Stereo mini amp with subwoofer out? - Page 3 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #61 of 98 Old 02-02-2019, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by pjp View Post
I disagree (to say the least) with green markers, but I agree with his rationale in this case.
It's not "his" rationale. Having sold subwoofers from many leading brands for over 20 years of my life I can tell you this "copy the distortion sonic signature of the main amp into your subs even though they aren't covering the same frequency range (barring the overlapped transition area near the crossover) by using the speaker level inputs on your sub" is mythology straight out of REL's propaganda. They are a "high end" brand I am ashamed to say I carried for a while. Besides being poor performers the are also grossly over-priced and since they can't rely on performance to sell their subs instead they focus on audio mythology. When challenged by things like "I don't get it: your subs have a poor bass extension, a very uneven frequency response, low maximum output level, and high harmonic distortion, so why do they cost more than the rest?" They fall back on: "But ours are so much more musical. Can't you hear it? Measurements don't show how it actually performs with music. That's what really counts." [They suck at music, BTW, and yes I was using high level inputs as they (alone) advise.]
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In A/V reproduction accuracy, there IS no concept of "accounting for personal taste/preference". As art consumers we don't "pick" the level of bass, nor the tint/brightness of a scene's sky, any more than we pick the ending of a novel or Mona Lisa's type of smile. "High fidelity" means "high truthfulness", faithful to the original artist's intent: an unmodified, neutral, accurate copy of the original master, ideally being exact and with no discernable alterations, aka "transparency".

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post #62 of 98 Old 02-02-2019, 04:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Another point that goes against Paul's advice here is that most higher end subwoofers I've seen don't even offer speaker level inputs. If using speaker level connections was truly superior, then you'd think the subwoofer manufacturers would be providing them, in case the sub is used in a 2.1 setup and not for home theater.

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post #63 of 98 Old 02-02-2019, 05:34 PM
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My guess is that most manufacturers don't include speaker level inputs because of cost. But, I agree there probably isn't any "magic" using these inputs.

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post #64 of 98 Old 02-02-2019, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by postrokfan View Post
My guess is that most manufacturers don't include speaker level inputs because of cost.
But it's the cheap subs that normally have them and not the higher end ones.
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post #65 of 98 Old 02-02-2019, 05:58 PM
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I wonder if commercial movie theaters ignore their Dolby processor's preamp level sub output and instead apply a voltage divider to a full range amp's output to then re-amplify it to send to their subs? [joke]
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post #66 of 98 Old 02-02-2019, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Pete7874 View Post
But it's the cheap subs that normally have them and not the higher end ones.
Actually, plenty of "higher end" subs have them. But who cares? I was just commenting and maybe being a bit nit picky.

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post #67 of 98 Old 02-02-2019, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
I wonder if commercial movie theaters ignore their Dolby processor's preamp level sub output and instead apply a voltage divider to a full range amp's output to then re-amplify it to send to their subs? [joke]
I guess it's a joke, but to be clear, for surround sound, I wouldn't dream of using anything but LFE.
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post #68 of 98 Old 02-02-2019, 06:43 PM
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If your goal is high fidelity, aka high faithfulness, aka high accuracy, then there is a right way: the more accurate way. If however your intent is to color and distort the sound in a manner you personally deem beneficial, then by all means make all sorts of adjustments in your system but don't make decisions based on what measures the most accurate: go instead by what creates the largest smile in the user. [Might I recommend a smiley faced EQ because that's been found to be preferred by many.] See my signature for more.
There is no black and white definition of what is "accurate" because both approaches have flaws. I probably should have phrased it differently because I believe both approaches are different flavors of "accurate". My preference for accuracy is that the sub and the mains be driven by the closest possible signal. I view feeding them with different signals as less accurate. Your version of accurate is using the best signal possible to each source, despite there being inconsistency between sources to the mains and sub. You view that as accurate, which is your right.

It isn't a matter of hoping whatever color the amp adds is good, it's a matter of driving both with the same signal. Within normal operational limits, I prefer that. If you are pushing the limits of the amp, then I'd probably prefer line level for the reasons you stated.
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post #69 of 98 Old 02-02-2019, 07:40 PM
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There is no black and white definition of what is "accurate" because both approaches have flaws.
Your method passes the source signal through two extra electronic devices, listed below, completely unnecessarily for people who have preamp level connection capabilities, which can do nothing other than possibly distort and add hum/hiss to the sound [hopefully at a very low level but nonetheless it can't be avoided because the only perfect amp out there is . . . drum roll please. . . . no amp]:

A. an amplifier and
B. a voltage divider inside the sub to bring the speaker level signal back down to preamp level where the signal is then treated exactly as the incoming preamp signal would be.

