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subwoofers for music

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  • subwoofers for music

    Pretty much a beginner. I made a set of DIII's back in 2003 and now have the DIY itch again. . I have looked at many designs, and my first question is about picking one to build. I am interested in speakers primarily for music (mainly classic and hard rock). I do not care about home theater sound such as the explosions and dinosaurs walking around.

    I have seen some designs that began as a two way and then developed into a 2.5 or three way by adding a third driver and a larger floorstanding cabinet. This makes sense as a way to add to the low end. My confusion comes from many of the two way bookshelf designs being demonstrated with one or more subwoofers. What is the difference,sound wise, when comparing a larger floorstander with a bookshelf and a subwoofer?

    Thanks much

  • #2
    A decent sub with good bass management can make a little cheap speaker sound like a much larger speaker. I think that a 4th order low pass for the sub is much better than a 12dB filter. A ported ten is a good place to start, but there are other options as well. What you don't want is to be able to hear mid-bass coming from the sub.


    • #3
      Originally posted by perhellion View Post
      What is the difference,sound wise, when comparing a larger floorstander with a bookshelf and a subwoofer?
      With floorstanders you can't place the low frequency elements and midrange/high frequency elements where each gives the best result, which is seldom if ever within the same footprint.


      • #4
        Separate sub(s) with their own amplification allow more flexible placement to optimize the low frequency room interactions. The best place for the main L/R speakers isn't always the best place for bass propagation.

        Yeah, propagation.

        Owning a subwoofer doesn't force you to watch Jurassic Park and U-571 on a loop.


        • #5
          Okay, for a specific example, compare Paul Carmody's Classix II to his Classix 2.5. I see how the 2.5 would be stronger on the low end with an additional driver and a floorstanding cabinet. .How would Classix II with a /subwoofer compare?

          Forced to watch action movies -probably not, but that is how lots of folks show off with their subs.


          • #6
            According to Paul C.'s website, the Classix 2.5 has an F3 of 35Hz. This is going to cover almost all music.
            Home Theater subwoofers may target an F3 in the low 20's. So, why should you add a subwoofer or two?

            As pointed out above, where you need the bass is usually not where you would typically locate the two main speakers. Room effects will greatly affect the bass frequencies. Having a sub optimally located with good equalization, or better yet, two subs, will allow you to tune the bass to your room. The effects of your room are hard to overstate. If you cross over at something like 60-80Hz you will also decrease the demands on the mains.

            If you decide to go with a sub, two important variables will be price and the size of sub you can work with. Specify those two and you will get lots of good advice here.


            • #7
              The classic II with a competent subwoofer could be adjusted to have less, more, or the same bass as the Classic 2.5. Generally, within the capabilities of the sub. A little 5" 30 watt sub might not do it.


              • #8
                DIIIs, Classix, you know there are other drivers than the DC160.


                • #9
                  Classix - just an example that also had a 2.5 design - didn't even notice it uses DC 160.


                  • #10
                    Here's another Carmody 2.5 version of an original TM.



                    • #11
                      Originally posted by perhellion View Post
                      . What is the difference,sound wise, when comparing a larger floorstander with a bookshelf and a subwoofer?

                      Thanks much
                      I worked retail electronics for a long time so I had the opportunity to listen to, display, and sell a lot of gear to a lot of people. Whether $199 bookshelves or $6k TMW floor-standers, I found that a subwoofer compliments ANY full range speaker. Honestly, the only independent floor standing speakers I ever heard that could get the same response on the low end that I (and most of the people I showed them to) liked had build in powered woofers, so essentially a bookshelf or 2.5 with sub.

                      This will come down to the music you like and how you like to listen to it. Some people listen more to acoustic based music and/or like their bass very 'dry' (weak IMO) and if that's you then a 2.5 or TWM with an 8" or even a 10" woofer should fill your boots. If you listen to anything with drums larger than a tom and/or anything where an instrument plugs into something, I find it is very hard for any speaker system to compete with one that includes a separate powered subwoofer. The subwoofer doesn't have to overpower the mains (it shouldn't really) but if you want the intro to the live cut of Black Sabbath's Ironman or Tracey Chapman's Fast Car or an organ, or anything else with real information down low to actually sound like it should, you need a subwoofer to do it. Just my experience, YMMV.

                      edit: As for what I recommend - the largest most powerful sub you can justify spending money on. With few exceptions, Large driver = low and you can always turn it down.

                      Last edited by Dukk; 06-04-2020, 12:10 PM.


                      • #12
                        I love subwoofers... should be in some sort of support group, this board makes me feel better since my subs in use are downright reasonable compared to some on here.

                        They are tricky to setup properly though, if you're not careful with crossover, delay, phase, placement etc you can end up with a little disconnect that your ears will pick up. This can be tweaked out, and once the subs disappear, the results can be magical.
                        Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
                        Wogg Music
                        Published projects: PPA100 Bass Guitar Amp, ISO El-Cheapo Sub, Indy 8 2.1 powered sub, MicroSat, SuperNova Minimus