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REL Strata III - the oomph I was looking for in my system!

Discussion in 'Subwoofers' started by quadophile, Nov 27, 2003.

  1. quadophile

    quadophile
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    Last Saturday I opted for the REL Strata III to set it up with the main system speakers Paradigm Studio 40 v2. I always thought that I might never need a subwoofer since I had very bad experience with subwoofers in systems other than mine. It may just be that the user had not spent enough time to tweak it to perform well. Nonetheless, since I already bought one I decided to spend as much time needed to get it to blend well in the system. The Strata III is certainly a very flexible system and there is no way one cannot really tune it well to mate with the main speakers. The tweaking thus far has resulted in following settings in combination with the Paradigms

    Crossover frequency: 28 Hz (thinking of a lower crossover point but need to check that out)
    Gain: Between 10-11 o’clock (may change depending on the crossover setting)
    Phase: 0 Deg
    Position: 3 inches out diagonally from the corner behind the left speaker (the bass is locked here with max loudness so will leave it as it is)

    Some of the music I chose to lock the bass while setting up the system was “Rain” from Madonna’s album Immaculate Collection, Dave Grusin – Migration and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Michael Brook’s album Night Song. After spending almost 20-30 hours spread over 5 days the system is very much listenable with amazing low frequency extension. The sub has actually disappeared so to say. The difference is only noticeable when it is switched off, but who would want to switch after knowing what is going to be missing!

    I also own the Chartwell LS/3/5a’s (15 Ohms version) and was really curious about pairing them with the REL. I had to spend less time with the set up since I had done most of the work while setting up the Paradigms. The difference was that I had to change the crossover frequency and set it at 53 initially, but, later bringing it down to 43, I am now extremely pleased with the results although some more fine tuning may be required as and when I get time to listen to a variety of music.

    I am amazed at the soundstage and the depth that the two are providing me. I use the Quad 606II to drive them. The female vocals were always good but now the added low end has made the whole system sound even more terrific. I exclusively listen to Ella, Stan Getz, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Joni Mitchell, Diana Krall and flamenco guitar CD's on Chartwell. Paradigms just do not do justice to these artists.

    I also had a pair of Rogers 11 Ohm version's (belonging to a friend) handy and wanted to see what difference it makes when replaced with the Chartwell. Rogers were more upbeat and could handle rock music better than the Chartwell, but, the high frequency of the Chartwell was slightly superior, airy so to say compared to the Rogers. Dire Straits sounded better on Rogers and Diana Krall on Chartwell. I guess there is plenty of room to further fine tune and tweak the system to get even better sound in the days to come. Maybe it might just start to sound better on its own as time passes (break-in??? Not sure if it can be detected by ears over a period of time - say 50 -60 hours)

    I wish I had acquired the REL much earlier as it sounds so good with the babies.:smoke:
     
  2. kryten

    kryten
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    I haven't really spent enough time setting up mine since I changed the entire rest of the system.

    Are you using the high or low level feed (or both)?

    I've always felt that you shouldn't really notice a sub - except when its turned off!!!
     
  3. quadophile

    quadophile
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    Just the high level as I am more interested in audio for two channels
     
  4. lowrider

    lowrider
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    Welcome to the Strata III club... :smashin:

    Now dont try two Strata III, even smoother integration, you wont let go... :rotfl:
     
  5. quadophile

    quadophile
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    Well the unit says Strata III, so I might go for three units, one for each channel and one as spare!:rotfl:
     
  6. lowrider

    lowrider
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    I mean it, two subs placed symetrically do improve the sound a lot, as some room ressonances are cancelled, I have two Strata III, one behind each front speaker... :lesson:

    As for three, it might be an overkill... :suicide:
     
  7. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
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    You don't know 'till you try ;). Seriously recommend 2 subs though. My 2 MS909's (small fry compared to you guys I know) run at pretty ordinary levels but because of the lack of peaks, spikes and inconsistencies it is still bloody marvellous.
     
