This could be an idiot question

ematthews

ematthews

Audioholic General
Still haven't purchased a sub for my 2 channel system. Well, it will be 2.1
Had really decided on the REL sub due to it's overwhelming reviews it has on an audio only set up.... But ......
I can get 2 HSU ULS15 subs for the same price..

Would I be an idiot to just go with a single REL? My room really doesn't call for two subs. It's not that large.
 
John Parks

John Parks

Senior Audioholic
What model REL? I have (1) ULS-15 in my 2.1 and love it - I can't imagine needing two for music, but my room is not very large. As far as REL goes, I have been nothing but impressed by their products (in before any REL haters show up, as they undoubtedly will!) for what they are designed to do, i.e. bass reinforcement for music.
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Until we see a review of a Rel sub that demonstrates its performance, I just wouldn't bother. Anyone can say anything about a sub, and it's all hot air until the measurements show up. The ULS-15 mk2 is a proven performer. The measurements speak for themselves. Between Rel and Hsu, I would reward the company that makes efforts to have their products' performance verified by third parties rather than the company that eschews measurements.

Getting multiple subs is not just about headroom, it's about a smooth response. A dual sub system with any care in its setup with always yield a better response over a wider listening area. Multiple subs should be done for reasons of sound quality, not quantity. With a sub like the ULS-15 mk2, yeah you will have way more headroom than you will ever use, but you will also have a much more neutral response and far less distortion, both of which are useful. You can just save some money and also some floor space and get some sealed Monolith subs as well. Two or three of these sealed Monolith 10"s will get you a very nice sound for a good price. It doesn't have the headroom of the ULS-15 mk2, but unless you are into very wide dynamic range listening, you won't need it. The 12"s are on sale right now as well. If floor space is not an issue, consider some Hsu VTF-2 mk5s. That will also give you very good performance for the money. I doubt you would ever push any of those subs into 5% THD if you got multiples.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Warlord
Until we see a review of a Rel sub that demonstrates its performance, I just wouldn't bother. Anyone can say anything about a sub, and it's all hot air until the measurements show up. The ULS-15 mk2 is a proven performer. The measurements speak for themselves. Between Rel and Hsu, I would reward the company that makes efforts to have their products' performance verified by third parties rather than the company that eschews measurements.

Getting multiple subs is not just about headroom, it's about a smooth response. A dual sub system with any care in its setup with always yield a better response over a wider listening area. Multiple subs should be done for reasons of sound quality, not quantity. With a sub like the ULS-15 mk2, yeah you will have way more headroom than you will ever use, but you will also have a much more neutral response and far less distortion, both of which are useful. You can just save some money and also some floor space and get some sealed Monolith subs as well. Two or three of these sealed Monolith 10"s will get you a very nice sound for a good price. It doesn't have the headroom of the ULS-15 mk2, but unless you are into very wide dynamic range listening, you won't need it. The 12"s are on sale right now as well. If floor space is not an issue, consider some Hsu VTF-2 mk5s. That will also give you very good performance for the money. I doubt you would ever push any of those subs into 5% THD if you got multiples.
Why don't you contact Hsu, SVS, Rythmik, Outlaw, PSA, RSL, etc. and see how much they will pay for you to measure/review a REL subwoofer! :D
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Warlord
Still haven't purchased a sub for my 2 channel system. Well, it will be 2.1
Had really decided on the REL sub due to it's overwhelming reviews it has on an audio only set up.... But ......
I can get 2 HSU ULS15 subs for the same price..

Would I be an idiot to just go with a single REL? My room really doesn't call for two subs. It's not that large.
By audio only, I assume you mean music only!
I have spent far too much time and money on subwoofers trying to find my perfect subwoofer (for 95% music).
Thanks to some help from ShadyJ, Steve81, and Josh Ricci, I think I have a decent understanding.
Here are some of my major experiences:
Subwoofers:
1) SVS SB12-plus - Muddy sloppy bass! Ended up with it in pulled well away (over 5') from the walls and using the built-in PEQ to reduce output at 20Hz! Knowing I was paying extra for low frequency performance then having to go out of my way to eliminate it offended my sensibilities!
2) Dual 10" Martin-Logan Dynamos (the original one that could be oriented down firing) - Did a fine job, yet I could sense weakness at the lowest frequencies. Overall happy with it for the discounted price I paid.
3) Dual 8" Velodyne VMS-8's - I liked these just a tad more than the 10" Dynamos they gave me the perception of being more articulate and surprisingly the low bass did not seem to fall behind the 10" ML.
4) Dual JL Audio E112's experience matched the SVS SB12-plus except worse! There was no PEQ to help tame the low end. A severe disappointment! The best thing I could say about them was that they were very impressive HT (where I usually turn up the low frequencies for the impact of the depth charges, etc) subs for their compact size! Music was however muddied!
5) Dual Rythmik E15HP's - These were perfect for me! However, I still wanted to explore for better value (I think they were about $1300 each)
6) Dual PSA XS15se's - Based on my hearing a pair set up and Josh Ricci's review and comment about these pairing well with the room gain typical of residential rooms, I gave these a try. They don't dig as deep as the Rythmiks, but for music (for me) they were equivalent and I got them for close to half the price of the Rythmiks ($1350/pr as they were being discontinued from $800/ea. MSRP). Essentially, they represented my most efficient solution for a music sub!
7) Dual Outlaw X-13 Ultra's - You will notice that all of the above subwoofers are sealed! I was not about to try a ported because the problem I had with sealed subs was generally attributed more so to ported subs and I had heard too many ported subs at other peoples house that were duly offensive to me for music! However, I understood that a ported sub with a good degree of flexibility/adjustability would likely work fine for me, and I wanted to establish that. These did the job, providing the music sound quality of the Rythmik/PSA'a along with plenty of overkill in the low frequencies to spare. I use these as my HT & Music subs and feel like they cover both as good as any other sub I have heard!
8) Dayton Audio SUB 1200 - I got this earlier in the sequence, but it is a ported sub that I would rather live with than the JL Audio e112's! Part of my lesson here is that the SUB1200 is a 12" sub that was not tuned in an effort to get F3 of low 20Hz territory. The port was tuned to somewhere in the upper to mid 30's (IIRC) and the FR is actually similar to the PSA XS15se! Of course, the driver is not as good and 15" vs 12", but the SUB-1200 was a revelation!

