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post #1 of 38 Old 08-25-2014, 08:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Best Sub for Music under $900

Hi all,

I'm looking for sub recommendations to replace the Polk PSW505 in my nearfield 2.1 desktop setup. My speakers are the Gallo Strada II and I would like acquire a sub that can keep with them up it terms of speed and accuracy. Room volume is about 1200 ft^3 and is typically closed off. As noted in the title, my max budget is $900, but I would actually prefer to spend only around $600. My main considerations are sound quality and bang for buck value. I would like a sub that is punchy and has a nice mid/upper? bass thump, but I don't need something that rattles my 5h1t. In fact, I prefer to listen at low volumes since this less fatiguing when sitting next to the speakers and less disturbing to other people in the house, so, if possible, I'd like to have a sub that can produce a satisfying and palatable bass at "late night listening" volume. While the sub will be basically used for 100% music, I wouldn't be opposed to purchasing something capable of more output, in the case that I relocate to a larger room or decide to also use my setup for HT.

Originally, I was pretty much set on getting one of the outlet SB12-NSD since SVS seems to be universally recommended and has a stellar warranty, however it turns out that SVS charges tax in my state, bringing the price of the SB12-NSD up to that of the Rythmic LV12R, which is supposed to be "audiophile". Additionally, for $200 more, I can buy the PSA XS15se, which reportedly is good for music and comparable to more expensive SVS models. So, as of right now, I am officially confused since I have no idea how these subs compare strictly in terms of music performance or if there are other alternatives that I should be looking at.

Last option for me would be to DIY one of the higher end Rythmic direct servo models, if they really are that great for music that is, but I'm rather time constrained at the moment, so this will probably not happen unless there is a complete kit available that only requires a quick assembly. Considerations such as size or WAF aren't important, but I plan to put the sub against the wall, so a rear ported sub may be a problem.

Thanks in advance for advice/suggestions.
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post #2 of 38 Old 08-25-2014, 11:15 AM
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My experience from ages ago was that servo designs worked best for me and my Magnepans. Rythmik would be my choice. Not to say others aren't great choices as well, a well-designed sub with a good amp is fine, just my preference. The ancient rule of thumb is that sealed exhibited less distortion and ringing than ported, but the servo takes care of that, and in any event there are too many variables for me to ever treat that as gospel.

That is not a large room; an F12 would work well though is a little over your budget.

FWIFM - Don

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #3 of 38 Old 08-25-2014, 01:33 PM
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I'd take a look at roger sound labs (RSL) "speed woofer" as they call it. Quite a few user reviews on his site toting its musical abilties.
Also the NHT 12" sub is a nice tight sealed design with good output in the musical range of frequencies.
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post #4 of 38 Old 08-25-2014, 04:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post
My experience from ages ago was that servo designs worked best for me and my Magnepans. Rythmik would be my choice. Not to say others aren't great choices as well, a well-designed sub with a good amp is fine, just my preference. The ancient rule of thumb is that sealed exhibited less distortion and ringing than ported, but the servo takes care of that, and in any event there are too many variables for me to ever treat that as gospel.

That is not a large room; an F12 would work well though is a little over your budget.

FWIFM - Don
tnx for your input. How good is the Rythmic at low volumes? I'm not opposed to going with Rhythmic, but there seems to be so many quality options available at the $600-$900 range right now I'm not really sure which one to go with. #firstworldproblems

For example, the new se (Eminence Lab 15) driver that PSA is using is supposedly similar to those used in Seaton and JBL subs, so I can't imagine that I would be disappointed with the XS15se in terms of sound quality, but I'm trying to determine if there is anything better for the money available, or of equal sound quality for less.

By the way, the I can actually buy the F12 with A370PEQ3 for $874 right now, which is within the upper limits of my $900 budget. However, to be honest, I'm kinda of uncomfortable of dropping that kind of money on a sub unless it comes with SVS or PSA level warranty and customer service. Also this whole direct servo technology seems a bit gimmicky to me, but if there is a Rythmic kit of this sub available to be assembled for less $$$ then I wouldn't mind going that route.
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post #5 of 38 Old 08-25-2014, 05:04 PM
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+ for the F12. I have two F12SE in a 2700 cf room and they are amazing for both music and movies but especially for music. Also you can get the DS1200 CI Kit with A370PEQ3 amp for $599 and build your own box according to the plans we use for the F12. The only things you need to buy are the materials to build the box.

