Best Subwoofers Under $1,000 for 2020

S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
I‘ve never heard this perspective expressed before. It seems like a very broad generalization to apply to “most“sealed subs. You can’t make a blanket statement like that without examples, data to back it up etc. Are you saying that JL audio sealed subs, bowers and Wilkins db series subs, paradigm prestige, persona subs which are sealed designs with massive drivers, dual drivers, huge surrounds for massive excursions are distorted and not good for music. You could not possibly be implying that. It doesn’t pass the laugh test let alone the measurement and review standards you have adhered to in the past. I’ve owed two entry level rythmik sealed subs both of which were clean and fast. I was running modded Magnapan mg 12’s. Most ported designs were too slow to keep up. Right now, I’m running Persona 3Fs with an old paradigm servo 15 sub a sealed sub. Sound is tight deep and fast not distorted. So maybe you have measured some sealed subs that you found not up to snuff. But the blanket statement made in your response to debunk issues with ported subs seems an over reach.
Subs like B&W, JL Audio, Paradigm Persona, have a lot of throw, but it doesn't take much deep bass to run out of useful excursion. For every octave lower that a sealed sub has to play, the excursion requirements go up by a factor of four to achieve the same loudness. What is more, those subs that you mentioned all try to keep enclosure size down, so they use these high excursion drivers to make up for smaller driver diameters. But one catch with that is those drivers lose a lot of sensitivity in upper frequencies because they need to be heavy for lower resonant frequencies, so they have to be paired with lots of amplification just to output any kind of reasonable midbass at all. Contrary to popular belief, those types of subs tend not to be 'fast' in the literal sense in that the driver can not be made to oscillate quickly. If you want to know if a driver is actually fast, look at the high-frequency output. If a subwoofer can output 500Hz at a very loud level, that means the cone is able to travel very quickly. The good news is that subwoofer drivers don't have to be quick. They are rarely tasked with playing anything over 150Hz. So the idea of a fast subwoofer is nonsense from the get-go.
 
mazersteven

mazersteven

Audioholic Warlord
The dude lost me when he mentioned a Bowers & Wilkins Subwoofer. SMH
 
E

ecrim

Audiophyte
Yes in relation to their ability to blend with a planar magnetic speaker with a thin diaphragm that is typically moving faster then the piston movement of a large driver. I suppose you don’t believe in digital jitter and the distorts caused by minute timing errors in data streams. But maybe in your world they are all the same. We can agree to disagree.
 
NINaudio

NINaudio

Audioholic Field Marshall
Yes in relation to their ability to blend with a planar magnetic speaker with a thin diaphragm that is typically moving faster then the piston movement of a large driver. I suppose you don’t believe in digital jitter and the distorts caused by minute timing errors in data streams. But maybe in your world they are all the same. We can agree to disagree.
It's reproducing higher frequencies, it HAS to move faster or it won't reproduce them.

Digital jitter, while it exists, has never been proven to cause any audible artifacts. Nobody can hear a difference of 0.001% distortion
 
meajmal

meajmal

Audiophyte
@shadyJ @mazersteven ... Thanks for the detailed explanation on the whole ported vs non-ported. Being an audiophile noob that was a rabbit hole i was stuck for a few days. My music to movie ratio is 60:40 and I have been looking for a sub to round out the first setup I am putting together. The decision timeline went like below :)

Ordered a dual HSU VTF2-MK3 -> cancelled the order and was close to pulling the plug on PB-2000 PRO -> got sidetracked on Rhythmik L22 & REL as they were supposedly more detailed for music -> Back to zero. What do you recommend for the below setup.

- Denon 4500H
- L-R: JBL Studio 530s
- Center: Infinity RC263
 
mazersteven

mazersteven

Audioholic Warlord
What do you recommend for the below setup.

- Denon 4500H
- L-R: JBL Studio 530s
- Center: Infinity RC263
Based on your room dimensions 28' x 12.5' x 8.5'

1 PB-3000 would work

2

 
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S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
@shadyJ @mazersteven ... Thanks for the detailed explanation on the whole ported vs non-ported. Being an audiophile noob that was a rabbit hole i was stuck for a few days. My music to movie ratio is 60:40 and I have been looking for a sub to round out the first setup I am putting together. The decision timeline went like below :)

Ordered a dual HSU VTF2-MK3 -> cancelled the order and was close to pulling the plug on PB-2000 PRO -> got sidetracked on Rhythmik L22 & REL as they were supposedly more detailed for music -> Back to zero. What do you recommend for the below setup.

