To sub or not to sub in 2-channel system - Page 3 - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #21 of 40 Old 07-16-06, 02:51 AM
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Re: To sub or not to sub

On a seperate note (pun intended), what I hear with a main speaker crossed over and a sub picking up the low frequencies (presuming quality components properly calibrated) is less intermodulation distortion (a cleaner sound).
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post #22 of 40 Old 07-16-06, 05:42 AM
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Re: To sub or not to sub

JimP wrote:
Just for discussion purposes, it sounds like you're comments are based on your personal listening experiences that did not approach reality. So does it reason that maybe you just haven't heard systems that were accurate?
I can hardly believe you are being serious Jim.

Define "accurate" in the context of stereo or multichannel AV?

It is a totally meaningless expression no matter whose product loyalty colours you nail to your own mast. Wilson, Krell, Velo, Quad, M&K, SVS, Naim, Dynaudio, B&O, Bose, digital, analogue, electrostatic, IB or whatever.

Sound reproduction is a clever illusion. Nothing more. No two human beings can even agree what it should really sound like! They will buy (or construct) equipment based on their own tastes, superstitions and pocket

Over 40 years of listening to reproduced music I have heard many hundreds of systems. Some were obscenely costly. Many others more affordable. Many were exciting with great rhythm so that I was "instantly locked into the beat". Or so eye-wateringly emotional that they "clutched at my heart strings". Or were incredily impressive so that "I was pushed back in my seat". Or sounded so real "you could put out your hand and touch them". What has this to do with "accurate"? Can you put your hand out to a real singer or violinist with pinpoint accuracy at 10 feet? I cetainly can't. Rather oddly; none of these sytems could do all of these magical things all at once. Why not?

Dynamics are never truly realistic and probably never can be without a major sea-change in reproduction equipment. Present transducer innefficiencies are far too low and alternatives suffer from serious colourations or limited power handling.

We are only just getting into the reproduction of infrasonics using IBs and rotary subs. Yet we are all subjected to infrasonics every day of our lives. Who knows where this will lead in "accurate" sound reproduction? Perhaps up the same blind alleys as superweeters fed with limited bandwidth signals?

Where is the everyday minutŠ of detail in musical reproduction you can hear from simply picking up any instrument you may have to hand? Exactly how thick was that sock they put over the studio microphone?

The recordings you listen to are made in another environment from yours. Are you listening to their reverberation and decay or your own? Where was the microphone placed? Close or distant? Multichannel/multimike/multitrack? Digital or analogue? What about deliberate or accidental compression and upper or lower roll off points?

If the recordings are monitored on another system than your own in another environment. What pet tricks did the engineer apply? What is his system frequency response and average SPL compared to yours? How good is is his hearing compared to yours? Did he use your own speakers & subwoofers in your own listening room to ensure the "highs","mids" and "bass" would sound "accurate" coming from your system when you played his carefully engineered "work" at home?

LP or CD or DVD? Name your poison.

I think that labours the point quite well enough. I've still been thoroughly enjoying my music as I typed the sunshiny day away.

Last edited by Chrisbee; 07-16-06 at 05:48 AM.
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post #23 of 40 Old 07-16-06, 03:33 PM
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Lightbulb Re: To sub or not to sub

I don't believe partitioning HT advocates into the audio fidelity camp or the personal taste camp is a useful dichotomy. I would venture to say that the vast majority of us do what we do because we find this to be a fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable hobby. As such, personal tastes and preferences take front stage in our endeavor.
Excellent debate! There are far fewer standards in the music recording realm than in video. Perhaps this is another 'chicken vs. egg' problem. A recording engineer has no way of predicting what type of acoustical venue his program will be heard in. It's true that most audio consumers are left with personal experience, preference and taste as their primary qualitative rules of measure. I was first an audiophile before home theater became a viability for the average consumer. My first Imaging Science Foundation training was a revelation in that I discovered solid reference standards and reliable methods of measuring accuracy and fidelity in the imaging industries. The ISF's current president, Joel Silver, came from a high end audio background. He will be the first to tell you that it's much simpler to get consistent results with video than audio. There's also the dirty little secret that many recording engineers have serious hearing loss from a career of long hours of high SPL exposure.

There are literally thousands of recording studios in the world with varying acoustical characteristics, but only scores of primary movie dubbing stages. Very few recording studios are built alike. Many judgements are made based upon the use of nearfield monitors or headphones. The major film industry dubbing stages all follow a standard type of construction design that emulates the typical commercial theater. Therefore it's much easier to achieve predictable results with multi-channel film sound in the home than music recordings. The multi-channel music recording industry is still struggling with establishing consistent standards and practices.

The only reference most of us really have to judge "reality" with recorded music is our experience with live musical performances. With video, "reality" is what the program producer viewed on his professional calibrated prost-production monitor. Due to the efforts of SMPTE, THX, the ISF, Joe Kane Productions, etc., consumer displays can come very close to reference performance with calibration. Thanks to George Lucas, THX, Dolby Labs, DTS, etc., in the case of multi-channel film sound, consumers can come pretty close to emulating the sound field of a commercial theater, especially in a rectangular dedicated home theater. Unfortunately, there is just no way to determine what a music recording engineer intended for us to hear outside of good headphones. When it comes to multi-channel music recordings, even headphones are eliminated as a reference.

