HT vs Musical Subs. Is this just snakeoil?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Steve_Ma, Feb 19, 2002.

  1. Steve_Ma

    Steve_Ma Second Unit

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    I have been under the impression that one does not need to look for a HT vs a musical sub. Simply the best sub that a budget will allow. It's been my experience that a sub which can play deep, musical bass well, should have no problem with most home theater applications. Am I off bass here?

    I recently come across a couple of threads where people were specifically looking for a "Home Theater" sub or a great "Music only" sub and it got me wondering if there is a "rule of thumb" or something I am missing.

    Thanks,

    --Steve
     
  2. EricHaas

    EricHaas Supporting Actor

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    That's a good question. My opinion is as follows. For HT purposes the primary consideration seems to be that a sub play low (~20hz) with good db output. A certain amount of loosenss or "boominess" can be more tolerable for HT purposes. For music, most seem to prefer a "tighter" sounding sub. How low people want it to go for music purposes varies. Arguably, you might want it to go even lower for certain types of music than for HT, but generally it seems that the really deep base is more of a priority for HT. At least for most people. Hence, some might consider a sub that plays low and loud but is somewhat loose as good for HT and not music, and vice versa. But this is not the same as saying there are "HT subs" and "musical subs." Ideally, a well made sub should have flat response that goes low, and be constructed so as to present a tight, controlled sound. Subs which seem to lack in one area or the other may work best when specialized for eiither music or HT, but a good, accurate sub OUGHT to work well for both.
     
  3. Rick Radford

    Rick Radford Supporting Actor

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    Steve,
    Here's a good thread that discusses this in depth.
     
  4. ColinM

    ColinM Cinematographer

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    Accuracy = Sub Nirvana.

    Boom In - Boom Out

    C# In - C# out.

    Accurate AND Dynamic, that's the key.
     
  5. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    I think that those who claim their subwoofer is 'musical' and not intended for home theater applications, are just trying to cover up the fact that their product can't provide deep bass or high output. If a subwoofer is capable of accurate reproduction (deep, flat frequency response), and high output with low distortion... it'll be a great sub for either music or HT. Just because something is designed for big output doesn't mean it isn't 'tight' or 'musical'.
     
  6. Andy Anderson

    Andy Anderson Second Unit

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    Michael-

    Exactly. The same can be found in the real estate world--you see a listing for a tiny, cramped house, and it will be described as "cozy", or "intimate".

    Same difference.
     
  7. ling_w

    ling_w Second Unit

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    This debate recently occured on this thread:
    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...threadid=47567
    Everyone has their own opinions, including someone saying flat response is all that is needed for both.
    I think a sub with response down to 25hz with high output in the 30-40hz is good enough for HT. You might get some scrunges at 20hz or below, but they usually are not of high enough level for you to either feel or hear. Tightness is secondary due to most of LFE's content not being of music in the first place.
    Musical subs would usually required sealed design or ones operating below its resonance freq, have good low extensions depending what type of music you listen to (organs frequently have 1st fundlementals at 16hz,) but it does not require 115dB/3m @ 20hz. Integration with the mains become a bigger concern due to the split of the music between the mains and sub.
     
  8. TimothyW

    TimothyW Extra

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    It seems that the consensus is as Eric stated in the 2nd post "...a good, accurate sub OUGHT to work well for both."
    OK, then what about speakers? For instance, B&W vs. M&K. I know there are definitely timbre differences but these differences should work well for either HT or music, right?
    Some people have told me that M&Ks are great for HT but not as good as say B&W for music because of lack of warmth & fullness. M&K proponents claim that their speakers are more accurate than say B&W and so are good for both music as well as HT.
    I would think that a good, accurate speaker OUGHT to work well for both.
     
  9. EricHaas

    EricHaas Supporting Actor

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    Timothy:

    I am not an expert on acoustics, and actually am sort of an entry level enthusiast, but here is my opinion. Pegging certain speakers for "music" as opposed to "ht" is a more complex and subjective issue than trying to do so for subwoofers. Incidentally, you should throw in amps/receivers as well, since certain people believe that some amps sound "warmer" and are thus better for music. And people will say Yamaha receivers are "brighter" and therefore only good for HT. In order to understand if they are right, you have to first answer 2 questions for yourself. 1. are they correct? In other words, do your ears tell you that the speaker/amp in question actually IS warmer/brighter, etc; and 2. does this quality of warmth/brightness make the component better for music or HT? In other words, assuming you agree that the B&W's sound "warmer," is "warmth" a qualtity that you find preferable for music? Because some people might actually prefer the colder sounding speaker for music.

    With subs, a certain amount of "boominess" may be tolerated for HT purposes because of the need to reproduce explosions and the like, but that same boominess may seem to add a muddy quality to music. This is subjective of course, but not nearly as much so as labelling speakers "warm" or "cold" and stating that one is therefore better for music.

