Opinions wanted on the HSU STF-2 sub.

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Matt_Smi, Apr 24, 2004.

  1. Matt_Smi

    Matt_Smi Second Unit

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    I am looking for a sub under $400 to replace my current Sony SA-WM40. Basically I am sick of how boomy and sloppy the sub gets at high volumes when watching movies and listening to music. And after watching The Matrix Revolutions, I pretty much decided that I need a new sub, as the Sony could not handle anything in that movie without sounding pretty bad! And that thread here made me jealous, as I am a pretty big bass head. I want a sub that can produce tight, clean, loud bass that does not get boomy or sloppy. And sounds good with both movies and music. I first considered the Velodyne CHT-12, but after listening to it at Circuit City I was not all THAT impressed. And someone in that thread recommended the HSU and how it can be had a CompUSA for $350. So it sounds prefect and I think I will head over to CompUSA to listen to it later. The only problem is that all the CompUSA’s around me are sound out of the sub. Anyway I would like some comments and opinions on it, esp. from owners of the sub. And would also like to know how it compares to the Velodyne CHT-12. BTW my room is 19x11, and the link to my original thread is below. Thanks.


    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...hreadid=194682
     
  2. Craig Chase

    Craig Chase Gear Guru
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    I think you will love it. I am finishing a review on the STF-1 in a 40 by 16 foot room, and while it does not rattle anything, it is very musical, handling bass into the 32 Hz range, and is a bargain at $299...

    For $50 more to step up... grab it now !
     
  3. Edward J M

    Edward J M Cinematographer

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    I owned an STF-2 for a while (I was considering it for an upstairs HT rig for the kiddies) and my HT room is comparable in size to yours. During my evaluation, I thought the STF-2 handled music well at reasonable volumes, but definitely couldn't handle HT at the volumes I prefer. At -15 Reference Level, it compressed peaks and noticeably struggled in the lowest octave. Its larger brother the STF-3 (which I recently reviewed along with the PB1-ISD) was much better in this regard. So the clean output levels from the PB1-ISD and the STF-3 represent the minimum standard for me personally in the HT arena.

    If you want to stick with Hsu and you are a bass head, get the 12" model (STF-3 or VTF-3).

    P.S. - CompUSA is a crappy place to demo a sub. You'll draw no substantive conclusions whatsover from listening to it sitting on a shelf in the middle of a gigantic store.

    Regards,

    Ed
     
  4. Matt_Smi

    Matt_Smi Second Unit

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    Well I went to CompUSA to listen to the sub today. When I first went over to it I noticed that the feet where gone, so the sub was just bottoming out on the carpet. So I asked an employee if there was anything he could prop it up with. So he got some Styrofoam and used that as makeshift feet. And yes I agree that CompUSA sucks for trying to tell how a sub really sounds. But I played a HSU demo CD that was in the DVD player and I really liked the way this sub sounded! It was very clean and tight and went very loud before it started to sound like it was working really hard. It also seemed to hit very low frequency ranges than I cannot even hear from my Sony. And you could hear it playing very cleanly from far away. Overall it kicked the shit out of my Sony. I can only image how much better it would sound it my room, and with the sub playing on a hardwood floor rather than carpet. They had around 3 in stock and I almost just bought one right there. Even though it did not hear a movie on it like I got to at CC with the Velodyne (only discovery channel HD TV, which sounded pretty damn good) I think it sounded better than the Velodyne CHT-12. How would you guys say it compares to the Velodyne? Because right now the decision it between those two subs. I feel that they are the two best subs that you can get for under $400. I would love to get the bigger HSU STF-3 but CompUSA does not carry it and it is out of my budget at $600 from HSU directly. And for $600 you might as well start looking into SVS, and I don’t want to spent that much. I am really thinking of picking up the HSU very soon, the $350 deal does not end until the end of May but I do not want to wait on it. Comments are still very welcome to help me make my decision.
     
