What's the best subwoofer? REL? JL AUDIO? Velodyne? Wilson? Something else?

caesar

Active Member
May 31, 2010
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#1
Has anyone actually auditioned various subs in their system and can meaningfully describe the sonic signature of say, REL vs JL vs Velodyne vs. anything else?
 

LL21

Active Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,550
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#2
Great question...look forwrd to reading more about this.
 

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
2,725
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Near Atlanta, GA but not too near!
#3
Has anyone actually auditioned various subs in their system and can meaningfully describe the sonic signature of say, REL vs JL vs Velodyne vs. anything else?
I had dual Velodyne DD-18's for a while. OK but not great and massively over-priced when compared to some of the ID Subwoofer companies. Virtually no output below 20hz and in my room with my current subs, I am 5 db down at 5Hz. I tried all of the larger SVS subs and with the exception of one, easily as good as the Velodynes at 1/2 the price (or way less). The Veldoyne SMS (EQ) is a great feature of the Velodyne subs but if you need it, it can be purchased separately.

I've also compared the REL subs to the the Seaton SubMersive and for music the REL is OK but it is no better than the SubMersive for music and not even in the same league for movies.

If you insist on buying a non Internet Direct product, JL is probably a great way to go. If you are open to an ID sub, there are a lot of options. If you have interest, there have been a number of sub "shootouts" that have been posted on AVS (I think mostly ID subs but I could be mistaken) and that should help as all of the subs were tested in the same room and all of the partiipants voted on them (at least one of the "shootouts" was done blind).

After having owned and listened to virtually all of the better known subs (both ID and Brick and Mortar), I selected the Seaton SubMersives (atually 4 of them placed around the room).

Just like every other audio product, YMMV:D
 

flez007

Member Sponsor
Aug 31, 2010
2,894
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Mexico City
#4
I have never heard the Torus, but respect the opinion of many that have recommended it.i had a DD18 with great results to complement a pair of SF GHs.
 

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,469
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#5
Hi

A subject of interest for me Subwoofers. I am one of those who believe that subwoofers are essential in music reproduction and this, regardless of the bass capabilities of the mains.
This said there is of hype and misinformation about subwoofer. I hasten to say that all subwoofers are not good. There are bad subwoofers but ... subwoofers do not have to cost an arm and a leg to be good , nor do audiophiles branded or approved subwoofers are automatically superior. In my experience several of the subwoofers in favor with audiophile would not hold a candle to many unheralded ones.
Some subwoofers brands are rarely discussed by we, audiophiles, yet they deserve our attention because they are superior products:

Seaton Submersive
SVS (several on their line-up) but in particular the SB13 Ultra.
Rythmik, their sealed non Passive Radiator models, IN particular the one with 15 inch High Output. F15 HP?
Paradigm Sub1 and Sub 2

These subwoofers are almost never mentioned in audiophile discussions. I would venture that these subwofers surpass in output, linearity and low distortion, performance and SQ, most of the more celebrated subwoofers out there ... I will put safely put these against any subwoofer you want to think of and they would likely match and in many cases surpass them. The Paradigm Sub 2 stands its own against any sub you want to compare it to...

At least JL Audio fame is justified, yes they are good, They are excellent .. The entire line.

As for Velodyne, let's put it this way:"For the Price" one can do better, much better. What Audioguy says .. They don't reach that low at high output and distort like hell at high output ... That doesn't mean that in some particular situations with the right room and set-up they cannot sound good, in some cases they do but to repeat .. "For the money" there are far beter subs, see the list above ...
The ultimate in subwoofing from my experience is DIY. In particular Infinite Baffle subwoofer. No commercial subwoofer can even close to a well executed Infinite baffle and they are not that expensive .. $5000 of IB will surpass anything commercial.. Let me repeat: anything commercial. Yet there seems to be just ONE person on this list with an IB ... :confused: I would have gone that route in a hurry ... but condo living is not IB friendly so ...

Last but least it is very difficult to assess the sound of a sub in a system, Set-up makes all the difference and some subs controls are too coarse (or absent) to allow optimum set-up for a given room and mains... People expect subwoofer integration to be plug and play. That's rarely the case, I should say "never"; It is not easy to blend subs with mains, any mains .. It takes a while, requires MEASUREMENTS. emphasis on the plural, patience, research, a good level of understanding of the issues of bass reproduction in small rooms (most rooms in most houses is from an Acoustic standpoint a small, that includes ALL the room here on WBF), tinkering ...more measurements and in spite of all this, in most case requires some sort of EQ, which the SMS does provide I believe there are better (albeit more expensive or difficult solutions)
 

