McC

McC

Audioholic Intern
So, I'm starting the process of investigating a replacement for my 30-year-old sub. We've been doing some work on the house and now is a good time to consider the options.

The dual 12" sub is made from 1 1/4" MDF including the internal bracing. At 32" tall, 20.5" wide, and 21.5" deep it is visually imposing as well as rather weighty, even under a 50" TV. While it has served us well for 30 years, it's just too big and imposing. There are smaller and better-performing subs available today.

We do watch movies and TV 40 - 50% of the time and listen to music the rest of the time. We do not have an AVR so there is no DSP capability. The Parasound Halo integrated does have subwoofer outputs and an adjustable HP & LP x-over. The budget is about $1k.

I have been looking at three main possibilities. In no particular order:

  • Monoprice M-12 V2
  • SVS PB2000 Pro
  • Arendal 1961 1V
From what I've read, the Monoprice appears to be a slightly better performer than the SVS, but I'm also reading their support can be problematic and they apparently require the entire sub be shipped back rather than just a part should there be a problem. I have not heard any such complaints about either SVS or Arendal. Additionally, I recently purchased a set of 1723 S Monitors from Arendal and can vouch for their build quality and performance. The 1961 1V is intriguing as its side-firing and therefore looks smaller from the front. Being from the same company as the main speakers is also a plus. All three subs offer variable phase control, with only SVS offering an app to manage the sub.

Anyway, what are your thoughts on these three subs?
 

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shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
So, I'm starting the process of investigating a replacement for my 30-year-old sub. We've been doing some work on the house and now is a good time to consider the options.

The dual 12" sub is made from 1 1/4" MDF including the internal bracing. At 32" tall, 20.5" wide, and 21.5" deep it is visually imposing as well as rather weighty, even under a 50" TV. While it has served us well for 30 years, it's just too big and imposing. There are smaller and better-performing subs available today.

We do watch movies and TV 40 - 50% of the time and listen to music the rest of the time. We do not have an AVR so there is no DSP capability. The Parasound Halo integrated does have subwoofer outputs and an adjustable HP & LP x-over. The budget is about $1k.

I have been looking at three main possibilities. In no particular order:

  • Monoprice M-12 V2
  • SVS PB2000 Pro
  • Arendal 1961 1V
From what I've read, the Monoprice appears to be a slightly better performer than the SVS, but I'm also reading their support can be problematic and they apparently require the entire sub be shipped back rather than just a part should there be a problem. I have not heard any such complaints about either SVS or Arendal. Additionally, I recently purchased a set of 1723 S Monitors from Arendal and can vouch for their build quality and performance. The 1961 1V is intriguing as its side-firing and therefore looks smaller from the front. Being from the same company as the main speakers is also a plus. All three subs offer variable phase control, with only SVS offering an app to manage the sub.

Anyway, what are your thoughts on these three subs?
All three are very good subwoofers for the money. The Arendal has the best build quality, although owing to its size it will have the least amount of deep bass headroom. The overall highest performer in that group is the Monoprice sub, but it has the most sparse feature set, and, as you noted, the customer service would not be on the level of Arendal or SVS. Still, the customer service should be adequate. The PB-2000 Pro would be the easiest to handle of the bunch, even though it is larger than the Arendal sub, it is just not as heavy. The Monoprice sub is a real handful to move around. You need to take its weight seriously, it is a heavy sub. Another contender in this price range you might look at is the Hsu VTF-3 mk5. It will match these subs for deep bass output and exceed them in mid-bass output, and the customer service is on par with SVS and Arendal.
 