Preamp out stage >>>>>>>>>>>>>power amp>>>>>>>>voltage divider>>>>>>>>>>subwoofer's processing and amplification.

My method used and recommended by everyone under the sun (except REL and Paul McGowan):

Preamp out stage >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>subwoofer's processing and amplification

One method has two stages of added degradation the other doesn't, so one is by definition more accurate because it is more direct.



What are the "flaws" with using a subwoofer's preamp level inputs?

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post #70 of 98 Old 02-05-2019, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
...One method has two stages of added degradation the other doesn't, so one is by definition more accurate because it is more direct.

What are the "flaws" with using a subwoofer's preamp level inputs?
What you are ignoring is that the vast majority of the sound (that you hear through the mains) is unavoidably going through the coloration of the amp. If you want to have the subwoofer be an extension of the mains -- which is it's only purpose in life for 2-channel music -- it can be beneficial to have it use the closest possible signal to what the mains are processing. Driving the sub by the speaker level output achieves that.

There is no right answer -- your approach causes the mains and sub to be driven by different signals. Yes, the sub is cleaner because it bypasses any coloration by the amp, but then the signals to the mains and sub are inconsistent. My approach causes both to be driven by the closest possible signal. At extreme volume levels, the rolloff won't be ideal with speaker-level connection, but the mains won't be sounding ideal either, so it's kind of a meaningless case.

The answer is to listen to both and decide which is best. In my real-world situation, I had a small JVC executive desk system, a bit like the OP's with lesser speakers. After having the sub connected to the preamp output for a long time, I switched to speaker level and it sounded much better. I hated wiring it by speaker because the springy speaker connectors on the sub were kind of crap and the preamp out wiring was much cleaner, but it sounded better on speaker output.

Rather than having either approach shoved down anybody's throat, the best advice is to try both and use the configuration that sounds best. I know you are going to say you can't trust hearing, but my preferred sound result was against my internal bias, so I trust my evaluation.
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post #71 of 98 Old 02-05-2019, 11:01 AM
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What you are ignoring is that the vast majority of the sound (that you hear through the mains) is unavoidably going through the coloration of the amp.
Wrong, for the part of the frequency range we are talking about reproducing as best possible, the deep bass, it is 100% avoidable and that's the whole point: all professional systems avoid the hum, hiss, distortion and frequency response skewing of the unnecessary amp and unnecessary voltage divider (the device which brings the speaker level signal back down to what it should have been from the get go for the sub's amp) by using the original preamp signal, rather than distorting it through two completely unnecessary devices. This is the recommended method by everyone under the sun except REL and Paul McGowan, a man who thinks green magic markers alter the sound of CDs.
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post #72 of 98 Old 02-05-2019, 11:04 AM
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What are the "flaws" with using a subwoofer's preamp level inputs?
I'm still waiting for an answer to this question or is your response, paraphrased: "The problem is the bass hasn't been distorted (properly) yet if you extract it there, nor has attained the coloration of the voltage divider"?

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post #73 of 98 Old 02-05-2019, 11:17 AM
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If you want to have the subwoofer be an extension of the mains -- which is it's only purpose in life for 2-channel music --
So if a little mini system like a JVC FS7000 has, let's say, 50% distortion at 30Hz you'd want to preserve that into your outboard sub? That's silly.

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post #74 of 98 Old 02-05-2019, 11:24 AM
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Wrong, for the part of the reproduction range we are talking about, the deep bass, it is 100% avoidable and that's the point: all professional systems avoid the hum, hiss, distortion and frequency response skewing of the unnecessary amp and unnecessary voltage divider (the device which brings the speaker level signal back down to what it should have been from the get go) by using the original preamp signal rather than distorting it through two completely unnecessary devices. This is the recommended method by everyone under the sun except REL and Paul McGowan, a man who thinks green magic markers alter the sound of CDs.
Neither side is wrong. I don't want to avoid the amp, I specifically want the sub to have the exact same signal profile as the mains, which is coming out of the amp.

