Subwoofer costs/wattages, why the disparity?

kylarstern

Standard Member
Hi there, I'm trying to understand the wide range of available subwoofers in relation to wattage and prices, and what would potentially make one worth more than another. I'd like to keep this (hopefully) less technical if possible, as it will quickly go over my head, but let me pose the following. (For reference I would be using these for HT primarily. )

One can purchase 2 x 15" Monolith's for about ~2600USD that plays sub 20hz. Build quality/CS issues aside, seems like a great deal. That being said, I was given a quote from a reputable custom speaker manufacture for 2x12" passive subs w/ a single external 500watt amplifier for around the same cost. Specifically the following sub/amp:


If I understand correctly how this would work, the 500w amp would be split amongst the 2 subwoofers, and therefore would only be providing about 250w per sub. I trust the manufacturer, so perhaps this is a question for him, but I'm curious how these 2 setups are around the same price. I'm clearly not understanding something b/c my limited experience tells me that larger wattage, larger woofer size, and lower frequencies would always provide a better experience.

As an aside, I'm perfectly happy (and would prefer) to spend more money w/ a local source than give it to monoprice if the experiences would be comparable.

Any thoughts are appreciated.

Thank you!
 

DaveWillo

Member
Maybe there's an element of "economies of scales here? Perhaps Monoprice being a larger company, has greater buying power for its components/raw materials and also has a more automated manufacturing process?
Sometimes it's not just down to the quality or ability of the finished product, but how much and how long it takes to build the product.
 

Ultrasonic

Well-known Member
I'm confused. The two Monoliths mentioned would comfortably destroy the passive subs mentioned in performance terms, and unless I'm missing something the price for the latter hasn't been given anyway?

Fundamentally what you're paying for with more expensive subs is a combination of how loud they can go, over what frequency range and with what level of distortion. Plus of courses other considerations like aesthetics, reliability/service support and increasingly on-board EQ and even control via phone apps.
 

kylarstern

Standard Member
I'm confused. The two Monoliths mentioned would comfortably destroy the passive subs mentioned in performance terms, and unless I'm missing something the price for the latter hasn't been given anyway?

Fundamentally what you're paying for with more expensive subs is a combination of how loud they can go, over what frequency range and with what level of distortion. Plus of courses other considerations like aesthetics, reliability/service support and increasingly on-board EQ and even control via phone apps.

Thanks Ultrasonic. Sorry it wasn't clear, but the price for the latter was about the same, thus my question in the first place.
 

Ultrasonic

Well-known Member
Thanks Ultrasonic. Sorry it wasn't clear, but the price for the latter was about the same, thus my question in the first place.

I was assuming the passive option was going to be MUCH cheaper. If not, why is it even a consideration?
 

Conrad

Moderator
I was assuming the passive option was going to be MUCH cheaper. If not, why is it even a consideration?
It's probably being sold as being more musical? 🤷‍♂️
 

kylarstern

Standard Member
Thanks both of you.

That's really what I'm trying to figure out, as to if it should be a consideration. I've expressed to the designer that I have a very large room (90 cubic meters if I did my math right) and it would be for home theatre. I've listened to some towers and center's by the same designer and they all sound great and at a reasonable price. The only odd duck was the subwoofer set up, so thus the question on the forums.

Perhaps the answer is as simple as giving him a call to discuss.

Thanks again!
 

MemX

Well-known Member
A 2x12" passive sub with a 500w amp for $2600??

That seems.... expensive.



Are you in the USA?

What's your budget?

What are your aims? (30Hz to a decent level? 20Hz? Reference-level volume to single-digit Hz? Nearfield location? Multiple seating position coverage?)


If you need Reference level to <10Hz, you are going to need to shift a lot of air, and 2x12" off 500w simply won't cut it.

DIY would seem vastly preferable (having had some stuff made myself ;) )

e.g. Stereo Integrity 24" sub is $1299:

HS- 24

that leaves $1300 for shipping, a beasty amp and a 10 cubic foot box.
 

kylarstern

Standard Member
Thanks MemX.

