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High End Subwoofer [Buy Hints Request]

15020 Views 54 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Sam Ash
Hi all, this is my first post and after days spent reading this forum pages i decided to register to take advantage of your experience (and kindness) on the subject, to the facts now.
It always comes down to what our money can buy best based on our taste and need...
I'm looking to buy a sub(or two) that will fit into my HT/Stereo setup.
I want a sub that can go really low in frequency with a usable db volume(not just the marketing specs), loud enough to really bring to life those LFE in my 50 mq2 room(earthquake like power or similar :)), extreme musicality(and i mean extreme) so that it can match the front speaker finesse, blazing fast speed so that it doesn't get boomy.

Now after reading tons of review, tests, and more.....i'm more confused than ever and can't take a decision.
I read on this forum and elsewhere too as the model X produces more SPL of the model Y so i might have an idea s to what i could buy in terms of muscles but what about musicality, the capability to faithfully reproduce music and sensations related to it?
Some people hinted me the REL Gibraltar (G1) as one of the most musical sub ever but honestly didn't find a little bit of info on the web on this sub and its price tag is high for what it offers in terms of power handling and tech(and compared to the competition as well).

My setup is as follows:

FRONT: Focal Electra 1038 Be2
CENTER: Focal Electra CC1008 Be2
SIDE/BACK: Focal Chorus 836V
SUB1/2: ?/?

I'm looking into a max $$$ of 7000€ for this purchase, thanks in advance for any hint.
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There are a ton of available options, and 7k is a mega budget. Are you after a single sub, a pair, additional eq, or have you even considered building something.

I personally wouldnt be looking at Rel, I would be thinking more along the lines of Paradigm, or Velodyne etc. I would also be thinking about a possible pair of subs. I would be seriously looking into DIY options before parting with all that cash though, an IB with that kind of budget would be amazing and destroy most of what is commercially available.
Welcome to the Forum. Have fun. Dennis
Well actually I don't have the know how nor the instruments to build a sub so i excluded that option as a starter.
About manufactured subs i'll set for anything that gets what i want done, be it two rather than one sub, be it paradigm or velodyne.
I also considered Paradigm Sub 25(which looks like it is considered better than the velodyne's) and proposed it to my local dealer who assisted me with my setup until now (he's that kind of stereophile old style uber maniacal over everything with a setup that goes beyond the 150000 USD price tag) and he started whining just about how bad a sub of that kind would be musically speaking "with that kind of rigid suspension"...
Honestly I'm confused...what I can say is that this man has a certain level of experience after 30+ years in this field...i'm here to listen to a different opinion :)
I hope i make any sense at all with my babbling.
By the way what's wrong with the REL G1(besides the price), anyone tested it first hand?

Edit: Ty Dennis.
DIY isn't hard. Cabinets pre-built can be bought, drivers (subs) can be bought and amps can be bought. All you have to do is put it all together. Couldn't be any easier. :clap:

Musicality in a sub is an overblown myth in my opinion. Short of rap music, most genre don't go below 30Hz at the extreme and most todays subs can easily cover and blend well. :eek:lddude:

No personal experience with REL, but have heard nothing but good about them. They are ideal if one is independently wealthy, but for most who are not, DIY and IB is the best you can get. And can compete with ease against the most expensive commercial subs. But back to the REL, those are the type of sub that people THINK are great because they cost so much. Kind of like people that think a power cable will change the sonic properties of an amplifier.:rofl:

Also, where is your location? Mail/internet order is likely your best bet. I don't have a USD $150,000 system (really? Why would ANYONE need something like that unless they have more dollars than sense?) but it is extremely musical and for movies shakes the house on its foundation.:rubeyes::hsd::heehee:
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Thanks for the advice but i'm really not into self build expensive equipment with zero practical experience, i've given that up, i'll have to stick to commercial subwoofers.
I gues you have a DIY?
Btw I live in Italy and any US/Canadian/overseas equipment is gonna cost approx double down here...the paradigm Sub25 for example which would me my target 1 considering cost/performance is about 4500 euros or rather about 6000$....and is without the pbk
Musicality is often identified as a sub having an extremely light membrane, a soft suspension and a lot a volume for its cabinet thus producing a very fast and deep response being able to keep up the pace with rythm and capable of stopping the boom boom exactly when it is required to, at least that's what people have been telling me, any commercial sub capable of performing well in this area? :)
I am certain you can buy and assemble this sub for considerably less than $6000 USD or $4500 euros and it WILL meet every and ALL expectations you are looking for.

and I have 2 DIY (in my signature) of what equates to this sub:
http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=300-742 and couldn't be more pleased. Peoples jaws drop when they hear my system (again, in my signature). Is there better? Probably. But the cost to performance difference just isn't justified.
This video shows the ease of assembly. And think about it, this is EXACTLY what commercial sub builders do and charge 2,3 even 4 times as much:

If i lived in the US I could even give it a try but the shipment for a 35+Kg package overseas is gonna cost more than the sub itself ;)
Some people hinted me the REL Gibraltar (G1) as one of the most musical sub ever...........
This is not meant to be critical of REL in any way but I find the concept of a sub being "musical" to be nonsense. A well-engineered sub with good power/extension and smooth FR to be neutral in its rendering of any program material.

