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Do subwoofers really need good cables?

462 Views 14 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Leer
Would good cables makes a difference in sound quality for subwoofers? Does it depend on the Sub used? I'm a Aerial owner.

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You don't need to spend much on your sub cable because the signal just needs to get there.
Oddly enough, a while ago a friend and I compared a number of 2-meter Audioquest cables connected between the sub-out (THX xover, 80 Hz, 24dB/oct low-pass) and the line-in of a Paradigm Servo-15 subwoofer. There was a noticeable difference heard by both of us, although we only compared notes after listening had been completed (hoping to avoid influence). Cables were Turquoise, Topaz, Quartz and Opal, with the Opal preferred. Obviously this particular test applies only to this situation, but a difference was indeed heard.

Run a double blind comparison and judge for yourself. Proper subwoofer placement is much more important, IMO...

Of course, as well as proper room acoustics. Prioritize and conquer. If the sub is improperly placed, or the listening seat for that matter, who cares what cable you use-it will still sound terrible. But that wasn't the question....

Greg R: What is your methodology for subwoofer /listener placement?


What is your methodology for subwoofer /listener placement?

Good question! If the world was perfect than sub placement would always be at one specific spot(i.e., corner, side...). But let's deal specifically with everyone "ideal" placement of their current

subwoofer(s). Now based on that placement would speaker cables make a difference?

Thanks agian in advance....Albert
Normally, subwoofers are amplified internally. Using a fancy cable will buy you nothing. Just get the signal there.
Originally posted by Aerlith:
Greg R: What is your methodology for subwoofer /listener placement?
Sorry it took so long to post back to the thread...

Anyway, I'll start by stating that my room is not ideal (long & narrow). The method that works best for me is to first try the sub in a corner furthest from any room openings (corner loading for max output). If there are bad room modes & nulls then I'll try different positions along a wall until they diminish. I'll also try placing the sub directly to the sides of the seating position. If the modes never disappear, then a bass trap or EQ may be necessary. When I add another sub, I try stacking first (advantage of coupling, no phase issues, etc.).

I've found that this method worked well for setting up my Servo-15, YMMV...


I don't want to start a flame war, but I'm wondering why you've asked this question? I see two possible reasons A)Since the subwoofer only reproduces lower frequencies, does it matter how accurate it is; or B)I've just dropped a wad of cash and don't want to sink a lot of money into a cable that's not going to get me a large return.

Your purchase of high end speakers indicates you place a premium on accurate sound reproduction. What type of cables do you use for your other speakers and have you found a difference in cables before? I can't speak for you, but I have found significant benefits with cable upgrades in the past. I have noticed tighter, deeper bass with less grain. Of course your mileage may vary, but I'm assuming you have a very good system. It's up to you to determine how much you want to spend on cables. However, if you haven't skimped on the rest of your system I'm not sure why you'd cut corners on your sub cable.

I use DHLabs Silver Sonic BL-1 interconnects that I order from www.audioc.com. IMHO these are the price/performance leaders. I have found these cables used on occassion from www.hififarm.com.
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I initially connected my subs to a cheap set of RCAs and the low frequency they produce wasn't really audible to my ear at least. I use the subs primarily for movies(explosions... BTW:I saw and heard an ambulance explode near a Hwy...whew I certianly don't want to reproduce that, booming is an understatement). I believe that their should not be much of a difference in sound quality across various cables when it comes to subs. I wanted to query other forum members on their experiences. I currently used the Nordost SPMs as interconnect and the Silver Sonics for my speaker cables. I happen to purchase them both from HiFi Farm as well. I was lucky enough to get the SPMs(at a bargin basement price 1/2 off sometime ago). They were used slightly(~1 week). The Silver Sonics as I recalled were better than the Blue Heavan and maybe the Red Dawn(I forgot if they were or not).


