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I can't really take credit for this question as it was posted on another forum, but I found it to be interesting.

What do you think about using a sub with 2 channel listening? I used to be in the no sub camp until I built my IB. Now I am thoroughly conviced that a good sub makes the music way better. I am actually going through a revival of my tunes lately, I love it when a new piece of gear makes that happen. The IB makes everything so real and viceral.

Anyway, thoughts?
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

I'm not a two channel guy myself, but it seems most two channel enthusiast are very critical listeners. It makes all the sense in the world for IB in two channel to me... if in fact IB is as clean and accurate as everyone says it is.
 
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Re: To sub or not to sub

2 channel with sub is a definate yes in my book.:T
I find that although my floorstanders go nice and low, there is always that moment when the extra bass from the sub is nice.
My sub is fed by twin RCA's from the bi-amp output on my power amp and has also made a big difference to watching films. My DVD player is hooked up to the Hi Fi as well.
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

Yes, I bought a REL sub for 2 channel listening way before going down the HT route.
It reinforces the main speakers, not only for smaller moniter type speakers but also for full range speakers. My mains go down to about 30Hz and the REL sub cuts in about 27Hz.
It makes a noticeable difference.
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

I've been using subs with stereo for very many years.

Not only for serious music but for satellite TV as well. Subs add greatly to the sense of realism and excitement on TV series as well as films.

Even traffic sounds better with a sub. Especially the trains, busses, tuned V8s and Harleys! :D

An IB is essential of course. Nothing else comes close for sheer realism. :)

If you are listening to heavy metal at realistic levels then you need something powerful to cut right through the **** higher up just to make any impact at all! :devil:

I think this means a qualified yes? :laugh:
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

I've actually never had a system without a sub.. but it seems like it's a must.

Unless you have a SERIOUS amount of power feeding some BIG drivers, I can't see how mains are going to sound as good down low without a separate sub. Too much power getting sucked up with the low stuff, too much stress on the drivers too..

JCD
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

I've actually had a system without a sub and there was much to be desired in the bass department. Even though the towers in this system utilized a single 15" woofer each, they were only capable of good extension down to 40hz.

Nothing is as good in the bass ranges as a dedicated subwoofer :T
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

I do think you need a sub in a 2 ch system but the level has to be set in line with the rest of the speakers. There is no point in setting your sub to crank out bass at 120dB while you are listening at say 95dB, while this is an extreme situation the level should be set so that the sound is reproduced with as flat a response as possible.
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

Phil M said:
Yes, I bought a REL sub for 2 channel listening way before going down the HT route.
It reinforces the main speakers, not only for smaller moniter type speakers but also for full range speakers. My mains go down to about 30Hz and the REL sub cuts in about 27Hz.
It makes a noticeable difference.
Hi Phil,

I own Monitor Audio GR10's that are bookshelves that play down to 40hz. Many recommend a 80hz crossover, but to me it sounds better at 60hz. Are you saying that I should even consider a 40hz crossover?
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

Greg, at the end of the day its down to individual tastes.
REL have been at the forefront of sub integration with mains speakers for 2 channel, and I once read a comment from them that most listeners have the sub set at too high a frequency and too low a volume. They are suggesting that a more subtle integration with the mains is more benefical.
I started with a higher frequency and have slowly cut it back to where it is today, but its taken me about 6 years to arrive at 27Hz! But the volume is cranked up higher than it used to be.

Their US importer, now owners, Sumiko used to post a sub setup guide which seems to have gone - but I did find this on the REL site:

http://www.rel.net/index2.htm

Look under products (try ST) and then setup, it might help.

The problem we all have is that we like subs to be cranked up for HT sound effects, its impressive but not necessarily realistic.
 
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Re: To sub or not to sub

I vote for subbing a 2C system. It just helps provide a fatter lower end (which is ALWAYS good!;) ) And allows your mains to work on detail and the mids and highs!
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

Phil M said:
G
The problem we all have is that we like subs to be cranked up for HT sound effects, its impressive but not necessarily realistic.

This is my camp :R With the way I like my system set up for HT the bass does not sound right for music. I'm not a "critical listener", but I do just listen in two channel pure direct. If I had a better sub or two or an IB, maybe I would change my mind. :dontknow:
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

Phil is definitely right, it's up to personal taste. But here's my 2 cents

You can hurt 2 channel sound with a sub. It really depends on the kind of music.

If you like most music 2 ch plus sub can be compromised with a sub by setting the crossover too high (80hz is probably too high for critical 2 channel listening) I like 60hz but someone mentioned 40 in this thread and it's probably doable.

The other way is too much volume sub and too big a driver. A 12" driver is impressive for HT but for music it often lacks sensitivity and the kind of speed for nice tight response.

