Ported vs. Sealed - differences in feel, realism etc. - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 19 Old 08-02-2018, 03:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Ported vs. Sealed - differences in feel, realism etc.

Hi everybody and thank you so much for this wonderful place.

I am deciding for my first sub in a ~5000cub.ft. open space living room connected to kitchen, corridor and dining room. I live in an apartment building so I will not make things very loud, right now thinking about DIY

18" sealed Dayton Audio UM18-22
vs.
15" ported MicroMarty or MartyCube.

I've read much info on this forum and in other places including data-bass.com regarding ported vs. sealed. People usually talk about SPL, distortion, speed etc., but I rarely see someone talking about what they prefer more for movies, for example. I've read one post some time where a person was stating that sealed sub for movies does not produce a wow effect, air wave as much as the ported one. That thunder, explosions in sealed sub look artificial and does not impress as much as ported does.

Please share your thoughts and have a nice day.

Jim.
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post #2 of 19 Old 08-02-2018, 06:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brovacar View Post
Hi everybody and thank you so much for this wonderful place.

I am deciding for my first sub in a ~5000cub.ft. open space living room connected to kitchen, corridor and dining room. I live in an apartment building so I will not make things very loud, right now thinking about DIY

18" sealed Dayton Audio UM18-22
vs.
15" ported MicroMarty or MartyCube.

I've read much info on this forum and in other places including data-bass.com regarding ported vs. sealed. People usually talk about SPL, distortion, speed etc., but I rarely see someone talking about what they prefer more for movies, for example. I've read one post some time where a person was stating that sealed sub for movies does not produce a wow effect, air wave as much as the ported one. That thunder, explosions in sealed sub look artificial and does not impress as much as ported does.

Please share your thoughts and have a nice day.

Jim.

Hi Jim,

The question that you are asking is one that has also interested me, and it is one that I have tried to explore a little bit. Sections VII and VIII of the Guide, lined in my signature, may give you some insight into the different kinds of tactile responses that we feel, and what produces those sensations. For instance, chest punch sensations are a mid-bass phenomenon (~ 50 to 100Hz for most people) and they seem to be created primarily by sheer SPL, although ported mid-bass modules can have an edge there. But, in general, both ported and sealed subs can often do a satisfactory job of creating those tactile sensations.

On the other hand, the tactile sensations that we associate with thunderstorms and other natural disasters, or very low-frequency special effects, are not just SPL-related. The physical displacement of air, rather than just the presence of sound waves moving through the air, seems to be involved in those sensations. Ported subs will typically produce more overt low-frequency (<30Hz) tactile sensations than sealed subs will, at comparable sound pressure levels. And, of course, ported subs will also typically produce higher SPL's at low-frequencies than comparable sealed subs can.

Part of the difficulty in discussing these sensations, though, is that different people feel various tactile sensations somewhat differently, and we also react to (and describe) what we are feeling somewhat differently. So, the most we can do is to generalize about the differences between sealed and ported subwoofers. There will still be a YMMV component to all of this. But, I think that reading the discussion in those two sections may be very helpful to you.

Regards,
Mike
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post #3 of 19 Old 08-02-2018, 06:42 AM
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Either one of those is going to be lost in that big of an air space. Can you do nearfield? I honestly don't think there is a difference between ported and sealed when it comes to 'realism'. I'm honestly not really even sure the difference. I think if you put two identical subs in equivalent boxes in the same spots in identical rooms I think they would sound different because the sealed would go lower and the ported would get a little louder but I don't think that they would be all that different. Out of your choices I would get the 18" and put it as close to your(preferable directly behind) your main listening position.
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post #4 of 19 Old 08-02-2018, 02:21 PM - Thread Starter
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mthomas47 and Raylon - thank you so much for your detailed answers!
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post #5 of 19 Old 08-03-2018, 08:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Raylon View Post
Either one of those is going to be lost in that big of an air space. Can you do nearfield? I honestly don't think there is a difference between ported and sealed when it comes to 'realism'. I'm honestly not really even sure the difference. I think if you put two identical subs in equivalent boxes in the same spots in identical rooms I think they would sound different because the sealed would go lower and the ported would get a little louder but I don't think that they would be all that different. Out of your choices I would get the 18" and put it as close to your(preferable directly behind) your main listening position.
Incorrect, if only because it's very difficult to get ported and sealed to sound/setup identically. People have real preferences - often not even what they expected. But I do think you can find satisfaction with any box alignment. Ported, sealed, or horn. I probably prefer ported, but have found satisfaction with 8 sealed subwoofers. I'd probably prefer 8 ported subwoofers, but not enough to rip everything apart and start over again. Sealed have a slightly different sound, and tactile feel than ported in my opinion and experience at the same volume levels. They both have their advantages. I always liked the tactile air movement of my captivator's ports to add to the cinema effect -- which I've never replicated with my sealed subs. I like the sealed better for a very limited subset of songs with exceptionally low frequencies - like Bass I Love you.