Professional systems have nothing to do with home systems. I've dealt with professional systems and I agree that I would never in a million years feed any sub by speaker-level in a professional environment, but that is because of environmental circumstances and because of totally different sound requirements in a professional setting. In a home 2-channel system, dedicated to reproducing music, where the runs of wire are a few feet, I will choose the option that sounds best. Depending on the equipment, I'm certain there are instances where line level will sound better, and others where speaker level will sound better (I've already identified 1 instance).

I've hooked up many systems (that didn't have preamp outs) via speaker-level and never, ever heard any of the hiss and hum or any artifacts that you are suggesting -- and I listen primarily to mellow jazz like Chet Baker where there are so many quiet sections and so much open space you would hear any artifact easily. Theoretical "better" is not the same as "real-world" better. Listen to both and choose. It's that simple.
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post #75 of 98 Old 02-05-2019, 11:34 AM
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Velodyne subs, the brand being used by the OP, recommend using my method [as does every other sub maker I know of other than the poor quality one which spouts this audio mythology, REL] and say speaker level connections should only be used only if no other option exists:

"Speaker level: If the receiver has no sub out, line out or pre-out connections, you can connect the subwoofer using speaker level inputs."

Key word: "if". Clearly they are saying it is the less preferred method and should only be used as a last ditch effort when no other connection methodologies exist.

Source: http://velodyneacoustics.com/tech/co...usic-and-home/
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post #76 of 98 Old 02-05-2019, 11:37 AM
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Professional systems have nothing to do with home systems. . . . I would never in a million years feed any sub by speaker-level in a professional environment
Please explain why we want more hum, hiss, frequency response skewing, and distortion in home systems yet not in pro systems. Thanks.

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post #77 of 98 Old 02-05-2019, 11:43 AM
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I'm certain there are instances where line level will sound better, and others where speaker level will sound better (I've already identified 1 instance).
You have not identified an instance that "sounds better" either in theory nor by measurement; you've merely mentioned a setup you say sounded better to your ears under sighted, non-level matched conditions. The problem with that method is small loudness differentials are often misconstrued as quality changes rather than what they really are, quantity (level) changes. It is an uncanny illusion every single human on the planet suffers from and is explained here: http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=5539

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post #78 of 98 Old 02-05-2019, 11:55 AM - Thread Starter
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The answer is to listen to both and decide which is best.
On that point, keeping science aside, just going by my own ears, I must say I prefer how my system sounds when using speaker level connections on the sub. The sub sounds more lively (more musical?), for the lack of a better word. I am not saying it sounds more accurate, since I don't know how I could even determine that. I am just saying I like how it sounds now better than how it sounded when connected using sub pre-out from the receiver.

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post #79 of 98 Old 02-05-2019, 12:14 PM
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Please explain why we want more hum, hiss, frequency response skewing, and distortion in home systems yet not in pro systems. Thanks.
This is the last post I will make on the subject. I want the sub to be an extension of the mains. If I'm running a tube amp, I want the sub to be fed with the tube output rather than the preamp output so the signal matches the mains. It's more important to me that both the sub and mains are processing the closest possible signal. I don't care that the preamp is marginally cleaner, I want the same signal to both (that is, if and only if, it sounds better in real life testing). The hum, hiss, frequency response skewing and everything else you are talking about does not exist in the real-world in my experience in any decent system -- if you have that much amp distortion and noise in your system, you would hear it in the mains and you'd have much bigger issues than the subtle differences of sub connection types. I don't presume either is better, listen to both and then decide on a case-by-case basis. In the one system I compared it to, it sounded better with speaker level even though that was not my preferred connection choice.

If you've compared the real-world sound of speaker-level connection to line-level, I'm very interested in your experiences. If you are just going to repeat the same theoretical argument that, as an EE I already understood a million times over before you ever even posted, I can't take time to read or respond to anything more you have to say.
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post #80 of 98 Old 02-05-2019, 01:11 PM
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If you've compared the real-world sound of speaker-level connection to line-level, I'm very interested in your experiences..
Since I agree with Velodyne and every other sub maker on the planet [exception: REL, a company which spouts audio mythology] I'm at a loss why you'd think I'd even attempt to listen to the inferior method if the superior method is available?

The added hum, hiss, frequency response skewing, and distortion is thankfully usually fairly innocuous, I admit, however for critical listeners using high end gear it can theoretically be noticeable in direct, rapid fire A/B comparisons with the right material. Even if we pretend for a moment the amp itself is "perfect", the voltage divider or "line out converter", LOC, which knocks the speaker level signal back down to line level, where the signal then gets re-amplified by the powered sub's own amp, is not always innocuous. A high end one made with high quality Jensen transformers costing hundreds of dollars might be close, but the cheap ones we get thrown in for free when we buy consumer subs often isn't.

