Why do subwoofers need to be so big and heavy?

kystorm

kystorm

Audioholic
Unfortunately it's held back by physics of current driver tech in the meantime :) Could be as small as they're ever going to get on the other hand....
Yeah, we will probably never fit a 10 inch woofer in a 9 inch box:D
 
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Defcon

Audioholic
LOL not likely. Most of my friends give a rats-ass about audio gear let alone subs (which most think I'm a little overboard on :) ).
The same people will spend $1k on phones and tablets and crap like Beats headphones, and $100's on a meal but refuse to spend a fraction of that on proper sound.
 
D

Defcon

Audioholic
Technology progresses but the Laws of Physics are inflexible. It is very unlikely that we will be able to obtain infrasonic performance from smaller boxes than at present. IMO, physicists and acoustic specialists have pretty well covered all the possibilities.
Only as long as we need physical woofers to generate sound waves. There are other ways to generate sound, obviously, the problem is no one is willing to do it because its not financially lucrative.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
The same people will spend $1k on phones and tablets and crap like Beats headphones, and $100's on a meal but refuse to spend a fraction of that on proper sound.
High performance audio is a niche, end of story. I know several people who think I'm a troglodyte because I refuse to spend more than $10 on a bottle of wine, I think expensive watches are a waste of money, I use pens I get from hotel rooms, and I don't have a $2500 espresso machine. I totally understand splurging on a phone; many people spend hours per day fiddling with their smart phone, so the biggest best display, the best cameras, and the UI they want is important to them. If it's not you, whatever, but that doesn't make their decision any less valid than yours.
 
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Drunkpenguin

Audioholic Chief
High performance audio is a niche, end of story. I know several people who think I'm a troglodyte because I refuse to spend more than $10 on a bottle of wine, I think expensive watches are a waste of money, I use pens I get from hotel rooms, and I don't have a $2500 espresso machine. I totally understand splurging on a phone; many people spend hours per day fiddling with their smart phone, so the biggest best display, the best cameras, and the UI they want is important to them. If it's not you, whatever, but that doesn't make their decision any less valid than yours.
Agreed! I spend alot of money in certain areas and very little in others. We some times drink wine out of a box and kinda prefer it. When you drink alot you cant always have the expensive stuff laying around. We do splurge on a good bottle now and then tho. I spend alot on audio/video, but not alot of clothes or shoes. Everybody has their own endless pit to fill.

But pens from hotels? Come on now! Take em from work like the rest of us!
 
Matthew J Poes

Matthew J Poes

Senior Audioholic
Only as long as we need physical woofers to generate sound waves. There are other ways to generate sound, obviously, the problem is no one is willing to do it because its not financially lucrative.
What other ways are there to produce low frequencies? While you can argue that current magnet based dynamic drivers are not the only option, I’m not aware of other methods of reproducing musical signals accurately at low frequencies that differ substantially from common speaker designs. Piezo doesn’t allow enough movement at low frequencies. Ion plasma fluctuations or similar technologies would be massive and dangerous. Electrostatic, planar, etc. would be much larger and less effective.

The main advances that I see coming but aren’t in wide use due to cost is actually linear actuator based designs. A servo based linear actuator allows for far greater excursion in a more linear fashion than magnets and can be more efficient as well.

I suppose we have figured out how to use microwaves to make people hear sound and piezo based sound rays can do so with higher fidelity and higher volume. Those technologies also are believed to cause brain damage and still don’t produce low frequencies.

If you look at the most expensive and highest output log frequency devices used in scientific study, they are still massive and most use dynamic drivers. The only exception I know of is a compressed air based designed around a horn and I’m not sure it’s very wide bandwidth.

http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=1200
Here is an example. I believe the Air Force used such a device. It’s not small and there is nothing practical about it for home audio. When i first read about I looked into making a smaller subwoofer based around the electrocacosutic pneumatic transducer but the compressor was a big problem and the driver works best with a large waveguide or Horn, which at subwoofer bass frequencies are huge. I ultimately decided it was a silly waste of money.
 
Matthew J Poes

Matthew J Poes

Senior Audioholic
Now as for the OP’s comment. All I can say is I feel ya, but unfortunately @shadyJ and others covered it well. Every time some new uber sub comes out I want to test it, but the idea of heaving a giant subwoofer around is not exciting.

