Noobie trialing subwoofers...on to the next? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 19 Old 03-13-2015, 08:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Noobie trialing subwoofers...on to the next?

Hi everyone,

I thought I would share my 'journey' over the past month or so during my search for a sub because I think a lot of people can probably relate to this and possibly as a word of advice for other newbies looking for a sub. Bottom line, listen to people on this forum and don't cheap out! :P I also think it's kind of funny that I've trialed 8 subs in the past month...and while it has been frustrating at times, it's been a great learning experience.

1) Polk PSW108 - first reaction was wow! I have been missing out! This is awesome! And what a steal for $100. I'm set. Then the chuffing and fluttering slowly started to bother me more and more to the point where I thought, eff this, I want something better. Returned.

2) BIC RTR 12S - Paid $250. Arrived defective from Amazon. They refunded me but told me to keep it, the shippers wont accept "hazardous materials" back. So it's with a friend now who is trying to diagnose and fix.

3) Klipsch SW110B - Paid $450. Was very powerful compared to what I've tried so far, but sounded really muddy. I just wasn't digging it. And the price is ridiculous. I didn't feel that this sub was worth $450. Returned.

4) PSB subsonic II - Paid $100, got it used off kijiji. AWESOME. Loved it. Sound was just what I was looking for. Clean, tight bass, no chuffing, handled everything really well. Dug deeper than anything else I have tried (down to 28 Hz I think). The guy who sold it to me said it was 5 years old. Died on me in 2 weeks. So rattled. Oh well. $100 lost. Could be worse.

5) Precision Acoustics HD12S - On sale for $200. The 150 mystery watts (not specified anywhere if RMS or peak) made me wonder, but bought it anyways. Definitely peak. Way too weak. Returned.

6) Energy POWER12 - On sale for $230. The subsonic II was only 90W RMS and sounded amazing and powerful enough at 60% volume, so I wanted to see if this 12" 75W RMS sub would do the job. Wrong. Very weak. Very muddy, similar to the Klipsch. Returned.

7) Polk PSW125 - On sale for $200. Pretty loud and powerful, but was surprised that at 150RMS I needed to turn the volume knob to 3/4 the way up and the AVR at +9dB to get a decent thump. This is my favourite so far. Has the power when turned up, but I feel it sounds boomy and really craps the bed with the real low notes. Kind of disappointing that a 150W RMS sub only gets down to 32 Hz. It seems like a bigger version of the PSW110/108. I have had this for a little over a week and have watched quite a few movies. Debating whether or not to return it. Does the job mostly for when I watch movies....but I keep comparing it to the PSB I had. Its not nearly as clean sounding and chuffs if I'm listening to rap or dance music. Problem is...don't have much else to choose from!

I guess the search continues. Still up in the air. I wonder if this will just end up with me saving up the $600 for an SVS PB-1000. If the Polk DSW550 or 660 goes on sale ($550 right now) I think they would be great. They get down to 23 and 20 Hz I believe, respectively.

Considering buying the BIC F12 off Amazon for $300 but I am a bit gunshy with BIC after getting that defective sub. Also read quite a few reviews of people getting BIC subs with really low output from them. Then again the F12 seems popular here...

Thoughts?
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post #2 of 19 Old 03-13-2015, 09:27 PM
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On your #4 , the PSB Subsonic II, what died? Most likely the amp right?
Could you replace the onboard plate amp with a Dayton or Bash and get it up and working again?

Wondering if its the same thing with your #2 BIC RTR 12S... Since you were refunded you could replace the onboard plate amp or take it out, seal it up and power it with an external amp.


Since someone else is going to say it anyway, I'll be the first. Have you considered a DIY subwoofer build? For your most expensive at $450, and your proposed save $600 you could build a killer sub with a nice 18" driver, get deeper at 16hz, and have plenty of kick butt low end.
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post #3 of 19 Old 03-13-2015, 10:43 PM
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You can't tell if a sub is muddy unless you measured and it was optimally placed. You can put a good sub in a bad location. Also, some advance DSP and maybe PEQ should be used to setup a sub. You may need to do a little more reading.
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post #4 of 19 Old 03-14-2015, 03:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CinemaSound7 View Post
Problem is...don't have much else to choose from!
I wonder if this will just end up with me saving up the $600 for an SVS PB-1000.
Thoughts?
There is always DIY to save the day. 99% of people that go DIY never go back. Nuff said...