That said, I suggest you attend to two issues. First, the use of more than one sub will greatly improve the in-room response over a wider area than can a single one. Second, the employment of digital EQ for the sub(s) is essential, imho, for getting the best out of them. You can get subs with excellent EQ built in (e.g., the Paradigms with their modified ARC feature) or you can add the EQ externally (e.g., JBL BassQ or Audyssey Sub Equalizer). In fact, I believe the choice of sub(s) (even DIY) is less significant (assuming your choice is decent) than the inclusion of EQ.

I do not know what pricing is for you but a pair of Paradigm Sub15s might be the simplest and least expensive route. Another might be multiple JLAudio f113 subs with an external EQ.
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Actually i have an Onkyo PR-SC5509 with Audissey MultiEQ XT32 which in my opinion made a pretty good job handling the room response, i guess it should be enough even for sub EQ?
So i might be better off with two sub 15(3000€x2) than with one sub 25(4500€)?
Kal has some great advise. I would suggest you get the best you can for your budget. I use the SVSound's Audyssey AS-EQ1 with my 2 co-located subs with great results. Have fun. Dennis
I'm gonna play devil advocate here for a minute, because I do believe in the musicality of subs. The thing is, this is not a cut and dry area. You can have 2 subs of considerable performance with differing designs and consider one to be more musical than the other. Often, I think this comes down to personal taste, and the kind of music a persona listens to, and the kind of bass line sounds they like will influence the opinion of what sub is more musical than another.

While some people may be satisfied that a high performance sub is a musical sub period, I am not, because I have tried it and come to my own conclusions. As a result I am very well informed of what I like, I know the sound I like and how to get it. I am also very aware that my own personal taste may not suit others, and typically a sub I design for myself will be more expensive than one someone else may design for themselves in terms of clean output vs money spent.

If the OP is insistent on musicality of the sub he buys, then we need to figure out very clearly what his idea of musicality really is. Without it, we cant suggest anything.
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If i lived in the US I could even give it a try but the shipment for a 35+Kg package overseas is gonna cost more than the sub itself ;)
Most likely but doesn't Italy (or Europe in general) have an equivilant type source or has America cornered the market?:rofl2:
Because the low freqs act like waves in a room, it's difficult to get an accurate response throughout the spectrum with only one sub. 2 is twice as good as 1, and 4 is even better. As you can see, it can become quite expensive!

The Paradigm and JL Audio subs mentioned here have good reputations. Compared to each other, they have a built-in amplifier (which is more accurate than most external amp set-ups, for several reasons), they cost about the same, and they both have a similar frequency response, dropping down only 3 dB from nominal at around 18 Hz. It's hard to beat those specs. There are a few subs that will deliver even lower responses, but will not produce the same power output, and many that do will not sound clean. Generally, the lower the frequency, the less clean output level you can expect. Of course, purchasing 4 subs of high quality, will certainly provide you with more power! The real question is where your priority lies. Obviously, you want accuracy. Do you also require the walls to shake? Is 19 Hz low enough, or do you really expect 15 Hz? Would you even know the difference if you heard (felt) it?

I don't know enough about subs in general to guide you well, but a lot of these guys sure can - probably moonfly is one of them. "Musical" subs are (possibly) less theatrical and more musically suited, as the word suggests, to your home stereo, etc., and often not quite as loud as the other models.
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Compared to each other, they have a built-in amplifier (which is more accurate than most external amp set-ups, for several reasons)
I would be interested to hear these reasons. I cant think of any reason why an internal amp would offer an advantage in performance terms, over an outboard one.

I don't know enough about subs in general to guide you well, but a lot of these guys sure can - probably moonfly is one of them. "Musical" subs are (possibly) less theatrical and more musically suited, as the word suggests, to your home stereo, etc., and often not quite as loud as the other models.
Musicality and theatricality need not be mutually exclusive. Get the performance right and you have your theatrical sub. Get the sound character of the sub how you like it, and you have your musicality. The hard bit is getting both without one or the other effecting each other. Films have musical scores, and very orchestral ones to boot, so if musicality is important to you, then it can be just as important that its retained for movies as well as music listening.

