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post #1 of 36 Old 01-17-2013, 11:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello all,

I'm fairly new to posting on these forums and I'm at a point where I need some advice on a setup I'm trying out. So I've moved to a new apartment with a very open layout. Meaning living room & dining room are one, connected to an open kitchen split by a breakfast bar. It's a fairly good size room with a 10 foot high-ceiling. Room minus the kitchen is roughly 12' 5" x 18' 5" with a little desk built into the wall along one of the long walls.





My original goal after moving in here was to buy a nice TV and setup a decent 5.1 home theatre which would be used for around 20% music, 15% gaming and 65% split between TV, streaming content and Blu-rays/DVDs. TV I've decided on a 51" Plasma, got myself an entertainment center to put it on and my recent purchase is the Pioneer VSX-1122-K AVR. I know it only has Advanced MCACC and I won't be able to calibrate the sub with it but it had all the features I wanted and then some for the price. After two weeks of research on here I've realized Denons and Marantz are out of my price range and Onkyo's seem to be hit or miss with reliability. My goal was to buy an AVR where I can eventually setup a 7.2 system in the future house I'll be buying down the road so the Pioneer works.

I have speakers from an old stereo system I had for my bedroom years ago and am using them with the Pioneer for now as a temp solution. Setup right now looks like this.





So I've been on here reading about all matter of speakers from Kef, Hsu, HTD, Ascend and a boatload more. It's a bit overwhelming for a newbie like me. Also reading about subs, speaker placement and just learning what I need for a proper setup. I did want to go with a 5.1 setup but looking at my room layout and dynamics I'm not sure how possible that is. I also didn't want to mount anything on walls which is why I got this specific entertainment system. It has adjustable shelves so I can fit a good sized center channel directly above the AVR and still have breathing room for it. I would just need to tilt the center up a little to get it pointed to ear level.

My questions to you all is, could you provide some advise on speakers for my need and room setup? Can I go 5.1 with small satellites on stands next to the sofa with bookshelf or towers in the front? Or should I stick with a 3.1 for now? If I go bookshelf, would the placement of where my temp speakers are now be ok or should I go with stands instead? Speakers now are at an ideal height where the tweeter is just around ear level. Where should I place the sub? And the most importan question. What should I choose for LCR and sub?

As I've said, I've read dozens of posts on all matters of speakers and it sounds like a few that would fit my budget are

- HTD Level 2 bookshelf or towers or Level 3 bookshelf & center (Don't think I can mix lvl 2 LR with a lvl 3 center due to different tweeter)
- Ascend CBM-170 for LR with CMT-340 SE center
- HSU 3.1 value2 or hybrid1 package (not sure if these will work due to being rear-ported)
- Arx A1B/A2B combo
- many more...

Deciding on a sub is an entirely different question. Again I'm thinking future-proofing here and Hsu STF-2 or VTF-1 MK2 look like they would fill my room but I'm not dead set on these subs. Not to mention I'm still not sure if I should go sealed or ported sub. All in all I want to say my budget is around $1000 max for speakers and sub. At least that's what I'm telling myself. Appreciate any help or insight you can provide on this.
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post #2 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 10:24 AM - Thread Starter
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So it seems the Ascend and Hsu speakers are all rear-ported. How much actual space would be needed to get the proper sound from these products? I'm reading some say the diameter of the port and others are saying much more. I'm not worried about LR as I can get stands for those and place them where they need to go. But I'm a little restricted with the center as it will just fit in that little cubby under the TV. That cubby has a good 17 inches though from front to wall.
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post #3 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 10:45 AM
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You don't need a lot of space for the ports, just roughly the port diameter, so I would want at least two inches back there. You would need that kind of space anyway for the wiring. My advice is, since you are in an apartment, try to use near-field placement for the subwoofer, and by near-field placement I mean placing the sub as close to the listening position as you can, ie using it as an endtable or placing it behind your seat. The reason for this is subs normally have to pressurize the entire room for a decent bass sound at the listening position. But this means it needs to have some real output, and at that low frequency it isn't something your neighbors will appreciate. However, if you can use the subwoofer nearby, you do not have to play it as loud since you don't have to worry about pressurizing the rest of the open space. You will catch a lot of the bass energy before it dissipates over the room. That being said, I would still go for as powerful of a sub as you can afford and have room for, I would look at the Hsu VTF2, because even in that scenario there is advantages to powerful subs.