- Denon 4500H
- L-R: JBL Studio 530s
- Center: Infinity RC263
I would get dual subwoofers. That can yield the most neutral response, and a neutral response is what determines perceived sound quality in bass by far. Dual VTF-2s would have been the superior system in that bunch by a long shot. They would have had the flattest response, lowest distortion, and best time-domain behavior.
 
meajmal

meajmal

Audiophyte
I would get dual subwoofers. That can yield the most neutral response, and a neutral response is what determines perceived sound quality in bass by far. Dual VTF-2s would have been the superior system in that bunch by a long shot. They would have had the flattest response, lowest distortion, and best time-domain behavior.
Thanks for the input :)

Do you recommend any other dual sub combinations outside of the HSU like Rhythmik or the HT line from REL? There are these Infinity reference sub R12s on sale for around 170 a piece, which was tempting as well.
 
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NINaudio

NINaudio

Audioholic Field Marshall
No to infinity subs. Rel is overpriced for what you get. More value with Hsu
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Thanks for the input :)

Do you recommend any other dual sub combinations outside of the HSU like Rhythmik or the HT line from REL? There are these Infinity reference sub R12s on sale for around 170 a piece, which was tempting as well.
If anything I'd avoid Rel for lack of performance and too high a price, Rythmik I don't find particularly to be a good value but they do make a good sub. Infinity subs are just meh at best, but for $170 could well be serviceable.
 
meajmal

meajmal

Audiophyte
Thanks all. So its between -

1) Dual SVS PB-2000 PRO
2) Dual HSU VTF3-MK5
3) Dual HSU VTF2-MK5

Option 3 is around $500 cheaper, Are the other 2 that much of a leap when compared to 3?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Thanks all. So its between -

1) Dual SVS PB-2000 PRO
2) Dual HSU VTF3-MK5
3) Dual HSU VTF2-MK5

Option 3 is around $500 cheaper, Are the other 2 that much of a leap when compared to 3?
So what are your future plans speaker-wise? What size room and what are your extension and spl goals?
 
meajmal

meajmal

Audiophyte
So what are your future plans speaker-wise? What size room and what are your extension and spl goals?
That's a great question. Outside of surviving 2020, the plan is to get a house in a year or so and turn a room into a home theater cum stereo setup. Will definitely get floor standing for L-R and use the current JBL-530s as surround/replace it. Use the L-R in a stereo setup as well. Based on the real estate i have seen in my area, the rooms are a max 12-15'' x 10-12' x 8'-10' (LXWxH). Unsure about SPL goals, as I am very new to the whole thing.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
That's a great question. Outside of surviving 2020, the plan is to get a house in a year or so and turn a room into a home theater cum stereo setup. Will definitely get floor standing for L-R and use the current JBL-530s as surround/replace it. Use the L-R in a stereo setup as well. Based on the real estate i have seen in my area, the rooms are a max 12-15'' x 10-12' x 8'-10' (LXWxH). Unsure about SPL goals, as I am very new to the whole thing.
LOL surviving 2020 is paramount! :)

I'd just think about more capable subs, as you seem to be doing, so that's good. My experience with subs is go for the best you can rather than do a bunch of "upgrades",
FWIW.

I have the full set of 590s/520C/580s/530s for a 7ch setup. I do like them and work particularly better than what I was using before in this larger main room (moved the previous Ascend set to the bedroom).
 
J

jeffca

Audioholic Intern
We keep on having to debunk this nonsense. It's true that port output is a cycle behind the driver, but many of the subs on this list are all tuned too low for that to matter. The tuning frequencies on these subs hover around the lower end of the frequencies that human hearing can discern. Very little musical content lay below 30 Hz, and what musical content does lay down in that range isn't going to suffer much from the group delay of ports. Most sealed subs are totally inadequate for attempting to reproduce sound in that range above a quiet level since the driver is quickly pushed to its excursion limits in deep bass and can produce lots of nonlinear distortion which is much worse than the phase distortion of ports. What's more is that most sealed subs that are available have protective high-pass filters on them which hike up group delay in these lower frequencies anyway, not that it matters much in terms of audibility.

Basically, there is very little reason to go with a sealed subwoofer over a well-designed ported sub for any type of content.
With no due respect, you don't know what you are talking about. If ported designs were so great, sealed or dipole subs wouldn't exist anymore. The sealed Rythmik subs I use are 110° out of phase due to the low pass filter at 20Hz. No ported design can do that.

Having 4 of them, the dynamic range is more than any human can take in my basement when it comes to music. Add in that they are servo subs and the bass is even cleaner than a standard sub.