Yes, I'm in the US. My budget for a new 5.2 set up is around 7-8kUSD all-in....that is unless I see a perfect deal that gets me some great speakers. :D

In regards to my Aims, unfortunately it's pretty vague. I just want the best movie sound I can get for the budget. I have a 5.1 system now, and the sub is just not good for the room, so it's the first thing I was going to replace. It's an old 10" Cambridge Soundworks. I've been reading that sub 20hz will get you more tactile bass, which is what I like. Do I need anything around reference level...most likely not as my family will force me to move out at that point.

It's typically on 2-3 people watching a movie at a time, they don't care about sound, and honestly probably wish I would stop talking about it.

The DIY route is probably the cheapest way to go for my room size, and to get a quality dual set up. When I break something though, I like having customer support. :) I'll do some poking around on here and see what I can find about DIY'ing a sub.
 

MemX

Well-known Member
If you are in the US then that's a massive bonus - it will save $$$ on shipping and you guys have a lot of the decent kit! lol


There is a DIY section on here :)
DIY Speaker & Subwoofer Building

but also check out the Data-bass forum:
Data-Bass Forums

and the D-b measurements / assessment section:
Data-Bass: Subwoofer Measurements

(This is the test on the 24" SI sub I mentioned earlier:
Data-Bass: Subwoofer Measurements )

AVS Forum is US-based and has some ridiculous builds :D
DIY Speakers and Subs


If I was to have $8k to spend... I'd be tempted with:

2 x Stereo Integrity HS-24 = $1299 x 2 = $2600
HS- 24

Connect them in Series to give 6.2Ohms (if I understand it correctly) and run them off 1 x Speakerpower SP1-6000 ($1559) giving about 1500wRMS each:
SpeakerPower
SpeakerPower SP1-6000 Subwoofer Amplifier
(you may need to upgrade to a 240v electric main, lol)

1 x 30 cubic feet sealed box, divided into 2 x 15 cu ft sealed sections, one for each driver - perhaps $500 if made from Baltic Birch? (May be an underestimate...)

So that's c.$4700 for subs... and let's say $300 for shipping / cabling to make it a round $5k for 3000w RMS of bass with 5Hz capability :D


Then, for mains:

DIY SoundGroup (DIYSG) 1099s for Left/Centre/Right = $409.16 x 3 = $1230
Denovo Audio Elusive-1099
Build thread:
https://www.avforums.com/threads/diy-sound-group-elusive-1099s-build-thread.2277529/

DIYSG Volt10s for 2 x surround speakers at the rear = c.$210 x 2 = c.$420
https://www.diysoundgroup.com/home-...theater-series/volt/volt-10-angled-combo.html (angled)
or
https://www.diysoundgroup.com/home-...-theater-series/volt/volt-10-atmos-combo.html (flat)
Build thread:
DIYSG Volt 10 Build (7 speakers)

and that leaves $1250 for an AVR with Audyssey or similar, and/or for an amp for the mains, along with finishing the DIYSG stuff nicely and shipping everything and cabling.

You could (should) also look at something like a MiniDSP to really get the bottom end sorted ;)
 

MemX

Well-known Member
Of course, a 30cu ft box is massive LOL and may not keep the other half happy (if you have one) so a number of smaller boxes might be possible (which would also help smooth the response across the room) - perhaps with 18s!

I have 4 of the earlier versions of these - they are very good for the money ;)
Stereo Integrity HT V3 coming soon

And plenty on the AVS have 8 of them! :D lol
 

kylarstern

Standard Member
Wow... Such a detailed response. Thank you. My brain is going to need to look into this tomorrow.... Stay tuned for at least 423 questions.

My biggest concern about DIY is building the box...but hoping some of these links provide guidance.
 

kylarstern

Standard Member
Of course, a 30cu ft box is massive LOL and may not keep the other half happy (if you have one) so a number of smaller boxes might be possible (which would also help smooth the response across the room) - perhaps with 18s!

