Do you need subwoofer for music (no movies)

Discussion in 'High End Audio' started by MarcinK, Dec 3, 2003.

  1. MarcinK

    MarcinK Guest


    I do have Yamaha RX-620RDS a/v receiver and a pair of Quadral (german
    company) front and rear speakers. I use it mainly for music (60% of
    time), movies from divx (30% of time) and DVD movies (10%) of time.

    Is it worth to buy a subwoofer to enhance that system? Will it help in
    normal music listning? I heard subs use to be too slow for music and
    they do not help really?

    Any oppinions?

    MarcinK, Dec 3, 2003
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  2. MarcinK

    Al Guest

    How low do they go? It depends from the room dimensions and how well your
    mains handle the low frequencies.
    My main speakers go down to 20Hz and I really don't need the subwoofer.
    Al, Dec 3, 2003
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  3. Almost any woofer will "go down to" 20 Hz. The question is, what is the
    difference between the sound level at, say, 20 Hz and 200 Hz. Without
    knowing anything at all about your speakers, my guess would be "quite a
    difference -- at least several dB".

    If that is the case, you might like what a subwoofer has to contribute.

    Isaac Wingfield, Dec 4, 2003
  4. MarcinK

    Ban Guest

    MarcinK wrote:
    || Hi,
    || I do have Yamaha RX-620RDS a/v receiver and a pair of Quadral (german
    || company) front and rear speakers. I use it mainly for music (60% of
    || time), movies from divx (30% of time) and DVD movies (10%) of time.
    || Is it worth to buy a subwoofer to enhance that system? Will it help
    || in normal music listning? I heard subs use to be too slow for music
    || and they do not help really?
    || Any oppinions?
    || Marcin

    IMHO it is *very* difficult to integrate a subwoofer into the stereo picture
    for CD-listening, in fact I havn't come across any system to do this
    For movies it is another matter, because with the visual clue a lot of
    attention is shifted from music alone. It certainly has an impressing effect
    and I would advise you to try out the sub, you can switch it off if it
    disturbs. :-(
    My personal experience is, that there is alot of more deep bass, but this
    bass comes a little later. Concentrate on the bassdrum. First you hear the
    plopp, when the skin is hit, and then the "boooom" comes a little too late.
    I call that the deep bass is "limping behind".
    You are right saying the sub is too slow, it is because the limited treble
    capabilities induce a delay, but with proper positioning this might be
    possible to overcome. This group delay is usually at least 6ms, which
    corresponds to 2m distance.
    The best would probably be to mount some bass-shakers under your sofa, so
    you can feel the deep bass for the movies. This is cheaper, as spectacular
    as the sub and doesn't disturb neighbors and wife. :)
    Ban, Dec 4, 2003

  5. As the Atoms are rated down to just 55 Hz, you could benefit from a sub
    especially if you listen to any rock music.
    Also, for mulitchannel, unless you have bass management that
    redirect .1 channel bass to the main speakers, you will *need* a
    subwoofer for multichannel material ..otherwise that .1 bass will
    be lost.



    "They've got God on their side. All we've got is science and reason."
    -- Dawn Hulsey, Talent Director
    Steven Sullivan, Dec 4, 2003
  6. MarcinK

    Bruce Abrams Guest

    Just another thought, but if you're considering the Atoms, why not the
    Titans? I just picked up a new pair at a local dealer for $199 to be the
    rears of my HT and found them to be a much better speaker overall than the
    Atoms. It wasn't just relatively improved bass response, but less
    congestion and compression at higher volumes that convinced me.
    Bruce Abrams, Dec 5, 2003
  7. I have no idea where you got these figures, but they are completely
    wrong. CD is fully capabale of going to less than 1 Hz, while LP is
    fundamentally limited by groove excursion and arm/cart resonance to
    somewhere in the 20-30Hz region, and is commonly rolled off below 40Hz
    and summed to mono below 100Hz.
    Stewart Pinkerton, Dec 8, 2003
  8. MarcinK

