So how exactly do you audition a sub?

Tour2ma Old SchoolPosts: 10,177
I mean do you just listen to the sub? or do you audition it with speakers that are different than the ones you own?

What about room set up when doing in-store comparison? They can't all be in the same corner, so do you move them around?

Can you buy a sub on specs alone? Short of bringing it home and trying it with your system, I don't see an effective way (especially if you want to get SVS involved).
More later,
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Post edited by Tour2ma on


  • mantis
    mantis Posts: 16,385
    edited April 2003
    I came over here just to answer your question.......

    Good question.Like anything else.Research,listening,comparing and all that good stuff is needed to demo a sub.The SVS subs of the world,I can't demo anywhere as I believe they are sold only online,well I think that sucks.

    I need to get involved with the subs.I actually do demo with just the sub playing all by itself.I don't just do that but it's part of my demoing process.

    I bring music and a few movies I know real well.Musical(don't kick my Doc)sub's is what I perfer.I don't care for sloppy,boomy over punchy subs.I like the sub to blend in with the rest of the system as it was just an extention.....REL is the very best subs I ever heard do what I want them to do.When setup correctly and most demo rooms need tweaking,The REL subs dissapear......there totally directional sound coming from them at all.I can close myeyes and try to locate where the low bass is coming from....Rel is just gone.......

    I read spec's dispite what I say about spec's.I just find to many people going off spec's without experience.Spec's are spec's.
    One inportant spec in subwoofers is the ability to play down to 20hz,if a sub cannot play down to 20hz,then I don't believe it should be called a sub.

    I try to compare as many subs as possible.Listening test are always hard as I can never get all the sub's I like in one room.Buying them all would be one option,but my wife would just shoot me.I kill her enough with in home demos.

    I have found 2 companies out there that get my highest respect for subs.Velodyne and REL.There...there's brand names for yeah.......;)
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • polkatese
    polkatese Posts: 6,767
    edited April 2003
    want to chime in and echo Dan's vote for REL. You've got to give it an audition. I paired it with LSi7 to LSi15 and anything in between. In every case, I almost can't differentiate the tonal quality between these speakers, that's a true musical sub for blends smoothly with any speakers you paired them with..
    I am sorry, I have no opinion on the matter. I am sure you do. So, don't mind me, I just want to talk audio and pie.
  • izafar
    izafar Posts: 809
    edited April 2003
    I second what is said by Dan and Polkatese. I am also doing sub auditioning these days and really liked REL's ability to disappear in the system.

    When auditioning a sub, you need to take some CDs with the tracks you know hit very low. When auditioning these tracks, try to set sub's volume to get decent output at the low end notes. At this time try to listen to system as a whole. If sub's output seems really overpowring the mains and the low-end can easily pointed to be coming from the sub then, try to lower the volume on sub untill the sub is not much noticable. But if doing so takes the 00mph from low notes, then its time to look at the another sub.

    So far I have listened to all the Velo/polk subs available at CC, Klipsh RSW 12 and Rel Q120 and Q150. The thing common with POLK, Velo and KLIPSH subs is that they dont hit low enogh and they does not disappear in system. On the other hand REL does go low and blends very well. This weekend I listned to REL Q120 paired with Sonus Concerto bookshelfs. This combo sound wonderfull like a piar of good full range speakers. I havent listened to such good sub-sat integration beofre.


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  • RuSsMaN
    RuSsMaN Posts: 17,988
    edited April 2003
    Agreed so far.

    This is an area I will use actual test data/reports from independent reviews to narrow my decision.

    However, the only real way to 'demo', esp a sub (imo) is give that credit card a workout, take em home, bring em back.

    Tour, you would be very impressed with SVS.

    Check your lips at the door woman. Shake your hips like battleships. Yeah, all the white girls trip when I sing at Sunday service.
  • Dr. Spec
    Dr. Spec Posts: 3,780
    edited April 2003
    The sub level for satisfying HT is usually 4-5 dB higher than for what is appropriate for critical music. There is no "one setting" for both nor should there be. My sub level setting for music (stereo, DVD-A, SACD) is exactly 5 dB lower than for HT.

    Fortunately, the 3803 has the ability to remember the speaker level settings for the various inputs without affecting the main calibration settings.

    It also has the ability to turn off the sub for any input and automatically send the mains a full range signal. This is critical to evaluate the musical performance of a sub. I can toggle back and forth between the 800/SVS with an 80 Hz high pass vs. the 800's on full range alone on the same source material. Once level calibrated for music, the SVS blends so well, the two settings are virtually indistinguishable unless there is bass present below 35 Hz. There is nothing in the mid bass from the SVS to betray the fact that it is running.

    This is perhaps the ultimate musical compliment to any sub, and I agree this should be the "acid test" for any subwoofer to be used for music.

    You should develop a "short list" of subs that based on their price, specs, reputation, independent reviews, and specific features, you could seriously envision yourself owning. This list shouldn't be more than a handful of subs at your level of musical development and financial wherewithal.

    Then audition what you can in store with source material you are familiar with. You can't audition HSU and SVS unless you know someone who owns one. Both offer a lengthy return period (30, 45 respectively) all you risk is UPS shipping. I can't speak for HSU, but with SVS they email you a return UPS shipping label and arrange for pick-up.
    When you have it down to no more than three subs, I recommend buying the one your "gut" tells you you will like the most and trying it out in the house. If it fully meets all your expectations then your job is done and keep it. If you have nagging doubts or buyer's regret, then buy a second sub audition them both in house and return the worse performer, and then buy the third and do the same.

    Not everyone has the financial ability to do this. But if you have the credit limit and you will be returning the unwanted subs within the billing period, there is no out of pocket expense.

    As for REL - many glowing customer reviews on AudioReview - I'm sure they are great subwoofers. I'd like a demo some day - any REL owners near upstate NY?

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