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post #1 of 28 Old 10-14-2019, 07:08 PM - Thread Starter
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High end passive subwoofer options?

The last 3 subwoofers I've bought have all had amp problems within a couple of years of purchase, and it really made me wish that I could have just swapped out an amp instead of getting the whole unit serviced. It made me wonder, are there any good high end passive subwoofer options? I can't seem to find any ID manufacturers that provide good passive options -- is there a reason for that? I'm thinking about trying to get an amp and 2 good 15" passive subwoofers but I can't seem to find any in the home theater world.
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post #2 of 28 Old 10-14-2019, 07:17 PM
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DIY or AIY an option?

https://www.parts-express.com/dayton...ndle--300-7097

Add an NX3000D (probably want a fan mod) and you're all set. If looking for ported there are fewer flat pack options, but some do exist. Full DIY leaves you open to anything.

Swing on over to https://www.avsforum.com/forum/155-diy-speakers-subs/, there are probably options I'm not thinking of.

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post #3 of 28 Old 10-14-2019, 08:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptp54487 View Post
The last 3 subwoofers I've bought have all had amp problems within a couple of years of purchase, and it really made me wish that I could have just swapped out an amp instead of getting the whole unit serviced. It made me wonder, are there any good high end passive subwoofer options? I can't seem to find any ID manufacturers that provide good passive options -- is there a reason for that? I'm thinking about trying to get an amp and 2 good 15" passive subwoofers but I can't seem to find any in the home theater world.

If you still have the subs you can buy an amp and make them passive. Jeff over at JTR used to have a passive version of the Captivator, you could try to reach him, he might have something of interest laying around. Generally though, I'm not aware of any passive HT subs out there for purchase.. They exist in the pro audio world.
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post #4 of 28 Old 10-14-2019, 09:39 PM
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Chane has sealed 18" passive subs. "High End" is, of course, in the ear of the listener, so you will have to decide if they are sufficient for your needs. They are very reasonably priced right now and I've read here that some folks are implementing 2/4/8 at a time. Not a high WAF item.

https://www.chanemusiccinema.com/ind...roduct/special

You could also make your own:

http://www.rythmikaudio.com/DS1500driver.html

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.

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post #5 of 28 Old 10-15-2019, 02:28 AM
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Look at the new RBH S1212N

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post #6 of 28 Old 10-15-2019, 07:44 AM
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From a technicians standpoint, many amps that fail can be repaired if you have someone that can do it for a reasonable price. Also, if a replacement amp is not available or won't fit, one can make the sub a passive unit at that point and bypass the amp . Could always use an outboard amp.

As far as passive subs...I would guess they did not sell well in the ID HT and lost out to the ID DIY crowd. Many that look for custom solutions take it a step further by designing their own.

The Dayton Audio driver as referenced above are some to check out.
Stereo Integrity makes some pretty capable drivers: https://stereointegrity.com/product-category/subs/
Also Adire Audio: https://www.adireaudio.com/
Fi Audio: https://ficaraudio.com/

Then, if one is not capable of doing the woodwork, there are prefab enclosures or one could always have one made by a woodworker. As far as amps... Many go with a pro audio amplifier because of max watts per dollar. Also, there are powerful plate amps out there if one want to go that route.

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post #7 of 28 Old 10-15-2019, 07:48 AM
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If you buy from a brand like PSA with a five year warranty that includes the amp, you don't need to worry about it. Just curious, what were the three failed subs?
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post #8 of 28 Old 10-15-2019, 07:57 AM
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You can purchase a slave (passive) version of several of Mark Seaton's subs, including the Submersive and F18, he also sells an external amp to power them.

www.seatonsound.net

Also agree with the above suggestion to contact Jeff at JTR and see what he might be able to work up.

jtrspeakers.com

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post #9 of 28 Old 10-15-2019, 11:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptp54487 View Post
I can't seem to find any ID manufacturers that provide good passive options -- is there a reason for that? I'm thinking about trying to get an amp and 2 good 15" passive subwoofers but I can't seem to find any in the home theater world.
There's effectively no market for passive subs so that's why the ID manufacturers don't offer them. With the DSP tuning available today they are able to custom tailor the output and protection mechanisms to such a degree that perhaps 99% of the passive market goes to the DIY folks now.

