I know I'm opening Pandora's box, but . . . (looking for audio advice)

Jonabrim

Jonabrim

Audioholic Intern
Let me say first, very nice speakers! Looks like they claim down to 40 hz which is very respectable. I'd say 80 hz a great starting point. I think I read somewhere that one octave up from a speaker's F3 (80 hz for you) is s'posed to be the "correct" crossover point for a system, but there's a lot of "YMMV" in there too.
Thanks! Their low end is clean, but definitely in need of extension because they drop off very quickly on songs with big bass. I'll start at 80 and work from there.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Thanks ShadyJ! I wholeheartedly agree--you can't go wrong with a great sub. It's reassuring to hear that you're a fan of SVS. What model(s) do you own and what do you like about them?
I don't own any SVS subs, but I have had a lot of experience with them. You can read about my experience with the SB-3000 here (I review speakers and subs for Audioholics).
 
Jonabrim

Jonabrim

Audioholic Intern
I don't own any SVS subs, but I have had a lot of experience with them. You can read about my experience with the SB-3000 here (I review speakers and subs for Audioholics).
I've read your review! Very through.

If you were me, would you buy an SB-3000 or 2 SB-2000s? My main focus is music listening, but I also want to get a good punch for movies. Some reviews say that the SB-3000s are not musical, but others say they are. What's your opinion when comparing the two? Is there another sub you would consider for $1,000?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
I've read your review! Very through.

If you were me, would you buy an SB-3000 or 2 SB-2000s? My main focus is music listening, but I also want to get a good punch for movies. Some reviews say that the SB-3000s are not musical, but others say they are. What's your opinion when comparing the two? Is there another sub you would consider for $1,000?
Musical as a description for subs is just bullshit really. Like considering Rel as particularly competent.
 
Jonabrim

Jonabrim

Audioholic Intern
A wide variety, mostly my DIY subs. What do you have?
Nothing at the moment. I'm looking for a sub to accompany my two Focal Solo 6 Be's and a lot of people have said that SVS makes a great sub.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
I've read your review! Very through.

If you were me, would you buy an SB-3000 or 2 SB-2000s? My main focus is music listening, but I also want to get a good punch for movies. Some reviews say that the SB-3000s are not musical, but others say they are. What's your opinion when comparing the two? Is there another sub you would consider for $1,000?
The SB-3000 is easily a better sub, but two subs will always get you a better sound quality by virtue of smoothing out room modes. Multiple subs will flatten out the frequency response. I would go for two SB-2000s over a single SB-3000, that should provide a more even sound. Other subs in this price range is basically anything from Hsu Research, Monoprice Monolith, Outlaw Audio, Paradigm Defiance. The MartinLogan Dynamo 1100X is pretty close in performance to the SB-3000 as well, as reviewed by Matthew Poes.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Nothing at the moment. I'm looking for a sub to accompany my two Focal Solo 6 Be's and a lot of people have said that SVS makes a great sub.
Hard to say you are much of a judge of subs then let alone implementing them....SVS and others do make a good sub then there are the mechanisms to properly integrate one....
 
Jonabrim

Jonabrim

Audioholic Intern
Yeah, I
Hard to say you are much of a judge of subs then let alone implementing them....SVS and others do make a good sub then there are the mechanisms to properly integrate one....
Yeah, I don't claim to be a judge of subs at all. That's why I'm on this forum, seeking advice.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
I believe @KEW has the Focals with Be tweeters too. He has quite a few speakers so he should be able to describe some direct comparisons to other speakers.

IMHO, unless the Focals are damaged, likely the subs are the place to upgrade. (Like a few people have mentioned already)

Good luck! :)
Sorry, this one slipped through the cracks, and I just now got caught up on the thread!
@Jonabrim , the Focal Solo6 is one of my all time favorite speakers especially because the tweeter is so good!
I have 4 other speakers I consider roughly on par with it. I will discuss each below and give a bit more detail on the Focals because I think you are wasting money to switch speakers!
1) Focal Twin6 (DUH!) - I bought these because I was roughly where you are - loving the Solo's and thinking a larger speaker would be of benefit. I did not find that to be the case (unless you are challenging the SPL limits of the Solo6's (I wasn't close). However, understand that I use subwoofers with both the Solo6 and the Twin6, I would expect to hear a difference in the low end without the crossover to the subwoofer at 80 or 100Hz.
I think you are letting the "near-field" notion give you insecurities that should not be there. As far as I have been able to tell, a near-field speaker has to allow the drivers to integrate at 2.5 or 3 feet from the speaker so it sounds good up close. A speaker like the LS50 (because it is concentric) is the ultimate near-field speaker because the drivers are physically integrated with a common center. I think there may be other considerations, but the close proximity of the woofer and tweeter do a lot to make the Solo6 a proper near-field monitor! However, I have yet for anyone to give me a good explanation of why a near-filed monitor should not be used at greater distances!
To that end, I will point out that the Twin6 (which is also a studio monitor) is used by DTS Labs for their California HQ demonstration room and Solo6 for the height/atmos speakers) - discussion and photo here:
They also use the Solo6 exclusively for their overseas HT demonstration room (I am thinking Taiwan, but don't remember with confidence)
In any case if it is good enough for DTS to demonstrate their HT sound technologies to potential customers, it is probably not a bad option (they certainly didn't let the "near-field" moniker slow them down)!

