Small Subwoofer recommendations

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Tom Moran, Nov 16, 2002.

  1. Tom Moran

    Tom Moran Agent

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    I'm auditioning equipment for my first HT and I just listened to best sounding subwoofer I have ever heard today and it was a 9" cube from Sunfire. OK the 13" version may have sounded a little better with movies but for music I actually preferred the smaller sub.

    Maybe I'm just weird and I realize this may seem like blasphemy to some of the bass heads here but ones ears do not lie the their owner.

    Just for reference I have no interest in bass for the sake of bass and what I want more than anything is clean, clear, musical sound. The fact that this unit was not really that loud may actually help me as I will have issues with sound travel throughout the house right when my HT is finished as my first child is due to arrive on Dec 8th...

    When it comes to sound quality his little Sunfire junior subwoofer made every other sub I auditioned sound like it had a pillow stuffed in it.

    Considering my options and my priorities I think this is the sub for me. So I guess I would first like to hear from anyone who owns one and secondly from others who might have suggestions for alternate choices. I am also a little concerned about the fact that is only goes down to 25Hz but considering the ample power supply this hopefully won't be an issue.

    Note: Please do not recommend large subs like the SVS, as great as they may be my wife already vetoed anything bigger than about 13-15" inches tall and even that is pushing it.

    the rest of my setup will be:

    Mitsubishi Diamond 65" Rear projection.
    Denon 3803 Receiver
    Denon 2800 DVD
    Def Tech BP8's for the front
    Def Tech BPX for the side surrounds
    Def Tech Studio Monitors for the rear surrounds

    The HT space is one corner of a larger room that will measure 12' X 12' with the larger room extending back an additional 18' and out to the side an additional 8'. This is why I will have the Studio Monitors for rear surrounds as they are also a stereo pair for my office space which is directly behind the HT.

    My sub can sit right in the corner of the HT area to make the SPL seem greater than it is...and yes I realize getting a decent SPL in a room this big would require a much more massive sub but until the wife relents I have to make do with somethings smaller so quality of sound is the priority here.

    Other notes: I'm not inclined to purchase anything I can't audition and the money I might save purchasing from an Internet based company does not matter as much to me as good customer service. My primary limitation is size, not price.

    Thanks,

    Tom
     
  2. Michael Roderiques

    Michael Roderiques Stunt Coordinator

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    Based on what information you have provided, I would recommend that you do not add a sub to your system.

    Set everything to large and live with that for a while.
    Adding too small of a sub-woofer to a system is worse than no sub at all.

    The Sunfire Jr may have sounded good in the demo room, In a 4000+ cubic foot space, it will just get lost.
     
  3. KevinQ

    KevinQ Stunt Coordinator

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    Tom, I am totally with you on your bass attitude. [​IMG]
    I am aslo in the same boat to looking for a subwoofer to add just proper amount of bass to supplement my bookshelf speakers. I am considering a HSU VTF2, which is a 10" one I think and got good reviews.
     
  4. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    Tom,
    I would agree with the comments about a small sub getting lost in a large room (how about 2 small subs?). If you are still interested, try The Force by ACI.
    "Other notes: I'm not inclined to purchase anything I can't audition and the money I might save purchasing from an Internet based company does not matter as much to me as good customer service. My primary limitation is size, not price."
    Well, ACI is an internet company, although they have been around for about 25 years. Also, they have a 30-day money back guarantee (you pay for the shipping only if returned) and a 5 year warranty. I only mention The Force because it seems to fit your size constraints.
    Michael
     
  5. Khoa Tran

    Khoa Tran Supporting Actor

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    I have an earthquake supernova 10, puts out alot
     
  6. Tom Moran

    Tom Moran Agent

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    Thanks for the input.

    While I agree that an under powered sub would be no fun I should clarify that this is an odd shaped room with a ceiling on the low side that is more like 3200 cubic feet than 4000...and remember I'm sitting within 7 feet of the sub. Also, the room I auditioned the Sunfire in was easily 3500 cubic feet and it sounded great to me along a side wall about 12 feet away.

    I would be happy to consider purchasing two subs and maybe starting with the 13" Sunfire unit if that makes more sense. If I end up with two small subs so be it ..I'm still under the size limit, right...

    The ACI Force seems like it might work but also seems a bit under powered and likely to clip at just 250W. The Jr. Sunfire at 1200W will likely be working hard to fill the room so I would be even more concerned about clipping on the Force. If I go to the 13" Sunfire I then have 2700W. I understand Watts are not the only factor but I think in this case power will be very important if I end up driving the sub hard.

