subwoofers for music

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perhellion

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subwoofers for music
« on: 30 May 2020, 03:13 am »
Pretty much a beginner.  I made a set of DIII's back in 2003 and now have the DIY itch again.  . I have looked at many designs, and my first question is about picking one to build.  I am interested in speakers primarily for music (mainly classic and hard rock).  I do not care about home theater sound such as the explosions and dinosaurs walking around.
I have seen some designs that began as a two way and then developed into a 2.5 or three way by adding a third driver and a larger floorstanding cabinet.  This makes sense as a way to add to the low end.  My confusion comes from many of the two way bookshelf designs being demonstrated with one or more subwoofers.  What is the difference,sound wise, when comparing a larger floorstander with a bookshelf and a subwoofer?
Thanks much


FullRangeMan

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Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #1 on: 30 May 2020, 03:19 am »
My favorite woofer for music is this below in a 180L BR box that I can PM you the plans, this is a passive Woofer for under 300Hz not an active sub.
https://www.eminence.com/speakers/speaker-detail/?model=Kappalite_3015

diyman

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Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #2 on: 30 May 2020, 04:28 am »
... What is the difference,sound wise, when comparing a larger floorstander with a bookshelf and a subwoofer?
...
One of the main differences is the ability to locate the subs in their best room location, which is not likely to be the same as the best location for the mids/tweeters.  With everything in one cabinet you will probably be compromising the subs location and not be able to optimize it for room modes.

Jon L

Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #3 on: 30 May 2020, 04:40 am »
I am interested in speakers primarily for music (mainly classic and hard rock).  I do not care about home theater sound such as the explosions and dinosaurs walking around.

I know you have the DIY itch, but take a look at these Wharfedale WH-D10 subwoofers at 50% sale at $275 shipped.  For music only, I love 10" sealed subwoofers, which these are.  I would buy two of these and place them in optimal spots in the room. 

https://www.audio-connexion.com/WHARF-WHD10B.html

JLM

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Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #4 on: 30 May 2020, 12:14 pm »
Suggest reading Floyd Toole's "Sound Reproduction" 3rd edition, the consummate guide for audiophiles to learn how speakers and subwoofers behave in room (audio or HT).  Toole worked for decades with the Canadian National Research Council before retiring from JBL.  He's well respected.  In the well researched book you'll learn that residentially sized rooms have inherent bass peaks/dips (up to 30 dB) and that the best way to resolve them is having a nice room (well sized/shaped) with 3-4 subs carefully placed around the room.  I use 3 (10 inch) subs, 10 absorption panels, and Dirac in my dedicated audio room. 

Modern acousticians and studio professionals have walked away from the entire concept of full range speakers decades ago.  Only marketing types who want to sell big slabs of veneer believe in them.  Same IMO with vertical arrays or open baffles.  Those professionals instead have embraced the use of active speakers (which work like a sub to connect one channel of amplification to each driver) for superior design, less space/cost, and far better dynamics, soundstage/imaging, flatter frequency response, and unbelievably deep/full bass without various "entertaining" colorations that home listeners lust for. 

You can check it out for yourself with a calibrated microphone and DSP (Digital Sound Processing) software like REW (Room Eq Wizard) or Dirac.  Expect primary peaks/dips to show up at frequencies based on speed of sound (1130 ft/second) divided by room dimensions (in feet).  But be careful to not boost narrow dips as that can easily overload the amp and blow voice coils (and narrow dips can't be heard anyway). 

The standard advice is to use sealed subs for music, but that's just a rule of thumb.  Honestly, subs are a hard way to save money via DIY.  Rythmik L12 ($560, compact/sealed, F3=18Hz, servo controlled) is a wonderful choice.  SVS SB-1000 ($500, compact/sealed, F3=20Hz) is another good choice. 

As mentioned above, the ideal place to generate midrange/treble sound (rays - away from walls for better soundstage/imaging) is opposite of the ideal place to generate bass (waves - against walls to more effectively react with the room), so best to keep them separate.  For this reason and the adjustability of phase/volume makes the monitor/subwoofer solution ideal. 

Tyson

Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #5 on: 30 May 2020, 06:08 pm »
JLM knows what he's talking about, if you're going with a box sub, he's giving you the best advice. 

In addition, I'd like to point out a different (and IMO better) option than the traditional sealed or ported box subs.  If you are mainly listening to music and especially if you listen to classical music, you owe it to yourself to check out the servo-controlled open baffle subs that GR Research offers. 

