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Old 02-03-05, 10:54 PM   #1
dave-o
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Need some advice on buying a subwoofer...

Okay, so another missing piece to my home theater setup (along with the DVD player I am still searching for) is a subwoofer. I have pretty much given up the hope of getting a decent upconverting DVD player from Best Buy or Sears (the two stores I have gift cards for) at this time, so I may just go with one from another store or settle for a regular one.

So now I have decided that maybe I should put my Best Buy gift cards towards a subwoofer. The only problem is that I am completely and utterly clueless about these things. I have never owned one due to my previuos apartment lifestyle, but now that I have a house...well it is about time.

I have been looking at these things and I am kind of surprised at how pricey they can be. My range is probably going to be 150 as the maximum.

There is one sub at Best Buy that is priced at 150. It is the Yamaha 8" 120-Watt Powered Subwoofer, Model: YST-SW215.

Does anyone have any idea about this one? Does it matter what type of other components are in my setup? I have a 3 year old Yamaha HTR-5540 receiver, if that helps.

What types of things should I be looking for? Does it really make a huge difference if I get a lower cost one? (especially considering I am used to living without one completely). Any tips, suggestions, or ideas would be much appreciated.




Let me also add a big thank you to the people of this forum, your responses to my threads and the threads of others have been invaluable to me and the learning process I am going through. I am picking up my copy of AVIA tommorrow and I plan to spend a big chunk of the day calibrating my RPTV.
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Old 02-04-05, 05:10 AM   #2
tacomantt
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The first thing to learn is you get what you pay for, especially with subs.

Chances are that the models you are looking for will sound muddy and what not. More importantly they might "clip" meaning that they can't deliver the punch.

If you can I would highly recommend an SVS subwoofer. I believe the cheapest they sell costs $450 or something, but well worth it. HSU are supoosedly good too, but I havent tried them. Stay away from JBL and Harmon I think they suck all the way around from all perspectives: manufacturing quality, sound quality, and customer treatment.

The amount of power and size of the woofer does make a difference. 10" - 12" for most HT applications is fine with power of ~350-500W RMS (NOT peak).

I am making this reply as SIMPLE and straight forward, there are many issues to discuss but in NON-scientific-engineering terms: woofer size, cost and power often lead to better sounding bass.

Hopefully you can reconsider the $150 ceiling.
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Old 02-04-05, 08:54 AM   #3
Chew
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I spent about $450 on my HSU sub and it's just about the best part of my sound system.

If you're only spending $150, I'm not sure if it's really going to make that big a difference. All of them will have some problems in that price-range.
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Old 02-04-05, 01:55 PM   #4
tommy28
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for 150.00 don`t bother.....

save,save,save.
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Old 02-04-05, 08:27 PM   #5
Brian Shannon
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Quote:
What types of things should I be looking for? Does it really make a huge difference if I get a lower cost one? (especially considering I am used to living without one completely). Any tips, suggestions, or ideas would be much appreciated.
With subs it is all about power and driver size. Unlike most speakers you can easily tell the bad subs from the good.

I will also second SVS and recommend you save for one.


http://www.svsubwoofers.com/animation.htm


http://www.svsubwoofers.com/default.htm
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Old 02-04-05, 10:49 PM   #6
Thrush
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This Dayton Sub from partsexpress is probably the best budget sub you can get. I haven't heard one personally but those who have over on the AVS and HT forums seem to be impressed by it.

You get what you pay for though. Once you've heard what a real sub can do (Sunfire, Rel, Earthquake) you will never want to go back.
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Old 02-04-05, 11:31 PM   #7
shawagg
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I have the same problem so maybe someone can help me out as well.

I got an Onkyo 502 and that $150 Celestron package that folks were getting here.

Thanks
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Old 02-05-05, 12:25 AM   #8
dave-o
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Thanks for the advice guys. I figured that at my price range I was going to be pretty limited. I went to Best Buy today to check out the Yamaha 8" and a Sony 10". All I can say is patience is a virtue and good things will come to those who wait. Yep, I have decided to just save some more money and I guess I will just use the gift cards on something else.

Don't get me wrong, they didn't sound awful and probably would be serviceable, but I know I would be dissappointed and eventually upgrade it anyways. I guess I was just in a hurry to get one because I am currently sans subwoofer and it is noticeable. However, I figured, why waste my money if it is not going to do the job. Listening to the higher priced Klipsch and JBL subs really helped make my mind up, what a big difference.

