Monolith 15” THX Sub issues - worse than PL-200? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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Old 03-21-2019, 03:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Monolith 15” THX Sub issues - worse than PL-200?

Hi guys,

I’ve been a long time lurker (since early 2000s!) but finally in a position to put together a nice home theater system. I thought I would start with the subwoofer, and purchased a Monolith 15” to replace my BIC PL-200. But, I have to say, I am very disappointed in the results!

The PL-200 in the same position as the Monolith, at the same volume settings, absolutely destroys the Monolith, it’s no comparison. The room shakes. This is after running room correction using a Yamaha RX-V681 for each subwoofer prior to comparing.

I am not sure how to troubleshoot this. I noticed when I first turned on the Monolith using the “Auto On” mode, the sub amplifier light was blinking green and red, and I was worried about the amp having issues. The first few times I used it, it would take a few minutes for the amp light to turn green (on). But that issue seems to have resolved now. It’ll turn on immediately when to set to Auto On mode.

I’ve tried different seating positions. Different phase settings. Set Monolith cross over to THX (off). Double checked the receiver settings (cross over at 80hz and speaker size set to small). Despite all this, the Monolith on MAX volume is somewhat acceptable, I can tell it’s there... but the PL-200, I feel in my chest. I am on the verge of returning the Monolith and just getting a second pl-200 and save myself $1,000. But after moving this 160lb box upstairs, I really do not want to repack and move it again! I am hoping I am just doing something wrong so I can experience what this 15” beast has to offer.

Could it be the sub amp? I would assume that if this was the case it wouldn’t work at all, rather than working at a disappointing level. Any thoughts on setting changes I can make? I’ll be contacting Monoprice about this as well and will update you guys on their input.

Any help would be appreciated! Thanks guys!

Suke
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Old 03-21-2019, 03:56 PM
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I ordered a Monolith 15 THX Ultra a few weeks ago and had a similar issue with the red and green lights, but mine basically wasn't putting out sound at all. I sent it back and am waiting for my replacement sub, which should be delivered next Tuesday.
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Old 03-21-2019, 04:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Oh man! This is not reassuring. I am waiting on Monoprice to respond. Repacking this will not be fun.
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Old 03-21-2019, 06:47 PM
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Sorry to hear about your issues. It seems unlikely its due to anything you're doing. What is the Monolith gain setting, and where does the Yamaha set the sub channel level?


One thing you could try is just swapping the cable between the two rather than recalibrating each time, just to get a comparison with a common baseline setting. But it seems you might have gotten a bad unit.
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Old 03-22-2019, 06:33 AM - Thread Starter
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The Monolith gain knob is set to max (I forgot the db number for its max. On the AVR, the volume is set to max (+10db). I have also tried swapping subwoofers with just simply plugging in the sub cable into each subwoofer while playing movies such as “Master and Commander.” Without making changes to the AVR, plugging into the PL-200 embarrasses the Monolith 15”.

Sounds like a bad subwoofer I suppose. Unfortunate because it’s a hassle to return and if this is the case, won’t be buying another Monolith again. Kind of dusappointing a since I really wanted to experience this thing at it’s full potential.

Thanks for your help guys!
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Old 03-22-2019, 06:44 AM
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Can you plug the mono 15 into a smart phone(play some music of course) and bypass all other stuff to eliminate the possibility of a signal chain issue?
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Old 03-22-2019, 10:20 AM
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You might just prefer a distorted sub that sounds louder at some frequencies due to the distortion and peaks it has. Run a 20Hz test tone and below 20Hz and if you think that BIC is beating the M15, then the sub is bad. That BIC will tap out when frequencies start getting low.
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Old 03-22-2019, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
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I did notice the BIC starting to distort with the sub set to max gain and AVR set to max gain, but when I backed the volume off to midway on the BIC it was good bass without distorting. Still better than the Monolith at max... I definitely don’t prefer louder distorted bass.

But that is a great idea! I will play a test tone today and update you. Thanks for the suggestion.
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Old 03-22-2019, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by C4Suke View Post
The Monolith gain knob is set to max (I forgot the db number for its max. On the AVR, the volume is set to max (+10db).
Wait, with the gain knob at max, the AVR set the sub to +10 during the auto-setup?? That's 100% a broken sub (since you said you already switched cables and outputs).
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Old 03-22-2019, 11:42 AM
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Wait, with the gain knob at max, the AVR set the sub to +10 during the auto-setup?? That's 100% a broken sub (since you said you already switched cables and outputs).

