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Why you have to listen to subwoofers ...

post #1 of 54
Thread Starter 
We just got the SVS PB12-NSD in, so I put it in the our basement theater, calibrated it and the PB12-Ultra (separately), and fired up Steely Dan's Two Against Nature DVD/A.

The PB12-NSD sounded very good .. good bass, very deep. Everything was as it should be.

Then I switched to the Ultra (in its 20 Hz tuning)... and there was an IMMEDIATE improvement. The bass was more visceral, tighter, and it seemed a bit louder, even though both were level matched.

I had the TrueRTA running, and both were delivering similar response curves ... and neither was near its max output - we were seeing 95 dB peaks in room.

IT was a fun listening session, for sure.
post #2 of 54
Now see if there is an even more pronounced difference when the port/s kick in.
post #3 of 54
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ransac View Post

Now see if there is an even more pronounced difference when the port/s kick in.

That is in the plans, for sure. It will be at least another week before the Hsu pair arrives, so I am taking the time to compare the Ultra, NSD, and the Fathom 112.

Subs like the NSD are good enough, especially in a more typical room like the basement theater, to give credence to the guys who have these $600 level subs and wonder: "What could I POSSIBLY be missing?"
post #4 of 54
Craig,
I experienced similar results when comparing the Ultra/2 to the Plus/2. The Ultra/2 proved superior during the listening test.
post #5 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by craigsub View Post

"What could I POSSIBLY be missing?"

This is why I went to RMK!s to hear the DD18 and F113. It did answer the question as far as music was concerned and made me start to question what my next upgrade might be. Last night, I watched LOTR-ROTK on my +/2 and it made me realize that, for HT, I am not lacking for anything. Of course, an upgrade is inevitable. Since I am 99.9% HT, I do know now that I don't have to look only at sealed subs. As you said, this is why we need to listen for ourselves.
post #6 of 54
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Static Wick View Post

Craig,
I experienced similar results when comparing the Ultra/2 to the Plus/2. The Ultra/2 proved superior during the listening test.

I had gone from selling the Plus to getting the Ultra several months later ... this was my first instant A/B between different SVS.

It will be fun to have these $430 to $650 subs compared to the Ultra and Fathom.
post #7 of 54
Quote:


It will be fun to have these $430 to $650 subs compared to the Ultra and Fathom.

I can't wait.

We've seen that output measurements and response curves using pink noise and test tones only show you part of the picture when it comes to articulate bass / sound quality. Does pink noise really represent a stressful test for >$500 subs? It's certainly useful for showing what output the sub can produce at different frequencies, and whether it can produce a relatively linear response with test tones, but does it tell us anything beyond that? Do you think another test might exist that could objectively quantify these quality differences? Perhaps a test in a different time domain, or a test with different notes, low, mid, and high in fast sequence?

When comparing subwoofers, you sometimes hear significant differences in a scene with a machine gun or helicopter rotor, so I am curious whether there might be some way to quantify that difference in an objective measurement. Perhaps one could use a music or film scene selection where you see a lot of difference between the sound quality of different subwoofers and take a response curve on that? And then use the response curve from the subwoofer subjectively determined to be the best in SQ as the baseline by which to judge others?
post #8 of 54
Hear and feeling these effects is irrelevant it all depends on modern day mixing techniques.
post #9 of 54
Quote:


Originally Posted by bfdtv

When comparing subwoofers, you sometimes hear significant differences in a scene with a machine gun or helicopter rotor, so I am just wondering if there would be some way to quantify that difference in an objective measurement. Perhaps one could use a music or film scene selection where you see a lot of difference between the sound quality of different subwoofers and take a response curve on that? And then use the response curve from the subwoofer subjectively determined to be the best in SQ as the baseline to compare others?

I think you make an excellent and often over looked point here. There is simply no questioning the value of good objective measurement. However, at least for me, objective measurement has been at best a guide and takes second place to listening.

Expanding on your example, I don't know the "sound signature" of various and different helicopters manufactured in the world. But I do know what various music instruments in a live performance sound like. So, if a speaker can reproduce reasonably accurate sounds of my music instrument reference, it will probably reproduce other types of sounds accurately too. In other words, the note middle C has a specific resonant frequency and can be measured and graphed quite easily. However, that same note will sound different when played on a piano vs. a saxophone at the same measured frequency.

I realise there maybe some "blue sky logic" here. But this logic caused me to buy the JL f113 the moment I heard it; before I saw any preformance numbers. For me the f113 sounded more "real". And I know full well that there are other subs out there with equal or better numbers.
post #10 of 54
Craig,

Great point,and too often overlooked,even in some audio mags who overlook the most important factor in audio SOUND QUALITY when it comes to subs.