So, I say definitely get subwoofer(s) first. I think you will find they are exactly what you are looking for to give your music a solid foundation!
As far as what sub, I would recommend Dual Hsu ULS-15's as the best value:
Or dual Rythmik E15HP as the best performance option without totally breaking the bank!
Here are the three features that cause me to suspect these would work well for you:
15" drivers are kind of the sweet spot of performance/dollar without being too huge (but they are still large)! You can get great performance out of 12" drivers, but it will cost, and 18" drivers require a larger box that not everyone will be willing to accept!
Sealed allows for a more compact form factor. I am speculating here, but since you were thinking one sub, the idea of two huge boxes added to you room is likely off-putting (if this is a man-cave or something and you have no constraints, never mind). A well designed sealed sub (like either of these) will definitely handle music very nicely and will be a fun addition to HT (but not a full rumble your belly movie experience if that is important to you).
Controls - One thing that doesn't often get mentioned when people are choosing subs is that you will likely need some means to help integrate the sub(s) into your room. At the low frequencies that a subwoofer plays, the room really has a substantial impact (you may have experienced at a concert that the bass might be overwhelming along a wall, for example) and it is important that you have tuning options once you have determined the best sounding practical locations for your subs! What will you use to send the signal to the speakers/subwoofers? If it doesn't have a RoomEQ system to assist in tuning the subs, then you will be dependent on the subs themselves having the adjustments. The HSU are very good using a EQ1 and EQ2 toggle switch as well as a knob for adjustable Q; however, this is where the Rythmik earnsthe extra cost as it has a lot of different configurations for optimization!
Ignore me if you have a very large room with large spaces attached to it (like a great room attached to kitchen and dining areas without doors to close the room off) because then you may need the extra output of ported subs.

Get and integrate the subs first, but (while I don't think it is worthwhile to change speakers) here is food for thought on other speakers you might consider, knowing you really like the mids and uppers of the Solo6 Be (i.e. - other speakers I consider in the same league as the Solo6:
2) Martin Logan Vista (electrostatic) - Electrostatic speakers are simply magical if you are positioned in exactly the right spot. Older designs used to fall apart pretty severely as soon as your moved just a bit out of the sweet spot. The new ones are much improved that way, but I still consider this a one listener pair of speakers. Most Best Buys that have a Magnolia room will have ML electrostatic speakers on display and I encourage everyone to make it a point to experience the effect of listening to these while being positioned dead center between (and in front of, of course) the two speakers!
3) Canton Vento speakers with ceramic tweeter - These represent a great value (bought from Accessories4Less)! Their ceramic tweeter is very much fair competition for the Focal Be tweeter! Their main liability is they use a fairly aggressive waveguide and IME, this will not work well, especially with the choral and orchestral music you listen to. I am being somewhat picky, but the Focal Be's have no doubt spoiled you to be picky!
4) Philharmonic Audio BMR - This is the one speaker I think you would like better than the Solo6! It has an insane polar response (the opposite of a waveguide) which I find optimal for reproducing choral and orchestral music (with pop and ballads, it will hit and miss with different instrumental voices, but I generally find the BMR better for most). However, the Focals have very good polar response and they are very good at this as well so you won't gain much. A main strength of the BMR over the Solo6 is bass, but once you get subs hooked up, the Solo6 will give you everything you could ask for down to the crossover where the subs take over!

You will need to determine a method for managing your bass. If you use an AVR, that is easy, but if not that is a decision that needs to be made before you buy subwoofers, because we will need to figure a way to do it right and for some that means doing it at the subwoofer. By doing it right, we want to eliminate the bass from the Solo6's so they are not working hard at producing 30Hz sounds since the subs will do that without effort!

Unfortunately I have heard neither the Dynaudio Special 40 or the Buchardt, so cannot comment on them!
 