Here's a blind subwoofer test the KC gang performed in 2012. (in this test the ported Captivator and Orbit Shifter used the same driver, and were placed in the exact same spot in the same room, but received different scoring and different preferences by blind tested individuals).
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/113-s...ut-2012-a.html
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post #6 of 19 Old 08-03-2018, 09:32 AM
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I am very picky about SQ when it comes to subs. I don't necessarily need to blow out the windows (although it is fun to crank it on occasion). I have always seemed to favor the sound of sealed subs at home and in my vehicles. I like really tight, accurate bass and listen mostly to artists whose style contains that type of sound (Steeley Dan, Telarc recordings, tight jazz fusion, etc.) I have had ported subs in the past and while I found them to be perfectly acceptable especially when: #1 - the music was played loud and #2 - the music was less critical (hard rock, etc.). Recently I purchased a new set of nearfield studio monitors (Adam A7X) which are ported, and I absolutely love them and do all my critical listening with them now. While they do not produce any sub-bass, they are extremely accurate at all frequencies and volumes that they can play. So I guess with the correct engineering it is possible to achieve great response from both designs. I am currently in the same dilemma as you (in a way). I currently run 8 18" sealed subs but am considering switching to a pair of ported subs (Captivator 4000ulfs) for a 10K cu ft space with 17ft ceilings. I'm also wondering about the difference in sound.


But to get back to your point...I feel that for MOVIES your sub choice is much less critical. For a large space I would look to ported subs with low extension. Output and extension are the 2 factors I would consider for mostly movie use, and ported designs are an easier way to get you there in a large room.
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post #7 of 19 Old 08-03-2018, 11:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Linkwitz Riley View Post
I am very picky about SQ when it comes to subs. I don't necessarily need to blow out the windows (although it is fun to crank it on occasion). I have always seemed to favor the sound of sealed subs at home and in my vehicles. I like really tight, accurate bass and listen mostly to artists whose style contains that type of sound (Steeley Dan, Telarc recordings, tight jazz fusion, etc.) I have had ported subs in the past and while I found them to be perfectly acceptable especially when: #1 - the music was played loud and #2 - the music was less critical (hard rock, etc.). Recently I purchased a new set of nearfield studio monitors (Adam A7X) which are ported, and I absolutely love them and do all my critical listening with them now. While they do not produce any sub-bass, they are extremely accurate at all frequencies and volumes that they can play. So I guess with the correct engineering it is possible to achieve great response from both designs. I am currently in the same dilemma as you (in a way). I currently run 8 18" sealed subs but am considering switching to a pair of ported subs (Captivator 4000ulfs) for a 10K cu ft space with 17ft ceilings. I'm also wondering about the difference in sound.


But to get back to your point...I feel that for MOVIES your sub choice is much less critical. For a large space I would look to ported subs with low extension. Output and extension are the 2 factors I would consider for mostly movie use, and ported designs are an easier way to get you there in a large room.

Hi,

I agree with your advice to the OP! I won't try to comment on any potential difference in sound quality between your current sealed subs and the dual Cap 4000's you are considering. I honestly believe that impressions of sound quality can be too subjective for other people to be very helpful to each other. I do, however, think that many people would experience some fairly serious differences in overall performance in making the change. Aside from sheer low-frequency SPL, the biggest difference would be in tactile sensations, in my opinion. And, that is really what the OP has been asking about. Not the difference in SQ between sealed and ported, or even in low-frequency SPL, but the difference in feel between the two. I believe that there is a difference in tactile response, and that it is measurable.

This a link to one of several threads where people have measured the difference in tactile output between sealed and ported subwoofers: https://www.avsforum.com/forum/113-s...st-thread.html

From the perspective of low-frequency SPL, and anecdotally from the standpoint of tactile response, the ported Cap 4000 ULF's are right at the top of the food chain. People who have compared the various modern Captivators with other ported subwoofers, have specifically noted the extreme tactile sensations they create. As alluded to in my first post, we aren't talking so much about mid-bass tactile sensations here. Chest punch seems to be primarily the product of sheer SPL, unless we are talking about an MBM with a mid-bass port tune.

