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Thread: Best sub to pair with Super HL5s?

  1. #1
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    Default Best sub to pair with Super HL5s?

    Hi All - My newly acquired Super HL5s do double-duty for audio and home theatre. My priority is audio though, and I want to find a pair of subs to round out the bottom end. Does anyone have any thoughts on a good sonic match? Ideally, I want to go down to 20Hz (at -3db) or lower and not have too large a footprint. Ideally the combined price of the 2 subs would be no more than half the cost of the Super HL5s, but that is just for ballparking things (i.e., NOT going to add a pair of Thor's Hammers from Wilson Audio).

    I've been advised that the Vandersteen 2WQs are a good fit, but have yet to be able to audition them myself.

    Thanks for any help!
    John

  2. #2
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    Default Subs for movies

    If you need sub just for movie blasting, SVS or Hsu can do quite well.
    "Bath in Music"

  3. #3
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    Default Music v. hifi sub integration

    If it's exclusively for Home Cinema duties, any big sub/subs will do the job to add a bit of rumble and thump. For music reproduction, you will struggle to find a sub-woof with anything like the quality of the SHL5.

  4. #4
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    Default Low distortion etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by hifi_dave View Post
    If it's exclusively for Home Cinema duties, any big sub/subs will do the job to add a bit of rumble and thump. For music reproduction, you will struggle to find a sub-woof with anything like the quality of the SHL5.
    I don't quite agree, accurate production is accurate production. A wave of powerful, clean sub 20Hz content can be quite an experience, and is definitely more than a bit of rumble and thump.

    In case of low frequency production, a couple of things are needed: A good frequency response (linear), good decay time.. and a subwoofer capable of producing said material with low distortion or compression.

  5. #5
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    Default Sub for music

    Thanks - I'm not worried about the Home Cinema side of things, but want a sub that will be as close as possible to the sonic properties of the Harbeth's for music. The Vandersteens were recommended because of their speed at low frequencies, which is a problem for most Home Theatre-oriented subs.

  6. #6
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    Default LF = effects only

    I guess that above a certain level they´re all quite ok, 'cause movies are not mixed to a high standard. Low frequencies are mostly just an effect.

    I use a Heco Phalanx 12A a think to my complete satisfaction for home cinema (combined with "vintage" Celestion 100 speakers).

  7. #7
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    Default RELB2 with C7

    Hi
    There are a a few users of Rel subwoofers on the forum and I think I've managed to integrate a Rel B2 with My Compact 7s. I used a xtz room analyzer (sic) to help with this as I had an annoying room node at around 38 Hz, which was really noticeable on good quality recorings with any real bass weight.

    I ended up with the sub placed near a side wall, 180 degrees out of phase, crossing over at the room node, which has helped to cancel it whilst retaining the low bass frequencies form the Sub, which I feel helps the musical experience. This has led to a pretty flat room bass response.

    Is there a friendly dealer locally that would help out ?
    Jim

  8. #8
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    Default High quality HT?

    @That is a bit degrading to the people who have put hard work into mixes. I'm going to drift off topic here, but saying that 'movies are not mixed to a high standard' is just a generalisation. There are plenty of movies that are mixed to extremely high standards with excellent sound quality which fit the film perfectly. There are bound to be bad mixes out there, but certainly most are good, with some material out there that can be considered 'excellent'. Low frequencies in movies are sometimes effects (the Low Frequency Effect channel being dedicated to it) but not always. I don't think many people here have experienced a high quality Home Theatre..

    @Maritimer. Please have a look at this: Bass Myths http://www.data-bass.com/data?page=knowhow&type=1

  9. #9
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    Default Subs and HT experience

    I think in yr 06 I heard a HT sound with amazing surround and incredible low freq effect. One of the experience is, I still can remember clearly we, with my wife, visit a friend to demo his sub, he show us 'Finding Nemo 'since when the nasty little girl knocked on the fish tank, both of us felt we are inside the tank which the whole house was shaking and rattling from 360 degree. Difficult to describe but it really real. The same system failed to attract me when switched to play music.

    I still didn't hear any setup able to play HT and music equally well till date. In fact you do not need sub for shl5 for stereo music unless you use it for concert video, you like pipe organ or electrical instruments. Oh, you got a very big listen environment.
    "Bath in Music"

  10. #10
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    Default Cinema sound is artificial

    @Tim
    I meant that a little different.
    "Not a high standard" concerning naturalness.
    It is common for cinema sound to enhance, degrade, compress almost every single sound in the whole spectrum.
    It is completely artificial.

