Question for those with external subs

cjf

Member
Nov 19, 2012
332
3
18
#1
Hello,

I'm curious if those with external subs have found the need to adjust their output level on an ongoing basis while listening to various types of music or if you have managed to find one setting that works in all cases no matter what type of music you listen to?

I've heard that it can be quite difficult to match the output level of the sub to blend perfectly with the main towers and if one can get away with it the best option is to purchase enough main speaker to begin with so blending issues are a none issue.

I've long considered adding a sub or two to my system but am discouraged by the thought of having to fiddle about with output levels often and a set it and forget it approach is just a fantasy.

What are your experiences with this..Thanks
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,932
141
63
#2
Hi CJF,

I have 8 presettings on the Velodyne...each with 30 potential adjustments i can save...but in fact, i only use 2...music and theater. So far, so great. It does take a while to dial-in...75% in half a day. 85% in a week, 90% in a month and closer to 100% in about 2-3 months. And if you really obsess i am sure you can do it all in a day.
 

RogerD

Well-Known Member
May 23, 2010
3,481
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BiggestLittleCity
#3
Being a little esoteric here,because of my inability to explain this fully. My subs both a dual 16 and a Velodyne 18 seemlessly intergrated as I increased the dispersion capabilities of my towers or satellites. Not a small amount either,as satellites and subs disappeared fully on the majority of music played. To say the room no longer interfered with the illusion,would be a fair assessment.
This process of perfecting the efficiency of the signal,power,electronics,speakers and system is all interconnected. You can use the level of the noise floor as a marker,but I always use the boundaries of the music reproduction. You can get to infinity. There are pages written about this process here...I found that isolation and grounding have moved me to this level...just my thoughts.
 

DaveyF

Well-Known Member
Aug 1, 2010
6,135
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63
La Jolla, Calif USA
#4
I just integrated two REL’s into my system. The trick is to be sure that the x-over points are where the mains begin to drop off. Since the REL’s utilize a high level connection, this is made a lot easier as the amp is giving exactly the same signal to both the mains and the subs. The other variable is the volume for each sub, and this needs to be experimented with. I have now dialed in both subs to a seamless blend with my mains...not as easy a task as with just one sub, but certainly worth the effort.
I find that once dialed in, the music played back works regardless of genre.
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
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Greater Boston
#5
I dial in the sub volume (not crossover) for each recording. I find the ability to optimally EQ the bass of the recording an asset, not a nuisance. The bass level varies so much between recordings, especially on rock, that I don't feel I should be a victim of the whims of the mastering engineer. For example, many people have complained that Led Zep's Physical Graffiti is anemic on CD. No problem with this in my system, I simply turn up the sub and it sounds great.

Of course, I could leave the sub all the time at a constant lower setting and it would fill in most of the music just fine. But why not dial in the sub to optimize the musical enjoyment of each recording?
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
3,963
498
83
Utah
#6
Hello,

I'm curious if those with external subs have found the need to adjust their output level on an ongoing basis while listening to various types of music or if you have managed to find one setting that works in all cases no matter what type of music you listen to?

I've heard that it can be quite difficult to match the output level of the sub to blend perfectly with the main towers and if one can get away with it the best option is to purchase enough main speaker to begin with so blending issues are a none issue.

I've long considered adding a sub or two to my system but am discouraged by the thought of having to fiddle about with output levels often and a set it and forget it approach is just a fantasy.

What are your experiences with this..Thanks
If done right it can be set & forget. Ideally you shouldn’t be aware of them at all, the need for changing parameters with music means that they haven’t integrated properly to begin with and one is too aware of them.

david
 

LL21

Well-Known Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,932
141
63
#7
If done right it can be set & forget. Ideally you shouldn’t be aware of them at all, the need for changing parameters with music means that they haven’t integrated properly to begin with and one is too aware of them.

david
that has been my experience (thought my experience is far more limited than DDKs) in my room. While increasing or decreasing bass on albums where the bass is thin does create a difference...i have found it (to my ears) to be just different but not the balance of true, well recorded tight fisted propulsive bass...it feels like a little bit of a 'touch up' where the 'thin bass' gets fatter but not really tighter, more powerful and 'alive' in the recording venue.

in fact, what i have found has worked 'best' with thin recordings is that the less grunge, noise, i have (or think i have) in the system...the more details it digs out including some of that percussive weight.
 

Al M.

