Why dont more speakers have built in subs?

Discussion in 'Speakers & Subwoofers' started by Derek H, Apr 15, 2004.

  1. Derek H

    Derek H Agent

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    We all know that space is often a premium (especially in an apartment) so why dont more speaker companies make tower speakers with powered subs? I mean you look at a tower speaker you could fit a Tweeter, woofer, and a subwoofer on the bottom (maybe only 8 inch subs but you would have one in each tower). Athena has something like that: here

    So why don't more companies do this? is it a profit factor? or is it because it is not the best way to position a sub into a HT system? For myself I would like this set up because it looks cleaner and I dont have a big cube (or cylinder for some peeps) to the side taking up space. So what is everyones input on this?
     
  2. CurtisSC

    CurtisSC Screenwriter

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    One of the reasons, where you place your speakers may not be a good place for a subwoofer.
     
  3. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    Why don't more people attach bookshelf speakers to box subwoofers and call them full-range?
     
  4. Derek H

    Derek H Agent

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    I DONT know so thats why I'm asking [​IMG]
     
  5. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    Low frequencies interact with the room much more than higher frequencies, specifically because the wavelengths involved are closer to the room dimensions. (If I remember, for example, at 80 Hz, it's 13 ft or so.)

    For that reason, the easy suggestion for a sub, is to put it in a corner. You get the most output, and acceptably flat response. Although you can usually find a better spot. (And some of us eq's to smooth the response of a sub in the corner.)

    OK, so the problem actually now becomes compounded when you put a sub in each main speaker, because now in addition to the low freqs from each speaker interacting with the room in unknown and usually not good ways, the two subs themselves interact, and you can get nasty interference patterns that give you peaks and valleys in response at different freqs all over the room. (Maybe someone can point out those white papers at Harman International's site?)

    For that reason, a lot of us believe that subs in main speakers are actually a very bad thing. But each person has to decide for themselves what is more important.

    Oh yeah, at least in my experience, the actual sub in the main speaker is not that high a quality anyway. I'm talking in terms of low freq extension, output capability, *and* low distortion. (Think: SVS, Hsu, Velodyne (servo), Paradigm (servo), etc.)
     
  6. Burke Strickland

    Burke Strickland Second Unit

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    With you parenthetical remark, I assume you mean that the named brands of subwoofers offer the high quality in terms of low frequency extension, output capability and low distortion that the "built in" subs do not. That would certainly track with my experience.

    For several years, for my main left and right front speakers I was using a pair of floor standing towers with so-called "built-in, 15 inch powered subwoofers" which were woefully inadequate at the lowest frequencies. Of course, postioning the towers in the room for optimal imaging and soundstage meant that the "built in" subs were even more handicapped.

    To try to get the kind of bass I was expecting meant overdriving the "built in subs" to the detriment of the overall sound. I ended up buying a Velodyne FSR-18, which authoritatively took care of the deepest bass and allowed me to back off the volume on the "built in" subwoofers, so I ended up with a more balanced sound overall and far better (deeper and less distorted) bass.

    So even if you buy towers with "built in subs", in most cases, I'd be willing to bet that the sound would be improved by adding an external stand-alone sub which can be positioned and adjusted for best bass performance. It makes sense, then, if you have a choice, to save some money and avoid speakers with the "built in subs" and get a high quality subwoofer up front. While there may be exceptions, they would be the ones that validate the rule. :>)
     
  7. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I was going to make the comment that most towers using built in subs are more like Bose's bass modules, as they typically do not cover the bottom octave, and are really little more than a bookshelf on top of a box with the bass driver and an amp to alleviate some of the load off the average receiver. However, looking at the Athenas, the three "subs" they offer all claim to extend down to the 25-20Hz range (it doesn't say -3dB though, and I'll bet those are not). I completely agree with what Kevin and Burke said, a decent true sub will outperform nearly any tower every day of the week, so what is the benefit of having those powered subs in your speakers (not to mention room effect)?
     
  8. Stephen Bort

    Stephen Bort Agent

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    Technically, what Kevin said.

