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What single or pair of sealed subs should I get for under $4K total?

  • JL Fathom 110 or 112

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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I think I'm ready to improve on my old Energy EPS-150 subwoofer that I've had for about 15 years. I'm leaning toward a sealed sub this time around to achieve better tightness and accuracy and because I think sealed sounds more musical - either a single or possibly a pair of cabinets. What should I get? The room is about 13' wide x 17' deep but my kitchen is common to the living room at the back (it is opposite my front soundstage) which adds another 15' of depth so the listening room is effectively 13' wide x 32' deep with ceramic tile floors. And no I cant afford a pair of Gothams or something ridiculous. I'm looking to spend about $2K with $4k + shipping being the absolute max I would spend. I should be able to make a VAST improvement over my old Energy at those prices. Sub or subs will be seen in the corners so its cabinet needs to look nice. It'll eventually get paired to something like a pair of Martin Logan Electromotion ESLs or Theos'
 

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While I personally never heard/demo any of the other subs, your requirements and expectations scream " SubMersive HP(s) " to me.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve1981
Depending on the output level you're looking for, I'd consider the ULS-15 Quad Drive.


Of course, I'll also mention in that price bracket, the SQ of many ported subwoofers is very, very good. I wouldn't write them off completely. I'd guess something like the JTR Captivator might not qualify as an interior decorators wet dream, but maybe an SVS PB13-Ultra would work. For comparative purposes, in terms of max output, the PB13 running with all ports open would have greater output than two SB13+ subwoofers stacked from 16Hz up to 40Hz.
That's a nice amount of money to play with. You'll have to very carefully determine what you are after because with that kind of cash the world is pretty much your oyster.


The sexiest sub award goes to the JL Audio subs, or even the piano gloss SVS units --- but sexy doesn't necessarily equate to raw power.


I've A/B a couple of the discussed subs in my 3,500 cubic foot room on the same day/same equipment.

Two PB13 Ultras in my room hit 115dB clean at listening position - corner loaded and stacked.

Two JTR Captivators in my room hit 125dB clean at listening position - center wall 1/3 wall point placed on each side of my projector screen.


I dig both HSU and Seaton recommendations so far too... I'll give the nod to sealed subs for musicality, but ported subs aren't unthinkable :p
 

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+1 dual SubM HPs


My second choice would be 3-4 Empires (tho their cabinets are black).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Wow, this might be harder than I thought. At least two votes and a nod for Seaton subs so far and I didn't even put them on the poll because as far as I can tell they don't have a company website with pictures/specs so I didn't have much to go on... All the rest, even the smallest operations like Rhytmik, have a web presence other than just a forum site. What kind of a company are we talking about when we talk about Seaton? And please forgive my ignorance. I've been out of the game too long, apparantly.
 

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Here's a link to the seaton forum


In my honest and humble opinion the owner, Mark Seaton, is about as knowledgeable as it gets in the Sub/Audio world and he is a very stand up guy. The SubMersive has been in production for over 6 years and as of last year it received a boost in performance (2400 watts from the previous 1000 watts) with some DSP enhancements as well. You won't too many SubMersive owners (if any) that are not extremely happy with their subs (myself included).


Here's another link to the custom finishes he offers.


If you do a search on this AVS forum, you'll find some SubMersive owners who've previously owned other models such as JL F112, Epik Conquest, SVS Ultra and etc. The majority states the SubMersive fit thier needs/taste better.


From what I've read, I think you would be happy with most choices you have in the poll, but if it were my money, the choice would be dual SubMersive HPs.


Thx,

Claude
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Let's attack this from another angle. Remember that I am going to be upgrading from a very outdated Energy sub (which consists of a single 12" woofer, in a ported box driven by an internal amp of 150 watts RMS) and I haven't had an opportunity to listen to any of the subs listed. With that in mind which sub setup do you guys collectively think will give me the most dramatic improvement and "bang for the buck" over what I have now while still coming the closest to a $2k price point? I need a consensus here guys! (surely there is a single right answer
)


I'm not exactly wanting to spend $4K, especially not if I can get nearly as big of a gain for half that amount. There is always the law of diminishing returns to consider.


