Sub for Stereo?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Rich_B, Dec 7, 2001.

  1. Rich_B

    Rich_B Extra

    Sep 5, 2001
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    I figured I'd start this thread after some debate arose in another topic.

    Should a subwoofer be used during 'critical' stereo listening?

    As this is an HT forum, we must assume we will be using our L/R HT speakers for listening. That said...

    Many receivers disable sub output when in 'Large R/L'stereo mode. Some receivers do offer a 'PLUS' mode that sends signals to both. Are most manufacturers trying to steer us away from listening to a sub in stereo mode with large main speakers? Conspiracy-mongers unite!

    For the sake of argument, let's define 'critical' listening as you and a well-recorded, detailed 2 channel CD (or 2-Ch SACD, DVD, etc).

    In my experience with a ported NHT 10" sub and full-range NHT towers, I preferred no sub on material such as Pink Floyd, Brand X, Steely Dan, Old Genesis, etc. On music such as Phish, Dave Matthews, Billy Joel etc I preferred having the sub on.

    Now I have integrated subs in my Boston power towers (sealed active+passive radiator) and I guess the point is moot. But, I do run my towers as Large with a separate line-level input to the sub section and put my reciever in PLUS mode.

    So anyhow, let the debate begin. What is your opinion to the BETTER way to listen to stereo music?
  2. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

    Nov 21, 2001
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    If I had extremely good source components like Krell or Mark Levinson amplification with something from the Dynaudio Contour line, I'd do my critical listening in strictly two channel stereo mode with no sub.

    However in my humble system (soon to be upgraded), I would prefer to have the sub on...because I want the added punch that my bookshelves can't deliver.

    In a perfect world I would go with floor standers that could reach down to the full spectrum with really tight punchy bass and critically listen in two channel mode using the sub strictly for HT.

    But it's not a perfect world.
  3. BruceD

    BruceD Screenwriter

    Apr 12, 1999
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    Well I have the Dynaudio Contour line for my HT/2-channel system and I use a sub in stereo mode!!

    Because (IMHO) you can never get both optimum imaging and bass output with a single main speaker placement, even for floorstanders.

    Let me explain.

    First I don't use any of what I consider the flawed xovers provided on most receivers or pre pros (IMHO), like the THX -12dB high pass (with phase anomolies) and -24dB low pass. They are not optimized for music, but instead for effects, again IMHO.

    So, here is what I do;

    1) Set my pre-pro to NO sub, Mains to LARGE, center and surrounds to small (sends all redirected bass and LFE to main L&R).

    2) Use a high-end 2-channel preamp on main L&R channels.

    3) Connect high-end CDP (analog), Turntable, and L&R pre-pro-out to the 2-channel preamp inputs.

    4) Put an electronic crossover (high-end Marchand XM9-L) between the 2-channel preamp outs and amplifier inputs.

    5) Mains (Contour 2.8 towers) have a -3dB of 32Hz, so I tested and then set the Marchand xover to 60Hz (one octave above the 32Hz). The Marchand uses symmetrical (both high and low pass) Linkwitz-Riley xovers which are -24dB/octave and have zero(0) degree phase offset.

    6) Marchand also allows you to SUM L&R bass into a single mono bass that then gets sent to my M&K MX-700 subwoofer.

    7) I also put a parametric equalizer on the sub cable to cut the bass peaks (boominess) in my room.

    The result is absolute clarity of bass notes with punch and a seamless soundstage for music in 2-channel and HT formats. I confirmed what I hear by measuring and comparing the results with and without the sub using ETF5 RTA (RTA=Real Time Analysis) software and a calibrated microphone. YMMV.

  4. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

    Jul 28, 1999
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    an exellent post![​IMG]
    I think most people only trying out to "switch" between large and small on their speaker set up in their receiver/pre/pro,and if they don't like one over the other then be done with it.Which is fine I guess,but I think if you realy serious about music maybe you should be about the hardware as well,and room acoustics too.IMO

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