Sub-woofers and musicality

I asked this on reddit and have been lambasted as an idiot for thinking this is a thing, though some have confirmed it is ‘something’ in that it is more about tuning and room treatment than the sub itself.

but I wonder…how much does the material and quality of said material that the driver is made of, to the designs and styles of the different subs-woofers out there to the impact the amp can have vs. passive and powered, etc.

while it is not as noticeable with speakers as it is headphones, I don’t see why a sub-woofer could not have a potential house sound or that there could be an inherent sound profile associated with combinations of materials and designs themselves.

I think that everything matters, for sure. In the world of subwoofers, the enclosure matters so so much it gets a lot of attention, as well as the space it is in. The frequency range is so small and in such a spot that some of the normal factors that we’d talk about in amp/chain also matter less.

All that said, in terms of the brands and successful subwoofer designs in the market - I do think the amp matters because they’re frequently using DSP/equalization to maximize things beyond the physics.

So, I think that there is so much “other stuff” in play that the subwoofer driver probably gets less attention compared to a lot of the other parts of our hobby. As a weirdo that used to obsess over Thiele-Small Parameters and model designs for way too long, that makes me a little sad.

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I am just beginning to peek into the world of hi fi stereo (as opposed to headphones) and haven’t listened to a lot of systems.

However, I am picking up my first system tomorrow. I found a guy locally on Craigslist who cleans up and resells older and used stereo equipment. We corresponded back and forth quite a lot before he made his recommendations.

Interestingly, in the course of asking after the kind of sound I wanted, and the room I am setting up in, and so forth, he recommended I go with the smallest sub he currently has. He offered to sell me one of the larger, more powerful units, but since I was after clean sound for music, he recommended the smaller one. It was more “musical”, where as most of his bigger subs were “typical subwoofer cubes” made for home theater applications, where he says they make a nice big boom, but are kind of one-note-wonders by comparison.

Also nice enough fellow that if I find I am dissatisfied with the bass response once it’s all set up in my room, I can bring it back and exchange it for a bigger unit of equal value, or use its value as direct credit if I want to trade up, so he’s not exactly making the recommendation just to offload the small sub.

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How much? Everything.
What the design and purpose is for the sub we are looking.
Just by looking at different drivers and used materials, you can kinda tell what the “purpose” of that driver is.

It’s probably more of a question how it performs in the end with the audio its playing.
Like a boomy box (one note) or fully integrated smoothness with all the notes.

With subwoofers, you get some quite complex enclosure designs:

  • Reflex, like a traditional speaker with a port/tube. Better efficiency and wider band, not all that directional though.
    With vents, you can stick various densities of foam into them to tune them to your room :wink:

  • Sealed, the driver acts against a sealed volume. This can lead to “boom”-issues when music and resonance of the sub combine, and these typically require more power. Can do lower notes with better accuracy though.

  • Bandpass, is a combination of the two above. The driver sits fully inside the box, with one side sealed and the other chamber ported. More efficient than sealed, very limited frequency band though.

The only bit of advice I can give is don’t go on Reddit…


but how else will I make you laugh and chuckle?

besides, I need my cute aminal pictures! :smiley:

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the bandpass sounds interesting. when you say limited frequency range though…how limited are we talking? could you tune more subs to compensate and fill what the others aren’t doing?

In relative terms, it is narrow. Depending on quality, 80 Hz bandwidth.
Reflex Subs in the same price range (both for PA-applications) can do 200Hz bandwidth.

The category of subs I forgot are Horns, which I have never seen in the wild. No idea how these behave.