McC

McC

Audioholic Intern
All three are very good subwoofers for the money. The Arendal has the best build quality, although owing to its size it will have the least amount of deep bass headroom. The overall highest performer in that group is the Monoprice sub, but it has the most sparse feature set, and, as you noted, the customer service would not be on the level of Arendal or SVS. Still, the customer service should be adequate. The PB-2000 Pro would be the easiest to handle of the bunch, even though it is larger than the Arendal sub, it is just not as heavy. The Monoprice sub is a real handful to move around. You need to take its weight seriously, it is a heavy sub. Another contender in this price range you might look at is the Hsu VTF-3 mk5. It will match these subs for deep bass output and exceed them in mid-bass output, and the customer service is on par with SVS and Arendal.
Thanks for the insight. While the Monoprice sub is the better performer, any possibility I may have to return it is intimidating as I'm not in the best health. That possibility, while remote, is a bit off-putting. That said, all three do have continuously variable phase control where the HSU does not. Without DSP that might help get things dialed in with the mains. The SVS and Arendal both have a peq whereas I don't believe the Monoprice does. The Hsu has an adjustable "Q" but only a 0/180 deg phase switch. I have also read that the Hsu excels in HT applications but isn't quite as good musically. I am not sure what they meant by that as they didn't elaborate in their review. What's your take?
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
Thanks for the insight. While the Monoprice sub is the better performer, any possibility I may have to return it is intimidating as I'm not in the best health. That possibility, while remote, is a bit off-putting. That said, all three do have continuously variable phase control where the HSU does not. Without DSP that might help get things dialed in with the mains. The SVS and Arendal both have a peq whereas I don't believe the Monoprice does. The Hsu has an adjustable "Q" but only a 0/180 deg phase switch. I have also read that the Hsu excels in HT applications but isn't quite as good musically. I am not sure what they meant by that as they didn't elaborate in their review. What's your take?
Anyone who knows these subs are out of their mind if they think Hsu isn't just as good in music as any of these others. Quite honestly it may be a bit better since it has more headroom in the 40Hz+ range than any of them. I have spent time with all of these subs and know them well. As for the phase switch, the sub-out should just output the signal at zero phase. You are not likely to need the phase in anything other than zero since your setup is relatively simple. Also, even if you had variable phase, there is no way for you to know what the correct setting is without measuring the in-room response. Furthermore, subs with DSP amps almost require a variable phase dial when there is no external auto calibration system since the DSP induces a delay, but the Hsu sub has an analog amp that will have no delayed signal output. Anyway, all of these subs are good, so there isn't a loser among them. I am sure you will be happy with whatever one you pick, and they all have their different strengths.
 
emorphien

emorphien

Audioholic General
I'd consider the HSU long and hard for your application.

Would love one of their subs eventually, but I found too good of a deal on a PB-2000 locally to pass up for the time being, and I've gone Rythmik for my stereo system. I'd certainly suggest Rythmik as well for that matter, like the FVX12, but I don't think you'll go wrong with any of these options.
 
j_garcia

j_garcia

Audioholic Jedi
HSU is actually known for their musical capabilities, IMO. I have never heard someone say they were not. "Only" a 0/180 phase switch should not really be an issue as that will address most cases honestly. If you have an AVR with autocalibration functionality, this is also a bit of a moot point. Shady knows subs, so I'd say his recommendations are going to be spot on. I agree too that any of these subs are going to deliver great performance.
 
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McC

McC

Audioholic Intern
Anyone who knows these subs are out of their mind if they think Hsu isn't just as good in music as any of these others. Quite honestly it may be a bit better since it has more headroom in the 40Hz+ range than any of them. I have spent time with all of these subs and know them well. As for the phase switch, the sub-out should just output the signal at zero phase. You are not likely to need the phase in anything other than zero since your setup is relatively simple. Also, even if you had variable phase, there is no way for you to know what the correct setting is without measuring the in-room response. Furthermore, subs with DSP amps almost require a variable phase dial when there is no external auto calibration system since the DSP induces a delay, but the Hsu sub has an analog amp that will have no delayed signal output. Anyway, all of these subs are good, so there isn't a loser among them. I am sure you will be happy with whatever one you pick, and they all have their different strengths.
I don't know these subs so I'm asking questions. The comment I'm referring to was made by Jim Clements at Home Theater High Fidelity in October of 2015.

"While the VTF-3 MK5 HP was less accomplished on music, I was nevertheless impressed with the sub’s balanced sound particularly when you consider the unit’s very fair if not amazingly low price."

I know neither the publication nor Mr. Clements or their reputations. I do try to read what's available looking for consistency. If several people make similar comments regarding a product there may be something to it. Here, all I have is a singular comment, so I asked about it. Remember, I've had one sub for the last 30 years so I know I'm working from a deficit. On the other hand, you have spent time with these subs as you say, and your input is welcome and valued.