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Media Room: Sierra Towers w/RAAL, Horizon w/RAAL, Sierra 2s & Lunas | Rythmik F12SE(x2) + FV25HP | Denon X6500H | Panny 820 + ATV 4K | Bluesound Node 2 | 92" Stewart ST100 | Sony VW295ES |
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post #6 of 38 Old 08-25-2014, 05:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by enricoclaudio View Post
+ for the F12. I have two F12SE in a 2700 cf room and they are amazing for both music and movies but especially for music. Also you can get the DS1200 CI Kit with A370PEQ3 amp for $599 and build your own box according to the plans we use for the F12. The only things you need to buy are the materials to build the box.
kewl. Unfortunately I don't really have the time to build an enclosure right now. Does the F12 offer any sound quality advantages over the LV12R strictly for music? Also, can the the rear port of the LV12R be plugged/ converted into a sealed sub? My sub would sit directly against the wall, so I don't know if this would be a problem.

If I decide to DIY, would getting the DS1500 CI or a higher powered amp offer any sound quality advantages? Again strictly for music. I guess if I were to buy something right now I would get LV12R, however I find the PSA XS15se really tempting since it uses a driver that is supposedly similar to those used in much more expensive higher end subs, offers excellent warranty, and seems to be pretty much future proof for my purposes. I just don't know if it is the best option for music.

P.S. you have a really nice multimedia room setup. I was tempted to score some Polks when they were having a 50% off sale last year. Does having the isolation pad under your subs offer any improvement? I was thinking of getting one since I do a lot of late night low volume listening.

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post #7 of 38 Old 08-25-2014, 05:50 PM
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Yes, the F12 is for sure more accurate than the LV12R. Also anything ported in that size of room you have is not what I would recommend and it could be even overkill. The DS1501 CI Kit with A370PEQ3 amp will give you +2dB more output than the DS1200 CI Kit but same sound quality. But like I said before anything bigger than the F12 could be overkill due the size of your room and the speakers you have.

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Media Room: Sierra Towers w/RAAL, Horizon w/RAAL, Sierra 2s & Lunas | Rythmik F12SE(x2) + FV25HP | Denon X6500H | Panny 820 + ATV 4K | Bluesound Node 2 | 92" Stewart ST100 | Sony VW295ES |
Desktop: Dynaudio BM5 mkIII | Rythmik L22 | Apogee Quartet | 27" iMac| Bedroom: B&W 685 S2 | Rythmik LVX12 | Marantz SR6013 | Sony X700 + ATV 4K | Sony XBR-65Z9D |
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post #8 of 38 Old 08-25-2014, 06:27 PM
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  • Servo control is not a gimmick. It is based upon sound engineering principles, and most high-end subwoofers use some sort of feedback (servo) circuit to reduce distortion. For that matter, most active electronics use feedback to improve performance and reduce sensitivity to process and environmental variations.
  • I was looking at subs in the $3k to $5k range before stumbling upon Rythmik, and now a pair of F12's grace my room. I tend to shoot for quality and value and Rythmik provides that. A sub is not something you will likely upgrade anytime soon.
  • I selected for music though mine serves in a multipurpose HT system. With low-distortion planer dynamic speakers and a heavy interest in music (see e.g. www.pikespeakphil.org, I'm listed with the musicians under trumpets) excellent musical performance was a key goal for me.
  • Check out the Rythmik thread for info about Rythmik's customer service. Brian, owner and designer, has his heart and soul in the business. Rythmik does have an A+ BBB rating.

That said, if you are more comfortable with SVS, by all means go for it. By all accounts a great product and I am sure you'll be happy with one. Still, I'll keep my Rythmik's...

All IME, HTH - Don

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley

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post #9 of 38 Old 08-25-2014, 08:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post
  • Servo control is not a gimmick. It is based upon sound engineering principles, and most high-end subwoofers use some sort of feedback (servo) circuit to reduce distortion. For that matter, most active electronics use feedback to improve performance and reduce sensitivity to process and environmental variations.
Thanks for clarifying, Don. It's just anytime I see the word "audiophile" as one of the first things in a product's description, the back of my mind screams: "snake oil". I guess I'm just cynical like that.