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KEW

KEW

Audioholic Overlord
Just in case anyone is curious and wants measurements, here is a file for the Focal Twin6's. You will see that they do a lot right! Unfortunately I have not found detailed measurements for the Solo6's, but I suspect they are very similar.

One thing to note is that the horizontal off-axis measurements get pretty squirrelly, while the vertical off axis performs very well (like I said it does not lag too far behind the BMR). Obviously, I stand these speakers up on end to get the excellent horizontal off-axis performance and let the floor and ceiling get the squirrelly stuff!
DTS doesn't worry about this (I presume) because their seating is well within the 30 degrees off-axis before things go south!
 
Jonabrim

Jonabrim

Audioholic Intern
Thanks a ton for your thoughtful reponse! Reply in green.

Sorry, this one slipped through the cracks, and I just now got caught up on the thread!
@Jonabrim , the Focal Solo6 is one of my all time favorite speakers especially because the tweeter is so good!
I have 4 other speakers I consider roughly on par with it. I will discuss each below and give a bit more detail on the Focals because I think you are wasting money to switch speakers!
1) Focal Twin6 (DUH!) - I bought these because I was roughly where you are - loving the Solo's and thinking a larger speaker would be of benefit. I did not find that to be the case (unless you are challenging the SPL limits of the Solo6's (I wasn't close). However, understand that I use subwoofers with both the Solo6 and the Twin6, I would expect to hear a difference in the low end without the crossover to the subwoofer at 80 or 100Hz.
I think you are letting the "near-field" notion give you insecurities that should not be there. As far as I have been able to tell, a near-field speaker has to allow the drivers to integrate at 2.5 or 3 feet from the speaker so it sounds good up close. A speaker like the LS50 (because it is concentric) is the ultimate near-field speaker because the drivers are physically integrated with a common center. I think there may be other considerations, but the close proximity of the woofer and tweeter do a lot to make the Solo6 a proper near-field monitor! However, I have yet for anyone to give me a good explanation of why a near-filed monitor should not be used at greater distances!
To that end, I will point out that the Twin6 (which is also a studio monitor) is used by DTS Labs for their California HQ demonstration room and Solo6 for the height/atmos speakers) - discussion and photo here:
They also use the Solo6 exclusively for their overseas HT demonstration room (I am thinking Taiwan, but don't remember with confidence)
In any case if it is good enough for DTS to demonstrate their HT sound technologies to potential customers, it is probably not a bad option (they certainly didn't let the "near-field" moniker slow them down)!

I'm feeling very validated on my choice of speakers right now. :) Thanks for helping debunk the idea that near-field can't be used for a bigger application. I have them set up in my living room and think they sound amazing. Also, I rarely get close to challenging their SPL levels so I don't need anything bigger like the Twin6's
I'm feeling very confident that I should just keep my Solo's and invest in some bass.


So, I say definitely get subwoofer(s) first. I think you will find they are exactly what you are looking for to give your music a solid foundation!
As far as what sub, I would recommend Dual Hsu ULS-15's as the best value:
Or dual Rythmik E15HP as the best performance option without totally breaking the bank!
Here are the three features that cause me to suspect these would work well for you:
15" drivers are kind of the sweet spot of performance/dollar without being too huge (but they are still large)! You can get great performance out of 12" drivers, but it will cost, and 18" drivers require a larger box that not everyone will be willing to accept! I have considered getting a single SB-3000 from SVS because I can pick one up for $999, but my concern is that having a single sub won't allow for a smooth response. Can you check out my living room pictures below and tell me what you would do with that room?
Sealed allows for a more compact form factor. I am speculating here, but since you were thinking one sub, the idea of two huge boxes added to you room is likely off-putting (if this is a man-cave or something and you have no constraints, never mind). A well designed sealed sub (like either of these) will definitely handle music very nicely and will be a fun addition to HT (but not a full rumble your belly movie experience if that is important to you).
Music is most important because I listen to music more than I watch movies, but it would be nice to get the full thump-in-the-chest movie experience from time to time. To do that, do I have to get a ported sub? Or would 2 sealed subs or even one big sealed sup like the Rhythmik do the trick? If I went Hsu, maybe something like this? http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/vtf-15hmk2Dual.html.
Controls - One thing that doesn't often get mentioned when people are choosing subs is that you will likely need some means to help integrate the sub(s) into your room. At the low frequencies that a subwoofer plays, the room really has a substantial impact (you may have experienced at a concert that the bass might be overwhelming along a wall, for example) and it is important that you have tuning options once you have determined the best sounding practical locations for your subs! What will you use to send the signal to the speakers/subwoofers? If it doesn't have a RoomEQ system to assist in tuning the subs, then you will be dependent on the subs themselves having the adjustments. The HSU are very good using a EQ1 and EQ2 toggle switch as well as a knob for adjustable Q; however, this is where the Rythmik earnsthe extra cost as it has a lot of different configurations for optimization!
Ignore me if you have a very large room with large spaces attached to it (like a great room attached to kitchen and dining areas without doors to close the room off) because then you may need the extra output of ported subs.

