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Question on subwoofers big company vs small companies

GXAlan

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It’s the balance between size, performance, and price.

The smaller companies largely go for high performance and low price and ignore the size issues.

Many of the very expensive products are more nicely finished, but at the same price, you are giving up performance, or vice versa, to get the same price, you are paying much more.

There was an interview where @MonolithGuy said that they made some high gloss piano black subwoofers which were beautiful but were something like 20% more expensive for no added performance ($1k vs $1.2K maybe) and it was hard to sell. I was struck by how expensive the actual costs were to Monoprice to get high gloss piano black finished compared to normal vinyl wrap.
 

Duke

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I can find no technical or subjective reviews of Revel subwoofers. I suspect distortion is extremely low. I despise rumbling shaking subs. I prefer a clean slam. My Rhythmic and Infinity subs do not meet my preferences. I don’t know what sub would satisfy me.

Imo the peaks and dips imposed by room interaction are of far greater audible consequence than the relatively minor differences between high quality subwoofers. Can you describe one or two of the best-so-far subwoofer set-ups you have tried?
 

GXAlan

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I can find no technical or subjective reviews of Revel subwoofers. I suspect distortion is extremely low. I despise rumbling shaking subs. I prefer a clean slam. My Rhythmic and Infinity subs do not meet my preferences. I don’t know what sub would satisfy me.

I have the Revel B15a which I thought was great and very musical. It had parametric EQ that you could tune yourself using a Windows amp and essentially an SPL meter playing back certain tracks on the CD.

The JBL HDI sub is respectable and clean for its price point.

For clean slam, you cannot go for most home theater subs which are focused on extension. A lot of slam is in the 40-50 Hz range.

I really like my “vintage” JBL Synthesis S2S. This is what I get IN ROOM with no crossover. It’s a 15” driver that could easily work in an actual full range speaker as opposed to the sub. But even though it is ported and it’s 15”, you can see that it rolls off early compared to even a 10 or 12” home theater sub. I haven’t done a formal REW sweep to show distortion but the driver was designed by Doug Button and originally intended as the 2235 successor.

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Avp1

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I am not a serious audiophile, just like to hear good music. One thing I have noticed is the subwoofer market is there plenty of small companies the ones general public has never heard of unless they frequent forums such has avsforums or audscience etc. 11 years ago I purchased one such subwoofer for my HT setup after perusing dozens of hours of subwoofer forum on avsforums. I was thrilled to deal directly with the owner/builder (admittedly a bass enthusiast but not an engineer) peppering with dozen questions and getting them answered. I paid $900 in 2013 on my purchase of my subwoofer and in todays price its like spending $1100 or $1200. Also, the company I purchased the subwoofer now is a significant player among the small companies with over dozen plus products.

On the other hand I have been perusing more of measurement based forums vs. owners subthreads in the past when I made my subwoofer purchase. This has made be understand in general speaker designs from big companies (KEF, Revel, Harmon etc.) have research teams working to figure out a design for few years before bringing them into market and publishing white papers (I have a read some from KEF).

I believe these big companies put similar approach for their subwoofer designs as I have seen on some pictures on eBay and tear downs on the web shows much complex build integration to meet the design specifications and result. I have opened my 11 year old sub a few times to change failed amps and noticed its pretty much plywood or MDF box with some batted synthetic insulation.

My question for expert audiophiles here:

1. What makes subwoofers design/build so unique that it affords smaller companies to compete well in the market?

2. Are there any merits buying a subwoofer from big companies with 6"-10" of driver and years of design behind them vs. buying from small companies some offering 12" to 15" drivers in a big box?

The only small company making subwoofer is Rythmic. They do have distinctive feature though - they use feedback within drivers to reduce distortions. Also if you really need a sub, then size should START from 15".
 

GXAlan

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The only small company making subwoofer is Rythmic. They do have distinctive feature though - they use feedback within drivers to reduce distortions. Also if you really need a sub, then size should START from 15".
Servo subs were available in the 90’s with Infinity and Velodyne.

I have owned the Revel B15a and JBL S2S, but I still find my JL Audio f110 and Velodyne DD10 to be exceptional subwoofers.

Even @Kal Rubinson uses a pair of 10” JL Audio E110’s.

I think you pay a big premium to get a good 10” sub. For the price of the JL Audio f110 you can get a much better SOUNDING sub — but it’s hard to beat it in the same physical footprint…
 

Chrispy

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I do not find reason to agree with that, since yours reads like a stance of driver/frequency tuning/overall behavior of subs being equitable enough among manufacturers to have negligible effect on user integration with a given set of mains.
The more of that a manufacturer does, the (potentially) easier a match might be made by user implementation. Like I said initially: surely no guarantee, so unless you have broad evidence to the contrary: why post to split hairs, eh? ;)
That you don't find reason is a good conclusion? While there are a variety of factors involved, many simply use poor methods of integration, particularly among the 2ch crowd. I simply assemble my own subs as needed, it's not magic or brand related.
 

radix

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The only small company making subwoofer is Rythmic.
Really?

What about Sigberg or Arendal? Maybe I'm unclear on "small."
 

benanders

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That you don't find reason is a good conclusion? While there are a variety of factors involved, many simply use poor methods of integration, particularly among the 2ch crowd. I simply assemble my own subs as needed, it's not magic or brand related.