I’ve thought a lot about this, what it would take to build a compact high-output subwoofer. There is no free lunch and such a product would be stupid expensive, but higher output and more compact subwoofers are feasible. As I noted earlier, linear drive based drivers would allow a lot more excursion and so the cone could be a smaller diameter. Imagine if a subwoofer driver worked a bit more like a piston on an engine or air pump. You wouldn’t want a slug of steel on the end of a connecting rod, but imagine a disc that silently moves more than 6” in and out at a rapid pace!

More realistically, using technology like Rockford Fosgate and others have developed to make very highe excursion and high BL drivers allows you to build smaller high output drivers. Stick a bunch of those in a small sealed box and add a ton of amplifier power and EQ and you get a lot of output. Add passive radiators and you might be able to score some efficiency down low too.

Enclosures don’t need to be heavy or dense to work well. They actually operate as a pressure vessel below the wall resonant frequency which means all that matters is stiffness to contain the sound. Low frequencies are this best contained by making a light stuff enclosure. That is why a sphere is best and a cylinder is next best. Unfortunately people think these are ugly and a bit expensive to reproduce. Sonotube is ok, it’s actually not ideal. Imagine a carbon fiber sandwhich material made into a tube, that would actually be lighter and stiffer.

@shadyJ has pointed out that such a high output and light subwoofer would probably launch itself around the room. My solution was to bolt it to the floor. Maximum tactile transmission. If you don’t want that, you could mount it to spring isolators. I think this is a great idea, not sure anyone else agrees. It would also be horrifically expensive.

I had a friend who wanted to go into the subwoofer business have me design it out and come up with a material list, parts vendors, and full pricing. Just to build the thing was around $20,000 in small quantities. Even if you are a JTR that becomes a $30,000 subwoofer to sell, and I question how reliable it would be. It would require a dedicated 240 line and use an expensive and exotic driver.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
The same people will spend $1k on phones and tablets and crap like Beats headphones, and $100's on a meal but refuse to spend a fraction of that on proper sound.
I'm really pleased with my $175 phone, as good as the $600 phone a few years before that for what I want out of it, haven't found a reason for a tablet and don't use headphones but have been known to spend a couple hundred on a really fine meal but prefer to cook my own for the most part. Just a matter of what you want, what's important to you, what it's worth to you. Jewelry and clothes have never been important to me, nor fancy furnishings. Good audio is important to me but spending high-end money on esoteric gear isn't. Most people don't understand my bicycle passion (even retired early to ride more). As the Latin saying goes, suum cuique (to each one his own). What is proper sound to you is a nice portable bluetooth speaker to another.
 
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Defcon

Audioholic
I'm really pleased with my $175 phone, as good as the $600 phone a few years before that for what I want out of it, haven't found a reason for a tablet and don't use headphones but have been known to spend a couple hundred on a really fine meal but prefer to cook my own for the most part. Just a matter of what you want, what's important to you, what it's worth to you. Jewelry and clothes have never been important to me, nor fancy furnishings. Good audio is important to me but spending high-end money on esoteric gear isn't. Most people don't understand my bicycle passion (even retired early to ride more). As the Latin saying goes, suum cuique (to each one his own). What is proper sound to you is a nice portable bluetooth speaker to another.
You sound like a reasonable person who spends on what is important to them and is not driven by marketing. Unfortunately, that is not very common these days.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Spartan
Haven't even read this for the last two pages... but considering I just brought two X13s in...
I'm
Just
Laughing

Shady! Tell me you had help! :p
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
Haven't even read this for the last two pages... but considering I just brought two X13s in...
I'm
Just
Laughing

Shady! Tell me you had help! :p
If you are worried that the X13s will be too heavy, they aren't that bad to deal with. They have tall feet, so while they are heavy, they can be 'walked' quite easily. They are a two man job it you want to lift them up to carry, but moving by walking is pretty easy. Try not to drag the feet when you walk them though, if I remember right they are rubber tipped and that can leave a streak if dragged.
 
Matthew J Poes

Matthew J Poes

Senior Audioholic
Haven't even read this for the last two pages... but considering I just brought two X13s in...
I'm
Just
Laughing

Shady! Tell me you had help! :p
James is an unassuming hulkster. You wouldn’t believe what he can hulk around. Why when I built my 18” ported sub in 6 cubic foot enclosure, he heaved this beast over his shoulder like a feather and set it in place with no help from me.