Or you're in the worst null imaginable, but since the BIC wasn't similarly affected, that's probably not it.
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Old 03-22-2019, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C4Suke View Post
The Monolith gain knob is set to max (I forgot the db number for its max. On the AVR, the volume is set to max (+10db). I have also tried swapping subwoofers with just simply plugging in the sub cable into each subwoofer while playing movies such as “Master and Commander.” Without making changes to the AVR, plugging into the PL-200 embarrasses the Monolith 15”.

Sounds like a bad subwoofer I suppose. Unfortunate because it’s a hassle to return and if this is the case, won’t be buying another Monolith again. Kind of dusappointing a since I really wanted to experience this thing at it’s full potential.

Thanks for your help guys!
You have to have a bad amp/sub. That sub has 3 times the output of your Bic at frequencies over 30hz and a near infinite amount below that since the Bic signs off at around 30hz.

No amount of distortion is going to make up that much difference. Since Mopnoprice doesn't just send replacement amps (which are easy to replace) it looks like you're going to have to return the whole sub. Bummer.

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Old 03-22-2019, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Kini62 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by C4Suke View Post
The Monolith gain knob is set to max (I forgot the db number for its max. On the AVR, the volume is set to max (+10db). I have also tried swapping subwoofers with just simply plugging in the sub cable into each subwoofer while playing movies such as “Master and Commander.” Without making changes to the AVR, plugging into the PL-200 embarrasses the Monolith 15”.

Sounds like a bad subwoofer I suppose. Unfortunate because it’s a hassle to return and if this is the case, won’t be buying another Monolith again. Kind of dusappointing a since I really wanted to experience this thing at it’s full potential.

Thanks for your help guys!
You have to have a bad amp/sub. That sub has 3 times the output of your Bic at frequencies over 30hz and a near infinite amount below that since the Bic signs off at around 30hz.

No amount of distortion is going to make up that much difference. Since Mopnoprice doesn't just send replacement amps (which are easy to replace) it looks like you're going to have to return the whole sub. Bummer.
Distortion can make a sub sound louder and the BIC subs are going to have some big midbass peaks. I have a BIC F12 and about 40-60Hz, the BIC sounds like it's hitting harder. But it's not clean, not accurate, and playing below 30Hz, the BIC dies. I've been using the Monolith 15 for about 4 months now and I hooked the F12 back up to show a friend the comparison and the F12 sounds like crap at all frequencies to me now. My brain has adjusted. I didn't like the F12 for anything except metal music. The kick drums still hit harder with the F12.

That's why he needs to run some test tones or low hitting movies like Blade Runner 2049 or A Quiet Place and if he prefers the BIC PL-200, then something is wrong.
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Old 03-22-2019, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Spewdom View Post
Distortion can make a sub sound louder and the BIC subs are going to have some big midbass peaks. I have a BIC F12 and about 40-60Hz, the BIC sounds like it's hitting harder. But it's not clean, not accurate, and playing below 30Hz, the BIC dies. I've been using the Monolith 15 for about 4 months now and I hooked the F12 back up to show a friend the comparison and the F12 sounds like crap at all frequencies to me now. My brain has adjusted. I didn't like the F12 for anything except metal music. The kick drums still hit harder with the F12.

That's why he needs to run some test tones or low hitting movies like Blade Runner 2049 or A Quiet Place and if he prefers the BIC PL-200, then something is wrong.
Based on the OP stating that the gain on the sub is maxed out and the AVR is at +10db and still little output, the sub is bad.

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Old 03-22-2019, 02:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Kini62 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spewdom View Post
Distortion can make a sub sound louder and the BIC subs are going to have some big midbass peaks. I have a BIC F12 and about 40-60Hz, the BIC sounds like it's hitting harder. But it's not clean, not accurate, and playing below 30Hz, the BIC dies. I've been using the Monolith 15 for about 4 months now and I hooked the F12 back up to show a friend the comparison and the F12 sounds like crap at all frequencies to me now. My brain has adjusted. I didn't like the F12 for anything except metal music. The kick drums still hit harder with the F12.

That's why he needs to run some test tones or low hitting movies like Blade Runner 2049 or A Quiet Place and if he prefers the BIC PL-200, then something is wrong.
Based on the OP stating that the gain on the sub is maxed out and the AVR is at +10db and still little output, the sub is bad.
Oh, yeah. +10dB on the AVR MV and still underperforming is a bad sub.
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Old 03-23-2019, 09:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Yeah AVR And Sub are at MAX. I haven’t had a chance to test the 20hz tone but really any bass from the movies I’ve tested is obviously weaker than the BIC. I’ll try the test tone when I’m home again. I prefer not to set everything to MAX to hear it, and I can definitely tell that the BIC struggles and distorts when it works on these settings.

