Help me decide between PB12-nsd or VTF-3 MK4 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 03-11-2012, 01:23 PM - Thread Starter
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I know there are several threads between these two but I still can't make up my mind. I'm currently only running two front towers and realize that I really need a subwoofer. Budget is no more than $800. Audioholics and other sites have very positive reviews on the pb12-nsd. I have'nt been able to find any reviews on the VTF-3 MK4 but I see that it is very well regarded in here and other sites. My living room is 11x12 with 9' ceiling and it opens to a hallway which is 7x13 with 12' ceiling. I guess my usage will be 50/50 music and movies. I would like a lot of earth shattering bass. Which will shake my living room shake the most?
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post #2 of 19 Old 03-11-2012, 02:13 PM
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They are close in price the PB is 66lbs. the VTF is 90lbs they are close dimensionally with the VTF being 3inches deeper and the PB uses one 4inch flared port the VTF uses
two 4inch flared ports. The PB uses a 400w amp the VTF uses a 350w amp with 1400w short term. The advertised extension is 18Hz for the PB and 16Hz for the VTF.
You can't go wrong with either while IMO you have more tuning options with the VTF.
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post #3 of 19 Old 03-11-2012, 02:33 PM
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If there's one or the other you're leaning toward, then get that one. Neither would be a bad choice, IMO. I've not heard the SVS, but it gets great props 'round these parts, and I'll vouch for the HSU. Big smiles.
You'll find lots of fans of both here, for good reason. Just don't 'settle' and then wonder 'what if....' . Better, and cheaper in the long run, to buy the right tool the first time.
Hope it helps
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post #4 of 19 Old 03-11-2012, 03:38 PM
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Both subs should shake your room roughly equally, so like the above post, I advise just choosing based on other factors. The VTF does offer a few more options as far as configuration so that would allow you to tinker a bit more with its sound output.

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post #5 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 04:35 AM
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In your circumstances, I would go with the VTF. I must admit to being pretty biased, being a VTF owner, but I think the VTF would have a substantial output advantage against the PB12. Take a look at Audioholic's subwoofer comparison tables, and compare the Outlaw LFM-1 EX with the measurements for the PB12 NSD. You'll see the Outlaw has a pretty large headroom lead over the PB12. The LFM-1 EX is basically the same as the VTF3, the difference is the VTF3 has deeper extension, less chances of chuffing, and more configurability. I think the PB12 would have less distortion at 20 hz, and stronger limiter protection, but I don't think these subs are equal in clean output capability as is often suggested.
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post #6 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 04:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

In your circumstances, I would go with the VTF. I must admit to being pretty biased, being a VTF owner, but I think the VTF would have a substantial output advantage against the PB12. Take a look at Audioholic's subwoofer comparison tables, and compare the Outlaw LFM-1 EX with the measurements for the PB12 NSD. You'll see the Outlaw has a pretty large headroom lead over the PB12. The LFM-1 EX is basically the same as the VTF3, the difference is the VTF3 has deeper extension, less chances of chuffing, and more configurability. I think the PB12 would have less distortion at 20 hz, and stronger limiter protection, but I don't think these subs are equal in clean output capability as is often suggested.

Shady raises a valid point; in two metrics (maximum output at most frequencies and group delay), the LFM-1 EX (let's just consider low extension mode) scores higher than the PB12-NSD, according to Audioholics' recent reviews.

On the other hand, they both have strong ouptput well below 20Hz, and the PB12-NSD performs at nearly all frequencies with lower distortion (at many frequencies, the PB12 produces half the harmonic distortion, or less than half) and better linearity (click the charts to return to the Measurements and Analysis page of each review). In fact the NSD's frequency response is something of an anomaly--there are more expensive, more powerful subs out there that don't really approach its flatness and most exceed its THD numbers (more THD is worse). As mentioned, the PB12-NSD's DSP limiter keeps it in check: it's very hard to bottom out the driver, or to overwork the amplifier, or to get it to misbehave in general; some people call it "bullet-proof." Plus, they give you a five year warranty on everything, amplifier included. This is not at all typical for internet direct subwoofers.

I'm biased too--I own the cylinder version of the NSD--so, predictably I argue that there's a lot more to a great sub than maximum output OP: you did ask which sub would provide the stronger response in your space, so the answer has got to be the VTF-3. I just want you to know that there's more to consider.

