Back to the drawing board

I hate to start this again. I really had my heart set on 2 svs sb3000. But know after careful listening or maybe this time around I realized what was happening.  So I went to best buy just to re evaluate my decision and noticed I did not like what I was hearing.  Thus time around I had a couple of hours and has my significant other with me, oh no what we heard totally ruined our previous thoughts.  In one room I listened to the rel t9i and the svs sb2000.  The svs had the out put but not the detail and it really hurt the mid range and uppers. Lower base was not full or detailed. Now the rel, wow it just blended really nice and was full, detailed and just sounded right. I'm thinking to myself this can't be right. So off to the other room, svs sb 4000, 16 ultra and the rel s5. Now again the svs has the output or pressure. But the s5 totally beats both of them on detail, disappearing,  tight,  full and more sound stage. I went back and forth between these 2 rooms, playing the same 2 tracks I have always demo with. I know my ears would not lie. So now unfortunately I am reading again. I am considering 2 t9i or 1 s3.  I think I will also demo the JL e110 and paradigm defiance x12.  Wish I could demo a rymthik,  but don't know any places to demo. I will make the trip and one place has the JL and rel. 5 miles further down I can demo the x12.  I now know the sound I want and unfortunately it's not svs with its great price and impressive output. I'm sure the subs are great, but not what me and the ms want in our system.  Has anyone demo JL and rel side by side?  I love the rel sound, is paradigm or rymthik as tight as rel. I've never listened to JL.  I guess a road trip is due. Room is 8ft ceiling 14x24, hardwood floors. Thanks for any help you can give. Pete
Are you absolutely certain that you had the SB2000 adjusted properly when you auditioned? They have three adjustable parameters that are critical to get the bass clear and intergrated with the main speakers: level, phase and crossover. If the phase or crossover settings are not optimized that could account for what you heard. I say this because I have two SB2000s and it took me some time and patience to optimize those settings in my system. I hear nothing but very clear, powerful and textured bass that integrates perfectly with my mains, which I run full bandwidth.
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Elizabeth and Steve,  
I'm sure u are both right. All I have ever read about svs is how great they are and other audiophiles saying that the came from other well know subs like rel, JL, etc...... so I was quite confused how so many could be wrong. Unfortunately best buy magnolia is not the place to audition anything.  I was really set on pulling the trigger on 2 sb3000. My budget is 2500 and I am very anal when it comes to my money.  I still need a new pre. I have a dc1 and looking at avm 60 or mrx 720. So I need to be wise about my purchases. I may have to go back and talk with someone there. Unfortunately these guys just want to sell and not do the work for the commission. So I might have to order one and use the 45 day return policy.  But I will also try to demo the rel t9i in home at the same time. I wish there was a local hifi audio place close by, makes it very difficult to demo. Does every one still suggest 2 or just one higher end sub?  Anything u guys can suggest is helpful. Elizabeth do u run a sub?  Steve what subs have u demoed to the sb2000?
I bought a REL T9i just a couple weeks ago. I cannot comment on SVS or  paradigm or rymthik.  I didn't audition any others than REL--full disclaimer.  But I do have a small Sumiko (similar to REL).  

So, we must keep in mind that I've only heard half the equation here.  

I would think, on one hand, that the others are right about setup.  Setup is trick or can be.  I've had mixed experiences at Magnolia/Best Buy too--some good, some not. 

The exact things you state about the differences between what you heard with REL v. SVS is the reason I tried an REL.  I was super concerned about booming output.  I wanted a sub-bass system to pressurize the room and tune it.  I have no idea what SVS sounds like. I can only say the REL was worth every penny. 

One final thing.  I bought a $50/60 Auralex Subdude II platform to fit under the REL T9i.  I put it in place after a week or so of having the REL in the system.  I had to restart the tuning/setup of the REL completely.  It was worth it.   Without the Auralex I had the crossover set at about 8:30/9:00 and volume there or a touch lower.  With the Auralex I have both in the neighborhood (after tuning) of 10:00 o'clock.  The output is more cohesive, tighter, and it's clearly not using the suspended hardwood floor to multiply the low bass as it was before. 

