No announcement yet.

Choosing a Sub

  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Choosing a Sub

    I have a feeling the answer to the question, "Which sub(s) should I buy?" is "How much are you willing to spend?" In a way I am comfortable with the truthiness of that response, but I am hoping I can get a little more concrete advice. When I asked my wife what she thought was a reasonable budget for a subwoofer, she said, "I don't know, $200? You tell me." So, while I could theoretically afford whatever I want... well, you know how this goes.

    I'm in a little bit of an unusual situation, in that my current space will not be my ultimate space, and I don't know what my ultimate space will look like (we'll be selling the house and moving next summer). With that in mind maybe we can have a conversation about what performance I can expect from a sub (one of the current CS line) in spaces of particular size.

    Here's the brass tacks: I watch movies in my living room, which is open to my kitchen and my office and hall. In total, we're talking about 36 feet long, 12 feet wide, 8 feet high, plus the pantry (open doorway), plus the hallway (4 by 10 by 8) minus the closets from the office (2.5 by 8 by 8)... more or less 3500 to 4000 cubic feet. There are a few irregular aspects, like a bar dividing the kitchen and living room, but it's mostly a rectangle. I fully expect to be able to devote a smaller spare bedroom to movies in the next house, but who knows... I've got no acoustic treatments (and no hopes for any in this set-up) and wood and tile over the whole house. I'm pretty flexible for placement, so lets not worry about that at this point. I can lay out the details of the space if it matters, but I don't think it does for this sort of conversation.

    As a goal, I want a system comfortably capable of reference SPL, eventually in 5.1 (or maybe 7.1 or .2) configuration. That may not be practical for any number of reasons, but at this point I'm shooting for the stars. So, can you guys help me with understanding what trade-offs exist between the different CS sub options and what you would do in my shoes?

    Thanks for your thoughts (and numbers?)

  • #2

    Ultimately the answer will depend a few things:

    1. What are your performance goals? Do want the to feel the impact in your chest? Do you want scare yourself? Or do you simply want have some nice tight low end?

    2. As this will be located in the net term, how important is the WAF (wife acceptance factor)? Will a large black sub be accepted or will it need to look more like an end table?

    3. How much space can you devote in the room to a sub?

    4. Price is also a question. That being said Craigs new offerings both the 18.1 and 18.2 are incredible deals.

    To help you answer these questions it would be good is you could experience some "real" subs, not just the Retail store options.



    • #3
      The problem with answering these kind of questions is that you can be happy with many level of performance. As you acheive each level, you end up wanting more. I started out paying around 500 after shipping for my last sub, and thought it was the cats meow when I got it. After a while, I found places where it just wasn't enough, and stepped up to the next level, and picked up TCA's 18.2. I'm pretty sure it will be a long time before I find something that will best that, in a price I could afford.

      So, ask yourself what would make you happy, as the the above post said. Do you love the visceral gut punch of great bass? Do you want to feel the guitar strings reverberating in your chest while listening to music? Or are you just after some nice punchy explosions?

      If you want deep chest resonating bass, you're probably going to spend 1000-1500. If you want some nice punchy bass, you are going to spend 500-800. If you just want something to fill in some bottom end, you can probably get away with 300-400, though it will probably leaving you wanting more pretty quickly.

      Hope that helps...
      LCR: Gedlee Abbeys for LR and Nathan for Center Surround & rear 4 x Sho10's
      Subs: 4 x 18.2
      Electronics: Marantz SR7002, Acurus 200x3 (LCR), PS3, HTPC, CDP300, Mits HC1500, Elite Peregrine 2.35 156" Acousticpro4k


      • #4
        Thanks guys, that does help. It is a matter of "you get what you pay for" and it looks like, "more is always better."

        Maybe I have some misconceptions (and I am admittedly novice, in the process of moving up from a 7-8 year old HTiB) but here's what it looks like to me.

        Correct me if I'm wrong, please - A movie is mixed with standards in mind, where the subwoofer should play back as loud as 115dB at the most intense moments, and not in all movies or all effects, clearly. So, if I understand correctly, and if I want to experience movies at their gut-wrenching and chest-pounding finest - which I do - I need my sub system to put out those levels in my room, when the movie calls for it.