one of these: http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_i...seq=1&format=2
one of these: https://www.parts-express.com/neutri...mount--092-054
two of these: https://www.parts-express.com/neutri...mount--092-050 or one of these: https://www.parts-express.com/pyle-p...0-ft--248-4626
one of these: http://stereointegrity.com/product/ht18-18-subwoofer/
one of these: http://www.parts-express.com/behring...-dsp--248-6702

They have been measured and compete directly with SVS's $1600 offerings.
If you don't believe me, go here and see for yourself:
http://www.data-bass.com/systems

(If you wanna go with two 18's, then one of these and double the neutrik's: http://www.parts-express.com/behring...-dsp--248-6706)

tools:
one of these: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Ryobi-8-5...63GK/205179539
woodglue, clamps, screws, powered screwdriver, bits.

one or two of these: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Unbranded...000A/202332600

You don't need a saw. Home Depot will cut the wood for you, might cost an extra $7.
Just keep in mind that the saw blade will take up some width (1/8th inch typically.)
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post #5 of 19 Old 03-14-2015, 03:21 AM
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You'll have to stop cheaping-out and open the wallet a small amount. Otherwise you'll never get out of the situation of never finding a good sub.
Generally, subwoofers under $400 are FULL of compromises, there simply isn't enough budget to work with to solve the massive compromises in sound-quality and build-quality.

Low power, low thermal handling, low spl, high distortion. The list goes on.

It's because they are built by 8year-olds in China whom are strapped to a table and force to work for a bowl of rice a day. (or at least it feels that way...)

It's because in order to stay profitable, companies cut as many corners as possible; as much as they can get away with, stopping just-short of selling a Pet Rock to us.

If you've ever seen the How It's Made of subwoofers, it's basically 90% glue and 9% metal and 1% other-stuff. LOL!
and if they are too tired from malnourishment to add the proper amount of glue/solder that day, then your subwoofer falls apart (or catches on fire in your living room.)

DIY suffers the same fate, but at least you are putting together some of it, and can thus control the quality of the parts that goes in (somewhat...)
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post #6 of 19 Old 03-14-2015, 06:42 AM - Thread Starter
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@darknite9099 : Honestly, I don't know enough yet to determine what blew. I took my regular speaker wire to the woofer of the BIC and it was going (very slightly), so I am assuming something is wrong with the amp. However, when I turn it on, the "on" light is still on. I made a post in the DIY section regarding this, but caught up with other things and never followed through.

Regarding the PSB, same thing. However, I was less inclined to try and fix this one as the enclosure was really beat up and full of rust and dirt. I think I will keep the actual woofer and amp and toss the enclosure. It's compartmentalized and I don't think it will be easier to work with.

I will keep everything for the BIC I think and see if I can work with it.


@derrickdj1 : I moved the sub all around the room. Tried many different placements. I just wasn't digging the sound of the Klipsch. I'm sure many people love it, but I didn't. You are right though, I am still very new to everything, I know there can be a lot more on my end to figure out how to place a sub properly. Will keep reading


@BassThatHz : You know what...I am starting to think that a DIY sub could be cost effective, could produce a great sub, would be a fun project, and would be extremely satisfying in the end. The -30 degree weather is disappearing now, so I can actually get back into my garage...lol.

I am really starting to understand that for someone a step up from the average HT enthusiast, most of the crap at retailers here just won't cut it. But most of all, the cost/value of it all bugs me. I am sure if I drop $700 on a sub from BB I would be happy...but I am not willing to, just on the principle of it.

I was surprised to see how simple the BIC was when I opened it up looking for a loose connection. You're right lol, it's just wood, glue, some insulation, an amp, wires and the speaker.

So, if I were to dive into the DIY for a sub, I guess there is enough in the DIY section for FAQs to get me going? Any other recommendations for things to read or watch?
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post #7 of 19 Old 03-14-2015, 07:03 AM
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post #8 of 19 Old 03-14-2015, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CinemaSound7 View Post
@darknite9099 : Honestly, I don't know enough yet to determine what blew. I took my regular speaker wire to the woofer of the BIC and it was going (very slightly), so I am assuming something is wrong with the amp. However, when I turn it on, the "on" light is still on. I made a post in the DIY section regarding this, but caught up with other things and never followed through.

Regarding the PSB, same thing. However, I was less inclined to try and fix this one as the enclosure was really beat up and full of rust and dirt. I think I will keep the actual woofer and amp and toss the enclosure. It's compartmentalized and I don't think it will be easier to work with.