  5. Edward J M

    Edward J M Cinematographer

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    Tragic, really. Just goes to show you the caliber of people working there.

    If you buy from CompUSA, there will be a large (20%) restock fee if you return it.

    I'd look at the Adire Rava, too. Good luck!
     
  6. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    CompUSA can have my STF-2 back when they pry it out of my cold dead hands, so I have no concern about a restocking fee. I ordered mine for local store pickup off the CompUSA website and when I picked it up no mention was made of a restocking fee, though the people ahead of me in line purchasing computer gear were being specifically warned of one. Check with your store on this.

    I've had a Klipsch KSW-12, 12" downfiring model that cost me $500 for 3 years or so and thought I'd have to go to a $700ish SVS to get any significant improvement. I also had a Sony SA-WM40 for a while. The Klipsch blew the Sony away, and the STF-2 blows the Klipsch away.

    In the real world, it's a good tight, accurate sounding sub that will pull down to 20hz, though not the 16hz that Edward requires. It's not boomy like the other subs in it's price class, one actually hears detail in the low bass instead of a constant warbly boom.
     
  7. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I have a VTF-2 tuned for extension, and while it is a very good sub for the price, I have to agree that it struggles at the low end of the bottom octave. Output drops off below 25hz, but will at least output all the way down to 20. I don't think Ed is saying a sub needs to be capable of 16hz, he is saying it he'd like it to have some authority at 20Hz.
     
  8. Edward J M

    Edward J M Cinematographer

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    Yes, guys - didn't mean to convey I needed Reference Level at 16 Hz. I agree with John, the STF-2 has decent extension to about 25-26 Hz in-room. Below that, it drops off rapidly and has no usable output at 20 Hz (nor is it advertised to).

    Regardless, it just can't play loud enough on DVDs to meet my minimum criteria, which is about (depending on the DVD) -15 Reference Level, which requires about 105-107 dB clean bass peaks at the listening position.

    I think the STF-2 handled -20RL just fine, it struggled somewhat and compressed bass peaks at -15RL, and at anything higher it soft bottomed occasionally, so I backed down. Hsu designed the STF-2 to meet sound quality parameters first, and sheer output second. Because it does extend to 25-26 Hz, and it only has a 10" woofer with a limited linear excursion (8 mm) and a single 3" port, it simply can't move a lot of air in the 25-35 Hz bandwidth.

    For moderate playback levels in a smaller room, it's a good choice. If your tastes run a bit more aggressive in the HT arena, definitely step up to the 12" model, which can move about 3X the amount of air that the STF-2 can. It's simply a far more capable woofer in a larger enclosure with more vent space, and it fills larger rooms with much higher levels of clean bass.

    Ed
     
  9. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    On a side note, the V(ariable)TF-2 (and 3) can be tuned for output rather than extension. In "output" mode, with two ports open, the sub will pump out more volume from ~25Hz and up, at the expense of some extension. This cannot be done on the S(ingle)TF. I have a large room, but I also live in an apartment, so I can't really go with an earth shaking sub.
     
  10. Matt_Smi

    Matt_Smi Second Unit

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    I think that this sub will be just fine for my needs. You guys need to keep in mind I am used to a Sony SA-WM40, not a “real” sub! And I am probably not as big of an audiophile as most here. Plus I don’t listen to movies THAT loud, I would call it a respectable level. On my Sony receiver (looking to upgrade that as well) the volume goes from 0 to 30, and I usually watch a movie on 15 (sometimes 18 if it’s a quieter DD DVD) and the sub cannot even handle these modest levels. If I want the sub to play somewhat cleanly I need to back the receiver volume down to 10 or 12! I think the HSU would be able to play just fine at levels between 15 and 18. Now it pretty much just comes down to is the HSU better than the Velodyne CHT-12? I would think the HSU would be better but would still like some opinions. It seems to have a higher quality driver, amp and box. And the 10” model goes for about the same Velodyne’s 12” model, which says something. I was honestly not too impressed with the build quality of the Velodyne, honestly the box seemed similar to my Sony, and my Sony at least has a rubber surround, plus I think down firing woofers are the way to go. I guess if somehow I am really dissatisfied with the HSU I can bring it back and pay the restocking fee. But I doubt that I will be and for my budget it seems like the only way to go.
     