Getting back to the topic of this thread, many home audio consumers don't have a desire to replicate the live audio perfomance in their listening room. They rely primarily upon what sounds good to them. Other consumers have musical training, performance experience, and/or very specific reference standards, and seek to duplicate what they consider accurate "reality." Advice or opinions about the suitability or desireability of using a subwoofer in a two channel speaker setup, has to be taken through a wide variety of analytical 'filters' before acceptance. By "acceptance" I mean spending one's money on a solution.

We're all learning more every day in this field. That's why I love the challenge of debating these issues.

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CinemaQuest, Inc.
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post #24 of 40 Old 07-17-06, 12:38 AM
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Re: To sub or not to sub

A lot of good, thought provoking responses; some technical, authoritative, opinionated, and even maybe one metaphysical. Alan as moderator, its right for you to steer us back to the topic at hand but I can't resist making a few more remarks along this line of thinking.

My wife and I sometimes like to attend Powell Symphony Hall in St. Louis. If you look at their seating chart we can choose to sit right up front in the left/center/right Dress Circle Box seats (only if your rich), or further back in the left/center/right Grand Circle seats or up in the left/right Grand Tier seats, or back in the Terrace seats, or in the balcony. At each of these locations you will hear a unique orchestral sound. So which location do you chose to hear the most representative sound from the orchestra? You can't. The sound at each seating location is a valid if unique representation of the orchestra. Which location do you chose to hear the best sound? That depends on personal taste.

And then you take a look at where are the mics located; some are hanging from the ceiling, some are on stage, a few are scattered about the first string section, one is right by the piano, etc. Is any seat in the house remotely close to any of these mics? NO.

Later back at the studio some hapless engineer has to mix, equalize, cut, boost, fade, pan, expand, reverb, and... this multi-channel audio stream and turn it into a marketable item. And as Alan pointed out he is half deaf to begin with.

So months later you get home from work and there in the mailbox is this multimedia package from Telarc. You tear it open and gnaw off that stupid tape they put along the edge of the jewel case. You pop the SACD into your fiercely modded DVD player sitting on kryptonite blocks and sit back to relive that night Leonard Slatkin conducted the St. Louis Symphony to Beethoven's 6th. But you can't.

My point in this little allegory is to illustrate that what we hear at home is not what you or any else would hear at a live concert. As Chris pointed out more aptly and certainly more succinctly than I is that we cannot faithfully re-create the past in any media. As technology and theory improve we do better at creating more convincing illusions, and as Alan stated we are a lot better at this with video than we are with audio. CD’s are infidels; beautiful un-faithful reproductions of sound.
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post #25 of 40 Old 07-17-06, 02:41 AM
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Re: To sub or not to sub

After decades of my struggling with huge DIY enclosures for a few Hertz more, commercial subwoofers are now taking ever-greater strides into the longer wavelengths. Still early days of course but they are showing steady progress.

Ironically it was an FM radio, organ music broadcast that rekindled my interest in bass reproduction. Years of listening to shoebox monitors in very large rooms had been building frustration which I was cheerfully unaware of until that exact moment.

I would come home from dealer demos and hifi shows insolently smug in the knowledge that my own system sounded infinitely better than anything I heard elsewhere. My bubble finally burst during that broadcast and a torrent of bass has poured out of my system ever since.
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post #26 of 40 Old 08-08-06, 12:35 AM
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post #27 of 40 Old 08-08-06, 04:24 AM
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Re: To sub or not to sub

CD's certainly sound a lot different than a live performance, a part of it might be the natural reverbertion of the room but there are probably other factors affecting the sound.
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post #28 of 40 Old 08-08-06, 11:06 AM
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Re: To sub or not to sub

I'm using my subwofer for music. I'm crossed over at 60Hz instead of 80Hz. It seems to anchor the bass to the mains better. I've played wtih my house curve and settled in with a set of parameters that sound the most real to me.

We all have "personal taste" in "audio fidelity." That is to say, what sounds true to you?

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post #29 of 40 Old 08-02-07, 04:11 PM
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Re: To sub or not to sub

I'm an ex musician and a long time proponent of home listening devices.
I just attended a live Ronnie MiLsap concert which also featured John Anderson and John Conlee.
The ONLY musician at that concert to get the "sound" balanced (bass boxes, mids, and treble arrays) was the blind guy.
It's true that what we are priviledged to hear at home is one man's opinion or creation of musical sounds or the sounds and noises of realistic action. The action can be quite "life like" . . . . . but music has a long way to go before we'll accept it as "life like".
My opinion, use a sub. Ronnie Milsap does.
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post #30 of 40 Old 08-03-07, 09:07 AM
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Re: To sub or not to sub

I have Rock Solid (B&W) monitors in the basement family room for music listening and VHS (gasp!) movie watching. The bass out of these little speakers is pretty amazing, but their low end limits are evident. Several years ago I found one of the last new in box AR S112PS subwoofers. This particular sub is an overachiever and is well matched to the Rock Solids. Not only does it improve dramatically the movie experience, the music listening has been enhanced incredibly. The extended bass just seems to be there without detracting from the two channel mids and highs handled excellently by the Rock Solids. It would seem to me a perfectly acceptable solution to go with very high quality bookshelves and a good, well-placed subwoofer for two channel music.
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