As to there being little musical content below 30Hz, you are right unless you are talking about pipe organ or taiko drums. That doesn't mean that the port tuning and the sub's low pass filter aren't screwing up the temporal response of a low B note (31Hz). They are and quite badly. With the lower port tuning and the steep high-pass filter, OK, the bass fundamental sounds like it's 40 or 50 feet behind the initial pluck of the string. As a bass player, that's not nearly good enough for me.

If you don't mind your system being delayed by a 100ms or more, then you can use DSP to get the port in temporal alignment with the higher frequencies. It will require some serious processing power, but it's absolutely doable.

HEDD is doing this with studio sub/sat systems. Yeah, you never heard of them.

So, again, having owned mostly ported speakers and subs my whole life and done a lot of experimenting with both types of designs in the last 40 years, not only do I prefer the sound of my music and basses from sealed, servo subwoofers, every metric you can use will prove out my preference.

Again, the only downside is that you need more subs since ported designs are more efficient at their port frequency.

We haven't even gotten into port noise as well as the ringing that ported cabinets also exhibit.

Let me close with this: having recently bought Prince's "Sign 'o' the Times" Blu-ray, I was stunned by the low end of his song "HouseQuake". The concrete slab in my basement was massaging my bare feet. I never experienced that before. Talking the grills off of my Rythmik subs, they were creating the incredibly low, single pulse of the kick drum and then just stopping. I've never seen a sub driver do that before. Usually there's a little "flobbing" around as the driver meanders back to center. Not here. Rarefaction, reaction, and back to center.

I was quite impressed.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
With no due respect, you don't know what you are talking about. If ported designs were so great, sealed or dipole subs wouldn't exist anymore. The sealed Rythmik subs I use are 110° out of phase due to the low pass filter at 20Hz. No ported design can do that.

Having 4 of them, the dynamic range is more than any human can take in my basement when it comes to music. Add in that they are servo subs and the bass is even cleaner than a standard sub.

As to there being little musical content below 30Hz, you are right unless you are talking about pipe organ or taiko drums. That doesn't mean that the port tuning and the sub's low pass filter aren't screwing up the temporal response of a low B note (31Hz). They are and quite badly. With the lower port tuning and the steep high-pass filter, OK, the bass fundamental sounds like it's 40 or 50 feet behind the initial pluck of the string. As a bass player, that's not nearly good enough for me.

If you don't mind your system being delayed by a 100ms or more, then you can use DSP to get the port in temporal alignment with the higher frequencies. It will require some serious processing power, but it's absolutely doable.

HEDD is doing this with studio sub/sat systems. Yeah, you never heard of them.

So, again, having owned mostly ported speakers and subs my whole life and done a lot of experimenting with both types of designs in the last 40 years, not only do I prefer the sound of my music and basses from sealed, servo subwoofers, every metric you can use will prove out my preference.

Again, the only downside is that you need more subs since ported designs are more efficient at their port frequency.

We haven't even gotten into port noise as well as the ringing that ported cabinets also exhibit.

Let me close with this: having recently bought Prince's "Sign 'o' the Times" Blu-ray, I was stunned by the low end of his song "HouseQuake". The concrete slab in my basement was massaging my bare feet. I never experienced that before. Talking the grills off of my Rythmik subs, they were creating the incredibly low, single pulse of the kick drum and then just stopping. I've never seen a sub driver do that before. Usually there's a little "flobbing" around as the driver meanders back to center. Not here. Rarefaction, reaction, and back to center.

I was quite impressed.
With much disrespect you're full of it.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
With no due respect, you don't know what you are talking about. If ported designs were so great, sealed or dipole subs wouldn't exist anymore. The sealed Rythmik subs I use are 110° out of phase due to the low pass filter at 20Hz. No ported design can do that.

Having 4 of them, the dynamic range is more than any human can take in my basement when it comes to music. Add in that they are servo subs and the bass is even cleaner than a standard sub.

As to there being little musical content below 30Hz, you are right unless you are talking about pipe organ or taiko drums. That doesn't mean that the port tuning and the sub's low pass filter aren't screwing up the temporal response of a low B note (31Hz). They are and quite badly. With the lower port tuning and the steep high-pass filter, OK, the bass fundamental sounds like it's 40 or 50 feet behind the initial pluck of the string. As a bass player, that's not nearly good enough for me.

If you don't mind your system being delayed by a 100ms or more, then you can use DSP to get the port in temporal alignment with the higher frequencies. It will require some serious processing power, but it's absolutely doable.

HEDD is doing this with studio sub/sat systems. Yeah, you never heard of them.