I have 4 of the earlier versions of these - they are very good for the money ;)
Stereo Integrity HT V3 coming soon

And plenty on the AVS have 8 of them! :D lol

Oh, and my wife said she doesn't care as long as I stop talking about it. We do have space for a 1m cubed box. :)
 

MemX

Well-known Member
Oh, and my wife said she doesn't care as long as I stop talking about it. We do have space for a 1m cubed box. :)
Did you get that in writing ;)

:D

1m cubed is, what, 35cuft, if the internet is correct?

That's enough for two of those HS-24s ;) perhaps in a dual-opposed box which would stop it walking itself round the room :p lol, and the SP plate amp would fit nicely in the side of it!


You could also do two boxes of 1x1x0.5 and have one driver in each, although you might need either a rack amp instead or two plate amps of lower power.


OR...

You could get four HT18s and then have one on each vertical side of the cube :D lol


Be aware that it would be a MONSTER weight-wise, haha, and you would need to design in super-strong handles and/or wheels...

(I forgot / didn't want to design in handles for my dual subs - in MDF they each weigh more than me and just about kill two people to move because of the weight and lack of anywhere to hold safely... lol)


EDIT: See - she would barely notice a dual-opposed 2x24" box ;) :rotfl:

Doug's Stealthy living room HT


But, seriously... get a light colour finish that matches the walls and a pair of light coloured grills (grilles?) on it, and it would blend right in. Add a glass top to make it look like a table!
 
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Ultrasonic

Well-known Member
There is of course quite a lot of middle-ground between the sort of DIY monsters that @MemX is talking about and a couple of small 12" subs...

You have lots of good non-DIY options open to you in the US @kylarstern. One advantage of which is that you can arrange to try options out in your own home rather than committing large amounts of money on an unknown.
 

MemX

Well-known Member
There is of course quite a lot of middle-ground between the sort of DIY monsters that @MemX is talking about and a couple of small 12" subs...

You have lots of good non-DIY options open to you in the US @kylarstern. One advantage of which is that you can arrange to try options out in your own home rather than committing large amounts of money on an unknown.
A fair point ;)

I have come to the conclusion, though, that just going for the largest you are ever likely to need straight from the off saves money - because you don't have nagging doubts about 'what if I had a bigger sub...' and therefore remove the upgrade cycle that costs more money in the end... lol


For example, I can't remember now exactly how much they were but four HT18s from Stereo Integrity would run under £/$1000 when they are released, an amp to run them would be within that budget, and shipping and cabling and box building should come in under a grand as well.

Sure, they won't be 'audiophile' pretty unless one is handy with the veneer or is happy with a Duratex finish (Speaker Cabinet Coatings | Texture Coating for Speakers | Road Cases Protective Coating), which seems to be good enough for SVS etc., but it would be $3k for 4x18" and c.2400w RMS of power.

How does that compare to a 2x12" passive box with a 500w amp, that the OP was getting quoted $2600 to build? lol

Running the larger setup day to day will mean it is barely troubled with music so should be ultra-clean, and Audyssey + MiniDSP could/would provide a flat response down to <10Hz for both music and films, while dealing with the room issues that effect all sound reproduction - they are arguably needed whatever setup is chosen, as room issues tend to dominate most poor sound issues.


So, yes, I am a big proponent of DIY, if you hadn't guessed :p

I went ridiculous and commissioned a PPSL setup for mine - I am extremely happy with them and would definitely do it again!
 
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Ultrasonic

Well-known Member
I have come to the conclusion, though, that just going for the largest you are ever likely to need straight from the off saves money

Yes but for most 'normal' people this would be subs considerably smaller an less powerful than what you are describing :) .
 

MemX

Well-known Member
Yes but for most 'normal' people this would be subs considerably smaller an less powerful than what you are describing :) .
Who wants to be 'normal'? :confused: :rotfl: lol


If the OP is considering Monoliths, they seem to be showing as approx. 3' tall by 3' deep by 2'wide:
Amazon product
Is that not 18 cu ft each? (for a ported sub with 16Hz tuning and not much below that?)

