against the side wall in between my main speakers (Def. Tech BP-30s) and my listening position. I can only move the sub about 6 inches to either side because my room won't allow for any other placement. I find that my room has some significant dips and peaks with the low frequencies, as much as 8 db depending on where I place the SPL meter when taking readings. I set the sub at the position that I felt was the best compromise. The PB-1 volume is at half way with the receiver sub setting at -4db. From what others have said about putting their SVS at 1/4 to 1/3 of the way up I get the feeling that mine is set too high. I don't find the bass to be too much at this setting however. In fact I don't find the bass to be much different than If I run my BP-30s as large without the sub. My receiver (Marantz 8200) uses an 80hz crossover. I find the PB-1 does add some low end to movies that I didn't have before, but I need to run the volume over 1/2 way to really notice it. The difference is less noticeable if I just run my main speakers without the sub and with the receivers bass setting at +5-6. I don't doubt that the PB-1 is capable of more but I'm not hearing or feeling the difference the way that I expected. The problem may be my room acoustics or the placement of the sub, but I can't change those. I'm considering returning the PB-1 because I don't feel that it makes the improvement that I had hoped for. I find that I prefer to listen to both Cds and Music DVDs without the sub and SACDs and Movie DVDs with the sub. I've read hundreds of reviews from users of SVS subs and I wonder if I was expecting too much or if my room set-up is just so bad that I'm not experiencing the effect that others have. Don't get me wrong, I find that my system sounds fantastic with or without the PB-1, I just haven't felt the pounding through my chest bass that others have described. If anyone has any ideas of what could be wrong please let me know before I make the mistake of returning the PB-1. Thanks, Matt

#2 of 62 OFFLINE   Reginald Trent

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Posted August 03 2003 - 09:36 AM

I won't get into calibrations I'll leave that to others. However, the first thing I would do is make sure the Sub is in phase then I would move it around to different locations to get better response.

#3 of 62 OFFLINE   steve nn

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Posted August 03 2003 - 09:45 AM

Since locating your sub in a different location is out of the question maybe we ought to start with do you have your bittstream (BST) engaged in your DVD settings??

#4 of 62 OFFLINE   James Edward

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Posted August 03 2003 - 09:47 AM

Matt, The subwoofer might not make 'reference' level in your room, but it certainly should make a significant bass impact improvement over your regular speakers. My friend has a 10" 400.00 Velodyne in a room at least as big as yours, and a difference can be felt and heard. It's not clear from your post if you are replacing an existing sub, or starting fresh. Either way, start here: I would make sure that the receiver's LFE setting is at 0, as stated in the owner's manual, and check into what your bass peak level setting is. Those are the two areas I'd look at first. I don't have these settings on my receiver(NAD T752), so I can't get into the nitty gritty, but they have tripped up people in the past.
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#5 of 62 OFFLINE   Tom Grooms

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Posted August 03 2003 - 09:52 AM

You are just programed to listening to the Def Tech BP-30s BOOM. A subwoofer should never attract attention to itself and in-fact should never be noticed (unless it's turned off). And you are going to have to work on placement, it's just as important as the subwoofer itself in getting a better FR across your seating positions.

#6 of 62 OFFLINE   keir


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Posted August 03 2003 - 09:59 AM

try putting it in a corner regardless of whether thats a permanent option. compromising placement is the surest way to be dissapointed. also make sure you have your speakers set to small and are running dolby digital or dts sound. also did you calibrate by ear or do you have a disc? and have you tried some bassy movies? the impact should be pretty amazing with the right material.

#7 of 62 OFFLINE   JerryCulp


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Posted August 03 2003 - 10:13 AM

I've just gone through this exercise. I moved my sub to many different locations in my room. What I found out is that in any of the 3 available corners, the sub works the best. I actually found one location that dropped SPL 9db! Guess where that was? Middle of a side wall. It rendered the sub invisible. It's hard to tell what is too much by the settings on the reciever and sub. Have you calibrated the sub? Have you sent an email tech support at SVS? If not, do that right now and have them look at your situation. I can guarantee they will work their taails off to get you set up and happy.

