Vandersteen W2 sub wiring question - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 12 Old 11-01-2019, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Vandersteen W2 sub wiring question

I have a simple 5.2 all Vandersteen set-up. L/R 2ci's, Center VCC1, 1b's in back with 2 W2 subs. Currently the W2's are wired using the factory inline crossovers between the pre and amp. I recently purchased an Outlaw 976 pre/pro. This is my first time with ability for bass management. I'm very pleased with current "stereo" subs when listening to music but I'm wondering if I'm missing something not using the bass management in the 976 for movies? I realize the two 976 sub outputs are the same signal. Are there any strong pros/cons for either? I'm close to 50/50 music/video.
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post #2 of 12 Old 11-02-2019, 12:21 AM
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So, are you sending the full range signal to all the speakers, including the sub, but the sub is filtering out the high frequencies? If I have this right, you could easily benefit from using the internal crossover of the receiver.

By crossing over using the receiver, you filter out the lower frequencies from all the speakers. This allows the speakers to function better, with less distortion, as they would no longer have to attempt to reproduce frequencies near the speaker's low frequency limit. In addition, it would give you a bit more amplifier headroom, as lower frequencies are the most power-hungry. It would also allow you to tailor the crossover point for each speaker separately, as the fronts, center, and surrounds probably all have different bass response characteristics.

Go ahead and give it a try. Nothing to lose, and much to gain.

I note that the W2 sub tops out at 80 Hz (a bit restricted), so your receiver crossover point should be no higher than 60 Hz for any speaker in the system.
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post #3 of 12 Old 11-02-2019, 01:46 AM - Thread Starter
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@RayGuy Thanks for the response. Your first question prompted me to go back and RTM. I haven't looked at it since I set up my original 2 channel vinyl system years ago. Not knowing any better I am sending full range to all speakers. I learned from the manual for video to set the processor to send all bass signal to the mains.

I do not fully understand how the Vandersteen crossovers actually work. Between the processor and the main amp at the RCA in on the amp inline high pass crossovers are RCA connected. That does take all the bass load off the main amp as you explained. (At least I was on the right track with that) The mains and subs are wired in parallel from main amp. Somehow the low part of the signal gets to the sub and (to me) magically reappears for the sub to amplify. From the brochure this is supposed to give both the mains and subs the same amplifier "signature". Somebody please explain to me how frequencies that are blocked before the amp are somehow sent out of the amp to the sub???

First up I'm going to set the processor to knock down the bass to the center and surrounds as recommended and see what that sounds like. That will keep the subs in the stereo configuration I'm used to.

Next up I'll go processor only bass management. That will give me a lot of settings to play with. I'll be interested to see if I can even notice a difference with the subs being mono.

Thanks for the nugget the W2 sub tops out at 80Hz. Not sure I ever knew that.
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post #4 of 12 Old 11-02-2019, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Peja View Post
@RayGuy Thanks for the response. Your first question prompted me to go back and RTM. I haven't looked at it since I set up my original 2 channel vinyl system years ago. Not knowing any better I am sending full range to all speakers. I learned from the manual for video to set the processor to send all bass signal to the mains.

I do not fully understand how the Vandersteen crossovers actually work. Between the processor and the main amp at the RCA in on the amp inline high pass crossovers are RCA connected. That does take all the bass load off the main amp as you explained. (At least I was on the right track with that) The mains and subs are wired in parallel from main amp. Somehow the low part of the signal gets to the sub and (to me) magically reappears for the sub to amplify. From the brochure this is supposed to give both the mains and subs the same amplifier "signature". Somebody please explain to me how frequencies that are blocked before the amp are somehow sent out of the amp to the sub???

First up I'm going to set the processor to knock down the bass to the center and surrounds as recommended and see what that sounds like. That will keep the subs in the stereo configuration I'm used to.

Next up I'll go processor only bass management. That will give me a lot of settings to play with. I'll be interested to see if I can even notice a difference with the subs being mono.

Thanks for the nugget the W2 sub tops out at 80Hz. Not sure I ever knew that.
I'm going to guess that they are referring to frequencies in the crossover region. Bear in mind that a crossover point is not a brick wall. Instead, it is a slope, whose angle is a function of the crossover design. If I recall correctly, Vandersteen is a believer in a very shallow slope , i.e. 6dB per octave. If that is the scenario with that low pass filter on the sub, then it makes some sense that they recommend running full range on the speakers, as their additional output below the crossover region will "fill in" the frequencies well into the bass region.