Depending upon what your definition of 'high end' is - and what type of budget you're working with - Bag End has a lot of passive subwoofers. Typically you need their amplifier and processor though so I don't know if that qualifies as truly passive (but you can get an amp-less sub nonetheless). This is the type of equipment studios use to mix music and movie soundtracks, so it's high end in that regard, and they have a price to match.

 
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post #10 of 28 Old 10-15-2019, 12:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Everyone -- This is really helpful, thank you. Those Chane boxes look like a great deal, and I'll look into the Bag End subs. As the world shifts more towards receiver-level room correction and multiple subs, I wonder if the market for passive subs will increase.

The subwoofers I had problems with were JL (twice, shame on me) and SVS (to be fair, their customer service was fantastic and resolved the problem quickly). In the meantime I have an ACI Force sub that's 20+ years old that's never missed a beat. The only components I've had fail in my 25 years of audio have been subwoofer amps.

I understand about things being taken care of under warranty, but I usually hold on to components for 10+ years, and I have a feeling with subs it won't be easy to get parts for them at that point, and I'd rather just be able to switch out a component amp instead of risking the loss of the driver and all that beautiful (well, depending on the model) woodworking.

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post #11 of 28 Old 10-15-2019, 02:07 PM
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A note on those Chane subs... you will need some type of signal shaping mechanism otherwise you won't get much low bass. They start to roll off around 60Hz so if you don't prop them up using something like a Linkwitz Transfer you won't get the full effect (I actually reviewed one about 5 years ago so I have first hand knowledge of the product). That's technically no different to what almost every manufacturer does with their powered subwoofers, tailor the output to their exact specifications. When you buy a powered sub you get amplification and tuning, both of which you have to supply when going the passive route. That and the protection mechanisms to prevent over excursion, don't forget to add add it. Forgo that and your passive sub will become an ottoman in short order.

 
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post #12 of 28 Old 10-15-2019, 04:10 PM
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post #13 of 28 Old 10-15-2019, 06:28 PM
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Originally Posted by ptp54487 View Post
Everyone -- This is really helpful, thank you. Those Chane boxes look like a great deal, and I'll look into the Bag End subs. As the world shifts more towards receiver-level room correction and multiple subs, I wonder if the market for passive subs will increase.

The subwoofers I had problems with were JL (twice, shame on me) and SVS (to be fair, their customer service was fantastic and resolved the problem quickly). In the meantime I have an ACI Force sub that's 20+ years old that's never missed a beat. The only components I've had fail in my 25 years of audio have been subwoofer amps.

I understand about things being taken care of under warranty, but I usually hold on to components for 10+ years, and I have a feeling with subs it won't be easy to get parts for them at that point, and I'd rather just be able to switch out a component amp instead of risking the loss of the driver and all that beautiful (well, depending on the model) woodworking.
That's kind of a high failure rate for one person to have three sub amps go bad. Did they send just the amp or did the whole sub have to be replaced? Even if an amp goes bad out of warranty, it might be reparable. So, it does not matter if one buys an all-in-one sub or a passive sub and a separate amp. If something fails outside of the warranty the choices are the same, try to repair it or replace it.

I have an old ~ 15 year HSU that I purchased not long ago. I got it cheap because it was old and the amp failed. I checked the amp components and found no blown output devices just bad caps. I replaced all the caps myself for not much money and the sub is running like a champ and shaking things around the house.

I understand once bitten, twice shy given the failures you've have had. However, think about a company like Power Sound Audio has a 5 year warranty which is pretty exceptional for subwoofers.