I am planning on buying a Marantz SR8012 AV Receiver. Would that work well to integrate the sub(s) with my Focals?

Here are some picture so you can see what I'm working with:

Screen Shot 2020-02-12 at 10.17.55 PM.png

You'll notice it's a mostly enclosed room with the only opening being the stairwell on the far right.

Screen Shot 2020-02-12 at 10.17.23 PM.png



Get and integrate the subs first, but (while I don't think it is worthwhile to change speakers) here is food for thought on other speakers you might consider, knowing you really like the mids and uppers of the Solo6 Be (i.e. - other speakers I consider in the same league as the Solo6:
2) Martin Logan Vista (electrostatic) - Electrostatic speakers are simply magical if you are positioned in exactly the right spot. Older designs used to fall apart pretty severely as soon as your moved just a bit out of the sweet spot. The new ones are much improved that way, but I still consider this a one listener pair of speakers. Most Best Buys that have a Magnolia room will have ML electrostatic speakers on display and I encourage everyone to make it a point to experience the effect of listening to these while being positioned dead center between (and in front of, of course) the two speakers! I'll go to Best Buy soon and check these out. Are these what you're referring to?
3) Canton Vento speakers with ceramic tweeter
- These represent a great value (bought from Accessories4Less)! Their ceramic tweeter is very much fair competition for the Focal Be tweeter! Their main liability is they use a fairly aggressive waveguide and IME, this will not work well, especially with the choral and orchestral music you listen to. I am being somewhat picky, but the Focal Be's have no doubt spoiled you to be picky! I have heard great things about these, but yeah, it would be a deal breaker if they aren't great for choral music. What music do you find them to be really good at?
4) Philharmonic Audio BMR -
This is the one speaker I think you would like better than the Solo6! It has an insane polar response (the opposite of a waveguide) which I find optimal for reproducing choral and orchestral music (with pop and ballads, it will hit and miss with different instrumental voices, but I generally find the BMR better for most). However, the Focals have very good polar response and they are very good at this as well so you won't gain much. A main strength of the BMR over the Solo6 is bass, but once you get subs hooked up, the Solo6 will give you everything you could ask for down to the crossover where the subs take over!
I just looked these up and it looks like @shadyJ gave them a very favorable review. I do like ribbon tweeters because of their detail. These speakers may have to go on my wishlist for next year. :)

You will need to determine a method for managing your bass. If you use an AVR, that is easy, but if not that is a decision that needs to be made before you buy subwoofers, because we will need to figure a way to do it right and for some that means doing it at the subwoofer. By doing it right, we want to eliminate the bass from the Solo6's so they are not working hard at producing 30Hz sounds since the subs will do that without effort!

Per my earlier comment, I think the Marantz SR8012 AVR should work well for this.

Unfortunately I have heard neither the Dynaudio Special 40 or the Buchardt, so cannot comment on them!
 
Jonabrim

Jonabrim

Audioholic Intern
I can't imagine why you're equating the tiny overpriced Rel with the SVS. Different designs too. Odd two to choose from in any case, but SVS would be my preference. What gear do you have to integrate a sub with active speakers? Just how big a room is it?
Sorry, I didn't see this post from earlier.

Please note that I'm just beginning my audiophile journey. When I listed the REL's as an option alongside the SVS SB-3000, I wasn't comparing them as equal subs. I was simply listing two subs I had heard good things about.

I don't have any gear to integrate the subs because my current setup only requires a passive Mackie Big Knob Volume control and my laptop.

My plan has been to buy a Marantz SR8012 AVR to integrate everything. My living room is 22'(W)x16'(D)x9'(H). Here are two pictures:

Screen Shot 2020-02-12 at 10.17.55 PM.png



Screen Shot 2020-02-12 at 10.17.23 PM.png
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Sorry, I didn't see this post from earlier.

Please note that I'm just beginning my audiophile journey. When I listed the REL's as an option alongside the SVS SB-3000, I wasn't comparing them as equal subs. I was simply listing two subs I had heard good things about.

I don't have any gear to integrate the subs because my current setup only requires a passive Mackie Big Knob Volume control and my laptop.

