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2020 subwoofer thread [updated 1/20]

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  • Folks, you can play anything through ours or anyone else's subs. Just don't do it at too high a level.

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    • TAI-300 update: having critically listened to this sub for about a week now, I must give it very high praise.

      As a reminder, I'm running it directly off my laptop from the 3.5 mm headphone jack, which splits to the TAI-300 and Swan HiVi X3 active monitors. I'm listening mostly to music from Amazon Music and Youtube, so low fidelity. And I don't have an external amp/DAC. This setup constitutes a worst-case scenario with regards to maximizing high sound quality (SQ).

      In spite of all that, the TAI-300 delivers in spades. It has loads of output (more than my 1450 cubic feet can utilize!). I get good tactile response through the suspended wood floor. I have to keep the gain at < 45% and further utilize computer-based EQ to cut bass output, or else it would overwhelm me and the X3s. An example of my EQ:

      Click image for larger version  Name:	EQ example.png Views:	107 Size:	48.4 KB ID:	116139
      I have an 80 Hz crossover set on the amp dial.

      Finally, where the TAI-300 shines most brightly, despite the inadequacies of my setup, is in SQ. I hear distinct bass notes with this sub that I've never heard before, not with headphones, not with my old Kenwood 8" HTiB subwoofer, and certainly not with my Klipsch R120SW. It's a truly musical sub. What does that mean, exactly?

      Example 1: let's say you're listening to a roving bass-line, the kind where it's not distinct drum hits but more along the lines of resonant (continuous) bass. Think more electronic music than kick-drums. Whereas other subs create a sound like this:

      rrrrrRRRRrrrrbbbbbbrrrRRRR (no clear delineation/separation),

      the TAI-300 creates a sound like this:

      rrr-RRR-rr-bb--RR-rrrr (wherein each bass tone change is distinct from the others).

      This creates an enriched musical tapestry and makes resonant bass much more fun to listen to. Heck, it's fun just to hear stuff I've never heard before on songs I know very well!

      Example 2: kick-drums or fast hits. These don't disappoint, either, as they are quick and sharp and resolve quickly (no hanging or ringing). These types of hits are most fun when they come in rapid succession, staccato, and when they appear amidst resonant bass. So you'll have the rrr-RRR-rr-bb--RR-rrrr type of sound above and the quick hits embedded therein, and everything still stays resolved.

      In summary: they're now sold out, but the TAI-300 is excellent and a likely indication of what the TAI-190 and TAI-550 are also capable of achieving. The 300 puts a big grin on my face, even when running at low volumes. The SQ is exceptional. The build seems exceptional (this 10" sub outweighs my Klipsch 12" sub by 14 pounds). The amp has power, lots of power, and it responds almost instantly to an incoming signal (as opposed to the Klipsch, which requires me to boost my system volume up 10+ dB just to get it to turn on).
      Last edited by jwskud; 09-11-2020, 05:39 PM.

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      • Glad to hear you're enjoying your 300.

        As a next step, you should seriously consider getting an external DAC - it doesn't have to be an expensive one. I've noticed significant improvement in amount and quality/tightness of bass when I switched from built-in laptop headphone jack to a cheap $50 external DAC.

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        • Originally posted by e-2-m View Post
          Glad to hear you're enjoying your 300.

          As a next step, you should seriously consider getting an external DAC - it doesn't have to be an expensive one. I've noticed significant improvement in amount and quality/tightness of bass when I switched from built-in laptop headphone jack to a cheap $50 external DAC.
          Over at AVSF Perfect DAC Test thread, this has been recommended to a great job for a cheap product. I think jwskud's laptop has USB-C. Easy set up in that case.
          It's seemingly just a dongle/adaptor but it's actually also a DAC:
          https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07K25P3N1/
          https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-r...17JUISSTJQ9XE/

          It even got a recommendation on ASR:
          https://www.audiosciencereview.com/f...adapters.5541/
          Last edited by wkrpic; 09-10-2020, 03:06 PM.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by e-2-m View Post
            As a next step, you should seriously consider getting an external DAC - it doesn't have to be an expensive one.
            This is exactly what I'm considering. As wkrpic mentions above, it's a matter of finding something (hopefully cheap!) that also delivers the SQ goods. Do you have a recommendation? The TAI-300 (and the X3s) deserve something better than they are currently getting...

            Is there a box/DAC/amp-thingy out there that I could plug the X3s and TAI-300 into which might also incorporate bass-management? I'm using the internals of the 300 plate amp for crossover, so I'm good there, but it would be nice to keep the lower frequencies (high-pass filter) from going to the X3s. Based on preliminary conversations on AVS, it doesn't seem like such a thing exists...

