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15'' Subs too big to sound good? 15'' = Boom boom and 12'' = Loud and Tight?!

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
I have been to a few speaker shops now...well ok 5 speaker shops...and I keep hearing the same thing from the sales guys but I don't see it echoed on these forums...

So time to check if the sales guys are just trying to "sell" or there is something to it that I missed from reading the threads.

Most of the highly recommended subs from SVS, HSU, PSA, Rythmik and Outlaw all seem to be 15'' subs. Now I am specifically looking for HT but it seems to be the general recommendations are for 15'' subs if you have the space.

I have had almost every sales guy tell me that 15'' move too slow and sound like crap. 12'' is as big as I want to go. Now multiple 12'' rock but 15'' move too slow you are just going to get boom boom boom from a sub with 15''.

I discounted the advice the first 3 times I heard it...but the fourth time had me running here to ask the question. Given a 75/25 split on HT to Music...should I go with a more nimble "tight" 12''...or is all this just bunk?
post #2 of 49
My 18" ChaseHT subs are much "tighter" sounding than was my 12" SVS PB12-NSD. Rythmik's highly-praised FV15HP has never been described as "too slow and sound like crap ... boom boom boom".

Neither has PSA's XV15. Or its XS30, or Epik's Empire or Seaton's SubMersive, all of which have two 15" drivers and should sound twice as slow and crappy. wink.gif

Or JTR's 18" Captivator. Or HSU's 15" VTF-15H. Or...
Edited by eljaycanuck - 2/8/13 at 7:25pm
post #3 of 49
I think a lot of the "size myth" get carried over from car audio, or at least that's what I've noticed.

A lot of companies that make low-cost drivers will use the same motor and magnet structure for all sizes to cut costs. That's fine if the motor is designed for a 12" sub - but by putting the same motor on a larger sub, it can't control the driver properly which leads to sloppy, boomy bass. Since a 10" sub has significantly less moving mass than a 15", it in turn sounds "tighter".

Another part is that quite often, people would run 10" subs in generic sealed boxes because of size constraints. A generic box not build for the particular T/S parameters for the sub is never idea, but with a sealed box you're not worried about port tuning, etc. A lot of people who would run 12" subs would do it because "the bigger the sub the bigger the sound" and would use a generic 4th or 6th order bandpass box - which, on top of being a generic size, is also normally tuned at a specific frequency somewhere between 50 and 60Hz - the "impress the ladies" bandwidth - and as such sounded like ass but would get loud in that narrow frequency band.

When you have a company that builds good drivers and properly researches and designs the motor to match the driver, and everything is put into a properly-sized and -designed box (DIY or factory), the results are significantly better.
post #4 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

I have been to a few speaker shops now...well ok 5 speaker shops...and I keep hearing the same thing from the sales guys but I don't see it echoed on these forums...

So time to check if the sales guys are just trying to "sell" or there is something to it that I missed from reading the threads.

Most of the highly recommended subs from SVS, HSU, PSA, Rythmik and Outlaw all seem to be 15'' subs. Now I am specifically looking for HT but it seems to be the general recommendations are for 15'' subs if you have the space.

I have had almost every sales guy tell me that 15'' move too slow and sound like crap. 12'' is as big as I want to go. Now multiple 12'' rock but 15'' move too slow you are just going to get boom boom boom from a sub with 15''.

I discounted the advice the first 3 times I heard it...but the fourth time had me running here to ask the question. Given a 75/25 split on HT to Music...should I go with a more nimble "tight" 12''...or is all this just bunk?

It's simply BS. Anyone that makes that claim understands nothing.
post #5 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by sputter1 View Post

It's simply BS. Anyone that makes that claim understands nothing.
They understand how to lie.
Quote:
I discounted the advice the first 3 times I heard it...but the fourth time had me running here to ask the question.
Were they dissing stuff that they sold? Or only that which they didn't?
post #6 of 49
I have a 15 inch. HSU VTF-15H. It is extremely tight and responsive
post #7 of 49
It is complete bunk (mostly). Sure you can find a sloppy 15" sub just like a sloppy 12" sub. But a properly engineered 15" sub is not "slower" than a 12" sub.

