Rel Subs?!

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by terence, Dec 6, 2003.

  1. terence

    terence Supporting Actor

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    I have a friend who wants a Rel after hearing one and i my self have heard one. I think there are musical subs, but it lacks slam (IMO)with movies to my ears. I was messing around on the web and ran across this Rel sub, reading the specs on the model below struck me as REALLY?! So my question is has anyone heard this sub and is the 9Hz claim true? If so very impressive, also you don't get how they acheive that astounding 9Hz either.

    [​IMG]

    Studio III

    US Retail: $9,000

    The Ultimate reference subwoofer. 500 watt, high current, DC coupled internal amplifier,Super ARM™ loaded cabinet, Two redesigned 10" Big Ten Volt driver. Neutrik Speakon™ ABC high level input and high level balanced input for differential amps, dual RCA stereo low level inputs.. Separate volume controls for low and high level. Phase reversal switchand A/C ground lifting switch. Freq response to 9 Hz. Glass top. Rosenut, Cherry, or Black Oak finishes. 27"w x 24 ½"h x 22 ½"d. 287 lbs.

    http://www.sumikoaudio.net/REL.htm
     
  2. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    Ha ha ha... I don't think you need personal experience with these to know that 9Hz is stretching it. I have heard a subwoofer that can produce a clean 12Hz, but it's twice the size of the REL and still can't make much sound at that frequency before port noise becomes a problem.

    Of course, REL may have their amplifier EQ'd down to 9Hz so they get a better phase response and less group delay. I know Linkwitz does this in his active dipole system, it might be a benefit even if there's no real output at the cutoff frequency.
     
  3. Edward J M

    Edward J M Cinematographer

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    REL makes that claim for a corner loaded application, but they don't list the room size, sound pressure, distortion, or the mic distance from the sub.

    REL uses a transmission line to achieve some very long port lengths, so with EQ it might be possible for the sub to play that low. But without any other qualifying data, that number alone is rather useless.

    I can think of several sub companies and DIY'ers right off the bat that could make far better use of $9,000.
     
  4. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Some of that was discussed here: http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...hreadid=171808

    Like everything else it needs to be set-up properly and depends on what your goals are. I don't find them lacking for home theater, just that for home theater alone (vs. music) there are better choice that put out more output for less money. Unless 2-channel music is a big priority and you turn off the dsp (e.g. analog direct) so that the high level connection of the Rel gets a signal from your amp and is crossed over at an appropriate point on the Rel to match your mains you don't need to own one. The Rels have 2 connections, high (speaker) level and low (RCA/XLR that gets connected to the sub out of the processor) level like other subs with separate volume controls for each and a crossover for the high level connection so that one can match it to your mains when bypassing the processor crossover by going analog direct. So I would think that the majority of the people on a forum like this would not find it at its price point as desirable as other things available in the market.
     
  5. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    While I have a duall porpuse set up,I put a big importance to music reproduction be it stereo or Multi channel.So naturally true extension with matching output is a requirement by me.but I also demand that it would blend with the mains well,and don't over accentuate some of the frquencies.All those are greatly influnced by the room.I found Rel to be poor value even for a music sub.While it's connection compliments are real good,that and it's sound charatheristics can be duplicated by a fraction of it's price,even in the commercial realm.BTW every sub needs to be "properly set up",and I don't just mean to drop it in a room and play with the electronic adjusments it came with it,and the Pre/pro.It may require EQ/room treatment,and carefull positioning.
     
  6. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    For 2-channel there is simply nothing like a Rel. I've set up about 80-100 of them with my friend who works at a high end store. I've seen everything else out there (including those that advertise as clones) and for theater alone there are much better choices for output alone. Rels are not cheap and not a good choice for just someone who is much more into theater or does not understand the difference on what a sub needs to do for music. Other subs can do similar things with expensive outboard crossovers. For the majority here, they would not serve as a good choice.
     
  7. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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  8. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    Right, seriously. Doesn't the standardized movie sound system provide a nearly ideal crossover?
     
  9. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Lewis, there have been other posts that covered that. Rels are not for every situation. I've had several of the more discussed subs in out of more than one system and I ended up keeping another brand for use when I do the basement. I would not think a Rel is worth the extra expense for the room, required output, etc., and it would be a waste of money for the purpose intended as is the case with my bedroom system. A $9k sub is a statement piece anyway and would be silly for most applications. I worked on one system with a pair of $85k Dynaudios and the person used the model below the $9k model.