I will keep everything for the BIC I think and see if I can work with it.


@derrickdj1 : I moved the sub all around the room. Tried many different placements. I just wasn't digging the sound of the Klipsch. I'm sure many people love it, but I didn't. You are right though, I am still very new to everything, I know there can be a lot more on my end to figure out how to place a sub properly. Will keep reading


@BassThatHz : You know what...I am starting to think that a DIY sub could be cost effective, could produce a great sub, would be a fun project, and would be extremely satisfying in the end. The -30 degree weather is disappearing now, so I can actually get back into my garage...lol.

I am really starting to understand that for someone a step up from the average HT enthusiast, most of the crap at retailers here just won't cut it. But most of all, the cost/value of it all bugs me. I am sure if I drop $700 on a sub from BB I would be happy...but I am not willing to, just on the principle of it.

I was surprised to see how simple the BIC was when I opened it up looking for a loose connection. You're right lol, it's just wood, glue, some insulation, an amp, wires and the speaker.

So, if I were to dive into the DIY for a sub, I guess there is enough in the DIY section for FAQs to get me going? Any other recommendations for things to read or watch?
Try looking at this topic, MartySub FAQ
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/155-di...tysub-faq.html

Chalugadp, LTD02, and others have made the DIY as simple as possible, using 2'x4' precut handy panels, in a variety of different sizes. All use a vented (AKA ported) sub design, all are pretty easy to construct.

Also this link for a 'mid size' vented enclosure
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/155-di...johnnysub.html

All of these Marty builds except for the very smallest can handle an 18" driver. It will kick store bought subs to the curb with the trash.

The easy to follow instructions, right down to the how-to video by Chalugadp gave me the courage to believe I could build a sub. My first build completed in Feb were 2 full size 2'x4'x2' subs, my second build started this week is a 20"x30"x20"

The DIY subs and speakers forum here is phenomenal, everyone is willing jump in and help you be successful.
Embrace the DIY, its awesome.
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post #9 of 19 Old 03-14-2015, 04:34 PM
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Diy would be awesome but you might want to give the nxg a try. Jim gave it a rave review at home theater shack. I love mine it works great and for about 260 its amazing for the price point. Performs way above its pay scale. Avhouse on Amazon offers free shipping to you don't know what the return policy is though.
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post #10 of 19 Old 03-14-2015, 07:45 PM - Thread Starter
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You guys are awesome. Thanks so much, I think I have a lot of reading to do now. I am stoked.
@PS3forlife : I am in Canada and that sub goes for $360 + $200 shipping. Sucks! If it was $360 with free shipping I would pick it up in a heartbeat. I get depressed every time I see the differences in prices between the US and Canadian site.
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post #11 of 19 Old 03-14-2015, 09:15 PM
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pm chalugadp. He's in Vancouver and can give you lots of advice for north of the border.
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Did you really need to quote that entire post in your reply?
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post #12 of 19 Old 03-15-2015, 12:40 AM
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Sorry to hear that it really sucks that we can ship from California to Ohio for free but can't ship from Ohio to Canada for less than 200. Seems stupid to me.
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Mention another thing, don't dwell too much on the advertised wattage. Unless you know the details of the driver's impedance, sensitivity and the amp's specific rating details, they're not worth much....just a number they'll try to sell you with. I also urge you to go DIY if you can swing it. I just did and like was said, ain't no going back once you crank one up.
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post #14 of 19 Old 03-16-2015, 02:34 PM
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A vast majority of subs will sound "muddy" if there are problems with in-room linearity. With a single sub, that will often be the case unless you get very lucky based on specific types of room shapes and dimensions.

I could tell you how to skip most of the "journey" with a bigger budget but that would ruin all the fun of discovery I suppose. If I had the "perfect" setup 20 years ago, there would be no "hobby". I also wouldn't know how poor sub setups sounded. In other words I wouldn't be able to appreciate what I have now.

The relativistic nature of experience is so fascinating...

Blazar!
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post #15 of 19 Old 03-16-2015, 08:28 PM
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And the School of Hard Knocks is a b*tch.

Did you really need to quote that entire post in your reply?
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post #16 of 19 Old 03-16-2015, 09:43 PM
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A vast majority of subs will sound "muddy" if there are problems with in-room linearity. With a single sub, that will often be the case unless you get very lucky based on specific types of room shapes and dimensions.