Tidbits of knowledge:
1) Listening to a sub by itself - unplug your speakers (from the back of the AVR so you don't risk shorts) so only your sub (rolled off at 80Hz) is playing! It is obvious that you get no more articulation out of a sub than you get reciting the Gettysburg Address with your mouth closed. Subs are not articulate, however, I do believe they can get in the way of the frequencies that are!
2) @Steve81 shared his experience of getting so much room gain that it exceeded the capability of Audyssey to tame it (Seems like Audyssey will not correct more than 10dB, IIRC).
3) Josh Ricci posted that the perception of tightness and articulation (perhaps best thought of as reducing overhang) was most associated with FR and a higher degree of upper frequency output to lower frequency output resulted in a tighter presentation. Of course, this begs the question of how much lower bass vs how much upper bass. And the idea of how much deep bass are you willing to sacrifice for "tightness"! I pretty much had established my answer (for music) in the PSA XS15se which Josh Ricci described as follows:
Frequency Response
The basic frequency response shape with the low pass filter bypassed shows a response that is cleanly extended up to 200Hz and beyond, with a gently sloping low end that corners at 30Hz and appears to enter a sealed systems natural 12dB/octave roll off below that point. It should be a good match with the boost often seen in the low bass once placed inside of a room. It appears that there may be a bit of boost employed near 35-40Hz to extend the corner downwards a bit. The overall response with the low pass filter disabled fits within a 6dB total window from 28-370Hz.
My takeaways:
1) Sub measurements are simulated anechoic measurements. A flat to 20Hz FR is often presented as the ideal; however, in a typical residential room the in-room response will be elevated bass which will reduce the perceived "tightness" of the system. Moving the subs out into the room is helpful in this situation (and as a check to see if this is the problem)!
2) I was disappointed by the SVS SB12-plus and JL Audio E112's because they were tuned via DSP to be anechoically flat to around 20Hz. After room gain, the bass was bloated beyond the point that Audyssey could level it out, in my case! I am certain adding a miniDSP would have resolved my issues, but the idea of paying extra for great deep bass capability then paying more to eliminate it does not seem a good solution.
3) I think the current Audyssey XT32 in combination with the app that allows you to only apply it below, say 250Hz, (but you pick the frequency) for room compensation is a winning combination. However, I believe for the best result, you do need some way to detect and compensate for room modes at bass frequencies!
4) Buy subs that either complement your room gain, or (since we seldom know the details of our room gain) have enough flexibility/adjustment to get close enough for Audyssey or other EQ system to deal with!

This graph from SVS captures the concept that "anechoic" FR does not equal "in-room" FR:
 
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ematthews

ematthews

Audioholic General
Nice. Reply. I was using the Outlaw X12 and was very impressed with it. It's back in my HT et up. To be honest, I could be happy with it but thought going to the REL or HSU would give me a better bass experience with my music set up.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Nice. Reply. I was using the Outlaw X12 and was very impressed with it. It's back in my HT et up. To be honest, I could be happy with it but thought going to the REL or HSU would give me a better bass experience with my music set up.
Seems mostly you're overthinking things. Personally I'd not even include Rel in any possible scenario even if I were still buying consumer subs.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Warlord
@KEW The Dual Rythmik E15HP sounds like a nice setup. What are the room dimensions?
I was kind of simplifying for the sake of clarity of my experiences. With the Rythmik E15HP, I also ran the PSA XS15se's, so 4 subs total! My LR is only 16 X 24, but it gets kind of crazy when you start adding numbers up for subwoofers. The ceiling goes from ~11 feet up to the second floor ceiling (@ 20') and is open to a catwalk/balcony space that includes the 2-story foyer with staircase, and the kitchen and dining areas are connected via a 4' wide doorway (no doors), and my office is connected to the foyer via a 6' wide doorway (without doors). It seems like it got up around 9,000 cu. ft. when I added it up, but I really don't remember. I doubt I am properly pressurizing the entire space, but I am happy with the performance of those 4 subs or the pair of X13's. I guess I am close enough and they have enough output to pressurize the space around me!
 
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ematthews

ematthews

Audioholic General
Anyone here think the ULS 15 will give me a better audio experience or performance over my current Outlaw X12?
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Anyone here think the ULS 15 will give me a better audio experience or performance over my current Outlaw X12?
A ULS-15 will have a lot more headroom in midbass frequencies (40Hz+), but port output will give the Outlaw an advantage below 30Hz. A VTF-3 mk5, however, will have a pretty serious headroom advantage over an X12 across all frequencies. Of course, you can always seal the ports on a VTF-3 if you want a sealed sub too.
 
ematthews

ematthews

Audioholic General
A ULS-15 will have a lot more headroom in midbass frequencies (40Hz+), but port output will give the Outlaw an advantage below 30Hz. A VTF-3 mk5, however, will have a pretty serious headroom advantage over an X12 across all frequencies. Of course, you can always seal the ports on a VTF-3 if you want a sealed sub too.
Interesting. So many good choices.
 

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