        So, if that's true, I need a way of determining which subs will work with my room to give me that. I think I've read Craig refer to the roll-off designed into subs so that the reinforcement provided by typical rooms allows for a flatter overall response. What about at other frequencies? What kind of bass reinforcement can a person expect to add to the output?

        At first glance, it seems like the CS 10.2 operates a fair amount lower than 115dB. So is it true to say that it can not be expected to deliver the reference movie experience, or can most rooms reinforce bass enough to make up the difference? (or again, am I missing a detail?)

        I appreciate that from most practical perspectives I'm over-thinking this. But if I could be happy with $800 worth of bass (getting the movie-makers intended output) why should a spend any more or make any more compromises with the wife and the other aspects of room design and decor? On the other hand, I'd hate to spend the next six months auditioning and returning and shipping, only to find out that I should have gone for the biggest and baddest in the first place.

        I appreciate your indulgence.



        • #5
          You've got a pretty big room, so you'll tend to need more displacement than a smaller room. As the saying goes, there is no replacement for displacement, the amount of air the woofers can move. This comes down to a couple of factors, amp power, max excursion of the cone and the size of the cone(s) itself.

          The roll off Craig refers to is the bottom end of the spectrum, 30 hz and below normally. As the room gain rises the sub is designed to roll off. You'll also roll off the sub at the higher end (normally 80hz) to cross over with your main speakers. Typically done in your receiver.

          What makes Craigs subs so neat is the sheer hitting power in the mid bass. That plus the sheer displacement make them remarkable. The other consideration is that having multiple subs can tend to smooth out the bass response across multiple seating positions, so it's also sometimes a good idea to buy 2 smaller subs or even 4 and place them in the corners or the centers of the side front/back walls to acheive the smoothest response in the room.

          I plan to eventually have 3, 1 very large one (18.2) and 2 smaller ones to smooth out the bass. If you can get away with multiples, it's a great way to go. 2 18.1s or 18.2s would put a smile on anyone's face.

          But that's me, I'm a bass junky, and I like the sheer concussive force a large sub can bring :jiggy:
          LCR: Gedlee Abbeys for LR and Nathan for Center Surround & rear 4 x Sho10's
          Subs: 4 x 18.2
          Electronics: Marantz SR7002, Acurus 200x3 (LCR), PS3, HTPC, CDP300, Mits HC1500, Elite Peregrine 2.35 156" Acousticpro4k


          • #6

            The amount spent isn't a really a good measuring stick in regards to performance. Many of the "brand" name subs are much more expensive and rarely outperform the boutique brands.

            I have a Seaton Sounds Submersive that works very well in my 4300 cubic foot room (which is probably very similar to your room). While the Submersive is outside of your budget, Craigs 18.1 and 18.2 aren't extremely outside of the budget.

            If you have the patience to save for the 18.1 or two, I would, as I rather doubt you would find yourself wanting more performance.



            • #7
              ^^^^ +1 ...Sean said it better than I did...
              LCR: Gedlee Abbeys for LR and Nathan for Center Surround & rear 4 x Sho10's
              Subs: 4 x 18.2
              Electronics: Marantz SR7002, Acurus 200x3 (LCR), PS3, HTPC, CDP300, Mits HC1500, Elite Peregrine 2.35 156" Acousticpro4k


              • #8

                You can call Jack or me tomorrow if you want to discuss with us. In the meantime, you might consider starting with a single CS-18.1 (which fits your budget and should handle the space). If you decide you need (or just WANT) more, you can order a second CS-18.1 withing 60 days of the first and get the "2 fer" pricing for the whole deal (we adjust the entire pricing on the second order).

                This is a general comment before we talk about your specific requirements, space and budget, but we can probably cobble a solution together that will work.


                • #9
                  Thanks Ray. I expect that the CS-18.1 is probably a good choice. I'll have to do some figuring and budgeting. It's nice to know there's a little flexibility.

                  Having reorganized my equipment this weekend, I've found a couple resonances I'll have to real with. So, at the very least, I need to get my VSX-1120 delivered (happy birthday to me) so that I can have some actual bass management.

                  Thanks guys for your input.