Which Subwoofer should I keep?

C

ClairET

Enthusiast
Hi all, new to the forum. Was an audiophile back in the day, but with life's commitments I haven't been able to spend much on HT. I recently found a bargain on a set of NHTs in mint condition. Two pairs of 1.3a, one VT-1C center and an SW-2P sub. I had DCM TimeWindow 1As back in the day, then had to go to Polk towers or space reasons, then got squeezed down to Klipsch Quinted IVs, when I could no longer fit the Polks in. By now, most of you audiophiles are cringing, but that's the history. I've always been a big NHT fan, but never had a set and really liked the speakers I have now, when they were first introduced, so it's like going full circle. BTW, for now, I cannot use the second set of 1.3, without reconfiguring out builtins, so in the interim, I picked up a set of almost mint SuperZeros for $45 for rear surround.

With this in mind, I had forgotten what real audio sounded like. These things are blowing me away as much now as before. Now for the premise of my question. I now have the SW-2P, but there's a short in the RCA connections, requiring repair. If I move them just right, the sub plays fine, but you really have to find the sweet spot on the connections. Obviously this isn't sustainable in the long run and repairs can be pricey. With my old Folks, I had also purchased a PSW505 sub, which still works fine. With the above NHT purchase, the original owner had also purchased a Definitive ProSub 100tl, when the NHT RCA connections had failed. So my question, which do I keep? I'm having a tough time ABing them, without making major changes and the NHT is just tough to AB. I remember the 8" version paired with SuperZeros blowing my socks off back in the day, but with the current connections, I can't really tell how it'll sound. The PSW505 is technically a 12", but most of that is the oversized surround. The NHT is rated at 80 watts, but don't recall NHT underperforming. Don't know much about the Definitive. Sounds fairly close to the Polk for the most part. I think I'm hearing a lower rumble with the Polk.

So what do you guys think? Is the NHT sub amp worth fixing and keeping, or just stay with one of the others. I suppose selling all three and getting something like the new SS10/CS10 could be an option too, but likely will still have to come to the table with some cash going that route.

Thanks in advance!
 
davidscott

davidscott

Audioholic General
No help here with the sub choice but I too had a pair of DCM Time Windows 1A back in the day. I sure do miss them as they were the best speakers I have ever owned(not heard). Hard to believe those speakers sounded so good with relatively inexpensive drivers.
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Ninja
Well...it depends on a few things I guess. Is the main interest to actually keep one? Most of us would likely move onto something else, if the budget allows. Def tech subs generally aren’t that great but can be Ok in smaller rooms. I have a lot of experience with the 505. It is an OK starter sub but is kind of a one note wonder, and makes objectionable sounds when pushed hard. It has reasonable output, but not much extension, pretty much done by 25hz. On the higher end of the FR, it doesn’t sound very good above about 60hz. This will probably make it hard to integrate with the nht’s.

So if you can, I would sell whatever you don’t want, and invest in a better subwoofer altogether. I’m sure like most of us, budget will be a factor, but also, you need to consider the room it will go into.

If the answer is that you will absolutely end up keeping one, I’d keep the 505. Option B though, is you might use them together. That can be tricky but hey...
 
C

ClairET

Enthusiast
Thanks for the replies. So, I did get the RCA jacks to hold long enough on the SW2P to critically listen to it compared to the PSW505 and the two are night and day different. Now I can really hear the heavy handedness of the 505. The SW2 is definitely smoother and more musical, but according to NHT it’s louder and punchier than their new SS10, but not as musical! Now I’m really curious...of the above recommended brands, which models would be most musical while still performing well in a HT setting. I have a feeling this is where the difference between the 505 and SW2 will be the reverse of music. I have to keep to no more than $500 budget though. Also, any input on the NHT SS10 vs some of the above recommendations? I know room, genre, etc makes a difference, but curious if anyone has a comparisons.
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Ninja
Well after reading NHT’s literature, I’m not very impressed. Small sealed 10” will not deliver much for movies, and while it will bolster the small supers, if the room is large at all, or on concrete it won’t output much.
For 500 bucks the pb1000 is a much better choice.