Can you do an in-home demo?  Audioadvisor and Music Direct allow it and carry REL.  

It's a shame this is so hard. The biggest issues in my mind with subs are getting the EQ right. Below 100 Hz are where the monsters of audio are. Smaller subs avoid this just because they are smaller subs.

Lots of subs built-in auto-EQ / room correction kind of suck.

The biggest audible differences in subs is the room EQ. When you eval a sub, make sure you eval the auto-eq features, OR you work with an installer who can set it up properly.

JL Audio makes the best sounding auto-EQ I know of in a sub, but it's expensive as all get out, and I've read plenty of reliability issues.

For ~ $1,000 you can have most of the performance with a Hsu sub and mini DSP but the integration is where things are different.

Also, room acoustics matter. Contact GIK first. Get an assessment and recommendation for your room, especially around bass traps.

To be clear, first get good room treatment. Then settle on a pair of good output, high quality subs. Third, get the EQ for the sub done right.


Also, sometimes after getting good room treatment you may want a sub less. This can really open up the sound and make the bass feel much deeper.
But why go to best buy???

Order them directly from SVS and enjoy their full money returned trial offer. That way you can play with them in your system, relax and not feel pressured to make a decision.
I don’t know if people realize just how BAD room modes below 100 Hz can be.
I’ve measured +- 20 dB in extremely narrow bands. That’s about 100x the power output. With output variations like this it is impossible to get the bass to integrate with the rest of the system.

You either set the bass level too low, giving you no benefit, or set it too high and get overwhelmed by the ringing notes.

a - Treat the room

b - Add EQ to clip those peaks, and enhance the nulls where possible.

Preferably a mix of both, but in that order. If you cannot treat, EQ can still be very helpful.
Treating the room can be quite a challenge for frequencies below 100 Hz. Let me give you an example. Once upon a time I had a standing wave in the back of the room two feet from the wall around 70 Hz, which is below the operating range of Tube Traps that I had on hand. So, what will work for very low frequency standing waves? Not panels, not Tube Traps. One thing that will work is a Helmholtz resonator, but it must be tuned to the correct frequency. The resonator volume and nozzle dimensions can be calculated based on the frequency of the standing wave, 70 Hz or whatever. Thus, the Helmholtz resonator I built for this pupose was a fifteen foot long folded resonator with a diameter of 6”. And it worked!
I can highly recommend GIK Soffit traps below 100 Hz.

Traps don't have to remove a mode entirely, just help drain the energy, then an EQ can take over. So, a partial solution, that is aesthetically pleasing, can do the trick.
A pragmatic solution is to go the Audio Kinesis Swarm route, where you use 4 smaller subs asymmetrically positioned such that their inevitable peaks and nulls even out.
I hate to amid it. But all that room correction,  frequencies are over my head. I dont have that kind of knowledge.  My system does sound good and I am going to put down a 10 x 14 thick throw rug. Maybe attempt some simple room correction.  But need to find something easy. I am buying an anthem avm 60 or mrx 720. I was hoping to just push the button on ARC, walk around the room alittle with the Mike and call it a day. Lol. Enjoy some music and HT.  And see what i will do next. Music is top priority.  My HT is 5. Eventually 5.1 or 5.2. After that some atmos. But still music first. I dont need to crumble the foundation for HT.  My speaker do pretty good at HT bass and I'm happy with it. So any sub or subs I add for music will be icing on the cake. Like I said I want music lows, not HT lows. Detail, detail, detail. But I need sub budget around 2500.00.  
Q =.7 not going to sell well at Best Buy ( or alot of other places also...most setups I redo have the expensive subs set way to high in output and crossover frequency also - the ear is very sensitive to phase in the lower mid....