Also, when I ran YPAO on my AVR, I set the subwoofer gain setting to “THX REF”, apparently the setting to use when the AVR does room correction. Not sure if that can be contributing?

Regarding nulls, other subs in same position work well. I’ve also walked around looking for better positions but really no difference.

Also, no response from a Monoprice yet. Sent multiple emails. Let’s see what they can offer. I wonder if this is a quality control issue, appears I’m not the only one with amp issues on the Monolith sub. I would assume they test these before shipping out, but I could be asking too much from Monoprice. For >$1,000 I do expect a working product!
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Old 03-23-2019, 11:33 AM
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Yeah AVR And Sub are at MAX. I haven’t had a chance to test the 20hz tone but really any bass from the movies I’ve tested is obviously weaker than the BIC. I’ll try the test tone when I’m home again. I prefer not to set everything to MAX to hear it, and I can definitely tell that the BIC struggles and distorts when it works on these settings.

Also, when I ran YPAO on my AVR, I set the subwoofer gain setting to “THX REF”, apparently the setting to use when the AVR does room correction. Not sure if that can be contributing?

Regarding nulls, other subs in same position work well. I’ve also walked around looking for better positions but really no difference.

Also, no response from a Monoprice yet. Sent multiple emails. Let’s see what they can offer. I wonder if this is a quality control issue, appears I’m not the only one with amp issues on the Monolith sub. I would assume they test these before shipping out, but I could be asking too much from Monoprice. For >$1,000 I do expect a working product!
Contact Hobie at
[email protected]

He may not reply until Monday, but he's the business manager for Monolith and he'll help.
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Old 03-23-2019, 07:10 PM
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In my experience it takes some tweaking for this beast. Mine replaced an SVS PB 2000 and it took a while and lots of questions to get it to sound good. I ran Audyssey with gain turned to 15%, Audyssey wanted me to turn it down even more. I was told to set the sub at 75db or so prior to running room correction. This set my sub at -7, on receiver so I was able to increase gain on sub and receiver to hear it. I also had to adjust the phase. DO not use the THX ref setting. This make it barely audible.
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Old 03-24-2019, 06:33 AM
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Not really sure my mono 15 took any tweaking at all.

Just ran the room correction with the gain at 65%. It gave me a -10. Bumped it up to -3 on the receiver and it sounds perfect.

The gain on these amps are like no other subwoofer I've owned. Most amps you set the gain at 11 or 12 o'clock. On these you can go by that easy and use full range of the gain knob.

If I really want to light up the room with house shaking bass , I flip the gain to max. Not once did I hear something that I shouldn't have. The sub can handle it without a sweat.

I replaced 2 velodyne fsr-15s with one mono 15. I definitely notice a huge improvement in both extension and overall output. Definitely more tactile response as well.

The mono 15 should make your pl-200 seem like a toy.

You definitely have something going on.

As for that red and green flashing light. Just unplug it for 5 mins till the light goes off. Not sure what that is about. Once you get it a solid green then use your room correction. Shoot for -10 ish. Once you get that bump it up to -3 , then listen to it.

If you want that extra EXTRA give the gain knob a spin to max and see how that goes.

I would love to help you figure out what's going on. I think you would be amazed just how good this sub sounds once it is blended in to your system.

If your sub is defective then obviously none of that would work. But from the symptoms you describe I'd definitely investigate it more.
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Old 03-24-2019, 09:23 AM
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The Monolith gain knob is set to max (I forgot the db number for its max. On the AVR, the volume is set to max (+10db).
You have a bad amp that's outputting little power or there's a problem with the woofer. You should be getting your hair blown back. Also, AVR volume should not be more than -6. If it is, there's something wrong with your sub or signal chain for sure.

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Old 03-24-2019, 10:01 AM
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Make sure you don't have it clicked to THX on the gain knob. My wife and I made the same mistake and thought but was max, it's actually the lowest setting and you can still turn the gain all the way up. If you are truly at max everywhere then I would say it's the Amp, but originally I thought we were and I am glad I didn't box it back up. Make sure all the THX settings are off for initial setup.
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Old 03-25-2019, 05:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input! So, I’ve been playing around with it, still can’t get it much better. I want to be happy with it, and I want to keep it, but man every time I switch back to the pl-200 it’s so much more audible, and I can feel the bass. I have tried a 20hz test tone and yes the monolith can play it, I do feel it a bit but I am not sure how audible it should be when it’s that low. The BIC struggles with it, at more than 50% volume it will distort. Once the frequencies start going up the BIC is louder and not distorting.

