I'm currently using 3 subs. A SVS for HT, a Kef PSW2500 for stereo (also used for HT) and a NHT Sub-1 aka "The Octave" (f3 of ~50Hz, so not a REAL sub) on the rears.
I have a passive DIY (f3 ~15hz) that I may integrate into the system. I have 2 channels on my HT amp that I'm not using. I've heard good and bad things about using multiple subs; stereo subs (of the same make and model) seem to be highly regarded.
IMHO-there's no substitute for a powered sub. The best placement for mains isn't usually the location for a sub. It is, however, a trade-off. A quality sub isn't cheap, and proper set-up can be quite involved. You get added bass (of course) and more depth in the soundstage with a good sub, but sometimes the bass isn't as clean and detailed. Also, I've found that 2 channel is much less forgiving than surround sound.
Given the choice, however, I'd rather have full range mains for stereo (as long as they image well). It also depends quite a bit on the type of music. For light jazz I'd rather hear the details of the bass player; for rock, I like the punch of the sub.
Last edited by wgmontgomery; 02-17-12 at 08:01 PM..
I am strictly 2 channel, and have had many systems. Never again will I be without subwoofers.
If quality subs are not complementing quality mains, there is a set up issue that needs addressed. Integration problems are not the fault of the sub. Room, speaker placement and listening position are always the the Big 3.
I do find it amusing that the sub always gets the blame for poor bass sound in a 2.1 system. The mains could just as well be the problem.
"I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit." - Bill Hicks
"Room, speaker placement and listening position are always the the Big 3." +1
I would state, however, that if the sub is a piece of garbage there's not a lot that can be done about it. Many HTIAB "subs" have to reproduce frequencies >150Hz; that does not make for good integration regardless of sub position.
That statement echos your observation of mains (sometimes) being the real culprit; if the mains were able to reproduce bass down to ~80Hz it would not be such a problem. There's just really no way that a 3 inch driver is going to produce 80Hz-20kHz, and "full range" drivers of that size are not uncommon in some "box" systems.
I'm also using a Rythmik subwoofer. Very few monitor speakers will be able to handle to give you truly satisfying bass. If you are using a floorstander that is another topic altogether, but pushing down cabinet resonances is a lot harder with a speaker that has multiple drivers that dig down deep.
Rythmik subs are very good. I heard a two channel system a year ago with not one, not two, not three, but four Rythmik subs and it sounded fantastic on the low end. Surprisingly it wasn't bass-heavy, it was powerful, quick, and wonderfully textured. I asked why so many subs in a 2 channel system, and he said that it was because any less made the low frequencies feel/sound too directional. Room treatment likely would've been a good alternative in his case, but he also really likes the kick drum punch, and the four Rythmiks gave him just what he wanted.
Odd situation, but, even with 4 of them, I can attest to how fast and good the Rythmik's sound!
Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx
I'm fine with either. I definitely prefer using a sub, but I'm not going to be upset or not enjoy the music if I'm not using one. When listening to music on my computer, it's just 2.0 (I sold my computer sub a couple months ago). When listening to music with the HT system, it's in 2.1. I did plan on getting a new sub for the computer, but I find myself listening to the HT speakers more often now so I don't think I'll bother.
If I could find a JL Audio Fathom at Goodwill I'd be set for life! I have a Kef PSW2500 (sealed design) on the mains, and the SVS is used for HT. The SVS goes much deeper, but the bass seems to lag a bit behind the Dynaudio mains' bass.
I'd guess that most people would be better off without any sub than using a very cheap one. I'll put the Rythmik subs on my short list. I just got laid-off from work, so any purchase will have to wait.