So I plan on waiting until I get into the 350-400 dollar range, it seems like that is the cheapest the higher quality subs come. Man have I ever been bit by the upgrade bug. I got a 55 inch Mits in October, then I realized I needed a new (progressive scan) DVD player(which I am still deciding on), now a subwoofer, whats next? Ahhh...the long downward spiral has begun, it is too late for me now, save yourself while you can!!
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Old 02-05-05, 01:04 AM   #9
chess
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Do they still make this thing and/or carry it at best buy?

http://www.dvdtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=67593

I was infamous for pimping this thing out in 2001, and it might just be the answer to your question if Best Buy still carries it. Still using mine after 4+ years without incident. Stuffing it with polyfill turned out to be a good move.

There is also some great pet management advice in the thread above.
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Old 02-05-05, 02:30 AM   #10
dave-o
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chess
Do they still make this thing and/or carry it at best buy?

http://www.dvdtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=67593

I was infamous for pimping this thing out in 2001, and it might just be the answer to your question if Best Buy still carries it. Still using mine after 4+ years without incident. Stuffing it with polyfill turned out to be a good move.

There is also some great pet management advice in the thread above.

Interesting. the one at BB now is the Sony 12" 150-Watt Powered Subwoofer: Model: SAWM500. I am guessing it is the newer version of the one you have?
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Old 02-05-05, 11:40 AM   #11
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I agree with the posters above who recommend saving for a HSU or SVS. It may seem scary to buy a sub sight-unseen (unheard) from an internet company but they both make excellent products. And I mean excellent as in "damn, so this is how movies were supposed to be watched". I replaced a 12" Infinity sub with a SVS and was blown away with the improvement. Frequency response down to 20 Hz instead of 32 Hz. And just an overall tightness to the sound that my old sub didn't give me.

For a while, CompUSA was carrying one of the more economical HSU subs. I think it was in the $350 range.
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Old 02-07-05, 09:51 AM   #12
chess
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Quote:
Originally Posted by calhokie
I agree with the posters above who recommend saving for a HSU or SVS. It may seem scary to buy a sub sight-unseen (unheard) from an internet company but they both make excellent products. And I mean excellent as in "damn, so this is how movies were supposed to be watched". I replaced a 12" Infinity sub with a SVS and was blown away with the improvement. Frequency response down to 20 Hz instead of 32 Hz. And just an overall tightness to the sound that my old sub didn't give me.

For a while, CompUSA was carrying one of the more economical HSU subs. I think it was in the $350 range.
The SVS is a great sub and well worth the $$$. I've recommended them to several of my doctor friends. I can't speak to the quality of HSU subs, but have heard great things...and they are certainly priced reasonably. However, neither sub is cheap or available in a retail setting. I would also argue that the law of diminishing returns takes effect below the price range of HSU and SVS.

Further, all this talk about frequency response is sloppy at best. The human ear at it's optimum can hear frequencies down to 20 Hz. "Optimum" means that 1) the ear is unabused from loud music, movies, concerts...and probably very young, and 2) that the 20 Hz is solo, as in not muddled in with other higher frequencies. I've used my audiometer on a couple of subs (My Sony, SVS, Energy, and Paradigm) and most have registered "something" down to 20 Hz with a test disc...but I couldn't HEAR a damn thing. FWIW, I did all of these tests with doctors, including an ENT surgeon, and they know a bit about human physiology. For movie watching purposes, our semi-scientific guess for the low range of human hearing was somewhere in the 35-40 Hz range...at best.