Perhaps I'm making more of variable phase than I should. 0 or -180 is useful if one is using ported mains through port tuning. I had not tied the ability to vary phase to the delay associated with DSP. My background is in 2-channel audio, not HT so such signal processing isn't my forte', though I understand what you're saying. I had in fact planned on using REW to get the best performance I could, but that would have to come later.

The drivers in my sub don't have nearly the excursion of today's sub drivers. They also don't have the stiffness of modern sub drivers. The result is they can be ill-defined and limited in their output. Any of the subs in question are likely to have greater output with better definition. Greater piston area isn't the only criteria. The Hsu has a 15" driver while the others have a 12" driver. The Hsu should have more output capability than they do. My sub with 2 12" drivers is not on par.
 
j_garcia

j_garcia

Audioholic Jedi
I think when you get to a 15" driver you get bigger output, which IMO, benefits in the lower frequencies. You can then lose some of the definition and subtlety at the top end. That depends on the driver and sub design though, because I had a dual 15" sealed sub that was great at the top end if its range. Had the amp not died and no replacements for it, I would still be using it. So that might be in the realm of what that review is getting at, a vented 15" sub might not be quite as adept. You do have multiple tuning capabilities with the VTF subs though, so you can tune for slightly different characteristics.

I owned the first gen version of the VTF-2. Switching between output and extension, in output mode it had a more musical sound higher up because it is more pronounced, at the expense of some extension.
 
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ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Warlord
I would take any comments about Musicality and Speed, Tightness, or other such things (like sealed vs ported) with a serious dose of skepticism.
Modern design practices have turned these old Audiophool Myths on their head. Unfortunately, the Audiophool is very convincing in their arguments to make others think as they do... so these myths persist.

I recently read a thread on another site where a guy insisted that port resonance was this biggest problem he ever encountered and therefore would only use Sealed subs. Somewhere in their he also commented that he ran his subs as high as 750Hz! (Just so we are clear, Subs don't play that high.) His claim is that they had to be run that high in order to integrate properly with his mains using a very shallow crossover.
Nobody in their right mind does this and it was pointed out and elaborated on quite thoroughly. I share this because it is a perfect example of 1 guy giving advice that should never be followed, but at surface level it sounds like it makes perfect sense... especially if you aren't studied in basic design principles. If he had his way, no Subwoofer would exist larger than 12" cones, Sealed, and playing so high they are beaming. He also went on record as not caring to have any performance below the upper 20s.
SMDH.

We are absolutely blessed here at AH to have Shady, an experienced reviewer who is also skilled at accurately measuring Speakers and Subwoofers. While he has to play the review game, his most "controversial" comments are from the peanut gallery complaining about a $2000 Sub being said to have good value! ;)
This is to say, and assure you, that Shady, in my 4 yr experience here at AH, has always been a straight shooter when it comes to advice.

Now, on to your main question:
If you are truly concerned with the CS aspect of owning a product, I think that you should buy from SVS. They are known far and wide for taking great care of their customers. You pay for it, but they deliver.
Arendal is supposed to be a great company, but not being based here in the US I think leaves some question as to how well they will handle problems with their product if they are to arise.
I have never heard of any complaints about Hsu.
The complaints I have heard about Monolith were further back in the past. More specifically, I have heard people say they are now sending out replacement Amps or Drivers to repair in the field if anything goes wrong. I cannot specifically back this up, but have heard it discussed on many occasions.
For the record, this is what SVS does very frequently for warranty service, too... and I've heard of SVS doing this for customers even outside of warranty.

The sad fact will always remain: it is the dissatisfied voice that gets amplified the loudest. Praise is often lost in the surrounding din. We have one member here who damaged their Monolith Amp and Monolith replaced it outright, no questions asked. You don't hear those stories... but somebody destroys their Subwoofer and gets warranty service denied becomes the news of the century. :)

You've already received great advice.

Happy hunting!
 
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shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
Arendal is supposed to be a great company, but not being based here in the US I think leaves some question as to how well they will handle problems with their product if they are to arise.
Arendal now has a US staff with a facility near Chicago. What is more, they are now offering a trial period with free return shipping too. Their customer service is excellent for American buyers.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
I don't know these subs so I'm asking questions. The comment I'm referring to was made by Jim Clements at Home Theater High Fidelity in October of 2015.