Pure SPL is worthless if the quality is low.In this case the ISD sub has good quality but as you pointed the Ultra will simply sound clearly better. So the value of increases,as comparing an ISD woofer to a TV12 in output makes one wonder why the Ultra sub costs way more.


And here is where the Fathom subs kick in,quality above all,and output to more than match the price.
post #11 of 54
Craig,
I can't wait to hear more from you on your comparisons. I currently own the PB12-NSD and have 45 days to make a decision with it. I love it, the best sub I have ever owned but I do wonder to myself, am I missing something, can I get more?
post #12 of 54
IMO we can get a bit carried away with the objective data and miss the subjective side of things. When I read reviews not only do I analyse the data but also scrutinise the subjective side of the review. Where tracks from CD's are listed if I don't have this particular album, I sometimes buy it then compare my system to see in my mind if I can reproduce any of the magic that the reviewer is talking about.

Since getting more involved in the 2ch side of things, I now find reproducing the bottom end of the music spectrum very high on my agenda, as others have said not many of us know in real life what a lot of these bass blockbuster sounds should and do sound like, if it moves us and shakes us we are usually happy. However music is a completely different animal and live acoustic and electric reproduction is readily easy to listen to for a perspective of what these instruments should sound like when reproduced on our systems. (Taking the compressed dynamics of CD's out of the equation here)
post #13 of 54
Quote:
not many of us know in real life what a lot of these bass blockbuster sounds should and do sound like, if it moves us and shakes us we are usually happy. However music is a completely different animal and live acoustic and electric reproduction is readily easy to listen to for a perspective of what these instruments should sound like when reproduced on our systems. (Taking the compressed dynamics of CD's out of the equation here)

If you are buying "solely based" on who can create the loudest, deepest and most impact (on special effects) then "sure" objective data is all one needs for such a purchase. However some of us don't just want reference level special effects and we like to know that the subwoofer can reproduce those more subtle changes within the disk.

After many years of directly comparing, measuring and listening I find that music is the great divider in separating a good subwoofer from the pack. So many times I have seen subwoofers that measure very close to each other, yet after conducting direct listening tests I alway seem to find one "standout", at first mainly because it just sounds tighter and more neutral. But what really grabs my attention (using music as a reference) is that this preference exists because it is capable of reproducing those subtle tonality changes that exist within the soundtrack.

If you don't directly compare you have no point of reference and so what you are gaining ar missing out on is not at all evident. Then you have the guys who buy "solely" based on spec, hype and opinion (then justify their purchase by starting a praise thread up on an A/V forum). Most of these simply fall into the open the "new toy" WOW factor and have never seen "let alone heard" the competition. So like the blind leading the blind they will never know what the are missing out on. Its a lot like a relationship she may have the perfect figure and the perfect look (its great during the dating part) but marry it without knowing the full story and it "could cost you".

Ddavidson
post #14 of 54
Thread Starter 
The best part of this small thread is that (more) people (than ever) really ARE starting to understand the importance of listening.

This reminds me a lot of what happened in the late 70's, when "specmanship" hit its Zenith in receivers. Everyone was pushing for .00001 % THD ... Pioneer, Technics, Hitachi, Sansui ... etc ...

Then this little $200 Integrated from NAD rated @ 20 WPC started dusting all the Big Dog receivers when playing real music ... Maybe a few guys here will remember how good that little 3020 was...

Tomorrow night, I get to listen to live jazz at our country club. All our Jazz CD's will get a heckuva workout this weekend.
post #15 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by craigsub View Post

Tomorrow night, I get to listen to live jazz at our country club. All our Jazz CD's will get a heckuva workout this weekend.

Nice Craig, nothing like some live music to bring things back into perspective. Please give us some feedback of the night especially the bass reproduction.
post #16 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ddavidson View Post

After many years of directly comparing, measuring and listening I find that music is the great divider in separating a good subwoofer from the pack.

Ddavidson

I agree.

IMO get the bottom end right and the rest will fall into place much easier.
post #17 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheEAR View Post

Craig,

Great point,and too often overlooked,even in some audio mags who overlook the most important factor in audio SOUND QUALITY when it comes to subs.

The funny thing is that I can't think of a single magazine that do justice of providing a comprehensive measurement report on any sub they review. There are few that give some measurements but nothing in the league we see on the web by some enthusiasts, or a couple of online reviewers.
What we do get from printed media is nothing but subjective listening opinion, from people you've never met, don't readily know his bias, never been in his listening room, or familiar with many of his music choice. So would that be beneficial for anyone? Hell no!
The topic of this thread is "listen to subs yourself " which I agree completely with,
but if I had to choose between subjective review and objective measurements as to which is more valuable to me a prospective buyer? I would choose the later.
post #18 of 54
Quote:


Originally Posted by craigsub

Then this little $200 Integrated from NAD rated @ 20 WPC started dusting all the Big Dog receivers when playing real music ... Maybe a few guys here will remember how good that little 3020 was...

