When it comes to subs, do more expensive options give you anything?

S

Sendu

Audioholic Intern
I want 2 subs in a ~250sq ft room. I only listen 10dB under THX reference level (so, ~95dB peaks),and no seat is more than about 9 ft from a sub. I want to achieve a reasonably flat response down to 20Hz (after correct positioning and EQ). I'm only interested in sealed designs because I want maximal possible "tightness" to the bass.

I understand I don't need much in the way of size or power to pressurise this room. But is there anything more to picking a sub than how loud it can get in a given room size?

For example, the SVS SB-1000 might be good enough for me (it goes down to 24Hz in an anechoic chamber, presumably will go lower in a real room, especially if corner positioned).

But imagine I had an unlimited budget; would the SVS SB16-Ultra perform better in any way? Could it be "tighter"? Reproduce bass notes better? Have more legroom for explosive peak sounds? Does it have features that let it better integrate with the Front L/R speakers? Or would it be purely a waste of money?

Any other suggestions for subs?
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
250 square feet is a small room, so two SB-1000 will do pretty well in them, but for flat response down to 20Hz you'll need something more potent. If you have the space and the budget, two PB-2000s would be better. If you don't have the space for ported subs, two SB-2000s is probably a good choice. I use a single SB-1000 in my desktop system, in a much larger room than you have, and it produces a surprising amount of bass, but not at 20Hz.

Do you really need 20Hz?

An SB16 would almost certainly perform better in every way, but would be a waste of capability in such a small room. There are much less expensive options that will probably work just as well, like an SB-3000.
 
S

Sendu

Audioholic Intern
If you have the space and the budget, two PB-2000s would be better. If you don't have the space for ported subs, two SB-2000s is probably a good choice.
I have the budget and space for the SB16s, it's just a question of will there be an audible, measurable difference between subs at the different price points in my room. I'm avoiding ported subs just to maximise "tightness".

Do you really need 20Hz?
I don't "need" subs at all, but am looking for the best I can get for the room without wasting money. The main speakers are rated down to 22Hz, so the subs ought to match or do better than them.

An SB16 would almost certainly perform better in every way, but would be a waste of capability in such a small room. There are much less expensive options that will probably work just as well, like an SB-3000.
On what basis can I pick between the SB-2000, SB-3000 and SB16-Ultra? How do I know when I've hit the point of diminishing returns? Has anyone done effective measurements of these that show their performance in a room small enough that none of them have trouble hitting 105dB?

Are there effective measurements that visually depict one sub sounding "tighter" or being more "accurate" than another, or is it all just the basic frequency-vs-SPL graph that only shows how flat they can be?
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Ninja
The first thing is to get past the sealed is tighter thing. This is an old wives tale that needs to die. Especially with the subs on the table here, it comes down to integration. That is what will determine “tightness”. Sealed subs imo only serve to satisfy space or waf requirements.
And yes, the 16 will perform better in every way than the 1000. Plus it has built in EQ and works with the remote app for easier integration.
So in that small of a space a pair of SB2k will probably be good to 20hz, but a pair of pb/pc2k will be much more powerful, introduce less distortion, and be much more efficient below about 30hz.
You’re going to get a bunch of answers and recommendations here, but for me, in that room(what are the actual dimensions and is it connected to other rooms?) I would look at a pair of pc2k’s. Small footprint, good output and extension, and yes. Tightness.
What is the rest of the system?
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
If you want a high quality bass sound, you need to concentrate on acquiring a flat frequency response in the bass region. The bass region extends considerably further than subwoofer band frequencies, so EQing should be done up to maybe 300 Hz or so. Your choice to get two subs is a good one, but if budget is not a concern, getting more would be better. The more subs you have, the flatter of a response you can get over a wider seating area, and the less of a need for EQ in subwoofer band frequencies. You can also use higher crossover frequencies without having to worry about localization, which better improves the response in the bass range.

If I were you, I would look into maybe getting four SB-3000s. It is a relatively powerful sub that is also small and easy to move around. The SB16-Ultra is a great sub, but it is a real PIA to move around- it a sealed sub that weighs well over 100 lbs. Four SB-3000s that are well-placed should get you a flattish response without the need for a lot of additional EQing. The less EQing you need to do, the better it is for the overall sound quality.
 
S

Sendu

Audioholic Intern
[...]what are the actual dimensions and is it connected to other rooms? [...] What is the rest of the system?
The room and rest of system doesn't exist yet, but it is planned to be 5.3x4.4x2.4m dedicated room (not connected). The Front L/R speakers will likely be Martin Logan 15As with their matching centre. The surrounds (for a 7.2.4 setup) I'm thinking all SVS Prime Elevation.

