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Do I need 1 or 2 subwoofers in a small room for solo piano music?

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#1
I am using a pair of Tannoy Gold 8 on my desk for nearfield (75cm) listening in an untreated 3m*3m room. I have posted my set-up here. I mostly use the speakers to play classical solo piano pieces. I do listen to other genres, but I tend to use headphones for those to avoid distributing my family. I have read a lot about the doctrine that a sub or two is a must, and I am eyeing the JBL LSR310s for its price and simple connectivity. If I did get one or two subwoofers, I would have to place them either under my desk or on the front corners of the room. I have a closet and a double door on each side of my room, so I cannot place the subwoofers by the "walls".

I wonder a few things,
1. Are subwoofers necessary for solo piano music? Is it true that classical piano does not go to the lowest ends as often as contemporary genres do?
2. Is it possible to fix the room null at 77Hz and mode at 127Hz with my limited subwoofer placement options?
3. In such a small room, will the bass energy be a nightmare?
4. Will down-firing subwoofers like the LSR310s cause more bass leakage to other rooms than regular subwoofers? The last thing I want is to rattle the floor.
5. 2.1 or 2.2? What are the performance/hassle ratios of these two set-ups?
 

Robin L

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#2
If you really want more bass, you're going to need another room. I remember my first stereo, Acoustic Research 3's, in a small bedroom. AR 3's went all the way down, about the best bass one could get in 1973. If I wanted to hear the bass, I'd have to go to another room. A sub could help, but your room will fight that sub.
 
OP
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Thread Starter #3
If you really want more bass, you're going to need another room. I remember my first stereo, Acoustic Research 3's, in a small bedroom. AR 3's went all the way down, about the best bass one could get in 1973. If I wanted to hear the bass, I'd have to go to another room. A sub could help, but your room will fight that sub.
I know too little about room acoustics to grasp what "fight that sub" even means, but I guess you are voting no on adding a sub.
 

Kvalsvoll

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#4
I guess you have heard a piano in real life, and what you did not notice, was the room shaking and pulsating, low-frequency energy hitting your body like shock-waves. Because a piano has very low energy at low frequencies, the lowest tangent around 32Hz? has very little energy at 32Hz, all the sound you hear are higher harmonics. so you do not need a subwoofer for piano. Then someone will tell you there is low frequency energy in the recordings, creating a sense of space and size. But the level of this ulf energy is so low, it will only be noticeable at loud playback levels.

Which was the answer to #1.

Looking at your measurements, there is a dip, but really nothing to worry about. Use eq to take down the resonance, perhaps lower around 40-50Hz, lift the bass range overall a bit. A subwoofer may improve things, at the cost of more difficult integration.

The bass energy will not be different in a small room compared to a larger, when the system is properly calibrated.

Type of subwoofer does not change sound radiated out of the room, because it is the acoustic sound pressure inside your room that excites all walls that causes sound to leak out.

When you never want to play at louder levels, those small speakers will have sufficient bass output, and there will not be any significant gain in installing subwoofers. Some speaker systems are designed with separate bass-system/subwoofers as an integrated part, and such systems may perform better because it is easier to achieve a more neutral/flat bass response, and they are designed with proper integration built-in. Integrating a separate subwoofer with traditional full-range speakers successfully, can be more difficult.
 
OP
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Thread Starter #5
I guess you have heard a piano in real life, and what you did not notice, was the room shaking and pulsating, low-frequency energy hitting your body like shock-waves. Because a piano has very low energy at low frequencies, the lowest tangent around 32Hz? has very little energy at 32Hz, all the sound you hear are higher harmonics. so you do not need a subwoofer for piano. Then someone will tell you there is low frequency energy in the recordings, creating a sense of space and size. But the level of this ulf energy is so low, it will only be noticeable at loud playback levels.

Which was the answer to #1.

Looking at your measurements, there is a dip, but really nothing to worry about. Use eq to take down the resonance, perhaps lower around 40-50Hz, lift the bass range overall a bit. A subwoofer may improve things, at the cost of more difficult integration.

The bass energy will not be different in a small room compared to a larger, when the system is properly calibrated.

Type of subwoofer does not change sound radiated out of the room, because it is the acoustic sound pressure inside your room that excites all walls that causes sound to leak out.

When you never want to play at louder levels, those small speakers will have sufficient bass output, and there will not be any significant gain in installing subwoofers. Some speaker systems are designed with separate bass-system/subwoofers as an integrated part, and such systems may perform better because it is easier to achieve a more neutral/flat bass response, and they are designed with proper integration built-in. Integrating a separate subwoofer with traditional full-range speakers successfully, can be more difficult.
I focused too much on the frequency numbers and did not think about there could be an energy difference. That makes so much sense. Thanks a lot!
 

Kvalsvoll

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#6
I focused too much on the frequency numbers and did not think about there could be an energy difference. That makes so much sense. Thanks a lot!
Just to try to clarify - when I write "energy", I mean the sound level. So when I wrote "little energy at 32Hz" from the piano, that means the sound pressure level at 32Hz is low compared to sound pressure level at higher frequencies. If you find a frequency spectrum graph from a piano, you can see this.
 
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#7
Just to try to clarify - when I write "energy", I mean the sound level. So when I wrote "little energy at 32Hz" from the piano, that means the sound pressure level at 32Hz is low compared to sound pressure level at higher frequencies. If you find a frequency spectrum graph from a piano, you can see this.
Hey, I've just had a look at your site, it's really interesting and innovative. I guess it's impossible to listen to them around Brussels?

So, for OP this time: when I had my first speakers, bassy towers, I was living in a uni dorm, super small (8m2), they should have sounded horrible. Yet the bass was fine in my room and not overbearing in my mates' rooms. So, while the previous posters said wise things, sometimes it still works even if it shouldn't :)
Maybe we thought it was fine because we were drunk all the time, that's a possibility too.
 

Kvalsvoll

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#8
Hey, I've just had a look at your site, it's really interesting and innovative. I guess it's impossible to listen to them around Brussels?

So, for OP this time: when I had my first speakers, bassy towers, I was living in a uni dorm, super small (8m2), they should have sounded horrible. Yet the bass was fine in my room and not overbearing in my mates' rooms. So, while the previous posters said wise things, sometimes it still works even if it shouldn't :)
Maybe we thought it was fine because we were drunk all the time, that's a possibility too.
And today we have dsp, so it is possible to eliminate peaks and resonances, which will make it work even better.
 

Robin L

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#10
Right now, I've got a small stereo in a small room with a small sub. It works fine for the moment, bass isn't a problem. But right now, I listen to headphones more than speakers and my guitar more than either. If I were you, I'd start with one powered sub, small but capable of going down deep. Experiment with position. What you'll sacrifice will be ultimate volume, but if you're in a small room you probably won't want too much of that anyway.
 
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