Yes it did, as well as the Naim Nait @ 12-15 WPC during this same time. The first watt is the most important argument; another topic...
post #19 of 54
please post pictures craig. thanks in advance
post #20 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by craigsub View Post

We just got the SVS PB12-NSD in, so I put it in the our basement theater, calibrated it and the PB12-Ultra (separately), and fired up Steely Dan's Two Against Nature DVD/A.

The PB12-NSD sounded very good .. good bass, very deep. Everything was as it should be.

Then I switched to the Ultra (in its 20 Hz tuning)... and there was an IMMEDIATE improvement. The bass was more visceral, tighter, and it seemed a bit louder, even though both were level matched.

I had the TrueRTA running, and both were delivering similar response curves ... and neither was near its max output - we were seeing 95 dB peaks in room.

IT was a fun listening session, for sure.

I'm curious what the waterfall chart shows where the music is hitting.Just wondering where the cutoff was on music.Seems like most ,like the Steely Dan DVD would be above 40hz.
I'm not sure if the lower tune even is an issue with most music.Interesting though.

Subjective and objective.....neither flys on it's own!

KG
post #21 of 54
A bit of an extreme example, but going from a high quality sub to a much lower quality sub makes this obvious. For instance, I recently sold my Mirage OM-200 which was a pretty decent sub in it's own right (albeit only having dual 8" drivers), but sounded amazing. I recently borrowed my brother's old Mirage PS-12(or whatever it was), which has a 12" driver powered by a small 90 or 180 watt amp in a decent sized enclosure. Could the 12" sub pound a few beats out? Yes, but talk about a one note wonder. Everything sounded "muddy" and I believe I can finally say I know what too much "THD" sounds like! I'm very familiar with the tank scene in Saving Private Ryan which with the OM200 you could feel the shaking and it really made you feel like you were there with the rocks crumbling underneath the tank, with the PS12 all it did was belt out sound. Compared to the OM-200 which was refined/tight/detailed, this sucker is just boomy. Music was even worse, I played some DTS tracks and there was so much of what I could only describe as overhang with deep drum notes it wasn't funny. The OM200 played these notes wonderfully, with quick response times and bass that stopped when it should.

Having said that, I agree with the hun when he says:

Quote:


but if I had to choose between subjective review and objective measurments as to which is more valuable to me a prospective buyer? I would choose the latter.

Will two subs with similar measurements sound the same? No, but then, just because one person likes the sound of sub A versus sub B, doesn't mean the next person won't like the sound of sub B.

However, detailed "objective" measurements that can be repeated provide the only relatively unbiased info on the web (again, assuming one can rely on the reviewer's methodology).

At the end of the day, unfortunately, most of us don't have the luxury of getting all the subs we want to listen to in our rooms (without potentially incurring multiple shipping costs to return them). Case in point, I'd love to listen to the HO in my room, but at a $300 shipping/brokerage/duty cost to and from it's not that easy should I decide I prefer the sound of another sub (say an SVS or Paradigm or whatever) better! So we have no choice but to rely upon the few well written reviews out there and hope they are as objective as possible.


Actually, the more I think about it, my best option might be to make the 5 hour drive from Toronto to The Ear's house and just listen to the 30 he has there!

Hey Ear, you charging admission?
post #22 of 54
I think this is why many of us are constantly upgrading subs, trying to get that perfect sound. If you're on a limited budget, the only way to listen to other subs in your home is to sell your old one and get a new one.

Personally, I think I'm good for the time being with my 22-31 Pci. For my room, it does just fine at the levels I listen at. But it is going to be much harder in my next home where I will have a dedicated room and such.
post #23 of 54
pbc,

No admission,just a PAY per LISTEN charge.

Seriously having subs from so many brands and price/quality levels is a major ace in the deck,a crazy luxury few have.



I read a few many posts where some will point to absurd gains from one sub to another,HT use is one place where accuracy falls to SPL and shake factor.As movie sound effects are there to wow the audience,accuracy...what accuracy? Fake explosions and celery braking(bone crunches) are no way to test a quality sub. Fake depth charges,the way the director wanted you to hear? Right,fake optimised and imagined ones.