If you have good reason to think any given manufacturer’s sub will never be a potentially more streamlined solution with said manufacturer’s monitor(s) or tower(s), feel free to explain why (preferably with evidence) instead of just suggesting many folks can’t integrate their subs. :p
 

Chrispy

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If you have good reason to think any given manufacturer’s sub will never be a potentially more streamlined solution with said manufacturer’s monitor(s) or tower(s), feel free to explain why (preferably with evidence) instead of just suggesting many folks can’t integrate their subs. :p
I didn't say that. Many people have poor gear and methodology to integrate subs, particularly the 2ch crowd.....
 

benanders

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I didn't say that. Many people have poor gear and methodology to integrate subs, particularly the 2ch crowd.....
Thank you for clarifying.
My initial posit that certain parameters of how subs are made/operate could make models from manufacturers of all levels/sizes worth consideration (depending on mains’ characteristics from the same manufacturers). That’s obviously not a reliable “Pass Go” for sub-room integration, but if my comment seemed to insinuate that vs. beneficial areas like model-shared specific crossover points etc., then I should’ve worded more explicitly.
 

voodooless

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I can find no technical or subjective reviews of Revel subwoofers. I suspect distortion is extremely low. I despise rumbling shaking subs. I prefer a clean slam. My Rhythmic and Infinity subs do not meet my preferences. I don’t know what sub would satisfy me.
Usually the sub is not the problem. You’ll need to EQ for room and placement to get most out of any sub.
For clean slam, you cannot go for most home theater subs which are focused on extension. A lot of slam is in the 40-50 Hz range.
Then just EQ the big sub to have less extension. You hear the frequency response above all. Match the response, match the sound. I bet most of these are way too loud down low.
 

Alice of Old Vincennes

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Usually the sub is not the problem. You’ll need to EQ for room and placement to get most out of any sub.

Then just EQ the big sub to have less extension. You hear the frequency response above all. Match the response, match the sound. I bet most of these are way too loud down low.
Mainly placement. I need to try wireless.
 

GXAlan

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Then just EQ the big sub to have less extension. You hear the frequency response above all. Match the response, match the sound. I bet most of these are way too loud down low.
Agreed, but frequency response AND SPL. (And maybe group delay). The HT subs have good extension across a wide (low) frequency while PA subs tend to have much higher SPLs for a given size (both cabinet and woofer) but rolls off much earlier.

Even with something like Dirac to boost the low end of a PA sub, I do think that a combination of driver/enclosure tuning and protection/DSP prevents you from boosting it enough to make a difference.

Likewise, when you roll off the HT subs early, you would also expect it to allow you to hit higher SPLs at the higher frequencies but that hasn’t been my experience, again potentially due to DSP in the internal amps.

Along with an SVS SB2000Pro. I prefer multiple small subs to a single large one for acoustical and aesthetic reasons.
Exactly. One could use multiple large subs and get the same acoustical benefits, but in most homes, subwoofers are out of place with the decor, so you are always trying to do the best you can. Smaller subs don’t just have a smaller footprint in two dimensions but the volume is smaller, so the visual mass is also reduced. A line array of REL subs or even the new McIntosh tower sub probably sound great, but those subs will be visually dominating in most homes.

Of course, someone with the budget for the new McIntosh sub probably has a large enough listening room where the sub isn’t visually out of place.
 

voodooless

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Agreed, but frequency response AND SPL.
Sure, you’ll need to be able to hit the SPL you want
(And maybe group delay).
Group delay is a function of frequency response. I bet that the sub with more extension will have less group delay > 50 Hz. But in the end, your room will have a lot more influence on group delay.

The HT subs have good extension across a wide (low) frequency while PA subs tend to have much higher SPLs for a given size (both cabinet and woofer) but rolls off much earlier.
Yeah, the Hoffmanns Iron law applies :)
Even with something like Dirac to boost the low end of a PA sub, I do think that a combination of driver/enclosure tuning and protection/DSP prevents you from boosting it enough to make a difference.
Sure, if the SPL is not there, your lost. So it’s easier to work with a sub with very low extension. It will lower group delay where you need it, is usually a good compromise with regards to power handling, and will show decent distortion numbers. It will give you all the latitude you need to do any kind of processing with it. The trick is to get it to play nice with the huge port it needs, it use a pair of massive PRs.

Likewise, when you roll off the HT subs early, you would also expect it to allow you to hit higher SPLs at the higher frequencies but that hasn’t been my experience, again potentially due to DSP in the internal amps.
It depends on the tuning. Usually this would not be the case. With a low shelve tuning, it would though.

Then again, a closed sub can also work excellently, especially for music where the extension isn’t needed. You’ll get a much more compact solution with different benefits. Both are compromises. Both can give excellent results.
 
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radix

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Neither of these two specializes on subwoofers.
Well, Sigberg did only have subs for a while, now they have 3 subs and 2 speakers or something like that.

What about Velodyne Accoustics or GSG?

I'm not in the audio business, and I'm sure someone who knows the market knows more manufacturers that make only subwoofers.

What I've seen small manufacturers make are more specialized designs. Like the Sigberg Inkognito or Gallo Profile Sub or the GSG flatpacks. Arendal makes a side-firing sub that worked out well for my room.
 

Kal Rubinson

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I'm not in the audio business, and I'm sure someone who knows the market knows more manufacturers that make only subwoofers.
JLAudio.
 

sigbergaudio

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Neither of these two specializes on subwoofers.

Our speakers require subwoofers, so they're an integral part of the full speaker systems. So I will humbly state that we take subwoofers pretty seriously.
 
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