1. Join Now

    AVForums.com uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Subwoofers: Is bigger actually Better?

Discussion in 'Subwoofers' started by Paul Smith, Dec 23, 2002.

  1. Paul Smith

    Paul Smith
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2002
    Messages:
    2,040
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Location:
    Berkshire
    Ratings:
    +142
    I was just wondering,
    Is a large subwoofer cone really the best thing?

    Normally, in any manufacturers line up, it's standard for the most expensive sub to be fitted with the largest cone (and to go with it the largest cabinet).
    While I am sure that the largest model will have the greatest output (which is very important for some),
    Will it actually be the best sounding and the most musical sub available?


    Paul.
     
  2. James45

    James45
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2002
    Messages:
    2,844
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    59
    Location:
    Taking Care of Business
    Ratings:
    +0
    assuming all the other components and factors of a sub's design are up to scratch then a large driver in a large enclosure will allow the sub to produce deeper, louder, cleaner bass than a smaller driver and enclosure
     
  3. Ian J

    Ian J
    Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2001
    Messages:
    25,529
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +4,906
    Historically to get the deep notes that are so important in AV reproduction a large cabinet is important but manufacturers have been trying to shrink cabinet sizes for aesthetic reasons and invariably compromises have had to be made.

    If you look at most of the arguments about quality subwoofers that have been raging here for the past few months most of the arguments have been between owners of different types of large sub.

    The size of the sub's cabinet has nothing much to do with the sub's musicality as that has more to do with the overall design. HCC recently described one large sub as having prodigious output but as much overhang as the reviewer's belly (his words).

    REL are arguably the best known sub manufacturer and they have two ranges of subs. The ST range are the larger ones that produce sufficient depth for satisfactory AV performance but are enormously musical too and the Q range which are much smaller have less deep bass and are not as musical as the bigger ones.
     
  4. Paul Smith

    Paul Smith
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2002
    Messages:
    2,040
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Location:
    Berkshire
    Ratings:
    +142
    Actually the Rel subs are of great interest in this question,

    Contrary to normal practice,
    the Rel Range actually use smaller cones in thier higher quality subs (around 250mm in the ST range).
    While using larger 300mm cones in thier cheaper less capable Q range.

    Is it possible to draw a conclusion from this? do they think that all other factors being equal a less-massive cone has many benefits.?
    So is a large cone really the best answer?

    Paul.
     
  5. bob007

    bob007
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    The way I look at it the more air you can move the better, so the bigger the driver the better. ;)
     
  6. James45

    James45
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2002
    Messages:
    2,844
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    59
    Location:
    Taking Care of Business
    Ratings:
    +0
    It will have a lot to do with the specific design of the sub and the driver in question (ie build quality and performance ability).
    I don't think it's as simple as is bigger better.
    different sized drivers will excell at different points of the frequency range as well for example a 18in driver may well excell at those 'punched in the guts' lows while a 10in driver will perform the tighter punchier stuff better. this is why velodyne's new silly money sub the 1812, includes both a 12in driver and 18in driver.
     
  7. Matt F

    Matt F
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2000
    Messages:
    900
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    Chester, UK
    Ratings:
    +4
    Paul, one of the REL Q Range does use a 30cm (12") driver but the rest of that range use smaller 10" or, in the case of the Quake, an 8" cone. The discontinued (and well regarded) QBass, Q50 and Q100 models also used 12" drivers and larger cabinets. As you say, the ST range don't go above 10".

    I don't personally think you can read anything into the cone size - there are ways of getting 10" cones to produce deep bass and there are ways of keeping 18" cones highly "musical" i.e. accurate.

    There are, IMO, two things to consider when assessing subwoofers - frequency range and distortion levels - in other words, how deep they go and how cleanly/accurately they reproduce bass - if bass is reproduced accurately then the sub should sound musical i.e. there should be no overhang.