For example - let's assign an arbitrary number of 100% - I may get a 100% improvement in overall bass response and sound quality from what I'm used to at the $1K to $2K mark whereas I might get a 120% improvement at the $4K mark but that's a relatively modest gain for double the money. For $8K maybe its 130% better but we had to double the money again to achieve an even more modest gain.


Yes, of course these are all arbitrary figures and yes, of course it's all subjective but the principle still holds true. It's kind of like building a computer, you can easily spend double the money on bleeding edge technology only to get a 5% increase in overall computing power.


At some point I'm going to get bigger gains in overall sound quality by putting that money into room treatments or some other part of the system. I'm not certain what point that is but I'm really really hoping that point can be around or about $2K. For that reason if I went with a Seaton or JL sub for example I will most likely get a single sub because I'd rather not spend $4 or $5 thousand plus freight when I'm pretty confident that I will still see a HUGE improvement from my old Energy with even just one Seaton sub in the room. But having said that, I could get 2 of some of the other subs on the list such as the Hsus or the the Rhythmiks, etc. which could maybe achieve better overall balance in the room and still be a vast improvement over my current little old Energy sub....but for the same money as a single higher priced sub. And I don't really know which application/subwoofer would yield the most gains while keeping in the general range of $2K...


SO, I'm banking on these being the kinds of questions where all of you submasters who may have heard many of these and are armed with all of the most up to date info can help me out. For this indispensable service I offer nothing but my gratitude
.


As to ported vs. sealed, the thing I can't seem to get around is no matter what ported subs I've heard in the past they always seem to be noticeably louder at certain frequencies. I'm assuming that is why almost every ultra high end audiophile/reference sub is a sealed design? I'm definitely looking for accuracy and a flat response at low Hz ranges in whatever new sub setup I go with.
 

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Stay with sealed given your stated preferences but loose the idea that ported means boomy or non flat at least in high end ported subs - it just isn't true. SVS and HSU and the like ported subs can be flatter to their tuning point if built right. Sealed subs usually have more output below the typical tuning point but lack comparative overall output. Sealed subs do sound a might better for musicality in most peoples opinions. The problem you are going to run into with your poll is that most people on here haven't heard all these subs together in fair and equal conditions. Sub sound when not properly configured is greatly varied by the room itself. You could hear the same identical sub in three rooms and it'll sound completey different! So even if someone has heard a sub before their experience may not echo anothers. Your best bet is reviewing some sub comparisons and shootouts to get an idea. At least in these scenarios the group or reveiwer have heard the subs in the same position same day and on the same equipment. You also need to establish more clear goals. Do you want more smooth sound for your 2000 througout your seating area? Buy two sealed subs. Do you want the best sound you can possibly have from a single seating area? Perhaps one will do. Do you want 100dB or 120 dB from your Listening position?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Archaea /forum/post/20873075


Do you want the best sound you can possibly have from a single seating area?

This ^^^^


Because my room's layout is with the preferred seating position dead center of my display and in the sweet spot of two electrostats it necessitates having the sub either to the left or right of the stats. It'll be in a corner either way. So it will be a single sub in the left or right corner or two subs - one in each.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Archaea /forum/post/20873075


Do you want 100dB or 120 dB from your listening position?

Not sure about this. Whatever will blend best with a set of ML electrostats throughout their volume range.
 

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For just a couple hundred over 4k you can get a Hsu ULS-15 Quad Drive, or you can also get four Rythmik F15s, either will be a massive improvement over your present subwoofer. Seaton Submersives would be great too. The Rythmik and Hsu quad system would have the advantage of being a bit more manipulable than a two sub system, but I think two Submersives would offer a bit more output. Any of these systems will offer gobs of output headroom and razor sharp sound quality. Another nice-looking setup for $4k would be a pair of Elemental Designs A7s-650 subs . That is the way to go if you want a smaller footprint. If you don't care about looks so much and want monster output, check out the Chase Home Theater SS-18.2 subs , you could get three or four of them and have something that will knock your house down, and sound great doing it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Archaea /forum/post/20873099


Assuming you have an audyssey or equivalent calibration tool to find reference volume level... Where do you often find your volume levels on your AVR when listening at spirited levels?