Also, you can use satellites for surrounds next to the couch, but I think that would draw a lot of attention to itself when you really want them to disappear. I would skip the surround speakers if you can't set them up at some distance from the listening position, so they wouldn't be a distraction instead of immersing.
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post #4 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 10:54 AM
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I suggest that you consider the Monitor Audio Bronze BX-5 speakers, which are primarily front ported and should fit nicely on either side of your equipment stand. They run $750 per pair.

They have considerable bass when placed as you will, and you might even find a subwoofer to not be needed at this time.

Most manufacturers recommend a minimum of 12 inches from the rear of a rear-ported speaker to a wall.

Tower speakers will give better bass and put the tweeter more at ear level for better sound.

You can always add matching speakers when you have the space and layout for 5.1, but I think you should spend your money now on the best two speakers you can buy.

The Bronze BX Center is $299 if you also want that now.
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post #5 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 11:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arabprince View Post

As I've said, I've read dozens of posts on all matters of speakers and it sounds like a few that would fit my budget are

- HTD Level 2 bookshelf or towers or Level 3 bookshelf & center (Don't think I can mix lvl 2 LR with a lvl 3 center due to different tweeter)
- Ascend CBM-170 for LR with CMT-340 SE center
- HSU 3.1 value2 or hybrid1 package (not sure if these will work due to being rear-ported)
- Arx A1B/A2B combo
- many more...

Deciding on a sub is an entirely different question. Again I'm thinking future-proofing here and Hsu STF-2 or VTF-1 MK2 look like they would fill my room but I'm not dead set on these subs. Not to mention I'm still not sure if I should go sealed or ported sub. All in all I want to say my budget is around $1000 max for speakers and sub. At least that's what I'm telling myself. Appreciate any help or insight you can provide on this.

Something like the SVS PB1000 subwoofer $499 and the Arx A1b would be a great setup. Add the A2c in a month or so when its released and you have a nice 3.1 setup. Later add a pair of A2 as vertical mains and move the A1b to surround duty. I own ever Arx model except for the A3 small tower and they are all top notch and compete with much more expensive offerings. Neutral to slightly laid back, deep impactful bass but they still have good transparency and detail without being in your face noctiable.

Great thread about Arx A1b vs Ascend 170se. http://www.avsforum.com/t/1446006/ascend-acoustics-cbm-170-se-vs-arx-a1b
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post #6 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 11:36 AM - Thread Starter
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If I go with a nice set of towers, is a sub still needed at that point? Or does it depend on the towers purchased? If I opt for bookshelf and sub, would it be wrong to place the bookshelf on either side of the TV on the entertainment system as long as that height is ideal or should I get adjustable stands instead? If I do put them on either side of the TV I can use the space on the floor for a sub. Either in the corner or on the open side. Which is more ideal?
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post #7 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 12:07 PM
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A decent sub does bass better than most tower speakers. Towers can have not bad bass though, but there isn't many budget tower speakers with great bass. You can place the bookshelf speakers beside the TV, it won't really be that bad. Speakers mostly sound better with a stand-off distance from nearby surfaces, that is why it isn't recommended to place them in enclosed spaces like bookshelfs (even when they are called 'bookshelf speakers'), but it isn't because of the ports.
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post #8 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 12:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arabprince View Post

If I go with a nice set of towers, is a sub still needed at that point? Or does it depend on the towers purchased? If I opt for bookshelf and sub, would it be wrong to place the bookshelf on either side of the TV

For mainly HT, towers still benefit from a good subwoofer. I would opt for good bookshelves and a sub.
If you can spread the bookshelves out it would be better. While some people do put rear ported center
speakers in a cubby-hole under the TV - I prefer front ported or sealed centers for that placement.The
side panels can tend to be a challange.

Your option/choice - preference and decision

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post #9 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 12:35 PM
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Pull the bookshelfs out to the edge of the TV stand. That helps get rid of reflections bouncing off the tv stand surface.

A tower speaker wouldn't be able to match a decent quality subwoofer. But from my own experience with the Arx A5 towers, I get better dynamics, more output, better midbass punch over the bookshelfs A1 and A2 LCR. I've had the A1's first as mains and then upgraded to the A2 rotated as vertical mains (tweeter can be rotated for horizontal use or vertical use) and then on to the A5s. Each step had its improvements, A1s sounds great and outperformed my Axiom M22 V2s, then I went with A2 fronts and they had better bass, output and alittle better resolution like a curtain was pulled back alittle (not that the A1s was bad) then went with the A5s and that again was another step up in every way possible.
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post #10 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

A decent sub does bass better than most tower speakers. Towers can have not bad bass though, but there isn't many budget tower speakers with great bass. You can place the bookshelf speakers beside the TV, it won't really be that bad. Speakers mostly sound better with a stand-off distance from nearby surfaces, that is why it isn't recommended to place them in enclosed spaces like bookshelfs (even when they are called 'bookshelf speakers'), but it isn't because of the ports.