"While the VTF-3 MK5 HP was less accomplished on music, I was nevertheless impressed with the sub’s balanced sound particularly when you consider the unit’s very fair if not amazingly low price."

I know neither the publication nor Mr. Clements or their reputations. I do try to read what's available looking for consistency. If several people make similar comments regarding a product there may be something to it. Here, all I have is a singular comment, so I asked about it. Remember, I've had one sub for the last 30 years so I know I'm working from a deficit. On the other hand, you have spent time with these subs as you say, and your input is welcome and valued.

Perhaps I'm making more of variable phase than I should. 0 or -180 is useful if one is using ported mains through port tuning. I had not tied the ability to vary phase to the delay associated with DSP. My background is in 2-channel audio, not HT so such signal processing isn't my forte', though I understand what you're saying. I had in fact planned on using REW to get the best performance I could, but that would have to come later.

The drivers in my sub don't have nearly the excursion of today's sub drivers. They also don't have the stiffness of modern sub drivers. The result is they can be ill-defined and limited in their output. Any of the subs in question are likely to have greater output with better definition. Greater piston area isn't the only criteria. The Hsu has a 15" driver while the others have a 12" driver. The Hsu should have more output capability than they do. My sub with 2 12" drivers is not on par.
I just looked at the review you mentioned. I can only give you my perspective. I don't want to get into a quarrel with another reviewer, but I will say where I disagree with him. I think he is letting his high-end biases color his view. Many, many people do this. Here is a key statement: "Certainly Hsu’s subs don’t have quite the finesse and subtlety in the bass that can be had from the $5,000+ products that are out there." He is just wrong about that, and he is letting the price tags fool him. I have two $5k+ subs in house right now as well as a $2k sub from some highly respected manufacturers, and the VTF15h mk2 and VTF-3 mk5 have as much "finesse and subtlety" as any of them. Indeed, subwoofer-range bass can only have so much subtlety or finesse. The Hsu's time-domain performance is very good in the music range. There are subs that you can get with better time-domain performance below 30Hz, but that doesn't affect music, especially acoustic music, since they don't tend to have any content that digs that deep (not that time-domain artifacts would be especially audible in such deep frequencies even if they did).

As for the 0/180 degree phase switch, that actually can be a slight problem blending in the sub where the loudspeaker has a higher frequency port tuning, but your Arendal speakers look to be tuned to around 40Hz, and that is low enough not to cause much phase rotation at the normal crossover frequency of 80Hz. If you really want to be safe, plug one port, and that drives the port tuning frequency even deeper. Or just seal the ports, they won't be very active with a subwoofer in use anyway.

I don't want to push you too hard toward Hsu, because any of the subs on your list are very good choices, I just want to clear up some misconceptions. Hsu's transient performance is excellent, measurably so, and the phase switch shouldn't be a source of any significant problems in your setup. By the way, I am a fan of both Arendal and Parasound, so that is some very nice gear you have.
 
McC

McC

Audioholic Intern
I just looked at the review you mentioned. I can only give you my perspective. I don't want to get into a quarrel with another reviewer, but I will say where I disagree with him. I think he is letting his high-end biases color his view. Many, many people do this. Here is a key statement: "Certainly Hsu’s subs don’t have quite the finesse and subtlety in the bass that can be had from the $5,000+ products that are out there." He is just wrong about that, and he is letting the price tags fool him. I have two $5k+ subs in house right now as well as a $2k sub from some highly respected manufacturers, and the VTF15h mk2 and VTF-3 mk5 have as much "finesse and subtlety" as any of them. Indeed, subwoofer-range bass can only have so much subtlety or finesse. The Hsu's time-domain performance is very good in the music range. There are subs that you can get with better time-domain performance below 30Hz, but that doesn't affect music, especially acoustic music, since they don't tend to have any content that digs that deep (not that time-domain artifacts would be especially audible in such deep frequencies even if they did).

