buying subs by ear

bounty5 Posts: 20
I have been looking into, researching the net, and reading my Polk catalog for several months now in anticipation of adding a subwoofer to my system. I have yet to go shopping per se, but anticipate doing so shortly. I am not an audiophile as it seems many on the site here are, so some of the more specific technical stuff is lost on me. My question is in regard to subwoofers. I have had outstanding performance and service from Polk, and as such, am looking here for my new addition. How did you decide on the sub that you bought? was the decision based upon hearing it in a showroom? based on prior Polk hx, or the endless list and array of information on the web? I would like to purchase something that will bring a smile to my face five or so years in the future as well as the very day I open up the box. Any hints, experience, or ideas? My system is run by a Sony TAV-480 120wX4. The amp is about ten years old, and will probably be replaced in short order with a newer model with all the new stuff. My mains speakers are also sony, but only start at 50HZ. A sub, if i understand it correctly (say the PSW450) goes down to 25HZ. Am I to grab that much extra sound simply with the addition of a sub?
Post edited by bounty5 on


  • mantis
    mantis Posts: 16,976
    edited May 2002
    Sounds like you have a dolby surround receiver right?I used to have one by Pioneer years and years ago.
    Buying a sub is no easy task.But for people like you who have no idea how to do it....well I think I can help you.
    Lets talk about where your system is going.
    1) Are you planning on upgrading to the new formats of today?

    2)What do you currently do with your system?

    3)What size is your room?

    Thats just for starters.Let me ask you this......Are you going to upgrade your speaker's and receiver?You might want to do that first and then add the sub in.You can do it anyway you want.

    This is a hard question, you kind of stumped the chump..meaning me.
    Man I can't think where you should begin, your current system is hindering me from giving you the correct advise.
    Ok let me start over.If you answer these questions I think I can help further instead of confusing you and myself.

    1)Are you going to upgrade your system?

    2)what sources are you going to run?

    3)What speakers are you going to use?

    4)What size is the room?

    Adding a sub to any system just about everytime is a benifit, but without the proper system layout,its extremly hard to put a sub into it.
    If you knew what main speakers you where going to use Then I would tell you to start demoing sub's that benifit.
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • bounty5
    bounty5 Posts: 20
    edited May 2002
    Let me give you an idea of where I am now...and then where i would like to go.

    My amp is a Sony (120wX4) built in 1988. It has surround on it, but by no means is it close to what is available today. My main speakers are Sony SSMF 315, which were a hell of an improvement over the Fisher's I have had since college. I use this primarily for music, but have designs towards home theater too. I have recently become acquainted with Polk speakers (R10's, and RT15I's) for use in my dining room, and kitchen. I have found them to be very well suited for my limitations of space and marital discord (both of which alternate with each audio purchase) as well as a small price.

    Where I want to go (mind you, my budget is limited with respect to audio stuff) A new amp (not receiver if possible, as I have a separate tuner). I have had very good luck with Sony thus far, so I am somewhat angled towards them(Perhaps the ES line). I am looking at about 400-500 for this. I have looked at some of the othger brands on the web, in the shop i use, etc. I am sure that I must be missing something in regards to this stuff. My thinking was always higher wattage/ low distortion makes for better sound. I see a large number of Denon, and other makes which cost a lot more, but actually produce less wattage. Obviously more study in this area is required. In the future, I would like to get a pair of RT800i's (or something similar)for my mains. I believe these run about 700$ or so.

    I am looking at the sub as a starting point now, mainly because this is a piece of equipment that i do not have, but would add something immediately audible to my system as I rebuild piece by piece. Surround speakers are almost an afterthought right now.

    I live in an older house which has pocket doors, high ceilings, and very large windows. The room where all of this stuff resides is approximately 18 X14. The couch faces the corner where all the electronics, TV, dvd, etc, and main speakers are.

    I am wide open to suggestion on this stuff. I would like to make smart purchases of quality goods. I have been on the fence about a sub for a long time now, bouncing back and forth btween the PSW450 and the PSW650. Without even hearing them, I am simply thinking that the 650 has to be a better almost twice the surface area of speaker element and more power.

    In essence, I am a complete novice to a lot of the intricacies of the audio spectrum. I am looking to buy good stuff, and am willing to purchase piece by piece, item by item to get there.

  • mantis
    mantis Posts: 16,976
    edited May 2002
    Thats better,
    I would try the psw450 in your room, then if not enough power or lows(which they both hit about the same)go with the psw650.Both subs are pretty good.For the money, your going real good.Polks subd ave come a long way over the past couple years.
    Both subs can be ran in speaker level which is what I believe your going to have to run.
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • OrangeToupee
    OrangeToupee Posts: 488
    edited May 2002
    If you're looking at something along the lines of Polk RT800i's, then you might also consider the HSU VTF-2, an excellent sub for roughly $500. Here's a link to customer reviews audioreview that help to support my suggestion. For the type of mains you are considering (I own the RT800i's), I believe this to be an excellent match in class. I believe that others will support my opinion on this matter. A pairing of Polk RT800i's and HSU VTF-2 would deliver outstanding mid-fi sound in either of your potential applications, those being 2-channel music and home theater impact.
  • robertgray
    robertgray Posts: 22
    edited May 2002
    Based on your original question - how to buy a sub? - I'd suggest the following. Take what you hear in a showroom with a grain of salt. Assuming that you are dealing with reputable stores, buy what seems to sound good and try it at home. Take it back and try another. Find your own performance/cost balance. You need to decide if a minor improvement is worth $200+ more. If you find something you like and can get it cheaper on the net, take it back to the store and buy online.

    The above advice won't sit well with retail management and you may feel uncomfortable doing this. You decide.
    Robert Gray

    Onkyo TX-SR600 receiver
    Polk CS245i center
    Polk RT25i front and side surrounds
    Bose Interaudio 2000 rear surround (Got one RT25i to round out my system? PM me.)
    Polk PSW450 sub
    Polk PSW350 sub
  • bounty5
    bounty5 Posts: 20
    edited May 2002
    Thanks for the info and advice. I have a feeling my purchase may take a little longer than i expected.