The SI HS-24 is happy in 15 cu ft (or even smaller - the website says 7 cu ft is possible) and will play to low single-digit Hz because it would be a sealed setup.


The HS-24 has 330 sq in Surface Area (Sd) and 38mm 1-way maximum excursion (Xmax) / 100mm Peak to Peak travel (says the blurb):
HS- 24

If we use the 76mm two-way Xmax, that is, what, 3" x 330 sq in = 990 cu in of displacement?

If we use the 100mm Peak-to-Peak figure, that gives 1320 cu in of displacement.


The Monolith claims to have '>90mm peak to peak excursions':
Monolith by Monoprice 15in THX Ultra Certified 1000-Watt Subwoofer Amplifier - Monoprice.com

but I can't see Sd parameters anywhere. If we are generous and assume the full 12" (unlikely / impossible), pi x r^2 = 113.1 sq inches.

Let's pretend it can do 100mm peak-to-peak for ease of calculation, that would give 452.4 cubic inches of displacement.

I will admit I'm not sure how much the port adds, but IIRC the driver is barely moving when the port is at Tuning, so... I'm not sure what to calculate here 🤣 lol. I'm pretty sure displacement remains the same.


So 2 x Monoliths running flat out at 90-100mm peak-to-peak = less displacement than 1 x HS-24 running within XMax specs, but they would double the box size and cut-off the very low frequencies due to the 16Hz box tuning.

Seems like a win to the SI driver option to me?


And if there is doubt as to the quality of the sound from the SI drivers, Deep Sea Sound provide a 'all done for you' solution - for a premium, naturally:
allhttps://www.deepseasound.com/collections/all
 
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kylarstern

Standard Member
First off, thanks again to both of you for your responses. I took a look at the DIY for beginners forum. Specifically this page: New to DIY? FAQ's in here and to say the least, it is overwhelming. When broken down into individual pieces it seems straight forward, but there are a lot of individual pieces. :)

I'll most likely do a more in-depth reading of the forums after work today, but if I'm honest, I will most likely not build my own. At least for now...

You have lots of good non-DIY options open to you in the US @kylarstern. One advantage of which is that you can arrange to try options out in your own home rather than committing large amounts of money on an unknown.

You're correct, there are plenty of subwoofer options in the states. Other than SVS with it's free return shipping though, it's near impossible to find any I could demo in my space. I could of course start paying for return shipping on other items, but that would be ~200USD for anything, which could add up quickly.

You could (should) also look at something like a MiniDSP to really get the bottom end sorted ;)

This is a great idea regardless of which subwoofer or path I go with. I wonder if it could improve my sound enough in my current setup (I probably forget to mention we inherited an old 5.1 system in the house already) to satisfy me while investigating the DIY options. The room dimensions are not the most ideal for HT, but it's what I have to work with. For reference, see this post: Question - Do I really need expensive speakers for HT setup when used primarily for movies?

Again, thank you both for your help. The DIY path is certainly interesting, and not something I had considered before. However, I would use any excuse to buy some new tools. :)
 

MemX

Well-known Member
Oh, and for the record....all that math you posted above...goes way over my head :)
lol

It does make the brain ache :D

Put simply, displacement is how much air a sub can move - more volume in the room (both in terms of actual space and in terms of volume on the dial) means you need to move more air to achieve the same effects as those with a smaller room (IIRC...).

Displacement = area of the sub's surface multiplied by how far it can move.

Effectively, if the cone is a static, flat circle, when it moves back and forth at its maximum extension it creates a 'tube' where the top is the cone when it is all the way out the front and the back is when the cone is all the way into the box, if that makes sense?

The volume of that 'tube' is the displacement.

More displacement = a larger 'tube' = more air moved = more output from the sub :)
 

MemX

Well-known Member
This is a great idea regardless of which subwoofer or path I go with. I wonder if it could improve my sound enough in my current setup (I probably forget to mention we inherited an old 5.1 system in the house already) to satisfy me while investigating the DIY options. The room dimensions are not the most ideal for HT, but it's what I have to work with. For reference, see this post: Question - Do I really need expensive speakers for HT setup when used primarily for movies?

