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Thread: Subwoofer myth or misunderstanding?

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    Default Subwoofer myth or misunderstanding?

    I see quite a few people posting all the time that there is no such thing as fast or tight bass. They say that if a subwoofer sounds slow, then it's just because of the room set up. While I certainly believe that room set up, frequency response, and harmonic distortion are important factors in subwoofer performance, I also believe there is more to it than just that. For example, how fast can the movement of the woofer start and stop? What about ported vs sealed? What are your thoughts on this subject?

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    Default Re: Subwoofer myth or misunderstanding?

    I think when people say "fast" they just don't know the proper terms for what they are hearing.

    Excellent impulse response, excellent transient response, and fast decay...all make up a "fast" subwoofer.
    -curtis

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    Default Re: Subwoofer myth or misunderstanding?

    I totally agree Curtis. Unfortunately, it seems that most people these days have over simplified subwoofer sound quality. They think maximum output = sound quality. I like output capability too, but it's only part of equation.

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    Default Re: Subwoofer myth or misunderstanding?

    Quote Originally Posted by mikesiskav View Post
    I see quite a few people posting all the time that there is no such thing as fast or tight bass. They say that if a subwoofer sounds slow, then it's just because of the room set up. While I certainly believe that room set up, frequency response, and harmonic distortion are important factors in subwoofer performance, I also believe there is more to it than just that. For example, how fast can the movement of the woofer start and stop? What about ported vs sealed? What are your thoughts on this subject?
    Quote Originally Posted by curtis View Post
    I think when people say "fast" they just don't know the proper terms for what they are hearing.

    Excellent impulse response, excellent transient response, and fast decay...all make up a "fast" subwoofer.
    Quote Originally Posted by mikesiskav View Post
    I totally agree Curtis. Unfortunately, it seems that most people these days have over simplified subwoofer sound quality. They think maximum output = sound quality. I like output capability too, but it's only part of equation.
    In my professional opinion, when it comes to subwoofer sound quality - as long as frequency response is reasonable, transient accuracy is the most important factor. This is the characteristic that people unknowingly refer to when they use the term "fast". It's not the speed of the woofer itself, any woofer producing 20Hz moves at the exact same speed - it is how quickly that woofer stops and starts, and there is tremendous variation in this.

    These days, with Audyssey and various other room EQ processing, frequency response and phase is easily corrected for (to some degree) - while transient accuracy of the subwoofer can not be corrected.
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    David Fabrikant
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    Default Re: Subwoofer myth or misunderstanding?

    Quote Originally Posted by davef View Post
    In my professional opinion, when it comes to subwoofer sound quality - as long as frequency response is reasonable, transient accuracy is the most important factor. This is the characteristic that people unknowingly refer to when they use the term "fast". It's not the speed of the woofer itself, any woofer producing 20Hz moves at the exact same speed - it is how quickly that woofer stops and starts, and there is tremendous variation in this.

    These days, with Audyssey and various other room EQ processing, frequency response and phase is easily corrected for (to some degree) - while transient accuracy of the subwoofer can not be corrected.
    Totally agreed. This is where the LCD-2 headphone gets things right as well. There are a lot of headphones that can get down to 20 Hz and below, but people see the 5 Hz rating on the LCD-2 and go "OH WOW SUCH BASS!" Then they buy it and they think Audeze lied because they aren't basshead headphones. Well, duh, it just means it can produce deep bass, it doesn't mean it throws it in your face all day, only when it's actually called for by the music, and even then, it's tight and accurate, not like a dance club in your head, which is what people are thinking they are getting.
    -Alex
    PS4/Nvidia Shield --> Emotiva XMC-1 --> Emotiva XPA-5 --> Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers and Horizon Center w/ RAAL tweeters (L/C/R), HTM-200 SE (Surrounds), 2x Rythmik F12 subwoofers

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    Default Re: Subwoofer myth or misunderstanding?

    Different strokes for different folks I guess...purdy sure some of the folks who crave massive spl into the low teens or single digits are willing to forfeit some accuracy thou not much to reach their inevitable goals....you guys must experience first before you rule it out.... IMO.
    Last edited by billy p; 10-17-2016 at 08:20 PM.
    Speakers: Towers & Horizon(w RAAL), HTM200 SE finished in espresso satin
    Sub: FA 18 (Santos RW)

    Source: Anthem MRX 300, Oppo BDP 103D
    Apple TV, Giga 1800, & Panny 54"

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    Default Re: Subwoofer myth or misunderstanding?

    I don't know about anybody else but it's not my intention to say that people who want extreme output or extension don't care about quality, or that you can't have extreme output and quality. My point is that it seems quite common these days to see people who judge subwoofer performance solely on output levels and they deny the existence of other performance metrics such as bass detail and articulation. And I've definitely heard some high output systems. In fact I installed a complete JTR system with 2 Captivator subs for a client of mine. It was a very impressive system, at least for movies. Didn't really spend much time listening to music with it.

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    Default Re: Subwoofer myth or misunderstanding?

    @davef How is driver transient response measured? Is it a near field measurement of SPL vs time?

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    Default Re: Subwoofer myth or misunderstanding?

