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Hi, I'm fairly new to home theater and audio. I'm not an expert in knowing exactly what to listen for, but I'd read a lot on here about how big of a difference the subwoofer makes. I upgraded from 3.0 to 3.1 recently, with the following equipment:

- Q-acoustics 2020i front speakers with matching center (medium-sized bookshelf speakers)
- BK Elec XLS200
- Pioneer VSX-531-B 5.1 AV Receiver

After setting it up, I can hardly tell it's there. Even when playing 'subwoofer test' youtube videos, it hardly makes any difference. I would switch the subwoofer off half-way through and barely notice a difference. If I jack up the gain/DBs much higher, it definitely kicks in to a greater extent although I don't want to make such massive changes from the default room correction and have such unbalanced sound.

Is it supposed to be this subtle or have I done something wrong? Note that the room is large as it is an open plan kitchen/dining/living room (approx 4.3m wide / 7m long; or 14 feet wide / 23 feet long), but the couch is close to the TV and subwoofer: just over 2m or 6.5 feet.

- Subwoofer is connected to the power and connected using the supplied cable as per the instructions, plugged only into the red 'R' input and into my receiver subwoofer 'pre-out' output.
- I started with the gain dial around 11 o clock, the filter at LFE, the phase at 0, and the frequency at max.
- I did the subwoofer crawl using the the receiver test tone. Sounded a bit deeper near my left-hand wall so placed it there.
- Ran the mcacc calibration on the receiver. It put the subwoofer at 0db (similar to the other speakers). The test tone sounded noticably quieter from the subwoofer though than from the front speakers, which I thought was strange (a very deep thunder-like sound, but didn't seem as loud as the others). I then made sure to set the other speakers to 'small'.
- Tried out music and lots of test videos on YouTube but noticed no difference.
- Tried again, this time moving the gain dial a bit higher (1 o clock), to which mcacc put it at -5 db. I bumped it up to -2 db, set the speakers to 'small' again, and this time set the cross-over from 80hz to 100 hz. Tested it again but not really noticing much different. If I put my hand on the subwoofer or my ear next to it, I can hear the vibrations and deep sounds.

Any thoughts? Thanks!
 

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Sorry to say but a 10inch sealed sub wont give what you are looking for. You need a ported design unless you go many for the fun feel.
In some ways i still get more ‘fun’ bass from my ported main speakers (4x7inch each) than i do from 4 14inch sealed subs. Now with 4 good sealed subs its very accurate and kicks well, but i needed to go up to 4 to be happy, 3 was ok. Im not a bass head and never play loud.
My dad has a single 12inch ported sub in a big livingroom and that does the job very well.

I hope you can return it and swap it out for a ported sub.


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Any pictures of the space that you can share?

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Hi, I'm fairly new to home theater and audio. I'm not an expert in knowing exactly what to listen for, but I'd read a lot on here about how big of a difference the subwoofer makes. I upgraded from 3.0 to 3.1 recently, with the following equipment:

- Q-acoustics 2020i front speakers with matching center (medium-sized bookshelf speakers)
- BK Elec XLS200
- Pioneer VSX-531-B 5.1 AV Receiver

After setting it up, I can hardly tell it's there. Even when playing 'subwoofer test' youtube videos, it hardly makes any difference. I would switch the subwoofer off half-way through and barely notice a difference. If I jack up the gain/DBs much higher, it definitely kicks in to a greater extent although I don't want to make such massive changes from the default room correction and have such unbalanced sound.

Is it supposed to be this subtle or have I done something wrong? Note that the room is large as it is an open plan kitchen/dining/living room (approx 4.3m wide / 7m long; or 14 feet wide / 23 feet long), but the couch is close to the TV and subwoofer: just over 2m or 6.5 feet.

- Subwoofer is connected to the power and connected using the supplied cable as per the instructions, plugged only into the red 'R' input and into my receiver subwoofer 'pre-out' output.
- I started with the gain dial around 11 o clock, the filter at LFE, the phase at 0, and the frequency at max.
- I did the subwoofer crawl using the the receiver test tone. Sounded a bit deeper near my left-hand wall so placed it there.
- Ran the mcacc calibration on the receiver. It put the subwoofer at 0db (similar to the other speakers). The test tone sounded noticably quieter from the subwoofer though than from the front speakers, which I thought was strange (a very deep thunder-like sound, but didn't seem as loud as the others). I then made sure to set the other speakers to 'small'.
- Tried out music and lots of test videos on YouTube but noticed no difference.
- Tried again, this time moving the gain dial a bit higher (1 o clock), to which mcacc put it at -5 db. I bumped it up to -2 db, set the speakers to 'small' again, and this time set the cross-over from 80hz to 100 hz. Tested it again but not really noticing much different. If I put my hand on the subwoofer or my ear next to it, I can hear the vibrations and deep sounds.

