I have moved into a new house – with a dedicated custom theater space in the basement. I think everything sounds great right now – although my existing sub (an Elemental Designs A3-350) now has a dead amp – but I am getting it repaired. But this has prompted me to decide it is time to upgrade my sub channel to bring on par with the rest of my system, and my beautiful new space.
I have done a lot of research and read a lot of threads, so I am not coming in without background. But I would love to hear from some of the really knowledgeable members on this forum (and some of the vendors as well).
In an attempt to be as thorough and efficient as possible, let me setup the background.
: I have a dedicated home theater room that is windowless, dark and relatively tightly sealed. It is 19’ wide x 23’ long x 8’8” high. The screen wall is on the front wide wall. 15’ back from the screen wall is a 16” platform for the second row (platform is 8’ x 19’ x 16”). The platform is solidly constructed and filled with insulation, and does not resonate (at least I can’t hear it). I calculate it to be roughly 3785 cu ft of space. 3572 cu ft if you back out the space the platform takes up (I don’t know if you are supposed to do that or not).
As I thought about it during construction, I believed that the natural place for subwoofers would be along the back wall on either side of the rear row (I took pictures of the areas). So there are two coax connects (that terminate in RCA’s in the media closet) in the two back corners. The room is not sound proof – but it is resistant to sound transference. The ceiling is hung on an Auralex RC-8 channel system, all the drywall is 5/8” thick, double-layered with green glue, recessed cans have backer boxes, wall boxes have putty pads, ceiling and walls are insulated with mineral wool, door is solid core with an acoustic seal threshold. Supply and return to the HVAC system using acoustic ducting, and I have not heard any sound transfer through the HVAC. For the most part – only a small amount of sound (mostly mild hums from the bass unit) transfers to the room directly above – which is the formal living room (which no one is typically in). The room is carpeted with thick carpet and premium 10lbs pad. It is otherwise not yet acoustically treated – but I plan to do so with some DIY treatments. The left rear corner (when facing the screen), foundational corner of the house (the left wall and rear wall are foundation walls). The right wall is shared with the media closet, and the mechanical/storage room. Front wall is half foundation, and half shared with the rec room. I have attached pictures of the space for reference (and showing the two back corner areas for the subs).
Speakers: B&W Nautilus 803 (R+L), B&W CDM-CNT (Center), Definitive Technologies BPX (surrounds), Definitive Technologies BP2X (rear surrounds)
Amp: Sherbourn PA 7-350 (350w RMS x 7 channels)
Sound Processer: Onkyo TX-NR805 (using pre-amp outs). I currently use the Audyssey MutiEQ XT and cross all speakers at 80hz.
Bass Management: Velodyne SMS-1 (this is a “new to me” addition to the system). I bought it to help manage and integrate multiple and mismatched subs (at least until I upgrade my processor to something with Audyssey MultiEQ XT32 and SubEQ).
Projector System: Sony VPL-HW55ES, VAPEX 120” fixed frame 1.1 gain screen.
Video Processors: DVDO Edge Green, and Darbee Darblet
Sources: DirecTV HD DVR HR-21, PS3 (blu-ray player and media streamer), PS4, Xbox 360, Toshiba HD-DVD (yes … I still have one).
Subwoofer (current): Elemental Designs A3-350. Original eD driver replaced with Infinity Reference 1260 12” 4 ohm single voice coil driver (nice sound improvement). Powered with 300 watt class D amp. Enclosure is ugly – but nicely built and braced. If you need a reminder on the specs see here: 18" W x 20" H x 20" D – port is 4” diameter.
Open within reason. The cost of single Seaton Submersive HP+ is the top end. But I love getting good value, and I am happy to spend less.
Given room setup, I would like to add one nice sub to a rear corner, and pair it with the A3-350 (placing it in the other rear corner). Later, I would add a second twin upgraded sub and either sell the A3-350 (I don’t think it will fetch much), or move it to the front and perhaps use wireless connectivity to feed it signal.
I am 40% TV, gaming and sports (think well shot event TV presentations … Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful, Boardwalk Empire, Hannibal, etc.); 40% Blu Ray and HD DVD movies and concerts; and 20% music (mostly classic rock on high quality downloads, SACD and CD).
I have found after calibrating the system, using the current equipment, that most of my TV watching is at -20 to -15 db on the Onkyo’s volume knob. For movies -15db to -12db seems like it is plenty loud. Music -20 to -17 again seems plenty loud. Summary – I don’t listen at anywhere near reference levels for anything but a “hey check this out” demo of the system. NOTE: I assume because of the power of the Sherbourn amp and efficiency of the speakers, Audyssey cuts all the channels by between -8 db and -10 db, and also cuts the LFE channel by -11db. I dial up the LFE channel by +4 db to add a bit more bass back into the mix.
I put a premium on tight, quality bass, versus absolute SPL or "chest slap". Although the later is not a bad thing.
I don’t want something crazy radical looking (i.e., a giant upright wall of 18” or 15” woofers). I could potentially be talked into an SVS cylinder solution, and I understand their pluses – but it seems like it would look weird to have a something that looks like a carpeted water heater in the room (I am sure it would sound great though). I am fine with relatively regular looking black box (it doesn’t have to be a fancy finish – and black is preferred). One thing causing me pause on an SVS PB-13 Ultra is just how friggin’ heavy that thing is – and how hard it will be to get it into position.
- Seaton Submersive HP+ -- amazing word of mouth, and I really like the idea of being able to add a slave unit later at a relatively low cost (provides a lot of value). This is a “I buy this and never think subwoofers a again” type of purchase – which has its own sort of value. But given my relatively quiet listening habits (compared to other AVS'ers) is this overkill?
- SVS PB13-Ultra – I think one of these, plus the eD would be all the base I would ever need. Hate the idea of how heavy and unwieldy it is. But it may be the best solution.
- SVS PC13-Ultra – solves the heavy and unwieldy problem above. But replaces it with a “that kinda looks strange” problem
- SVS SB13-Ultra – Buy one now, and a future twin later. I LOVE the form factor and it gets great reviews, but will the in room extension be enough.
- Power Sound Audio – XS30se. I love the value proposition here, and the how similar the design is to the Seaton. But will it be enough in terms of extension? I suppose I could always just do two (for less than one Seaton). I also really like that the owner answers the phone and works directly with you.
- Rythmik – great reviews and word of mouth – but I have not really explored.
- Funk – I have taken them off the list as I think I would just go Seaton if I decide to spend this level of money
One concern I have having been burned by Elemental Designs untimely death. I don’t want to be stranded with a worthless warranty and no support. But I think the above companies are all very stable, so it is less of a concern.
Sorry for the lack of brevity -- but I wanted to be thorough. Thank you in advance for all your assistance.