#8 of 62 OFFLINE   MattCPT


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Posted August 03 2003 - 12:56 PM

Thanks for the replies. I'm going to answer some questions that will hopefully clear things up. I have all the speakers set to small. I set the receiver sub out to -4 because the SVS recommends -5 to ensure a clean signal from the amp to the sub. I can try "0" but I don't think that is the problem because I can get the same db of sound from my sub as my main speakers during calibration. Yes, I calibrated my sub with Avia. I have tried to change the phase setting and to be honest my wife and I didn't notice a significant difference between the different settings. I don't have enough space in my corners to keep my sub there because of the way we have set-up the room. My wife was agreeable to the "large" sub because she thought that it would stay against the side wall. I have a feeling that this may be my biggest problem. My Def. Tech BP-30s are definitely not "BOOMY". They don't use a built in subwoofer. I find the bass on them to be very "tight/accurate". To be honest I find both the BP-30s and the PB-1 to deliver tight bass. The PB-1 is far more musical than the Velodyne that I had tried in the past. I just don't find the PB-1 to have as much impact as I expected. I have listened to it with my wife and another friend who both felt that the bass was adequate but not much more than I'm already getting without running the sub extremely hot (volume set around 3/4). I'm not replacing a subwoofer. I have been running my system without a sub for years. Thanks for your input, Matt * I will e-mail SVS before sending it back. I'm trying this forum first because there is a lot of knowledgeable people and SVS hasn't responded to my e-mails during weekends in the past.

#9 of 62 OFFLINE   TommyL


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Posted August 03 2003 - 01:30 PM

Matt...I owned the 8200...TRY THIS 1st! Check your bass peak level...I am pretty sure this is it...when you set it, unplug your sub cable, and bring it all the way to +18....save, and then you'll be in business....email me before sending back...as I stated, I had the same problem with my B4+...and I know damn well, a B4+ will bring the house down...as I have almost done it nowPosted Image toml@mchsi.com

#10 of 62 OFFLINE   Dan Hine

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Posted August 03 2003 - 01:46 PM

[quote] when you set it, unplug your sub cable, and bring it all the way to +18....save, and then you'll be in business [quote]

I used to own a Pioneer Elite that did the same thing. Definitely check this out! If the peak level is too low then it will not allow the sub to ever reach what it is capable of. Obviously Pioneer and Marantz have no faith in the ability of an typical sub. Posted Image

If that doesn't fix it then for the sake of figuring out the problem set it up temporarily in a corner just to see what happens. If you still aren't impressed then go from there.
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#11 of 62 OFFLINE   Frank Carter

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Posted August 03 2003 - 05:14 PM

I can email you an excel file so that you can plot your frequency response, it's the only way to really see what's going on at the listening position. All you'd need is your RS SPL meter and test tones. You can make you're own tones for free with the NCH tone generator. All you need then is a CD burner.

If you don't want to go through that, Dan's suggestion is a good one. Just temporarily place it a corner to see if it sounds any better there.

#12 of 62 OFFLINE   GregC


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Posted August 04 2003 - 07:30 AM

The tried and true method for sub placement is to place the sub at your seating position then walk around the room until it sounds best. Then place the sub in that spot and re-tune. SVS puts out a quality product (I own one) but subs can be very problematic to properly place and tune ... If you cannot place the sub properly, I would suggest you return/ebay it and live with what you have for now. Alternatively, you could try bass shakers in your couch to provide a tactile experience.

#13 of 62 OFFLINE   TommyL


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Posted August 04 2003 - 11:25 AM

You would still hear something from it...even in a bad scenario...Try my suggestion...as stated above...I had the same problem from a B4+...if a B4+ is in a bad place, you'll still get kick...bass peak level...adjust itPosted Image

#14 of 62 OFFLINE   Greg Bright

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Posted August 07 2003 - 10:28 AM

James Edward states: I would make sure that the receiver's LFE setting is at 0, as stated in the owner's manual, and check into what your bass peak level setting is. And then Matt says: I set the receiver sub out to -4 because the SVS recommends -5 to ensure a clean signal from the amp to the sub. Matt, these are not the same things. The LFE setting is distinct and separate from the sub out setting. Check your receiver's menu for the LFE setting. No matter what your sub out setting is LFE should definitely be set to "0". Greg
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#15 of 62 OFFLINE   Ryan_McCormick



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Posted August 07 2003 - 01:32 PM

I am sure you know what you are doing, but i think Avia may be the problem. There have been posts in the past stating that after calibrating the sub with Avia they can barely hear the bass. Assuming the main speakers are calibrated correclty, try setting the sub to around 79 db (on the lowest peak) when all others speakers are reading 75 db with the internal test tones on your receiver. Hope i dont sound insulting, but the simplest things can be overlooked. I own a CHT-15 and if i use the Avia sub calibration session, it sounds as if its not turned on. Good luck!