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Sep 10, 2013
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Greater Boston
#8
If done right it can be set & forget. Ideally you shouldn’t be aware of them at all, the need for changing parameters with music means that they haven’t integrated properly to begin with and one is too aware of them.

david
I disagree, David, that the desire to change sub volumes per recording is related to improper integration. I have heard the same problems with too divergent bass volumes between individual recordings on great full-range speakers without subwoofers, and I appreciate the ability to simply correct for that with a subwoofer.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
5,629
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North Shore of Boston
#9
If done right it can be set & forget. Ideally you shouldn’t be aware of them at all, the need for changing parameters with music means that they haven’t integrated properly to begin with and one is too aware of them.

david
I do not own subwoofers and am certainly no expert, but from my experience of trying to integrate two sets of different subs in my own system and from hearing results with subs in three other systems which I know fairly well, I tend to agree with David on this topic. Having written that, I see where Al M. is coming from. His sub is audible to me and I usually prefer that he turn down the volume setting for the type of music I enjoy. Occasionally, I even ask him to turn the sub off. He is always accommodating. However, we did listen to Green Day recently on his system and we cranked the sub. It was a thrill ride of massive, explosive bass. Who knows how real this sounded? It was not about reproducing accurately some acoustic instruments in a real space. The music was completely amplified and electronic and cranking up the bass volume was an effect. I just didn't care about accuracy or integration for this music. I was a diversion from what I usually listen to, and it was fun.

I think that is where Al is coming from. He seems to use his sub levels as an equalizer to more fully enjoy different recordings. He seems to prefer some measure of control over the recording where I want to hear the recording as the engineer intended it. Al just has a different approach from the one that David seems to be describing and the one that I would use in my own system. This subject, and audio in general, is very personal and I understand why there are different approaches and preferences.

The OP seems to be asking for the "correct" solution. I think it all depends on what the goals are. Seamless integration seems a bit at odds with end user control over the frequency balance of playback.
 

Al M.

VIP/Donor
Sep 10, 2013
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Greater Boston
#10
I do not own subwoofers and am certainly no expert, but from my experience of trying to integrate two sets of different subs in my own system and from hearing results with subs in three other systems which I know fairly well, I tend to agree with David on this topic. Having written that, I see where Al M. is coming from. His sub is audible to me and I usually prefer that he turn down the volume setting for the type of music I enjoy.
As for my sub being audible to you, this may be true in some cases, Peter, but it is not true in general. While you have often been critical, you have on several occasions also mentioned that you thought the sub integration in my system was very good. Please don't engage in revisionist history only because lately you have become again very sensitive to the topic.

I think that is where Al is coming from. He seems to use his sub levels as an equalizer to more fully enjoy different recordings.
Yes.

He seems to prefer some measure of control over the recording where I want to hear the recording as the engineer intended it.
That is a problematic assertion. How can anyone claim to want to hear any given recording how the engineer intended it to sound if they set a basic level of subwoofer volume, even if they intend to keep it fixed, according to their taste or what they personally perceive to be right? If you really think about it, the argument falls apart easily. And in your case where you don't use a subwoofer (and I agree, in your particular acoustic situation a sub appears to be problematic), I don't think any recording engineer intended there not to be low bass.

The OP seems to be asking for the "correct" solution. I think it all depends on what the goals are. Seamless integration seems a bit at odds with end user control over the frequency balance of playback.
This is not correct. You can have seamless integration at different chosen levels of bass balance, so integration and end user control over the frequency balance of playback are not at odds.
 

RogerD

Well-Known Member
May 23, 2010
3,481
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BiggestLittleCity
#11
If done right it can be set & forget. Ideally you shouldn’t be aware of them at all, the need for changing parameters with music means that they haven’t integrated properly to begin with and one is too aware of them.

david
I agree totally. I had to adjust the volume level lower maybe 3 or 4 times as the dispersion increased. The bass level is now where I can play all music without further adjustments.
 

marty

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
1,350
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Far Hills, NJ
#12
If done right it can be set & forget. Ideally you shouldn’t be aware of them at all, the need for changing parameters with music means that they haven’t integrated properly to begin with and one is too aware of them.

david
+1
I never thought that one should have different sub settings for different formats, movies or otherwise. There are not different settings for music sources on a full range speaker, so why would there be for a speaker system that consisted of mains plus subs? If the subs are integrated properly, it should be a "set it and forget it" situation.
 

ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
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#13
If you are going to constantly be adjusting the sub, why stop there - get a full set of tone controls
 
May 30, 2010
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Portugal
#14
I disagree, David, that the desire to change sub volumes per recording is related to improper integration. I have heard the same problems with too divergent bass volumes between individual recordings on great full-range speakers without subwoofers, and I appreciate the ability to simply correct for that with a subwoofer.
What levels of correction are you addressing - a few dB's? IMHO we can not compensate for different bass balances of recordings just fiddling with the control volume of the subwoofer. When I settled the controls of the WatchDog subwoofer I took a picture of the control panel and freeze them forever. :D

I have found several times that my apparent perception of insufficient bass level with rock was due to problems elsewhere in middle frequencies.
 

Al M.

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Sep 10, 2013
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#15
If you are going to constantly be adjusting the sub, why stop there - get a full set of tone controls
Sometimes that would be desirable, yes. However, I have found that the bass volume differs the most between recordings, and often not in pleasant ways, suggesting that the mastering eningeers did not have the equipment set up in such a way as to allow them to make a neutral judgment. And again, I have heard this with great full-range floorstanders run without subs as well, so this is not an issue specifically related to subwoofers.

As for the argument in favor of a fixed sub volume because one wants to hear the music as the recording engineer intended, I have addressed this previously on the thread.
 