Any thoughts? Thanks!
Yea so movies vs music has about a 15db difference in sub gain. Meaning if you're watching movies and your gain is -10 for music you might want around +5. This was one of the main driving factors in my going with Anthem since it has virtual inputs. I can select a music input with one button that re-adjusts all the levels properly.

You should notice the presence of the sub easily. I agree with the above poster that the 10" sub is a little weak, but you have book shelf speakers so it should still be a remarkable difference compared to the speakers alone. Most likely for music you will just want to crank up your sub volume a lot more. I'd stop worrying about what room correction did and set it up to how it actually sounds best to you. And I don't think you need that Y-cable since you already indicated you are able to turn the sub gain up and get more if you want.

Does your pioneer have a sub volume slider you can get to easily without having to go to the speaker levels section? I think setting the crossover on the front speakers around 80 and the sub also around 80 is a good place to start. Also are you playing just stereo for music or is it processing to dolby 5.1 or such? I'd try to keep it at 2 channel for music.

I hate room correction. That crap is disabled over here.
 

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Hi, I'm fairly new to home theater and audio. I'm not an expert in knowing exactly what to listen for, but I'd read a lot on here about how big of a difference the subwoofer makes. I upgraded from 3.0 to 3.1 recently, with the following equipment:

- Q-acoustics 2020i front speakers with matching center (medium-sized bookshelf speakers)
- BK Elec XLS200
- Pioneer VSX-531-B 5.1 AV Receiver

After setting it up, I can hardly tell it's there. Even when playing 'subwoofer test' youtube videos, it hardly makes any difference. I would switch the subwoofer off half-way through and barely notice a difference. If I jack up the gain/DBs much higher, it definitely kicks in to a greater extent although I don't want to make such massive changes from the default room correction and have such unbalanced sound.

Is it supposed to be this subtle or have I done something wrong? Note that the room is large as it is an open plan kitchen/dining/living room (approx 4.3m wide / 7m long; or 14 feet wide / 23 feet long), but the couch is close to the TV and subwoofer: just over 2m or 6.5 feet.

- Subwoofer is connected to the power and connected using the supplied cable as per the instructions, plugged only into the red 'R' input and into my receiver subwoofer 'pre-out' output.
- I started with the gain dial around 11 o clock, the filter at LFE, the phase at 0, and the frequency at max.
- I did the subwoofer crawl using the the receiver test tone. Sounded a bit deeper near my left-hand wall so placed it there.
- Ran the mcacc calibration on the receiver. It put the subwoofer at 0db (similar to the other speakers). The test tone sounded noticably quieter from the subwoofer though than from the front speakers, which I thought was strange (a very deep thunder-like sound, but didn't seem as loud as the others). I then made sure to set the other speakers to 'small'.
- Tried out music and lots of test videos on YouTube but noticed no difference.
- Tried again, this time moving the gain dial a bit higher (1 o clock), to which mcacc put it at -5 db. I bumped it up to -2 db, set the speakers to 'small' again, and this time set the cross-over from 80hz to 100 hz. Tested it again but not really noticing much different. If I put my hand on the subwoofer or my ear next to it, I can hear the vibrations and deep sounds.

Any thoughts? Thanks!

Hi,

You are actually starting from a false premise: that you want your subwoofer to play at the same volume as your other channels. That is a false premise because we simply don't hear low-frequencies as well as we do the frequencies in our more normal hearing range, which is from about 500Hz to 5,000Hz. If you Google the "Equal Loudness Contours" you will see a graphic illustration of the way our hearing works, and if you want detailed explanations of this you will find them in the Guide linked in my signature.

This is why you can put your ear close to the subwoofer, and put your hand on it, and hear and feel the deep sounds and vibrations that you have been missing. It is also why the test tone sounded softer during calibration. The volume was the same as the other test tones, but we don't hear the subwoofer test tone in the 30Hz to 80Hz range as well as we do the test tone of 500Hz to 2,500Hz played by the other channels. (Those are standard calibration test tones for setting volume levels of the various channels.)