If going with a 3.1 setup, how would the Level 3 LCR with a good sub compare to the Level 2 LCR with towers and the same sub?

The only limitation of getting speaker stands is I would have to place them on each side of the entertainment system which isn't a problem. The question at that point is where do I put the sub in my room? It's kind of crammed in there. The image I have above isn't perfect scale but it's damn close to what the layout of the room is right now. I'm not opposed to stands and putting the bookshelves on the edge of the TV works for me too.
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post #11 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 12:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post

For mainly HT, towers still benefit from a good subwoofer. I would opt for good bookshelves and a sub.
If you can spread the bookshelves out it would be better. While some people do put rear ported center
speakers in a cubby-hole under the TV - I prefer front ported or sealed centers for that placement.The
side panels can tend to be a challange.

Your option/choice - preference and decision

Would the HSU or Ascend centers sound drastically different sitting in there under the TV? The middle of that entertainment system doesn't have a back plate so the center will have wide openings in the front, room on the sides and a good 5-7+ inches in the back as well.
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post #12 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 01:24 PM
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If going with a 3.1 setup, how would the Level 3 LCR with a good sub compare to the Level 2 LCR with towers and the same sub?

The only limitation of getting speaker stands is I would have to place them on each side of the entertainment system which isn't a problem. The question at that point is where do I put the sub in my room? It's kind of crammed in there. The image I have above isn't perfect scale but it's damn close to what the layout of the room is right now. I'm not opposed to stands and putting the bookshelves on the edge of the TV works for me too.

The benefit of tower speakers is usually deeper bass extension than what bookshelf speakers have. But if you are using a subwoofer, it will be taking over the bass range which towers hold over bookshelf speakers, and in doing so takes away the chief advantage tower speakers have. If you are going to use a sub, I would just forget tower speakers, unless you intend listen at seriously loud volumes. One thing I might suggest, that table against the wall where the two couches meet, can you replace that with a subwoofer? That might be a good location for a sub, it is near the listening positions. You might be able to get good bass without having to crank the subwoofer. On the other hand, if your apartment walls are thin and bass will travel through them easily, you might just forget a subwoofer altogether if you don't want to bother your neighbors.
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post #13 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arabprince View Post

If going with a 3.1 setup, how would the Level 3 LCR with a good sub compare to the Level 2 LCR with towers and the same sub?

Would the HSU or Ascend centers sound drastically different sitting in there under the TV? The middle of that entertainment system doesn't have a back plate so the center will have wide openings in the front, room on the sides and a good 5-7+ inches in the back as well.

The Level Two towers have more bass than the Level Three bookshelves - The Level Three comes with a nice
ribbon tweeter - however, the Level Two dome tweeters are still nice. If you do not want to buy stands, and
you wish to save more for a sub, or fear neighbor problems - then the Level Two towers are one good option.

Overall, how a center speaker is going to sound in your cubby hole is hard to say - it may sound fine and OK to
you, and may not distract you. However for me, I am more of a nit-picker.

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post #14 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Overall, how a center speaker is going to sound in your cubby hole is hard to say - it may sound fine and OK to
you, and may not distract you. However for me, I am more of a nit-picker.

Dually noted.The other option I have for a center is to build a mount on top of the TV. But that puts it higher then I think it needs to be for a 3.1 setup. By the sound of it I can't really go wrong with any of the bookshelf speakers I mentioned in the original post. I think bang for my buck one of the Hsu Hybrid packages for 3.1 is a great idea. As long as I move all the speakers as close to the front of that TV stand to leave breathing room for the rear ports. If no good, I'll buy stands for them and figure out what to do with the sub. Maybe I can slide the end table and sofa down a little and get the sub in the corner wall next to the sofa and patio door. I won't be sitting center sofa anymore to be directly in front of the TV but I'm sure it would still work. As far as my neighbors, I've been here two months and haven't heard a single sound from above or next to me. I'm an end unit on the first floor and this apartment complex is not even three years old yet. As long as I'm not cranking the sub to extreme levels I should be fine.
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post #15 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 08:14 PM
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The nice thing about the Hsu speakers is they will be less affected by nearby reflections because the tweeters are horn-loaded so they have more controlled directivity. If you are going with Hsu, try to swing up to the VTF2 sub, it doesn't cost a whole lot more but is a very big step up in performance from the VTF1.
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post #16 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 08:44 PM - Thread Starter
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The nice thing about the Hsu speakers is they will be less affected by nearby reflections because the tweeters are horn-loaded so they have more controlled directivity. If you are going with Hsu, try to swing up to the VTF2 sub, it doesn't cost a whole lot more but is a very big step up in performance from the VTF1.

