The Sub - Most important speaker?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by RyanW, Oct 26, 2002.

  1. RyanW

    RyanW Extra

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2002
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hello,
    I am looking into a HT setup and was just making an assumption that I would just get the sub that came with a set..Polk, Energy, B&W, etc. However, I was really looking into satellite system, maybe bookshelf, if I can get spousal approval. That being said I was looking into SVS subs and thought about the benefit of going with a different brand of sub. Would an SVS sub be too much for a satellite system? Would it be worth it?
    Thanks for your help.
    Ryan
     
  2. RyanW

    RyanW Extra

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2002
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Sorry, I forgot to mention, I was told that the sub is the most important speaker...any truth to that? Would it be worth spending more on my sub than on my other 5, assuming buying a set of some sort. Thanks again.

    Ryan
     
  3. Bill Polley

    Bill Polley Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2002
    Messages:
    252
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I have had a couple of "subs", and they added the low end that I lost when I went from floorstanding to small speakers (about 30hz). Then I bought an SVS. It was the biggest change I have ever noticed in any system. My family members, in-laws and friends have all been amazed as I was. This is not a plug for SVS, but I was truly shocked by the difference I noticed when I finally bought a sub that went clean, deep, and loud. Feeling the room move and hearing clean, crisp bass as opposed to noticing a muddy boom makes a huge difference in realism. If you buy a top-notch sub, you will not regret it!
     
  4. Robb Roy

    Robb Roy Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2002
    Messages:
    711
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    As to the most important speaker, you will hear arguments for the sub, the center channel for HT, and the mains for two channel music. The most important? It depends on what's most important to you. Any way you look at it though, the sub is a very important speaker, especially with a satellite configuration.
     
  5. dave alan

    dave alan Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2002
    Messages:
    256
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    ryan:
    the subwoofer is not the most important speaker. every component in the sound reproduction 'chain' is equally important. the subwoofer is just the newest member of that chain and so it follows that it gets the most attention and is also the least understood component.

    actually, the subwoofer is not new. it's been around since the beginning and has been used in large scale reproduction for many years. any information you might look up on the pioneers of low end (wharfdale, jimmy b. lansing, mr. klipsch, altec, jensen, helmholtz, bozak and university) will immensely improve your understanding of the subject.

    new companies, like SVS, are improving the dismal state of the consumer subwoofer which has been held in control by huge conglomerates for years, who produce the cheapest bassy sounding box for the highest profit possible, sold to the masses who know little of the subject.

    it's always good to buy the best component you possibly can, regardless of which component it is and whether it is better quality than the rest of your components or not. as you upgrade, the quality piece will remain in your system and each piece you add will improve your enjoyment.

    SVS uses the cylinder, a good box design principle. they use a good driver, which is essential. they take advantage of computer software to get the best results from the driver in the cylinder. given that it's the year 2002, that really ain't sayin' much.

    SVS is the brute force sub company. they sell 1,000 watt pro sound amps which need amplified signal from your preamp to properly mate. they install 500 watt BASH amps that do essentially what the name implies. the subs look like water heaters covered in auto carpet (like a larger version of the car sub company, bazooka). nevertheless, they are a step in the right direction and i commend their efforts to educate people on the subject.

    the answer to your question is the same as the answer to all questions. the only intelligent decision is the one that's based on knowing the options first. research the subject, then buy the highest quality sub that suits your (and your wife's) individual preferences and budget.

    look for: crossover type and slope, frequency response (+/- 3 db), amplification power/ speaker sensitivity ratio, subsonic filter, phase control, placement in the room, room treatment and involve your wife as women generally can hear better and describe what they hear better, too. narrow your choice to 3 or 4 subs, then ask for opinions on those choices. sounds like a pain, but this process will lead to the bottom line...listening enjoyment for years to come.
     
