Subwoofer problem and replacement questions

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by Orlando, Jun 1, 2005.

  1. Orlando

    Orlando Stunt Coordinator

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    I’m having some issues with my Subwoofer after having recently changed my receiver from a Sony 30ES to an Onkyo TX-SR702. And I have a few questions in regards to probably replacing it. First off I’m using an Atlantic Technology’s System 4.5 Satellite system. The subwoofer that came with it has been pretty good up until recent problems. Its specs are a 10” cone at 150 watts RMS at a frequency range of 35-180Hz +/- 3dB. An example would be during the first listen to the first track of the new Star Wars soundtrack there is a part with a big booming base drum. Every other boom the subwoofer “clips” (Shuts off for a second) and boy is that noticeable the volume is kind of loud but not excessive. Also during a listen of Tower of Powers Credit it does the same thing. I’ve had to turn down the sub volume to avoid the clipping but now I feel I’m turning up the volume on the rest of the system to compensate for the perceived need for volume. Do you believe the subwoofer is a true candidate of replacement or should I be trying to adjust the settings of the receiver and/or subwoofer? If I had the subwoofer plugged into the sub output before and after is there any possibility that the receiver is over powering the subwoofer even if it is a powered one?
    If I do replace the subwoofer do you think I have to match it like I would with a center, left, right and surround speaker? Or would any brand of subwoofer be OK? I am pretty insistent that it be a front firing subwoofer. It is a basement install with a concrete slab floor and I don’t like the idea of reflected base shaking the whole house. Which kind of sadly just about rules out SVS. What specs should I really be looking at in a new sub? After reading some reviews I really interested in a couple of Velodyne’s the DLS-4000R or the DLS-5000R. The 4000 specs are 12” cone, 25-120 Hz +/-3 dB, 200 watts continues, 400 watts dynamic power amp. The 5000 specs are 15” cone, 23-120 Hz +/-3 dB, 600 watts continues, 1000 watts dynamic power amp. The price difference is about 200 dollars and am also wondering if the difference between the two worth the extra money? I hoping to buy this and have it for a LOOOONG time even if I upgrade the rest of the speakers in the future. When it lists the frequency response in the specs does it mean it won’t go above or below or is this just the range it was tested at? The reason I ask is because my satellites are speced not to go below 125Hz and the sub says 120Hz, thus will I have a hole between 125Hz and 120Hz? Sorry this is so long and so many questions, but I’ve never had to research a subwoofer before.

    Many thanks.
     
  2. Mark Dill

    Mark Dill Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow, a lotta things to address here. First off, it sounds like your current sub is trying to play louder and lower than it can handle, thus the clipping. Most likely receiver settings are not going to help you, other than turning it down. It's not really an issue of your receiver overpowering your sub, it's just the signal that it is sending to your sub to play is more than the sub can handle.

    Don't worry about matching your sub to your speakers. Bass is bass.

    Don't limit yourself to front-firing subs. Since you have a cement slab under the sub, your house will actually vibrate LESS than if you had a wood floor under the sub. Bass is powerful stuff - but not as powerful as a concrete foundation. I guarantee people in other rooms will not feel the vibrations through the concrete. They may feel it through the walls and the air, but the concrete is just too dense and solid.

    Also, don't worry about a 5 Hz gap in tone between your mains and your sub. Crossovers are not a sudden dropoff, they are more like a gradual fade. That said, most subs don't sound great above 100 Hz, but since your mains won't sound good below 120 Hz, letting the sub go up to 120 Hz is probably your best solution. For this reason, you may want to stay away from the 15" subs. In my experience, the smaller subs do better with higher bass tones.

    Your mains are rated down to 125 Hz. That doesn't mean they won't play anything below that, it just means that at 125 Hz, you will lose 3db of volume. As you go lower, you will lose more and more volume.

    I think a 12" SVS or Hsu would work well for you. I say 12" because you want to move a lot of air, since you aren't going to really feel any vibrations from that concrete floor. It is not ideal for the mid-bass, but it is a small enough gap that it won't really matter.
     
  3. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    That's true, but there are average subs and there are good subs, and that can make a big difference in how bass sounds in your system. Room is a BIG factor in how well your sub will play as well.

    The sub is definitely a candidate for replacement. As Mark said, there are likely two issues - one the sub is working too hard on low, loud information. Feeding the sub a signal that contains frequencies in the 20Hz and below region are likely stressing it considerably because it cannot reproduce them. The second issue, compounding the first problem is the sub is also working in a higher range that causes it to be playing a lot more information making it work harder. This problem can really only be addressed by getting speakers that extend lower than your current ones.

    One thing that I don't see mentioned in your post or Mark's is have you calibrated your system with an SPL meter and test tones? This can go a long way toward making things sound ballanced and full. How big is your room?

    Don't rule out SVS either. A better sub often doesn't have to be played as loud to give you good, clean, realistic bass.
     
  4. Orlando

    Orlando Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Guys. I tried doing the calibration, with a sound meter and the built in calibration mic. The sub is just not up to the task.

    I was able to get a good deal on the Velodyne 5000 and ordered one. If I eventually have to upgrade some of the other speakers this sub should be able to take me for a while.
     

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