Am I really going to notice a difference between and 10" and 12" Hsu being in an apartment? Just to be on the safe side I'm not planning on turning things too loud for neighbors sake.
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post #17 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 09:56 PM
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You'll notice the difference for sure, but I can't tell you if that difference is worth the extra cost for you. The VTF2 will have deeper and cleaner bass, it'll have the ability to get louder, and will be more future proof if you ever move into a home or larger room. I have to agree it may be overkill for your present setup though, if your normally watch movies on the couch against the wall. Bass is heard very easily against surfaces, so when you sit in the seating against the wall you ought to get a decent bass sound with a smaller sub like the VTF1.
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post #18 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
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Am I really going to notice a difference between and 10" and 12" Hsu being in an apartment? Just to be on the safe side I'm not planning on turning things too loud for neighbors sake.

If you are worried about neighbors, look at the SVS SB12-NSD.

At similar price points with the HSU ported and SVS sealed subs, the sealed subs will have a little better SQ in a smaller footprint at the expense of less max volume and not going quite a as low in frequency response. I'd say that's worth the trade off in an apartment where the extra few lower hz of the VTF-2 is just more frequencies going to the neighbors. And as you say, you are not going for really loud. Also no port on the sealed sub, making placement a touch easier. I didn't own a sub for HT until I got a house, but looking back on my apartment living where sound can travel, this is what I would do.

Likewise, instead of the STF-2 (and probably the VTF-1) I'd think about the SVS SB1000 that gtpsuper24 mentioned. Cheaper driver than the SB12 (so cheaper price, but SQ not quite as good), and a little less max output than the SB12.

And I think your choice of the Ascends for your speakers is a good one.

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The VTF2 can be run in sealed mode as well, and the low end can also be rolled off higher with its Q control. Besides, you can always turn a more powerful sub down if its too loud, but you can only turn a weak sub up so much before it reaches its limits. Anyway the frequencies likely to bother the neighbors begin well above the tuning points of the subs we are discussing, so it won't make a big difference.
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post #20 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 11:22 PM
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The VTF2 can be run in sealed mode as well, and the low end can also be rolled off higher with its Q control. Besides, you can always turn a more powerful sub down if its too loud, but you can only turn a weak sub up so much before it reaches its limits. Anyway the frequencies likely to bother the neighbors begin well above the tuning points of the subs we are discussing, so it won't make a big difference.

I'd still pick the sealed sub that was designed to be a sealed sub in this situation.

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post #21 of 36 Old 01-18-2013, 11:25 PM
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Here's an in-depth SVS SB12-NSD review: http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/speakers/subwoofers/sb12-nsd-subwoofer

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post #22 of 36 Old 01-21-2013, 09:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback guys. I've ordered the HTD Level 3 LCR for now to audition since they allow me to do this risk free. If I'm not happy with the sound I'll give the Ascend's a shot next as I believe they also allow free shipping back.

As far as the sub situation goes, I thought long and hard about this. Even though I've never heard a peep from any neighbors I figured it wouldn't be a bad idea to get a 10" sub over a 12" for now. I'm not going to be able to crank it up as loud as I would love to and I don't want them to think the new guy on the block is a troublemaker with loud sound all the time (Co-worker was telling me how cops payed him a visit due to his sub). The SVS subs posted here look great but are all worth a little more then I want to spend right now and don't think I'll be able to utilize their full potential. So thinking VTF1-MK2 or STF-2. And even though I'm planning on mostly HT use for this sub I've found myself listening and enjoying my CDs and other music more and more while in the house. Since the STF-2 is considered the more musical of the two and gets ok reviews for HT use I may check it out. Save myself a few bucks in the process. I can't get over how both of these subs have almost identical stats on the Hsu site.