As for the 0/180 degree phase switch, that actually can be a slight problem blending in the sub where the loudspeaker has a higher frequency port tuning, but your Arendal speakers look to be tuned to around 40Hz, and that is low enough not to cause much phase rotation at the normal crossover frequency of 80Hz. If you really want to be safe, plug one port, and that drives the port tuning frequency even deeper. Or just seal the ports, they won't be very active with a subwoofer in use anyway.

I don't want to push you too hard toward Hsu, because any of the subs on your list are very good choices, I just want to clear up some misconceptions. Hsu's transient performance is excellent, measurably so, and the phase switch shouldn't be a source of any significant problems in your setup. By the way, I am a fan of both Arendal and Parasound, so that is some very nice gear you have.
Thanks again for the reply. I'm running the Arendal's in a sealed configuration so the port phase rotation is not an issue in this case. I was noting my awareness of the purpose and usefulness of the 0/-180 switch. I was not aware of the usefulness of the variable phase control in regard to DSP, though it makes sense. It also makes sense that in my application that DSP would likely add more problems than it may solve. A parametric EQ may be handy, but an adjustable Q may actually prove more useful.

I am, in fact, leaning toward the Hsu at this point. Unfortunately, the Hsu will push my budget quite hard. $999.00 + $115 shipping + $80 Ext. Warranty (on sale) = $1,194.00 The Monoprice is $899.00 including shipping and I think has an edge in performance over the SVS and the Arendal. I'm just a bit apprehensive about their support. It may be unfounded, but it is a concern for me in my circumstance. Besides, the Hsu is 15" and all the others are 12".
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Staff member
If you want to save a few dollars, another worthwhile choice in this range is the Outlaw Audio Ultra-X12. It will have performance near the level of the SVS and Monoprice subs, and it looks a bit nicer, at least to me.
 
McC

McC

Audioholic Intern
If you want to save a few dollars, another worthwhile choice in this range is the Outlaw Audio Ultra-X12. It will have performance near the level of the SVS and Monoprice subs, and it looks a bit nicer, at least to me.
I tend to keep my gear for extended periods (30 years in some cases), so I also tend to calculate my purchases carefully. I would rather take the time to properly investigate and understand a purchase even if my decision costs a bit more than I intended. While not taking anything away from SVS or Arendal, I initially considered the Monoprice the better performer/value for my budget. Now, I may well be increasing my budget to include the Hsu in my system instead. The Outlaw sub looks interesting, but I think the Hsu looks more interesting at this point.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
How about some RBH 1212 subs in passive version and source your own amps (personally prefer my sub amp not in/on the sub)?
 
F

FIqbal

Audioholic Intern
You have some very good advice here. Having owned SVS PB2000, Rythmik FV15 and HSU VTF15h mk2, my vote is with HSU. To my ear, HSU sounds best especially music and offers best value for money. All these companies have excellent customer support so you should be happy with any.
 
McC

McC

Audioholic Intern
Last night I ordered the Hsu VTF-3 MK5 HP. It's a stretch for my budget, but I agree that it appears to be the better product. Aside from asking questions here, I also look at as much technical data and measurements as are available. The Hsu has a flatter and deeper frequency response than any others. Once I came to understand the application of variable phase control it became unimportant in my application. That made the decision easier.

I must admit to being a bit attached to my old sub. It's been here for a long time. Too bad I don't know a young enthusiast close by.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Warlord
Last night I ordered the Hsu VTF-3 MK5 HP. It's a stretch for my budget, but I agree that it appears to be the better product. Aside from asking questions here, I also look at as much technical data and measurements as are available. The Hsu has a flatter and deeper frequency response than any others. Once I came to understand the application of variable phase control it became unimportant in my application. That made the decision easier.

I must admit to being a bit attached to my old sub. It's been here for a long time. Too bad I don't know a young enthusiast close by.
You will be stepping into a new world of Bass. ;) Congrats.

Even in the last 10-15 years it seems a large amount of change has happened in Subwoofer design. Probably Speakers overall, but Subwoofers are so often overlooked and treated as a less important category. I replaced what was, at the time, a 10 year old 10" HTIB Sub (so we aren't talking technologically advanced in the first place!) with two 13" Subs from Outlaw. Obvious comments about power and extension aside, what really shocked me was in how subtle the new Subs would be. The only rattles I had, now, were due to the power of the Subs rather than due to distortion.
 
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