If the room is a little smaller, I would really look at the RSL speedwoofer. It IS a 10”, but has real output to 20hz and is very musical. Plus it’s only 400 bucks. If you can stretch it, I think they might do a pair for 750.(have to check for sure). https://rslspeakers.com/speedwoofer10s/
In any case, there are better options. IMO...
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Just seems you need to re-orient your sub info.
 
C

ClairET

Enthusiast
No help here with the sub choice but I too had a pair of DCM Time Windows 1A back in the day. I sure do miss them as they were the best speakers I have ever owned(not heard). Hard to believe those speakers sounded so good with relatively inexpensive drivers.
Most definitely. I was always amazed at the sound quality considering the cheap drivers. Always wondered how they would have sounded with nice drivers.
Just seems you need to re-orient your sub info.
Was this directed at me? If so can you elaborate?
 
C

ClairET

Enthusiast
Well after reading NHT’s literature, I’m not very impressed. Small sealed 10” will not deliver much for movies, and while it will bolster the small supers, if the room is large at all, or on concrete it won’t output much.
For 500 bucks the pb1000 is a much better choice.
That seems to be a very nice option, and a decent price too.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Most definitely. I was always amazed at the sound quality considering the cheap drivers. Always wondered how they would have sounded with nice drivers.

Was this directed at me? If so can you elaborate?
Just meant you might want to update on subs available....I'm with William's suggestion of an RSL Speedwoofer 10S or SVS PB1000.....or maybe Hsu VTF-2 mk5 for a bit more than your budget. All I think will outperform any of the ones you have. Altho fixing an rca connection I'd do myself....
 
C

ClairET

Enthusiast
Just meant you might want to update on subs available....I'm with William's suggestion of an RSL Speedwoofer 10S or SVS PB1000.....or maybe Hsu VTF-2 mk5 for a bit more than your budget. All I think will outperform any of the ones you have. Altho fixing an rca connection I'd do myself....
I've been out of the game for over a decade, and things have most definitely changed, especially with subs. Don't ever recall seeing LFE out or through when I was looking at options before. LOL!!! Don't think I can squeeze in two subs. The room is large, the AV system is in builtins and the room is open on two sides with a sliding door on the third. That makes it real tough to find a spot for a second sub. Furniture placement with respects to the TV won't help either. It's not in my budget to go with two subs, but even if I could swing it, it's just not going to work in this room. I'll be super happy with one sub that can cover music and movies equally.

Funny you should mention repairing the RCAs yourself. I just got the amp apart and can see the solder on two of the three prongs on the board have come loose. Would have fixed them already, but I need a new tip for my soldering iron, so it waits.

I'm definitely looking into the subs mentioned here. Now that I've been able to AB and C the three I listed as original options here, I'm definitely liking the smoothness of the NHT by a long shot. Watched a movie last night and a deep earthshaking rumble it does not have, but for music....it's sweet by comparison. The 505 definitely rumbles more on movies, but bass cellos are muddy. The Definitive neither rumbles like the 505, nor sounds clear as the SW2. It's also the least transparent, so I've eliminated it from the options.

I'm sure at least one of the subs offered as options above will cover the gaps better than what I have, so thanks all for the recommendations.
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Ninja
Yeah I agree. You only have one way to go. Up! Or down...??? Lol as you’ve found already in testing quality bass shouldn’t be underestimated!
 
2

2channel lover

Audioholic General
I've been out of the game for over a decade, and things have most definitely changed, especially with subs. Don't ever recall seeing LFE out or through when I was looking at options before. LOL!!! Don't think I can squeeze in two subs. The room is large, the AV system is in builtins and the room is open on two sides with a sliding door on the third. That makes it real tough to find a spot for a second sub. Furniture placement with respects to the TV won't help either. It's not in my budget to go with two subs, but even if I could swing it, it's just not going to work in this room. I'll be super happy with one sub that can cover music and movies equally.

