Obvious subwoofer question

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Archguy, Aug 1, 2020.

  1. Archguy

    Archguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Richmond VA
    Or at least I think it should be obvious. Most days I listen to three or four systems, three of which now have subs integrated. In each of these I find it necessary to adjust the sub output according to the type of music I'm listening to. I love the idea of ideal neutrality and such but I don't live in a perfect world.

    Relevant info: 1) I'm not a bass fiend by any stretch 2) my music listening is 80% acoustic jazz, 10% classical, and 10% popular [including rock, hip-hop, electro-swing, what have you] and 3) my listening spaces are very well damped. They're all carpeted, spacious, and treated.

    Whenever I listen to jazz, there's too much bass. For the others I can crank it up. It seems like rock and especially classical can soak up all the bass I throw at them. The issue, though: it's a nuisance to go around resetting subs whenever I switch genres. So I sort of aim for a happy medium but it's not entirely happy since it's never close to ideal. Can anyone offer a perspective on this? TIA.
  2. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Westfield, IN USA
    Every once in a while, or for particular songs, I have the same issue. And usually I need to reduce the subs output a db or 2. It's high on my list of reasons why I bought the SVS sub; adjust from chair with phone app. Lazy man's way.
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2020
  3. 5-String

    5-String μηδὲν ἄγαν

    Sunshine State
    If you have to constantly adjust your sub, maybe there is a problem with the way you have integrated the sub to your system?

    I am not a subwoofer expert and I had mine (Rel T9i) for less than a year, since December, but I never had to adjust it after I originally set it up.

    The way I have my Rel to blend with my main speakers is pretty conservative, I keep the vol and the crossover of the sub relatively low, the subwoofer offers a nice foundation to the music and extends the bass, but If I turn it off, you just realize that there is something missing from the sound but it is not like “where did the bass go?” type of thing.
    Actually since I have more than one amps, when I swap them, sometimes I forget to turn it on and couple of hours later I am like”hm...there is something wrong with the music, did I forget to turn the subwoofer on?”
    By the way I have pretty similar tastes to you, 40% jazz, 40% classical, and the rest is rock, folk, electronica, etc.

    More knowledgeable members will offer better advice, but I suggest to look again at the way you have set it up.
    Sullygr2221, lv70smusic and bever70 like this.
  4. pdxway

    pdxway Forum Resident

    Oregon, USA
    Likely room modes issue where you get a peak somewhere that causes boommy bass for jazz.

    Try to a frequency sweep to determine the peak frequencies.
    Doc Diego likes this.
  5. clrvlewis

    clrvlewis Forum Resident

    Oklahoma City
    I agree with pdxway. Download REW and run a sweep. I am guessing your setting in mode. Could be as easy as moving your listening position a foot or so.
    pdxway likes this.
  6. Catcher10

    Catcher10 I like records, and Prog...duh

    Are you running your main speakers full range? Maybe this is not common but with my Parasound HINT it gives me ability to high pass my mains if I want, so I can run all the low frequency thru my SVS. When I do this the bass is less pronounced and any records that are mixed with a heavy bass tone are toned down some. But I don't run them like this, I really like the bass/low end I get from my main speakers so I figure why cut those off, so I setup the SVS to simply augment the low end and that is what gets me a much more engaging sound. As you say if I turn off the sub I can hear a difference, and feel, but again depending on source it is very subtle. IMO what you want the sub to do is help with sustain of bass notes that your mains can't do....If a bass note starts off at say 70Hz and dies off at 30Hz, you want the sub to let you hear/feel the whole note, where your mains will cut off at say 50Hz. To me that has nothing to do with volume or gain of your sub, so maybe turn down the sub even more.

    If you are listening to your jazz at normal volume and you put your ear down to the sub say 12" away, you really should not hear much of anything, you should feel the air its moving. For sure I have records that have heavy bass, and yea a lot of them are my jazz records. But I figure that is because its usually a 4pc band and the bass is a standup bass so you hear it more....I love Paul Chambers bass on Kind of Blue, its heavy thick and articulate and fills my room with sweet pressure, but its not too much.....Maybe also try a lower crossover setting. But yea a sub is about a happy medium.
    33na3rd, Kyle Mooney and apesfan like this.
  7. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    I have had the same problems with some jazz records. It involves the way they were recorded and creates a peak in certain frequencies.