You simply need to turn-up the volume on your subwoofer, after the calibration, and don't worry that it's playing louder than your other channels. That's what it is supposed to be able to do.

Your set-up and general calibration sound correct. Your auto-calibration system set all of your channels to play the same volume at your MLP (main listening position). It did that so that it could EQ all of the frequencies, played by all of the channels, to the same target volume level. It has to start with all of the channels playing the same volume level in order to perform whatever room correction it is doing.

Afterwards, your own hearing takes over, and the subwoofer(s) can be turned-up to accommodate your own hearing and your own listening preferences. We don't all hear the same frequencies in exactly the same way, and we also have somewhat different listening preferences. That can also depend somewhat on our rooms. You just need to discover your own listening preferences, by experimentation, as you have been doing.

The advice that you are getting to move to a bigger and more powerful subwoofer is good advice. Long-term, that is absolutely going to be helpful. But, when you do that, you will find that the same thing happens. The auto-calibration routine in your AVR will set all of the channels, including your newer more powerful sub, to play exactly the same volume at the MLP. It will do that for the reason I explained. After calibration, you will still need to increase the volume of that more powerful sub to suit your own hearing, and your own listening preferences, in your specific room.

The Guide, linked below, can be a valuable resource as you continue to develop your HT system.

Regards,
Mike


Edit: The auto-calibration routines in AVR's are able to fairly accurately measure low-frequencies in a way that uncalibrated SPL meters and smart phone apps cannot. They will not be able to accurately measure the frequency range from 30Hz to 80Hz. Letting your AVR set the volume on all of your channels is the simplest method you can use. Afterwards, you just increase your bass to suit your own listening preferences.
 

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Level setting/calibration, particularly for low frequencies, is best done with an SPL measurement device, even as simple and convenient as a smart phone app. This way, we take out the subjective factor of what we hear, what is high or low volume. Higher frequencies like 1kHz are is easier to assess level by ear, but low frequencies are not perceived the same way by all of us. Changing the crossover in the 80-100Hz and even 120Hz will not give (to most of us) a night-and-day difference just on the sub.


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Have to ask..

After the room eq, did you make sure all speakers were set to small and 80hz?

Lots of room eq systems will set speakers to large, therefore not sending bass from those channels to subs.. Like 2 channel music.

with a movie having a .1 channel, the sub will work, but bass from other channels will not goto subs..

Make sure you set to small...

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Level setting/calibration, particularly for low frequencies, is best done with an SPL measurement device, even as simple and convenient as a smart phone app. This way, we take out the subjective factor of what we hear, what is high or low volume. ...
This.

I am betting your speaker levels are messed up. Get an SPL app like Kewlsoft SPL meter (there may be others that do C-weighting and slow) and really level your system. The difference will be night and day. This is free and does not take that much time.

If after that you are STILL not satisfied, THEN consider the upgrade bug. But I am getting you are running Ferrari with three flat tires and wondering why its not fast.


Use the free app but you can still do stuff like this. Even if the app is terribly inaccurate, it will be consistently inaccurate so the speaker levels will be the same...

 

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As usual, Mike is spot on. I would say the majority of us run our subs hot. in order to get the bass levels we desire that sound well with the other speakers in our systems. I run mine at about +8 over the mains by raising it using an SPL meter.

As others have also pointed out, you are expecting a lot from a 10" sub in the size room you have. Small bookshelf speakers can fill the room, but the same cannot be said when it comes to bass and subwoofers. Your room is very large and a single 10" sub is just not going to be able to fill the room with bass. That being said, you should still be able to get some semblance of bass with the sub you have if you just turn the gain up. :D
 

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Level setting/calibration, particularly for low frequencies, is best done with an SPL measurement device, even as simple and convenient as a smart phone app. This way, we take out the subjective factor of what we hear, what is high or low volume. Higher frequencies like 1kHz are is easier to assess level by ear, but low frequencies are not perceived the same way by all of us. Changing the crossover in the 80-100Hz and even 120Hz will not give (to most of us) a night-and-day difference just on the sub.


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Phones are very unreliable for subwoofer frequencies. The mics inside arent made for it.

Auto calibration mics generally do a good job unless faulty.
Increasing the sub level 3 to 6dB is very common, more is also done by many. But if its not the right sub for the job increasing its volume setting wont be enough and will be annoying if too much. Im not saying you need one or more huge expensive subs, just that usually a ported sub will work better for movies and tv. (Also increased a little from auto calibration levels)


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An XLS200 is just too small for that size room. I ran one briefly in a 7 x 4 metre room and it soon got replaced with a Monolith and moved to a smaller conservatory 4 x 4 metres. Works fine in there, corner loaded and used at lower listening levels as a better alternative to a soundbar. As a main room sub, then no. You'd need multiples of them and by that point you might as well have bought something bigger to start with.

