Subwoofer Recommendations
February 13, 2005 5:13 PM   Subscribe

stereofilter: I'm interested in replacing my subwoofer. I have some cheap RCA thing that really overemphasizes a single note. I'd like to replace it with something that has better frequency response, preferably a self-powered sub, and I don't want to pay a fortune for 'stereophile' stuff like so many people seem to do.
posted by delmoi to Media & Arts (9 answers total) this home theater? Home stereo? Your car? What speakers/electronics will it be mached to, and what do you listen to? More info is always helpful.

Oh, and HSU Research.
posted by kickingtheground at 5:36 PM on February 13, 2005

You get what you pay for so cheap solutions are hard to come by here. However, there are a couple of ways to get good quality for less, build it yourself or buy used. Parts Express and Madisound both have kits and Audiogon is a great place to find used audio goods.
posted by caddis at 5:39 PM on February 13, 2005

Hmmm...emphasizing a particular note? Could it be a standing wave?
posted by Jimbob at 6:01 PM on February 13, 2005

Jimbob has a good point. You might be able to improve your sound just by moving the sub around a bit. Try putting it towards the middle of the room first (I know you can't leave it there) and then move it towards the wall. If that one bass note changes you have found your culprit.
posted by caddis at 6:14 PM on February 13, 2005

The best bass location is always a corner, as the intersection of walls and floor reinforces the output,like a horn.The HSU is excellent for the money.
posted by hortense at 8:24 PM on February 13, 2005

A single note could be the result of resonance. Something in the room (the room itself) emphasizes that specific note. You can demonstrate this often in a tile bathroom, by singing or whistling. Slide up a scale and notice how at some point the note is far more 'live'. That's resonance.

Another strategy than buying a different sub is to get an equalizer and de-emphasize that problem frequency.
posted by Goofyy at 9:34 PM on February 13, 2005

Response by poster: I know what a standing wave is, I think it's a problem with the sub itself, though, it's ported. Holding the port closed with my hand helps a bit. I'll try moving it around, though, and take a look at some of the links you guys provided.
posted by delmoi at 11:10 PM on February 13, 2005

I spend altogether too much time on a home theater forum, and this is a common question.

The standing wave comments are valid, but you mention you have "some cheap RCA thing", so that's probably the root of the problem, as you've surmised. To replace it with a quality sub, you're looking at spending $400 - $500.

The best sub for you depends on a couple factors. The most important is the size of your room. The bigger the room, the bigger the sub you'll need. The second factor is the type of music you listen to. If you listen to a lot of jazz, classical, or non-electronic music for example, your sub doesn't need to go lower than about 25-30Hz (unless you have a penchant for pipe organs). Techno, hip-hop, and quite a lot or rock has material that plumbs the depths at 20Hz or lower.

The two brands that represent the best value in subwoofer bang for your buck are Hsu and SVS. If you go with Hsu, the STF-2 is the best value for average-sized rooms. SVS offers the PB10-ISD. Look 'em over.

on preview: cheap subs are notorious for port chuff (the technical term for the one-noted noise a badly-designed port makes). Both the subs I've recommended are ported, but don't suffer from the same problems.
posted by pmbuko at 11:19 PM on February 13, 2005

I would normally completely disagree with the "you get what you pay for" platitude, but subwoofers require a lot of resources. You need a really big driver, a really thick and large box, and a big amp. Those things cost lots of money. That said many moderately expensive subs I've heard are guilty of one note bass.

Interesting to see that Hsu and SVS both use BASH amps... I worked for the BASH people for a while.
posted by Chuckles at 2:19 AM on February 14, 2005

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