    I've also installed many subs in systems with more than one sub. For movies it may be popular based on the room and desired goals to be put them in a single corner to get the most output. It may not be out of the ordinary to have music subs depending on the room and other factors to place them on opposite corners.

    The crossovers built into processors are not necessarily going to be a good match for the speakers and rooms involved to optimize the nature of bass frequencies which sum. Adding EQ may introduce other problems as does any other circuit in the signal path (I prefer to treat the room first). Some of the more modern processors built into receivers have taken some of this stuff into acct. and allow different level settings for the sub output for music or movies to allow them to be more flexible for the situtaion.

    The Rels as previously noted have separate volume controls for the high and low level connections. The high level connection (from your amp to the Rel via a Neutrik Speakon connector) has a chart of letters and number where one can set the rolloff frequency as places like 22HZ, 23HZ, 25HZ, etc., which can be set at the proper point (as noted bass frequencies sum) to fill in the bass the mains don't reproduce and give one appropriate bass. If one can't turn off the DSP or sub output and go analog direct then a Rel is not particulary useful.

    With proper measurement equipment (I use an Audio Control R-130 one third octave RTA which is OK but likely lame to a real pro. This makes for some good reading: http://www.audiorevolution.com/equip/roomtune/.

    So without boring too many people, a souped-up Mustang may give one a good chunk of the performance of an expensive sports car. It still isn't one. Modern receivers in terms of flexbility have gotten a lot better with flexibilty on bass management but are still designed for home theater (which is great).

    I don't have any idea how the 9HZ measurement spec was arrived as noted in the initial post. High end cos. do make statment pieces. Linn makes a $20k CD player (CD-12) and a $3.6k player (Ikemi) that may give one a good chunk of the performance. The higher up the chain, the more dimishing returns. I think for the majority (myself included) a $9k sub is probably not worth it. I would guess about a 25-30% of the Rels set-up (or at least a good chunk) are in music only systems. It is not the best choice for output for the buck on system that will be used more for theater. I would not consider them in the 2 systems I would use that way. For music systems, a sub should compliment what is there and when set-up properly should not even be noticed. When I put on stuff I've listened to over and over that sounds like real music, it is fairly obvious as to the system set-up. It is the rare exception where I've seen home theater systems sound like a high end 2-channel system in listening to music. This does not mean there is a right and wrong for everyone. I know people who work in stores and set things up to have more bass since that is what their customers have come to expect. I was in a store with a friend the other day and we listened to a pair of $10k speakers 4-way speakers powered by 8 amps with a $13k pre/pro, a very expensive universal player and we were both amazed how bad it sounded. So price also does not determine quality.
     
  10. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    Phil, good post,but I belive you "dodged" the question regarding the Rel's superiority[sound] on music compared to "anything else" in your opinion.I reckognise it's superrior connectivity options as I posted that before.
    Also why is that when a sub can push a few liters of air at 20hz, it's suddenly only good for movies but not for music?
    I see that "argument" being laid all over,with no sound explanation as of why,by the claiments.
    Good link BTW,this is something I "preach" my self for a long time now, how people wanna fix or achieve better results with buying new equipment,and they totally ignore of what they have,and how to set it up "correctly".
     
  11. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Lewis, the design and flexible high level crossover make it what it is for music and the ability to integrate with a wide variety of things. Like everything else there are no absolutes for every situation and every room so I would not automically say one thing is better than another in every situation. I've yet to see a product that does what it does in so many situations. In many cases bigger subs push more air, like looking at a sub's maximum SPL or a car's horsepower as the sole value of the item. I've been involved in the set-up of many six figure audio only systems.

    I've seen many of the popular home theater subs, have had a couple and it would recommend them in a heartbeat for value and home theater use but would not many of them as they come (e.g. w/o a good crossover) as a piece of a serious music system. I always encourage people to listen with your own ears and yes many people can get more out of what they have with better set-up vs. blindly upgrading. The fact that a sub outputs with low distortion on a test is not going to tell one anything about its ability to convey tonality and definition when playing music. I've had amps that had more rated power than others and quantity is not always quality. Just like a picture is worth a thousand words, you or anyone is welcome to stop by if you are in my area to listen. I would not say 2-channel audio is dead but obviously the thrust of the market is home theater and that is how products are designed. DVD-V is the most successful consumer format in history and there is no getting away from that. Even Rel changed some of the their subs in the last couple of years by having 2 low level inputs, one being +10db so that they don't left out of the home theater ball game.
     
  12. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    I've heard this sub with a pair of Dali Megaline speakers which retail for 32,500 and i've never heard a pipe organ reproduced so well. REL subs are the most musical subs i've ever heard.
     
