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Do I Really Need a Sub?

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BDH55

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I recently upgraded my Summits to ESL 15A's. Once I change something, I start considering what else I may want to change to bring me to an even higher level of performance. Like many, my system is a hybrid two channel system and home theater, but my primary interest is two channel music. Currently, I have a single Descent i sub hanging off the LFE channel of my Anthem AVM 60. IOW, it isn't involved in my two channel playback. Nonetheless, my dealer is recommending a sub upgrade...

So, I was reading thru the BalancedForce sub manual and noticed that I have a new hook up option that would allow me to bring both my FL and FR channels into one sub, in addition to my current LFE channel connection. That got me thinking about the benefits of bringing a sub into my two channel rig. Several questions came up...

1) when the wife and I are watching a movie, I'm not sure if we ever even notice the current Descent i. Maybe that means it is perfectly integrated with our system, maybe that means it isn't installed correctly, or maybe what we are watching just doesn't have killer bass. If we aren't really feeling/hearing it, do we even need a sub?

2) since we upgraded to the ESL 15A's, we now have bass down to 22 Hz. We aren't listening to church organ music that drops down to 16 Hz, so... do we need a sub to take us deeper?

3) it seems that most of the systems here that are using a sub in their two channel systems, are actually using two subs. While we 'could' physically make that work, they would not be positioned the same on both sides. How much does that matter?

Right now I am looking at either selling my Descent i and just relying on my ESL 15A's bass, or just continuing to run it off the LFE channel of my processor. Wise ML owners please advise!
 

amey01

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While I can't speak for the 15A, by default (and in intrinsic terms), I'd say absolutely a sub is essential. I can tell if my sub is off while listening to solo violin. There are harmonics down at that level, and if you don't have a sub you're not getting the whole recording. Period. You don't have to be listening to pipe organ.
 

ttocs

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My Expressions, after using ARC, extend to 20Hz in my room. I have yet to be able to experience an improvement by integrating my current twin Sumiko subs with them, which I truly believe are nowhere close to being as good as the ML subs like the 212 or even 210. But I keep trying, and what I've learned is that I bought the wrong subs, should've spent double and gotten 2 ML subs.

Over the last few days I've been exhausting every possibility of 2 or 3 subs, along with an old Rel 10" sub, by using separate walls, stacking in different combinations of mix and match 2 and 3 stack arrays, while measuring with REW and playing with delays etc. And I've done this several times in the past. But. The subwoofers I have can't compete with the Expression 13A woofers - and they are only 10". So for music, it's just the Expressions.

If your room will allow it, your speakers should be able to go lower than mine in actual usage once they've been calibrated with ARC. One thing to note is that ML doesn't have a graceful way to mate their subs with their speakers. It's all just trial and error. It would be huge if they could allow ARC to control the subs in addition to the speakers's woofers.

Also, I've got my processor setup to use my subs for only LFE, thus directing all the bass management for all the other speakers which are set to Small to the Expressions which are set to Large. The upper range of bass on the Expressions also works very well all the way up to 300Hz, which is why I now set the crossover setting in the processor to 150Hz for my Motif Center speaker. I've raised the crossover setting to 120Hz on all the other surrounds. The entire system, 9.1(3).4, sounds amazing and it's not a dedicated theater setup.
 

roberto

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Hola,

That's a good question. Well, all depends of your musical material. If you like to listen a church organ, harp or electronic music, then you might need a sub. I do not know from where my dear friend Amey01 says that a violin can produce very low subharmonics...I don't believe that a violin is capable to do that. I have friends that play violin and sometime ago we got together and play some classical music for guitar and string quartets. Not even a cello produce a very low frequency. Here is a chart where you can see the frequency response of most musical instruments:

1600625644485.png


Happy listening!
 

amey01

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I do not know from where my dear friend Amey01 says that a violin can produce very low subharmonics...I don't believe that a violin is capable to do that.
I'm not sure. I'd love to understand more about the science of it.

But what I do know is that sometimes I forget to turn my subwoofer on. Oh, and sometimes the kids turn it off. On more than one occasion, I have been able to tell the that the sub is not on with programme material which you would least expect.......solo violin, solo flute, etc. Something was certainly missing without the sub on.
 

ttocs

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I'm not sure. I'd love to understand more about the science of it.

But what I do know is that sometimes I forget to turn my subwoofer on. Oh, and sometimes the kids turn it off. On more than one occasion, I have been able to tell the that the sub is not on with programme material which you would least expect.......solo violin, solo flute, etc. Something was certainly missing without the sub on.
The Vistas are rated down to 43Hz, if memory serves, I had a pair and they are responsible for my love affair with ML speakers. I bought a 10" Rel sub to fill the bottom end better and was a great match to the 8" woofer on the Vista. Originally I was able to use the speaker level connection in addition to the LFE connection which allowed me to use the Vistas in Reference Stereo mode with no bass management, then I moved and got hum, so stopped and only used the LFE input.

You gotta keep in mind that since frequencies don't stop at brick walls there's quite a bit of overlap at the crossover. I used a crossover setting of 50Hz in my processor for the Vistas. So, the point at which the Vista starts getting weak, the sub fills that in, so maybe it's in this area that you are hearing what you say, just like I heard the same thing.
 

roberto

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I'm not sure. I'd love to understand more about the science of it.