DaveyF

Active Member
Aug 1, 2010
5,647
6
38
La Jolla, Calif USA
#6
I happen to think that a subwoofer is fairly crucial IF you happen to use smaller speakers, whether they be stand mount or floor standing. However, I also think that the size of the sub is also crucial, and needs to be appropriate for the size of your room. I am VERY pleased with the smaller REL, it's a great music sub and appropriate size wise for my room size. One of my pet peeves, is to listen to a system that utilizes large subs in a too small room. Result: boomy and overpowering bass; which drives me from the room quickly.
IMHO, IF you can hear the subwoofer in the system, then something is wrong. BTW, the REL offers one main advantage that the others under discussion do not... that is their hook-up system. Direct to the amp outputs via a speakon cable, resulting in an exact signal to the sub that the amp to main speaker sees. I am unaware of any other make that employs this system and IMO, it's what gives the REL's a leg up.
 
Jul 1, 2010
8,713
0
0
#7
I have no interest in freight trains, car crashes or the reproduction of earthquakes, only music. With that said, for music, I'd concur that the Velodynes are good but expensive and the RELs are pretty fabulous. Most impressive to my ears is the ease with which they integrate with mains to make a standup bass sound like a standup bass and a kick drum kick hard, then stop when it's supposed to stop. And this goes all the way down to the humblest, least expensive RELs. What you lose going down their range is extension and SPLs. If you're just looking for music reproduction in a moderate-sized room, don't be afraid to look at the more affordable RELs, they might do everything you need done. A couple of them can be even better, and still come in for less than many high-end subs.

Tim
 
Jul 1, 2010
8,713
0
0
#8
I happen to think that a subwoofer is fairly crucial IF you happen to use smaller speakers, whether they be stand mount or floor standing. However, I also think that the size of the sub is also crucial, and needs to be appropriate for the size of your room. I am VERY pleased with the smaller REL, it's a great music sub and appropriate size wise for my room size. One of my pet peeves, is to listen to a system that utilizes large subs in a too small room. Result: boomy and overpowering bass; which drives me from the room quickly.
IMHO, IF you can hear the subwoofer in the system, then something is wrong. BTW, the REL offers one main advantage that the others under discussion do not... that is their hook-up system. Direct to the amp outputs via a speakon cable, resulting in an exact signal to the sub that the amp to main speaker sees. I am unaware of any other make that employs this system and IMO, it's what gives the REL's a leg up.
Which RELs do you have, Davey?

Tim
 
May 7, 2012
1,325
0
0
Seattle area
#9
I happen to think that a subwoofer is fairly crucial IF you happen to use smaller speakers, whether they be stand mount or floor standing. However, I also think that the size of the sub is also crucial, and needs to be appropriate for the size of your room. I am VERY pleased with the smaller REL, it's a great music sub and appropriate size wise for my room size. One of my pet peeves, is to listen to a system that utilizes large subs in a too small room. Result: boomy and overpowering bass; which drives me from the room quickly.
IMHO, IF you can hear the subwoofer in the system, then something is wrong. BTW, the REL offers one main advantage that the others under discussion do not... that is their hook-up system. Direct to the amp outputs via a speakon cable, resulting in an exact signal to the sub that the amp to main speaker sees. I am unaware of any other make that employs this system and IMO, it's what gives the REL's a leg up.
One reason that larger or multiple subs could be more boomy and overpowering is because their level is set too high. It's most likely a matter of setup. Another reason could be that they are of inferior quality to the sub you are using. Larger and or multiple subs of the same quality will have more headroom and therefore will play more cleanly. Multiple subs also have the advantage of smoothing out the frequency response.
 
Jul 1, 2010
8,713
0
0
#10
One reason that larger or multiple subs could be more boomy and overpowering is because their level is set too high. It's most likely a matter of setup. Another reason could be that they are of inferior quality to the sub you are using. Larger and or multiple subs of the same quality will have more headroom and therefore will play more cleanly. Multiple subs also have the advantage of smoothing out the frequency response.
While I'm sure all of that is true, sometimes I think they just plain put out too much, too deep. I know to the HT guys that's like saying "too much sex," but if you want good, musical, controlled bass performance and your subs are putting out high volume waves that can't even complete before they hit a wall, isn't that going to be a problem?

Tim
 
Jul 25, 2012
2,554
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NY
#11
Last edited:
Jul 25, 2012
2,554
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NY
#12
While I'm sure all of that is true, sometimes I think they just plain put out too much, too deep. I know to the HT guys that's like saying "too much sex," but if you want good, musical, controlled bass performance and your subs are putting out high volume waves that can't even complete before they hit a wall, isn't that going to be a problem?