    Accuracy is another issue. Accurate speakers should add neither warmth nor coolness, but rather be a transparent window to the source. Most audiophiles state that they want accurate sound, but seem to contradict themselves when they also state that they like a "warm" sound. I suspect in practice that not everyone actually prefers totally accurate sound. Some might actually even prefer "boominess" in a subwoofer because it provides that "wow" factor.

    I never listen to people who make those comments. I just try to listen to the speakers and make my own judgments.
     
  10. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    I think the fundamental issue is one of compromises. Sure, if you had an infinite budget, you could design a perfect subwoofer or speaker. However, in a real life scenario, you have to make compromises. The choices that a designer will make will depend on a lot of factors, one of them being the intended application.

    So - a sub which can go low and loud and stay undistorted will be good for both HT and music. But let's say you cannot get all 3 for the budget you're designing for - do you then design a system that maximises output at the cost of extension, or vice versa? Those design decisions will dictate whether that sub is better suited for music or HT.

    BTW, I'm no speaker designer, so "output vs. extension" may not even be a valid compromise in subwoofer design. However, I hope the point I'm trying to make is clear.

    The same argument applies for speakers - a perfectly "accurate" speaker will work well for both HT and music. It's the same story - with a finite budget, do you design a speaker that can play loud and clean, and sacrifice a little bit of flat frequency response and refined treble and good imaging? Or do you design a speaker that has fantastic imaging and is tonally very accurate, at the expense of some dynamics?

     
  11. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    This is another interesting issue as far as general accuracy is concerned. Many people bash speakers like M&K, Klipsch, etc because they have a 'bright' and 'harsh' sound. They prefer a more 'warm' 'intimate' and 'ear pleasing sound.' I hate to break it to you, but reality isn't necessarily 'warm' or 'ear pleasing.' An accurate speaker will sound warm, etc when playing something recorded that way, and harsh/in-your-face when playing something like a rock concert. A similar argument is that over tube vs. solid state amplifiers. Many people prefer tube amplifiers because of their 'warm' sound which apparently can be attributed to higher even-order distortion. (Generally.)

    As far as subwoofers go, I think a EQed sub with a Q of 2 would be terrible for both music and HT. That sub does not have low distortion and group delay like many well built vented subs (SVS, etc) have. As usual, no sub can 'tell' if it's playing a movie effect or a music song. If the signal contains a tight, tuneful guitar, the sub should sound tight and tuneful. If the signal is a gigantic explosion, the sub should rock the house. With most so-called 'musical' subs, you can only have one of the above. Well made HT subs have good enough phase response to be considered right up there with below-resonance sealed designs and other 'music' subs (in terms of quality). And they can still reach down to 16 Hz or less.

    I doubt anyone can notice the extra 5-10ms of group delay in, for example, a SVS 16-46 versus a low-output sealed box. The tradeoff to get that last bit of quality is just too big for most people to bother with.

    Just as an added note: I don't mind having changed the sound in some way such as making it 'warmer' or boosting the bass, etc. Knowing what accurate sound is like and knowing how you are changing that sound, IMO, is more important than actually having your system set to produce such a sound.
     
  12. MikeH1

    MikeH1 Screenwriter

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    I have a musical sub for its accurate and tight. The Mirage BPS 150i uses 2 8" drivers in a bipolar configuration. Its 150 watt and I have never complained when it comes to music(well, sometimes I do). Movies though its another story. Theres no real low level extension and has been known to bottom out on the loudest, lowest passages. Instant explosions have no low-end, the woofs just don't seem to handle it well. The truth is, its quite terrible for movies. But its bigger brother, the BPS 400(2 12" woofs, 400 watt) is another story. Good for music but excellent for movies. My friend has this sub now for 3 months and it still manages to amaze me. The increased power handling obviously benefits it for movies but with using 2 twelves the tightness isn't quite there as with the eights.

    The good news is I am 90% music guy so the limitations of the BPS 150i sub doesn't affect me so much but an upgrade for me is still needed.

    I'll be looking into an SVS.

    I just looked into the above posts a little more closly and have to agree that my sub doesn't have much power nor low-level extension. Its not a home theater sub nor is it great for the lowest lows(pipeorgan) in music. But it does offer good sound. I have heard other subs that cost half as much(but none in the BPS150i price bracket) and the Mirage does have more accurate, tight bass. It has such a nice little "thump" that can sound phenomenal. But what leaves me curious is I need to audition other subs in its price bracket to see how they will compare, and especially to see what I'm missing out on for $700.00 Canadian.

    But I'll still be looking into an SVS.
     