There's a ready used market for them on the other forum I see you've posted the same OP on, so maybe consider that option?

Monolith lasted me about 6-7 years and got replaced with a pair of 15" sealed subs, so don't dismiss the idea of sealed as ported seems more popular over here than on AVF. They go deeper too, but just need more amp power to do so.
 

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Readers digest version: turn your sub up another 3-6 dB until the bass level sounds right to you.
 

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Hi,

You are actually starting from a false premise: that you want your subwoofer to play at the same volume as your other channels. That is a false premise because we simply don't hear low-frequencies as well as we do the frequencies in our more normal hearing range, which is from about 500Hz to 5,000Hz. If you Google the "Equal Loudness Contours" you will see a graphic illustration of the way our hearing works, and if you want detailed explanations of this you will find them in the Guide linked in my signature.

This is why you can put your ear close to the subwoofer, and put your hand on it, and hear and feel the deep sounds and vibrations that you have been missing. It is also why the test tone sounded softer during calibration. The volume was the same as the other test tones, but we don't hear the subwoofer test tone in the 30Hz to 80Hz range as well as we do the test tone of 500Hz to 2,500Hz played by the other channels. (Those are standard calibration test tones for setting volume levels of the various channels.)

You simply need to turn-up the volume on your subwoofer, after the calibration, and don't worry that it's playing louder than your other channels. That's what it is supposed to be able to do.

Your set-up and general calibration sound correct. Your auto-calibration system set all of your channels to play the same volume at your MLP (main listening position). It did that so that it could EQ all of the frequencies, played by all of the channels, to the same target volume level. It has to start with all of the channels playing the same volume level in order to perform whatever room correction it is doing.

Afterwards, your own hearing takes over, and the subwoofer(s) can be turned-up to accommodate your own hearing and your own listening preferences. We don't all hear the same frequencies in exactly the same way, and we also have somewhat different listening preferences. That can also depend somewhat on our rooms. You just need to discover your own listening preferences, by experimentation, as you have been doing.

The advice that you are getting to move to a bigger and more powerful subwoofer is good advice. Long-term, that is absolutely going to be helpful. But, when you do that, you will find that the same thing happens. The auto-calibration routine in your AVR will set all of the channels, including your newer more powerful sub, to play exactly the same volume at the MLP. It will do that for the reason I explained. After calibration, you will still need to increase the volume of that more powerful sub to suit your own hearing, and your own listening preferences, in your specific room.

The Guide, linked below, can be a valuable resource as you continue to develop your HT system.

Regards,
Mike


Edit: The auto-calibration routines in AVR's are able to fairly accurately measure low-frequencies in a way that uncalibrated SPL meters and smart phone apps cannot. They will not be able to accurately measure the frequency range from 30Hz to 80Hz. Letting your AVR set the volume on all of your channels is the simplest method you can use. Afterwards, you just increase your bass to suit your own listening preferences.
The guide was really helpful - thanks. I'll try to recalibrate tonight.

Quick question - the guide talks about not going above -5 on the channel level for the sub, but also says that you might need to bump up even more for films if you don't have DEQ (since my receiver doesn't use audyssey). So would you aim to set the gain such that it's approx -11 post-calibration, then bump up to approx -5 for regualr use (music etc), then bump it further for films? Or would you aim for even lower post-calibration so it can bumped further without passing -5?
 

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The guide was really helpful - thanks. I'll try to recalibrate tonight.

Quick question - the guide talks about not going above -5 on the channel level for the sub, but also says that you might need to bump up even more for films if you don't have DEQ (since my receiver doesn't use audyssey). So would you aim to set the gain such that it's approx -11 post-calibration, then bump up to approx -5 for regualr use (music etc), then bump it further for films? Or would you aim for even lower post-calibration so it can bumped further without passing -5?
It means that you can bump up to -5 in the AVR sub trim settings and more should be done on the sub gain on the sub. This is done so your AVR does not clip the signal if raised into positive or near positive territory
 
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It means that you can bump up to -5 in the AVR sub trim settings and more should be done on the sub gain on the sub. This is done so your AVR does not clip the signal if raised into positive or near positive territory
If I'm understanding the guide correctly though, it might make sense to bump the subwoofer level up for movies and 5.1 content as opposed to 2-channel music (which DEQ would do automatically if using that). I'd rather not do that by manually changing the dial back and forth every time I switch what I'm listening to. So would I bump from e.g. -5 to 0 for films, or from e.g. -10 to -5?
 