Could you answer my earlier question about how well the Rhythmics perform at low volume? That is, do they need to be played loud in order to enjoy the musical bass that you are describing?
Also, I'm delighted to hear that the Rhythmic sub is one that integrates well with your Maggies. This is something that I'm looking for, as well. Can you tell me what are your crossover settings and if you employ any room correction software?
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post #10 of 38 Old 08-25-2014, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by enricoclaudio View Post
Yes, the F12 is for sure more accurate than the LV12R. Also anything ported in that size of room you have is not what I would recommend and it could be even overkill. The DS1501 CI Kit with A370PEQ3 amp will give you +2dB more output than the DS1200 CI Kit but same sound quality. But like I said before anything bigger than the F12 could be overkill due the size of your room and the speakers you have.
ok good to know. It's just that if go DIY the 15" driver is only $20 more than the 12", so I might as well get the 15", in the case I relocate my setup to a larger room. Would you happen to know if there are any enclosures available that can be used with the Rhythmic kits (or can be slightly modified to fit)? Preferably for under $100? If not how much should I expect to spend for the materials? Are they available at Home Depot or the like?

Also, how much better would you say the F12 is over the LV12R? Because I'm sure at this point all the subs that I am considering will be a significant upgrade over my Polk but I am not sure that I am ready to part with $1K for a speaker that will primarily only be reproducing the 40-80Hz frequency range (for music, that is).

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post #11 of 38 Old 08-26-2014, 01:46 AM
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post #12 of 38 Old 08-26-2014, 02:04 AM
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I'd take a look at roger sound labs (RSL) "speed woofer" as they call it. Quite a few user reviews on his site toting its musical abilties.
Also the NHT 12" sub is a nice tight sealed design with good output in the musical range of frequencies.
Sound and Vision did a sub-test some time back and I remember
NHT getting high marks for it's performance with music. I think you can still find the testing on Sound and Vision's web site.

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post #13 of 38 Old 08-26-2014, 02:21 AM
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I have an lv12r paired with sierra 2's, and absolutely love it.
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post #14 of 38 Old 08-26-2014, 02:34 AM - Thread Starter
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not really interest in hsu since I have to pay $100 shipping. Redonkulus. Would rather put the extra $$$ toward a better sub.
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post #15 of 38 Old 08-26-2014, 02:37 AM - Thread Starter
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I have an lv12r paired with sierra 2's, and absolutely love it.
That's great to hear, I know the sierrra 2's are highly regarded for their sound quality. Could you elaborate what exactly you like about this sub? Have you contemplated upgrading to a sealed or higher end sub? How fares it at lower volumes?
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post #16 of 38 Old 08-26-2014, 02:41 AM - Thread Starter
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I'd take a look at roger sound labs (RSL) "speed woofer" as they call it. Quite a few user reviews on his site toting its musical abilties.
Also the NHT 12" sub is a nice tight sealed design with good output in the musical range of frequencies.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tenthplanet View Post
Sound and Vision did a sub-test some time back and I remember
NHT getting high marks for it's performance with music. I think you can still find the testing on Sound and Vision's web site.
Before I start looking more into the RLS and NHT, do you guys know if they are in the same league as the Rythmik F12 or worse?
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post #17 of 38 Old 08-26-2014, 04:08 AM
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If I remember correctly , the NHT was compared against ported models so not exactly fair. NHT makes good stuff, but their subs are overpriced IMO. In this price range, Rythmik would be high on my list.

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post #18 of 38 Old 08-26-2014, 06:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Another point of interest is that the Gallo Stradas like to be crossed over high, at 120Hz. Will all the suggested subs be able to accommodate this?
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post #19 of 38 Old 08-26-2014, 09:33 AM
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Another point of interest is that the Gallo Stradas like to be crossed over high, at 120Hz. Will all the suggested subs be able to accommodate this?
Most will, but then sub placement becomes more critical of course. Like having to place the sub between the LR in order to minimize localization if you are sensitive to it.

As for which sub, you can't go wrong with the Rythmik. The SVS SB2000 and the PSAXS15se are also solid choices with no risk trial periods.

I only mentioned the other subs as an alternative for you to check out. I believe they also have no risk trial periods. I know RSL does.