    The trouble is that figures for frequency range are inconsistent and distortion figures are rarely quoted. You should always look for the +/-3dB figure when examining the frequency range and note that some manufacturers use +/-6dB that make figures look far more impressive than they actually are. Many will also quote "in room" figures that, again, can make a sub's performance look better than it really is.

    Unfortunately, there seems to be no industry standard but at least the +/-3dB figure is a reasonable yardstick.

    As for distortion, some manufacturers (the one's with very low distortion figures - servo systems etc) quote this information - others don't which makes you wonder why not - do they have something to hide? Who knows - I have heard that some very popular subs can have frighteningly high distortion figures - 20% or 30% even, but I have never actually seen anything in print to back this up - maybe there is a site somewhere with this information.

    Subwoofer distortion figures would make an interesting What HiFi/HiFi Choice article i.e. measure the distortion figures for loads of subs and publish the figures - I just wonder whether the mags stay away from this kind of thing in case they upset the big companies and also find out that the subs they have been recommending for years are not actually that accurate.

    Matt.
     
  8. NicolasB

    NicolasB
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2002
    Messages:
    5,876
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Emily's Shop
    Ratings:
    +566
    Using a larger cone lets you move larger volumes of air for the same to-and-fro travel of the cone. Or conversely it lets the cone travel less while moving the same volume of air. As the distance that the cone has to travel to and fro increases, so it becomes increasingly difficult to control precisely. So a larger cone will tend to be able to produce a higher sound volume at a lower level of distortion than a smaller one, other things being equal.

    However, there will always be trade-offs. A larger cone will be more difficult to keep rigid than a smaller one, and once it starts to flex that introduces a different sort of distortion. A larger cone will also be heavier which actually makes it more difficult to control precisely as it will be more difficult to get it moving and it have more of a tendency to overshoot. So I don't know that one can definitely say one is better than the other. It depends what compromises the manufacturer is prepared to make and how clever they are at overcoming which problems.
     
  9. EvilMudge

    EvilMudge
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Might be imagining things but I'm sure that I read an interview with Richard Lord (REL), where he stated that their research had come to the conclusion that two 10" cones offered the best compromise between distortion and acoustic power. Which is the design of the Studio as I recall.
     
  10. Oli

    Oli
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2002
    Messages:
    274
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Nottingham
    Ratings:
    +3
    I think all the ST range uses dual 10", my Stygian (Basically an old stadium) does.
     
  11. uncle eric

    uncle eric
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
  12. micb3rd

    micb3rd
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2001
    Messages:
    1,047
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Bedfordshire
    Ratings:
    +67
    There are three laws to subwoofers, bass extention, size and efficentcy you can pick two but at the sacrifice of one of the others.

    The two main ways to get a truely deep bass:

    Have a huge box (3-7 cubic foot in size) ported at around 20 hz, use a well built subwoofer driver at a minimum of 12 inches and use between 250 and 750 whats of power.

    Examples of this would be SVSubwoofers, HSU VTF, Adireaudio Shiva/ Tempest and Strike AV series.

    The other way is to use a smaller box around 1.5-2 cubic volume, well built driver and use a Heafty amp 1000-2000 watts with some EQ, bass boost or Linkwitz Circuit programmed in and a servo to control the cone movement.

    Examples are Velodyne CHT, HGS, Paradigm Servo.
     
  13. BK Electronics

    BK Electronics
    Active Member AVForums Sponsor

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2002
    Messages:
    376
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    Essex
    Ratings:
    +25
    Thanks for posting that link eric. a great read. All things sub woofer and the laws of diminishing returns. Excellent
     
  14. uncle eric

    uncle eric
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    You're very welcome Dan. Merry Christmas.
     
  15. Paul Smith

    Paul Smith
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2002
    Messages:
    2,040
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Location:
    Berkshire
    Ratings:
    +142
    Hi,
    I love trying to stir things up,;)

    Thanks everyone for looking and posting, there's some nice views and info here (I had missed the 'Which Subwoofer?' thread first time round).

    Merry Christmas to all,
    Cheers,

    Paul.
     

Share This Page

Loading...