Reference:
http://www.data-bass.com/myths
Quote:
Often times people make the mistake that sound quality is in fact related to the woofers quickness, but in fact the woofer’s quickness is exactly related to SPL. The faster the driver, the higher the SPL. There are two ways to change a woofer’s speed. 1. Lower the frequency of the input its reproducing or 2. increase the volume. Sounds silly, but its true. There are many other factors that go into making a subwoofer sound fast or slow (boomy or tight) but that divulges into system design. What’s important about this myth is that speed is an inappropriate concept of sound quality.
Quote:
One of the biggest myths about woofers is that 8’s and 10’s are “tighter” and “cleaner” than 15’s or 18’s. Nothing is really further from the truth. What tends to happen is that the smaller drivers have lower Q’s because manufactures tend to put large cones on smaller motors to increase SPL and sensitivity. Well unless the motor can compensate for the extra mass it has to push, then the Qts will not be the same as the smaller drivers the and ultimately the driver may not be suited for the same kinds of alignments and could ring too much and compromise the perceived sound quality. Having said that, high Qts drivers are not any less “tight” or “musical” than well damping drivers, it’s just they require larger boxes and less internal pressure to prevent ringing. All things equal, a well designed 18” woofer will sound louder with lower distortion than a well designed 12” or 10” woofer. Bigger is better, but its almost more expensive.

I would take a properly engineered 15, 18, or 21 inch sub anyway over a 10" or 12"..
post #8 of 49
I would not listen to any sales person. i would listen to the consumer and people that get down to the science behind the audio. I am assuming that all 5 of the sales people you talked to do not have any 15" subs and that they are trying to sell their 12's.
post #9 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post


I would take a properly engineered 15, 18, or 21 inch sub anyway over a 10" or 12"..

100% agreed
post #10 of 49
That's BS about the driver size. However, I wouldn't be surprised if there is some truth to it in the budget sub range, where the extra cost of the larger driver and the larger enclosure (which also costs more to ship) means that you get a cheaper quality driver in the larger sub than you would in some (not all) smaller subs at the same price. An 18" vs a 12" driver of the same quality does cost more money.

Still, you should avoid talking to brick and mortar store vendors when it comes to subs. They typically can't come close to competing on price/performance with subs from SVS, HSU, PSA, Rythmik and Outlaw. You generally would need to get at least 50% off MSRP on their subs to compete with the Internet sub vendors on price/performance.
post #11 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

That's BS about the driver size. However, I wouldn't be surprised if there is some truth to it in the budget sub range, where the extra cost of the larger driver and the larger enclosure (which also costs more to ship) means that you get a cheaper quality driver in the larger sub than you would in some (not all) smaller subs at the same price. An 18" vs a 12" driver of the same quality does cost more money.

Still, you should avoid talking to brick and mortar store vendors when it comes to subs. They typically can't come close to competing on price/performance with subs from SVS, HSU, PSA, Rythmik and Outlaw. You generally would need to get at least 50% off MSRP on their subs to compete with the Internet sub vendors on price/performance.

And let's be honest it is not really feasible for places like Best Buy to stock massive 15" and 18" (especially ported) subwoofers in their stores and ship them around the country. They are massive and heavy. They would much rather sell you an overpriced 10" subwoofer that takes up little shelf or storage space and costs a fraction to ship.
post #12 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pain Infliction View Post

I would not listen to any sales person. i would listen to the consumer and people that get down to the science behind the audio. I am assuming that all 5 of the sales people you talked to do not have any 15" subs and that they are trying to sell their 12's.

Correct...I think the largest Sub the shops sold were 12''. Some of them sold very expensive 12'' or dual 12''. The last one quoted me 6.5k for the dual 12'' sub they showed me while demoing a pair of 24k B&W speakers...just to show off. (WAY outside my 2k budget.)
post #13 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pain Infliction View Post

I would not listen to any sales person. i would listen to the consumer and people that get down to the science behind the audio. I am assuming that all 5 of the sales people you talked to do not have any 15" subs and that they are trying to sell their 12's.

They probably worked on commission and only sold for 100% full retail. Brings back old memories....rolleyes.gif
post #14 of 49
I went from a 12" sub to a Rythmik FV15. It was thump thump thump with the 12" and BOOM BOOM BOOM with the Rythmik. And it's a nice and tight BOOM. Let me guess..it was BB that told you that?!

Jeff
post #15 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

I discounted the advice the first 3 times I heard it...but the fourth time had me running here to ask the question. Given a 75/25 split on HT to Music...should I go with a more nimble "tight" 12''...or is all this just bunk?

One way of gauging the integrity of their claims is to see what kind of speaker wire they sell and recommend. High priced cable ought to set off your BS detector. Its true a heavy cone will sound sloppy if there isn't enough motor force to control it, but cone size is only one factor there. These manufacturers who specialize in subs like Hsu, Rythmik, Seaton, definitely aren't making rookie mistakes. Many times these small woofer audiophile subs that dealers recommend will have terrible distortion, I would definitely not be buying a over-priced, over-powered sealed 8", 10", or 12" from a company like Dynaudio, B&W, Rel, etc, just take a look at the distortion measurements from this so-called audiophile sub, and realize this is the kind of garbage many dealers are trying to push on you. That is not an atypical result from a small-cone sealed design that audiophiles love so much.
post #16 of 49
Ask these "sales" guys how a 15" driver can play a 25 Hz note "slower" than a 12" driver. A 25 Hz note is a wave that oscillates at the rate of 25 cycles per second. If the the 15" driver is oscillating at a "slower" rate, say 23 times per second, it's reproducing a different note. If the 12" driver is oscillating "faster" than 25 Hz, it's also playing a different note.