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post #14 of 28 Old 10-16-2019, 01:39 PM - Thread Starter
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A note on those Chane subs... you will need some type of signal shaping mechanism otherwise you won't get much low bass. They start to roll off around 60Hz so if you don't prop them up using something like a Linkwitz Transfer you won't get the full effect (I actually reviewed one about 5 years ago so I have first hand knowledge of the product). That's technically no different to what almost every manufacturer does with their powered subwoofers, tailor the output to their exact specifications. When you buy a powered sub you get amplification and tuning, both of which you have to supply when going the passive route. That and the protection mechanisms to prevent over excursion, don't forget to add add it. Forgo that and your passive sub will become an ottoman in short order.
I'd assumed -- perhaps rashly -- that receiver level room correction could handle the signal shaping. Is that not true? I freely confess to being out of my depth here. Re the protection, that hadn't occured to me. Do passive subs need more protection than passive bookshelf speakers? What do people normally use?

I've been looking into DBA systems (like the Swarm or DEBRA) and as far as I can tell they appear to just be an amp plus 4 smallish (10") passive subwoofer. Part of my motivation in this is was wondering if it was possible to duplicate that setup using the same amp and larger (15"-18") passive subwoofers.
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post #15 of 28 Old 10-16-2019, 03:04 PM - Thread Starter
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That's kind of a high failure rate for one person to have three sub amps go bad. Did they send just the amp or did the whole sub have to be replaced? Even if an amp goes bad out of warranty, it might be reparable. So, it does not matter if one buys an all-in-one sub or a passive sub and a separate amp. If something fails outside of the warranty the choices are the same, try to repair it or replace it.

I have an old ~ 15 year HSU that I purchased not long ago. I got it cheap because it was old and the amp failed. I checked the amp components and found no blown output devices just bad caps. I replaced all the caps myself for not much money and the sub is running like a champ and shaking things around the house.

I understand once bitten, twice shy given the failures you've have had. However, think about a company like Power Sound Audio has a 5 year warranty which is pretty exceptional for subwoofers.
The JL subs need to be shipped whole, the SVS subs can just swap out amps. Different markets inform the designs -- I think JL is not focused on the kind of customer who is happy to open up their subwoofer. It's too bad, because when I bought my first JL I really needed a compact sub and the performance/footprint ratio was fantastic. I get the impression that generally the JL subs don't have super reliable amps, but for the SVS I think I was just unlucky.

I understand the benefits of a solid company standing behind their products with good service and a long warranty (and that certainly makes PSA and SVS appealling). But especially for a dual sub setup, it seems like 1 amp + 2 passive subs is more long term maintainable than 2 active subs. The difference probably isn't huge, but again I'm a little gunshy at this point. I'm happy to disassemble a sub, but I'm not the kind of guy to diagnose and change bad caps on an amp (well, at least not yet), so the idea of just sawapping out a rack-mounted amp instead of taking an active sub amp to a tech and hoping he can fix it is appealing.

I'll still probably just get an active sub, but I've always been curious about the passive option, and have been curious why it's not a bigger part of the market.
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post #16 of 28 Old 10-16-2019, 03:43 PM
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You can purchase a slave (passive) version of several of Mark Seaton's subs, including the Submersive and F18, he also sells an external amp to power them.

www.seastonsound.net
I think you mean www.seatonsound.net

External Amp

F18 Slave or Submersive HP Slave

Not cheap by any means, but you asked for high end.
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post #17 of 28 Old 10-16-2019, 03:52 PM
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I think you mean www.seatonsound.net

External Amp

F18 Slave or Submersive HP Slave

Not cheap by any means, but you asked for high end.
Indeed, thanks for catching my typo
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post #18 of 28 Old 10-16-2019, 07:10 PM
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I'd assumed -- perhaps rashly -- that receiver level room correction could handle the signal shaping. Is that not true?
Room EQ systems like Audyssey flatten out peaks and can lift minor nulls but they don't do signal shaping in the manner you need. In essence they clean up the existing frequency response, they don't extend it. You need it extended, no pun of course...

