Originally Posted by gajCA
So a conspiracy then among manufacturers.
A non manufacturer's view point essentially saying "it depends."
"The following observations are generalities rather than cast-in-stone facts that apply to all examples. First, the bass from sealed enclosures tends to be tighter, leaner, and more precise. Pitch definition is superior, as is the sense of articulation of each bass note. The sealed loudspeaker’s higher cut-off frequency and more gradual roll-off provide a more satisfying feeling of bass fullness than the reflex system’s lower cut-off frequency and steeper roll-off. Very low bass, such as organ pedal tones, tends to produce a feeling of pressurization of the air in the room when reproduced by sealed systems that have truly deep extension. Reflex systems, by contrast, have more weight, warmth, and fullness. They can subjectively sound like they have more bass and deeper extension when you’re listening to instruments with energy in the midbass rather than the extremely low bass. Kick drum tends to be weightier, but less crisp and dynamic.
These impressions are by no means definitive; poorly designed sealed systems can sound thick, colored, and lacking in articulation and dynamic agility. Moreover, they are gross generalizations that are less applicable at the upper end of the price spectrum. The best bass I’ve ever heard in every aspect of performance—extension, dynamics, precision, articulation, and tonality—was from a ported system (Wilson Alexandria X-2 Series 2). But it takes extraordinary design talent to deliver the benefits of a particular woofer loading while eliminating the shortcomings. In most entry-level and mid-priced loudspeakers, the characteristics of sealed and reflex-loaded designs I’ve described are applicable."
I wouldn't say that it's a conspiracy, as much as it is marketing departments needing to keep up with the Joneses. If I were building a music only system, I might consider going with sealed subs, too. There would be very little acoustical music content below about 30Hz, so sealed subs would work great for that. And they have a smaller form factor, and typically cost less than their ported counterparts.
Of course, they are smaller and cost less for a reason. Ported subs typically require larger cabinet sizes for displacement of air and for sturdier cabinets, and based on sub maker comments, they also require more engineering to design. IMO, the problem comes in when you try to use that sealed sub for HT movie applications. Because now size, low-end extension, and sheer volume are very important considerations. And although, most of us tend to think of acoustic instruments when we speak of music, there is a lot of electronic music now, in several different genres, which can also go quite low--well under 30Hz. So, even for music, low-end extension and sheer output can be important factors.
I said this on another thread today, but at risk of repeating myself, I am not aware of any blind tests that demonstrate our ability to reliably distinguish between equivalent ported and sealed subs operating within their limits. And a number of people have conducted blind tests in an effort to demonstrate a difference. Data-Bass has a good short article on this that parallels the SVS blog.
I am not trying to persuade anyone who believes that he can hear a difference between similar models, and similarly situated, sealed and ported subs from the same maker. If you hear a difference, so be it. But it must be a very subtle difference indeed, if it can't be replicated in blind tests. So, for the vast majority of buyers, I think it is reasonable to look at your personal goals for content and performance, balanced with room size, budget, and WAF where appropriate, and pick subs that way, rather than starting with some predisposition for either ported or sealed subs, based on some proposition of inherent musicality. Most of the good ID makers will let you test their subs to find out for yourself what sounds best in your room.