The first thing is to get past the sealed is tighter thing. This is an old wives tale that needs to die.
I'm going by what SVS say, and while their ported designs are good, still:
While Sealed mode unquestionably has the lowest overall group delay, the two ported modes also have exemplary time domain behavior >30 Hz and can deliver excellent sound on music, as well as stellar movie performance.
If I don't need the lower-end efficiency of a ported sub, because the room is small and sealed subs get where I want just fine, then why not have the lowest possible group delay? I can only see a disadvantage going with a ported sub when low frequency extension is not an issue.
 
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S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
The room and rest of system doesn't exist yet, but it is planned to be 5.3x4.4x2.4m. The Front L/R speakers will likely be Martin Logan 15As with their matching centre. The surrounds (for a 7.2.4 setup) I'm thinking all SVS Prime Elevation.



I'm going by what SVS say, and while their ported designs are good, still:


If I don't need the lower-end efficiency of a ported sub, because the room is small and sealed subs get where I want just fine, then why not have the lowest possible group delay? I can only see a disadvantage going with a ported sub when low frequency extension is not an issue.
SVS kind of contradicts themselves in that article. The fact is that the time-domain behavior of a well-designed ported sub will not be perceptibly different than that of a sealed sub. Audioholics recently nerded out about it in this rambling youtube discussion. The perceived differences will be entirely a matter of frequency response. in your situation, you might as well go with sealed, but only because you aren't likely going to need the extra deep bass that a ported subwoofer offers. Sealed also means smaller cabinets which mean more placement flexibility which leads to a better response.
 
Verdinut

Verdinut

Audioholic Samurai
In my living room, with my 3 front full range speakers using subs as woofers, I had been experiencing too much low frequency output due to room gain. The left and right cabinets are close to corners and the two 4" ports are also at the back of the enclosures.
So I plugged one of the ports on each of the three cabinets bringing down the box tuning from 16 Hz to 12 Hz, according to BassBox Pro6 calculations. So far, I am having a smoother overall bass response without any EQing. However in the future, I would like to measure the real frequency response with the Dayton OmniMic and see if it is worthwhile to invest in a newer AVR with Audyssey XT32 or a Dirac Live product.
 
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everettT

everettT

Audioholic Ninja
Where do you think you want to crossover the mains? If full range do you intend to send a full range or .lfe signal to the subs? The sb3000, old sb13, has really good low output combined with your room gain should be nice, as shady noted.

Where are you located?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
FWIW for the LFE channel at -10dB below reference that means peaks of 105dB. (LFE channel is 10dB higher than the others).
 
S

Sendu

Audioholic Intern
Where do you think you want to crossover the mains? If full range do you intend to send a full range or .lfe signal to the subs?
The matching tool on the SVS website told me to use SB16-Ultras with a 50Hz crossover. If it helps, you can see my room and simulations of 0, 1 or 2 subs here.

Where are you located?
I'm in England.
 
everettT

everettT

Audioholic Ninja
The matching tool on the SVS website told me to use SB16-Ultras with a 50Hz crossover. If it helps, you can see my room and simulations of 0, 1 or 2 subs here.



I'm in England.
If you are going to have an integrator come in, let's wait and here what they want to recommend.

If you get the MLs and they cross their woofers at 300hz sealed, I'm curious what their suggestion will be. Have you decided on avr/prepro?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Some installers aren't worth paying for either. How did you determine the skills of the one you hired?
 
S

Sendu

Audioholic Intern
If you are going to have an integrator come in, let's wait and here what they want to recommend.

If you get the MLs and they cross their woofers at 300hz sealed, I'm curious what their suggestion will be. Have you decided on avr/prepro?
Well, they're just dealers and are recommending the products they mainly deal/ are most used to/ get the most profit from. In this case they're pushing REL subs and Arcam AVR pretty hard.

I don't think they've put any thought in to what would work best with the MLs.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
I admit that I've been busy and distracted this past week or so, and I think the quality of my posts are revealing of that. It just occurred to me that I spent a lot of time listening to the ML 15As in a dealer setting about a year ago or so, I almost purchased a pair, and cluelessly didn't put two and two together.

IMO, in your room as you described it, I would not recommend any subwoofers with the 15As. They not only don't need subs to get to 20Hz in-room for you (there are four 12" drivers per system),and they use Anthem correction software to tune the frequency response and phase. In my experience at the dealer it was difficult enough getting Anthem right just with the integrated subs, no less with two powered subs to place and tune on their own.

I recommend you get the 15As and see what you think before you go forward with subs. I really think you won't need them at all.