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I freely confess to being out of my depth here. Re the protection, that hadn't occured to me.Do passive subs need more protection than passive bookshelf speakers? What do people normally use?
Subwoofers require more advanced protection mechanisms because they have bigger drivers moving greater distances trying to reproduce lower frequencies than bookshelf speakers. They're also powered by amplifiers that are measured in hundreds or even thousands of watts, something no bookshelf has to contend with. Combined, those elements can really damage a driver if there isn't some type of limiter applied.

 
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post #19 of 28 Old 10-16-2019, 07:25 PM
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post #20 of 28 Old 10-17-2019, 11:37 AM
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I've been looking into DBA systems (like the Swarm or DEBRA) and as far as I can tell they appear to just be an amp plus 4 smallish (10") passive subwoofer. Part of my motivation in this is was wondering if it was possible to duplicate that setup using the same amp and larger (15"-18") passive subwoofers.
Of course its possible to put together a system like this. Those systems play on good placement of the four subs mated with predicted tuning for room gain.

Quote:
The SWARM modules use Room Gain Complementary tuning; that is, they have a gentle roll-off across their passband that is the approximate inverse of typical room gain from boundary reinforcement. Typical room gain from placement near a wall is 3 dB per octave below 100 Hz, and so the Swarm modules roll off at about 3 dB per octave from 100 Hz down to 20 Hz

The Swarm is unusually user-adjustable to deal with problematic rooms. One or more of the subwoofer modules can be converted to a low-Q sealed box by plugging the port, and many users report improved in-room bass smoothness from inverting the polarity of one of the subs, further decorrelating the in-room bass energy. Decorrelation of bass energy is desirable if the goal is smooth bass, and it should be, because smooth bass = fast bass; it is primarily peaks in the bass region that make the bass sound slow, boomy, and otherwise unnatural, and poor speaker/room interaction causes those peaks.
.

User feedback on the Audio Kinesis DEBRA System
https://forum.audiogon.com/discussio...uted-bass-arra


Four of these SI SQL-15 subs would be interesting: https://stereointegrity.com/product/sql-15/
If you can't build the enclosures can go with a prefab or have a woodworker make them. Can choose your own custom finish.

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post #21 of 28 Old 10-17-2019, 04:54 PM
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^^^^

Perfect timing – great thread

I've been researching this area for several months. Nearly every ID has moved to selling all-in-one subs with very high quality plated integrated amps. There are very few exceptions and very few passive subs. Like you, I prefer / need all my electronics in one cabinet / room and not scattered about the room into different power outlets. As for what’s better, there’s no right and wrong – only options which depend on your design goals. Clearly the market is delivering what most people can use, enjoy and want. I consider myself an outlier with few options as my SAF is pretty specific too.

Why would I want this format? My AVR setup / design is fed by a 7.5kVA isolation transformer + other. If I scattered "powered subs" about the space, then I have no simple way of supplying this power feed, in my great room which is my home theater. I’d have to install / distribute more power-outlets to support these dispersed plated subs. In most US homes, wall standard power outlets are series-wired 15A in a room or even multiple rooms - depending on what the electrician and builder decided. 20A outlets are typically required by code in areas like kitchens but seldom found in HT setups unless the owner designed it that way.

Jim Wilson makes excellent points that the DSP and other options available to subwoofer-engineers today is amazing. They can push their motors to extremes while delivering the best sound possible for us to enjoy. Some of this stuff simply was not possible or feasible just a few years ago. Part of my quest is to replace my original HSU HRSW10 passive’s. Note: These are tuned and controlled using RANE professional hardware with time delays etc.. so I could optimize each sub independently. That’s the best we could do 20 years ago before DSP came along. Guys, don’t laugh, they still pack a punch but I'm ready to move to a pair of 18" for this space.