I've owned and built and demo'd some extremely good box subs, but none of them can hold a candle to the detail, tone, texture and emotional impact that the servo OB subs bring to the table.  For me, that's important because I listen to classical 80% of the time and I'm more interested in clearly hearing the cellos separate from the double basses when all hell is breaking loose in Mahler.  Servo OB subs can do that, nothing else I've heard really can. 

diyman

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Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #6 on: 30 May 2020, 07:59 pm »
iu
...
Modern acousticians and studio professionals have walked away from the entire concept of full range speakers decades ago.  Only marketing types who want to sell big slabs of veneer believe in them.  Same IMO with vertical arrays or open baffles.  Those professionals instead have embraced the use of active speakers (which work like a sub to connect one channel of amplification to each driver) for superior design, less space/cost, and far better dynamics, soundstage/imaging, flatter frequency response, and unbelievably deep/full bass without various "entertaining" colorations that home listeners lust for. 
...
Modern acousticians and studio professionals that you reference are not really the best source of information that we should be consulting for our home listening environments and pleasure.  They have an entirely different perspective on sound and listening environment than most of us here.

So it's not surprising that you would eliminate vertical arrays and open baffles, because those just would not work in a studio environment.  However, there is very good reason to believe that those would be excellent in a home environment and superior to conventional boxed speakers.

I have Toole's book and have read it.  But I have also read Linkwitz's research, and believe that what he has done is much closer to achieving musical enjoyment in the home environment.  There are open baffle products now that are getting rave reviews from Spatial Audio, Pure Audio Project, and DIY offerings from Danny Richie's GR Research. 

I don't think it's helpful to many people here for you to keep pushing the professional oriented active speakers to the exclusion of other very well received options.  Particularly open baffle and line arrays.

Early B.

Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #7 on: 30 May 2020, 08:42 pm »
Modern acousticians and studio professionals have walked away from the entire concept of full range speakers decades ago.  Only marketing types who want to sell big slabs of veneer believe in them.  Same IMO with vertical arrays or open baffles.  Those professionals instead have embraced the use of active speakers (which work like a sub to connect one channel of amplification to each driver) for superior design, less space/cost, and far better dynamics, soundstage/imaging, flatter frequency response, and unbelievably deep/full bass without various "entertaining" colorations that home listeners lust for. 

Studio professionals and acousticians aren't necessarily audiophiles any more than a musician is. Who cares what they think? I'm far more interested in feedback from other audiophiles.   

FullRangeMan

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Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #8 on: 30 May 2020, 10:46 pm »
Studio professionals and acousticians aren't necessarily audiophiles any more than a musician is. Who cares what they think? I'm far more interested in feedback from other audiophiles.   
+1. Musicians think your guitar tube amp are ''hi fi'' and studio guys just want finish his job as soon as possible at the lowest cost so as a general rule they hate audiophies as they can pointout his poor job on the recordings.

diyman

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Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #9 on: 31 May 2020, 04:56 am »
...For me, that's important because I listen to classical 80% of the time and I'm more interested in clearly hearing the cellos separate from the double basses when all hell is breaking loose in Mahler.  Servo OB subs can do that, nothing else I've heard really can...

Tyson, if you don't mind I'd like to know more about what the rest of your system looks like.  I also listen mainly to classical and some opera. Not many systems can really do Mahler well, so that's quite an achievement you've made.

My next move is to try open baffle, but the specifics are not yet settled.  Anything you might suggest would be appreciated.  Thanks.

JLM

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Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #10 on: 31 May 2020, 01:26 pm »
iu Modern acousticians and studio professionals that you reference are not really the best source of information that we should be consulting for our home listening environments and pleasure.  They have an entirely different perspective on sound and listening environment than most of us here.

So it's not surprising that you would eliminate vertical arrays and open baffles, because those just would not work in a studio environment.  However, there is very good reason to believe that those would be excellent in a home environment and superior to conventional boxed speakers.

I have Toole's book and have read it.  But I have also read Linkwitz's research, and believe that what he has done is much closer to achieving musical enjoyment in the home environment.  There are open baffle products now that are getting rave reviews from Spatial Audio, Pure Audio Project, and DIY offerings from Danny Richie's GR Research. 

I don't think it's helpful to many people here for you to keep pushing the professional oriented active speakers to the exclusion of other very well received options.  Particularly open baffle and line arrays.

Linkwitz's work was self-serving.  Toole's is well respected and has nothing to personally gain from his decades of research and testing.  Arrays and dipoles produce a wall of sound versus discrete imaging which is the very premise for stereo.  Professionals have been shown to have more discerning hearing than audiophiles which should come as no surprise as they work for a living producing the recordings we listen to versus sitting at home being  entertained.  Active speakers are superior to passives in terms of design, overall cost, size, and sound.  Their downfall is that they don't support the big game hunter mentality of most audiophiles who want to continually add to their trophy collection of big, impressive looking stacks of gear.

Have you ever done a direct comparison between passive and active?  I have, 20 years ago.  Paradigm Studio 20 v.2 versus Paradigm Active 20 (same drivers/cabinets).  It was no contest.  The Actives were way more dynamic, offered flatter frequency response, imaged much better, and had unbelievably deep/full bass.  Of course you can always find good and bad examples of anything.  Some say studio monitors tend to be dry and overly analytical, but good ones do nothing wrong and don't coat everything with various colorations.  What are you listening to, the original performance or your speakers?