    Derek Fong Guest

    They have a different philosophy regardingCompletely agree. i have a set of Magnepan 1.6/QR's which after much
    work, ended up being mated with a REL Storm sub-bass system. The Maggies
    are down -3 db at 40 hz, but with the REL, i'm flat (+/- 2 db according to
    my Ratshack meter down to 20 hz)
    i disagree based on my experience. i still can't find the exact scientific
    reason for the following, but: i have found that the REL somehow seems to
    add more "atmosphere and ambience" even for music with content all above
    50 hz (i have done this test blind several times with friends helping with
    the switching). it is subtle, but a noticeable loss of "air" is lost when
    the sub is turned off. but yes, quality bass is expensive. and for many,
    me spending as much as i did on my sub for a music only system may seem a
    bit crazy, but after having this setup for 5 years now, i think it was
    worth it. (and i'm not an organ music freak either...maybe if my Maggies
    were solid down to 32 hz, i'd feel differently; and probably wouldn't
    have bought the sub. the reason i got a sub is my speakers prior to the
    Maggies had significant bass in the 30 hz range: -6 db at 32 db)
    huh? CD certainly can reproduce music/sounds below 20 hz, no? they are
    only limited on the high frequency end. in fact, the low is certainly one
    place where i think CD excels beyond the LP format.
    its been my experience that most explosions and special effects are around
    30-40 hz in range. but yes, nothing super low is generally required. the
    diminutive Gallo sub is down -5 db at 25 hz and -9 db at 20 hz, but does
    all the sound effecs quite nicely in my home theater system.

    to me, low frequency information is addicting. i'm not a basshead (ie, i
    tune my system to be flat in both my 2 channel rig and home theater; not
    to be bass-heavy.); but as i mentioned above, although my Maggies were a
    significant upgrade from my prior speakers (klipsch KG4.5s), i found
    myself missing that extra half octave and sent myself on a quest that
    eventually lead to my pricey REL system.
    Derek Fong, Dec 8, 2003
  9. MarcinK

    Harry Lavo Guest

    I've had the same experience the few times I've used a sub-woofer (don't
    currently have one...that is coming). It seems the movement of air and
    "hall sounds" is a low frequency effect that we "hear" but don't pay
    attention to in a concert hall. Not to mention subways, street traffic, air
    conditioners and other subterranean noises. You should not hear much of it
    on a studio recording though, unless it is done in a "live" studio.
    Harry Lavo, Dec 9, 2003
  10. MarcinK

    Dave Platt Guest

    For the life of my I could have sworn that CD was 20Hz to 20kHz. Perhaps I
    am getting it confused with the limitations of some players, huh.[/QUOTE]

    Many players have published _specs_ for 20-20k audio performance.
    This range of frequency response has been used for audio-component
    performance specification for many years (decades before the CD was
    developed). It's a commonly used definition for "the full range of
    human hearing", and I believe it was enshrined into law to some extent
    by FTC regulations involving the advertising of audio power amplifier

    CD players whose electronics run on a single-polarity voltage supply
    (e.g. portable ones) will almost certainly have capacitor-coupled
    output circuits. The size of this capacitor will limit the
    low-frequency response of the player to some extent. It's entirely
    possible (and perhaps likely) that some of the little Walkman-style
    portable players use small coupling capacitors (to save money and
    size) which would limit their low-frequency response point to
    something not much less than 20 Hz (or even above). Since these
    players are usually used with cheap headphones having very little
    low-frequency capability at all, this wouldn't be a problem.

    A home-stereo-type CD player with a direct-coupled output, or a
    capacitor-coupled output with a decent-sized cap should certainly be
    capable of substantial audio output down to a few Hertz - well below
    the limits inherent in LP playback. What's more, a CD player can
    produce this sort of low-frequency output with full stereo separation,
    and with an arbitrary phase angle between the signals fed to the two
    speakers. This is very difficult (or impossible) for an LP to
    achieve - out-of-phase low frequency energy requires a vertical
    excursion of the stylus, and too much of it will cause mistracking or
    even cause the stylus to pop out of the groove and skip!