The other constraint is the IDers, for the most part, adopted Henry Ford’s approach – any color you want as long as it’s black, blacker and glossy black. There are very, very few exceptions. Sadly, my SAF has said absolutely no more black monoliths in the room! If this were a dedicated HT area, I might get away with it but this is our main family room. She's upped the ante that they must meld nicely with the maple cabinets, they must be down-firing, they must be protected from pets, and I do have a rather aggressive size limit. Why? she does not to see any big black grates, we have pets, and they gotta be visually compact for the location. Oh, two more things - the space is nearly 10,000 ft3 - in very open floor plan so there's only 2 locations I can even put subs where they are not in the way and I prefer Made In the USA when possible.

So at this point, there are very few subwoofer engineers out here which are capable of making such products.

The only passive high(er)-end subs I located today were from RBH. The issue I have with those are none of the stuff Jim mentioned such as DSP optimizations, is there. Yeah, two of these would be the easiest drop in replacement for my original HSU’s but given what I read here, I think I can do better... eventually. Sadly HSU does not make/offer any passives now – round or otherwise and I asked them a few years ago. They politely conveyed – no market. For me their original sonotube approach was quite clever as it delivered a good quality unit which I could move without inducing a hernia!

The only contenders in this play I know of today are:

So if anyone knows of more options not already mentioned on this thread, please share. Peace.

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post #22 of 28 Old 10-18-2019, 11:03 AM
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Guys, don’t laugh, they still pack a punch but I'm ready to move to a pair of 18" for this space.

Sadly, my SAF has said absolutely no more black monoliths in the room! If this were a dedicated HT area, I might get away with it but this is our main family room. She's upped the ante that they must meld nicely with the maple cabinets, they must be down-firing, they must be protected from pets, and I do have a rather aggressive size limit. Why? she does not to see any big black grates, we have pets, and they gotta be visually compact for the location. Oh, two more things - the space is nearly 10,000 ft3 - in very open floor plan so there's only 2 locations I can even put subs where they are not in the way and I prefer Made In the USA when possible.

So if anyone knows of more options not already mentioned on this thread, please share. Peace.
A lot of what you're after can be had from Funk Audio. Virtually any finish you could want they would be able to do, including the ability to match the finish to your existing decor in a lot of instances. Their subs are known for their high quality sound to match the looks, and the 18" models are about as small as they can physically be. Not sure about passive options, but Nathan ( @Funk Audio ) is the one to ask.

 
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post #23 of 28 Old 10-18-2019, 08:10 PM
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^^^ Thank You! I've examined Funk Audio's site several times in the past. He makes exquisite subs! I'm starting to think my minimum checklist is not feasible or possible today. Maybe I have wait a few more years for the ID guys to add a little more flexibility into their lines or offer a custom-like option such as Seaton is sort of doing..

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post #24 of 28 Old 10-21-2019, 05:28 PM
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Salk Sound is another custom option. He uses Rythmik drivers/amps/etc ... and puts them into custom designed and finished cabinets.

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.

Last edited by RayGuy; 10-21-2019 at 05:34 PM.
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post #25 of 28 Old 10-22-2019, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by gattaca View Post
^^^ Thank You! I've examined Funk Audio's site several times in the past. He makes exquisite subs! I'm starting to think my minimum checklist is not feasible or possible today. Maybe I have wait a few more years for the ID guys to add a little more flexibility into their lines or offer a custom-like option such as Seaton is sort of doing..

What we do is so flexible its hard to make it known what all we can do. We do have standard products but we can do almost anything imaginable on a custom basis, passive designs included. We have done quite a few and can even optimize our drivers for these applications depending on the use the planned amps etc.

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post #26 of 28 Old 10-22-2019, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by VisionxOrb View Post
https://shop.gsgad.com/

Ran by a couple members here.
If you're getting a passive sub you're essentially only buying two things: a box and a driver (in many cases the exact same drivers we DIY guys use in boxes we build ourselves). If you can work a saw and glue some pieces together you can make the box part for $30-60. If you follow the sales you can get a PA460 for $75 and build a VBSS sub; a UM18-22 for $230 and build a 18" Marty; or a 21" san214.50 for $350 and build a 21" Marty or a Devastator.