Tim
The use of subs only becomes a problem when they, like anything else, aren't used intelligently.

A well set up sub can do wonders for realism in many systems. The trick is to use it properly and to know the sub's and room's limitations.

Many very good systems are lacking somewhat in the very bottom end. In an otherwise good system (not one a teenager uses to blast his parents out of the house with a $150 sub from Radio Shack crossed over at 150 Hz) but a good subwoofer crossing over in the bottom octave in the 30 to 40 Hz range or lower can noticeably improve a system when a realistic volume is used on the subwoofer.

In a HT system, they too can have too much bass. A good explosion should really rock the place, but a handgun or rifle shot should NOT make the room vibrate, and that becomes very annoying very fast in a movie. Unfortunately, that is becoming more and more common.
 

audioguy

WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
2,725
5
38
Near Atlanta, GA but not too near!
#13
A friend of mine bought two REL's (don't recall the model number) to use with his Magico Q5's. He placed the Q5's where they provided the best response and imaging but at the expense of low bass (not atypical at all).

The reason he selected the REL's was that they could be fairly easily and seamlessly integrated without the use of external room correction products like the TacT 2.2XP or external crossovers. Not inexpensive however but perfect for his room and his speakers.

He would say, I think, that they are NOT the best for high impact movie sound effects (nor does he use them for that)
 
May 7, 2012
1,325
0
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Seattle area
#14
While I'm sure all of that is true, sometimes I think they just plain put out too much, too deep. I know to the HT guys that's like saying "too much sex," but if you want good, musical, controlled bass performance and your subs are putting out high volume waves that can't even complete before they hit a wall, isn't that going to be a problem?

Tim
I don't think that bass waves need to complete before they hit a wall to sound right personally. I think the most important things are low distortion (which is hard to achieve under 30 hz), smooth frequency response, and the correct level to blend with the main speakers. I also think that the subs should fire from the same plane as the mains to achieve the best integration. This is not practical in most settings though. You can also get smoother response by placing them in different positions but I personally prefer them in the same plane if possible.
 

egidius

Member Sponsor
Feb 13, 2011
422
0
0
Switzerland
#15
Stella novus

Has anyone actually auditioned various subs in their system and can meaningfully describe the sonic signature of say, REL vs JL vs Velodyne vs. anything else?
I have heard some bad ones, they obviously don't count. B&W and the like, cheap HT. Then I came across a fantastic Audio Physic (Terra), and later an even better Stella Novus, which I use with 2 1/2 way Stella Opus floorstanders - the Novus is amazing that you have remote control over upper frequency cut, level, delay etc. and you can actually change the behaviour of the room. I did really minimise my room bass nodes.
Turned a not bad speaker system into a great one: The "satellites" have a certain politeness about them, which seems to disappear when with Novus; very light and elegant they sound now, with lots of punch, when needed (the Novus goes from 10Hz-39Hz, level is minus 3db, no delay, standing in plane right corner)
Undortunately the company has gone, so I dread the moment, I would have to do anything about it.

Here some links: http://audio-database.com/ACUSTIK-LAB/speaker/stella-novus-e.html

http://audio-database.com/ACUSTIK-LAB/speaker/stella-opus-e.html

If you ever come across a NOVUS, go for it.. was VERY expensive when new, but second hand might be fantastic..
 
Last edited:
May 30, 2010
13,978
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Portugal
#16
(...) The ultimate in subwoofing from my experience is DIY. In particular Infinite Baffle subwoofer. No commercial subwoofer can even close to a well executed Infinite baffle and they are not that expensive .. $5000 of IB will surpass anything commercial.. Let me repeat: anything commercial. Yet there seems to be just ONE person on this list with an IB ... :confused: I would have gone that route in a hurry ... but condo living is not IB friendly so ...
(...)
Frantz,

Nice to re-open the IB debate. Sometime ago we had a thread about it, and I started gathering information on it, as I do not have the opportunity to listen to such a system before committing. Although I could read a lot of good opinions and debates at specialized forums, mostly from owners and DIY people who build fantastic projects, I could not find any measurements or scientific argument that could prove me that this technique is better than the alternatives. Also I could not find any professional use of this technique. Do you have any references to technical oriented papers or articles on IB subwoofers and measurements? And yes, I remember I read a lot of FAQs about this subject ...
 