Music,recorded from real acoustic instruments,not electronic is the only credible way to test audio gear. Testing with test tones and posting graphs is needed but above all it is in live recorded music.When you nail it right with real instruments and have a wide range(audible range) covered you are there.
post #24 of 54
Quote:


As movie sound effects are there to wow the audience,accuracy...what accuracy? Fake explosions and celery braking(bone crunches) are no way to test a quality sub. Fake depth charges,the way the director wanted you to hear? Right,fake optimised and imagined ones.

Music,recorded from real acoustic instruments,not electronic is the only credible way to test audio gear. Testing with test tones and posting graphs is needed but above all it is in live recorded music.When you nail it right with real instruments and have a wide range(audible range) covered you are there.

Absolutely.
Music listening is the only way to listen for the vast differences between many of these subwoofers. If you just want Spl bragging rights then there is no point listening for such differences. All this my house is falling down since I brought my new subwoofer, is of no important to those of us seeking to get the best out of our systems sound reproduction.

Ddavidson
post #25 of 54
Forums full of level headed people almost always tend to outperform with advice magazines and official "review" sites where people make a living on it.
When you know your passion and hobby you're often going to get more excited and involved than someone who thinks of it as "Work." Not to mention discussion and exchange of ideas.
post #26 of 54
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kgveteran View Post

I'm curious what the waterfall chart shows where the music is hitting.Just wondering where the cutoff was on music.Seems like most ,like the Steely Dan DVD would be above 40hz.
I'm not sure if the lower tune even is an issue with most music.Interesting though.

Subjective and objective.....neither flys on it's own!

KG

KG - The Two Against Nature Disc has bass down to the low 20's, and will often have bass in the low 20's and in the upper ranges at the same time. It is a great subwoofer test disc for both power and articulation. When the Hsu pair gets here, I will capture some TrueRTA graphs of each test sub on this disc.

I have taken about 200 RTA graphs on all these different listening tests - cataloging them and posting them is just too much space, but I will try to get a nice, representative sample.
post #27 of 54
Thread Starter 
As an update ... The PB12-NSD is definitely a cut above the PB10. The 12 plays with a more effortless ability, and is also more artiuculate. It hits deeper, and with a more visceral sense of power.

The $160 difference between these 2 subs is pretty well worth it, IMO.

I would LOVE to have some feedback from Ed on this, if he has had the chance to A-B these 2 subs.
post #28 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by ransac View Post

This is why I went to RMK!s to hear the DD18 and F113. It did answer the question as far as music was concerned and made me start to question what my next upgrade might be. Last night, I watched LOTR-ROTK on my +/2 and it made me realize that, for HT, I am not lacking for anything. Of course, an upgrade is inevitable. Since I am 99.9% HT, I do know now that I don't have to look only at sealed subs. As you said, this is why we need to listen for ourselves.

Do you remember when I forgot to turn on the sub for one of the demo chapters? It took a little bit before I recognized something was not right. That is because my speakers are capable of output into the 30Hz range. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but the performance of all of the speakers together is often overlooked here in subwoofer world. As much as I have come to enjoy the performance of a really good subwoofer in HT, I find it hard to separate HT and music due to the musical score being such a large part of films these days. IMHO, the most important thing is how the sub integrates with the rest of the system components. When upgrading, the performance of the entire audio system should be considered.
post #29 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheEAR View Post

pbc,

No admission,just a PAY per LISTEN charge.

Seriously having subs from so many brands and price/quality levels is a major ace in the deck,a crazy luxury few have.



I read a few many posts where some will point to absurd gains from one sub to another,HT use is one place where accuracy falls to SPL and shake factor.As movie sound effects are there to wow the audience,accuracy...what accuracy? Fake explosions and celery braking(bone crunches) are no way to test a quality sub. Fake depth charges,the way the director wanted you to hear? Right,fake optimised and imagined ones.

Music,recorded from real acoustic instruments,not electronic is the only credible way to test audio gear. Testing with test tones and posting graphs is needed but above all it is in live recorded music.When you nail it right with real instruments and have a wide range(audible range) covered you are there.

Yeah if it would be that simple. Listen to drums recorded on a variety recordings. You'll find that besides the sound of different brands and type of music say rock vs Jazz you also will encounter signature sound of certain producers or sound engineers. And then you have live vs recorded, all can sound very differently.
My point, to stick to music only in the name of accuracy is no more "objective" then comparing movie soundtracks.It is inherently different though I'll give you that.
post #30 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by craigsub View Post

As an update ... The PB12-NSD is definitely a cut above the PB10. The 12 plays with a more effortless ability, and is also more artiuculate. It hits deeper, and with a more visceral sense of power.

The $160 difference between these 2 subs is pretty well worth it, IMO.

I would LOVE to have some feedback from Ed on this, if he has had the chance to A-B these 2 subs.


Do you still own the PB10?
Where is Ed anyway?
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