Best BOOM for the buck? - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 24 Old 01-07-10, 04:30 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: NW WA
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Best BOOM for the buck?

I'm new to the forum and fairly new to the Home Theater market. I've been blown away by the level of technical knowledge here, and I'm hoping you guys can help me out with some subwoofer advice.

I've pieced together a system that I'm fairly happy with, but I've become dissatisfied with the low frequency performance. We were watching Pirates of the Caribbean the other night and I could see lots of canon fire and explosions on-screen, but the little 5" woofers in my mains just didn't do it justice. I plugged in an old pair of 8" car subwoofers with a 50W RMS per channel amp. That certainly helped, but I had to max out the subwoofer level on my receiver (+10db) and crank the gains all the way up on the amp to get close to the SPL I was looking for (at which point my poor old woofers started to disintegrate ). I'm willing to toss about $200-250 at this problem, but I'm not sure where the money is best spent... largest woofer? highest wattage output? multiple woofers?

I realize $200 pretty much limits me to the bottom of the barrel to begin with, but hey, you've got to start somewhere. I'm willing to gloss over subtleties in sound quality. The room is not acoustically treated, and nothing else in my system is high-end (Yamaha RX-V365 receiver is the star of the show, mains are hand-me-down Pioneers, surrounds are KLHs from Goodwill). I'm looking for the cheapest way to move the most air so the LFE can be felt, instead of just "implied" by the actions on-screen ;-)

For the sake of comparison, I've arbitrarily limited my examples to Polk equipment. They seem to have a number of offerings in my price range. I'm using their CS-1 center speaker right now and have been satisfied with it. However, please offer suggestions if there are significant differences between brands.

So, the question is this... In my 20'x20' living room, what would get me the most dramatic bass?

- Two 10" powered subs (Polk PSW10, 50W RMS), one on each side of the room
- One 12" powered sub (Polk PSW505, 300W RMS)
- Two 12" car subwoofers (Polk db1240) in separate 1.5 cu ft ported enclosures (one on each side of the room), powered by separate channels of a 200W RMS per channel car amplifier (Pyle PLA2210)

I can wrangle each of these options for less than $250. I really wish I could just buy everything, take it home and try it out, then keep what works best. Based on what I've read elsewhere on the forum, I'm leaning toward the one 12" PSW505. It sounds like multiple subs have the potential to create nulls, cancellation issues, etc. Seems like a headache that's worth avoiding. But I'm also concerned that one 12" won't "fill" the room. At $99/each, the PSW10s are attractive, but I'm afraid I'd have to crank their volume to max just to hear them.

Any advice is appreciated!!
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post #2 of 24 Old 01-07-10, 04:41 PM
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Re: Best BOOM for the buck?

Hi Robin, welcome to the shack

For a proper sub you really need to look at subs with a minimum of a 12" driver. For the budget I would also always choose one good sub over 2 slightly inferior ones.

I would lean towards the single 12" PSW 505 as well. From what I know the Pyle amps are pretty weak so would go that way, and the PSW10's use driver that are too small to be proper subs IMHO. Ive not personally heard the Polk subs, but based on experience thats what I would do for sure in your position
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post #3 of 24 Old 01-07-10, 05:06 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Best BOOM for the buck?

Thanks Moonfly!!

Now that I've got a definite direction (one powered sub, min 12"), are there any other brands/models I should consider?

I'm still working on convincing the Mrs. that we need to spend another $250 on this project. I don't want to make that challenge any harder than it already is. But if I could get something of significantly better quality for an extra $50-75, I'd be a fool not ask ;-)
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post #4 of 24 Old 01-07-10, 05:16 PM
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Re: Best BOOM for the buck?

Its hard for me to offer you a particular brand as I'm not based in the USA, but someone will be along soon to help. In the mean time, why not do a search of the forums to see if any other options stand out. Its certainly worth investing a bit more if you can, and at your end of the budget an extra $50 could make a bit of difference.

All the best
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post #5 of 24 Old 01-07-10, 05:58 PM
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Re: Best BOOM for the buck?

Hi Robin
There are a couple of websites for you to check.
1 - Creative Sound Solutions (link on this site) based in western Canada.
2 - DIYCable, who carry Exodus subwoofers, based in NW USA

Both have excellent 12" drivers, and the amps to drive them. There are also forums for both in the DIY Speakers section. You will find all sorts of proven designs.

If you have more questions, just ask. The people here are super helpful
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post #6 of 24 Old 01-07-10, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Best BOOM for the buck?

Thanks for the pointers!

I'm gonna spend a while shopping around tonight and see if I can come up with any other specific options. After just a quick browse, it's looking like manufactured 12" subs under $300 are pretty scarce, and under $250 are pretty much non-existent.

I hadn't really been considering a DIY sub mainly because it's cold here (Seattle, WA) and I wasn't looking for another project (just finished pulling speaker wire to make the HT install a little more permanent). But, I'm gonna spend some time looking through the DIY Sub posts and see if I can talk myself into anything. I imagine, as with most DIY projects, it's really the only way to get the most bang for your buck.
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post #7 of 24 Old 01-08-10, 01:19 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2009
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Posts: 11
Re: Best BOOM for the buck?

Man! There are some exciting designs out there in the DIY world! I'm going to be an avid lurker in the build projects database, I can tell. But, for today, I think I need more immediate graditification...

I didn't see much else in the pre-built subs that looked attractive. I found a post from '08 about subs under $300 (, but most of them aren't available anymore. I think I'm pretty much sold on the Polk PSW505. The price is right, and it got 5 stars in the customer reviews (

My wife just gave me the go-ahead, so I'm gonna order it up. I'll post a follow-up next week when it gets here...
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post #8 of 24 Old 01-08-10, 10:18 AM
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Re: Best BOOM for the buck?

Welcome Robin. Have fun. Be sure to check out our classified section. Dennis

L Dennis Doan, DC
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SVSound MTS-02 Fronts, MCS-02 Center, SSS-01 surrounds, SBS-02 rear surrounds, (2) SVSound SB-13 Plus Subwoofers
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post #9 of 24 Old 01-08-10, 10:38 AM
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Re: Best BOOM for the buck?

The best low cost 12" driver is the Dayton RSS315H-4 12"

For power look at an O-Audio 300 watt bash amp.

Below are the parameter. These are proven parameters not just simulations. You will get up to 109 db at 20hz with these. That's twice as loud as a jackhammer.

Box parameters
Vb = 4.946 cu.ft
Fb = 17.9 Hz

Vent Dimensions
Hv = 2.5 in
Wv = 9 in
Lv = 36.89 in

This would be a tremendous upgrade from the polk when the time comes
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post #10 of 24 Old 01-08-10, 12:51 PM
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Re: Best BOOM for the buck?

The BIC F12 is typically considered one of the best budget subs. I have not heard one myself, but I suspect it would blow away the Polk.

$255 at amazon
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inexpensive , subwoofer

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