Ed Mullen had a great line about subs being fast or slow. He said, (and I paraphrase), "If a sub can reproduce a note, it is, by definition, "fast enough" to reproduce that note.

Craig
post #17 of 49
A quick comment to echo and collect a few key points...
  1. This topic is what I refer to as audiophile folklore. Coincidence does not equal causation. Many poor examples of large driver subwoofers on the retail market doesn't mean they have to perform badly. Just that too many design compromises are often made in the name of size, cost, or even from lack of design knowledge. There are most certainly poor sounding/performing subwoofers with >15" drivers, but it's not a direct fault of the woofer size.
  2. Any size subwoofer can be made to sound bad and salespeople prefer easier sales of smaller boxes, especially those which are either more expensive or which they can sell multiples of.
  3. Subwoofers which extend lower in frequency have a better chance of exciting and highlighting room modes causing strong peaks and dips in the response which make for poor subjective sound quality.
  4. In most cases, to maintain similar quality behavior, a larger driver will need a larger box and/or cost more in driver or amplifier to execute equally well.
post #18 of 49
Thread Starter 
Thanks Mark... that helps explain things to some extent.

"...salespeople prefer easier sales of smaller boxes, especially those which are either more expensive or which they can sell multiples of."

You would think out of the 7-8 "high end" speaker show rooms I have been to in the last two months that one of them would be selling the "big boys". They have 120k speakers for heaven's sake... No quad 18'' subs to wake up Budda though. The dual 12'' they have are well behaved and ...nice...but I want OMG head expload...crap I just cracked the front windows again bass. Especially if I am listening to a setup that costs over 100k...

The latest example is the show room I went to today... I really liked the speakers but the sales guy was intent on selling me a REL 12'' sub. Now I really liked the REL (although price/performance/value ratio was out of line for me) as it is with almost almost all the subs these stores seem to sell...it was a nice sub. It had some decent punch...but it didn't bring the boom stick of Jobe.

I could write this all off to the speaker show rooms not wanting to make the other tenants of near by business angry..but those speakers go REALLY load and the rooms are treated... I can understand Mark's point out wanting to sell multiple subs and the fact that they do have to move equiptment allot more than you would at home, BUT

In my limited experience ...at least 7/10 people looking for a HT 5.1/5.2 or 7.1/7.2 are bass fiends from Hades and want to feel the earth move 5 miles down the road at Dairy Queen when they run out for a bite. (Of course 9/10 statistics are made up smile.gif )

Cashier at the Dairy Queen 5 miles from my house... " Wow...this is the 5th earthquake this week. Maybe dooms day is coming in 2013?"
Me (at least in my Dreams) "Neah...I got hungry and left my Home Theater on again. Sorry about that.?"
Me (thinking to myself) ..."Bass feels a little light next to the soad machine here. Wonder how if I can go 5.4 somehow..."
Cashier, "Sir, why are you crawling on the floor?"
Me @ Home, "Honey, with two more subs we can make any dirt on the floor jump out of the house! Think of all the time you will save without having to vaccum any more."
Edited by Newbie01 - 2/9/13 at 11:21pm
post #19 of 49
^Seems like you want to buy a 12" sub or subs. There's nothing wrong with that. I've owned a couple 12" subs and now own a couple 15" subs and can't see myself going back for any reason. Pick whatever you feel is right for you. You don't have to justify your purchase to anyone but yourself.
post #20 of 49
They're are plenty of >12" "high end" subs sold at brick and mortar stores. Either sales guys aren't showing you what they have or are pulling your leg.

For example:

JL Audio F113 and Gotham G213 use 13'5" drivers.
Revel's new Rythm2 $10k uber-sub uses an 18: driver.
Velodyne DD18+ and DD15+ have 18" and 15" drivers, respectively, and their 1812 has a 12" and an 18" driver in one cabinet.
Wilson Thor's Hammer with dual 15" drivers.
Focal Sub Utopia EM with a 13.5" driver.
Paradigm Sub 15 has a 15" driver.
KEF's top of the line Reference 209 uses an 18" driver.
JBL Synthesis S15EX confusingly has "15" in the title but an 18" driver.
Wisdom Audio's top of the line STS sub uses dual 15" drivers.
Pro Audio Technology (very high end custom install stuff) have their LFC-15sm, LFC-18sm, and LFC-21sm with 15", 18", and 21" drivers, respectively.