  6. AlanZ

    AlanZ Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2002
    Messages:
    1,336
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The incorporation of an SVS sub into my HT was the single most impressive addition I've made. I don't know about other subs, but one of my favorite aspects to the SVS PCi 20-39 is that it provides me with both subtle, blending bass and also the hard-hitting, knock your socks off variety. I've run some of my favorite scenes with the sub turned off, and then repeated them with it on so that I can see exactly what the difference is. It can blend in so well with your mains that sometimes you really do need to actually turn off the sub in order to fully realize how well it fills out the lower frequencies. I'm no audiophile, but I would guess this is why so many people find it just as impressive with music as they do for HT. Of course, if you are using the sub for primarily HT and you are watching a disc with a fair amount of LFE, you won't need to turn off the sub in order to realize the contribution of your SVS [​IMG]
     
  7. Mike Ford

    Mike Ford Extra

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2002
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Most important speaker? Hmmm, I'd say it depends on your budget, with the more you spend, the more you need to spend on bass to keep the sound good. Chances are pretty good that most home theater packages will have cut as many corners as possible, and one of those is a sub that is kind of whimpy.

    My concern with buying a package, and then adding a subwoofer is how well they will blend together (more important maybe with music than movies). Also at least some of the cheap setups I have seen the sub and other speakers are kind of MADE for each other, and can have dopey dependancies.

    I would think about the subwoofer first, find one you really like, and then add other stuff to suit it. I haven't been paying that much attention to brands in the last couple years, so I don't really know about SVS, but I am a big fan of Hsu Research.
     
  8. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2000
    Messages:
    1,069
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The sub is the least important speaker except possibly for the surrounds, both can be disposed of and movies and music still enjoyed and understood. What's most important is that you have good midrange from the front, the midrange is where most of the information is and if you don't reproduce that midrange well you're wasting your time. The great majority of movies and music won't benefit much, if at all, from a sub but everything needs good midrange.
    Afterall one can listen to movies and music quite nicely with a single good speaker in mono, how do you think they'd sound reproduced through only a sub?
    www.chicagohornspeakerclub.org
     
  9. Jeffrey Forner

    Jeffrey Forner Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 1999
    Messages:
    1,117
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Is the sub the most important speaker in a home theater? Not by a long shot.

    Yes, a good subwoofer will indeed leave a lasting impression. Hell, with some movies the bass may even steal the show. It's easy to watch a movie like The Phantom Menace or Monsters Inc. and be amazed at the depth and volume of the bass effects.

    However, the sub reproduces only a small portion of the audio spectrum. You can't watch a movie with a subwoofer as your only speaker. A sub won't anchor dialog in the middle of the screen like a center speaker can. It also won't allow sound to pan across the room like a good set of mains will. A sub can't provide the ambient sounds of a city street like a good set of surrounds will. In fact, a sub is no good at all without the other speakers to support it!

    I love a good bass demo as much as the next home theater enthusaist, but the experience is far from incomplete if you don't have a good sub. If I had to give up my SVS or my Diva mains, I'd give up the SVS (no offense, Ron S. and TV).
     
  10. dave alan

    dave alan Second Unit

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2002
    Messages:
    256
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    j.fo: good points. only one thing is incorrect in your post and needs addressed.

    " However, sub reproduces only a small portion of the audio spectrum."

    if you consider the standard 'audio spectrum' as being from 20hz-20khz, therein is contained 10 octaves of sound. the lfe channel contains, in this case, 20hz-120hz. that is 2 1/2 octaves, or 25% of the entire spectrum.

    if you include the lowest octave, 10hz to 20hz, the lfe channel contains nearly 40% since most soundtracks don't go up to 20k, but do go down to 10hz. if you use a high pass filter for the other 5 channels, ala thx spec., that info is summed and also sent to the sub. that would make the sub a lot more important than it seems before the math.
     
  11. Doug BW

    Doug BW Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2001
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Determining the "most important" speaker depends a lot on how you define "important". Here's one way to approach the question:

    As a starting point, consider the most basic 5.1 setup, namely a DVD player, a receiver and a television. NO separate speakers. The receiver is configured such that the content of all 5.1 channels is redirected to L and R. The L and R outputs from the receiver are connected to the audio inputs of the TV. Thus the entire soundtrack is being reproduced by the TV's built-in speakers.