  11. CurtisSC

    CurtisSC Screenwriter

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    Here is a good thread about the same two subwoofers.

    The person actually compared the two.
     
  12. Marc W

    Marc W Auditioning

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    This thread is very timely for me. Like Matt, I too am looking for a new sub, and I'm also looking to stay under $400. Based on what I've read here, as well as other research I've been doing, I'm definitely leaning towards the STF-2 from CompUSA (~$367 w/ tax) instead of the CHT-12 from one of the internet dealers (~$340 w/ shipping).

    But how does the STF-2 stack up against the CHT-15? I ask because, when I plug my room size into the Velodyne Website, it actually recommends the CHT-15. My room is 21x15 w/ cathedral ceilings, ~3500 cu. ft. total. When I adjust slightly downwards, to 3200 cu. ft., Velodyne's recommendation drops down to the CHT-12.

    I understand that a well-designed 10" sub (like the STF-2) may outperform a 12" sub, but will the STF-2 be sufficient for the size of my room? Or should I buy a used CHT-15 that I can get for $350 plus shipping -- which would come in right around the top end of my budget?

    A few final considerations:

    My room has wooden floors, and I don't want to get a sub that will be too "boomy."

    My highest priority is tight, accurate bass, but I do want the sub to belt out plenty of volume to fill my room w/ T-Rex footsteps and the like. I don't need the sofa to move, but I do want fairly loud, deep bass.

    Movies are my primary concern for the sub. Music is a distant second.

    My other speakers, in case this affects the answer, are JBL 3800 mains (3-way, 8" woofer), JBL 2600 bookshelf surrounds (2-way, 6" woofer), and a JBL EC-35 Center.

    My current sub is an AudioSource SW80 (80-watt, 8"). Obviously it isn't high end, nor much of a powerhouse, but it is my primary basis for comparison. I realize that my current sub and the Hsu are in two entirely different classes, but I'm still concerned that the 10" STF-2 won't be enough for my room, and that I'd be better off with the CHT-15. Can anyone put my mind at ease?

    Best Regards,

    Marc
     
  13. DavidGT

    DavidGT Stunt Coordinator

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  14. CurtisSC

    CurtisSC Screenwriter

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    FWIW....

    Here is a post on Hsu's forum on someone that has heard the STF-1 (the little 8") and the CHT-12. Maybe that will give you some kind of the gauge on how the STF-2 would be compared to the CHT-15....then again, maybe not.
     
  15. DavidGT

    DavidGT Stunt Coordinator

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    Curtis...isn't the CHT12 a sealed sub? So I don't get the port/vent noise comparison. Is this fair?
     
  16. CurtisSC

    CurtisSC Screenwriter

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    David...I have no idea if it is ported/vented or not. But my understanding is there is a vent on the bottom of the enclosure.
     
  17. Cam McFarland

    Cam McFarland Supporting Actor

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    I just bought an STF-2 yesterday.
    My room is approx. 20'X20' with a
    vaulted ceiling, the highest point
    is approx. 13'.
    There are two non-closable door size openings,
    and half of one wall is open as well.

    I know NOTHING about HT, but with the amp
    gain on the sub set at ~11:00, the whole house
    rumbles & shakes at all the scenes you would expect
    it to, & a BUNCH that you wouldnt.

    just my attempt to inform you (or try to) of
    what this sub will do.

    Hope it helps.

    - Cam

    EDIT: And it is sitting on a carpeted floor that
    the instruction manual says it is designed to do.
     