Again, thank you both for your help. The DIY path is certainly interesting, and not something I had considered before. However, I would use any excuse to buy some new tools. :)
If you can buy a calibrated microphone (U-mik, I think is the go-to option?? I can't remember now...) and then download Room EQ Wizard (REW) then you can measure the response of the system in the room from one or all of the seating positions.

This will give you some idea of the room's peaks and troughs in sub loudness (because the soundwaves sometimes cancel each other out and sometimes reinforce each other) as well as the performance of the system.

REW also helps you identify best locations for a/some sub/s with its room response tool.

If the AVR has Audyssey or similar then that can help deal with some of the issues, but sometimes different locations and/or bigger kit is needed! :D
 

kylarstern

Standard Member
I feel I start every post w/ thanks, but...thanks again.

So I re-read you post about displacement after your clarifications and it make sense. I'm curious about the following however.
If we use the 76mm two-way Xmax, that is, what, 3" x 330 sq in = 990 cu in of displacement?

If we use the 100mm Peak-to-Peak figure, that gives 1320 cu in of displacement.
If I understand this correctly, the 76mm is a measurement from peak to peak if the cone was not rounded, and the 100mm takes into account that additional distance?



So 2 x Monoliths running flat out at 90-100mm peak-to-peak = less displacement than 1 x HS-24 running within XMax specs, but they would double the box size and cut-off the very low frequencies due to the 16Hz box tuning.
I'm curious what you mean by "box tuning" in this statement? Is this literally the physical enclosure of the subwoofer, or tuning built into the electronic components of the subwoofer.
Also, while yes, the 24 would provide large displacement, would it provide worse sound due to only having one vs being able to physically put two on different sides of the room? Probably a loaded question there , as it really "depends" most likely. :)



but I can't see Sd parameters anywhere. If we are generous and assume the full 12" (unlikely / impossible), pi x r^2 = 113.1 sq inches.
I'm wondering if this is correct as the Monolith is actually a 15" sub that we're comparing to.


If you can buy a calibrated microphone (U-mik, I think is the go-to option?? I can't remember now...) and then download Room EQ Wizard (REW) then you can measure the response of the system in the room from one or all of the seating positions.

This will give you some idea of the room's peaks and troughs in sub loudness (because the soundwaves sometimes cancel each other out and sometimes reinforce each other) as well as the performance of the system.

REW also helps you identify best locations for a/some sub/s with its room response tool.

If the AVR has Audyssey or similar then that can help deal with some of the issues, but sometimes different locations and/or bigger kit is needed! :D
I do have a Denon x4500, which is overkill for my 5.1 setup, but I was planning on keeping it a while and hoping I would eventually have space to do a dedicated set up.

Is the calibrated microphone only used for subwoofer calibration or can it be used for all of the speakers. In other words, could (read as should) this mic and software be used to replace the Audyssey set up?

I'm actually starting to get a little excited about the prospect of building my own sub...so...thanks for that. :)
 

MemX

Well-known Member
I feel I start every post w/ thanks, but...thanks again.

So I re-read you post about displacement after your clarifications and it make sense. I'm curious about the following however.

If I understand this correctly, the 76mm is a measurement from peak to peak if the cone was not rounded, and the 100mm takes into account that additional distance?




I'm curious what you mean by "box tuning" in this statement? Is this literally the physical enclosure of the subwoofer, or tuning built into the electronic components of the subwoofer.
Also, while yes, the 24 would provide large displacement, would it provide worse sound due to only having one vs being able to physically put two on different sides of the room? Probably a loaded question there , as it really "depends" most likely. :)




I'm wondering if this is correct as the Monolith is actually a 15" sub that we're comparing to.



I do have a Denon x4500, which is overkill for my 5.1 setup, but I was planning on keeping it a while and hoping I would eventually have space to do a dedicated set up.

