How to evaluate a sub?

Discussion in 'Subwoofers' started by mattkhan, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. mattkhan

    mattkhan
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    I'm in the market for a new sub (and possibly new speakers but I digress :))

    For me, this poses some difficulties.... my thoughts

    • the sound of a sub is particularly sensitive to the room, eq used, integration with the speakers
    • extensive home demos are impractical for most on many levels (given that one would need to ship & install & eq & listen to & return a number of large/expensive products)
    • extensive "in demo room" demos are impractical given that a single dealer is unlikely to specialise in a wide range of subs (and dealers with decent demo rooms can be few and far between so actually getting to them is a time consuming act in itself)
    • human memory is quite poor at remembering specifics, all sorts of things can corrupt it hence comparing experiences across time is *hard*
    • when in the market, you're generally listening to kit at a level above what you currently have so anything worthwhile is likely to sound great
    • (clearly not true for a minority, probably true for most?) you probably haven't heard that many subs full stop

    how should one approach buying a new sub? what are the factors that would sway you from one model to another? how would you go about not simply buying the first thing you hear because it sounds great?
     
  2. swiftpete

    swiftpete
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    Decide max budget, evaluate specs and reviews at that budget, buy.
    That's the process. Some advice on the way can be useful so, what's your budget?
     
  3. mjbtin

    mjbtin
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    As swiftpete says you need a budget first.There are other questions you have to ask.
    How much bass do you like?
    How much bass can you have?
    What size room is the sub going to fill?

    Regards Martin
     
  4. noiseboy72

    noiseboy72
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    I guess another question would be whether you are looking for greater extension or bass weight to add to existing speakers. My mains go to less than 50Hz without issue, so I am looking for something to go low and to integrate with the thumpers in the sofa. I don't need any extra bass weight much above 50Hz, so for me it's all about extension and integration.

    As others have said, read the reviews and understand the theory of different designs. Ported subs generally do not go as low and have a pronounced peak around the ported frequency, so are good for adding weight and slam, while sealed boxes go lower, but need more driving, so dig deeper, but do not always have the speed and weight that a ported design will have.

    I would therefore identify what you want from them, find a design that meets this and then give it a try. Do take the advice of a knowledgable dealer though, they will want to sell you the best product, not just the one they make most margin on!
     
  5. mattkhan

    mattkhan
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    To answer the questions... my budget is about £2k, it is predominantly used for films, it is paired with m&k satellites and the room is a semi dedicated lounge (if that makes sense). The existing sub is a svs pb12 ultra which does go low but I'm not sure if I've ever had it setup effectively (or whether it is really capable of) producing the upper bass hit. I've still been quite happy with the sound so the reason for changing is that the sub doesn't really fit (size and/or response in the available locations, colour of finish) since I've reorganised my room. The ones that have piqued interest are 1 (or perhaps 2) 15" gecko subs and the KK 12".

    I think I should have phrased the question differently. What I'm really asking is how does one demo a sub effectively, given the issues I mentioned, such that you have reasonable confidence you're making a "good" decision?

    Take a similarly sized video purchase for example like a projector. I find demoing them pretty easy as differences tend to be fairly obvious straightaway & the experience is fairly easy to translate to your own room. Perhaps it's a problem of trusting my eyes more than my ears and/or not really having listened to many other subs (except for the 3 I've owned) before. Bit vague but curious to know how other people approach sub demos.

    Cheers
    Matt
     
  6. ewizzy

    ewizzy
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    Take some material that you know very well with you when you demo. Then try to listen to as many different subs as possible, if you can, try to listen to the same sub in different environments too, if the dealers you go to have the same subs if course.
    Once you have short listed some subs, the next step would be to get a home demonstration if possible.
    I know hifix will try to help you out with a home demo, and the KK dxd12012 is in your price range too. Has the depth, and upper bass punch you sound like you are after (from reading lots of reviews)

    Hope this helps

    Alex
     
  7. hifix

    hifix
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    Well you're used to clean bass, so you'll hear if a sub isn't clean straight away. This will probably rule out many subs for you.

    The ported SVS subs, which are more known for their outright extension, are known to not be able to punch too well higher up, but this can generally be said of most ported subs.

    Sealed subs generally integrate better with speakers, particularly smaller satellite type speakers. They'll also integrate better with various types of rooms too.

    You have to decide whether you're after outright depth, or are willing to sacrifice a little of that depth (which benefits very few films) in order to gain in other areas that will benefit all films. You'll have to choose demo material that you feel will bring to the fore the aspects of a subwoofer that you are looking for. Listening to one is the only way you can decide whether it is suitable for you or not.
     
  8. MemX

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    If you were so inclined, you could also look at going DIY - you could then design a box to fit the space you have, and to give the response you want. :)

    I understand that Gecko could do this for you, or you could play with the programs yourself. There are also box designs for compact Tapped Horns on an US-based AV forum that I've seen, or you could import a Danley DTS-10 self-build kit for c.£1000-1200 if they still have any.
     
  9. Member 639844

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    You seem to be talking about how to evaluate a sub on paper. To do that, you simply need to interpret the published specs, but be able to see which ones mean what. An in room response is often quoted, which is fine, assuming you realize the context in which to take that. Ultimately, you really want to see numbers that suggest the sub will go louder and lower, but that can be hard to figure out as all the published specs are usually derived from differing conditions. I guess from that you can only really either read and interpret specs (assuming you can do), or go off the opinion of others. Opinion can be difficult to quantify. People have different opinions and generally most people will favor their own purchases, or favored brands.

    I dont think there is a single hard and fast reply that will answer your original question. I could tell you what I think, but that would only really tell you what I like, what my opinion is, and how I would evaluate a sub etc. How useful that is to you depends on what you make of my opinion. The same could be said for every other post you get. I think the only thing you can do take what you know from reading specs, mix it in with a bit of opinion you value from as broad a range as possible, and use that to bring it down to a few a possible choices as you can. Then just pick which one looks the the most inviting.
     
  10. kbfern

    kbfern
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    If using with MK satellites a sealed sub would be more suitable than a ported one. With a £2k budget the KK 12012 is obviously right on the money but also consider a single 15" or 18" sealed gecko sub as these will be under budget and may well offer similar or even possibly better performance (especially the 18").

    If you are anywhere near Newbury in Berkshire get down to Gecko and demo their subs, and while you are there you can hear the MK sound one's at the same time.

    Then get to Frank Harvey in Coventry to hear the KK 12012 and you should by then have heard the best of possible options available from a UK source.Then decide which suits your room and wallet best and get one on order.
     

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