So, again, having owned mostly ported speakers and subs my whole life and done a lot of experimenting with both types of designs in the last 40 years, not only do I prefer the sound of my music and basses from sealed, servo subwoofers, every metric you can use will prove out my preference.

Again, the only downside is that you need more subs since ported designs are more efficient at their port frequency.

We haven't even gotten into port noise as well as the ringing that ported cabinets also exhibit.

Let me close with this: having recently bought Prince's "Sign 'o' the Times" Blu-ray, I was stunned by the low end of his song "HouseQuake". The concrete slab in my basement was massaging my bare feet. I never experienced that before. Talking the grills off of my Rythmik subs, they were creating the incredibly low, single pulse of the kick drum and then just stopping. I've never seen a sub driver do that before. Usually there's a little "flobbing" around as the driver meanders back to center. Not here. Rarefaction, reaction, and back to center.

I was quite impressed.
Looks like you have been studying Rythmik's brochure quite closely. There are a lot of claims here but no data to support your conclusions. That is what would be expected since the claims are nonsensical to start with.

The bass pluck delay you are describing would be something that is almost a cycle of delay for 31Hz. That kind of delay isn't all that unusual for a sub port tuned from 25Hz or a bit higher. However, that still doesn't add up to 40 to 50 feet of delay. It would be 30 feet at the most, given that the speed of sound travels at about 1 foot per ms. So what you are claiming is that you can hear just under a wavelength of difference at 31Hz in a bass pluck, where that delay would affect the fundamental only, in an instrument where most of the sound is located in the harmonics? And all of this, in a room with traditional room destructiveness in low-frequency response, where bass behaves as a minimum phase system to boot? Right...

That, of course, flies in the face of audiology, since it takes more time for a wavelength to develop in lower frequencies in order for human hearing to discern the frequency. Gap detection studies have also shown that human hearing isn't as sensitive to interruptions in gaps-that is starts and stops- in continuous sound in low frequencies. Human hearing is just not that sensitive in temporal discrimination in low frequencies; not all that surprising since the wavelengths are so long and take more time to develop.

I quite liked the last bit about seeing the driver centering so quickly in a Prince album. It's clear you have bought into Rythmik's claims about hysteresis. Your visual acuity must be amazing since you can see and even know how a cone is supposed to look in its oscillation. I wish I had that superhuman ability. Normally, engineers need microphones and lasers to study that sort of behavior, but you can just see it. Remarkable! Again though, the audibility of Rythmik's claims of their superior hysteresis is very suspect due to auditory science. Low-frequency sound temporally masks sound that follow it, and this is called forward masking. The louder and deeper the sound, the more it masks subsequent sounds.

Of course, I am not taking the time to rebut your arguments for your sake, as I am sure you are quite committed to your ideas about subwoofer design and performance versus the actual abilities of human hearing. This effort is just for anyone else who is reading who would otherwise assign merit to your claims. And for anyone who is reading and think they need super-low group delay at 31Hz or else their music will sound bloated or sloppy, go to this web-based tone generator and select 31Hz and play that tone. Ask yourself if you think that sort of sound can ever be heard as being 'tight' or 'quick' or 'detailed' or some other audiophile jargon. Do you think that a 0.03 second decay of that specific sound is going to ruin your Stanley Clarke recording?
 
S

sdretrogamer

Audiophyte
THE ARTICLE HAS A MISPRINT - THE HSU VTF3-MK5 SUB IS CLASS A/B @ 600 WATTS CONTINUOUS, NOT 500 WATTS.
 
P

ParleyW

Audioholic Intern
For many people, $1,000 seems to be some kind of magical tipping point where things get ‘expensive.’ It is not a tipping point based on anything rational, of course, and is simply a prejudice based on the addition of another digit in our decimal numbering system. Nonetheless, that mental block tends to cap budgets for certain non-essential items, and one of those items is certainly subwoofers. We can see evidence of this in the wide range of choices in subs around this price point. We at Audioholics have decided to cater to this irrational bias by creating a list of our preferred choices in this range that don’t exceed $1,000 to help those shopping for subs with this budget in mind.

READ: Best Subwoofers Under $1,000 for 2020
As a rule in general, I don’t buy new, nor do I buy powered. Passive only. I’ve picked up a pair of RBH Sound 1010-SEN/Reference for $550. They are good 16hz-400Hz with mind bending authority. My last buy was a pair of HK Citation 7.4 that use a massive JBL LE14H-1 14” woofer for $500. Another $100 for new surrounds. Both pairs are incredible performing subs for way less than $1k, and they were twins. Double your pleasure. I do have a few RBH SV-12NR in storage if needed.

be patient and do some hunting...
 

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