The companies which make these passive devices as outboard products, often used on factory car head units since they usually lack preamp level outs, often lie and claim their frequency response is dead flat, at least from 20-20kHz that is, but in truth when they get measured they often come up short. Some people who are forced to use them buy several and then measure them to see which is the least problematic, like this guy:

"Better Than I Expected
By S. Scott on Jan 19, 2014
I needed a LOC for an automotive subwoofer installation and did not want to pay a fortune for an active unit. I decided to take a chance on this one. Many of these cheaper units use inferior transformers with limited low frequency response (normally about 80Hz). I tested this after temporarily installing it to see if it would be suitable, and was surprised to find the -3dB point to be between 40 and 60Hz, which is very good for a device in this price range. It found a permanent home in the car and works very well for me."

Here is his measured response of the LOC from his car's head unit's speaker level out:


Most companies don't post their frequency response graphs for their LOCs because they are often inferior to this one and even this one doesn't cut it in my book (for home use).

Even the high end passive ones aren't technically perfect.
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post #81 of 98 Old 03-26-2020, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by DavidK442 View Post
I have searched hi and low for a small, inexpensive integrated amplifier with a basic 2-way crossover.
In car audio this flexible setup is the norm.
In home audio it is non-existent.
You are either stuck with an entry level home theater receiver (and its huge box and unused channels of amplification) or forced to spend $600 or more for something like the PS Audio Sprout 100.

Very surprising that this need has not been full-filled by a single manufacturer. Perhaps the digital signal processing required would push these little amps out of their price range.
Even so, similar mid-range products such as the various NAD's are missing the feature as well.
We don't need anything fancy. Just a single switch to select an 80hz, 12db/octave high pass on the amplifier and a pre-amp output (filtered or not) to feed a powered sub.
How difficult and costly can it possibly be?
@ DavidK442 - Sorry to resuscitate an old post
On your point above I’m looking for a Bluetooth amp for my office (12’x12’). I’ll have speakers at each end of the built in desk (also 12 feet long) and a sub. In addition to speaker outputs I’d like to also attach my Mac. Speakers and sub yet to be purchased. Is there still no small Bluetooth amp with sub control and crossover? I’d like to prevent getting a big receiver and like the small units. I see some have sub management but wondering if you’ve seen any come to market with the crossover.
I’m a newbie and just starting my search so if I’ve misstated anything let me know.
If not, can you suggest one that has Good power and sub management? Should I look at passive sub or powered sub.
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post #82 of 98 Old 03-26-2020, 10:44 AM
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I built 3 mini desk systems around this amp and have been real happy with it.

https://www.amazon.com/Grace-Digital..._=sb_s_sparkle
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post #83 of 98 Old 03-26-2020, 11:59 AM
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I built 3 mini desk systems around this amp and have been real happy with it.

https://www.amazon.com/Grace-Digital..._=sb_s_sparkle

I could be wrong, but this does not appear to have any crossover provisions. I suppose the sub could be connected to "Line Out" but that would still leave a full range signal for the main speakers.
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post #84 of 98 Old 03-26-2020, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Is there still no small Bluetooth amp with sub control and crossover?
Not aware of any.

Another way to go about it is to find a powered sub that has speaker level in/out connections and a built-in high-pass filter.

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post #85 of 98 Old 03-26-2020, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Triumph65 View Post
@ DavidK442 - Sorry to resuscitate an old post
On your point above I’m looking for a Bluetooth amp for my office (12’x12’). I’ll have speakers at each end of the built in desk (also 12 feet long) and a sub. In addition to speaker outputs I’d like to also attach my Mac. Speakers and sub yet to be purchased. Is there still no small Bluetooth amp with sub control and crossover? I’d like to prevent getting a big receiver and like the small units. I see some have sub management but wondering if you’ve seen any come to market with the crossover.
I’m a newbie and just starting my search so if I’ve misstated anything let me know.
If not, can you suggest one that has Good power and sub management? Should I look at passive sub or powered sub.

An old thread, but to my knowledge, still a relevant problem. I stopped looking for a small solution and ultimately moved in a full-on surround receiver.
If you use your computer as a single source and are somewhat tech savvy I would seriously consider a MiniDSP 2X4HD. Go with an active sub, and either an active set of speakers or a passive speaker with a small amp after the MiniDSP. Not as elegant as a single box, but a lot more flexible. If you find something else that fits the bill come back and update us.