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post #20 of 38 Old 08-26-2014, 09:56 AM
 
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not really interest in hsu since I have to pay $100 shipping. Redonkulus. Would rather put the extra $$$ toward a better sub.
All of these sub manufacturers charge for shipping. Any of them who say they don't is lying. If you believe them you have been duped by a thin marketing tactic. No one ships a large 100 lbs box for free.
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post #21 of 38 Old 08-26-2014, 10:47 AM
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[/LIST]Thanks for clarifying, Don. It's just anytime I see the word "audiophile" as one of the first things in a product's description, the back of my mind screams: "snake oil". I guess I'm just cynical like that.


Could you answer my earlier question about how well the Rhythmics perform at low volume? That is, do they need to be played loud in order to enjoy the musical bass that you are describing?

Also, I'm delighted to hear that the Rhythmic sub is one that integrates well with your Maggies. This is something that I'm looking for, as well. Can you tell me what are your crossover settings and if you employ any room correction software?
NP.

I don't know how to answer the question about low volume. Any amplifier/sub should have better performance in terms of distortion at lower volume. However, our hearing is much less sensitive to bass frequencies and so higher volumes are typical. Look up (Google) Fletcher-Munson Loudness Curves. That is an issue with us humanoids, nothing to do with any particular sub. Many people turn up the sub trim level, or volume knob on the sub, after running any room EQ program to provide a little more bass. Chances are you will do that no matter what sub you get. The Rythmik will probably still play cleaner as the servo loop compensates for distortion, thermal compression, etc. At least until everything falls apart...

I am not sure my crossover settings would help you since we have very different speakers and systems. I use an active (analog) crossover set to around 50 - 60 Hz (forget exactly where I finally set it after all the measuring and listening was done). The subs are in parallel with the mains (L/R speakers) so to the AVR they are "large" and there is no sub used. the chain is AVR -> crossover -> speaker, sub power amps. My AVR (that one, one of several around the house) is a Pioneer SC-27 and I use MCACC, with a number of settings tweaked manually to optimize the response based upon measurements and listening. The measurements used an earthworks measurement mic, inexpensive preamp/USB interface, and R+D software running on an old laptop. The mic's worth more than the rest combined...

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post #22 of 38 Old 10-29-2014, 09:25 PM
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All of these sub manufacturers charge for shipping. Any of them who say they don't is lying. If you believe them you have been duped by a thin marketing tactic. No one ships a large 100 lbs box for free.
RSL does not charge for shipping and if you do not like it they will pay the return shipping as well. I know I kept mine and have been thoroughly enjoying it since...so have my neighbors!

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post #23 of 38 Old 10-30-2014, 05:42 AM
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^^^ The point was that you the consumer are paying for shipping one way or another, either explicitly as a S&H charge or implicitly in the price of the sub.

Blasting the neighbors with bass is not something I would be proud of, it is something I would try to fix.
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post #24 of 38 Old 10-30-2014, 05:59 AM
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RSL does not charge for shipping and if you do not like it they will pay the return shipping as well. I know I kept mine and have been thoroughly enjoying it since...so have my neighbors!
You paid for your sub to be shipped to you, included in the total price rather than being listed separately. You also paid a little bit of extra shipping to help cover the cost of those who did not keep their subs, as that is a part of the companies total shipping cost. So, although you think you did not pay shipping, you actually paid for your shipping, and for someone who sent theirs back. I am sure they appreciate it.

On another note, I saw mentioned in here somewhere about the old rule of thumb about sealed being better for music than ported, due to such things as ringing, etc. I disagree. Do ported subs tend to have ringing around port tune? Yes. Are any subs ported at 60Hz where the ringing would affect music? None that I know of.

Now, if you want the sub ONLY for music, is there any real reason to go ported? Not in my opinion. You will be paying more money for a larger cab, more expensive shipping, etc, for the benefit of higher output around 20 Hz, which is what is desired for movies. Sticking with sealed reduces the cost and size of the sub, but, in my opinion, does not offer any inherent sound quality advantage for music.
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post #25 of 38 Old 10-30-2014, 06:55 AM
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Agreed with the above. You pay for shipping one way or another. The nice thing about the shipping being included in the price is you know exactly what you are paying. Much more convenient then having to add the sub to cart and go through the calculate shipping routine to figure out the total cost.
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post #26 of 38 Old 10-30-2014, 07:40 AM
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I'm not sure if the OP has a made a purchase or anything yet, but I will say that it depends of the type of music you are listening to and how you listen to music. The Rythmik is very clean, but in terms music to me it doesn't replicate a live sound of a kick drum.