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post #7 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 05:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaviorMachine View Post

In fact the NSD's frequency response is something of an anomaly--there are more expensive, more powerful subs out there that don't really approach its flatness and most exceed its THD numbers (more THD is worse).

Indeed, it's DSP does a great job of shaping the response and keeping it out of trouble.

http://www.data-bass.com/images/meas...ompression.jpg

http://www.data-bass.com/images/meas...-NSD%20THD.PNG

Looking at the 100dB long term sine curve, the PB12 is +0.5dB/-4.0dB from 20Hz all the way up to 125Hz. It maintains this level of performance with under 3% THD across the aforementioned bandwidth. And make no mistake, 100dB at 2 meters ground plane is loud by most standards. In my listening environment (corner loaded, listening position 9 feet away), that's 109.2dB at the listening position, comparable to a peak of -5.8dB from reference on the LFE channel (115dB) or -14dB if all channels are summed to the subwoofer (123.2dB).

Conversely the Outlaw in one port mode:
http://www.data-bass.com/images/meas...ompression.jpg

http://www.data-bass.com/images/meas...HD%20GRAPH.png

The curve is comparably flat at +2dB/-2.5dB from 20Hz to 125Hz, but distortion is pushing 10% at one point, and THD is generally higher across the bandwidth.

With two ports open, the Outlaw's performance changes a bit obviously:

http://www.data-bass.com/images/meas...ompression.jpg

http://www.data-bass.com/images/meas...HD%20GRAPH.png

Distortion improves, largely staying under 5%, but 20Hz performance is compromised, being about 7.5dB down at that point.

Suffice it to say, the PB12 is cleaner dB for dB than the Outlaw, regardless of mode. However, since the Outlaw isn't as heavily limited as the SVS, it can achieve higher output levels.
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post #8 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 05:58 AM
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FWIW I was playing some dubstep at reference levels this weekend with my PC12-NSD with absolutely no distortion. I looked around and everyone in the room had a huge grin.. That little cylinder rocks in a small to medium room.

Mike

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post #9 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 09:49 AM
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Lower distortion is always a good thing, but as long as its inaudible I would argue higher SPL counts for more. For the frequencies the subs cover, distortion would have to be enormously high just to be humanly detectable at all. Neither sub reaches this point until pushed to their operational limits at low frequencies. With the Outlaw sub specifically, I wonder how much port noise contributes to the distortion measurements. In the deep frequencies at high playback, it isn't too hard to induce port noise. The VTF3 itself needs much more of a push before the ports start hiccuping, and you need to be at crazy high volumes for that to occur.
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post #10 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 09:58 AM
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Both these subwoofers are so good at this price point that you could just flip a coin and be happy with whichever you chose by chance. Pay attention to the pros and cons mentioned by the posts above and use that to decide. Otherwise just ask the wife which is "prettier" and let her chose. They'll both rock in your room.


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post #11 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 10:03 AM
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Getting back to the OP's original 2 choices, the PB-2NSD and the HSU VTF-3.4, I think the difference is in the variable tuning. Between these two subs, only the VTF-3.4 offers 16Hz tuning mode.

Who knows which tuning you might prefer, but only the VTF 3.4 offers the option of 16Hz tuning. The PB-12NSD is tuned to 20 Hz, IIRC. With its 4 inch ports the VTF-3.4 the 16Hz tuning option is actually quite viable.
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post #12 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 10:30 AM
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Hahaha. Wow.

To the OP: somebody above said that either of these subs will probably make you happy, and he's probably right. I just advise that you consider as many factors as possible before you fill out any order forms; also, keep your wits about you. This is a public forum, after all, from which you are seeking advice about competing products.

Once again, I am sorry to take a sledgehammer to so small and fragile a nut. -- Richard Dawkins, The Greatest Show On Earth
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post #13 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaviorMachine View Post

To the OP: somebody above said that either of these subs will probably make you happy, and he's probably right. I just advise that you consider as many factors as possible before you fill out any order forms; also, keep your wits about you.