My AVR doesn't have Audyssey and I don't have the Martin Logans yet either. Martin Logans and a new receiver and subwoofer are what I'm researching now with plans to buy. My current AVR is a Denon AVR-4802 which was a great receiver 10 years ago but is badly outdated now and without HDMI support. My current speakers are B&W 601s that I've had for as long as the subwoofer. The new sub will be part of a wholly updated system. I'm getting ideas and planning it all out now. I'm pretty sold on the Martin Logans, I've heard electrostats before and I've always wanted some, but I'm still completely up in the air on the sub and on what receiver or separates to go with. I badly need to update my receiver to switch over from component video to HDMI (and a new receiver will be my first purchase if I can decide on one) but while looking around on AVSforum for receiver ideas I stumbled across the "show off your subs" thread and suddenly my focus shifted
. I think that single thread maybe influencing more people to buy new subwoofers than all of Velodyne's commercial advertising to date! I am definitely getting a new sub for this new system because I've wanted for a better quality sub for a long time. The Energy is boomy and inaccurate at higher dBs and has poor low frequency response. I can get a single or a dual setup but not more than 2 subs. I don't have the room or the WAF for more. The loudest I usually ever play the 601s is about at a -10 or -5 dB according to the Denon's volume readout.
 

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Then my vote given your preferences is a single Seaton Submersive HP


Why?

1) sealed sub to compliment your stated tastes

2) best sounding musical sub I've ever heard. (I prefer a Captivator overall, but a Captivator isn't sealed) It got a 98.5% near perfect collective average score for music by all auditioners at the sub meet linked in my signature.

3) single listening position area important (a lesser powered pair looses some advantage then)

4) MUCH MORE POWERFUL than the typical $1000 range subwoofers for your spirited -5 AVR level listening.


PM a guy named counsil on this thread. He has five Seaton Submersives and a HUGE home theatre room - 6500 cubic foot - and open by stairway to the rest of the house. With five Seatons he still hits 125ish dB from his main listening position and he is quite a fan of the Seatons having come from some other nice subs in the past as well.


Truthfully every single one of those subs you listed will be a night and day difference over your current sub, and you may not want the volume capability headroom of the Submersive HP, in which case a single HSU ULS15 for $1000 would probably make you smile from ear to ear in comparison to your old sub. The draw to the Submersive however is that it will NOT now nor likely ever be the weakest link in you theater component --- it is definitely a top shelf sub and nearly angelic for music listening!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks guys. I appreciate all the well thought out good advice. Based on your feedback the Seaton is at the top of my list!


With lots of votes for something else altogether (which I'm starting to take to mean "Seaton") as well as a couple of very strong recommendations in favor of the Seaton Submersive HP on this thread, I take it that Mark Seaton must certainly have developed a very well built and well thought out, high quality product. One question. If it uses a dual opposed design and I'm forced (due to space limitations) to put it in a corner, then one of the two drivers will always be firing into a wall. That, or else I'm going to have to place it in the corner at roughly a 45 degree angle to each wall which will make it take up a lot more space. How important is orientation for a Seaton or a dual opposed sub in general and does it matter much if one driver is only 5 or 6 inches from a wall?


I do have several votes (as well as a couple of very persuasive PMs) touting the excellence of the Rythmik subs which deserve their share of respect as well. Can anyone say how the Rythmik and the Seaton stack up to each other?


Also, is there anyone else reading this thread who will attest to the magnificence of the Seaton Submersive HP?
 

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You should read this thread. It involves a Rythmic as well as a somewhat comparable HSU.

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1313176


The ULS-15 that you are looking at will be slightly less output than the VTF-15H in this roundup, but will likely dig a bit deeper. The VTF-15H is well reviewed in this line up as would be the ULS-15 if it was in the comparison, but the Seaton Submersive is in the next class up in my opinion - that is NOT to say the HSU or Rhythmic products aren't fantastic products, it is to say that SPL and capability are probably at least double on the Seaton over the HSU or Rythmic and of course price is doubled too.


The corner question won't bother you with the Seaton. Mark Seaton told counsil as long as he had a couple inches of space he'd be fine. With a subwoofer like the Seaton you certaintly don't even have to use corner placement. There is enough output by raw ability they don't really need corner gain unless you want it.


