Best Sub for Music?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JimX, May 17, 2001.

  1. JimX

    JimX Auditioning

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    Am reconfiguring my speaker system. MFA and Audio Research electonics, 12x25x9 room, don't listen at ultra high spl and ultra low extension is not key; main speakers likely to be custom designed Raven R-2 with either Focal or PHL mid/woofers (should extend to 50hz). system is for music only; no home theater use.
    Am considering either:
    1. a Vandersteen 2WQ (powered; $1300 retail)-- it has received alot of good press for music applications
    or
    2. DIY: Lambda Acoustics SAL SB12 driver in a 22" cube-sealed cabinet (both from Stryke) with a modified AC Richter Scale (eq and x-over) and a QSC 850 amp (all in about $950)
    The cost differential is irrelevant.
    Any thoughts on how the two would compare?
    What other sub, diy or otherwise, would beat them out for music applications?
     
  2. Burke Strickland

    Burke Strickland Second Unit

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    The DIY would give you the pride of accomplishment, assuming you are a reasonably skilled craftsman. The components you are planning to use (if you go DIY) are good quality, but I've never actually heard a unit built as you describe.
    However, I have heard the Vandie with a variety of music, and the "press" is right". It is very effective on music (except for the deepest organ pedal tones, etcetera, but you said deepest extension was not an issue) with enough "guts" to be impressive and enough finesse to be truly musical.
    My local dealer (who sold me my Magnepan MG 3.6s) was trying to interest me in that same model until I reminded him that I already have a Velodyne FSR-18. For me, very deep extension and chest-smacking SPLs ARE important criteria, in addition to musicality. (I listen to a lot of music with deep bass, plus I also use it for soundtracks where the "impact" is important.). But even with those criteria, had I not already had a perfectly awesome and satisfying sub, I might well have sprung for the Vandie, since it sounds so good when mated to musical mains.
    If cost were an issue, the DIY would be attractive as a money saver. Since cost ISN'T an issue, it might be fun to build it anyway and then bring in the Vandie on loan and compare -- that would be the only way to know for sure which would really be the better choice musically. (You would return the Vandie if you like the DIY better, and you could probably sell the DIY to recover a lot of your out-of-pocket $$$ if the Vandie wins.)
    Burke
     
  3. Dan G

    Dan G Auditioning

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    I have tried a numbers of subs in my home audio set up to mate with my norh marble 9 monitor speakers.
    The norhs reach down to 30Hz with authority, but not the full SPL;s you would want for loud full range music reproduction (I also listen to lots of bass heavy stuff).
    I have a Vandersteen 2W which is fantastic! Absolutely kills any other sub for music I have personally heard prior to acquiring it(though I have not heard ACI or REL which is the big competition I think).
    HOWEVER
    MY Vandy sub now sits cold in the corner, having been recently replaced by the most musically pleasing sub I have ever heard- the Bag End Infrasub 18. If FAR FAR outstrips the Vandy IMO. New price is $1400-1600, demos can be found for $1-1.2k, used for $800+
    If you want to visit Boston I can setup the Vandy for you to compare to the BagEnd.
    I can also sell you my old Vandy if you want...
    Some other notes- The BAgend crossover seems high (95Hz), but is pretty seemless to me.
    The Vandy on the other hand crosses over using a shallower slope at 80Hz, which allows the sub to extend WAY up into the midrange octaves. So, it can cause problems unless you use a stereo pair.
    The Bag End is EXACTLY what you are looking for- it is not the be all & end all of SPL;s, but it can thump, but primarily it does everything with a grace and precision I have not heard before.
    For accuracy and speed look for sealed or slot loaded rather than ported subs.
    Dont forget to give your sub a nice dedicated outlet, or use an outlet strip something that does NOT constrict current. Also make sure the sub is properly spiked to the floor, or weighted as recommended.
    Finally, Proper environmental isolation of your CDP-DAC will result in more retrieval of low level detail than you thought possible. Using Aurios on my transport was more effective than adding a second sub- the low bass seems to really clean up with proper isolation- more so than any other region IMO.
    DG
     
  4. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    For music I like Rels. With either a 2 channel system or HT theater system that allows bypass of the DSP and the sub crossover (the 80 HZ or whatever is in your preamp or receiver) the Rel has a set of crossover adjsutments that is connected to the amp inputs and is set at the appropriate level and frequency to compliment your main speakers in your particular room. When you listen to 5.1 movies the DSP would of course be on and use the conventional RCA input.
     
  5. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

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    quote: For accuracy and speed look for sealed or slot loaded rather than ported subs.[/quote]
    I can see (but don't necessarily agree with)the general argument for sealed vs. ported, given the potentially lower group delay and better transient response (the best ported have gotten quite excellent, though. Witness the latest megabuck designs from Wilson, Ariel, et al., not to mention DIY masterpieces), but what of slot-loaded vs. ported? Are they not both bass-reflex, with ports of different shapes? Maybe you're using the term differently?
    ------------------
     
  6. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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    I'll put a Paradigm Servo-15 or PW-2200 + X-30 crossover against any
     
  7. Greg Monfort

    Greg Monfort Supporting Actor

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    Jack,
    A true slot loaded cab is Aperiodic. WRT ported not being for music, one need only measure a good EBS to see that it outperforms the sealed in the audible BW if tuned to
     
  8. JimX

    JimX Auditioning

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    thanks for the replies.
    Dan: did you use the Q version of the Vandy? thanks for the demo offer.
    any guesses as to how a simple sealed diy would compare to any of the manufactured suggestions?
     