If true, then the receiver's built-in crossover may or may not work well, as it is probably a 12 and/or 18 db per octave (high pass/low pass). So, your task is first, to educate yourself on what is going on with the Vandersteen crossover, and then to understand how the receiver's crossover differs. It might make some sense to contact Vandersteen with this scenario, as I'm sure they have heard it hundreds of times, by now, and should be well-versed in the correct approach.

You may find that the original approach works best with these speakers, and whatever compromises it brings into play worth the down side. It may also indicate that a separate high/low pass crossover unit, one that can be tailored to these speakers, may be the best way forward. Do keep us informed of your progress and whatever you learn in the process. Vandersteen makes great speakers and you are fortunate to own them.
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post #5 of 12 Old 11-15-2019, 11:57 PM - Thread Starter
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@RayGuy I was finally able to talk to Richard Vandersteen. First up let me correct the model of sub I own. My subs are model 2W and require an amp level signal to work with the sub amplifier. They will not work with a pre/pro line level signal. So they're not going to work with the Outlaw or any other line level pre outs. Back when they were first released they weren't really designed for bass management. When I first purchased mine they were for 2 channel vinyl set-up. My rears and center came way later.

Richard told me that the 2W needs to be hooked up as designed with mains and subs in parallel off the same amp with the inline crossovers between the pre and amplifier. With this configuration the pre should have the main speakers set to large for seamless sound between mains and subs. This is my original/current setting.

I asked him how to manage bass and LFE for movies. He told me to pick up a used one of his Z2W subs. They are same form as 2W but are exclusively line level designed for bass management equipment. He said to set mains to small and run them through bass management and I would definitely hear some woofage. I had never heard of them but since it looks identical to mine I easily overlooked them on his site. They are currently in production but new at $1899 a wee bit rich for me. I found a used one on the bay @$500 but I'm thinking a couple of smaller near field units will surely fill the bill for me.

Oh, and a "just missed it" moment. I found a pair of 2c's and two Z2W's for $1000. Perfect, I upgrade my rears and add two more subs for a grand. Only problem I'm in Cali and they are pick up only in Louisiana. Oh well, time to start looking for a couple of inexpensive subs.

Again thanks for all your help and thoughtful responses.

Last edited by Peja; 11-16-2019 at 12:01 AM.
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post #6 of 12 Old 11-16-2019, 11:01 AM
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@RayGuy I was finally able to talk to Richard Vandersteen. First up let me correct the model of sub I own. My subs are model 2W and require an amp level signal to work with the sub amplifier. They will not work with a pre/pro line level signal. So they're not going to work with the Outlaw or any other line level pre outs. Back when they were first released they weren't really designed for bass management. When I first purchased mine they were for 2 channel vinyl set-up. My rears and center came way later.

Richard told me that the 2W needs to be hooked up as designed with mains and subs in parallel off the same amp with the inline crossovers between the pre and amplifier. With this configuration the pre should have the main speakers set to large for seamless sound between mains and subs. This is my original/current setting.

I asked him how to manage bass and LFE for movies. He told me to pick up a used one of his Z2W subs. They are same form as 2W but are exclusively line level designed for bass management equipment. He said to set mains to small and run them through bass management and I would definitely hear some woofage. I had never heard of them but since it looks identical to mine I easily overlooked them on his site. They are currently in production but new at $1899 a wee bit rich for me. I found a used one on the bay @$500 but I'm thinking a couple of smaller near field units will surely fill the bill for me.

Oh, and a "just missed it" moment. I found a pair of 2c's and two Z2W's for $1000. Perfect, I upgrade my rears and add two more subs for a grand. Only problem I'm in Cali and they are pick up only in Louisiana. Oh well, time to start looking for a couple of inexpensive subs.

Again thanks for all your help and thoughtful responses.
I am not surprised at the outcome. Keeping your current config for music makes some sense. So, going forward, will you add powered subs for HT and not use them for music? Will you set up two different configurations in the receiver? Will you run the L&R with the current subs full range (i.e. "Double Bass")? Add a switch of some sort? Having trouble visualizing the methodology of implementing both scenarios at once ...

Out of curiosity, did you learn the frequency and slope of the Vandersteen crossover unit?

BTW, UPS has a service whereby they will package (be sure it's double boxed) and ship products. All the seller has to do is to deliver them to his local UPS Store. You might consider this approach, if the seller is amenable to delivering the items to UPS. No idea what the cost would be, and I would be more confident if the seller had the original packaging, but I thought you might consider it, given the perfect symmetry.

