Subwoofer: Front firing or Downward firing?

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by PaulSc, Jul 14, 2006.

  1. PaulSc

    PaulSc Auditioning

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    I am in the process of shopping for my first HT sound system, and am looking for advice on subwoofers. Namely, what is the difference in performance between front firing and downward firing units? I haven't found much discussion about this, but it appears that newer units are mostly forward firing. What might be better for my situation? I am not concerned with music, only HT.

    The room is 22ft X 22ft, 9ft ceiling
    One wall is virtually all glass: windows that look out over my back yard
    Slate floor (no carpet)

    Because of the slate floor, I think the subwoofer has to be placed at the front wall, next to the entertainment center, as there is no way to run wires throughout the room. The rear speakers are built into the ceiling near the back wall, pointing down at an angle.
     
  2. andySu

    andySu Cinematographer

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    PaulSc

    Well I have two sub bass units in my home cinema set-up, one is a 12” Eltax A-12, which is downward firing, but hay I can always position it to firing into the room!

    The other sub bass unit is a professional cinema sub bass, the JBL 4645 with a newer 18” sub bass 2242H 8W, now this is forward firing, but if I want, I can always place it so that its firing downwards, now this baby will sake the roof tiles lose if not to careful, I’ve had her up to 120dbc at one time, with a film called “Final Approach” that’s the one with the “SR-71 Black Bird” afterburners really packed a punch!

    Now I will go with “forward firing” you will hardly find a professional cinema with downward firing, and will use multiples placed at the front and speared evenly below the three-screen fronts.

    Also if you would like to play with the “Baby Boom” approach, that’s where you need five matching front loudspeakers, with a useable frequency response down to 30Hz, and a basic audio mixer so that you can switch from the “Baby Boom” setting or the sub bass array placed below the five-screen array, also you can decode the extra information be-between channels left and centre, and centre and right.

    Left-centre and right-centre is very doable and it takes two matching matrix decoders to the trick, anyway look for the best affordable sub bass with or without amplification, as my JBL 4645 comes without, and a good active X-over will handle all that and a few professional grade amplifiers. Personally I would go for cinema sub bass units there designed for today’s motion picture soundtracks as well as yesterdays ones, and you will find that there more able to present the low end without any effort or strain.

    JBL is the best and foremost, it’s been the leader since 1927, and nearly 85% of the world’s best cinemas use JBL including Oscar!
     
  3. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    I am not a fan of JBL.

    That being said, front or downward firing is fairly irrelevant next to the performance of the subwoofer itself. I would be looking to SVS or HSU or similar brands for the best value in quality bass.
     
  4. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Wow, is this guy competition for Phil? [​IMG] That is no "normal" JBL sub [​IMG] However, when it comes to mass market subs, JBL is far from my list. JBL being in a large percentage of theaters doesn't tell me much, because the WORST sounding theater I was ever in was using JBL speakers (in Michigan).

    Big problem - rooms with equal width x length can be very problematic for great bass. Front vs down isn't going to be the most important part of the decision - budget and how much bass you really want are, and for a room that size, you're going to need a fairly substantial one for great bass.
     
  5. PaulSc

    PaulSc Auditioning

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    So for a square room, would it make sense to put the subwoofer near one front corner? I could move it in a few feet from the corner, but it will probably have to stay near the front wall (that's where all the wiring is located.)

    Back to my original question about front firing vs downward firing: It seems that most of the new subwoofer models are front firing, and so I thought there may be some reason for this. Honestly, I would rather have a downward firing sub because I prefer a sub that looks like a decoration rather than one that looks like a speaker - however, I was concerned that my slate floor might cause some kind of distortion or interference problem.
     
  6. Josh Haugo

    Josh Haugo Extra

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    With slate floors and a wall of glass, I can't imagine the room modes and boominess that is bound to happen. You probably want to budget in a feedback destroyer or a different quality eq. As far as foreward vs downfiring, there shouldn't be much of a difference. The advantage with downfiring is the sub is more protected without the need for a grille, but I prefer front firing due to the look.
     
  7. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Which corner it goes in won't make much difference, as the room modes generated will be the same regardless. I would try a corner, and 2/3 along the front wall - it will likely take a little experimenting with placement to find just the right spot. I would budget for a BFD also, as mentioned, but don't buy it until you run response and find out what you have first. I budgeted for a BFD and ended up having good enough response that I didn't buy one. In a square-ish room though, I'd say you'll probably need one.