    At the same time I have the feeling that (if it is big enough and powerfull enough) constructing a good subwoofer is not as difficult as constructing a speaker.
    But that is just a guess from me. Maybe Alan can comment on this if he finds this thread.

    Still: I can say that my setup with the above mentioned Heco (retail price was around 1000,- €, I got mine considerably cheaper on a sale) is absolutely o.k.
    My setup sounds quite good to me. The sound of my home cinema therfore is no issue anymore.

  11. #11
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    Default For music - two subs

    It can't be that easy to design/build a sub-woof because so few do the job properly, IMO.

    In the past, when Home Cinema was the big thing, we stocked many top of the range, very expensive sub-woofs and some cheaper models but not one, to my ears, could play music. They were great at creating World War 3, earthquakes and Dinosaur foot stomps but with music they always seem slow and ponderous. Also, with music, I believe you need two - each one close to the main left/right speakers, to reproduce a decent sound stage. Anything else is a compromise. IMO

  12. #12
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    Default REL with Harbeth

    As I have posted in the past, I am quite happy with a REL B3 and C7 ES3.I think the quality of the B series is where you want to be. My room is 12'x12'x9', so I am using the smallest sub in that series. The newer G series is reportedly an excellent sub. REL's typically come in three sizes in each series. It should be set up so that you are not aware of its presence until you switch it off.

    I'm quite happy with the overall bass quality and bass response. Since the Super HL5 goes lower than my C7 the need should be even less.

  13. #13
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    Default Any sub for movies?

    @hifi_dave:
    I have to admit that I only think of a subwoofer when movies are the subject.
    My SHL5 are going by far deep enough for music-listening.

    And when movies are the aim, I have the feeling that most subwoofers are doing quite well.

  14. #14
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    Default Subwoofers do a crude job ....

    Quote Originally Posted by hifi_dave View Post
    we stocked many top of the range, very expensive sub-woofs and some cheaper models but not one, to my ears, could play music. They were great at creating World War 3, earthquakes and Dinosaur foot stomps but with music they always seem slow and ponderous.
    I agree. It is very difficult to have a sub integrate well with the main speakers in a way that enhances the overall music that is heard.

    For HT they work well enough, because they have to do a crude job, if I may use the word, when compared with the demand in music reproduction. In addition, the movie mix takes into account the presence of the sub for the kind of effects Dave refers to, and dedicates a channel to it. Stereo music recording does not do this.

  15. #15
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    Default I've also been looking for a sub to partner Super HL5s

    Not decided what to do yet but you may be interested in the information I've gleaned, based on others' experience and reviews:

    1) For music, as opposed to home cinema, increasing the volume of bass notes is only a minor part of the reason to add a sub-woofer. Benefit in this area is only occasionally evident on orchestral climaxes, and some organ music, big-band jazz or heavier rock. The universal recommendation for setting the volume level for sub-woofers for music seems to be "turn the volume down until you just can't hear the sub-woofer."

    2) Again there seems to be widespread agreement that the main benefit of adding a sub-woofer is an increase in the degree of ambience that can be heard i.e. the effect of lower frequency background sounds reverberating in the recording venue: "There's more there there." This seems to be true even when added to transducers with the good low-frequency extension (like the Super HL5s).

    3) Adding a sub-woofer to extend low-frequency response can actually worsen the overall sound, because it can excite and/or magnify the natural resonance modes of the listening room, leading to a thick, muddled sound. Thus it is essential to use a sub-woofer that not only has a low-pass filter to match the low-frequency characteristics of the main speaker but also can have its frequency response tailored to suppress room modes and hence provide clean lower bass.

    I'm not aware of many sub-woofers on the market that can do this in a smallish box at a price commensurate with the Super HL5s: the B&W DB1 looks as though it might be one judging from this review:
    http://www.stereophile.com/content/b...-db1-subwoofer

    Hope this helps and please keep us informed of your experiences.

    David

  16. #16
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    Default Velodyne sub

    I am using a Velodyne DD10 (old model) and it integrates absolutely seamlessly with my M30's. Forget REL, it really doesn't hold a stick to the Velodyne subwoofers, unless crossed over at the lowest frequency and in a sympathetic enough room. They are far from flat and cannot be eq-ed.