Some reviews of the STF-2 had complaints about not being as loud as some lower priced subs but I care more about quality over output.
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post #23 of 36 Old 01-21-2013, 10:43 AM
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The SVS SB1000 and PB1000 come with free shipping; the VTF-1 MK2 does not. Since the price is about the same, you might consider them as well. Here's an AVS thread where they have been talking about them: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1439755/new-svs-sb1000-pb1000-subwoofers/60

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post #24 of 36 Old 01-21-2013, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
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The SVS SB1000 and PB1000 come with free shipping; the VTF-1 MK2 does not. Since the price is about the same, you might consider them as well. Here's an AVS thread where they have been talking about them: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1439755/new-svs-sb1000-pb1000-subwoofers/60

And when you put it like that, it just makes that much more sense. Thanks smile.gif
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post #25 of 36 Old 01-21-2013, 11:52 AM
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The VTF1 is basically just a user tunable version of the STF2, I think it would have greater sound quality since it has a Q control, better driver, and more possible output in the range above 30 hz. Neither sub will have monster output. Same thing goes for the entry level SVS subs, they are spec'd roughly the same, they are not going to be beasts. I recommend the VTF2, it will hit the hardest and sound the cleanest between them, you get a level out output that none of them have, better distortion levels, and also the Q control and user variable tuning. It would be a big step up from all of these subs despite not costing that much more. Even if you never run the sub at full blast, there are still benefits to having a more powerful sub, one of which is it will last longer since you don't have to run it as hard to get a satisfactory output level. It also reduces distortion when you don't have to run the subwoofer as hard, so you get a cleaner sound, as the more powerful sub will be loafing along at points where a weaker sub will be straining.
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post #26 of 36 Old 01-21-2013, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

I recommend the VTF2, it will hit the hardest and sound the cleanest between them . . . better distortion levels

Agreed. If the OP wants to spend the extra money. At that price point, the OP should probably also consider the Outlaw Audio LFM-1 EX, and also the Rythmik FV12 (which is supposed to start shipping again the end of this month). Didn't you like the SQ of the FV12 better than HSU and Outlaw Audio subs?

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post #27 of 36 Old 01-21-2013, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Agreed. If the OP wants to spend the extra money. At that price point, the OP should probably also consider the Outlaw Audio LFM-1 EX, and also the Rythmik FV12 (which is supposed to start shipping again the end of this month). Didn't you like the SQ of the FV12 better than HSU and Outlaw Audio subs?

I did, but it wasn't an extremely obvious leap in sound quality, and that comparison was also with older Hsu subs. I haven't heard what the new Q control can do. Anyway, if Rythmik finally starts shipping the FV12 again, that should definitely warrant consideration.
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post #28 of 36 Old 01-21-2013, 02:36 PM
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Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

I did, but it wasn't an extremely obvious leap in sound quality, and that comparison was also with older Hsu subs. I haven't heard what the new Q control can do. Anyway, if Rythmik finally starts shipping the FV12 again, that should definitely warrant consideration.

Well, the Q control is just a frequency response adjustment. It should not make any significant difference if the subs are already tuned correctly in the room.

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post #29 of 36 Old 01-21-2013, 03:27 PM
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Well, the Q control is just a frequency response adjustment. It should not make any significant difference if the subs are already tuned correctly in the room.

The Q control controls damping. The frequency response, specifically the low end roll off is a consequence of different levels of damping, but it isn't what damping is mainly about. My understanding is damping is how stiff the driver's compliance is, or how loosely the cone is gripped by the magnetic motor. Lower Q means greater damping, and that means tighter control over the cone, and conversely higher Q will give you greater excursion and therefore greater extension, but poorer transient response as the cone is not as tightly controlled.
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post #30 of 36 Old 01-21-2013, 06:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

The Q control controls damping. The frequency response, specifically the low end roll off is a consequence of different levels of damping, but it isn't what damping is mainly about. My understanding is damping is how stiff the driver's compliance is, or how loosely the cone is gripped by the magnetic motor. Lower Q means greater damping, and that means tighter control over the cone, and conversely higher Q will give you greater excursion and therefore greater extension, but poorer transient response as the cone is not as tightly controlled.

My Dayton subwoofer amp has a Q control, but it also let's me select the frequency point for the Q adjustment and the amount of the level (gain of the adjustment)--it's a parametric EQ setting. Rythmik's PEQ subwoofer amps have the same adjustments. Seems like HSU's Q control is nothing but a Q adjustment for a built in EQ where the level boost and the frequency point have already been predetermined. Unless perhaps they've come up with some new technology that let's them physically adjust the driver somehow to do what you are describing. Is there some kind of resource about that?

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