So I tried a few different things after I read these posts. I tried YPAO again with THX in reference mode (like before). The AVR set gain to +3db this time (instead of +10db, not sure why). Then turned volume to 12 o’clock (-6 dB) on sub. Not very impressive. Turned to max (+15 dB ) on the sub, and then it was reaching levels of the BIC (with BIC volume at 70%). Yes the BIC will distort in the lower frequencies, but the other frequencies are loud and smooth. Felt it a lot more in my chest.

I reran YPAO with Monolith sub volume set to about 70%, and the AVR sets the gain to +1.5 dB. If I run the sub at max gain (+15 dB) then I get acceptable levels of bass. I just thought at max this thing would be unbearable and blow me away. If I’m running at max all the time I don’t have much headroom left in this small room (14”x16”x8”).

May be I am expecting too much of a difference from this upgrade? Just doesn’t fill the room like the BIC. I contacted Monoprice who will arrange for a replacement. I think it’s worth trying a replacement to see if there’s a difference. I hope it’s not just set up error because this is way too much work to get it to work correctly!

Thanks for all of your advice!

Suke
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Old 03-25-2019, 06:15 PM
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Thanks for the input! So, I’ve been playing around with it, still can’t get it much better. I want to be happy with it, and I want to keep it, but man every time I switch back to the pl-200 it’s so much more audible, and I can feel the bass. I have tried a 20hz test tone and yes the monolith can play it, I do feel it a bit but I am not sure how audible it should be when it’s that low. The BIC struggles with it, at more than 50% volume it will distort. Once the frequencies start going up the BIC is louder and not distorting.

So I tried a few different things after I read these posts. I tried YPAO again with THX in reference mode (like before). The AVR set gain to +3db this time (instead of +10db, not sure why). Then turned volume to 12 o’clock (-6 dB) on sub. Not very impressive. Turned to max (+15 dB ) on the sub, and then it was reaching levels of the BIC (with BIC volume at 70%). Yes the BIC will distort in the lower frequencies, but the other frequencies are loud and smooth. Felt it a lot more in my chest.

I reran YPAO with Monolith sub volume set to about 70%, and the AVR sets the gain to +1.5 dB. If I run the sub at max gain (+15 dB) then I get acceptable levels of bass. I just thought at max this thing would be unbearable and blow me away. If I’m running at max all the time I don’t have much headroom left in this small room (14”x16”x8”).

May be I am expecting too much of a difference from this upgrade? Just doesn’t fill the room like the BIC. I contacted Monoprice who will arrange for a replacement. I think it’s worth trying a replacement to see if there’s a difference. I hope it’s not just set up error because this is way too much work to get it to work correctly!

Thanks for all of your advice!

Suke
Initial setup of the sub is pretty simple. Set the gain on the sub about 1/3-1/2, plug it in, turn it on, play some music. It should work just fine. Final setup where you tweak the settings is what typically takes more time.

When I replaced my Deft Tech supercube with my PC12+ all I did was swap them out and play around with the gain on the sub until it sounded good. There's really no need to initially run YPAO either unless you want to.

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Old 03-25-2019, 08:09 PM
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If you can get a SPL meter (better) or phone app to measure volume that would be helpful. Monoprice has published output numbers for it's subs, knowing what max volumes you're getting relative to that might indicate whether this is a sub or expectations issue.
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Old 03-25-2019, 10:17 PM
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Don't make the mistake of "putting the new sub in the same position as the old sub". Start from scratch with a new sub crawl ... The output of those two subs are not similar.

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.

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Old 03-26-2019, 08:24 AM
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Probably a bad sub, but there have been many times it was a major PITA to get a receiver and sub to work together, so can't say for sure.
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Old 03-26-2019, 08:29 AM
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Just to update, received my replacement Monolith 15, and it is working great!
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Old 03-26-2019, 10:24 AM
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Oh man! This is not reassuring. I am waiting on Monoprice to respond. Repacking this will not be fun.
I wouldn't be too concerned, it's a very well built sub, I'd chalk it up to a fluke, personally. But I get ya, not fun to ship back.

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Old 03-26-2019, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by C4Suke View Post
Thanks for the input! So, I’ve been playing around with it, still can’t get it much better. I want to be happy with it, and I want to keep it, but man every time I switch back to the pl-200 it’s so much more audible, and I can feel the bass. I have tried a 20hz test tone and yes the monolith can play it, I do feel it a bit but I am not sure how audible it should be when it’s that low. The BIC struggles with it, at more than 50% volume it will distort. Once the frequencies start going up the BIC is louder and not distorting.