May 30, 2010
15,504
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Portugal
#16
If you are going to constantly be adjusting the sub, why stop there - get a full set of tone controls
People did it with the famous Mark Levinson Audio Palette. I have owned it, but when I found that I was spending much more time adjusting the six rotary controls than listening to music I sold it. But I really miss the feeling of handling this particular high precision, high quality piece.
 

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ack

VIP/Donor & WBF Founding Member
May 6, 2010
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#17
People did it with the famous Mark Levinson Audio Palette. I owned it, but when I found that I was spending much more time adjusting the six rotary controls than listening to music I sold it. But I really miss the feeling of handling this particular precision quality piece.
I would argue you can never fix a recording no matter what you do. Tone controls are for pleasure, not for accuracy, and any attempt to fix anything is just an exercise in futility.
 

sujay

Member Sponsor
May 5, 2012
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Singapore
#18
I just integrated two REL’s into my system. The trick is to be sure that the x-over points are where the mains begin to drop off. Since the REL’s utilize a high level connection, this is made a lot easier as the amp is giving exactly the same signal to both the mains and the subs. The other variable is the volume for each sub, and this needs to be experimented with. I have now dialed in both subs to a seamless blend with my mains...not as easy a task as with just one sub, but certainly worth the effort.
I find that once dialed in, the music played back works regardless of genre.
+1

I run a pair of REL G1 as well through a high level connection. I have crossed over at 27hz and can barely feel the subs except when I switch them off.....then they make their presence felt.

I guess for 2-ch, subs are more about ambience retrieval, scale and presence than pounding bass. In fact, I feel they make more difference when used in conjunction with full range or near full range speakers.

Cheers
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
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North Shore of Boston
#19
As for my sub being audible to you, this may be true in some cases, Peter, but it is not true in general. While you have often been critical, you have on several occasions also mentioned that you thought the sub integration in my system was very good. Please don't engage in revisionist history only because lately you have become again very sensitive to the topic.



Yes.



That is a problematic assertion. How can anyone claim to want to hear any given recording how the engineer intended it to sound if they set a basic level of subwoofer volume, even if they intend to keep it fixed, according to their taste or what they personally perceive to be right? If you really think about it, the argument falls apart easily. And in your case where you don't use a subwoofer (and I agree, in your particular acoustic situation a sub appears to be problematic), I don't think any recording engineer intended there not to be low bass.



This is not correct. You can have seamless integration at different chosen levels of bass balance, so integration and end user control over the frequency balance of playback are not at odds.
Hi Al,

My comment above about your sub being audible to me is in the present tense. Yes, I have commented about the good integration in the past, but lately, I have been more aware of its presence. Perhaps we just have a slightly different view on what sub level sounds most integrated. That is fine.

Over time, my listening skills have changed. I don't know if they have improved or worsened, but I do know that I now listen for different things then I did just a year or two ago. I learn more, my tastes change, I notice different things, so what I now think may well be different from what I used to think. I agree with you that I have remarked on the good integration in the past. You have also made many changes to your system over the past year including new speakers, DAC, Pass B1 buffer/volume control, cables. You have also adjusted your carpet, rotated your tube traps, moved around large absorption panels, all in an effort to shape the sound more to your liking. All of these changes have meant that the sound of your system has not been constant or static over the past year and as I now think about it, my impressions of the degree of your sub integration have changed as well. I'm not trying to revise history, just placing my comments into some kind of context.

Yes, I have become again sensitive to the topic of sub integration because you strongly suggested that I try once more to integrate a sub in my system. We tried it with your REL sub, and you heard the result. I have also paid particular attention to MadFloyd's sub integration with his superb, full range Magico MPro speakers, speakers that are considerably different from your smaller stand mounted two ways. I heard that sub as well, and we turned it off after a while. I don't know if he is now using it or not.

Integrating subs can be a very complicated process. And I don't know much about it, so I will defer to those on this thread who seem to know more about the subject: David, RogerD, Marty, DaveyF, etc. Their comments seem to more closely reflect my very limited experiences, but as I wrote before, I welcome your approach to changing your sub volume level and altering your sound according to your tastes. That is just fine and it can sound incredible as it did with Green Day.

Regarding the engineer's intentions, I see your point. All we have to experience the engineer's intention is the recording itself, unless we read or hear him/her indicate otherwise. A limited frequency system like mine will never truly reproduce the recording as you correctly state, but, I would rather miss some bass extension than add something which makes the experience less pleasant, clear, or enjoyable. Again, we can all have different opinions about this and choose our own approaches.

Regarding integration and user control of the frequency response of a system, I think a good set of ears or measurements will answer whether or not these issues are at odds. The user must have some control if he is to successfully integrate the system in the first place. But once it is integrated well, as it was in that dealer demo of the Magico S7 and Ssub, I think it is up to the user to decide if he wants to adjust it further. I don't think that dealer adjusted it for different songs once it was set originally. I suppose one could adjust the main speaker positioning for different songs to alter the tonal balance too if he were so inclined. It does seem to be a very individual hobby where one's personal preferences are what should matter most.
 
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