The best sub in the world is only as good as your ears.
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Old 02-07-05, 11:48 AM   #13
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You can also build a sub yourself, fairly easily. There's a ton on info on DIY subs here and there. I did it, using a Hsu driver, an amp I got from Parts Express, a piece of sonotube, and various other parts. It was a fun project and I was surprised with the results. I didn't use it, in the log run, because of the WEF was sort of low. Anyway, if you're on a budget, its something to consider.
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Old 02-07-05, 12:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Shannon
I will also second SVS and recommend you save for one.
I ordered a PB10-ISD for my dad and it is supposed to arrive tomorrow.
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Old 02-07-05, 06:57 PM   #15
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I don't think they're quite SVS or HSU quality, but I always heard good things about Velodyne as well. In the past couple months I saw a Velodyne sub (not sure of the model number) at Costco in the $150-$200 price range. Might be an option to get you by for now if you really want to add a sub (if they still carry it)...
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Old 02-07-05, 10:13 PM   #16
Frank S
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tacomantt
Stay away from JBL and Harmon I think they suck all the way around from all perspectives: manufacturing quality, sound quality, and customer treatment.
Be careful making blanket statements about JBL/HK subs as it shows your total lack of knowledge of JBL and HK (not to mention speakers in general)! To say JBL Pro subs suck is one of the most reduculous statements I have seen here in years! JBL Pro is THE speaker of choice for the pros in studios and on stage (not to mention higher end HT's). Maybe there is a line of consumer JBL subs you think suck but to say they all suck is insane. The PSW consumer line of subs from a few years back were very nice subs for their costs and the JBL Pro subs will make you orgasm if you feed it a quality signal.

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Old 02-07-05, 10:59 PM   #17
chess
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Whoah, I think I just had a reduculous orgasim!
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Old 02-08-05, 12:56 AM   #18
Thrush
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chess

Further, all this talk about frequency response is sloppy at best. The human ear at it's optimum can hear frequencies down to 20 Hz. "Optimum" means that 1) the ear is unabused from loud music, movies, concerts...and probably very young, and 2) that the 20 Hz is solo, as in not muddled in with other higher frequencies. I've used my audiometer on a couple of subs (My Sony, SVS, Energy, and Paradigm) and most have registered "something" down to 20 Hz with a test disc...but I couldn't HEAR a damn thing. FWIW, I did all of these tests with doctors, including an ENT surgeon, and they know a bit about human physiology. For movie watching purposes, our semi-scientific guess for the low range of human hearing was somewhere in the 35-40 Hz range...at best.

The best sub in the world is only as good as your ears.
The human ear can hear down to at least 20hz . There is a reason that audiophiles so covet the super low frequencies in their HT subs. Its not so much what you hear, but what you feel. There is nothing like the sensation of a high end sub played at reference levels in 10-20mhz range.
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Old 02-08-05, 09:03 AM   #19
chess
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thrush
The human ear can hear down to at least 20hz . There is a reason that audiophiles so covet the super low frequencies in their HT subs. Its not so much what you hear, but what you feel. There is nothing like the sensation of a high end sub played at reference levels in 10-20mhz range.
...the product of a simple yahoo/google search, no doubt. Read a few abstracts of recent peer reviewed medical journals on www.pubmed.com and you'll find that abuse (10 Hz at reference, for instance) and simple aging have a huge effect on our range of hearing. I also repeat that when said low frequencies are mixed in with high and midrange frequencies, we lose our ability to hear the tones at the fringe of our hearing range. For this reason, very very few movies are mixed with levels lower than 35 Hz or so...even at reference.

I know why people covet ultra low frequencies in their HTs, and it has more to do with bragging rights than it does with actual (as opposed to perceived) auditory differences.

As for feel, I'm with you brother. Clean tight ultra-low bass is great. But for the non audiophile, who doesn't play test discs or own an SPL meter and who simply wants to enjoy movies, the ABILITY of a sub to get that low serves no real purpose.

When I watch movies, usually with my girlfriend (which "audiophiles" rarely have to worry about ), I usually get to about 20db below reference before she starts cringing, and at those levels, no movie has come anywhere near phasing my Sony in the living room or my Energy in the bedroom...not SPR DTS, not U-571, not Clone Wars, not Jurassic Park...nothing I can think of. And they both rattle the plates in the kitchen cupboard and deliver very good thump that you can feel in your chest.

I always thought I'd buy an SVS or build a sonotube sub like it, but now that I've heard a few, I can't justify the price difference for normal use by normal people.

YMMV.
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Old 02-08-05, 09:08 AM   #20
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Just a follow up:

The point I'm trying to make is that if a person has to choose between getting a sub that they can afford now or waiting for an audiophile grade one, that I recommend they go ahead and get one now.

