Any ideas of how to set up multiple subwoofers better

Christian1975

Active Member
Hi all, I have been through a process of elimination and come up with what I think is the best compromise so far of how to setup my 4 subwoofers in the lounge. What I was hoping for is if anyone has any comments or advice about how this could be done better - see the last two lines for the compromises I am currently making please and see if you can help...
I have an almost square lounge with:
Fronts KEF Q900
Surround KEF Q300
Centre KEF T301c
Amplified by Denon AVR-X3600 for surrounds and centre; set in 11.1 mode so that the front power amps are disconnected and preouts used to a Rotel power amp.
I have 4 REL subwoofers, one in each corner:
FL: Stadium 1 (high level input only).
FR: Strata 1 (high or low level input but not both).
RL: Storm 1 (high or low level input but not both).
RR: Storm 1 (high or low level input but not both).
Like many of you, I have these subwoofers not only because I like the sound they make but because I am also limited by my wife's aesthetic rules and they look like black veneered bits of furniture. They also cannot be swapped around as they are at the height she requires for the lamps that are on them!
When I only had the two Storms, I tried (with my then Denon AVR4310) to use them setting up Audyssey on low level inputs. Music (amp set in Pure Direct, Spotify Connect on 320kbps) is as important to me as cinema and I found that when the Storms were connected in stereo to high level, it was infinitely better.
So, in my current setup, I have both front subwoofers high level connected level and cutins set with my ears using "bass slides" and music tweaked over hours and hours until I have them how I deem perfect (my ears are 44 years old haha).
Then, the new Denon now runs Audyssey separately on the two rear low level connected subwoofers. It set the fronts as large (using a bass slide, I can hear them down to 35Hz, so I believe Audyssey) and the surrounds to large (ditto, down to about 40) and the centre at 180Hz. I've left this as it is for now.
Don't get me wrong, it all sounds amazing. However, I read all these forums that say I'm doing it wrong etc etc. With music, in pure direct, it sounds incredible (to me).
The two compromises I'm making are:
1. I feel like I am wasting the front subwoofers potential a bit when in cinema. Particularly the massive Stadium.
2. I can hear that the LFE channel mostly comes from the rear (I have LFE filter at 120Hz as recommended but even set to 80, I can hear it from the rear.
Any comments or help would be welcome. Personally, I can't see a fix without spending loads of money upgrading to REL Series 3 or later on the fronts, so they can have high and low level (but look identical to my wife).
Cheers, Christian.
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
FOUR! Wow. I'm afraid I'm just here to listen to the answers but my first guess would be use REW software and a UMIK1 microphone.
 

Conrad.

Moderator
As above really. My approach would be to start with REW and an UMIK1 (there's a couple in the classifieds at the moment) and see what you're getting. Then add in a minidsp 2x4HD and time align everything before giving it over to Audyssey, then EQ to taste after.

The big caveat to that though is that I don't use high level connections and this approach won't work with those connections.
 

Christian1975

Active Member
I really don't want to give up on the high level setup on the front subwoofers for music. So, I have decided the only answer is to either replace the front subs with ones that will take low and high level simultaneously or add more subs. Replacing the Stadium would be tragic and very high cost to get an equivalent that can take low and high level.... in the end, oh no, my wife said "the Christmas tree will be too low down on that subwoofer"... answer "but it would be perfect height if there was a little REL Quake on top of it!"
 

IWC Dopplel

Distinguished Member
Might be worth a conversation with BK electronics who used to make some of REL subs under contract, they do some super bass plate amps with dual connections not sure about driving high and low simultaneously though ?

You will need to align them though this is fundamental to good bass
 

Christian1975

Active Member
Might be worth a conversation with BK electronics who used to make some of REL subs under contract, they do some super bass plate amps with dual connections not sure about driving high and low simultaneously though ?

You will need to align them though this is fundamental to good bass
Thank you, I got in contact with them. They have said that the plates are incompatible. It was a good idea though!
 

Christian1975

Active Member
Another question please which I'd appreciate help with. The high level connection for the REL Stadium... all the online guidance shows it connected to the amplifier terminals with the normal speaker connected too. Can it just connect to an amplifier? So, if I use one of the channels on my Rotel RB985mkii, put the input as the LFE pre-out from the AV amp and then connect the REL Stadium high level to that, will that work? I know it's a 10,000 Ohms or similar, so don't want to break anything!
Thanks, Christian.
 

Christian1975

Active Member
Hey everyone, an update. I'm gonna get some stick for this. Keep remembering Christian, they're your ears and it is up to you haha!
OK, so I now have six subwoofers in the lounge. Plan, as agreed with @Conrad. was to have two Stratas front corners low level connection to sub 1 out on amp (Sub EQ XT amp), the two Storms rear corners on LL connection sub 2 on amp.
Connect high level to two Quakes set inside the front speakers for MUSIC ONLY (amp in direct mode so all other subwoofers off).
When on cinema modes, front speakers set to 80Hz filter so no output from the Quakes.
So, I tried this and was disappointed... note the following:
1. The Quakes were, I would say as good as the Stratas for high level connection on music, DIFFERENT but as good - and I definitely could have lived with it.
2. BUT... I missed the Stadium. With music it is simply the best thing in the entire world. It adds another dimension.
3. So, I tried the Quakes on low level with cinema, they were awesome when paired with the Storms at the back. They were better than the Stratas.
Before I lost the will to live... I tried one of my original ideas...
Now I know you are all going to tell me off and tell me that I should not be using my ears so much and should have borrowed calibrated noise meters from work! BUT:
I put the Stadium back in front left, it and the Strata in front right are high level only for music.
I connected the Quakes low level to sub 1 and 2, balanced them left:right using the Denon where Audyssey lets you play while measuring the levels.
I did the same with the Storms at the rear.
Then, this is where you will all fall out of your chairs, I put the Storm filters to lowest setting ~30Hz on filters. Checked the left:right balance again (didn't change).
Then ran Audyssey sub eq.
Tried a few movies, tried "Another Life" space drama thing, and I think it is THE DOG'S!
Right ready for you all to have a go now ;o)
 

Christian1975

Active Member
I should've clarified why I did the filters on the Storms. From twiddling, I found that the Quakes did a good job of managing the LFE channel (+ bass below 100Hz from centre and below 80Hz from surrounds). But the objective here is to "fill the room" when the really low stuff comes out.
With the Storms unfiltered, then you here too much (for me) to the rear of the room. So, I thought, hey let's let the Storms do what they're probably better at than the Quakes, the sub 30Hz stuff. Haha, I tried The Conjuring as one of the movies!
What surprised me is I didn't know how the sub eq would cope with that but it did a great job. I guess it "doesn't know" that those subs are filtered, it just measures and output and levels it right.
 

Conrad.

Moderator
What surprised me is I didn't know how the sub eq would cope with that but it did a great job. I guess it "doesn't know" that those subs are filtered, it just measures and output and levels it right.
This is exactly correct. I find I get the best results by time aligning all subs using something like a minidsp (but you could equally use the phase control on the subs) and then presenting them to Auto EQ as a single sub. What you've done is basically create a sub-bass pair and then a bass pair of subs to cover the full range.

By having the subs set up in a way that they don't interact much with each other you're minimising the opportunities for cancellations. I'm glad it sounds good. I still think that a mic would be a worthwhile purchase for you as it would be very lucky to have arrived at the best response by chance.

That said, if you're happy with the sound and can avoid that rabbit hole, more credit to you!
 

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