Even in the (ultra) high end 2 channel speaker world you see 15" drivers used in full range towers. For example the stunning Rockport Arrakis have 2 x 15" per tower, and cost a whopping $165k. Plus, they don't sound half bad either. Neither do the Wilson Audio Alexandria XLF which uses a 13" and a 15" driver in each tower. And the JBL Everest DD66000 also comes packing dual 15" drivers per speaker.

These brands consist some of the very tippity top of the high end, in engineering, cost, and reputation, with up to an almost unlimited budget, and use >12" drivers. If sales guys are giving you some old-wives tales about 15"+ drivers being slow, and high end not using them, ask them why do these brands/engineering houses use them in their highest end offerings?

(*This post intentionally ignored several of the best subs and drivers out there as I was concentrating on just brick and mortar stores and "commercial," pre-built subs. ID vendors such as Seaton, JTR, SVS, Funk, Rythmik, PSA, and Hsu all make great systems with larger than 12" drivers. Additionally DIY options abound with amazing drivers such as the TC LMS-5400 and the RE XXX18D2. No slight was intended to any makers or owners of these and other fine subs, but I had to stop the list somewhere.)
post #21 of 49
i've always been a fan of big cones...and think the trend of smaller woofers has made a lot of modern speakers have wimpy bass. Remember when any self respecting set of rock and roll speakers had 15s or at least 12s? They try to make up for this with multiple smaller woofers...but many times come up short. My experience has been that regardless of having a good sub, the more competant the mains are at bass, the better your system will sound.
And to make that happen takes cone area
post #22 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by vitaminbass View Post

And to make that happen takes cone area
To make that happen requires cone displacement, not area. One can get exactly the same results with some tens as with some eighteens. The main reason for using a larger driver is that they're the less expensive alternative to realize a given displacement.
post #23 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

To make that happen requires cone displacement, not area. One can get exactly the same results with some tens as with some eighteens. The main reason for using a larger driver is that they're the less expensive alternative to realize a given displacement.

true, I mis spoke. So when these same drivers are also responsbile for higher frequencies (say 300 hz for example), is there any advantage to a larger cone with less excursion vs. a small driver with huge excursion? Speaking generally of course...
post #24 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by vitaminbass View Post

true, I mis spoke. So when these same drivers are also responsbile for higher frequencies (say 300 hz for example), is there any advantage to a larger cone with less excursion vs. a small driver with huge excursion? Speaking generally of course...
Dispersion is inversely proportional to the size of the cone, so as you go higher in frequency at some point you must use a smaller cone to avoid beaming. That, not response, is the main reason why midranges are smaller than woofers, and tweeters smaller than woofers. Drivers configured to work well down low don't have as good response up high as drivers configured to work well up high, but in most cases it's the dispersion issue that determines how high a driver can run, not response. The classic criteria for how high to run a driver is to where the 30 degree off-axis response dips by no more than -6dB from axial response.
post #25 of 49
Any time I here this type of comments from a salesman I start to think I'm also about to hear the "Monster Cable" agruement from him too!rolleyes.gif
post #26 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbrown15 View Post

Any time I here this type of comments from a salesman I start to think I'm also about to hear the "Monster Cable" agruement from him too!rolleyes.gif

Lol...one of them did try to sell me a very special power cord that cost only $125 for 6 ft.
post #27 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

Lol...one of them did try to sell me a very special power cord that cost only $125 for 6 ft.
They exist for 100 times that amount, so by that criteria I guess you could call those cheap. rolleyes.gif
post #28 of 49
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

They exist for 100 times that amount, so by that criteria I guess you could call those cheap. rolleyes.gif

I know this is off topic...but any "truth" to these cords? Would running your power through a 100 IPS "clean" the power in the same way these supposedly do?
post #29 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

I know this is off topic...but any "truth" to these cords?
None whatsoever.
Quote:
Would running your power through a 100 IPS "clean" the power in the same way these supposedly do?
Power conditioners are also unadulterated snake oil. All the 'conditioning' your power needs is done by the power supplies in your gear.
post #30 of 49
Quote:
Originally Posted by Newbie01 View Post

I know this is off topic...but any "truth" to these cords? Would running your power through a 100 IPS "clean" the power in the same way these supposedly do?

Here is the world's best power cord:

Presenting... The Magic Mushroom Power Cord from Coconut Audio:



The list price is $38,000, but the introductory special price is just $7,600!
Quote:
Magic Mushroom power 7m

Designed for: Everything.

Magic Mushroom is liquid smooth, neutral, uncolored and powerful while being laid-back and enjoyable.

Magic Mushroom takes White Beach to a higher level. The bass is bigger, fuller and more powerful, but it's still quicker and more textured with more information! It's also calmer and more laid-back which reduces listening fatigue.

Magic Mushroom uses our 3-stage Astral crystal formula, it will lift you up into a relaxing out of body state so you can enjoy music like never before.

Order yours today!!!

http://www.coconut-audio.com/rattlesnake/power.htm

Craig
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