Here is a link to Zeos on You Tube getting excited over the Mini, if you are into that sort of thing. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q...tail&FORM=VIRE
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post #86 of 98 Old 03-26-2020, 03:09 PM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Keep in mind just because a system has a subwoofer out doesn't mean it necessarily has bass management, in fact I believe most don't.
@m. zillch - I’m looking at the SMSL - SA300. Quick question on the quote above. I’m new so be patient
The SA300 has a sub out for an active sub. Could I just control the level of bass directly from the powered sub?
Apparently none of these have a crossover but I noticed they either have a passive sub out, passive sub out with sub volume control or active sub out. Wondering which is best out of current product offerings.
Thanks for any guidance!
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post #87 of 98 Old 03-26-2020, 03:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Triumph65 View Post
@m. zillch - I’m looking at the SMSL - SA300. Quick question on the quote above. I’m new so be patient
The SA300 has a sub out for an active sub. Could I just control the level of bass directly from the powered sub?
Yes, that would be the right approach for that unit.

In an ideal world the little amp and the little speakers have the difficult-to-reproduce bass frequencies stripped away to lighten their load [hence they lower their distortion and increase their output capability], at whatever frequency you chose, from the full range signal and then that bass alone signal is then routed to the powered sub. That's "bass management".

As I understand it the SMSL SA300 sub out is a full range signal so the attached powered sub must be used to control the frequency cut off and sub level.
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Last edited by m. zillch; 03-26-2020 at 06:51 PM.
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post #88 of 98 Old 03-26-2020, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by DavidK442 View Post
An old thread, but to my knowledge, still a relevant problem. I stopped looking for a small solution and ultimately moved in a full-on surround receiver.
If you use your computer as a single source and are somewhat tech savvy I would seriously consider a MiniDSP 2X4HD. Go with an active sub, and either an active set of speakers or a passive speaker with a small amp after the MiniDSP. Not as elegant as a single box, but a lot more flexible. If you find something else that fits the bill come back and update us.


Here is a link to Zeos on You Tube getting excited over the Mini, if you are into that sort of thing. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q...tail&FORM=VIRE
@DavidK442
It looks like there is one now.
https://www.parts-express.com/dayton...ment--300-3831
Dayton Audio DTA-2.1BT2
The Dayton Audio DTA-2.1BT2 amplifier provides clean Class D power from an extremely compact and lightweight design. Enough power for most speakers and is also able to power a passive subwoofer. Built from the Dayton Audio DTA-2.1BT, the improved design gives the user the ability to adjust the sub crossover frequency. This allows you to create an inexpensive and high-performance 2.1 set up for any office, bedroom, or small home theater.

Now I just need to decide between that and the SMSL 300A. The 300A has a sub out for an active sub so I'd have to control the sub volume on the active sub.

I'll check out the MiniDSP 2X4HD as well.
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post #89 of 98 Old 03-26-2020, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
Yes, that would be the right approach for that unit.

In an ideal world the little amp and the little speakers have the difficult-to-reproduce bass frequencies stripped away to lighten their load [hence they lower their distortion and increase their output capability], at whatever frequency you chose, from the full range signal and then that bass alone signal is then routed to the powered sub. That's "bass management".

As I understand it the SMSL SA300 sub out is a full range signal so the attached powered sub must be used to control the frequency cut off and sub level.
@m. zillch - Maybe this would be a better option. Looks like it has the crossover for bass management.

https://www.parts-express.com/dayton...ment--300-3831
Dayton Audio DTA-2.1BT2
The Dayton Audio DTA-2.1BT2 amplifier provides clean Class D power from an extremely compact and lightweight design. Enough power for most speakers and is also able to power a passive subwoofer. Built from the Dayton Audio DTA-2.1BT, the improved design gives the user the ability to adjust the sub crossover frequency. This allows you to create an inexpensive and high-performance 2.1 set up for any office, bedroom, or small home theater.

Last edited by Triumph65; 03-26-2020 at 08:58 PM.
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post #90 of 98 Old 03-26-2020, 09:13 PM
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Passive subs are extremely popular in the DIY market, which Parts Express caters to, and extremely rare in the audiophile high end industry. I'm in that second category.

Also any device with a variable sub crossover without any frequency readout is not a design I'd ever buy.
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