But what I do know is that sometimes I forget to turn my subwoofer on. Oh, and sometimes the kids turn it off. On more than one occasion, I have been able to tell the that the sub is not on with programme material which you would least expect.......solo violin, solo flute, etc. Something was certainly missing without the sub on.
Yes. I am with you here...what you are hearing is ambience. There are some reflexions of the sound that goes very deep. This is what you are hearing. It is a naturalness of the way we hear things, and mostly are unaware, antil they are not present. But are not fundamental tones. These are the notes that bounces with the room (the room acts like a musical instrument also are called room boundaries or standing waves) or where the recording was made. But the violin, because of its size, can not produce very low info...the instrument is not large enough for low frequency. Have a look of this instrument:


Very good observation Amey, not everybody is aware of this low frequency info.

Happy listening!
 

hifiaddiction

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OK, a real schoolboy newbie question here. I have a pair of old Aerius i electrostatic which I purchased recently, have washed the panels (!) and am loving - the mid and upper ranges are sublime, but if I'm being critical then the base lacks a bit in musicality and certainly struggles with some of the base notes that sounded so natural with my previous rebuilt Kef 105s. So I have managed to blag a monster Rel Studio sub... all 92kgs of it! Because of location, I wired this directly to the inputs on the speakers (which I know works but isn't recommended). I have also tried a much more modest Rel Storm wired directly to my power amp. Despite an admittedly small amount of time trying to dial in both subs, adjusting the various settings as well as location, I just can't get them to work. Either it's just adding horrible boom to the bottom end, or the gain is so low that the effect is effectively negligible. What am I missing here?
 

spkrdctr

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BDH55, go with what you know. If you don't ever feel as if you need a sub then don't bother with it. If you do any home theater then I would say, yes get a good sub. Music will play great on speakers that can go down low, but movie explosions, trains going by and other effects really use the big bump up in performance a sub gives you. I would suggest if you have a big room to get a large sub that will give you great movie bass. If you want "pants flapping bass" then you have to go all out with top of the line bass units. But, you may not need one at all. Depends on your material. Good Luck!
 

hifiaddiction

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BDH55, go with what you know. If you don't ever feel as if you need a sub then don't bother with it. If you do any home theater then I would say, yes get a good sub. Music will play great on speakers that can go down low, but movie explosions, trains going by and other effects really use the big bump up in performance a sub gives you. I would suggest if you have a big room to get a large sub that will give you great movie bass. If you want "pants flapping bass" then you have to go all out with top of the line bass units. But, you may not need one at all. Depends on your material. Good Luck!
It's definitely that sort of call. I don't use these for movies etc, just music. I suspect ultimately I need to move to later/larger/better electrostats with more capability with their base drivers to get the big musical base notes that I'm currently finding are a bit lacking. The Aerius speakers were an impulse buy, to see if Martin Logans would work with my hifi and my room - thankfully they do, but it does mean the ESL Xs I'd ideally like to try are now even higher up my wish list!
 

Robert D

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Do many guys here have "butt shakers" in their home theaters? Wondering what opinions are on them. Are they worth the extra $?
 

amey01

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Yes. I am with you here...what you are hearing is ambience. There are some reflexions of the sound that goes very deep. This is what you are hearing.
Interesting post Roberto - thanks for the info.

Ultimately though - it confirms what I said - yes, you need a sub for solo violin :)

Actually, I think that's a bit harsh......I wouldn't say you "need one" - but it certainly makes a difference.
 

roberto

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Yes, but the truth is for all instruments and voices. If you listen a violin in a recording studio, there, the violin sound will be very dry. This is the reason the why the recording engineer adds reverb and echoes. This might make the recording to be more live like.
a big hug from Costa Rica, my dear friend.
happy listening.
 

roberto

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roberto

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Hola,
The article is right in a certain way, but this is only for live music. We do not have in the recording industry such high frequency response. The profesional recording microphones, the best quality barely gets to 18KHz!!!
So if the recording does not has this frequency, nothing we can do about it. We have to concentrate all of our efforts to get the best of what we got.
Happy listening.
 

roberto

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Robert D

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Here are the most expensive mics for professional recordings. The frequency response barely gets to 20KHz.
How high does human hearing even go?
According to wikipedia:
" The commonly stated range of human hearing is 20 to 20,000 Hz. Under ideal laboratory conditions, humans can hear sound as low as 12 Hz and as high as 28 kHz, though the threshold increases sharply at 15 kHz in adults, corresponding to the last auditory channel of the cochlea. "

Older folks like me 50+ I think cant even hear that high. I got tested and I have hearing loss, but not bad enough for a hearing aid yet! Too many loud concerts lol!
 

roberto

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Yes Robert,
And that’s not all. For me, the most important is the distortion. Usually, and I do know that I’m going to be nailed, the tubes have even distortion. The even distortion is what makes the musical instruments to sound to a piano or a guitar. The A musical note has 440Hz and from this frequency all the musical instruments are tuned. If you take off the natural even harmonics from a piano musical note and do the same to a trombone, the result will be a pure 440Hz tone. You add the harmonics and you will get back the piano and the trombone. Of course both musical instruments have different even harmonics. SS produce odd harmonics. The trick here is to design SS with the less distortion. And into the world of SS, there are great sounding electronics.
The tube has a naturalness due to its even distortion.
This is why my ears love tubes. The simple and shortest path and electronic design using the best components that the electronic industry can produce is what we are getting from tubes on these days.
The most important thing is: to have happy ears. They are the final judges. What I like, not necessary must be your liking. Just, trust your appreciation of the musical instruments and voices.
Happy listening!
 

18000rpm

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Do many guys here have "butt shakers" in their home theaters? Wondering what opinions are on them. Are they worth the extra $?
Hi Robert,

I added a cheap and easy shaker setup. Cost me all of $100 and a few minutes. You can read about it here:


I love it for movies, not for music.
 
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