If you like hip-hop, electronica and techno it would probably be difficult to compromise your audio with the sub. But I imagine it can be done. I happen to like ambient and techno sometimes (as well as a variety of other music) and way too much sub for other styles is fine with techno.

I've got an older 8" sub by Boston Acoustics. I use it as a secondary sub in my HT and keep the volume low. For 2channel music I still like it better than my Velodyne 250Watt 12" sub.
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

I am experimenting with 2 passive sealed 15" subs sitting directly behind and below my main bookshelf speakers which are on stands. I use a Paradigm X-30 subwoofer crossover to divide the pre-outs from my receiver between my sub and main amps. The mains are flat to 45 Hz, and I have the X-over set to 75Hz.

The CARA ray tracing software told me this should be a pretty good setup. After smoothing out the lumps with BFD, both REW and my ears can attest to the benefits of adding the subwoofers. The sound is now richer, fuller and even more dynamic than my mains could offer by themselves.

I enjoy a wide range of music, but I mostly listen to jazz and classical. For 2 channel sound I don't need nor want a lot of heavy-handed bass (I have an SVS in the rear corner for HT), but do want to hear the full range and impact of sound as recorded on my CDs. These subs do that in spades by provide the lower end support that has been missing from my mains. They are a great addition to my system.

Based on what has been posted, I am going to try setting the X-over lower, maybe down to 60 HZ or 50 Hz and see what I get. Since the subs are about 66” apart, they mutually resonate from about 50 Hz on down, so a 50 Hz X-over point might be best.

At 18 db per octave, the X-30 has a fairly shallow roll-off. Eventually I want to try a Linkwist-Riley 2-way X-over and see how the subs sound in stereo. The Linkwist-Riley alignment will provide phase coherence across the X-over point, but the BFD will probably mess with that. At any rate, the steeper roll-off should make it easier to balance the subs and the main speakers.
 
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Re: To sub or not to sub

My two cents:

I thought when I bought my subwoofer I wouldn’t be using it for two channel listening. I did try it several times but I didn’t like it – that was until I got a receiver with an adjustable crossover. My old receiver had a fixed crossover at 80 Hz which just did not work with my mains, -3db at 40 Hz (ported/vented). My new receiver allows for a 40 Hz crossover point (I still use 80 Hz for movies) and it works very well. The change is soundstage is remarkable – width, height and depth all improve dramatically with the sub on. Now I probably split my two channel listening 80% in stereo mode w/sub, 20% in pure audio mode n/sub. I say sub.

Question Kingkip; what is an IB?
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

I guess I am in the "it depends" camp.

In my experience with visiting folks whose systems have a sub(s), 9 out of 10 have it set up incorrectly. I have often suggested they do as Phil has done and cross it over lower. To encourage them to live with it for a while and then, if needed, to gradually turn it higher. The BFD is a great tool but it still depends on personal preferences.

IMHO, most well engineered floor standing speakers do more than adequate without a sub. A sub may be required for monitors but this depends of a person's musical preferences, how loud they want to play them, and the size of the room they are in.

I purchased a Vandersteen 2W sub for my Magnepans and quite honesty have it turned down pretty low in it's current room environment. At my other home, I had it turned up higher to get it to be as intergrated as it is in my new home. So, room treatment or characterics play a key roll in whether one is needed or not.

A very long time ago a highly regarded and acclaimed audio engineer was conducting a clinic I attended and told the audience that subs are only good to use if they don't bring attention to themselves. They should also sound like a live performance (non-rock and jam band, of course).

From what I have read on many of the HT threads (at this site too) is the constant references of shaking the windows and waking up the neighbors five houses down the block. Does this really have meaning? Personally, I don't get this line of thinking.:scratchhead:

Another great sub, for anyone considering options, are the ones designed by Audire. They are sealed units which incorporate the new XBL^2 technology. A 10" or 12" driver does wonders and are very easy on the ear.

Have a great weekend.
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

The physics of low frequency sound behavior in rooms is a fascinating and complex study. Small room acoustical theory and practice has been changing and improving in recent years, due to increased computing power available and accumulated advancements in the audio engineering community.

Subwoofer performance in any system is wholely dependent upon device placement, room characteristics, crossover point, crossover slope, seating location, number of subs used, how the sub's crossover mates with the low end cutoff of the main speakers, besides the performance characteristics of the device itself. Simply moving the sub one foot further into the room, or moving your seating location one foot in any direction relative to the room boundaries, can have a greater effect upon how it sounds to the listener than any other single factor.