  9. Dan G

    Dan G Auditioning

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    I have the 2W version (no adjustable !)
    the 2w has a fixed Q of .5, which is the opptimal setting for music anyway.
    The "Adjustable Q": feature was basically implemented I think to help increase sales of the sub, as it does not meet the standrad boomy expectations of many consumers. By upping the Q you can increase the boom-slam factor at teh expense of musicality.
    I think the 2W is just as musical as the adjustable Q model.
    As for the "slot loaded" thing- I defer to Jack's judgement.
    I have found most ported subs boomy in comparison to sealed models in my limited experience.
    dg
     
  10. John Desmond

    John Desmond Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree with Anthony on the ACI Titan II. I have a pair of them and they are fantastic. I've listened to a lot of subs and there are plenty that can play louder, but few that sound nearly as good. For me, the most important thing is that it must be completely seamless in transition. This, the Titan II does perfectly. I also tried REL and found it nearly as good, but about $800 more money and not as much low end as the Titan II. Another thing I like about the Titan II is the relatively small size and great appearance. I'm sure you can build DIY subs that will equal and perhaps surpass it, but I bet they'll be quite a bit larger and you'll have to invest a lot of time and perhaps money to really get it right. IF you like the process of learning and building, then DIY might be a good road.
     
  11. Jay Matre

    Jay Matre Auditioning

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    Just had to throw in my 2 cents...
    I auditioned quite a few subs for 50/50 music/ht before picking mine out. My main speakers are B&W 601s, not quite as high end as your DIYers will be, but still pretty quick and musical. The subs I auditioned were REL, Velodyne, M&K, Paradigm, B&W, Sunfire and whatever else I could get my ears on in the $500-$1800 price range. The most musical to me were the M&Ks and the RELs. The Velodynes were the most accurate, but a bit dry. I hate to jump on the bandwagon like everyone else, but I ended up with an SVS 20-39 powered by a Marantz monoblock and a Paradigm x-30 crossover. To my ears it integrates like the REL and pumps out bass that only the higher end RELs can. My system doesn't sound like it has a good sub, it just sounds like my speakers reach to 20 Hz. In my (biased) opinion, the SVS, amp and x-over that I paid $800 for will run with the $2k RELs. If I had to do it over again, I might build the woof myself, but it was definitely worth a little extra $ to get a proven design, and good workmanship in the SVS.
    I guess what I'm saying is, if you've got the knowledge adn tools, go DIY. I think unless you want to spend A LOT, you can get better results for your money and if you don't want to build it yourself, let Ron and Tom build one for you. There's a reason so many people rave over in the hardware forum.
    -jbm
     
  12. Mark Seaton

    Mark Seaton Supporting Actor

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    Jim,
    While I am quite fond of the SB12, you have available a fair amount of space if you are considering a 22" cube. My feeling is that you could obtain better results in this space. After fiddling through a few options, what I came up with as a nice balance for your desires would be using the SAL12PFPHN with a pair of SA-PR15-1400 15" PRs in a 21.5" cube, with 1.5" MDF walls.
    This will give you a very nice gradual roll-off, and making estimations given your room size, the in room response should have useable output to 20Hz. It is also more efficient than the SB-12, and with it's slightly better motor system should be an even better mate to the PHL/Raven combo. While I realize the added output isn't a major concern, the lowered distortion and better linearity of this PR system over the SB12 should sound better at all levels, especially considering the quality of your mains. Note that this configuration does not have flat response to 20Hz, but rather a gradual roll off lending well to placement in the room and bottom end extension without getting boomy. Furthermore, 250W or more to the driver should be plenty for your use, so your amplifier options will broaden. I would probably stay away from anything with a fan unless you can stash it in a separate space. The AMP350 from Stryke would actually work very well with the boost circuit disabled.
    As for the cost differential, I believe that Stryke may have one or two of the SAL12PFPHN drivers in stock, and may have an option of a 1350g PR which he may be able to work out a reasonable price for all 3 parts.
    That's my 2 cents.
    Mark Seaton
     
  13. JimX

    JimX Auditioning

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    Mark: thanks a ton for looking into it!!! I don't doubt that I can get a hold of a better driver than those used by Vandie, BagEnd, ACI or others but I am a little concerned about integrating the sub properly with the mains. I may be buying into Vandie and BagEnd's marketing bull but their extras seem a little tempting--- Vandie has a nice connection scheme and the BagEnd's have the ELF (or whatever it's called). Should I have any concerns that the DIY will be fatally handicapped in this area.
    Mark: what would be your ideal method of integrating the diy sub with the mains?
     