    I don't see my sub, so it doesn't matter what it looks like to me, only that it shakes everything[​IMG] In a situation where the sub was visible, I might prefer down firing with a nice wood finish.
     
  8. Josh Haugo

    Josh Haugo Extra

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    Which corner it goes in won't make much of a difference in a square room, but there is a difference as to where you place it(in a corner, in the middle of the room, against a wall not near a corner, etc). I don't know too much and my crappy memory makes it worse, but if I remember right, you will get the most output but also the boomiest sound by placing the sub in a corner. If you want a less boomy sound, I would suggest placing the sub against a wall but not in a corner.
     
  9. andySu

    andySu Cinematographer

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    John

    LOL

    The best sounding cinema that sold me the JBL concept was the Empire Leicester Square, just look at my “avatar” now it’s all down to the EQ, and it sounds like a piss poor sound engineer with ears like a frigging donkey set the sound system up and he needs his arse kicked!
     
  10. andySu

    andySu Cinematographer

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    You could make you’re room appear round, buy some “MDF” large sheets that has groves in it, and shape it for the four corners or the room, therefore you will add a slight “curve” to the look of the room, there is a slight “con” the size of the room will get small, till you realize you can’t swing a cat![​IMG]
     
  11. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Or you could just get bass traps for the corners.

    Not knocking JBL either, just saying that the name alone doesn't guarantee great sound [​IMG] A good system is only as good as it is setup to be.
     
  12. andySu

    andySu Cinematographer

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    John

    LOL

    What have you been smoking then! [​IMG]

    JBL has been packing in sound since 1927, has won the academy award for technical excellence, I think JBL is quite safely secure, and it’s got a ring of good nicknames to it, like.

    “Jedi Blasters Lightsabers” Or “Jaws Bites Low” these loudspeakers sound "Just Ballistically Loud"! [​IMG]
     
  13. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    That's fine. But that doesn't mean I have to like the sound. JBL is far from a be-all end-all, even at the high-end of their products. I actually expect their high end products to improve as Harman has aquired some very high-end capability with Revel etc, which I much prefer over anything I've heard from JBL.
     
  14. Alan M

    Alan M Second Unit

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    "That's fine. But that doesn't mean I have to like the sound. JBL is far from a be-all end-all, even at the high-end of their products. I actually expect their high end products to improve as Harman has aquired some very high-end capability with Revel etc, which I much prefer over anything I've heard from JBL."

    I agree.JBL makes a very fine product.Thats not in question.Is it a product that everyone will be happy with? not a chance.

    Audio is a truly subjective matter,and tastes very widely.If one speaker manufacturer was the be all end all,then all the others might as well close shop today.Good thing for us,this isnt the case.

    While I've liked the jbl sound,it wasnt to my taste.Therefore,I've chosen another make of speaker mains and sub.

    I run Magnepan speakers with an M&K sub(BTW,the same make of sub Lucas arts uses to mix the soundtrack for star wars movies).They arent for everyone,then again,no one speaker manufacturer is.
     
  15. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Honestly, what does that have to do with the price of cheese?
     
  16. Robb Roy

    Robb Roy Supporting Actor

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    Paul,

    The orientation of the driver will have little to no influence. *How* a front firing or down firing sub was designed will make a difference. A well designed front firing sub and a well designed down firing sub will both sound great. If there is a downward firing sub that is an objectively solid performer, that you like the looks of, is powerful enough to fill your room, and is in your price range, go for it. Same can be said of a forward firing subwoofer.

    -Robb
     
  17. PaulSc

    PaulSc Auditioning

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    I want to thank everyone for their gracious input. At the end of the day, I'll probably choose a down firing sub because it will be easier to satisfy the wife. She doesn't want big speakers in the room.
     
  18. MikeLi

    MikeLi Supporting Actor

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    Well make sure its an SVS would ya... haha..
     
  19. colin.p

    colin.p Auditioning

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    No, no, no, make it an HSU![​IMG]
     
  20. Reginald Trent

    Reginald Trent Screenwriter

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    Didn't HSU stop making downfiring subs when they eliminated their cylinders? ")
     

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