Is the calibrated microphone only used for subwoofer calibration or can it be used for all of the speakers. In other words, could (read as should) this mic and software be used to replace the Audyssey set up?

I'm actually starting to get a little excited about the prospect of building my own sub...so...thanks for that. :)
Welcome to the dark side ;) :D lol

I'll try to work through in order!


The 76mm vs 100mm thing - I'm afraid I'm not sure what you mean by rounded! or why/how SI are quoting 100mm peak-to-peak movement if one-way XMax (maximum excursion from the resting position) is 38mm, which gives the 76mm XMax peak-to-peak.

Perhaps 100mm is the XMech, i.e. the physical absolute limit of the excursion?

I think it's safer to work with the lower number - it will increase driver longevity and 3 inches of movement is still a LOT... (if you do go with these drivers, of course)

watch



Box Tuning is a technical term that is probably not quite 100% correct, apologies. What I was trying to say is that when a ported box is designed it's designed to a certain frequency - in the Monolith's case, 16Hz. Above that point the driver has resistance from air in the box and therefore doesn't over-extend past its excursion limits. Below that 'tuning', the driver doesn't see the box and any resistance from it, meaning it unloads and flaps about till it tears itself apart if you don't stop giving it a signal, lol. Ported boxes therefore need a filter to stop frequencies below the tuning point to be removed. Sealed boxes, on the other hand, always have pressure to work with because the air in the box cannot go anywhere, therefore they play lower and have less risk of damage.

Ported boxes tend to get louder at the tuning point, which can be useful, whereas Sealed boxes tend to roll-off the output the lower the frequency gets - something like 12dB quieter for every octave (IIRC) unless you are boosting the driver. This is why big, beefy drivers are needed for lots of low down output from sealed subs - they need to move a lot of air and they need to cope with a lot of power to move the cone against the air inside the box.


As for one box vs two or more - it depends on your room, it depends on how many listening positions you are aiming for, it depends on where you want to / are able to locate the subs.

The room will have natural peaks and troughs in perceived output volume - a soundwave in the bass range can be longer than the room itself, which can be perceived as increasing output ('room gain') but above that frequency, soundwaves interact and cancel each other out or build on each other.

Think of dropping one stone into a rectangle bowl of water or a swimming pool - the waves radiate in all directions equally (as bass does) and it is only once the waves bounce off the side that peaks and troughs start to form where the waves interact with each other.

Drop two stones into a pool and the effect will be different, as cancellation and reinforcement will take place more often.

In theory you want a flat response across the whole room, but that is very hard to achieve unless you are building a dedicated room!

If you download REW (mentioned earlier - links to it in the DIY section here) it has a 'room mode calculator' in it, which means you can move your 'head' and any subs around the room (in X, Y and Z axis) and it will tell you how the peaks and troughs sound at the 'head' position :) You can then see if one sub or two subs would work best! (I appreciate not all rooms are sealed rectangular boxes, of course, but it's better than nothing... lol)


The monolith is indeed a 15" - I don't know what happened there! You can redo the calculations quite simply - area of the circle = pi x r squared. You know excursion. Times one by the other to get the displacement :)

Area of a Circle Calculator

That gives me 176.7 square inches. Multiplied by 4 inches excursion (generous!) = just over 700 cubic inches of displacement, although it must be less because it's probably 3.5 inches excursion at very most... which would give, what, about 610 cubic inches? (It's late, my brain is faiilng... lol)

So it's not such a big difference but there is still a sizeable difference!



re: mics, I have been thinking about this myself as I need to do it :D

The Audyssey mic should be used for Audyssey as that system has been designed with that mics response curve.

The calibrated mic is for accurately measuring your in-room response at the listening position(s) in REW - as the room simulator is only a simulator and real life measurements will give you what you need to know in terms of additional EQ on top of Audyssey's efforts. (IIRC Audyssey only works down to 20Hz.)

I have a new place and have just retrieved my kit from storage - I have missed it so much, lol - so now need to re-Audyssey and then do the additional REW measurements and EQing that I never managed in the old place!
 

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