My plan has been to buy a Marantz SR8012 AVR to integrate everything. My living room is 22'(W)x16'(D)x9'(H). Here are two pictures:

View attachment 34034


View attachment 34035
No problem. They're different subs. One is a 13" sealed sub, the other is an 8" using a passive radiator (a type of vented sub). Rel tends to be very costly for its performance (and you can tell I'm not a fan :) ). How are you planning on using a sub with your current setup or is that not a concern and the 8012 is around the corner? The 8012 does have good integration tools. Are you in the US?
 
Jonabrim

Jonabrim

Audioholic Intern
No problem. They're different subs. One is a 13" sealed sub, the other is an 8" using a passive radiator (a type of vented sub). Rel tends to be very costly for its performance (and you can tell I'm not a fan :) ). How are you planning on using a sub with your current setup or is that not a concern and the 8012 is around the corner? The 8012 does have good integration tools. Are you in the US?
Thanks for your explanation. Those two subs definitely don't sound like they're in the same league.

Yeah, I'm in the US and I plan on getting the 8012 within the next few weeks. My friend has a connection that will allow me to get one for 50% off ($1500), so it seems like a no-brainer. I'll get a good-quality DAC, amps, and tons of connectivity options without having to spend thousands on separate pieces of equipment. Your thoughts?
 
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lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Thank for your explanation. Those two subs definitely don't sound like they're in the same league.

Yeah, I'm in the US and I plan on getting the 8012 within the next few weeks. My friend has a connection that will allow me to get one for 50% off ($1500), so it seems like a no-brainer purchase because I'll get a reasonable quality DAC and tons of connectivity options without having to spend thousands on separate DACs, pre-amps, and other AV equipment. My reasoning is that I'm getting everything in one good piece of equipment. Would you agree with this?
Yes I'd agree. I do the same pretty much, altho I find their sister brand Denon often a better deal but that's a good deal!

I'd look at not just SVS but also the other usual culprits Hsu, Monolith, Rythmik, Power Sound Audio, Seaton, JTR...
 
Jonabrim

Jonabrim

Audioholic Intern
Yes I'd agree. I do the same pretty much, altho I find their sister brand Denon often a better deal but that's a good deal!

I'd look at not just SVS but also the other usual culprits Hsu, Monolith, Rythmik, Power Sound Audio, Seaton, JTR...
I can also get Denons at 1/2 price, but the Marantz seemed better for my music listening.

I've already read a lot about some of the ones you mentioned (Hsu, Monolith, Rythmik), but I'm at the point that reading is doing me no good. They all have good specs and good reviews and are somewhat similarly priced. I wish I could just line them up and hear them and make my decision, but with the direct-to-consumer market that's hard to do without buying them all for an audition. Other than crappy little subs like you'd find at BestBuy, all I've heard so far was a SuperCube 8000 by DefTech and it didn't blow me away so I've kept up my search.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
I can also get Denons at 1/2 price, but the Marantz seemed better for my music listening.

I've already read a lot about some of the ones you mentioned (Hsu, Monolith, Rythmik), but I'm at the point that reading is doing me no good. They all have good specs and good reviews and are somewhat similarly priced. I wish I could just line them up and hear them and make my decision, but with the direct-to-consumer market that's hard to do without buying them all for an audition. Other than crappy little subs like you'd find at BestBuy, all I've heard so far was a SuperCube 8000 by DefTech and it didn't blow me away so I've kept up my search.
I'd say the Denon and Marantz are so similar as not to be different "for music" (that concept I find a bit silly, unless you're doing deliberate tweaks for a particular preference in music listening). I doubt such a "listening" test among good subs will tell you much at all, I'd just find the appropriate design and features/price I like. The Supercube I wouldn't ever consider, overpriced and underperforming...kinda like Rel.
 
Jonabrim

Jonabrim

Audioholic Intern
I'd say the Denon and Marantz are so similar as not to be different "for music" (that concept I find a bit silly, unless you're doing deliberate tweaks for a particular preference in music listening). I doubt such a "listening" test among good subs will tell you much at all, I'd just find the appropriate design and features/price I like. The Supercube I wouldn't ever consider, overpriced and underperforming...kinda like Rel.
I feel validated. I was not super impressed by the SuperCube--especially for the price.

As I see it, I can either drop $1500 on one crazy big sub like a Rhythmik E15HP2 or I can get two smaller subs like Hsu ULS-15 MK2s (http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/uls-15mk2Dual.html). I mostly listen to music, but I want some serious bass when watching a movie.

For my living room space, what would you recomend? Did you see the pics I posted?
 

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