    Now, one way to ask "which speaker is most important" is to ask which speaker (L/R, center, surrounds or sub) would be the most "valuable" to add to this basic setup. So what does each speaker (or pair of speakers) bring to the party?

    Adding an L & R speaker doesn't add much above using the TV's internal speakers. Mainly sound quality, better stereo separation, perhaps the ability to play louder. Probably some additional bass extension.

    Adding a center to the basic setup also might improve sound quality, but adds little else over the TV's internal speakers.

    Adding surrounds to the basic setup can have considerable impact since the shape of the overall sound field is changed. Instead of a soundstage that's in front of the viewer, there is now an immersive soundstage.

    Similarly, adding a sub can have great impact because, even though in the basic setup the TV's speakers are asked to reproduce the entire soundtrack, they are not capable of reproducing all the bass and unable to generate the tactile stuff. So, in practice, the entire soundtrack may only be reproduced with a sub present.

    So in my view, although any speaker can contribute to sound quality, it's really the sub and the surrounds that make a home theater a home theater, instead of just having a TV hooked up to your stereo. Whether the sub is more important because it both extends the audible spectrum lower and adds a tactile dimension, or the surrounds are more important because they make for a more three dimensional sound field, could probably be argued either way.
     
  12. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2000
    Messages:
    1,069
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Doug---Using outboard front speakers doesn't add much over using the TV speakers??!!?? I'm at a loss.
    I think this entire surround and sub thing is way overrated, I'd rather listen to a movie in mono over a single REALLY good speaker (and have) than to most of the surround sound-sub systems I've heard. I think the key is the quality of the sound in terms of dynamics, low distortion and intelligibility and not how many directions it's coming from.
    www.chicagohornspeakerclub.org
     
  13. Doug BW

    Doug BW Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2001
    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Tom, whether outboard front speakers give you better dynamics, lower distortion or greater intelligibility over TV speakers is a function of the quality of the outboard speakers. So I didn't make the assumption that you did that outboard speakers would necessarily improve sound quality. (The front speakers I used to use were insignificantly better than the TV's built-ins.)

    I took the "most important speaker" question to be a question of "which is the most important speaker to have?" as opposed to "for which speaker is good sound quality the most important?".

    In any case, many movies have soundtracks where the deep bass and/or surround information is much more than incidental...in fact they're an important part of the movie's artistic content. Viewing the movie without a sub and surrounds is like watching it without background music, or watching it with offensive dialogue edited out or watching it in pan-and-scan. Whether you might enjoy watching, say, The Phantom Menace in mono using a single high quality speaker is beside the point. You'd be missing part of the movie.
     
  14. steve nn

    steve nn Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2002
    Messages:
    2,418
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yes Doug I was re-calibrating today and moving my subs around and they did wined up back in the RT. front corner. I put in the pod race just to see how it sounded on the settings I had previously calibrated in another placement. I said to myself what the heck! this sounds horrible. Well I did plug the subs in but forgot to turn the power on. If you were to take my subs away from me I would give you the rest of my system. Many would not agree but we are all individuals.[​IMG]
     
  15. Guy Usher

    Guy Usher Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    Messages:
    780
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    If all your speakers were truly full range capable of delivering a freq response of 20-20K then the sub would be irrevelant.
    A subwoofer allows you to buy less expensive(for the most part) smaller speakers that are easier to place in the room. Smaller speakers usually require less power letting you buy less expensive (for the most part) amps.
    Typically bass freqs are not as "directional" as the mids and highs making placement easier.
    The single most important thing in any system is the sound. You do what you have to do to get the sound you want. Once the sound meets your expectations (not an easy task)who knows what it will take to get you there.Room size, Drapes, rugs, walls , ceilings, people, on and on.
    Many people spend hours setting up alone then have a room full of people over to watch a movie and wonder why it sounds different. It can become an obsesion real easy.
    Still the 3 things you don't argue over is 1-religion 2-politics 3-speaker systems.
     
  16. Sasha_G

    Sasha_G Agent

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2002
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    In surround sound setups...