I could tell you how to skip most of the "journey" with a bigger budget but that would ruin all the fun of discovery I suppose. If I had the "perfect" setup 20 years ago, there would be no "hobby". I also wouldn't know how poor sub setups sounded. In other words I wouldn't be able to appreciate what I have now.

The relativistic nature of experience is so fascinating...
Skipping the journey is OK. What do they say, smart people learn from their mistakes, wise people learn from the mistakes of others.

In this case, mistakes may not be the best choice of word, but rather taking advantage of the experience of those willing to help.

If by learning from others we can skip to an awesome setup and only pay about 1/4 to 1/3 of the hard money expense of experimenting and finding our way alone its worth it.

In the late 90s a photographer wrote an article detailing his very expensive progression from a cheap flimsy tripod, to a stable beast that would do what he expected/ wanted from the beginning. The end summary? Don't spend 2 years and $3500 dollars doing incremental upgrades. Just fork over the $800-$1000, do it right to begin with. You save time, money, and lost photos/opportunities. The same can easily apply to DIY subs, and many other things.
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post #17 of 19 Old 03-17-2015, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by darknite9099 View Post
Skipping the journey is OK. What do they say, smart people learn from their mistakes, wise people learn from the mistakes of others.

In this case, mistakes may not be the best choice of word, but rather taking advantage of the experience of those willing to help.

If by learning from others we can skip to an awesome setup and only pay about 1/4 to 1/3 of the hard money expense of experimenting and finding our way alone its worth it.

In the late 90s a photographer wrote an article detailing his very expensive progression from a cheap flimsy tripod, to a stable beast that would do what he expected/ wanted from the beginning. The end summary? Don't spend 2 years and $3500 dollars doing incremental upgrades. Just fork over the $800-$1000, do it right to begin with. You save time, money, and lost photos/opportunities. The same can easily apply to DIY subs, and many other things.
I think its going to be more than $800-1000 for a great multi-sub experience with proper drivers and amplification. I would look at the bare minimum pricing for inukes and DIY quad subs as a reference point. Anything commercial will cost more of course. With a budget between $4k-8k you could still fall short in the commercial subs, but in the DIY arena you are really pushing the envelope for most rooms for reference volumes.

Blazar!
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post #18 of 19 Old 03-17-2015, 03:31 PM
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I think its going to be more than $800-1000 for a great multi-sub experience with proper drivers and amplification. I would look at the bare minimum pricing for inukes and DIY quad subs as a reference point. Anything commercial will cost more of course. With a budget between $4k-8k you could still fall short in the commercial subs, but in the DIY arena you are really pushing the envelope for most rooms for reference volumes.
Sorry blazer, the $800-$1000 related pacifically to the good tripod example.

I agree on subs where you are basing your system on 4 subs. I just completed a build of 2 18" ported (Full Marty) enclosures, and I was just over $1000 for everything.
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Sorry blazer, the $800-$1000 related pacifically to the good tripod example.

I agree on subs where you are basing your system on 4 subs. I just completed a build of 2 18" ported (Full Marty) enclosures, and I was just over $1000 for everything.
A proper budget for an "epic" subwoofer experience is what I was going for when I built my setup. A setup that would provide a "journey ending" experience where there would be little to no reason to "try something else" is what I was going for.

Subwoofers in particular are cumbersome to move, expensive to ship, and take time to setup and PEQ properly. "Trial and error" is fun and all but really an ineffective use of time compared to buying the proper setup and setting it up once.

With a nice bass setup, you really don't need to modify the setup ever again (especially if your amps have built-in PEQ). Just program the whole thing and leave it alone. You can then add in any new pre-pro or main speakers you ever wanted on top of that "bed of bass".

Of all the "high end" crap you can possibly do, an effective subwoofer setup is one of the most noticeable improvements. It also helps you evaluate new speakers for characteristics other than bass response. Often, I think main speakers are blamed for problems with in-room bass response even though they are not really at "fault". We simply expect too much from our main speakers and they aren't meant to be positioned for bass response.

I find that quad subs reduce "localization" even further than a single sub and therefore allows you to push up the crossover frequency of surround speakers which may not be nearly as capable as your main speakers and therefore subject to distortion. The rated specs of so many speakers can't be trusted. Many surround speakers that I have tried start to make various distortion noises at high volumes when fed a signal as low as 100hz. To place full range speakers all around gets more expensive and will consumes more space.

Blazar!
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