Both sub are comparably spec'ed, so in terms of output, they are in the same league. Arguing that one is hugely superior due to a few dB of output or ultra low distortion is like arguing whether your car gets to 60 in 4.5 or 4.8 seconds, it's not going to be a huge determining factor in the overall enjoyment of your sub, they are both very strong performers which outclass 98% of the competition

For other factors: I do like the Hsu's tuning feature and optional Rosenut finish, but at the same time, I like to see the driver moving in and out in a front facing sub, that's fun to me. Certainly the SVS also has really unbeatable written customer satisfaction policy (their "bill of rights") which may sway your decision as well

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post #14 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 11:06 AM
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Can't really lose with this choice. I have owned both Hsu and SVS gear and customer service is top notch at both companies..

HSU gives you a few more tuning options, but if you don't care about that, then it should not be a factor.
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post #15 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post

Both sub are comparably spec'ed, so in terms of output, they are in the same league. Arguing that one is hugely superior due to a few dB of output or ultra low distortion is like arguing whether your car gets to 60 in 4.5 or 4.8 seconds, it's not going to be a huge determining factor in the overall enjoyment of your sub, they are both very strong performers which outclass 98% of the competition

+10

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Originally Posted by warpdrive View Post

For other factors: I do like the Hsu's tuning feature and optional Rosenut finish, but at the same time, I like to see the driver moving in and out a front facing sub, that's fun to me. Certainly the SVS also has really unbeatable written customer satisfaction policy (their "bill of rights") which may sway your decision as well

Exactly. As for me, the cylinder form and light weight of the PC12-NSD made it a shoo-in. I'm a single man living in an apartment. I need all my floor space, I like a sexy-looking subwoofer, and I don't want no 90lb behemoth that'll make me pop a hernia whenever I want to switch up my living room. Since buying it I've switched up my living room at least three times. That's three hernias my PC12 saved me. I could have chosen an additional 3dB at an output range that I'll never reach... what? I like walking straight, thank you very much.


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post #16 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

For the frequencies the subs cover, distortion would have to be enormously high just to be humanly detectable at all.

If the distortion that a subwoofer produced was only in the 20Hz-80Hz range, I would agree, however, that isn't the case. For example:

Quote:


At 40 Hz, listeners accepted 100% distortion before they complained.

Axiom isn't saying that if your subwoofer produces a 40Hz tone with 50% THD+N, that the distortion won't potentially be be audible. They're saying that when they added a 40Hz tone to the music, it wasn't audible to their panel of listeners until that distortion reached 100%. The case of a 40Hz tone being reproduced with 50% THD+N can be very problematic depending on the makeup of the distortion & noise, both for reasons that you can hear the distortion and because it could lead to being able to localize the sub
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post #17 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 12:32 PM
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I agree, higher harmonic distortion is a problem where lower harmonic distortion wouldn't be nearly as objectionable. If you look at Ricci's graphs, you'll see that both subs suffer from just a bit of fourth order harmonic distortion. I don't really know what that would sound like exactly, but I am familiar with the sound of the LFM-1 EX and I can say it sounds clean to very loud levels. I don't believe distortion is problem with any of these subs. The only odd noise I get from the Outlaw is chuffing, and I can only get that to happen in very deep bass played back at high levels. But that is not an issue with the VTF3.
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post #18 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 12:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

The only odd noise I get from the Outlaw is chuffing, and I can only get that to happen in very deep bass played back at high levels.

There's one big difference. Ricci only noted "a hint" of port noise with the SVS since the limiter kicks in to prevent such things. On the other hand, he plainly noted that the Outlaw with one port open was suffering from chuffing and air turbulence noise. I'd be curious to see Ricci get his hands on a VTF3, but I doubt that'll happen any time soon. Personally, I've never gotten my PC12 to act badly in spite of getting the fancy red LED on the back to light up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

I don't believe distortion is problem with any of these subs.

Under typical usage, no. Then again, the differences between these subs realistically speaking aren't huge to begin with. The biggest difference I see is that SVS limits output so the PB12 doesn't make any offensive noises, and the Outlaw pushes things a bit further.

As other posters have mentioned

Quote:


Can't really lose with this choice.

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post #19 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 02:16 PM
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Can't go wrong in my opinion. I chose between these two just a month ago. I chose the PB12 and cannot get it to make an unwanted sound in my room. If I had another $250 at the time I would have opted for the VTF-15H. I am very happy with what my $769 got me though.
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