            Comment


            • Originally posted by wkrpic View Post
              Over at AVSF Perfect DAC Test thread, this has been recommended to a great job for a cheap product. I think jwskud's laptop has USB-C. Easy set up in that case.
              It's seemingly just a dongle/adaptor but it's actually also a DAC:
              https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07K25P3N1/
              https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-r...17JUISSTJQ9XE/

              It even got a recommendation on ASR:
              https://www.audiosciencereview.com/f...adapters.5541/
              It seems too good to be true. and too cheap! Heck, for the price of a lunch, it's worth it just to buy it and try it out...

              Comment


              • Originally posted by jwskud View Post
                Do you have a recommendation?
                I haven't tried it myself, but for under $10, I think that Apple dongle is worth a shot.

                I am currently using Topping D10 which I got for around $50 on Drop. You may be able to find a used one on ebay or look at the newer D10s, alas, it's closer to $100 new, and it almost certainly is not going to sound 10x better than that Apple dongle.

                Is there a box/DAC/amp-thingy out there that I could plug the X3s and TAI-300 into which might also incorporate bass-management?
                Not that I'm aware of, or at least not on a budget.

                However, if the TAI-300 is anything like the S*ell Basis 300, then it has an 80 Hz high pass filter on its line level outputs. Jon would have to confirm if it's the same on the TAI-300. If so, then you could send full frequency line level signal to the sub via 2x RCA cable and then send high-passed signal via another 2xRCA cable from the sub to your X3s.
                Last edited by e-2-m; 09-10-2020, 03:56 PM.

                Comment


                • Originally posted by jwskud View Post
                  It seems too good to be true. and too cheap! Heck, for the price of a lunch, it's worth it just to buy it and try it out...
                  Very much so. And easy to return. I think it should work with your splitter?

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by e-2-m View Post
                    I am currently using Topping D10 which I got for around $50 on Drop. You may be able to find a used one on ebay or look at the newer D10s, alas, it's closer to $100 new, and it almost certainly is not going to sound 10x better than that Apple dongle..
                    I know next to nothing about DACs, I did order a Topping E30 from eBay but it's been 2.50 months and it still hasn't arrive and I got a refund. It may still arrive, shipping from China is spotty.

                    This may interest you:
                    https://www.parts-express.com/fx-aud...-ampl--309-411
                    It has an AK4452VN chip and from the little I've learned from reading, the AK chips are quite well regarded.

                    Originally posted by jwskud View Post
                    Heck, for the price of a lunch, it's worth it just to buy it and try it out...
                    When you are done trying the $9 dongle, dive right into this bargain priced $5,999 one. The "stellar" review suggests not all that shines is gold:
                    https://www.audiosciencereview.com/f...ream-dac.9100/

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by wkrpic View Post
                      When you are done trying the $9 dongle, dive right into this bargain priced $5,999 one. The "stellar" review suggests not all that shines is gold:
                      https://www.audiosciencereview.com/f...ream-dac.9100/
                      Ha - that's crazy!

                      I've placed an order for the $9 Apple DAC. I'm curious to see if there's a big impact for the TAI-300 and X3s. Will report back.

                      If the improvement is negligible or non-existent, I've only spent $9 and it'll go into my ever-growing box full of audio cables/components...

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by jwskud View Post
                        Ha - that's crazy!

                        I've placed an order for the $9 Apple DAC. I'm curious to see if there's a big impact for the TAI-300 and X3s. Will report back.

                        If the improvement is negligible or non-existent, I've only spent $9 and it'll go into my ever-growing box full of audio cables/components...
                        I'm a little skeptical on what improvement a DAC would have for a more casual listener. But having not tried one myself, I wanted to see for myself, which sadly hasn't happened yet.

                        Comment


                        • Ok. I want to check and see if how I set up my subs is the better way to do it.

                          Plugged in the subs (Pair of 300s via single cable each into the low level in), have it set to external, and the crossover all the way up. Start running Audyssey XT32, and it says the sub is too loud. It mentions to turn it down (which isn't an option on external, but I tried anyway and it did nothing) or just keep going. So keep going though the setup process. At the end it says that it is doing -12dB to each sub, which is the max the Denon receiver will do.
                          Option 2. Switch the internal, run XT32, and when it says it is too loud use the knob to get to 75dB where the software wants it (it started out closer to 85dB with the knob in the middle position). This time when the software is done calculating everything it has the subs closer to -6dB.