#16 of 62 OFFLINE   TommyL


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Posted August 07 2003 - 01:32 PM

Matt..you get this fixed yet? lfe at "0" on the marantz...bass peak level should be at +18....max it out, but take the amp cord off when doing so...cuz the bass will make ya afraidPosted Image tom

#17 of 62 OFFLINE   MattCPT


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Posted August 07 2003 - 02:34 PM

I've played with sub position and double checked all the settings since reading your posts. The LFE channel is set to "0" and the Bass Peak is now set to 18 as you suggested TommyL. I must say that changing the bass peak setting did make the subwoofer hit 75db at just over 1/4 volume as opposed to the previous setting of just over 1/2. With the subwoofer calibrated it sounded the same as before but just required a lower volume setting to get there. I then ran the sub at a "hotter" setting to improve the bass during movies. After replaying the Matrix fight sense I could tell that the sub was noticeably louder/stronger. I then changed the settings on the Marantz to play without the sub and with the speakers on "large". I also increased the bass setting to compensate for the fact that I ran the sub "hot". To my surprise I heard and felt bass that I had never felt before from my main speakers. I had never thought about increasing the "Bass Peak" setting in my Marantz, but apparently I was never getting the full amount of bass that my speakers were capable of. The difference in bass between the PB-1 and my main speakers was minimal. I understand that my experience doesn't seem to mimick anyone else that has used an SVS. All I can conclude is that my room must be hurting the perceived bass output of the SVS (and probably my main speakers as well). If this is the case than there is nothing I can do about it. As I said before I have noticed that the SPL readings varied greatly with the lowest reading in the center of the room. I must say however that I'm very happy with the improved bass of my mains since changing the "Bass Peak" level (thank you Tommyl). In all my comparisons I noticed that there was a distinct difference in the sound of my system when listening with or without the subwoofer. This difference was there regardless of the volume of the sub. With the sub playing and the speakers receiving sound above 80Hz my system sounded a little "thin". The difference was especially noticeable with concert DVDs. My wife even stated that she felt the performers sounded as if they were further away and less involving with the sub on. This would likely be due to the fact that the main speakers aren't reproducing a lot of the bass that adds warmth. I know that bass is supposed to be non-directional, but the sound was definitely fuller without the sub. This may have been more noticeable because of the fact that my speakers are bi-polar (I'm not sure if that matters). After all my calibrations, adjustments, testing, etc... I have decided to send the sub back. I'm quite disappointed. I'm not disappointed with SVS because I get the feeling that my listening environment has a lot to do with it. My room is surrounded by poured concrete (including walls and ceiling). I imagine if I lived in a wood frame house that the bass would be more apparent. I'm just disappointed that I had to spend around $100 in shipping to deliver and now return the PB-1. On the bright side my system does have more bass thanks to TommyL. Thanks for all of your help.

#18 of 62 OFFLINE   Dan Hine

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Posted August 07 2003 - 03:31 PM


Ron has said before that he would pay to have an SVS sub shipped back if it wasn't all you'd hoped for and more. I don't see why he wouldn't do the same for you. Worth a look into! Posted Image
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#19 of 62 OFFLINE   Parker Clack

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Posted August 07 2003 - 08:16 PM

Matt: Did you ever get with Ron or Tom and ask them if they could offer any suggestions to help you improve your situation with the sub? Although I cannot speak for Tom or Ron I would tell them about your situation and I am sure that will do what ever it takes to make sure you are satified even if that includes returning your shipping charges. Parker

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#20 of 62 OFFLINE   Shane Martin

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Posted August 08 2003 - 12:19 AM

Matt, IS it possible that you bought too little of an SVS or subwoofer for your room?

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