  8. lowrider

    lowrider
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    For surround it might be ok, Dynaudio recommends for their professional speakers, one for left front and surround, another for right front and surround and a third for center and LFE, that might work fine... :devil:
     
  9. chrisgeary

    chrisgeary
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    yep, i can second using two subs. i use a strata III at the front, cunningly it acts as a stand for my centre speaker :D
    plus a Quake II at the back of the room on acoustic control detail.

    i'd be inclined to use the low level input though. i never quite understood why Mr Lord recommends the use of the high level input. to my mind, if there is any distortion in the high level input, that will be carried over to the sub. guess it depends on your amp as to whether you can use low-level or not.
     
  10. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    :eek: I wouldn't go any lower, even @ 28hz I bet the Strata III is already running out of steam.
     
  11. quadophile

    quadophile
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    I certainly do not doubt that two subs will not make a difference, they should, I have come across similar observations elsewhere as well. I use to have maggies in my previous abode but after changing to my present abode I had to give up on Maggies and settle for Paradigms due to the room being small. If I had them I would certainly go for two and put them behind each one.

    As for the cancellation of resonance and mid bass hump (small rooms are invariably always plagued by that) what two subs can do one sub will also do, just by trying out the phase setting. If 0 Degrees gives maximum bass than switch to 180 Degrees or vice versa. That will do the trick albeit not as effective as two units but one can get by as improvement is always heard. I have tried it with the Chartwells but not with the Paradigms. I will do it when I switch speakers.
     
  12. quadophile

    quadophile
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    Not quite! The gain level is set between 10 and 11 o'clock so there is plenty of reserve power to handle the load. Besides the settings can be as low as 22, if not REL would not put it there in the first place, knowing the system will either overload or run out of steam.:D

    Besides, I rarely crank up the volume beyond half of the available wattage on the amp (even before I had the REL). Now my listening habits might change after the REL's introduction into the chain and will probably be listening to much lower levels as I will be getting more depth (in other words low frequency extension) without increasing the volume. :cool:
     
  13. Smurfin

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    The gain level on the back of a REL doesn't really mean much in terms of where the dial is.
     
  14. quadophile

    quadophile
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    If what you say is right, than I am afraid I was wrong in my assumption. You cannot blame me for thinking in that manner as my experience with a subwoofer is about 6 days! Thanks for heads up on this. :smashin:

    I would appreciate if you can explain it a bit in more detail. You still think the REL would be out of steam every now and then? How does one ensure the sub is not being pushed too much?
     
  15. Ian J

    Ian J
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    If I recall correctly the REL has a built in fail safe device to stop it being overdriven. If your interests are primarily music you are unlikely to over drive the sub as most music doesn't go deep enough to cause problems unlike some music soundtracks.

    If the volume control on your sub is set too high, your ears will soon tell you that something isn't right but from what you are saying you have it set about right.

    As a matter of interest I had a pair of Rogers LS3/5A which I bought in the seventies and later gave to my son but now wish that I hadn't :(
     
  16. chrisgeary

    chrisgeary
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    Just to add to what Ian said, and to confirm that even at 22hz (which is where i have mine set currently), the Strata has bags of reserve, in fact its doing less work that it probably should, but thats down to room acoustics (think i might try a BFD soon).

    Anyhow, even though the ST3 isnt ported, and even though the driver has more throw than a wrestler - it will eventually bottom out with a sort of chuffing sound, but you might not notice it when the other 5 channels are playing. Its not the same as a ported sub (they chuff when they aren't anywhere near their limit) but just the sheer volume of air moving around the unit. In fact, I think you would be hard pushed to bottom it out if you have balanced your system correctly. As Ian says, if you do overdo it, it will protect itself.

    As a side note: I was setting up some counter measures with my REL Quake II at about 40hz - as I turned up the power I heard a strange noise. Couldn't work out what it was for a while. I put my hand on top of it and realised that it was actually bouncing - completely off the floor! The floor is concrete under carpet. Me thinks it has more power than it knows what to do with :D
    Thankfully the ST3 has enough weight to keep it in place!
     
  17. marcoeser

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    funny you should say that, I've tried a 20kg slab of marble ontop of my strataIII and its done wonders to the definition.

    I don't think the stata is heavy enough for it driver bouncing up and down.

    marc
     
  18. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Spinal tap?