  14. Mark Seaton

    Mark Seaton Supporting Actor

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    Jim,
    Actually, the Stryke SAL and SB series of drivers from Lambda would be much too expensive to use in the 3 subwoofers you mention. The only company I would say is up top on the actual driver quality would be Revel from those I have seen. Aerial's SW-12 is another great driver from TC Sounds, but far from the best TC Sounds has to offer. Just look at the Stryke HE15. Most of Lambda's mid to upper drivers cost more than any SkanSpeak driver to any manufacturer. The latest TD15 drivers from Lambda are supposed to be their best drivers offered yet (yes a 15"), but being 15" drivers and high in efficiency, they need BIG boxes for deep bass, or EQ. Again, for the system you are talking about, look at my idea above.
    As for the integration issue, an outboard electronic crossover would be ideal where you could roll off the PHL drivers so they never see the signals covered by the subwoofer. Marchand makes some very nice active crossovers which offer some nice flexibility. My guess for your room, depending mostly on placement in the room would be a crossover in the 50-60Hz range. I presume that the PHL drivers will be in a ported enclosure? There are many options to crossover between the two, but there are some definite benefits to a true, active system, which can greatly improve the sound of your main speakers, not just the sub. Check out what you find over at www.marchandelec.com , and there are a few others from Rane and AudioControl that I am also aware of. As one more interesting option, you may be able to find one of the SA-2 or SA-3 subwoofer amplifiers from NHT, which may also work well in your situation. Blending the sub shouldn't be that big a problem, rather the best or ideal means of "how" will depend on the low end response of the main speakers. Most retail subwoofers offer very general means to mate seamlessly with main speakers, as they do not know what the sub will be mated to. In this case you know and have control over what is being mated, so you *can* achieve a much higher degree of integration.
    Regards,
    Mark Seaton
     
  15. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    Mark,
    When using the Marchand electronic crossovers, how to you determine what crossover slope best fits your speakers and enviroment.
    My main speakers Dynaudio Contour 2.8 towers (2-way with PR and -3db at 32Hz) use a 1st order 6dB slope between mid-bass and tweeter. Sub is an M&K MX700.
    Does this mean I should use a 6dB slope for the high pass filter (signal sent to mains) and a 24dB slope for the low pass filter (signal sent to sub)?
    Or, does a symmetrical 24dB slope for both high pass and low pass make more sense? Doesn't a higher slope increase out of phase signals and group delay?
    BruceD
     
  16. Mark Seaton

    Mark Seaton Supporting Actor

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    Bruce,
    There is no definite "correct" crossover between your sub and main speakers. There are many compromises to consider, and the art is in balancing them to best suit your priorities.
    The higher in frequency and steeper in slope you roll off your mains the louder and cleaner they will be able to play the remaining frequencies. Obviously this puts larger demands on the sub. The in room response should also be considered as you can adjust the crossover to work around low frequency nulls or peaks which may be present in the mains and not the sub, or vice versa. These issues, combined with the frequency response characteristics of both your mains and subwoofer should be considered to get the best possible results.
    That said, the simplest way to play and get a reasonable match is with both speakers crossed above the points where they roll off using steep crossovers of 24dB/oct. or more. Consumers generally would just make their heads spin if they had so many options, so a simple 4th order active crossover is the best general purpose solution.
    In your case with speakers that have response down to 32Hz, you can either choose to work with the low frequency roll off of the speaker and have the subwoofer augment just the lowest frequencies, or, you could use a relatively steep crossover around 60Hz or higher to greatly relieve the bass duty of the main speakers. With a 24dB/oct. filter, the one octave of response below crossover point should allow for reasonably smooth blending of the sub and mains. While there is a slight compromise in modeled transient response, Marchand's 48dB/oct crossover even further reduces driver overlap, which brings it's own benefits... As usual, plenty of options capable of good results.
    Mark Seaton
     
  17. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    Mark,
    You guessed my current setup. I've had a Marchand XM9L for about 8 months with a 60Hz crossover resistor pack and the 24dB crossover slopes. I also have the 30, 40, 50 and 70Hz resistor packs for testing.
    I'm currently trying to capture the room and speaker(s) interaction with a calibrated mic and ETF 5.0 software. This way I can optimize my main to sub xover, seating position, and main/sub speaker placement.
    I will try and publish some graphs, so those interested can see my progress and changes.
     
  18. JimX

    JimX Auditioning

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    Mark: The mains will be ported; however the size of the cabinet is still under consideration. When finalizing the design of the mains, should I keep anything in mind regarding their use with a sub of the kind you recommend?
    I have an AC Richter Scale laying around that I would use for x-over and EQ. It's a neat little box but I would probably upgrade the op amps and output caps for better performance. I haven't used it yet. The x-over is 24dB/octave and can be programmed to any frequency. 60Hz? Assuming the mains can get down to 45Hz, what x-over frequency would you guess would be best to start with?
    Would the RC be a decent choice? See
    http://www.audiocontrol.com/homeaudio.htm
    my main concern is the quality of the high pass and that no grundge is sent to the mains. I am also assuming that I will be better off running the mains through the high pass (getting all the benefit therefrom and hopefully no dirt in the signal).
     
  19. JimX

    JimX Auditioning

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    ^^^^^^^^
     

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