    1)First off- have you determined it is in your subwoofer that the bass is coming from? Recently for me I thought it was the subwoofers but it was really the main speakers. Check this first.
    2)If it is your subwoofer, check the position to the wall. My subs always create peaks in certain frequencies when they are too close to the wall. Try to bring them at least 12" from the wall.
    3)If neither or those actions help, you may have a summing peak. Ideally you want to measure the response with RTA software or a phone app. In the mean time try to switch the phase switch to see how it sounds. Sub manufacturers recommend to set the phase switch so that bass is "loudest". I have found that this can mean a summing peak where there is too much additive overlap between main and sub.
    4)Lastly try to adjust the crossover if all else fails. Lower it until the peak is gone.
    radioalien likes this.
  8. F1nut

    F1nut Forum Resident

    The Mars Hotel
    What brand/model are your subs?
  9. Archguy

    Archguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Richmond VA
    Thanks to everyone for their ideas and suggestions.

    Agreed. I believe in the 'conservative' approach and I generally try to set them so that it's a very subtle boost, confined to the lowest octave or two. Yes I'm running my regular speaks full-range. I've just noticed that with classical & popular music I can turn the subs up more w/o any deleterious effects. Not with jazz, esp the acoustic piano jazz I favor.

    Your first question hits the mark considerably. As to the second, the subs are away from room boundaries.

    For better or worse, I don't have any complaints at all about the low-frequency effects when playing classical or popular music. Therefore it would seem to follow that the setups are okay. It's just that acoustic jazz thing.
    5-String likes this.
  10. radioalien

    radioalien Well-Known Member

    Put your subwoofer just off center, about a foot, of the midpoint of your two front speakers

    good luck
    Szeppelin75 likes this.
  11. sturgus

    sturgus Forum Resident

    St. Louis Mo
    Maybe your subs are crossed over to high. If you run your mains full range you should crossover your sub at the natural roll off frequency of your mains.
  12. Archguy

    Archguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Richmond VA
    On the bright side. I now have LZII shaking the furniture and floor joists [​IMG]
    5-String and Catcher10 like this.
  13. shug4476

    shug4476 Forum Resident

    I would also recommend REW and a calibrated mic. At least this way you'll have an answer.

    Is it a double bass in jazz causing the mischief?
  14. radioalien

    radioalien Well-Known Member

    Maybe it is just the way jazz records are recorded and mixed, the upright bass? is very prominent
    timind likes this.
  15. Archguy

    Archguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Richmond VA
    Yes it's the bass not the drum set. FWIW. Weird how the bass guitar in rock songs (not to mention the various bass instruments in an orchestra) aren't giving any trouble.
  16. cliff_forster

    cliff_forster Well-Known Member

    Baltimore Hon
    This has been the bane of my audiophile existence ever since I moved to a new space. My current basement listening area, for some odd reason I just could not find the sub sweet spot and keep it there. I just recently purchased a pair of three way Warfedale Linton speakers and eliminated my powered sub. I'm still getting used to a little less bass, but the simplicity of the set up is better for me at this stage of my life. I just don't have the itch to fiddle and play and adjust quite like I did a decade ago. A decade ago, it was fun, it was a hobby, get up and play with your sub crossover and levels and room placement... Now, I just want to sit my tubby butt down and listen.

    I will say I auditioned a non ported sub, this little Definitive Pro Sub 800 which would be plenty for my space, and I was impressed by how deep and tuneful it could play and how didn't chuff, blow or resonate in any unpleasant way. I think that's a big part of fighting with a ported sub, the placement is so difficult sometimes, you move it a few inches out, point the driver a different direction, hit the phase adjustment, everything changes, but with a passive radiator I don't think it's quite as placement sensitive, but I'm not an expert. All I know if my 10" ported Klipsch sub was hell to get a good level and blend on, and every time I changed material I felt like I had to get up and adjust it, so it's not just you.
    Archguy likes this.
  17. F1nut

    F1nut Forum Resident

    The Mars Hotel
    Sealed subs are the way to go for music. A servo sub is even better.
    bever70 and sturgus like this.
  18. DaveyF