[This message has been edited by Alberts (edited 08-22-2000).]
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I'm glad we're of one mind on cables. Here's what I would do. If you don't already have a SPL meter from RadioShack get one (I prefer the analogue meter). You'll also need a DVD or CD with test tones for subwoofer setup (I use the Delos international Surround Spectacular CD. It's a few years old, and I believe Delos has a new DVD with Dolby Digital tones on it.). Since subwoofers reproduce unfrasonic wavelengths, your ears are not accurate at these frequencies. That's why you need the SPL meter. Make sure it's set on "C" weight and slow response. Put the meter at your normal listening position at ear height (a camera tripod works well for this) and check the subwoofer level. It's possible there's something going on with your equipment or subwoofer if your not getting output. Also, you might find that there's a null in bass response at your listening position and you need to move the sub around to get good output at that spot.

Assuming there's nothing wrong and you get the level balanced with the other channels (I prefer to set the sub level at least 3 dB above the other channels.), get a loaner cable from your local high-end dealer and see if you hear a difference. If you don't hear a difference, then you don't need the expensive cable. Setting up a subwoofer for good sound is one of the more difficult parts of home theater. I apologize if I've insulted your intelligence with this little tutorial, but I want to be sure we are both on the same page as far as setup.

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Yes, in most cases in my experience. The subwoofer is part of the audio chain just like any other gear. Better cables not only provide a better signal for the amplifier in the sub (exactly as better cables from a preamp to amp would), but better cables are shielded and decreases line noise to and from the sub.

It's not just about better quaility bass, but the whole audio chain is improved. Everything in the audio chain is interconnected, more so when using five channel amps. Many subs have noisy amplifiers which leak back into your system. I have a Velodyne HGS 12, for example, which has a class D switching amplifier. While the Velodyne is a very good high-end sub with tight, high output bass for its size, class D amplifiers by their nature are very noisy and leak back into the audio chain.

When I switched from a basic Monster M351 subwoofer cable to a MIT MI-330 ( which matches the rest of my interconnects) the change was not subtle. The soundstage opened up more, the bass was tighter and deeper, and the treble was much smoother. These improvments were even greater when I upgraded the removeable powercord to a Synergistic Research A/C Master Coupler.

These are expensive upgrades and not for everyone. I happen to be a believer in high quality cabling. Why have high quality cables everywhere in your system then have one low-end cable for the sub which is as much a part of the audio chain as any other equipment is. Your HT music system is only as good as the weakest link.

This is what works for me. Every system is different and reacts to different cables in different ways with varying degrees of success. Those of you who believe in higher quality cables know what I'm talking about. And for those who don't, just ignore this and use what works best for you because I don't want this to degenerate into cable wars.
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What about 60 Hz AC hum interference? Perhaps this is why ongopt hears a difference with better-shielded subwoofer and power cables? So that noise doesn't transfer from these two cables?

Or is there more to it?



Mark Rejhon
Good point Mark! I know SR A/C Master Coupler power cords are supposed to shunt AC line noise. Another theory is that a better power cord, with its superior shielding, will act less like an antenna. So there should be less RF interference.

I think there are many theories, and probably a combination of some or all of them account for the sonic improvements. Many of these positive effects just can't be proven or put down on paper, and that's what gets the electrical engineers in an uproar. I have come to believe our ears are the best judge and are more sensitive than what most people believe. So if an upgraded cable sounds good in your system, great! If not, then spend your money on something else.



[This message has been edited by ongopt (edited 08-25-2000).]
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RG6 is the way to go with sub cables hands down. You can't ask for any better sheilding. I have a friend high up in Yamaha and he and his team use RG6 all the time when they are at the trade shows. I have 2 x PSB Subsonic 3i's hooked up with RG6 in my theatre and I can tell you there is ZERO loss and there is ZERO interfearance coming out of my subs at 50' lengths each. You are not hindering performance going this route. If you want to pay more you can but you are not improving the quality believe me.


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