I prefer sealed subwoofers because its easier to specifically tune its sound to exactly what you want. The problem here is that if you want high performance as well, it can get expensive, especially in the commercial world. Its not an issue for me as I build my own and off set the costs, so I dont feel a need to chase additional output by porting. I feel that porting degrades the sound quality, with the exception of the LLT design, but then an LLT design has specific cabinet requirements that means tuning the sound character to what I want isnt possible with the vast majority of drivers out there, for me at least anyway, and I know I am not the only person that feels that way.

With this kind of budget and requirements, I think we need to be very sure what exactly the OP is looking for before suggesting how to part with that budget.
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Elettrone said:
Actually i have an Onkyo PR-SC5509 with Audissey MultiEQ XT32 which in my opinion made a pretty good job handling the room response, i guess it should be enough even for sub EQ?
So i might be better off with two sub 15(3000€x2) than with one sub 25(4500€)?
I have been running the system in my signature for over six months now, and have been very impressed with the LFE output from day one. Thunderous and clean. This week was the first time I did a lot of loud music listening. I sat back with my eyes closed and listened to a very eclectic mix for an hour at +10dB. When i opened my eyes i noticed that the lights were off on the subs, the receiver was in Pure Audio mode. I switched to Direct, the subs came on, and I listened again. I couldn't barely tell the difference. The bass was incredibly smooth and clean, punchy when it should be. The bass guitar solo near the beginning of Jeff Beck Live At Ronnie Scotts (I think track 3, not sure) sounded remarkable balanced all the way from the highest to lowest notes of the immaculately played instrument, with the subs off or on. My receiver uses the same version of Audessy as the OP's equipment, and I set up the Sub 12 pair with Paradigm's PBK. Although the OP has an admittedly better speaker package than I do, I have no problem recommending a pair of Paradigm Sub 12 for LFE or Musicality, and I can only guess that the Sub15 would perform as well or better. By the way, I have listened with rock, jazz, classical, country (sorry), blues, folk, heavy metal, pretty much the whole range. Except rap. No rap. Ever. If you need an opinion on performance with rap, I'm not the guy.
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Wow thanks everyone for the feedback, it looks like instant messaging doesn't work...
I use my setup 65% for movies and 35% for music thus i want a first class HT experienxe withot sacrifying too much on music.
Now my main speaker can go as low as 32hz wich is pretty good for music alone and i have to say I'm not sure what the real benefit will be once I add a good sub bass system.
Before this setup I had the bookshelf speaker from focal which could go as low as 47 hz, then i used a pair of REL subs T1 to go down to 30hz with some power and the improvement in the music was indeed palpable but not life changing, Home Theather on the other hand changed drammatically for the better.
Compared to other REL subs the T1 was pretty fast a precise(at least to my hears) both with music and movies, the effects lasted exactly as intended without excessive boom and the lower end of the musical frequencies where sufficently articulated but i always felt i wanted more, reson to buy bigger main speakers and sub system.
The T1 is in my experience nowhere highend being anyway a decent sub.
Now with one or two high end subs capabale of delivering even lower frequencies thus more air = more vibrations in the room wich really adds to the movie experience even if the sound is not heard but felt i want to get an even bigger improvement compared to what i had before. I really want to bring to life to those LFE effects.
For what concerns music i can say that often happens a lot too in the subsonic range that makes you feel it beyond what your hears allow, for example the way an orchestra energizes the concert hall and i like orchestra music a lot!
Also the ability to position the main speakers for best imaging without being bothered by bass response because it is a separate system has its advatanges.
Thus a musical sub should sound punchy as a battery and soft as a drum as my main speaker(and they sure can!) can so that it integrates seamlessly.
The final question is..."is it possible to have an earthquake powerfull and musical subsystem?"
Hope i have been clear enough on my idea of power and musicality ;.)
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I have for the last several years used a Vandersteen V2W in my HT, and I absolutely love it. It was an upgrade for me from a Mirage sub, that I really felt lacked a deep punch. I want mainly movies in my HT, probably 80% movies 10% music and 10% games, and the Vandersteen does everything I want. I couple nicely with my other speakers, delivers amazing LF and can get as boomy or as tight as what I am listening too warrants.
My own personal preference is for sealed subs. My ideals seem fairly close to yours and I have yet to hear anything I consider a match for a high end sealed subwoofer system. Its entirely possible to have a high end musical sound that can rock the room as well. Basically, I would go as big as you can and try run a pair if possible. I would favour a pair of 15's over a single 18 for example, just ensure if you buy a pair you ideally want them to be the same sub.
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