Subwoofer. Do I need one with large front speakers?

RayP

Well-known Member
I've had my current home cinema setup for 11 years but after watching Neil Davidson's AV Receiver and Amp Setup tutorial I'm quite confused.

In it he states that even if you have large front speakers you should still set them to small. :confused:

I've always thought that if you had floor-standing speakers then adding a subwoofer was probably unnecessary. It is only needed to help smaller speakers.

As I live in a semi-detached house and wish to remains on good terms with my neighbours I've always kept the volume to a reasonable level acutely aware than bass easily travels through walls. As my front pair are either side of the shared chimney breast they are fairly close to the party wall.

So 2 questions...

1) Would my overall listening experience improve by adding a decent subwoofer and changing the setting for the front pair to small?

2) With a subwoofer against an outside wall (not a sharing one) would overall levels of bass mean I could become a nuisance for my neighbours?

Thanks.
 

PSM1

Distinguished Member
For movies a sub will add a lot to your viewing experience. A decent sub will go lower and with more authority than pretty much any floorstander.
Also by setting your speakers to small you will take some of the load of them in terms of producing the low bass. This should clear up the mid bass and treble and hence improve overall sound quality as well.
A well set up sub will not be heard by itself but should extend the lower frequencies of the main speakers in a seamless way. Hence at normal listening levels it should not disturb the neighbours.
 

RayP

Well-known Member
Thanks for your reply. What would you define as a decent sub in terms of cost? These seems well recommended. Sub Woofers - Sub Bass - Subwoofer

Of course for normal music listening the sub would be off. Given I've set the front pair as small does that only apply to 5.1 listening? For stereo listening I assume they would still be classed as 'large'.
 

PSM1

Distinguished Member
BK subs are good value for money. You should get the biggest you can afford. Hence the monolith would be great but if you want something a little smaller one of the XLS range will be great too. There is no reason to not use the sub for music too as if set up correctly it can enhance this as well. Normally the small setting is in place for 5.1 and stereo modes.
 

dogfonos

Well-known Member
I'm not familiar with AV receivers so can I ask what all this "set to small" speakers stuff is about?

Of course for normal music listening the sub would be off

Why 'of course'? Some of the best music reproduction speakers around are 2.1 systems.

Genelec 6040A and HTS4B Package Review | AVForums.com - UK Online

Or are there other reasons why you would not use the sub when listening to music?
 

RayP

Well-known Member
PSM1, I was thinking of this one. XLS200

My room is 7 meters * 3 meters and the kit is all at one end firing across the shorter axis. The size of the Monolith is larger than I would like but as long as the smaller XLS200 can output more than my CM4s I would be satisfied.

In my youngers days I was a hi-fi purist hence why I would normally listen to music through the front pair only. But if the sub also operates in that mode it won't be a problem.

Dogfonos, with the front speakers set to 'small' the low frequencies will be sent elsewhere making your large floor-standers sound like bookshelf speakers I would guess.

No real reason not to use the sub for music listening other than I've never had one in 40 years of owning hi-fi.
 

RayP

Well-known Member

mfife

Active Member
Hi RayP,
for your room size and the CM4s I would suggest the xxls400, rather than the 200. Your CM4s go down to 38Hz, the xls200 goes down to about 28Hz, and the 400 down to 18Hz, plus it has more welly.
Now as regards use of the sub for music: both the 200 or 400 are very musical subs, being sealed designs. They also both have low and hi level connections that can be configured independently. I see from your sig that you use a the audiolab stereo amp for your music and the denon for movies. You can hook up the sub via low-level to the Denon for movies and let the AV amp handle bass management, whilst being connected to the audiolab via hi-level for music duties.
Given your front speakers I would experiment with a crossover point between 50Hz and 80Hz for either movies or music.
 

Ian J

Banned
1) Would my overall listening experience improve by adding a decent subwoofer and changing the setting for the front pair to small?

2) With a subwoofer against an outside wall (not a sharing one) would overall levels of bass mean I could become a nuisance for my neighbours?

1) Yes

2) Possibly
 

PicoB

Active Member
1) Would my overall listening experience improve by adding a decent subwoofer and changing the setting for the front pair to small?

2) With a subwoofer against an outside wall (not a sharing one) would overall levels of bass mean I could become a nuisance for my neighbours?

1. Not necessarily. Depends on what you are looking for to "improve".

2. Use common sense?
 

RayP

Well-known Member
Hi RayP,
for your room size and the CM4s I would suggest the xxls400, rather than the 200. Your CM4s go down to 38Hz, the xls200 goes down to about 28Hz, and the 400 down to 18Hz, plus it has more welly.
The xxls400 is attractive from that point of view. I'm just a bit concerned about its footprint. Is positioning critical? Does a near wall position increase bass like conventional speakers?

Now as regards use of the sub for music: both the 200 or 400 are very musical subs, being sealed designs. They also both have low and hi level connections that can be configured independently.
I need to learn about these. Not having had one before they mean nothing. :blush:

I see from your sig that you use a the audiolab stereo amp for your music and the denon for movies. You can hook up the sub via low-level to the Denon for movies and let the AV amp handle bass management, whilst being connected to the audiolab via hi-level for music duties.
Actually I don't. I raised a topic in the AV amps section about a hissy rear left channel on the Denon. Seems it's a faulty power amp so I've dusted off my old 8000P which now feeds rear channels. The A10SE feeds all others.