Don't like sawing? GSG is a fantastic option, they're a one-stop subwoofer shop that sells the boxes, the drivers, and the amps all in one place. They also offer detailed instructions including EQ recommendations (and whatever other support you need by phone and email). I've built several of their designs and the results are fantastic.

I absolutely recognize that some folks have constraints. Some guys are wealthy and a few hours of their time is worth more than the hundreds or thousands they'd save building a sub box. Some guys hate tools and working with their hands, I get it. But if you can glue a few pieces of wood together there is no better bang-for-the-buck than the DIY sub box.

SPEAKERS: 3 x DIYSG 1099's LCR; DIYSG HTM 6's and 8's surround; 4 x RSL C34E's atmos.
SUBS: 4 x UM18-22 Mini Marty's and 2 x 21DS114-4 Devastators
SIGNAL CHAIN: Denon X4400; Minidsp 2x4 HD; 2 x Jensen Iso Sub 2RX; 3 x NX6000d.
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post #27 of 28 Old 10-23-2019, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by lawdogx View Post
If you're getting a passive sub you're essentially only buying two things: a box and a driver (in many cases the exact same drivers we DIY guys use in boxes we build ourselves). If you can work a saw and glue some pieces together you can make the box part for $30-60. If you follow the sales you can get a PA460 for $75 and build a VBSS sub; a UM18-22 for $230 and build a 18" Marty; or a 21" san214.50 for $350 and build a 21" Marty or a Devastator.

Don't like sawing? GSG is a fantastic option, they're a one-stop subwoofer shop that sells the boxes, the drivers, and the amps all in one place. They also offer detailed instructions including EQ recommendations (and whatever other support you need by phone and email). I've built several of their designs and the results are fantastic.

I absolutely recognize that some folks have constraints. Some guys are wealthy and a few hours of their time is worth more than the hundreds or thousands they'd save building a sub box. Some guys hate tools and working with their hands, I get it. But if you can glue a few pieces of wood together there is no better bang-for-the-buck than the DIY sub box.
^^^^ Thanks.

I had checked out Salk's site earlier but thanks for reminding me.
As I recall, the custom subs still use plate amps and they do not have 18"ers.
The DO have nice wood options and down firing!

WRT DIY, I can do a lot things - plumbing, wiring, painting, flooring, but making custom furniture-grade speaker cabinets which will pass my wife's discerning eye is not one of them - especially when you start talking maple veneers etc.. So for that reason, I marked off DIY.

Thanks I'm sure others are going to find this thread interesting! Peace.
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post #28 of 28 Old 10-24-2019, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by ptp54487 View Post
The last 3 subwoofers I've bought have all had amp problems within a couple of years of purchase, and it really made me wish that I could have just swapped out an amp instead of getting the whole unit serviced. It made me wonder, are there any good high end passive subwoofer options? I can't seem to find any ID manufacturers that provide good passive options -- is there a reason for that? I'm thinking about trying to get an amp and 2 good 15" passive subwoofers but I can't seem to find any in the home theater world.
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Originally Posted by Rex Anderson View Post
I have a pair of JBL S2S-EX subs with a SDA-4600 amp and they are amazing! I would consider these high end subs.
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OPPO 103d, Xbox ONE, SONY KDL-65W850A, Epson 6030UB, SI 120" 2:35 Pure White, Furman Elite-20 PF I,JBL Synthesis SDP-25 , miniDSP-88A & 88BM, JBL Synthesis SDEC-3500
JBL Synthesis SDA-7200 Amp. W/ JBL 708i (LCR), JBL 705i Surrounds (4) Speakers and 4600 Amp. W/ JBL Synthesis S2S-EX Subwoofers (2)
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