As far as more people chiming in on Seaton. Here are five or six people's perspective who had never heard a Seaton Submersive before the meet day and how the subjectively ranked it.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1335139


Also take a look at the scoring section -- see the clear deliniation between the Captivator and the Seaton and the rest of the pack. They are just in the next class up. There is a shootout scheduled in October in Omaha Nebraska with some interesting subs, the two brothers that did the review linked first in this post are supposed to have an upcoming second sub shootout with a different price class. It depends on how fast you want to move on your purchase.



bump for more input for you...
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Archaea
...it is to say that SPL and capability are probably at least double on the Seaton over the HSU or Rythmic and of course price is doubled too.
I don't know, I think would take my chances with dual Rythmik F15HP, F25's or FV15HP.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by DualMono
I don't know, I think would take my chances with dual Rythmik F15HP, F25's or FV15HP.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...9#post20439889


6dB is a doubling of volume. There are the max clean measurements with the subs all in my room in the same position on the same equipment from counsil's listening position. We didn't have a rythmik, but you know the rythmik is in the same general ballpark as the HSU VTF-15H according to the two brother's test linked in my previous post.


It's all a bit of a guessing game without hearing them side by side at any rate.
But the Submersive and Captivator sure stole the show against the three $1000 range subs in our shootout (at least in my room and definately acknowledging that they cost significantly more money)
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...0#post20438080


Rythmik makes great subs from everything I've read. I've yet to have the pleasure to listen to one.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cntrlfrk /forum/post/20873011


Let's attack this from another angle. Remember that I am going to be upgrading from a very outdated Energy sub (which consists of a single 12" woofer, in a ported box driven by an internal amp of 150 watts RMS) and I haven't had an opportunity to listen to any of the subs listed. With that in mind which sub setup do you guys collectively think will give me the most dramatic improvement and "bang for the buck" over what I have now while still coming the closest to a $2k price point? I need a consensus here guys! (surely there is a single right answer
)


I'm not exactly wanting to spend $4K, especially not if I can get nearly as big of a gain for half that amount. There is always the law of diminishing returns to consider.


For example - let's assign an arbitrary number of 100% - I may get a 100% improvement in overall bass response and sound quality from what I'm used to at the $1K to $2K mark whereas I might get a 120% improvement at the $4K mark but that's a relatively modest gain for double the money. For $8K maybe its 130% better but we had to double the money again to achieve an even more modest gain.


Yes, of course these are all arbitrary figures and yes, of course it's all subjective but the principle still holds true. It's kind of like building a computer, you can easily spend double the money on bleeding edge technology only to get a 5% increase in overall computing power.


At some point I'm going to get bigger gains in overall sound quality by putting that money into room treatments or some other part of the system. I'm not certain what point that is but I'm really really hoping that point can be around or about $2K. For that reason if I went with a Seaton or JL sub for example I will most likely get a single sub because I'd rather not spend $4 or $5 thousand plus freight when I'm pretty confident that I will still see a HUGE improvement from my old Energy with even just one Seaton sub in the room. But having said that, I could get 2 of some of the other subs on the list such as the Hsus or the the Rhythmiks, etc. which could maybe achieve better overall balance in the room and still be a vast improvement over my current little old Energy sub....but for the same money as a single higher priced sub. And I don't really know which application/subwoofer would yield the most gains while keeping in the general range of $2K...


SO, I'm banking on these being the kinds of questions where all of you submasters who may have heard many of these and are armed with all of the most up to date info can help me out. For this indispensable service I offer nothing but my gratitude
.


As to ported vs. sealed, the thing I can't seem to get around is no matter what ported subs I've heard in the past they always seem to be noticeably louder at certain frequencies. I'm assuming that is why almost every ultra high end audiophile/reference sub is a sealed design? I'm definitely looking for accuracy and a flat response at low Hz ranges in whatever new sub setup I go with.

I think you would really like the HSU ULS-15 Dual Drive. You are getting 2 15 inch drivers with 600 watts continuous each with the Dual Drive. You talked about bang for the buck and IMHO the Dual Drive at $2,200 plus shipping would give you a lot of bang for the buck, and with one ULS-15 in each front corner, you will pick up a lot of boundary gain.
 
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