    If your into music or sound quality, the mains are the most important. Only in medium to larger rooms with multiple seating positions is the center channel really important. It widens the sweet spot for more listeneners seated througout in the room. One person sitting in a single sweet spot does not demand the kind of spread out sweat spot, but if you are entertaining guests or the family, a center helps everyone hear the music and sound coming from the screen. For sound quality fans, barring organ music lovers, a sub will be just a "tweak" to the system.

    For home theater, the sub is the top dog. You just have to hear a sub in a home theater to know how dramatic it can be...

    If your into sound quality or exciting home theater, the sub is very important in a 5.1 setup with bass management. In these setups, the sub will take over the bass duties of all the speakers (below 80 Hz) in addition to the LFE channel, which begins at around 120 Hz.
     
  17. Tom Brennan

    Tom Brennan Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2000
    Messages:
    1,069
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Doug---All the information on the soundtrack can be had from the front pair of speakers, the mains. And so I reckon they're most important. But I see your point that if one is content with the TV speakers then one could move on to surrounds or subs.
    No doubt there are movies that need surround to get the whole effect intended but any movie that can't be fully enjoyed or appreciated without surround sound or bombastic bass is not a movie likely to please me. Not that such things are necessarily bad or unenjoyable but any movie that NEEDS them to get the message across is probably putting across a message I'm not intersted in. But that's a matter of taste not of fact. :)
    www.chicagohornspeakerclub.org
     
  18. AlanZ

    AlanZ Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2002
    Messages:
    1,336
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think if I had to choose between a really good pair of mains for music/movies in 2-channel and a 5.1 set-up of notably lesser quality, I'd probably always take the two channel set-up. But if you can find a way to start with some nice mains and then incorporate speakers of equal quality to round out a 5.1 set-up, then there's no comparison, in my opinion, when you are talking about HT. I run Paradigm Monitor 5's as my mains, and I'm not sure that I'd feel the need to spend a whole lot more money upgrading them if I was only running 2-channel. I'd probably have to spend a significant amount of money in order to significantly improve upon what I already had. So I chose to add center (cc-370), surrounds (mini-monitors), and a sub (SVS PCi 20-39). For movies, I cannot put into words the degree to which movie viewing has improved. Yet at the same time, I have not sacrificed my two-channel music listening, cause I would have had a hard time justifying the extra money put only into a pair of mains anyway. Just as many will say that 2-channel stereo will best reproduce what the artist intended one to hear, it could be said that surround sound w/ sub best allows one to experience what the director intended and provides for a more complete HT experience.

    As for the sub, I upgraded from a Paradigm PDR-10 to the SVS, and the difference has been truly staggering (and that is not a knock on the PDR-10....the SVS is just that much better). If you are a fan of HT, I just can't imagine being as satisfied with a 2-channel set up (let alone a mono experience) as I would be with my 5.1. It's a whole new ball game.
     
  19. RyanW

    RyanW Extra

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2002
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks everyone for your input.
    I am looking into an SVS sub, but it is about $600 and wasn't sure if it justified the expense or if I should just stick with whatever my sat/bookshelf manufacture makes. I wasn't planning on spending more than $1200 for all speakers in my 5.1 setup so I guess I was wondering if it is worth half of my budget for a sub, or if I should try for better sat/bookshelf with a so-so sub?
    Any thoughts? Let them fly.
    Thanks again!
    PS - It was a sub manufacturer who told me that the sub was most important, imagine that.[​IMG]
     
  20. Tim Ranger

    Tim Ranger Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    131
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Yes the subwoofer is the most important speaker - - if you're a 16 year old male with your first car. In fact, in that case, you can probably not even worry about any other speakers.

    For the rest of us, no, the subwoofer is not the most important by a long shot. It doesn't do the vocals, it doesn't do most of the music. It does underpin everything else. And, IMHO, a poor sub is worse than no sub. I spent over a year on a quest to find a sub I could live with in a two-channel music system. Took home around 12 subs, most just did not cut it. Probably any of them would have been okay for an HT system, but not for music.
     

Share This Page