If we agree on nothing else, I bet we can agree that a sub changes the movie watching experience substantially.
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Old 02-08-05, 04:21 PM   #21
Brian Shannon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shelland
I don't think they're quite SVS or HSU quality, but I always heard good things about Velodyne as well. In the past couple months I saw a Velodyne sub (not sure of the model number) at Costco in the $150-$200 price range. Might be an option to get you by for now if you really want to add a sub (if they still carry it)...
IMHO these Velodyne subs are not audiophile quality. Velodyne makes two lines of subs.
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Old 02-09-05, 01:17 AM   #22
Thrush
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Originally Posted by chess
...the product of a simple yahoo/google search, no doubt. Read a few abstracts of recent peer reviewed medical journals on www.pubmed.com and you'll find that abuse (10 Hz at reference, for instance) and simple aging have a huge effect on our range of hearing. I also repeat that when said low frequencies are mixed in with high and midrange frequencies, we lose our ability to hear the tones at the fringe of our hearing range. For this reason, very very few movies are mixed with levels lower than 35 Hz or so...even at reference.

I know why people covet ultra low frequencies in their HTs, and it has more to do with bragging rights than it does with actual (as opposed to perceived) auditory differences.

As for feel, I'm with you brother. Clean tight ultra-low bass is great. But for the non audiophile, who doesn't play test discs or own an SPL meter and who simply wants to enjoy movies, the ABILITY of a sub to get that low serves no real purpose.

When I watch movies, usually with my girlfriend (which "audiophiles" rarely have to worry about ), I usually get to about 20db below reference before she starts cringing, and at those levels, no movie has come anywhere near phasing my Sony in the living room or my Energy in the bedroom...not SPR DTS, not U-571, not Clone Wars, not Jurassic Park...nothing I can think of. And they both rattle the plates in the kitchen cupboard and deliver very good thump that you can feel in your chest.

I always thought I'd buy an SVS or build a sonotube sub like it, but now that I've heard a few, I can't justify the price difference for normal use by normal people.

YMMV.

So you're using people with hearing loss/damage to draw conclusions of the range of human hearing ?

As for movies not having much info below 35mhz. It depends on what kind of movie your watching. If you're talking about a Merchant Ivory production, then you're probably right. But thats not the case with most action movies, especially those produced in the last few years.

Even non-audiophiles can tell the difference between a sub that rolls off at 35-40mhz and one with a flat freq response down to 15mhz. Is a $2000+ sub practical for Joe six pack? Of course not. Most are happy with a Bose system and Pan&Scan DVDs . But some people may want more than that.
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Old 02-09-05, 06:34 AM   #23
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You can always try an infinite baffle sub. I've been reading about these and am quite interested in building one. Anyone know someone that has built one?
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Old 02-09-05, 06:58 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thrush
So you're using people with hearing loss/damage to draw conclusions of the range of human hearing ?

As for movies not having much info below 35mhz. It depends on what kind of movie your watching. If you're talking about a Merchant Ivory production, then you're probably right. But thats not the case with most action movies, especially those produced in the last few years.

Even non-audiophiles can tell the difference between a sub that rolls off at 35-40mhz and one with a flat freq response down to 15mhz. Is a $2000+ sub practical for Joe six pack? Of course not. Most are happy with a Bose system and Pan&Scan DVDs . But some people may want more than that.
Ahhh...The infamous Joe six pack. I don't think Joe has a sub in his system at all.

I don't know if you're a car guy, but I'll use sports cars as an example. Some folks appreciate value and buy an S2000 or an MSM Turbo, both very well balanced and refined sports cars. Other folks think that a Porsche is worth twice as much as an S2000, but it clearly offers only slightly superior performance. Joe six pack is irrelevant, because he buys a Camaro or something. Similarly, I think that spending $500 on a sub when you can get one that meets your needs 99.5% of the time for half the price makes very little sense.

I know a bit about movies with a lot of LFE, as I think I have most of them (aven the crappy Michael Bay stuff).

By the way, everybody has hearing loss/damage...especially those who watch movies at reference level in their living rooms.
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Old 02-09-05, 11:36 AM   #25
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I'll put my reccomendation in for SVS as well. I love their sub. Love how big it is and love explaining what it is when people ask what that huge circular thing in the corner is ;-)

OH! and I love turning on Finding Nemo to show them how I can bounce plates around in the cupboards ;-)
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