                          I check the software after both setups and it is setting the crossover at about 60 Hz (on the receiver). The crossover setting on the sub is 150Hz in both scenarios.

                          Am I correct in that Option #2 is probably best? And is there any reason to adjust the crossover on the sub if the receiver is already setting it? My assumption is the crossover on the sub is more relevant if using the multicable setup as opposed to the single line going to the sub, but that could be a incorrect assumption.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by msweig View Post
                            I check the software after both setups and it is setting the crossover at about 60 Hz (on the receiver). The crossover setting on the sub is 150Hz in both scenarios.

                            Am I correct in that Option #2 is probably best?
                            Yes, Option #2 is definitely the way to go since with option#1 your AVR finds the sub's level to be "out of range" (too loud).

                            Depending on what main L/R/C speakers you have, you may want to up the crossover on your receiver to 80 Hz.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by e-2-m View Post
                              Yes, Option #2 is definitely the way to go since with option#1 your AVR finds the sub's level to be "out of range" (too loud).

                              Depending on what main L/R/C speakers you have, you may want to up the crossover on your receiver to 80 Hz.
                              The L/C/R are all Chanes (two towers and a center, not the A5 but the precursors (Arx or whatever they were called). I'll try changing to 80Hz

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by msweig View Post
                                Ok. I want to check and see if how I set up my subs is the better way to do it.

                                Plugged in the subs (Pair of 300s via single cable each into the low level in), have it set to external, and the crossover all the way up. Start running Audyssey XT32, and it says the sub is too loud. It mentions to turn it down (which isn't an option on external, but I tried anyway and it did nothing) or just keep going. So keep going though the setup process. At the end it says that it is doing -12dB to each sub, which is the max the Denon receiver will do.
                                Option 2. Switch the internal, run XT32, and when it says it is too loud use the knob to get to 75dB where the software wants it (it started out closer to 85dB with the knob in the middle position). This time when the software is done calculating everything it has the subs closer to -6dB.

                                I check the software after both setups and it is setting the crossover at about 60 Hz (on the receiver). The crossover setting on the sub is 150Hz in both scenarios.

                                Am I correct in that Option #2 is probably best? And is there any reason to adjust the crossover on the sub if the receiver is already setting it? My assumption is the crossover on the sub is more relevant if using the multicable setup as opposed to the single line going to the sub, but that could be a incorrect assumption.
                                Hmmm. OK, first things first.

                                If you're using EXT on the sub amp plate (which you should be, since you're using the Denon to do the bass management), you'd simply turn the crossover dial to its max on the back of the sub. It shouldn't do anything with it set to EXT, anyway, but it's just something people do to completely remove it from the equation.

                                Regarding the gain knob not working when set to EXT, that's the part that doesn't make sense to me. I suppose that's possible (it depends on how the gain knob is integrated into the amp), but it's not the way most subs work. It might be the case here, however, b/c as I peruse the Snell Basis 300 manual (see here: https://www.manualslib.com/manual/83...?page=4#manual) it says very specifically (pg 6):

                                "When the Bass Mode switch is set to the EXT position the subwoofer's Crossover Frequency control
                                and the Level Control (4) are bypassed. The electronics supplying the signal controls the crossover frequency and
                                the subwoofer level.
                                "

                                The level control was on the top of the Snell Basis 300, but let's just assume that it had the same function as the gain knob on the TAI-300. If that's the case, what you're saying makes perfect sense (the gain knob doesn't work when EXT is used). Again, this is not my experience with other subs, but let's move on.

                                So the conundrum is that the sub is too powerful when using EXT mode! Your AVR can't gain set it low enough. That's both impressive and problematic...

                                Now it just to turns out that Denons are known to neuter bass response. So a setting of -12 dB isn't the end of the world. In fact, it might be just right. The only issue you'll run into is if you wanted to lower the bass from the sub - you won't be able to. But give it some time and listening and see if it's a normal bass level. If so, you've got massive amounts of headroom, and you'll be able to use your AVR remote to increase the sub level at will.

                                Option 2 isn't a bad scenario, either. You then have the ability to add and subtract sub levels with your AVR remote. I'm trying to think of a reason this would be unfavorable and I'm coming up empty right now. I don't know if you'd be able to fully EQ the sub if it's set to INT(?). Maybe somebody else knows. I'm thinking in this case, however, you'd want the crossover dial set to wherever it needs to be, since it is active.

                                As far as crossover, I'd try it at both 60 and 80. I've always settled on 80, but if your mains deliver good bass and you have the power to drive them, 60 could be the best of all worlds...

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