But, within about an octave of its port tune, two things happen when a ported sub is pushed a bit. First, the excursion of the driver increases and more air is moved back-and-forth. I am talking here about the physical movement of air particles, and not just the pressure wave created by sound waves moving through the air. Second, the port itself moves more air, producing quite noticeable port wind at more extreme volume levels, and that also causes particle velocity. The Cap 4000's, with their extreme motor strength and excursion, and their ability to move air through the port, seem to excel at producing powerful low-bass tactile sensations. And, the Cap 2400's aren't too far behind them.

So, I tend to leave sound quality selections strictly to other people, since our subjective impressions may all be a little different. But, when someone specifically mentions wanting to feel more overt physical sensations associated with low-bass, such as thunder and explosions, then I immediately think of powerful ported subwoofers.

Incidentally, even with powerful ported subwoofers, there is no substitute for the real thing. My ported subwoofers can literally run me out of my large room, with the right subwoofer boosts, combined with the right movie. And, it's not just the low-frequency SPL, it's the tactile sensations that can be overwhelming to me after a while, if I really crank things. Batman Versus Superman is a good example of that for me.

But, my house is very sturdy and it's on a concrete pad. And, even at very high volume levels, I have no issue with transferred vibrations. The other night though, we had a very powerful thunderstorm, with lightning striking much closer than I would have liked. And, my whole house shook violently from the impacts. Now, there's realism!

Regards,
Mike
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Preferences; Subwoofer Buyer's Guide: Sealed/ported; ID subs; Subwoofer placement.
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post #8 of 19 Old 08-03-2018, 11:34 AM
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A sealed sub is like a naturally aspirated engine. A ported sub is like a turbocharged one - more power but a hint of turbo lag.
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post #9 of 19 Old 08-03-2018, 01:57 PM
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A sealed sub is like a naturally aspirated engine. A ported sub is like a turbocharged one - more power but a hint of turbo lag.
If you can afford it, 4 sealed subs is the way to go. I love the sound of a sealed sub.

But for home theater, ported is king.
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post #10 of 19 Old 08-04-2018, 09:07 AM
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No single sub does everything perfect; there are always compromises involved. You need to decide where your performance priorities are and build a sub that will meet those criteria.

If you want 1 sub and you want more output in the 20-30 Hz range (you mentioned for movies), then 18" ported is the way to go. I haven't built a Marty sub but a lot of guys have. It's a proven design and by all accounts a great performer. You'll have lots of help in the DIY subforum.

Be careful though for it's addictive. After you get one under your belt, you'll probably want to build more.

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post #11 of 19 Old 08-04-2018, 04:40 PM
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get an svs pb-4000.
you can turn it from ported to sealed in about 15 seconds.
best of both worlds...........
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post #12 of 19 Old 08-06-2018, 07:27 AM
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I've read much info on this forum and in other places including data-bass.com regarding ported vs. sealed. People usually talk about SPL, distortion, speed etc., but I rarely see someone talking about what they prefer more for movies, for example. I've read one post some time where a person was stating that sealed sub for movies does not produce a wow effect, air wave as much as the ported one. That thunder, explosions in sealed sub look artificial and does not impress as much as ported does.

If you are talking about the burst of air from the port of a speaker, then of course the ported design is going to give you that and a sealed design will not.


I used to run a big ported speaker as a center channel that would produce a focused gust of air that I could feel 12 feet away. At first I thought it was cool (no pun intended) but I didn't want that happening all the time.