    It's also true (regrettably) that many commercial CDs have little or
    no actual low-bass content, even when the music would benefit from it.
    This is an artistic decision, and has nothing to do with the ability
    of the CD media to deliver low bass.
    Dave Platt, Dec 9, 2003
  11. MarcinK

    Harry Lavo Guest

    The most striking example I know of is the Eric Clapton Unplugged CD, where
    Eric and his group are on an elevated wooden platform. Near the beginning
    of the cd you can clear hear/feel their footfalls as they go about getting
    into position...thump, thump, thumpity, thump. With a good bass amp and
    subwoofer, it is startling and you look around to see who's there. With
    even a 40hz speaker and amp that starts to roll off at 20hz you won't hear
    Harry Lavo, Dec 9, 2003
  12. Technically, it's about 0.0003 Hz to 22,049 Hz, the lower end being
    limited by the 74 minute duration of a music CD. Most players are
    *flat* to 20Hz or less, meaning that they have a -3dB point somewhere
    in the 1-5Hz region.
    Stewart Pinkerton, Dec 9, 2003
  13. MarcinK

    Bruce Abrams Guest

    Based on interviews that I've seen over the years with various mastering
    engineers, the decision to roll off bass content is usually not an artistic
    one, but, rather a nod to the fact that the vast majority of commercial CDs
    are played on systems without any low bass capability. By eliminating the
    low frequency content (which wouldn't be audible on such systems in any
    case), you help the system sound better within it's own limitations. Or so
    the marketeers would have us believe.
    Bruce Abrams, Dec 9, 2003
  14. Please note that if the microphone is flat to <20Hz, and so is the
    replay system, then the sound will be heard in its correct relation to
    the rest of the music, i.e. it will be an accurate representation of
    the original sound balance. This means that it *should* be just as
    inaudible as at the 'live' event. If it's clearly audible, then
    there's something wrong with your system balance, no?
    Stewart Pinkerton, Dec 10, 2003
  15. MarcinK

    Bruce Abrams Guest

    Unless microphone placement was such that the level of the stray sound was
    artificially elevated in the recording. This is, I believe, the same case
    as all of those chair creaks, key clicks and 2nd violist picking his nose
    sounds that "detail freaks" get so excited about. From my usual seats at
    Carnegie, I am almost never aware of such sounds, although I'm sure the
    stage mikes are picking them up loud and clear.
    Bruce Abrams, Dec 11, 2003
  16. MarcinK

    Harry Lavo Guest

    In this case it had to be mechanical vibration carried up the mike
    stands...the unplugged series didn't have overheads, they had a lot of
    stand-mounted mikes. And they were on a "riser" that from the sound of it
    was made of wood and had a low frequency resonance. So the sound was
    greatly amplified from what the audience would hear...not necessarily
    different however from what the musicians might hear.
    Harry Lavo, Dec 12, 2003
  17. MarcinK

    langvid Guest

    <%R9Bb.275460$Dw6.942361@attbi_s02> <CvdBb.65670$_M.326083@attbi_s54>

    Let's not overlook the importance of the pre or line stage! A good
    bass amp and speakers are very important. But they can be undermined
    by a line stage that can't handle the workload.

    About three years ago I was doing in home auditions with pre amps and
    passive line stages. Going into the audition the Audible Illusions 3A
    had the inside track because, among other factors, it is a local
    company. Toward the end of my in home demo with the Audible Illusions
    I played a CD, which I have routinely used when auditioning audio
    gear, the Telarc Poulenc Concerto for Organ, Strings, and Timpani. I
    could sense from the outset that something was missing, but I was
    listening casually so I really did not zero in on what was not right.
    However, the last 3 minutes or so of the Concerto includes, a somewhat
    faint but *very* deep organ passage which is sustained continuously
    for well over 90 seconds. Because it is sustained it is easier to
    gauge than a transient. I once read where this sustained note was at
    22 HZ. Through speakers that truly go this deep the Poulenc passage
    seemingly causes a change of barometric pressure in the room much like
    what I remember happened at the live performance of this concerto I
    attended. It feels like a small earthquake (I live in the San
    Francisco Bay Area). While the Audible Illusions "spoke" a bit in that
    region, it fell very short of replicating the music that was on the CD
    or replicating the feel and aura I remember from the live hearing.
    (Believe me once you have heard and felt the Poulenc Concerto in a
    live performance you will *never* forget it).

