Originally Posted by Stephan Mire
I know folks tend to use subwoofers for movies and/or 50/50 split but what I would like to know from the experts is if there are any solid arguments for using subwoofers strictly for 2 channel.
I don't believe there is much subsonic content for music so bass extension isn't really much of an advantage in my mind, so then what is the point of using subwoofers in a stereo only system? Let's assume you have full range mains.
Any advantage/disadvantage to using subwoofers for music?
With very expensive mains you maybe can reach 30 Hz (-3 dB). Then they are already very good. A good sub with modern eletronics reaches down to 20 Hz (-3 dB) with ease and can easily deliver 500 Watts RMS for minutes at a fraction of the price just for the frequency range that needs it.
Technically a sub is an excellent solution even for stereo, even if integrating it for a flat response is not trivial: it receives all the collected bass contained in a mix. The only frequency range that really needs power, is bass. And the highly opitimized speaker for reproducing bass is equipped with that huge amount power in a sub.
Now you may say, that is only 10 Hz difference! Sure. And information in the low end can almost be ignored. True. But just the fact the speakersystem with a sub does not act as an additional highpass filter (like mains without a good sub) and therefore removing even more
subbass than was already removed during mixing and mastering, improves the sound of instruments having most of their energy and fundamentals in a bass range, like kickdrums or basslines, that is significantly higher than the theoretical specs suggest.
Also don't underestimate the changing physical characteristics of a technical system operating at it's limits. There's a huge
difference in the reproduction quality, if you have for example a 25% margin left (30 Hz vs 22.5 Hz) or if the system is already running at its limits to reproduce these frequencies. Not to mention amplitude (power) requirements for frequencies at the system's limits.
All these effects compound together.
Imagine you are working out and have reached 180 BPM. Compare that feeling to the intensity at 144 BPM. That's the difference a 25% margin makes - compared to a system running at it's limits.