So I tried a few different things after I read these posts. I tried YPAO again with THX in reference mode (like before). The AVR set gain to +3db this time (instead of +10db, not sure why). Then turned volume to 12 o’clock (-6 dB) on sub. Not very impressive. Turned to max (+15 dB ) on the sub, and then it was reaching levels of the BIC (with BIC volume at 70%). Yes the BIC will distort in the lower frequencies, but the other frequencies are loud and smooth. Felt it a lot more in my chest.

I reran YPAO with Monolith sub volume set to about 70%, and the AVR sets the gain to +1.5 dB. If I run the sub at max gain (+15 dB) then I get acceptable levels of bass. I just thought at max this thing would be unbearable and blow me away. If I’m running at max all the time I don’t have much headroom left in this small room (14”x16”x8”).

May be I am expecting too much of a difference from this upgrade? Just doesn’t fill the room like the BIC. I contacted Monoprice who will arrange for a replacement. I think it’s worth trying a replacement to see if there’s a difference. I hope it’s not just set up error because this is way too much work to get it to work correctly!

Thanks for all of your advice!

Suke
The third time I ran Audyssey was the best. I had the gain on sub at about 1/3 of the way up, and it was still about 78db, and Audyssey wanted me to turn it down more. It ended up setting the sub at -7 on the receiver, so I bumped it up to 0 and turned gain up on sub to 75% This really woke it up. One thing I was told is that placement is key. This sub has a really flat response and acts almost like a servo sub in its sound. I had to put mine in a corner to get it to sound where I liked it, and I know mine can use a great deal more break in time. I was in the same position as you, wishing I had kept my SVS. I will find the tips I was given and post, because they really helped.

Initially I was told;
Try to set it at 77-78 manually if you have an SPL meter. That should get Audyssey to set it at around -10, you can then add up to a 10db boost.

This helped a lot. Also check out the Monolith thread in this section. Last couple of pages has some guys with similar issues to what we have.

Basement HT 5.1.2 - Marantz 6012, Outlaw 5000 - ELAC Debut F5 Towers, C5 Center, B5 Bookshelves as surrounds - Monolith 15(RETURNED) - BenQ2050a 92" Silver Ticket
Upstairs Living Room, Music 2.1 - Anthem MRX520 - Pair of Chane A1.5's, - SVS PB 1000 - Projekt Debut turntable - LG 55" B8 OLED
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Last edited by Bigbirney; 03-26-2019 at 10:48 AM.
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Old 03-26-2019, 03:08 PM - Thread Starter
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I’m glad the replacement sub is working out for you, gives me some hope here!

I have a MiniDSP UMIK-1 coming in to measure SPL. Additionally, I tried YPAO multiple times, with sub gain settings ranging from “thx reference” to up to 75% of volume knob on sub. The receiver keeps setting sub gain in the positive dB range (+3 to +10). I would think that I don’t need to pass 0 dB on AVR.

If it’s a set up problem I think I’ve reached my limits of what I have left to try. I’ve tried corner position, position of my prior sub, walked around the room looking for better position, tried different phases.

In the end, I’m happy with the sub with AVR at +10dB and sub at max (+15dB). Which leaves me with no headroom. I will double check with the SPL meter , but I am going to guess it’s defective.

RMA is in process !
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Old 03-26-2019, 03:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by C4Suke View Post
I’m glad the replacement sub is working out for you, gives me some hope here!

I have a MiniDSP UMIK-1 coming in to measure SPL. Additionally, I tried YPAO multiple times, with sub gain settings ranging from “thx reference” to up to 75% of volume knob on sub. The receiver keeps setting sub gain in the positive dB range (+3 to +10). I would think that I don’t need to pass 0 dB on AVR.

If it’s a set up problem I think I’ve reached my limits of what I have left to try. I’ve tried corner position, position of my prior sub, walked around the room looking for better position, tried different phases.

In the end, I’m happy with the sub with AVR at +10dB and sub at max (+15dB). Which leaves me with no headroom. I will double check with the SPL meter , but I am going to guess it’s defective.

RMA is in process !
I don't think you tried turning THX settings OFF. I've seen several people mention it, but did not see you confirm that you tried it.

And just for reference, I actually tested this Monolith 15" out when they first debuted last year (you can find it in the Monoprice Unveils Three THX-Certified Subwoofers at CEDIA 2017 thread). I had trouble getting an acceptable level of sound out of it as well, but I turned all THX settings OFF and I actually had to use a Y-splitter with left and right RCA connected to get enough bass out of it. So try that, too!
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Last edited by SuperFist; 03-26-2019 at 03:44 PM.
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