FWIW, I really liked the 15As. If the dealer had a better demo room it might have convinced me to trade in my Salon2s, but in the end I decided to stay put. I also wasn't sure I could live with the sweet spot effect that electrostatics have, and the upper midrange seemed a little bright to me, like I heard with B&W 800Ds. Nonetheless, after an hour of getting the set-up at the dealer right, I came away thinking the 15As are awesome speakers, and if I had anything less than the Salon2s he would have made the sale. And like I said, I think the poor venue was a big factor (as was the $25K + sales tax price).

Edit: and one more thing: to match the quality of the 15A's bass you're going to need a big high quality sub. Stuff like the SB-1000 or SB-2000 IMO need not apply.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Spartan
Man, yeah I'd never hire an installer, but that's me. I'd rather do it myself and save a few bucks. I also agree with @William Lemmerhirt on the "sealed equals tighter bass" thing. A well designed ported sub will sound just as tight and play lower with more power. The only clear advantage I see going with sealed is if you're tight on space and have to have the smaller enclosure.

I think a pair of PC2000s would give you what you're looking for and they're a little easier to place than a big box. Have you looked into any other manufacturers? I love SVS but their really good stuff can get a little pricey. Normally I'd suggest Hsu also, but I actually read enough og this thread to see you're located in England, lol.
 
S

Sendu

Audioholic Intern
IMO, in your room as you described it, I would not recommend any subwoofers with the 15As. They not only don't need subs to get to 20Hz in-room for you (there are four 12" drivers per system),and they use Anthem correction software to tune the frequency response and phase. In my experience at the dealer it was difficult enough getting Anthem right just with the integrated subs, no less with two powered subs to place and tune on their own.

I recommend you get the 15As and see what you think before you go forward with subs. I really think you won't need them at all.
Thanks. That's one possible conclusion I drew from running REW simulations (see my other thread). Would you still recommend no subs in a surround sound movie context? Have the MLs handle all LFE (if it's possible to tell the AVR to send LFE to the Front L/R speakers)?
 
S

Sendu

Audioholic Intern
Man, yeah I'd never hire an installer, but that's me. I'd rather do it myself and save a few bucks.
In this case, it's a perk of buying lots of stuff from them. I'm not paying for it.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
Thanks. That's one possible conclusion I drew from running REW simulations (see my other thread linked in my previous post here). Would you still recommend no subs in a surround sound movie context? Have the MLs handle all LFE (if it's possible to tell the AVR to send LFE to the Front L/R speakers)?
I doubt you'll need subs at all with MLs, even with action movies. For one thing, the relative bass level is adjustable, and your room is on the small side for these speakers, so if you don't feel enough bass just turn up the bass a bit.

I'm not an AVR set-up expert at all, and I don't like or use surround sound, even for movies. I would just set the AVR L/R speakers to large, turn off everything else, and enjoy some of the best sound the industry has to offer. But that's just me. Others here have much more knowledge about this than I do.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Spartan
I admit that I've been busy and distracted this past week or so, and I think the quality of my posts are revealing of that. It just occurred to me that I spent a lot of time listening to the ML 15As in a dealer setting about a year ago or so, I almost purchased a pair, and cluelessly didn't put two and two together.

IMO, in your room as you described it, I would not recommend any subwoofers with the 15As. They not only don't need subs to get to 20Hz in-room for you (there are four 12" drivers per system),and they use Anthem correction software to tune the frequency response and phase. In my experience at the dealer it was difficult enough getting Anthem right just with the integrated subs, no less with two powered subs to place and tune on their own.

I recommend you get the 15As and see what you think before you go forward with subs. I really think you won't need them at all.

FWIW, I really liked the 15As. If the dealer had a better demo room it might have convinced me to trade in my Salon2s, but in the end I decided to stay put. I also wasn't sure I could live with the sweet spot effect that electrostatics have, and the upper midrange seemed a little bright to me, like I heard with B&W 800Ds. Nonetheless, after an hour of getting the set-up at the dealer right, I came away thinking the 15As are awesome speakers, and if I had anything less than the Salon2s he would have made the sale. And like I said, I think the poor venue was a big factor (as was the $25K + sales tax price).

Edit: and one more thing: to match the quality of the 15A's bass you're going to need a big high quality sub. Stuff like the SB-1000 or SB-2000 IMO need not apply.
Well when you put it that way... :p

I've never seen the 15As much less heard them, but the way Irv describes them in this post I have to agree. With speakers as capable as those are it wouldn't be very productive to go with a smaller sub. I think you should wait until you hear your speakers after they're all set up and decide if you still even need a sub.
 

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