Funny you should mention repairing the RCAs yourself. I just got the amp apart and can see the solder on two of the three prongs on the board have come loose. Would have fixed them already, but I need a new tip for my soldering iron, so it waits.

I'm definitely looking into the subs mentioned here. Now that I've been able to AB and C the three I listed as original options here, I'm definitely liking the smoothness of the NHT by a long shot. Watched a movie last night and a deep earthshaking rumble it does not have, but for music....it's sweet by comparison. The 505 definitely rumbles more on movies, but bass cellos are muddy. The Definitive neither rumbles like the 505, nor sounds clear as the SW2. It's also the least transparent, so I've eliminated it from the options.

I'm sure at least one of the subs offered as options above will cover the gaps better than what I have, so thanks all for the recommendations.
Just responding to the initial post.

It's been about 2 yrs now, but I was building a new HT system from the ground up after 20+ yrs with the system I had. I had an old 15" Paradigm sub...comparatively speaking, the newer subs are much faster, less boomy, but still can go bone shaking low.

I would get a new sub.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
I've been out of the game for over a decade, and things have most definitely changed, especially with subs. Don't ever recall seeing LFE out or through when I was looking at options before. LOL!!! Don't think I can squeeze in two subs. The room is large, the AV system is in builtins and the room is open on two sides with a sliding door on the third. That makes it real tough to find a spot for a second sub. Furniture placement with respects to the TV won't help either. It's not in my budget to go with two subs, but even if I could swing it, it's just not going to work in this room. I'll be super happy with one sub that can cover music and movies equally.

Funny you should mention repairing the RCAs yourself. I just got the amp apart and can see the solder on two of the three prongs on the board have come loose. Would have fixed them already, but I need a new tip for my soldering iron, so it waits.

I'm definitely looking into the subs mentioned here. Now that I've been able to AB and C the three I listed as original options here, I'm definitely liking the smoothness of the NHT by a long shot. Watched a movie last night and a deep earthshaking rumble it does not have, but for music....it's sweet by comparison. The 505 definitely rumbles more on movies, but bass cellos are muddy. The Definitive neither rumbles like the 505, nor sounds clear as the SW2. It's also the least transparent, so I've eliminated it from the options.

I'm sure at least one of the subs offered as options above will cover the gaps better than what I have, so thanks all for the recommendations.
It doesn't surprise me the NHT was the best of the three. I'd avoid Polk and DefTec for subs generally (altho on occasion in the past they've had reasonable models but nothing currently I can think of). Figured the rca repair wouldn't be too hard. Lots of ID sub companies to choose from and even a site to look at third party measurements (aside from the ones available here on AH) at data-bass.com. DIY can be attractive, too.
 
C

ClairET

Enthusiast
I'll for sure be going down the path of a new sub, but need time to sort it all out. For now, I've repaired the RCA's on the NHT amp, which worked splendidly. Problem is, it still has some mild crackling coming in from somewhere on the board, so when things are quiet, they are definitely noticeable.

If anyone is interested, I ran my test disk, which has a frequency sweep from 5Hz to 20kHz and also in interments among other things like bass tracks, drum tracks, vocal tracks, etc. I'm sure you all have them. This is an oldie from my first audiophile days. Anyway, The NHT does play the 5Hz, on up sweeps with things becoming very audible at 18 and super powerful at 20 on up. I guess no surprise there, so far as the audible part is concerned. Couldn't really feel the lower sweeps much, but they were there. The sweeps between sub and all other NHTs were super smooth and balanced. The Polk 505 definitely has low frequency blockers built in and there was no cone movement till about 18 with things becoming audible, but not with the power of the NHT at around 21. My test disc doesn't increment above 21, so couldn't quite nail down where the Polk really comes to life.