  18. Matt_Smi

    Matt_Smi Second Unit

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    Curtis, thanks for the links comparing the STF-2 and STF-1 to the Velodyne CHT-12. I am pretty much convinced now that the HSU STF-2 is a better sub than the Velodyne. It seems to me that SVS and HSU are the top two subwoofer manufactures out there. Now what about infinity? I noticed they make a few subs that are in my price range. I am guessing that the HSU would still be my best bet, but I like to weight all the options. I guess I will start a separate post about that.
     
  19. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    Matt, I got your PMs, sorry for the late reply. I have never heard the Velo CHT-12 so I really can't compare it to the HSU STF-2, but I can provide some feedback about the STF-2, if its not too late.

    My HT is in the basement, with a carpeted concrete floor. The room is 13' wide, 23' long and 8' high. I've placed my STF-2 in the front left corner of my room, calibrated it to 89 dB at the listening position using the DVE LFE test tone. 89 dB is a couple of dBs too hot, but I like my bass a little hot. When I first got my STF-2 I hadn't calibrated it and I was not impressed with the results out-of-the-box. With time and proper calibration, I am much more happy with it. Although I have to run it pretty high on the dial to feel it 12' feet away at my listening position (1 o'clock on the dial), it really can move a good deal of air. I have to run it at such a high gain because of my concrete floor. Its an awesome sub for the price, and I think for $350 US there's nothing that can beat it. I am very satisfied with it, but if I had to do it all over again, I'd get an STF-3 for my room or an SVS PB1-ISD. I think you'll love the STF-2 on your wood floor, but just calibrate it properly with an SPL meter and you'll be more than pleased with the results.

    By the way, I also auditioned the STF-2 and purchased it from a CompUSA. The only reason I even knew about HSU and their STF-2 model is because my friend ordered it online and had it shipped to Canada. I heard it at his house, an HT room on the second floor, on a wood floor. He was running the STF-2 at pretty low gain and the beast was shaking his entire 2nd floor (results are not quite the same at my house because of the concrete floor and my room's characteristics). I was so impressed with the results that I wanted one right away. I eventually made a trip to California and picked it up at a CompUSA in Los Angeles. I must admit that if I had not already heard the STF-2 in my friend's HT, and if I had to judge my purchase entirely on my audition at CompUSA, I would've never bought the STF-2. Just goes to show that auditioning a sub in an open, large area like CompUSA is far from ideal, so don't base yourself on that. Too bad you can't take it home and try it without losing out on the 15% restocking fee if you decide to return it.

    Good luck with your decision, but I highly recommend the STF-2 at $350 US. I have minimal regrets about my purchase not because the STF-2 doesn't perform well, but because I wish I'd had gotten its bigger brother, the STF-3 [​IMG]
     
  20. Matt_Smi

    Matt_Smi Second Unit

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    Thanks for all the input MuneebM, I have pretty much 100% decided that I am going to buy this sub now, hopefully this weekend. I would hate to wait any longer and have this deal disappear. I agree it was very hard to judge the sound of the sub in CompUSA. But I know that it makes a world of difference when you hear it in your own home. Your room is a bit bigger than mine and I am on the second floor with hardwood flooring (similar to your friends). So I am assuming that this sub will fill my room with plenty of bass. I would love to get the STF-3 or an SVS but I just cannot really afford to spend $600 on a sub alone. Like you said I don’t think I will be able to do better for $350. I wonder if I should buy CompUSA’s 4 year, $60 service plan for the sub? I heard a few cases of an air leak problem, but I have also heard that this has been corrected. I don’t think there should be any problems with reliability on a high quality sub, but I guess you never know. I suppose I should invest in a SPL meter so I can set it up properly as well. I have to ask you a few more questions though. How does this sub sound for music, because I listen to music as much as I watch movies? How did it handle Matrix Revolutions? And can you actually feel the bass in your chest during some scenes in movies? Thanks again for your input!
     

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