    To clarify I'm not averse to Internet companies per se, I just am not wild about the inconvenience of having to buy something I have never seen or heard and then pay to ship it back if I don't like it. If I could hear one first I would be comfortable with the idea. This is how I picked the SVS as my first choice but the wife saw it and freaked out...hence the size limitation I'm stuck with now.

    Tom
     
  7. Michael Mohrmann

    Michael Mohrmann Screenwriter

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    Tom,
    "The ACI Force seems like it might work but also seems a bit under powered and likely to clip at just 250W. The Jr. Sunfire at 1200W will likely be working hard to fill the room so I would be even more concerned about clipping on the Force. If I go to the 13" Sunfire I then have 2700W. I understand Watts are not the only factor but I think in this case power will be very important if I end up driving the sub hard."
    I read the first part of this quote and was about to mention the issue with watts, but you seemed to have already answered the question! [​IMG] Just for reference, I have an ACI Titan II LE, which also has a 250 W amp, and the same protection circuitry that is on The Force. My wife has played AOTC twice now and each time it scares me the amount of bass that is in this movie, but the sub does not bottom out or struggle.
    "If I could hear one first I would be comfortable with the idea. This is how I picked the SVS as my first choice but the wife saw it and freaked out...hence the size limitation I'm stuck with now."
    I understand completely. My wife actually liked the look of the Titan II LE (well, like is a strong word here, maybe passable is more appropriate [​IMG] ), so I took a chance with the return policy.
    "Also, the room I auditioned the Sunfire in was easily 3500 cubic feet and it sounded great to me along a side wall about 12 feet away."
    At least you know that if you can't find another small sub to listen to that one of the Sunfire subs should do just fine (based on actually hearing it, which rates high in my book).
    Michael
     
  8. Tom Moran

    Tom Moran Agent

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    The HSU also seems interesting though somewhat lacking on the power front for a small sub but the Earthquake really interests me. Unfortunately there are not any dealers for either of these in my area so I'm in the same "buy then try" situation with these as I am with many others.

    If anyone on the forum lives in the twin cities and has any of these units mentioned above (particularly the ACI and Earthquake) I would be very appreciative of having a chance to listen to them...

    I appreciate the notes about the Titan. It is a frustrating situation not being able to hear things and hence, having to rely solely on specs, which never tell the whole story.

    In the case of small subs I'm working on the premise that something has to make up for the small enclosure and this is generally power, custom, long throw drivers or both. I guess I'm making the assumption, maybe incorrectly, that with a long throw driver a sub still needs a lot of power to move that big magnet around fast enough to sound tight and accurate while still putting out a decent level of sound. I have come to realize in auditioning equipment and hearing other setups that SPL means almost nothing to my ears compared to some other people I know who really seem to get off on feeling the bass more than hearing it. Maybe I should mention that music is easily as much of a priority on this system as movies are.

    The posts elsewhere that make reference to the Velodyne subs also interest me. Anyone know how big these are?

    Tom
     
  9. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    Tom,

    Higher power amplifiers are necessary for smaller subs because they are less efficient at low frequencies. The driver doesn't really have to be anything special as long as it can take the extra power.

    Sound quality is mainly a function of the alignment (sealed or vented, for example) and how much stress (distortion) is put on the driver; larger drivers are not necessarily slower than smaller drivers. With any given driver, there's a good chance a larger box has better sound quality.

    The Sunfire subs are generally not considered very "musical". They use a passive radiator tuned in the 25-30Hz range (if I recall correctly), and this creates a lot of group delay that can muddy up the sound. Also, any material that has significant signal below 25Hz will unload the PR and cause distortion.

    If you are looking for a small subwoofer with high quality sound at the expense of output, try the Velodyne HGS series. The 10" model is an 11" cube and the 12" is a 14" cube, I think. But they're expensive.
     
  10. Ben Harper

    Ben Harper Extra

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    Tom,
    I was also worried about the "buy before try" concept with purchasing the Earthquake Supernova MKIV-12. However, I took a chance and boy was it worth it. The eartquake is simply the deepest, loudest, cleanest sub I have ever heard. This was a purchase to replace my Sunfire Signature, which I absolutely loved until it fell off a truck during a recent move.
    Also, here is a web site where you can get a new Earthquake MKIV-10 for only $480.00 (12 inch just $865) - which is cheaper than used on Ebay.
    http://www.discount-electronic.com/d...uake_main.html
    Trust me, you will not be dissapointed.
    Ben
     
  11. Frank Carter

    Frank Carter Screenwriter

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    I've never heard the ACI or Earthquake subs so I can't comment on them. The best value IMO in the micro sub world is the Carver Knight Shadow. It's cheaper than the Sunfire Jr. and has more output. I'm not sure to the accuracy of this but I read somewhere it uses the same driver as the Sunfire Mark II it just doesn't have the passive radiator.
    Check it out here:
    http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volum...er-3-2002.html
     
  12. Reginald Trent

    Reginald Trent Screenwriter

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    What about the Sony 12" sub?
     