Rusty Jefferson

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Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #11 on: 31 May 2020, 03:37 pm »
JLM and Tyson both have made good recommendations. Like everything audio there is always compromises necessary. 

If you're using small 2-3 way monitors, use of the "Subwoofer Swarm" is hard to beat. Gigantic soundstage and precision imaging.  If using large dipole or OB speakers, I'd probably go with OB subs. Either of these choices does require a pretty large room with the ability to have all those speakers out in the room.

Tyson

Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #12 on: 31 May 2020, 04:54 pm »
Tyson, if you don't mind I'd like to know more about what the rest of your system looks like.  I also listen mainly to classical and some opera. Not many systems can really do Mahler well, so that's quite an achievement you've made.

My next move is to try open baffle, but the specifics are not yet settled.  Anything you might suggest would be appreciated.  Thanks.

Sure thing, happy to help.  There's 2 things that really get you the musical bass with Servo OB that other methods can't match, both are basic physics. 

1st, OB interacts with the room less in the bass.  With a box sub, you get basically a pulsing sphere radiating into the room, which causes a lot of room modes and bass boom.  With OB subs, you get a null to both sides so you have bass in a figure 8 pattern, so it's WAY cleaner just from a room interaction standpoint.

2nd, the GR Research OB subs have paper cones so they have less stored energy, and then they throw the servo control on top of that.  What this does is allow the driver to stop and return to rest MUCH faster than a standard driver.  Which translates into way less overhang from the driver itself.

Between these 2 things, you end up with way more detail, clarity, texture and tone.  It's actually really hard for me to convey just how good it is to someone that's never heard it. 

diyman

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Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #13 on: 31 May 2020, 06:04 pm »

I'm curious what other speakers you are using with the GR Research OB subs, if you don't mind saying.

opnly bafld

Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #14 on: 31 May 2020, 06:10 pm »
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« Last Edit: 31 May 2020, 08:09 pm by opnly bafld »

Early B.

Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #15 on: 31 May 2020, 06:19 pm »
It's actually really hard for me to convey just how good it is to someone that's never heard it.

I'll go even further -- generally, a box sub cannot accurately duplicate the sound of bass instruments for the main reason Tyson mention -- excessive overhang. For instance, when you hear a live drumbeat or bass guitar riff, there's no "boominess" which is inherent in box subs. This boominess corrodes the sound of the mids and highs, i.e., it places a dark cloud over the detail, clarity, and tone. OB servo subs provide bloom, not boom.

Tyson

Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #16 on: 31 May 2020, 06:23 pm »
I'm curious what other speakers you are using with the GR Research OB subs, if you don't mind saying.

I run the Super 7s that GR Research designed.  Here's the Owners thread that Jeff started.  My first post in that thread is on page 3:

https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=141060.0

Danny at GR Research builds other speakers around the servo OB subs nowadays, I got a chance to visit & demo them over a few days this past Christmas when I was doing some custom modding to some other speakers.  You can see my reviews of those other speakers here:

https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=167137.0 - NX-Studio bookshelf

https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=167138.0 - NX-Ottica tower

https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=167155.0 - NX-Treme giant tower

You can also head over to New Record Day on YouTube.  Ron's done several reviews with the OB subs and a few even have sound clips.


diyman

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Re: subwoofers for music
« Reply #17 on: 1 Jun 2020, 04:15 am »
Linkwitz's work was self-serving.  Toole's is well respected and has nothing to personally gain from his decades of research and testing.  Arrays and dipoles produce a wall of sound versus discrete imaging which is the very premise for stereo.  Professionals have been shown to have more discerning hearing than audiophiles which should come as no surprise as they work for a living producing the recordings we listen to versus sitting at home being  entertained.  Active speakers are superior to passives in terms of design, overall cost, size, and sound.  Their downfall is that they don't support the big game hunter mentality of most audiophiles who want to continually add to their trophy collection of big, impressive looking stacks of gear.

Have you ever done a direct comparison between passive and active?  I have, 20 years ago.  Paradigm Studio 20 v.2 versus Paradigm Active 20 (same drivers/cabinets).  It was no contest.  The Actives were way more dynamic, offered flatter frequency response, imaged much better, and had unbelievably deep/full bass.  Of course you can always find good and bad examples of anything.  Some say studio monitors tend to be dry and overly analytical, but good ones do nothing wrong and don't coat everything with various colorations.  What are you listening to, the original performance or your speakers?

Linkwitz was not any more self serving than Toole. Two different people, both highly respected, with two entirely different approaches and conclusions. 

The fact that arrays and dipoles produce a large and deep image, what you call a wall of sound, is exactly the reason that they are so appealing.  Particularly for classical music, which is my main interest.  I usually sit in the front of the balcony when attending symphonies and operas, so being able to recreate that experience in my listening room is precisely what I want.  Listening to a Mahler piece straining to get out of two small boxes just doesn't do it for me.  That might be alright for Diana Krall, but not for Gustav.