There is no way I could tell you what my opinion is on this subject that would help you in any way. Subwoofer performance is predicated upon far too many variables in any given system. If personal taste is going to be included in the criteria for recommending the practice of using a sub in a two channel audio system, then you are totally on your own. The likelihood that my system and room conditions would match yours is far too remote to be imagined. Add individual taste into the mix and the odds that my preference could help you would be a shot in the dark.

The best advice I could offer anyone on the topic of this thread is to decide whether or not audio fidelity is more important to you than personal taste. If fidelity is vital, then attend a wide variety of live musical performances on a regular basis. Then study authoritative literature on low frequency sound reproduction theory and practice in small rooms, borrow or purchase the best contender(s) among subwoofers available, experiment with proper placement in your room, then make a decision for yourself. Listening to some other system, in some other room, does not help at all. An excellent subwoofer can sound poor in any system, if it's implemented poorly.

If personal taste is your primary criterion, then only you will know what works for you. All you will be left with is trial and error. Good luck! Many in this hobby find the challenge of experimentation and fiddling with gear quite enjoyable and fulfilling.

Usually, you will get lower notes, at more realistic SPLs, for less money, with a powered sub vs. relying on two full-range speakers. Cabinet size affects price substantially. If money is not such a dominant limitation, a well designed full range speaker can sound better integrated throughout its operating range, independent of room characteristics. In theory, many systems would sound better if the lowest frequencies were originating from somewhere else in the room than the best location for the upper frequencies. That's REALLY hard to do with only two full range speakers. The room is as critical to sound reproduction as any other element in the system, two channel or multi-channel, especially when considering the lowest frequencies.

Best regards,
Alan Brown, President
CinemaQuest, Inc.
ISF, THX, SMPTE, CEDIA
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

Alan,

I have read several of your post and I find them well written, informative, and I agree with a lot of what you say. You tend to speak in generalities and site overall principles which is the best one can do when addressing the forum as a whole rather than an individual with a specific HT environment (I use environment in a broad sense; room, equipment, source material, personal taste).

However I do take some exception to what you just said. 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. This is not to say that audio fidelity is ignored by any means. BFD and REW are excellent tools we gladly use to transcend our audio perceptions into the realm of graphs and numbers we use to detect, quantify, and correct the deficiencies of our listening environment. But at the end of the day, we adjust, tweak, and fiddle until it sounds right to our ears.

A good example of what I am trying to say is Wayne Pflughaupt’s excellent thread on House Curves. He contends, and I agree from my experience, that most people don’t like the sound of a flat FR curve, hence the need for a house curve. I am certainly no expert on psycho-acoustics so I don’t have an explanation for this. Of course the measure of audio fidelity is multi-dimensional, encompassing many time domain and frequency domain relationships (some contentiously debated). But I would think that most people would agree that an FR curve is one indicator of audio fidelity. But who among us would resist adjusting the F3 point on our subwoofer if we felt the need, simply because it would further violate FR linearity?

I didn’t mean for this to turn into such a long post but my point is that few if any of us would spend a week at Camp Audio Fidelity studying audio doctrinaire when all the Epicurean delights are at Camp Personal Taste.
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

I would just add that most listening rooms and HTs are very rarely on the same scale as the original studio/stadium/concert hall/great outdoors.

Much programmes material does not even exist in reality and is as unreal as visual special effects, however clever.

To set strict rules for any of the parameters when listening in a domestic room is simply unrealistic.

To take a simple example: However close we may approach to realistic sound levels. Few would want to listen at those levels for any length of time in our smaller evironments. It is quite simply exhausting to try to do so in a small space.

Even a small jazz trio playing in your room at normal levels would probably require ear defenders. Our smaller scale sound reproduction may be delightful but let us not fool ourselves that it truly represents reality. It is a clever and often very satisfying construction. However real it may actually sound it cannot do more than offer a small scale model of reality.

Perfection of sound quality may be the ultimate goal but it is still remote and may always remain so. If we can fool our eyes and minds for a couple of hours that watching a 42" plasma represents reality. The same must also hold true for the audio side of things.
 

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Re: To sub or not to sub

Chrisbee said:
...snip...

To take a simple example: However close we may approach to realistic sound levels. Few would want to listen at those levels for any length of time in our smaller evironments. It is quite simply exhausting to try to do so in a small space.

Even a small jazz trio playing in your room at normal levels would probably require ear defenders. Our smaller scale sound reproduction may be delightful but let us not fool ourselves that it truly represents reality. It is a clever and often very satisfying construction. However real it may actually sound it cannot do more than offer a small scale model of reality.

Perfection of sound quality may be the ultimate goal but it is still remote and may always remain so. If we can fool our eyes and minds for a couple of hours that watching a 42" plasma represents reality. The same must also hold true for the audio side of things.
Chris,
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?
 
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