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If I'm understanding the guide correctly though, it might make sense to bump the subwoofer level up for movies and 5.1 content as opposed to 2-channel music (which DEQ would do automatically if using that). I'd rather not do that by manually changing the dial back and forth every time I switch what I'm listening to. So would I bump from e.g. -5 to 0 for films, or from e.g. -10 to -5?
If needed. Generally, I try to find a trim level that works well for both movies and music. I use the AVR subwoofer trim levels if I need to adjust up or down a bit, but otherwise leave mine mostly alone.
 

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If I'm understanding the guide correctly though, it might make sense to bump the subwoofer level up for movies and 5.1 content as opposed to 2-channel music (which DEQ would do automatically if using that). I'd rather not do that by manually changing the dial back and forth every time I switch what I'm listening to. So would I bump from e.g. -5 to 0 for films, or from e.g. -10 to -5?
It's ideal to have your AVR set your sub trim level to about -10 simply so you can adjust (boost) your sub via your AVR remote instead of having to get up and adjust the gain knob on the back of the sub. That being said, whether it's set for -10 or -8 or -6, it doesn't make a huge difference, just as long as you have room to play with it via AVR remote (and assuming you don't play at very loud volumes; if playing loud, you definitely want the AVR to set at -11 initially or you'll get the potential for clipping mentioned by Imureh above).

Now, I hear you about not wanting to tweak the setting depending on content. My Onkyo allows quick-setting of sub trim, but it still requires at least 5 button presses! It's a bit annoying. But I constantly use it when switching content. When listening to music, I just keep it open and adjust on the fly. For HT, my AVR set trim at -8 dB and I'm content with that 80% of the time, but I do have to trim it further later at night or when watching streaming Netflix or Blu-Ray. It's just an inconvenience stemming from different ULF levels for different sources/content.
 

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Bigger room needs bigger subs TC, get a pair of Big Dogs and then go down the rabbit hole that is Mini-DSP calibration.
 

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This.

I am betting your speaker levels are messed up. Get an SPL app like Kewlsoft SPL meter (there may be others that do C-weighting and slow) and really level your system. The difference will be night and day. This is free and does not take that much time.

If after that you are STILL not satisfied, THEN consider the upgrade bug. But I am getting you are running Ferrari with three flat tires and wondering why its not fast.


Use the free app but you can still do stuff like this. Even if the app is terribly inaccurate, it will be consistently inaccurate so the speaker levels will be the same...

https://youtu.be/iYTKpzb87aQ
The microphone in a cell phone won't be accurate in the frequencies handled by the subwoofer, which is what this thread is about. For checking SPEAKER levels, a phone mic and an app might be appropriate, but for setting subwoofer levels, a *real* full-range SPL meter is required. Better yet, the mic included with the receiver and the built-in level-setting app will be better and more consistent.
 

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Granted it’s not an “earth-mover,” but any sub should be a noticeable improvement added to those speakers, considering their tiny woofers.

I’d ditch the sub crawl and put the sub in a corner with uninterrupted wall length in both directions. That will get you the highest output, lowest extension and minimal nulls.

Next, forget the room correction and turn the sub up enough to hear it. Don’t worry about the gain knob locations (11:00, 1:00). But if it has to get higher than say, 3-4:00, look to the AVR and see if the sub level can be increased, only because typically the sub shouldn’t have to be cranked up that high.

Play a song with a familiar bass line, and slowly turn the sub up (it would be great if you can could have a helper for this). What you should be hearing is a low underpinning added to the notes, especially the low notes, that wasn’t there before. At some point you should be able to tell that it’s getting to be “too much of a good thing,” and maybe back it down a bit.

Experiment with other songs as well. You are going to find that low bass content with music (and movies) varies from one recording to the next. That’s something that takes some getting used to. However, if the lows sound either overpowering or weak on the majority of recordings you try, then re-adjust the sub level accordingly.

As you can see, this is simply a “trial and error” exercise. Nothing scientific to it.

If you eventually find the sub is too “boomy” in the corner, you can experiment by moving it from the corner down towards the center of the room. Typically you won’t want to go past the 1/4 mark.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 
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