    Getting into Dave's points mentioned above:

    1) You are right, but you would be amazed just how much a good subwoofer can add to your experience even with simple pop and jazz recordings. I happen to play a lot of electronic music and would literally be missing out on 1.5 octave of bass (my speakers extend down to 50 Hz in my room).

    2) Absolutely true!

    3) Good point. Most people tend to spend too little on a subwoofer. I think it should be as expensive as both front speakers combined for it to be able to 'keep up' with the quality of them.

    I would look out for a Velodyne DD10+ or DD12+. Very small and belonging to the best on the market. As an alternative, Velodyne SPL-Ultra 800, 1000 or 1200 could also be enough, but placement becomes more important, because it has less controls and hence less flexibility than the DD+ series.

    Velodyne website: www.velodyne.com

  17. #17
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    Default The truth about film sound - it can be high sonic art

    Sorry. I must post here say that TimVG is correct and thurston, less so, but that too is a generalisation.

    As a professional who records sound for film and video productions including working in post production, as well as having a background in recording and engineering music, the only rule that can be applied is that the recording/reproduction will be; A) as good as the client and engineer wants/needs/can afford it to be, B) as good as the skills of the recording engineer/producer will allow, or C) as good as the intended/anticipated playback system would deem necessary.

    As to the comments about the 'common' use of compression in film, I'm sorry, but that is incorrect. The Dynamic Range of the vast majority of film soundtracks far exceeds that of the 'Loudness War' damaged efforts of many labels and bands.

    I may be biased but in my experience, most modern film recordings are of far greater quality, and produced with far greater care than most musical recording - note I say 'most'. To clarify, I am denigrating the typical multi-tracked, overdubbed, auto-tuned, compressed-to-oblivion modern pop/rock garbage that is foisted upon us.

    On the other hand, good well mic'ed acoustic recordings are still, as they have always been, amongst the best examples of a well crafted recording, but the percentage of these in the big scheme of things is tragically small, when compared to the vast pop/rock production machine that we know as 'the music biziness'.

    I could bang on about this for ever, but I don't post here much, so will just let it pass for now, and sign off by reminding people that the spoken voice (especially multiple voices) is regarded as the hardest sound to record accurately, because of it's incredible complexity and because the ear/brain is pre-programmed to recognise fellow voices to such a degree that all other sounds are relegated in importance, but that is another subject.

    {Moderator's comment: very welcome post. Do you have any sound clips of spoken voice to illustrate this point?}

  18. #18
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    Default Movie atmosphere?

    Mea Culpa!

    Concerning the dynamic range it is pretty obvious (I have to admit) that modern movies span a far greater range than usual recordings. (I see that when I watch a movie at home and my wife always wants "louder" during speech, and "a little quieter pleaaaase!" when things start rumbling in the movie)

    I did not mean that but I meant that truckloads of sounds in a movie are artificial. Like if for example there is an explosion which does not sound big enough, then it is enhanced until it sounds impressive. Therefore the mixing itself is a very respectable thing to do, maybe an artform (!?).

    It is about creating a mood, an atmosphere.

    But is the sound natural?

  19. #19
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    Default Vandersteen 2WQs

    Hey All - thanks for all the input, which I have been tracking along the way. I finally did decide that I want the full bottom end with the envelopment and realism I expect it to enhance, and have ordered two of the Vandersteen 2WQs. When they arrive and I obtain just that perfect placement, I'll let you know what kind of difference I experience, if any. I am rarely, if ever, disappointed with the lower frequencies on the SHL5s, but I know mathematically I am missing an octave or more of audible sound, and a good pair of subs makes sense to me.

    The 2WQs won't be the best for movies, but that's what the movie theatre is still for. They should be the best match for music, and that's what I am hoping to hear/feel.

  20. #20
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    Default Sub experience

    I finally received and installed the 2WQs. There is still the breaking-in period to get through, and lots tweaking remaining, but so far the effect is subtle. I wasn't even sure at first they were functioning because of how subtle the effect is. But, after a couple of days on some familiar tracks/movies, the differences are becoming more apparent. Mostly it is felt rather than heard, but the sense general envelopment is greater on music, and a bit more thump at some of the intended points in movies. They also cleaned up a bothersome room effect that had given me some boom with just the SHL5s.

    Once broken in and fully integrated, I'll do some proper A/B-ing. So far, I'd say the addition of these subs rates somewhere between a system 'tweak' and a full-on upgrade. Worth it? I'm still debating value-for-money, but the difference is audible and not far off my expectation.

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