  13. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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  14. Edward J M

    Edward J M Cinematographer

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    Distortion (defined here as any deviation from the source signal) is the antithesis of accuracy. It could be harmonic distortion, intermodulation distortion, phase distortion, overhang/ring, etc.

    The way the human ear hears music/bass is by definition subjective. If REL has hit on a formula that makes people feel like they have just discovered bass nirvana, good for them; they certainly have a following.

    It's not too much of a stretch to state that most subwoofer designs/alignments have pros/cons. It is possible with good design engineering and a lot of R&D to maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of most popular alignments.

    Being a vented enclosure, the fourth order REL alignment in theory will exhibit more phase shift, a higher group delay, and twice the overhang/bass ring of a second order low Q sealed subwoofer. Does that mean the REL sounds slow, plodding, and sloppy compared to a low Q sealed sub? Not necessarily. At what point does phase shift/GD and overhang become audible to most people's ears? Maybe on paper the sealed sub has the advantage, but does this translate into an audible difference?

    Then throw in the fact that most HT enthusiasts use the low level sub-out jack from the AVR or pre/pro, and the BM circuit typically employs a 2nd order high pass and a 4th order low pass filter, which introduces its own inherent phase delay at the mains/sub interface.

    And what about room decay? Deep bass takes time to decay in a room. Some people perceive deep bass as being loose and sloppy when in reality all they are hearing is the normal decay characteristics of near subsonic bass. A sub that rolls off around 35 Hz might sound "tighter" and "faster" to some, even if it exhibits worse transient (GD/overhang) characteristics than a sub which plays much deeper.

    I suppose if sub A sounds "better" than sub B, but sub B measures significantly better than sub A, maybe we are measuring the wrong things.....or maybe the listener has tin rather than golden ears. [​IMG]
     
  15. Phil A

    Phil A Producer

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    Lewis, don't understand why you are taking this so personally. I've heard Marchand makes decent stuff and I know of someone who spent somewhere between $800-$1,000 on one of their crossover products. Many (not all) big woofers tend to be slow and tubby when trying to integrate them with existing speakers but may do an extraordinary job of doing what is necessary for home theater. It does not make it a bad product. Every room is different. This is a hobby, lighten up and have some fun. I've helped people set-up everything, incl. Bose and many other bashed products. I don't care what someone else wants to spend their money on, it does not impact what I do. The listening room is most often the most overlooked component. I can't tell you the number of times I helped deliver expensive stuff that was a total waste of money (at least in my opinion) in the room they were placed (e.g. glass walls on 3 sides and virtually every surface hard - talk about bright you almost need sunglasses for the sound). Most people I've seen who buy Rels get either the Strata or the Storm which are in black around $1.25k and $1.75k list respectively. They sometimes add a second one down the road. They hold their value decently. It is not uncommon for them to sold on Audiogon quickly at around two-thirds their original price. I noted for the majority of people on this board for the way their systems are used, the extra cost of a Rel is not worth it. This includes me in my bedroom system and what I will do in the basement.
     
  16. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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    I'm not taking this personally at all I have no reason to.
    What gave you that idea?
    I'm having a lot fun with my set up.It's just when people making blanket statements[especially when it's not supportable]I tend to ask how they arrived to that "conclusion".
    The funny thing is that after a couple of posts of yours, I realise we agree on more stuff then disagree.Which I've never guessed after your initial post.
     
  17. Tim Ranger

    Tim Ranger Stunt Coordinator

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    A couple of years back I set out on a quest to add a sub to my Sonus Faber Concertos. I listened to a ton of store demos, took home a bunch of subs. Got friends involved, the whole deal. Most of the subs had plenty of output. I've since heard some in HT setups and they sounded great. What bothered me was that I just couldn't seem to make it sound perfectly integrated. It didn't sound completely right.

    Finally I tried a REL Strata III. That was the first time I really heard a sub just disappear in my system. Because there had been a lot of postings over at AA and AR on the ACI subs, and I wanted to save some bucks, I decided to give the Titan a try. We did a bunch of testing back and forth between the Titan and the Strata III and even had a Storm III in there for a bit. The winner was the Titan. It could integrate every bit as well as the RELs, better in some ways. The dynamics were better, and I liked being able to passively crossover my Concertos (since replaced with Sapphires). This really improved the overall system.
     
  18. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    But isn't the blending issue just sidestepped by the fact that the crossover frequency is lower than the 80Hz you're normally stuck with? Why not just use an active crossover at a lower frequency? (Even with the REL sub.)
     

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