Tough call on a sub only because the low end on the Sasons are so satisfying. Subwoofing (funny word) bumps against our philosophy of keeping the musical presentation as pure as possible. All of our customers so far have either discontinued using a sub after living with the Sasons or implemented a sub only to help smooth out a problem with the room acoustic. Can't forget those dedicated to their HT setups, too, but we rarely see it. So, we have limited experience with what is a viable partner to the Sasons. But even we would like to feel the earth move and enjoy that tactile sensation found in recordings of cavernous environments such as classical concert venues and outdoor live shows. And our choice record collection of North Atlantic long-finned pilot whale flatulence.
If we were to bring our own to market (an eventuality - it's on the table) it would need to perform well above what I see as current limitations in today's subs such as articulation and sheer "speed" or the starting and stopping ability that defines the spaces between the music. I know I've got a ripe opportunity to upset some here about their purchasing decisions (Happy Thanksgiving everybody!) but most subs put us off given the experience we and others have had using them. They usually take the life, realism and gestalt out of the listening experience.
If you are looking, here are a few features I personally feel will give you the best chance to find a good dancing partner to the Sasons (these suggestions are assuming you are not subbing in the Taj Mahal):
- Extremely good internal amplifier with high power. This area is usually hit hard by the manufacturer's accountants and is where you find the most compromises. Just like in speaker crossovers...you don't see it so you don't really know. A sub is an appropriate application for the new switching ("digital") amps. Class AB is great but harder to find a high quality one these days in a subwoofer.
- Closed box design for the best transient ability. Second best being a well designed passive radiator sub. Passive radiator designs are somewhat rare due to their tweaky nature - everything must be consistent in manufacturing, from driver unit-to-unit matching and tight tolerances to cone material variation to cabinet build quality to...you get the idea. More components to tune and less chance of making it all sound like the first prototype after you are 5 years down the production road. But it's a good design if done right.
- Nothing smaller than a ten-inch driver since we are asking the sub to go down (loudly) below 30 Hz...eight-inch units are fine in multiples but take up a lot of real estate in cabinet volume and typically have too high a resonant frequency to be considered a sub driver. It's a game of diminishing returns. I would prefer two ten-inch drivers to go low enough, loudly enough and with better transient ability than say, a single larger driver. Space doesn't permit getting into why I don't prefer much larger than a ten-inch driver.
- And (now for my biggest peeve)...try to find a highly rigid cabinet in a sub! This area is sorely overlooked or balanced against price-point considerations.
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