Given your front speakers I would experiment with a crossover point between 50Hz and 80Hz for either movies or music.
I will, thanks. I just need to consider the size and replies to the question above.

PicoB, by improvement I mean base extension which is a bit lacking given the speaker size.

Thanks to everyone for their opinions / advice. Very impressed with the help on this forum. Thanks! :smashin:
 

Member 639844

Former Advertiser
A subwoofers purpose is to improve bass response in a system, so on that note a subwoofer will absolutely improve the bass in a system. Bass is re-enforced by boundaries and that applies to speakers and subwoofers a like, but as the effect is more prominent at lower frequencies, subwoofers can be even more susceptable to this effect. This can actually help subs though, especially with an eq'd subwoofer.

After adding a sub, not only will the bass change, but you will also notice a change in your speakers, most noticably more prominant treble and more clarity in the mid range, so better bass isnt usually the only benefit to adding a subwoofer.

In your system, you only need use the low level connection method, you can forget about the high level option. I would absolutely add a subwoofer into your system :smashin:
 

RayP

Well-known Member
Thanks Moonfly. I checked the size of the woofer in my CM4 and it's 6.5". Not huge by any means. Compare than to the XXLS400's 12" and I start to appreciate why I haven't been hearing substantial amounts of bass.

I really was under the mistaken impression that floor-standing loudspeakers negated the need for a subwoofer. Just shows that whatever your age you can make mistakes!

So low-level connection only will suffice, thanks. I suppose the skillful bit is adjusting the crossover point. Is that something that only comes with experience?
 

RayP

Well-known Member
I did some digging on the forum and found the review of the XXLS400 and it does look good. In all probability I will order one in the next week or two.

I also searched for placement guidance and the general concensus is to avoid corners and place the sub close to your seating position and then listen to music from various points around the room. Where it sounds best is where the sub needs to go. Hopefully that will fit in with my preferred location to the right of the right speaker, near to an outside wall but not near the corner.

A sound meter has been recommended on other sites so I'll probably go for that too so everything is set up correctly.

Thanks one and all. Very helpful discussion. :smashin:
 

mfife

Active Member
Actually I don't. I raised a topic in the AV amps section about a hissy rear left channel on the Denon. Seems it's a faulty power amp so I've dusted off my old 8000P which now feeds rear channels. The A10SE feeds all others.

Ah, I see. In that case forget about the high-level connection, and use the standard, low level rca cable on your amp's sub preout socket.

As for placement, next to the outside wall should be fine. The 400's footprint is 40cm x 40cm. If you're worried about low frequencies travelling through the structure of the house and annoying the neighbours, you can go some way towards isolating the sub by placing it over a slab of granite or marble (or something very dense in any case). I use a granite paving slab I got from Wickes that's 40 x 40 cm so it looks very neat and really works as an isolator (up to a point of course! When I really turn up the wick the door and window frames still rattle! But I make sure all the neighbours are out...)
 
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RayP

Well-known Member
mfife, I will thanks. I think I should also point out that it's a carpeted room on suspended floorboards. The DF model seems best suited but with or without spikes fitted?
 

mfife

Active Member
Defo with spikes if it's going straight on the carpet. Spikes with spike shoes if you decide to place it on a plinth.
 

RayP

Well-known Member
Advantages of a plinth? :confused:
 

RayP

Well-known Member
Sorry, missed that. Explains everything, thanks.
 

Wilseus

Active Member
With a subwoofer against an outside wall (not a sharing one) would overall levels of bass mean I could become a nuisance for my neighbours?

I live in a terraced house and my Mono+ is up against the party wall. Even with the thing at high levels watching films, I have had no complaints from my neighbours. I think it's loud, repetitive upper bass from crappy systems that causes a nuisance.
 

sergiup

Distinguished Member
I live in a terraced house and my Mono+ is up against the party wall. Even with the thing at high levels watching films, I have had no complaints from my neighbours. I think it's loud, repetitive upper bass from crappy systems that causes a nuisance.

Agreed; the newer, not so well built properties might have more issues (thin floors, no proper isolation etc) but older terraced houses have surprisingly thick walls and seem to transmit less than you might imagine. And as you say, bass in movies is a completely different beast from the usual nuisance caused by repetitive loud bassy music.
 

RayP

Well-known Member
I live in a terraced house and my Mono+ is up against the party wall. Even with the thing at high levels watching films, I have had no complaints from my neighbours. I think it's loud, repetitive upper bass from crappy systems that causes a nuisance.

Out of interest when was your house built? As serguip says older houses do have thicker walls. Mine was built in 1960 so probably falls somewhere between the two.

By placing the sub close to an outside wall in a window bay I'm hopeful the bass will not be irritating even though the two ladies who live next door are fairly deaf. When they do move the new neighbours won't be so I need to be aware of any potential problem.
 

RayP

Well-known Member
Here is a layout of my room. The plasma display (red) is on the chimney breast. The CM4s are either side of it with the CMC below it. The rear speakers are either side of the sofa (all speakers are blue).

The 2-seater sofas are purple and a table (green) in the corner completes the room layout.

The front of the house is on the right. It's actually a bay window but I can't show it as such. Two doors to hall and kitchen are shown. A large patio window is far left. There is a table, chairs and other furniture in the dining area on the left.

My proposed location for the sub is shown in black.

I've also taken a photo with three possible positions for the sub. I appreciate it's not easy to decide but would one of those 3 be better than the others?
 

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