  13. Howard_S

    Howard_S Supporting Actor

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  14. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    I am saying that if a sub produces flat frequency response, low group delay and low distortion, then it will produce tight bass and will be good for both HT and music.
     
  15. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  16. rodneyH

    rodneyH Supporting Actor

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    I normally hate to buy things that I haven't heard, yet I was in the market for a sub and heard all the talk about the SVS stuff (and the Titan on other sites) and was considering either a REL, titan, or SVS (as many of you know when I was asking Q here a few months ago). Since I already had a M&K sub and an older audio-pro (that uses 2 8" drivers and many say a "very musical" sub), and can test them and compare before I decided to keep the SVS (I really only got it as a trial and was planning to send it back if it wasn't "musical" enough). WHen I compared them the SVS blew the M&K away, and it also beat the M&K/audio-pro combo. The other subs are more "mid-bass" very punchy at higher frequencies (I think that this is what many people think a "musical sub" does, but my mains already cover that), but at the low end, it just fades away (even though they advertize being flat to 20Hz, that can be at VERY low volumes. Needless to say, I sold my M&K and my Audio-pro is in the closet (seriously). As for servo subs, I tested them but for some reason I always got a feeling that it sounded too "electronic" or something (I can't really explain it).

    I think that traditionally vented subs and any sub that is larger than a 12" was considered a "HT sub", but I can tell you, my SVS sounds much more musical than my M&K (which tradationally is considered "musical"), it is smoother, flater response and seems to blend into my system much better (all things that a "musical" sub should do).

    as far as B&Ws sounding "warm", as a B&W owner, I can tell you that that is the first time I have heard them described as being "warm".
     
  17. Howard_S

    Howard_S Supporting Actor

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    Michael. Nobody said that a sub good for HT is no good for music. In fact, a sub that is good for music is most likely good for HT just like speakers are. HT and music do have different demands on the sub however and it's not unfair to rate HT and Music performance differently. Generalizing and accusing people is an injustice to members here who only state their honest opinions.

    Back to the topic of the post. There are differences in how a bass sound and each sub should be rated accordingly. Even if you throw out factors such as tightness of bass and bass output there's a quality of sound that is different from sub to sub. If you think bass is bass then you will not believe anything about musicality of subs. I believe that bass is not bass. Each sub produces bass that have different characteristics in their sound.
     
  18. Thomas_A

    Thomas_A Second Unit

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    I think calibration and setup has more to do with "how a sub" will perform than the sub itself. You can take the best ..tightest sub in the world and not place/set it up right and it will sound like arss....

    I use a velo ct150 for both music and HT..thing is wonderful for both..and is on 24/7

    anyway..peace out
     
  19. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    In my opinion a sub can either be excellent for both or excellent for niether. If it is an excellent home theater sub it will also be an excellent music sub. If it is an excellent music sub it will also be an excellent home theater sub. Both require a low Q design, good group delay, and a flat freqeuncy response down to 20hz or below at high output with low distortion. And as Thomas mentioned, that all means nothing if it isn't placed and calibrated properly, your room has the biggest effect on a subs sound. But the reverse is also true, no matter how well you place a poorly designed sub, it will still sound bad.
    If a sub lacks low end and high output capabilities but has a low Q design and good group delay it will make an acceptable sub for most music, not an excellent one. But it won't make a good home theater sub for action movies.
    If a sub has a high Q design and poor group delay numbers, but has the low end and high output it will make a barely acceptable home theater sub, not a good one, and far from an excellent one.
    How subs work is quit well understood. It is not that hard to design an excellent sub once you have a good driver (I don't know if a good driver is easy to design or not, my guess is it isn't). Most manufactures make compromises to meet size and cost restriction. Which ones they make will dictate which of the later two categories their sub falls into. Very few manufactures make excellent subs that can fit into the first category. Most of SVS's line does, and compared to the price of the others that do, they are an extreme bargain.
    I'll even put myself out on a limb here and say that anything that uses smaller than a 12" driver can't fit in the first category (there is no replacement for displacement [​IMG]). There are a select few that use multiple 10" drivers that will (very few). I also don't believe there is anything with a smaller than 3-4ft^3 enclosure size that will either. No bandpass design fits in the first category. If it is sealed it is gonna need a lot of power to boost the low end up into the first category (and the driver is gonna need a lot of Xmax to take that boost). If it is ported it is gonna have to be huge to allow sufficient porting to tune it low enough.
    Passive radiator designs are the interesting inbetween. They have a slightly different sound to them, but allow the advantages of a very large low tuned ported enclosures in much smaller boxes. However, very few manufactures that make PR designs provide enough Vp (the PR(s) should be able to displace at least twice the amount of air the driver can, tough to do with a single PR the same size as your driver).
     
  20. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

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    Saurav,

    You mentioned measuring frquency response, phase response and dynamics in the following;

     

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