    In a rare admission Audible Illusions acknowledged that the 3a would
    not perform optimally in the lower octave, but only because of how I
    had my bi-amped system configured.

    I eventually settled on the Placette Passive Line Stage which passes
    through the lower octave with the best I auditioned.

    Robert C. Lang
    langvid, Dec 14, 2003
  18. MarcinK

    Bruce Abrams Guest

    Perhaps you could further explain the specifics of your system setup that
    led to such a conclusion. I've been using a Modulus 3A (and 3 before it)
    for many years and have found it's low frequency response to be a consistent
    strength. In fact, I believe it to be about the best performing pre-amp
    I've heard.
    Bruce Abrams, Dec 15, 2003
  19. MarcinK

    langvid Guest

    My system descriptions can be found at:

    Why my system configuration precluded the Modulus from performing to spec,
    I don't know. Perhaps you can shade some light on this mystery. Because
    Audible Illusions explanation didn't wash with me. I will attempt to
    find their explanation, that I have archived on a CD and forward to you.

    With that said, just because a component doesn't reach the frequency
    doesn't mean it's not a good sounding component. Likewise, just because a
    component can easily reach the frequency extremes doesn't mean that it is a
    superior sounding unit. On the contrary. I auditioned line stages in my
    system that had better performance at the extremes than the Modulus,
    but in my system did not sound as good as the Modulus. You have found the
    Modulus 3A to have consistent strength in the bass region. I agree with
    you. It goes deep very well as far as it goes. Then it gracefully falls off.

    The Telarc Poulenc Concerto because of that 90 second continuous 22 hz
    note can be replicated in some speaker systems (such as the Dunleavy 5 and
    but in others you would never know that the passage existed. Same way with
    some line stages. There was at least one other line stage (a damn good
    sounding one) through which there was barely a hint that passage was
    a even on the disc.

    If I did not listen to Romantic organ music I may never have
    discovered that below 30-35hz shortcoming in the Modulus' performance.
    Likewise, if I did not have speakers and amplifiers (or a room for
    that matter) that did not reach the octave below 25HZ I may not have
    learned that the Modulus 3A begins to fall off below 35hz or so by my
    unmeasured estimate (in my system).

    I have a new favorite Poulenc Concerto recording. It's the SACD
    (originally recorded DSD multi-channel) recording by Gillian Weir.
    Wonderfully recorded. It is absolutely majestic and extremely powerful.
    But guess what? It falls short in that 90 second passage that I described.
    It "speaks" in that region but you don't have the feel and the seemingly
    aura of a barometric change that the old Telarc CD has. This could be for
    engineering reasons, or Ms. Weir's choice, etc. Certainly the organ she
    used is not as robust (stops, number and size of pipes, etc.) as what
    Michael Murray used on the Telarc disc (or the organ he used when
    I saw his live performance). Nevertheless, the new version is
    so much better recorded.

    By the way, do you regularly listen to music that reaches down below 35 hz?
    What music do you listen to? Perhaps you can share your system setup.

    Robert C. Lang
    langvid, Dec 16, 2003
  20. MarcinK

    Bruce Abrams Guest

    Perhaps some of the engineers could shed some light on the subject, but I
    suspect it has something to do with a mismatch between the 1.2k ohm output
    impedence of the Modulus and the Eagle.

    In my system (Paradigm Studio 100 speakers, Plinius 8200P amp with an input
    impedence of 47k ohms, Modulus 3A and Sony NS-DVP900V) there isn't the 35Hz
    roll off that you describe. I also listen to a fair amount of organ music
    including the same recording of the Poulenc Concerto and everything is where
    it's supposed to be. My usual listening is a eclectic as anyone I know,
    being comprised of most forms of acoustic music; jazz (male & female vocal
    and both small groups and big bands), orchestral, chamber, solo piano,
    choral (I am a choral singer and listen to quite a bit of it) and a large
    amount of early music.

    See previous paragraph.
    Bruce Abrams, Dec 16, 2003
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