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Question about proper speaker/subwoofer usage for music, B&W Nautilus 805


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#1 of 6 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted February 17 2009 - 07:47 AM

Looking for feedback from B&W Nautilus 805 owners and proper subwoofer usage to compliment the 805's. I've owned mine for about 9 years now. I love them. They are my main l/r speaker with HTM2 for center and B&W dipoles in the rear for 5.1. I have a temporary old subwoofer in the system that I use for movies. (I plan to build one). A question came up in my mind last week as I went with a buddy who was buying a fairly new used set of B&W 805-S speakers. Mine are the original non-"S" model. I only heard his new speakers for a few minutes at the guy's house who was selling them. I was impressed by the bass output, as B&W made some improvements since mine! I didn't see a subwoofer there. As my buddy did with his new toys, I spent a lot of time listening to my 805's yesterday on my system. I usually use the 805's for movies more then music. (What a waste!) What I tried to do was compare how they sounded with music with the sub on and off. My speakers are driven by a B&K AV5000 amp that outputs 105 watts per channel. It's a pretty stout amp I got the impression, though there are plenty out there that output more. And the pre-pro is an ancient B&K AVP-4090 with speakers set to small. (Speakers roll off at 49 hz, sub set to 70 hz, now reset to 50hz) What I was surprised by was how often the sub didn't really add anything. But when it did add, I started to think it was artificially boosting the lows. So I got the idea to reset the pre-pro speaker setting to large and see what happens. It could be imagined, but I thought I got a small enhancement in the 805's low end. The material I listened to ranged from jazz, to rock to movie soundtrack CD's. Sarah McLachan's Fumbling Towards Ecstacy sounded quite good with out the sub. As did Steely Dan's Aja. I sampled some of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles during the period of the mid 1960's. Particularly the Stones, music of this era was in the mid to high range, very little low end stuff. The best sounding track was Lady Jane and the acoustic guitar as it dipped into the low mids. I also played some Kings Of Convenience that has a lot of great acoustic work. My two favorite movie soundtracks are Star Trek The Motion Picture and Dances with Wolves. I really enjoyed John Barry's work here and the track called The Buffalo Hunt I always thought needed to sub to get those lows, but it actually wasn't necessary. If I had the sub on, I think as I said, it was over-boosting or amplifying the low end. For Star Trek, Goldsmith uses, I think, a bass drum on the track called The Enterprise as the music crescendos to climax. The 805's reproduced those drums with a good amount of authority at about 24 db volume setting. I read a 1999 review of the 805's again last night and the reviewer cited a surprising amount of bass "slam" with some tracks he used. I guess slam means it had good punch, or impact. To conclude this post, I think I came to rediscover my speakers after my buddy went and bought newer versions. Mine are actually still really good! But the question is, what is the proper subwoofer usage? I think I discovered that subs are really as they are meant for, LFE for movies and the occasional deep organ or synthesizer music. These B&W are more capable then I thought, of course, not as capable as a full range floor standing. But not bad for bookshelf speakers. When I bought them, I had in my mind that a sub was needed to fill in the low end. But that may be only true for movies. And maybe we, or I, got a little over conditioned to have a sub on all the time? What do you guys think?

#2 of 6 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted February 17 2009 - 11:34 AM

I think a properly integrated sub can complement any speaker system. That requires proper placement in the room as well as calibration using an SPL meter, test tones and a good parametric EQ. If you have a little more budget then Room EQ Wizard makes it much easier. You have some excellent speakers so if you were to add a sub your shouldn't cut corners on equipment quality or installation. I spent hours configuring my sub and it is still a quest for perfection. I am using TC-3000 drivers from TC Sounds with 40 pound motor structurs and titanium cones. A Behringer EP-2500 pro amp to push them running at 2 ohms stereo and a Behringer Feedback Destroyer acting as my parametric EQ. My sub is flat from 80hz to 17hz. Most of the time you don't even notice it is on but when it is called into play during an action movie it will accurately reproduce an cannon shot. For music it adds an efforless low end that most wouldn't even notice. Since my EQ has memories I can preset different frequency response curves. I an have the chest thumping bass for a rock concert or the subtle bass of an acoustic song. Whatever is needed. -Robert

#3 of 6 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted February 17 2009 - 12:50 PM

Robert- Thank you for your input! I am going to need to do some research and learn more here. I don't know how to, or know what to use to measure room EQ. Can you give me some more information about where I can read up more about this? And I tried to find info on your sub drivers, looks like those are no longer being made. The TC site has new components and models. I do like what your sub is doing! Thanks! Nelson PS: did some Googling around and I see that the ability to read a room's EQ is done with your Pre/Pro or receiver that has that ability. My Pre/Pro is old. BUt I am looking around at new ones so when the time is right, I'll be upgrading that.

#4 of 6 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted February 18 2009 - 12:54 AM

You need an analog SPL meter from Radio Shack, a spreadsheet and test tones. There are literally hundreds of free test tone generators all over the 'net. Just create a CD that has tones to match the frequencies on the spreadsheet. 5 second tones were perfect for me.

Set up the meter on a tripod in your listening position. Play the tone and write down what the meter shows. Go to the next track and repeat. Enter the information in the spreadsheet and plot the response.

-Robert

#5 of 6 OFFLINE   Nelson Au

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Posted February 18 2009 - 03:23 AM

Robert- Thanks for the additional clarity. I see. I do have an SPL meter and I'll study that link and look for test tones. I'll probably be back with questions! Thanks again! Nelson

#6 of 6 OFFLINE   Jim_F

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Posted February 21 2009 - 08:32 AM

My main system is intended for all-purpose audio for network streaming, CD, DVD, Blu Ray and SA-CD. I'm happy with an SVS 20-39PC (conservatively tuned) in combination with N805s. I set the crossover on my processor at about 40-50Hz. I've also crossed them over via the sub amp with good results. The Nautili take the highs through low mids and leave the true lows to the SVS. With the sub, kick drums sound and feel real and organ notes can seem to thicken the air in the room. I don't find the N805s to be able to do those things on their own.
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