I have an F15 and you may see me post something soon as I love the sub for movies and gaming, but I think I like the ported sound for music. So for music to me it is something you will need to listen to loud to enjoy.
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post #27 of 38 Old 10-30-2014, 11:12 AM
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Hmmm... To me, ideally there would be no sonic difference between sealed and ported. What is "the ported sound"?

My F12's reproduce kick drums just fine, and way better than some of my other subs.

I think you are discussing preference, in which case a little EQ would probably give you extra mid-bass "thump" for drums.

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post #28 of 38 Old 10-30-2014, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post
Hmmm... To me, ideally there would be no sonic difference between sealed and ported. What is "the ported sound"?
Agree 100%... there isn't any difference between well-designed, sealed and ported subwoofers when playing music. Depending on room acoustics, each design involves a different level of effort when setting-up/calibrating, time-phase aligning with the mains, etc.

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post #29 of 38 Old 10-30-2014, 12:29 PM
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I guess I'll take a different perspective.

Including one-way shipping charges on a purchase of a subwoofer (or whatever) over adding the shipping charge separately is a marketing decision (lie is not a word I'd use), and a smart one at that. If you are one of a few that happens to live close enough to the I.D. company that charges for shipping (such as Hsu Research -- I live 12 miles away), and you can pick the subwoofer up, that turns out to be a real bonus and leaves money in your pocket. You won't usually get that with an I.D. company where the shipping charge is included. Edit: Perhaps you do. Tom at PSA indicated he does indeed give the buyer shipping costs.

That being said, both SVS and PSA has added in the return shipping cost and did so without raising prices. SVS did so a year ago last May, while PSA began doing this for a limited time on certain products earlier this year (that limited time has long since passed). A lie? No, both companies felt it made good business sense and this decision has no doubt helped increase sales. I'm sure it has also added to their expenses, but not to the point they seem ready to change their policies.

As far as the old debate of ported vs sealed, all I can say is that subwoofers will perform (or sound) differently. This is pretty obvious to everyone here, even for subwoofers that are priced similarly or considered top, or near top, of the line. Anyone who has auditioned subwoofers in their home should have no problem distinguishing these differences, especially with music. The differences may be subtle or may be night and day (depends upon the music). If I can hear a difference between three sealed subs, I'm pretty sure I'd be able to hear the difference between three ported subs. Now, if you were to ask me which sub was sealed and which was ported, I may not be able to tell you without looking. What I could tell you is the subwoofer I felt was better for music and which subwoofer I felt was better for movies. No special gift. Everyone has this ability and everyone uses this ability in their decision. It's called auditioning, and that is precisely why we do it.
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Last edited by dsrussell; 10-30-2014 at 11:27 PM.
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post #30 of 38 Old 10-30-2014, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsrussell View Post
I guess I'll take a different perspective.

Including one-way shipping charges on a purchase of a subwoofer (or whatever) over adding the shipping charge separately is a marketing decision (lie is not a word I'd use), and a smart one at that. If you are one of a few that happens to live close enough to the I.D. company that charges for shipping (such as Hsu Research -- I live 12 miles away), and you can pick the subwoofer up, that turns out to be a real bonus and leaves money in your pocket. You won't usually get that with an I.D. company where the shipping charge is included.

That being said, both SVS and PSA has added in the return shipping cost and did so without raising prices. SVS did so a year ago last May, while PSA began doing this for a limited time on certain products earlier this year (that limited time has long since passed). A lie? No, both companies felt it made good business sense and this decision has no doubt helped increase sales. I'm sure it has also added to their expenses, but not to the point they seem ready to change their policies.
sure, but the prices still have to capture, or repay, or somehow account for the shipping costs. The idea that "we lose a little on every item but make it up in volume" is how to go out of business. Their profit remains acceptable with the way they have chosen to bury the shipping and return costs in the initial price. Not a bad business decision, if it works, but not, in any real sense of the word, "free" shipping. I haven't found any shipper, even the USPS, that will deliver stuff for free . . . . And I am confident that no internet direct sub manufacturer owns its own shipping company that is so flush with cash that they can choose not to chareg themselves to ship their own subs.

and ftr, I am attracted by the shipping included prices, but as a rational buyer, have to look into the real cost delta when I pay the shipping cost, and assess whether the difference is made up for by more efficient manufacturing, higher total units, or cheaper initial cost (ultimately, worse materials) . . . . Let the circus attendee beware, sez Mr. Barnum.
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