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,527
3
38
Monument, CO
#17
For me:

At any price, the big Paradigm or Gothams would be in play...
In general, Rythmik, Seaton, Salk (customized Rythmik), Paradigm, JL all come to mind as top-notch subs that cost less than my car...
 

rbbert

Active Member
Dec 12, 2010
3,423
0
36
Reno, NV
#18
Vmps
 
Last edited:
Jul 1, 2010
8,713
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#19
I don't think that bass waves need to complete before they hit a wall to sound right personally. I think the most important things are low distortion (which is hard to achieve under 30 hz), smooth frequency response, and the correct level to blend with the main speakers. I also think that the subs should fire from the same plane as the mains to achieve the best integration. This is not practical in most settings though. You can also get smoother response by placing them in different positions but I personally prefer them in the same plane if possible.
You might be right. It was a question, not a statement. Your set-up advice is in sync with the advice of the manufacturer of my speakers, AVi. They recommend their sub placed on the same plane as the mains, not equidistant from the sidewalls, Then hit the right crossover point and bring the volume up until it is just felt. Season to taste. A bit simplistic...really, different but no more simplistic than REL's instructions...but it works well in most rooms.

Tim
 

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,469
0
0
#20
microstrip

The scientific evidence is there. Those are facts:

The multiplicity of drivers afforded by IB results in increased linearity and vanishingly low distortion.. Electronics-like low distortion. Becasue With multiple drivers you have increased sensitivity, output and power handling. The drivers operate in their most linear region at most SPL.

Most commercial subwoofers are limited by physics. The ideal sealed box for most drivers (say most 15 inch) would be the size of an apartment refrigerator, adding more drivers would have resulted in larger boxes. For the most part Most if Not ALL commercial subwoofers have to make do with a small box and equalize (internally, you don;t have control of that EQ) very heavily. They all do. A simple program such as WinISD wil let you see how serious the drop off in output is when you put most any 15 inch in the kind of boxes we see with commercial subwoofers. IB don't have this limitation the box is a room or in a few installs the outside virtually , truly infinite.

As I said earlier an IB that would cost $5000 with everything including adequate EQ and amplification will surpass any commercial offering you can dream off.. Any.
One of the few audiophile person to endorse IB is Richard Vandersteen. Back in the days of TAS, very erly TAS, Patrick Henry Donleycott (PHD) used an IB with two Harley 24" subs mounted in his basement, and venting their utput in his listening room ... Else they don't figure in the audiophile landscape and this is unfortunate.. They provide close to Ultimate bass. I helped friends build two and have heard a few ...

You will hear about IB the lack of box coloration and the like .. I don't think that is an absence of box of whatever. I believe strongly it is the linearity of the solution and the disappearance of distortion at regular volume (or high too). Ib play pure in a way most subwoofers and woofers don;'t .. It is suprsing at first the same way a cleaner speaker makeyou uncomfortable becasue you no longer hear the distortions you were used to in the reproduction...(Had that with the superb Magico Q3) ... Then you start noticing muances in low bass you never suspected to exist . Problem with IB the house structure may (will :) )shake, then again the best subwoofers can do that but it is soo easy to surpass that output with an IB .. If your volume is normal.. No problem there but if there is a signal in the piece that require low bass at high output a good IB will reproduce it...

IBs are not for everyone. They are DIY although I have seen companies that will work with an individual and install them for individual on Google some years ago. IBs require an adjacent space. large enough to simulate the infinite baffle loading. Some use their garage some an adjacent room some the space under the stairways, the space in the ceiling and most often the basement. That can be a problem for many. They are not a box you plunk there move around, etc and sell . They are a permanent fixtures, part of the listening room and that can be a problem for some . They have an incredible WAF factor though there is no box in the room if ones uses a manifold. They are not apparent and do not intrude in the room. The thing is many audiophiles could try an IB. They have the room , the finances and the appropriate space for IB, yet scarce mentions of IB, the excellence of IBs sem never to register in the audiophile world.. IB are almost looked at with some condescension ... I find this strange.


By the way I have kown about IB for a long time. I was reacquainted to IB after discussion on AVS Forum with Goneten. At first I find his almost fixation on IBs laughable then I researched and tried to hear one ... I hope I will not sound negative about that gentle fellow system' an HT with emphasis on output using Klpsch HT speakers and an AVR but the bass was something I never heard in anything and to me that was the revelation... Pure , clean, the word that I would use is dry.. A sense of cleanness, of being there without calling much attention to itself and apparently with no bottom limit .. You will suddenly not hear anything but the room shuddering and tyour body reacting to it .. HE was using 4 Parts Express 15" IB drivers (about $150 each) with a Behringer Pro amp and and a Behringer feedback Destroyer used as an EQ (The BFD can equalize with the best of them .. it takes a while to understand let alone master but will surpass the famed Velodyne SMS-1 in flexibility all that for less than $100) ...
 

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