In all seriousness, we’ve been testing at my field for the past year and I’m amazed what James can lift. We used a large garden cart when he tested the SVS 4000 series but, still a lot of heavy lifting.

We actually were all set to test a few hundred lbs of subs in the freezing weather, but snow...yes I just said snow, stopped us. That’s the life of a reviewer. To make this world an acceptable place to live, we brave the elements to bring you truth. I had a permit all set to test these subs on the last clear day of the season and it ended up snowing all day. We decided that maybe testing other people’s subwoofers or even our microphones should not be braving snow. Next clear and dry day we have we will be back out there. No matter how cold, how windy, we will be out there. You deserve to know the truth.
 
MR.MAGOO

MR.MAGOO

Audioholic General
Would a light sub 'walk' across the floor?
I've got a pair of Definitive Technology ProSub 800's (8 inch woofers, weight 26 lbs), just on a whim I placed one on the kitchen floor linoleum, at high volume it indeed would crawl across the floor! Both are now on carpet, and will probably be replaced by something else.
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Ninja
Haven't even read this for the last two pages... but considering I just brought two X13s in...
I'm
Just
Laughing

Shady! Tell me you had help! :p
Hey If I can handle 2 Pb 4000's on my own then @ryanosaur u got no excuse buddy! Suck it up! :D
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Ninja
James is an unassuming hulkster. You wouldn’t believe what he can hulk around. Why when I built my 18” ported sub in 6 cubic foot enclosure, he heaved this beast over his shoulder like a feather and set it in place with no help from me.

In all seriousness, we’ve been testing at my field for the past year and I’m amazed what James can lift. We used a large garden cart when he tested the SVS 4000 series but, still a lot of heavy lifting.

We actually were all set to test a few hundred lbs of subs in the freezing weather, but snow...yes I just said snow, stopped us. That’s the life of a reviewer. To make this world an acceptable place to live, we brave the elements to bring you truth. I had a permit all set to test these subs on the last clear day of the season and it ended up snowing all day. We decided that maybe testing other people’s subwoofers or even our microphones should not be braving snow. Next clear and dry day we have we will be back out there. No matter how cold, how windy, we will be out there. You deserve to know the truth.
Seriously? An 18 inches in a six cubic foot enclosure? That's crazy! I wonder what that puppy can do! You gotta send us pics!
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Spartan
James is an unassuming hulkster. You wouldn’t believe what he can hulk around. Why when I built my 18” ported sub in 6 cubic foot enclosure, he heaved this beast over his shoulder like a feather and set it in place with no help from me.

In all seriousness, we’ve been testing at my field for the past year and I’m amazed what James can lift. We used a large garden cart when he tested the SVS 4000 series but, still a lot of heavy lifting.

We actually were all set to test a few hundred lbs of subs in the freezing weather, but snow...yes I just said snow, stopped us. That’s the life of a reviewer. To make this world an acceptable place to live, we brave the elements to bring you truth. I had a permit all set to test these subs on the last clear day of the season and it ended up snowing all day. We decided that maybe testing other people’s subwoofers or even our microphones should not be braving snow. Next clear and dry day we have we will be back out there. No matter how cold, how windy, we will be out there. You deserve to know the truth.
And @shady if you guys need a field in Sonoma county for winter testing, and a place to lay your heads... just holler. I wanna learn the magic!
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Spartan
Hey If I can handle 2 Pb 4000's on my own then @ryanosaur u got no excuse buddy! Suck it up! :D
Don’t know how big your boxes were... but when I figure out how to get these photos up and you see this box 1cm from my door knob... I can lift the sub...
But...
Damn!
That box! o_O
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Spartan
If you are worried that the X13s will be too heavy, they aren't that bad to deal with. They have tall feet, so while they are heavy, they can be 'walked' quite easily. They are a two man job it you want to lift them up to carry, but moving by walking is pretty easy. Try not to drag the feet when you walk them though, if I remember right they are rubber tipped and that can leave a streak if dragged.
No worries, there. Just dolly’ed them up a few steps, down a hall. And pushed them through my doorway into my office.
Just lost 1/8 of my floor.
Can’t get in the door.

Can I hook ‘em up while they’re still boxed... ya?:rolleyes:
Sure am glad you talked me outa that double 15” Rythmik! (And that I couldn’t quite afford that double 18” Deep Sea.o_O
 

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