    Plus, I just don't trust things that try to do too much...I keep my DVD and VCR separate, and I don't want my carpet vacuum to clean my gutters. If one thing breaks, you gotta take the whole thing in for repairs. Hedgehog.

    I thought about the Mirage OM-5 with subs, but went with the passive OM-7s. The 5's might have had enough bass for most music, but not for movies.

    S
     
  9. SteveLeach

    SteveLeach Stunt Coordinator

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    FWIW - I was curious, so I looked up the algorithm for calculating a wavelength.
    Which is Wavelength = (Speed of sound in meters/sec) / (Frequency in Hz)

    So plugging in the numbers and it looks like this (340.29m/s) / (80Hz or cycles/sec) = 4.25 meters
    And (4.25 meters / 0.3048) = 13.96ft

    40Hz has a wavelength of 27.91 feet
    20Hz has a wavelength of 55.82 feet
     
  10. Johnal

    Johnal Stunt Coordinator

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    OOOOOOOOHHHHH!!!! "FWIW" = "For what it's worth!" I get it now! I have been following these forums pretty closely the past couple of weeks and have never known what "FWIW" stood for and I was too stubborn to ask anyone but for whatever reason it just came to me! YAY!!!

    -Johnal
     
  11. Derek H

    Derek H Agent

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    Thanks for the well thought out responses!! Now I have a better understanding.
     
  12. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    YMMV [​IMG]

    acronymfinder.com
     
  13. Johnal

    Johnal Stunt Coordinator

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    "YMMV"?????? AHHHH!!!!![​IMG]
     
  14. CalvinCarr

    CalvinCarr Supporting Actor

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    You Make Me Vommit
     
  15. Allen Marshall

    Allen Marshall Supporting Actor

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    Wouldnt the sub only be getting the watts the speaker is getting (as far as subs go, not alot)?
     
  16. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Your Mileage May Vary [​IMG]
     
  17. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    ROTFFL. [​IMG]
     
  18. MikeTz

    MikeTz Stunt Coordinator

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    One of the best set of speakers I have ever heard is the Vandersteen 5A. Its got a powered sub integrated into each speaker and the bass is fast, tight, and accurate. For $15K per pair it ought to be!

    MT
     
  19. Greg-ST

    Greg-ST Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah, I've got a weird effect going on in my room. The TV and front sound stage are both about 7-8 feet away and the sub is corner loaded in the dormer about 11 feet away. At my listening position the bass is nice and strong (like it should be), but when you move to a couple feet in front of the screen the bass nearly disappears into some kind of bass null. It's pretty funny to witness.
     
  20. Burke Strickland

    Burke Strickland Second Unit

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    You are right about the Vanderteen 5A on all accounts (including that it ought to be that good at its price). :>) It is a special case where the built in bass capability is fully acceptable on its own without a subwoofer filling in the lower octaves.

    The Vandie 5As incorporate not only high quality bass speaker drivers in a specially engineered enclosure but also room-correction electronics to compensate for placement issues. But unlike a lot of the lesser tower speakers with lower quality built in subs, the Vandie 5As are not touted as being the only sub you need in a multichannel system.

    For a fully satisfying two channel music experience, two Vandie 5As would fill the bill quite nicely without the need for a subwoofer to handle the lowest octaves. They would also be outstanding as the front left and right speakers in a multichannel system (movies or music).

    Interestingly, a few months ago when Richard Vandersteen personally put together equipment for a special SACD demo at the local high end HT emporium (Audio Concepts), he used Vandie 5As for the front left and right, but added stand-alone subwoofers for each of the other channels. IOW, the Vandie 5A built-in bass capability was not intended to serve as the global sub for the whole system.

    I have also witnessed an HT in a private home which uses Vandie 5As in front and follows that same concept by including a stand alone sub for LFE, but which is not engaged when the owner listens to music in stereo, in effect acknowledging that the Vandie 5As are very capable full range speakers superbly capable of producing everything needed for two channel stereo music, but that they are not intended to be the subwoofer for a multichannel system.
     

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