    Quote Originally Posted by mikesiskav View Post
    I don't know about anybody else but it's not my intention to say that people who want extreme output or extension don't care about quality, or that you can't have extreme output and quality. My point is that it seems quite common these days to see people who judge subwoofer performance solely on output levels and they deny the existence of other performance metrics such as bass detail and articulation. And I've definitely heard some high output systems. In fact I installed a complete JTR system with 2 Captivator subs for a client of mine. It was a very impressive system, at least for movies. Didn't really spend much time listening to music with it.
    I agree folks often resort to buzz words in discreptive terms relating to subwoofers. Honestly.. I'm not immune from doing so.... on the rare occasion but I am fully aware and understand how transient response reproduction has a significant roll to play in a subs design and/or SQ.

    My old dual opposed unit sound great for movies but lacked some definition found within certain musical passages used during my demo sequences, much to my chagrin. I must preface this by adding I was also comparing it to my SB13U at the time. Easy fix really by a simple upgraded to the "SE" version drivers....instant improvement...less overhang ... better suited IMO for quickened pace or tempo changes....often required with musical pieces...I suspect and likely where transient response is often lost.

    Curious though to your final comment regarding the Caps.... I would suspect they'd be equally up to the task with music and movies going by their pedigree. Unless.. of course these were the massive units like Cap 4000 ULF or OS LFU designed specifically for HT SPL race purposes.
    Last edited by billy p; 10-18-2016 at 09:29 AM. Reason: Ps...hate using my phone to reply or post.
    Speakers: Towers & Horizon(w RAAL), HTM200 SE finished in espresso satin
    Sub: FA 18 (Santos RW)

    Source: Anthem MRX 300, Oppo BDP 103D
    Apple TV, Giga 1800, & Panny 54"

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Subwoofer myth or misunderstanding?

    Quote Originally Posted by mikesiskav View Post
    I see quite a few people posting all the time that there is no such thing as fast or tight bass. They say that if a subwoofer sounds slow, then it's just because of the room set up. While I certainly believe that room set up, frequency response, and harmonic distortion are important factors in subwoofer performance, I also believe there is more to it than just that. For example, how fast can the movement of the woofer start and stop? What about ported vs sealed? What are your thoughts on this subject?
    I think what Dave is saying is absolutely true that some subwoofers just have better transient response and will just sound better than most others. However, say that we take a subwoofer with exceptional transient response and just randomly place it in some room. It is possible for the bass to sound bloated and slow, just due to poor placement. Typically people only have 2 or 3 places to actually place a subwoofer in a room due to aesthetics. Are those choices necessarily going to be the best place to locate the subwoofer for even frequency response and the least amount of peaks and dips. Probably not. Then there are many in the audiophile crowd that don't like to use room eq. So it becomes impossibly difficult to get the subwoofer to "sound" accurate in your room. Fortunately, if one has a room that is nearly rectangluar and sealed it is possible to know exactly where to place multiple subwoofers to fix a lot of the issues related to the room. But, in a room that deviates from sealed and rectangular you are back to trial and error and now with multiple subwoofers.

    I have spent a lot of time over the past several years learning to understand what some of the detailed measurements of subwoofers (like on audioholics.com and data-bass.com) mean in terms of the performance of the subwoofer. I can understand why people just look at raw output numbers when picking the subwoofer. Because it is difficult to learn what the other measurements are telling you. Even understanding everything about what the measurements on data-bass.com for a specific subwoofer is telling you there is still plenty that is lacking when you are listening to the subwoofer.

    Talking about loudspeakers instead for a minute, a few years ago I decided to sell my Axiom M22 speakers and upgrade to the Ascend Sierra 2 speakers. The Axiom speakers were just fatiguing to my ears. After watching a blu ray movie for about 2 hours, with the volume set at -30 dB my ears would be ringing. Switching to the Sierra 2s this mostly went away to where I can listen louder and longer and not get this hardly at all. You would think that something like to this would show up in detailed measurements and be something significant and easy to spot. Maybe the off axis performance, or distortion or something was just plain bad in one of the measurements on the Axiom M22s. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The following link gives good detailed measurement for both the Axiom M22s and the Sierra 1s (I don't have distortion measurements for the Sierra 2, but I would think that they would be at least as good as that of the Seirra 1s at the same output level): http://www.soundstagenetwork.com/ind...=16&Itemid=140 I was baffled that while the Ascend speakers do measure a bit better in some areas, it isn't like the Axiom speakers are measuring wildly inaccurate, where something definitely points to why they are fatiguing to my ears and many others as well.

    So I guess that I am at the point where while I will look at measurements very carefully to weed out speakers that are not accurate. For example many of the esoteric speakers measured on Stereophile accompanying the review, have terrible measurements and are quite inaccurate. I just completely disregard such speakers from my pool of speakers I might be interested in listening to. But, from there things seem to get a little tricky. While you can look as some different measurements, it doesn't always correlate to a big or audible difference in what we hear from the speaker. At least not for a layman like me and this might be true even if I had more experience because we need access to more measurements to be able to get a clearer picture of what the speaker is going to sound like.
    Last edited by N Boros; 10-18-2016 at 02:04 PM.

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