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Last edited by RayGuy; 11-16-2019 at 12:35 PM.
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post #7 of 12 Old 11-16-2019, 11:09 AM
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Be careful with any advice you may get here. Most people are not too familiar with Vandersteen's peculiar setup schemes and configurations.
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post #8 of 12 Old 11-17-2019, 10:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sivadselim View Post
Be careful with any advice you may get here. Most people are not too familiar with Vandersteen's peculiar setup schemes and configurations.
So true. I contacted Outlaw before I was able to speak with Richard. They could not help as they had no knowledge or contact with any Vandy sub owners.
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post #9 of 12 Old 11-17-2019, 11:52 AM
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I asked him how to manage bass and LFE for movies.

Configure your pre/pro as having NO SUB. This will route the LFE channel and any rerouted bass from speakers that might be set to SMALL to your front channels where the combined [LFE channel + other rerouted bass from SMALL speakers] will then be spread across your front speakers and current subs accordingly.
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post #10 of 12 Old 11-17-2019, 12:03 PM - Thread Starter
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@RayGuy There's not really an easy way to add powered subs to the Vandy's and have flexibility for either pair individually without the other. Each set requires a different speaker setting for the mains. The Vandy's require large mains no sub setting and the powered subs are small mains with sub setting. The Outlaw does not have main speaker settings for different inputs. Changing speaker setup through the menu when switching from vinyl/streaming to movies is not appealing.

I did not learn the slope of the crossover. I was having trouble keeping up with Richard and taking notes I forgot to ask.

It would be interesting to hook up a set of powered subs with the mains set to small and see what it sounds like with both. Would it really be doubling up or would the high pass crossover in the Outlaw screw with the Vandersteen high pass between the processor and main amp? If I could get all the subs dialed in and put a toggle switch in the powered sub wires to kill them when listening to music, I could live with that. Big if. Oh well, this is what I get for jones'ing for a little more thump. In the end I still love where I'm at and what I've got. Thanks again for the responses.

I checked into UPS and shipping would virtually double the cost for all four boxes. Would be worth it for one sub.
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post #11 of 12 Old 11-17-2019, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sivadselim View Post
Configure your pre/pro as having NO SUB. This will route the LFE channel and any rerouted bass from speakers that might be set to SMALL to your front channels where the combined [LFE channel + other rerouted bass from SMALL speakers] will then be spread across your front speakers and current subs accordingly.
Thanks for the explanation. I do have mine set to no sub but did not fully understand what the interaction was between the mains and other speakers.
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post #12 of 12 Old 11-17-2019, 01:07 PM
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@RayGuy There's not really an easy way to add powered subs to the Vandy's and have flexibility for either pair individually without the other. Each set requires a different speaker setting for the mains. The Vandy's require large mains no sub setting and the powered subs are small mains with sub setting. The Outlaw does not have main speaker settings for different inputs. Changing speaker setup through the menu when switching from vinyl/streaming to movies is not appealing.

I did not learn the slope of the crossover. I was having trouble keeping up with Richard and taking notes I forgot to ask.

It would be interesting to hook up a set of powered subs with the mains set to small and see what it sounds like with both. Would it really be doubling up or would the high pass crossover in the Outlaw screw with the Vandersteen high pass between the processor and main amp? If I could get all the subs dialed in and put a toggle switch in the powered sub wires to kill them when listening to music, I could live with that. Big if. Oh well, this is what I get for jones'ing for a little more thump. In the end I still love where I'm at and what I've got. Thanks again for the responses.

I checked into UPS and shipping would virtually double the cost for all four boxes. Would be worth it for one sub.
One scenario you could explore is to use cascading crossovers. Set up the fronts (with Vandersteen subs) as your main speakers (i.e. your current configuration) then use the receiver's internal crossover to cut the lowest bass frequencies and re-route them to new subs. In this situation, you would want to cross over below the crossover point of the Vandys, relieving them of the task of reproducing the lowest bass frequencies (should result in less distortion). I'd start at 60Hz and try moving to 50, then 40, and use the one that sounds/measures best.

Then, the only change you would have to implement to listen to music would be to tell the receiver that you have no sub (Small setting should then default to Large, but check that assumption in the receiver's manual). If you have a learning remote, you could even set up a couple of macros to "turn on" the music setting or "turn on" the Movie setting. Two buttons to toggle between the two modes would be a lot more user friendly than having to dig through the menus each time you want to swap.

If you use Audyssey, toggling may be an issue, in which case I would just discontinue it's use.

One other thought comes to mind ... you could cross over ABOVE the current crossover point, virtually eliminating the Vandersteen subs for HT use. Same toggling scenario as specified above. There is some upside to this scenario, as you would only have to deal with one crossover region instead of two. The difference is the crossover region would be between the speakers and the new subs, not the old subs and the new subs. Of course, crossing over higher may lead to some localization issues, but using two subs will mitigate that issue, somewhat. It would be an interesting experiment, in any case.
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