So the interesting point...to me anyway was how smooth the frequency sweep was across the NHT and how many drop outs there were on the 505. There are definitely missing frequencies. Now, I mentioned earlier that the 505 hit harder at the lower frequencies when watching movies. Now I'm not so sure! The wife and I were watching a movie on the NHT sub originally and things were fine. Not earth shattering, but we really weren't thinking of the sub much at all. Then the crackling started up with the NHT again and all of the quiet scenes were being impacted by the noise, so I switched to the 505. Here's the interesting part, I had volume matched the two when I was testing, so nothing changed, but vocals and general scenes just had something missing. Even my non-audiophile wife said, it's back to sounding like it was before, where things weren't balanced and tougher to hear!

We've had this issue for a while with the old Polks as well as the Klipsch Quinted. Having done the frequency incremental and sweep test with the 505, I now know there are missing frequencies in the sub toward the higher mid bass range, but wow what a difference. All these years I've thought it was something with the room and moved things around as much as I could. There was some improvement with some positions, but never quite right. I was suspecting my Onkyo receiver as the culprit, but now know it was the sub! I don't know, I wouldn't have thought it. Maybe there's some phase cancelation with the 505? I've tried the phase switch on the 505, but it never did much for the vocals.

Forgot how much fun it was to play around with audio, but never had sets of speakers or subs to experiment with. It was recommended I keep the 505 over the other two sub options, if I were to keep one, but that seems less of a choice now, given the few test I've ran. I'e already got a buyer for the Definitive, so that's on its way out. The 505 is now not an option either given the discoveries, so I'll likely put it up for sale as well. The NHT isn't worth anything at its current state, unless I can sort out the crackling, but between the first two at least, I should be close to getting a sub upgrade. For me, it's kind of a bummer about the NHT sub though. I'd really like to get it working. Something kinda cool about the old dinosaur. Seems to be begging to be brought back to life at least. NHT really did make a great sub for its time back then and the cabinet is really cool looking in it's gloss finish. Seems a shame not to at least get it working.

On a side note: I'm yet to notice a difference in power between the old 10" 80 watt relic and the 12" 300 watt 505. The NHT played down lower and never ran out of power on the tests, so...preaching to the choir here, but someone is fudging their numbers and power isn't everything! Looking at the 505 and knowing it has ripple the power of the NHT though, one would expect a lot more from the Polk.

I didn't have to prove this to myself again though. Back in the day when I was building custom sub boxes for cars, I would try my best to build the smallest and lowest powered sub, just for the extra wow factor of going against someone with twice or three times as much and getting better results. All things you all have heard before...but I'm new here! LOL!
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
On a side note: I'm yet to notice a difference in power between the old 10" 80 watt relic and the 12" 300 watt 505. The NHT played down lower and never ran out of power on the tests, so...preaching to the choir here, but someone is fudging their numbers and power isn't everything! Looking at the 505 and knowing it has ripple the power of the NHT though, one would expect a lot more from the Polk.
Without knowing more details of the amp rating and the sensitivity of the sub system....wattage doesn't mean a lot on it's own. Not a good metric to choose or judge a sub by.
 
C

ClairET

Enthusiast
Without knowing more details of the amp rating and the sensitivity of the sub system....wattage doesn't mean a lot on it's own. Not a good metric to choose or judge a sub by.
Oh, right! I had forgotten about that detail. Haven’t been able to find that info on either amp...
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Oh, right! I had forgotten about that detail. Haven’t been able to find that info on either amp...
It's more about the information about the driver/box combo that yields sensitivity, and very few subs come with such info (aside from DIYs).
 
C

ClairET

Enthusiast
Well, I cleaned all connections on the nht amp, reheated any dull solder joints and put the amp back together. That seems to have resolved the crackling issue. Now things sound as they should. I’m going to take the advice presented here and upgrade the sub, but still having fun learning the differences. With my limited ability to move the sub around the room, not having the rear firing slotted port of the 505 has definitely made the sound more even and less boomy. The NHT clarity is now even better after the fix, but it suffers on the extreme low and there is some port noise at the low range.

All subs recommend here, except the outlaw are front firing with ports (if any) on the side as the driver. I’m assuming the better subs do this to avoid the boom and mud and give more flexibility to positioning, or is there another reason?
 

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