  13. Edward M

    Edward M Stunt Coordinator

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    I have to add my 2 cents. I was looking long and hard for a "small" subwoofer to add some bass to my Paradigm Studio 40 fronts. I was looking for a sub which was also tight and musical and performed well with home theater applications. In addition it had to look nice in the room. After looking at and listening to all the high powered mini subs and feeling disappointed I took a chance on the ACI Titan II LE. Never heard it but talked to people who had some experience with it before buying. I have to admit that I can't think of a better choice in the $1000-1200 price range. The 250 watt amp is also plenty for my home theater. I'm always amazed by the sound that comes from that relatively small but very very solid box. I must only be at half volume in my 14x17 room. Any louder and the resonance in my walls and glass windows interfere with the sound. And when set up right it does seemingly disappear. Sometimes I would like more of that slap you in the face kinda bass but the subs I have experience with that could do that were more easily localizable. Knowing what I know now and if I had to do it over again I would probably look at the ACI Force sub. If you have a bigger room, get 2. Oh, and one more thing, the folks at ACI are absolutely great to do business with and will go far beyond the norm to ensure their customers are happy. If only I could afford their main spakers...

    Ed
     
  14. Tim Ranger

    Tim Ranger Stunt Coordinator

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    I might as well add a bit to the ACI love-festing going on here. I spent a lot of time doing home-trials and dealer demos of subs, close to a year. Lots of those subs might have cut it for HT, but most just wouldn't integrate properly for music. The only ones I heard that I could have lived with were some of the REL models. I kept hearing about the ACI Titan II LE sub. Took me quite a bit to consider trying this "mail order" sub. It helped that everything I heard about ACI was very positive and that they'd been doing direct for 25 years.
    Suffice to say, the Titan II LE is a phenominal sub. Since then I've had the chance to also have one of their Force subs in my system, sounds identical, just doesn't play quite as loudly. If it is bass quality you're after, I just don't think you can find better values than these two subs. Guess I should come completely clean, I also replaced my Concertos with Sapphire III LE, the stuff is that good!
    Hey, I think ACI is only a couple hundred miles from Twin Cities, maybe they can demo the subs for you.
     
  15. Michael R Price

    Michael R Price Screenwriter

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    Tom,

    There are many small subs that provide excellent quality especially if serious output is not a priority. Look for a sealed enclosure, high power amplifier, and long excursion driver. ACI, REL, Velodyne, and Adire (perhaps custom built) all have excellent products to this effect.

    It's hard to provide a description of sound quality, since "musicality" or "accuracy" isn't really a measurable specification; we can measure THD and output vs. frequency all we want, which helps differentiate between products designed for big HT boom. Of course, be sure you choose a product that can at least keep up with your output requirements for music and light movie usage (since some probably can't).
     
  16. Derek1

    Derek1 Agent

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    I don't know what your budget is but I would recomend the Velodyne SPL-10 or HGS-10. The SPL line from Velodyne is the cheaper of it's "small" sub lines.
    The differences between the SPL and HGS lines are substancial.
    The HGS line has more power, a gloss black finish, remote control capability, and the all important High Gain Servo.
    The Servo is an accelerometer (sp?) that feeds information about excursion back to the amplifier to prevent clipping and distortion.
    Velodyne Website
     
  17. Tom Moran

    Tom Moran Agent

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    Wow...tons of great information. I'm grateful to everyone here for the feedback and education on bass business.
    It is good to know that ACI is in LaCrosse Wis. I think I'll get in touch with them to get a demo even if I have to drive a couple of hours. I have to at least give my fellow mid westerners a shot, right?
    I also found out that there is a Velodyne dealer locally so I can have a listen to these units as well, which look promising if somewhat budget stretching.
    I really wish I could hear the Earthquake and Carver Knight Shadow (I can't even figure out if this is an item you can buy new based on their web site) before making a decision but I guess I'm still a little too old school to buy something like a speaker without hearing it first...sound is so subjective.
    I have a couple of weeks yet before everything else is in place, which should give me enough time to do some listening and maybe find something that sounds even better than the Sunfire (which I would be very happy with BTW) to my ears.
    I'll post results of my next couple auditions here before beginning work on what seems to be the requisite web site for new HT owners[​IMG]
     

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