Originally Posted by jamesblond
It might be due to the particular sound character of my sub500, but I really prefer it to assist as little as possible. I agree with you that it's beneficial to take some load off of the mains in order to clean up the mid-range. But that works the other way around, too: a subwoofer was designed to handle really low frequencies.
It’s all relative and we are dealing with complex waveforms, and as I constantly mention it comes down to personal preferences and listening habits, with regards to instrumentation the meat and potatoes is mostly between 100 and 1000Hz, so the 80Hz crossover is the area of the lower bass of most musical information.
Most of my speaker listening time, the little that I have is at fairly hefty levels be it techno-pop to classical so the base driver of a two way speaker is going to be asked to produce a lot of effort, especially if I want that visceral feel, to produce realistic levels but to also retain all the delicate nuances of the instrumentation and ambient cues. Take for example Stravinsky’s “Petrushka” and “Sacre du Printemps” recorded in 1960 and conducted by Stavinsky, to which I was listening to last night, by the time the kettle drums/ timpani make their impact in the crescendos, the 25s as good as they are already have their hands pretty full. Now I’m not saying the 25s cannot handle the load, they can and do a pretty good job at that, but to visualize the above symphonies, imagine watching multiple delicate ripples on the lake produced by a handful of sand and someone comes by and throws a boulder in the midst, well all hell breaks loose, and that is what we are asking the bass driver to handle. All the delicate nuances will be lost in the chaos as the timpani, even with all the impact it produces is still only working in the 60-200Hz range for the lower notes but this will kill the dynamics and air of the recording producing perceived compression. Now maybe to many listeners this may all sound fine, but this hobby is all about getting the most out of the recording with ones equipment and IMHO asking the bass driver of a two way speaker to reproduce, not the rumble, which is sub bass but the "boom and punch" of a recording which is in the 100-200Hz range, like with the kettle drums, is asking a bit too much if simultaneously it still is still asked to produce everything thing above those frequencies unconstrained.
An 80Hz crossover is still pretty low and remember it’s not a brick wall so that the bass driver is still producing a fair amount of information down to 40Hz with regards to most musical content so why not let the sub handle the majority of that.
If most of ones listening is at moderate levels then a lower crossover is probably more than adequate but again, if the volume is usually up there one will find that there will be less compression, distortion and the reproduced performance will be all that more dynamic and enjoyable with the bass driver left mostly to reproduce the tactile upper bass and the all important mid range uninhibited.
And as always it all comes down to ones listening preferences, equipment and room.