    Where did you get that silly notion from 

    Chartwell LS/3/5a’s (15 Ohms version) , a great speaker but the 15 ohm ones are the ones to go for


    Bags of reserve? I am unconvinced even Servo15 with 400W + have bags of reserve, the numbers just don’t add up, they might be fit for purpose for all but the most demanding material but bags of reserve, how can you justify that? (Serious inquiry)
     
  19. chrisgeary

    chrisgeary
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    mm, "Bags of reserve". another relative term. in my room at the kind of levels i listen to, the backplate rarely gets warm (ok, im not stood by it all the time, but when i know its had a workout, it doesnt get that warm) and the driver itself doesnt move anywhere near its limit (i have fed it with a pure sine wave and know what the excursion limits are roughly). granted im crossing over at 22hz. i would suggest the sub to have more power available crossing over at 22hz than using LFE mode.

    "bags of reserve" would also entirely depend on where you had the ABC set, if at all; whether the room required more level due to its acoustics; placement of the sub; how hard the sub has to work in a given room under "normal" conditions.

    So the same questioning/theory should hold true for a Servo15 with 400w + or any other sub for that matter.
     
  20. lowrider

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    I meant for a stereo setup... :p

    Never heard that from mine... :rolleyes:

    I agree, at least for AV, with active digital xover, I use it at 60hz... :smashin:
     
  21. quadophile

    quadophile
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    Very interesting posts from all you guys.

    Let me update on what transpired today.

    I spent almost 6 hours listening to music and tweaking the system. I got some excellent tips from fellow members on the LS3/5a club, of which I am a member. One of the guys was quoting about his discussion with Richard Lord who said that most of the audiphiles make the mistake of setting the crossover point too high and gain too low which actually does not help the overall balance. In my case, I had set it at 28 and gain between 10 and 11 o'clock, so to a great extent it is not incorrect. Anyway, today's listening session was very useful as I managed to bring the crossover point even lower at 25 and increased the gain to 12 o'clock. I did not notice anything wrong with the system or its overall balance. In fact the system was sounding much smoother at this point. So I will not touch it for next few days and continue to listen and evaluate various albums.

    The other interesting point that was informed to me on the club is that according to Richard Lord, setting between A1 and A3 is somehow workable with all speakers no matter what their frequency extension. I was surprised to find this out but realised that somehow folks at REL know what they are talking about. I did set it on this position and the system is sounding wonderful with great extension and depth, without my missing anything in between whatsoever. The most surprising disclusure was that REL tested the LS3/5a's also and they used the same low setting and higher gain and according to them its was subjectively very good integration. Do not ask me to explain this as I have no clue whatsoever how it is achieved but that is the exact setting I used for the Chartwell also, it was surely sounding great.

    As for overloading or overdriving, it will not happen in my case, why? The Chartwell are very inefficient at 82dB and need very little power to produce music, max input stated is 25 watts. I actually play them with a beefier amp which might be pumping a lot more thann 25 watts into these babies. They go to max 95 dB so I cannot increase the volume any further since the woofer bottoms out if I crank the volume. At 15 Ohms they actually turn the amp into a 70 watter instead of 140 RMS. No question of overdriving here.

    As for Paradigms they are very efficient at 91 dB, hence, I need not crank up the volume to listen to them, they go pretty loud anyway. So, in both cases I will probably never end up overdriving anything. I know the REL has built-in circuitry which actually will not allow the sub to be overdriven. I also did check the woofer's mechanical movement at fairly loud listening levels and it was barely moving, yet, producing very good and deep bass.

    I listen to music 90 percent of the time and the balance watching Concert DVD's and occasionally movies. My system is a 2 channel system and will remain so for a long time to come.

    That's all folks. for now :smoke:
     
  22. LOZA333

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    Interesting reading.... I imagine the crossover settings would be pretty similar to the old rogers but there are distinct differences between the models. In particular I beleive the s3/5 SE has a better Bass extension.
    To get to the point i'm having lots of trouble getting a good crossover point. Its set at C2 with gain at 10 oclock but i'm not happy with the results. I was wondering if anyone else had experience with this set up and could toss some advice my way... It would be greatly apreciated.

    Set up.

    Spendor S3/5 SE
    Rel Strata III
    Chord signature Bi wire cables
    Musical fidelity A3 amp (i think those little spendors could do with a bit more juice)
    Musical Fidelity Tri Vista Dac 21
    HD based transport via Airport express (Bit prefect stream optimised).
     

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