I see all of these videos of people watching their subwoofer port blow something across the floor. Fun to watch and it demonstrates the contribution of the port to the output of that sub, but I wouldn't want to feel that wind every time there is significant bass in a movie. Especially during the winter! To me it's a novelty thing and while I understand that it is adding to the overall bass output I'd rather have it directed away from me! As far as tactile feel I like the thump in the chest from good tight midbass and the exciting of the room (and your body) from ultra deep bass output. But to each their own, I guess!
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post #13 of 19 Old 08-06-2018, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by impreza276 View Post
A sealed sub is like a naturally aspirated engine. A ported sub is like a turbocharged one - more power but a hint of turbo lag.
I like the analogy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vergiliusm View Post
No single sub does everything perfect; there are always compromises involved.
You are so right. My ideal subwoofer system would be a dual/double bass-array. So a minimum of 8 drivers!
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post #14 of 19 Old 08-25-2018, 12:46 AM
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I know there is a recent thread on mixing sealed and ported subs but I searched and couldn't find it. I have 4 epik empires(crown powered) and 2 monolith 15's in my living room. Everything sounds good together but when only playing the monoliths and adding the empires or vice versa the spl doesn't increase. I'm guessing this is cancellation that goes with mixing sealed and ported. I haven't ran audyssey yet, I'm in the process of adding 4 atmos speakers so I want to wait until that is complete. I bought a mini dsp but when I connected all the subs I had lots of feedback(ground loop?) through the system so I took it out. Is this something audyssey will correct? By the way, the 4 empires are awesome but the 2 monoliths destroy all 4 of them in every way.
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post #15 of 19 Old 08-25-2018, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by corey99699 View Post
I know there is a recent thread on mixing sealed and ported subs but I searched and couldn't find it. I have 4 epik empires(crown powered) and 2 monolith 15's in my living room. Everything sounds good together but when only playing the monoliths and adding the empires or vice versa the spl doesn't increase. I'm guessing this is cancellation that goes with mixing sealed and ported. I haven't ran audyssey yet, I'm in the process of adding 4 atmos speakers so I want to wait until that is complete. I bought a mini dsp but when I connected all the subs I had lots of feedback(ground loop?) through the system so I took it out. Is this something audyssey will correct? By the way, the 4 empires are awesome but the 2 monoliths destroy all 4 of them in every way.
If all doesn't increase you may want to look at your phase settings.
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I changed the phase to 180 on both Monoliths and it made a huge difference. Before, if I only had the Monoliths or the Empires playing alone and then switched the other on I lost 2 db on my meter and I could literally hear the bass being sucked out of the system. Now that I reversed the phase on the Mono's I'm seeing a gain of 3 db's on the meter with receiver test tones and up to 5 db's at certain frequencies with music. The increase in bass is significant. I'm sure everything would mesh together better if tuned with the minidsp, it's a shame I had issues with noise when trying it.
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post #17 of 19 Old 09-01-2018, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by nodoubt View Post
get an svs pb-4000.
you can turn it from ported to sealed in about 15 seconds.
best of both worlds...........
It's not that fast because you need to redo the system calibration.

With Anthem ARC and Dirac it's easy if you have saved measurements and settings for both modes, but with Audyssey, YPAO... you will have to redo all measurements.

BTW, PB-4000 in sealed mode doesn't look so good...

https://www.audioholics.com/subwoofe...0/measurements

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post #18 of 19 Old 09-01-2018, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Delija View Post
It's not that fast because you need to redo the system calibration.

With Anthem ARC and Dirac it's easy if you have saved measurements and settings for both modes, but with Audyssey, YPAO... you will have to redo all measurements.

BTW, PB-4000 in sealed mode doesn't look so good...

https://www.audioholics.com/subwoofe...0/measurements



might not look good on paper, but sure sounds damn good to the ear.
most musical sub ive ever heard in sealed mode.
you can tune it to be under, or over whelming to suit your taste.
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Originally Posted by Raylon View Post
Either one of those is going to be lost in that big of an air space. Can you do nearfield? I honestly don't think there is a difference between ported and sealed when it comes to 'realism'. I'm honestly not really even sure the difference. I think if you put two identical subs in equivalent boxes in the same spots in identical rooms I think they would sound different because the sealed would go lower and the ported would get a little louder but I don't think that they would be all that different. Out of your choices I would get the 18" and put it as close to your(preferable directly behind) your main listening position.
Quote:
Originally Posted by brovacar View Post
Hi everybody and thank you so much for this wonderful place.

I am deciding for my first sub in a ~5000cub.ft. open space living room connected to kitchen, corridor and dining room. I live in an apartment building so I will not make things very loud, right now thinking about DIY

18" sealed Dayton Audio UM18-22
vs.
15" ported MicroMarty or MartyCube.

I've read much info on this forum and in other places including data-bass.com regarding ported vs. sealed. People usually talk about SPL, distortion, speed etc., but I rarely see someone talking about what they prefer more for movies, for example. I've read one post some time where a person was stating that sealed sub for movies does not produce a wow effect, air wave as much as the ported one. That thunder, explosions in sealed sub look artificial and does not impress as much as ported does.

Please share your thoughts and have a nice day.

Jim.

As mention by Raylon


This is a big space to fill, while speakers only try to reach your MLP, and not trying to fill other spaces.
Sub/s, work the other way around, trying to fill all other open area, meaning the rest of your apartment.
Just thought, you should be aware of that.


My preference is port over seal, especially for movies, music only, I might consider seal.


At this moment in time, since you intend to play a lower volume.
I would still buy the best sub for now, you can always add a second one later if you move in a house.
Also you may want to look into getting some Tactile Transducer for feeling in your chairs.
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/113-s...ual-guide.html


This way, you feel like you get the Slam, in your chairs still playing at lower volume, chest slamming, only high sub/s volume can achieve that.


Ray
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