    DaveyF Forum Resident

    La Jolla, Calif
    IME, a sub should not be noticeable in the system. Therefore, if you are needing to turn it down on certain music, it is probably too prevalent on all your music and you are noticing it more on jazz. Turn it down for a great blend on jazz ( or whatever music you find it to be objectionable) and let it just run at that level for all music. I think you will find that it does its job better this way. IMO, a true blend with the mains is going to be an 'invisible' blend, which is how I believe a sub should sound. With two subs in the system, which is what i utilize, this is a more difficult job and one that takes exponentially more time to accomplish than with just one sub. Experimentation and patience are the name of the game with subwoofers.
  19. head_unit

    head_unit Forum Resident

    Los Angeles CA USA
    Well, maybe it's just typical mixes. To make a horribly big generalization, jazz bass is more by itself, and rock bass is more blended in with other stuff. And *maybe* not as low in frequency?

    Your profile doesn't show anything, what kind of sub is it? And no app control?

    I also go with the notion to get REW and microphone, or maybe as a first round someone can recommend an acoustic app to run like pink noise and get a crude spectrum. Because I'm also agreeing maybe you have a particular room mode going on with the positions of speakers and sub. What is the rest of the system? Any room correction running? How are the speakers and sub connected? What are the crossover settings?
  20. 33na3rd

    33na3rd Forum Resident

    SW Washington, USA
    I use my smartphone with the RTA app in Audiotools, by Studio Six Digital & a cheap calibration microphone from Parts Express. Less than $30 for the app & microphone.

    AudioTools | Studio Six Digital
    "Dayton Audio iMM-6 Calibrated Measurement Microphone for Tablets iPhone iPad and Android" from www.parts-express.com!

    I run my mains full range and adjust the sub to fill in the bass that the mains roll off on their own. Using the RTA/microphone with pink noise makes this process quick and painless. Once I have the sub set up, I do not feel the need to adjust for different recordings. When I tried to adjust the sub just by ear, I was constantly making adjustments.
  21. johnny q

    johnny q Forum Resident

    Bergen County, NJ
    This is what I have always heard as a rule of thumb and it makes sense - but sometimes I can be an idiot with these things :) For example, my main speakers are rated 45Hz-28kHz, ±3dB, with a low-frequency cutoff of 37Hz. So when I integrate my sub, what would be a logical crossover -.....35-ish??:help:
  22. bever70

    bever70 It's all about the soundstage

    Not in my opinion, because no speaker in YOUR room will get the figures that are published, as these are usually not measured by the manufacture 'in your average listening room'.

    The reason is that many speaker manufacturers use expensive anechoic chambers to derive the most factually accurate and precise measurements and then they print those numbers.

    The Art (Not Science) of Tuning - REL Acoustics
  23. johnny q

    johnny q Forum Resident

    Bergen County, NJ
    Yeah - I totally agree about measurements vs. actual performance in ones listening room. For example, my speakers sound like they go lower than the published specs and many forum members who have the same model, don't even desire a sub. Anyway, I guess the answer to this question is there is no answer -experimentation and patience is the key. I guess just start with the crossover high and dial it back until it sounds natural.
    bever70 likes this.
  24. cliff_forster

    cliff_forster Well-Known Member

    Baltimore Hon
    It's a trick to tune by ear, but my money says probably around 50 Hz. I had some Klipsch RP 160's with a sub. So much of the stand mounts bass changed with power. If I pushed them harder the bass would start to come out and I could crossover lower, but if I played softer I needed a higher crossover, thus why I finally just said forget you Sub, got some big three way stand mounts that dig lower.

    That said, the lowest number is usually - 3dB so it's already rolling off at that point so you would typically try to cross it over right around where the roll off happens and try to level it so they blend together. Let's say you have an integrated with a good bass management feature, now you just go in and cross it higher where you they sound the best in your room. You rob the speakers of some performance but it could be ideal in your room. I thought about getting an Outlaw RR2160 for this very reason, just to have something I could cross the Klipsch over at 60 Hz with but I just turned 180 degrees and got bigger stand mount speakers and dropped the sub.

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