some good low to no cost SW out there for predictive room nodes, yours inexpensive RTA is a good long term investment - I like AudioTools and the calibrated mic. BIG traps can help, as can the resonator referred to above, DIY very possible, especially when driven by data - ya got to know it is 70 HZ....Traps, treatments, etc are great especially if War Dept. supports the habit...and decor changes...
Like Eric said, room nodes can be violent....get some tools..Download Vandertones for free, get analog SPL meter ( Radio Shack ) and measure and listen...

the at home trial sounds good
and because I am a fanboy, for $3 K you can get a Vandersteen Sub 3 with 11 bands of analog EQ that will mate seamlessly with whatever you have on top of it.....
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To be fair I haven't listened to vandersteen.  I have 2 vandy 2wq in an other room that I dont use and was going to sell. I own a spl meter from rad shack. I will look into these tools.  Hopefully i will understand it
That makes sense Elizabeth.  I to enjoy the mids and uppers also. But excellent low bass is great also. I want it all. Lol
You should probably give the guys at SVS a call and see about doing an in home demo and getting some tips on proper setup.  I'm with the others who question if the SVS subs were set up correctly at Best Buy.  Your experience doesn't line up with mine or the dozens of reviews / posts from owners that I've read about SVS subs.  I haven't heard the newer SVS subs, but wouldn't expect them to be a regression from their previous products.
Thanks Big,
I totally agree with you and the others. Especially when I researched so much about svs. I read everything I could find on svs and never read anything really negative about them. Everything was very positive.  I need to talk with the misses tonight about a road trip tomorrow. I spoke with a couple audio places today and one place has both JL and rel.  The other store has paradigm and svs, plus many other subs. Both stores are hi end.  I was there couple months ago when I purchased my winds. Hopefully she will be into a road trip. Both places will also let me take home for demo. But I can't do it until I come from vaka. Then I will order an svs sb3000, and borrow the JL, rel and paradigm.  I really appreciate everyone's response.  Doing all this is so difficult when u need to drive far.  Hopefully i will also demo the anthem avm 60 and mrx 720. If they are both the same on music I will opt for the 720. Save a few bucks. One more question.  When I called one of the hifi stores I asked about discounts.  They said 10 percent.  Is this the norm? If not, how can i get more, they seem to be steady on 10 percent. Thank you all so much. Pete
Let me know how I can help get the Vandy working well, those were $1,600 each before the model 3 came out, they are very fine
+1, as always.
I was going to mention the sub 3's, but you beat me to it.
If the OP has the 2wq's, I think he should try them before getting the SVS or REL. The crossover makes it so easy and seamless, at least to me.
Plus, the Vandy's are built like tanks. The 2w's I have for sale are still fully functioning despite being a bit long in the tooth.
If you do pursue the Vandy subs, Johnny Rutan (audioconnection) can give you some guidance.

Adjusting the controls on the subwoofer amp for best performance is critical; a mis-adjustment can easily make much more of a difference than the variations among competent subwoofer brands.  Here is the sequence I generally suggest:

1.  Adjust the level of the sub(s) to blend well with the mains;

2.  Adjust the lowpass filter frequency of the sub(s) to get a better blend;

3.  Adjust the phase to get an even better blend;

4.  Go back to step 1 and cycle through these steps a couple more times.

This sequence was suggested to me by an award-winning acoustician, Jeff Hedback.  These steps are included in the setup guidelines for the subwoofer system I make. 

Setting the level is especially critical because the ear is quite sensitive to differences in SPL at low frequencies.  A 3 dB mis-match at 40 Hz is comparable in audibility to a 6 dB mis-match at 1 kHz.  And to make matters worse, the relative level of bass energy on the recording can vary significantly from one recording to the next.  So it is not unusual to occasionally tweak the level of the sub(s) long after the initial setup session. 


Find someone near you that has an HSU VTF-3 MK5 that will let you listen to it.If you like the SVS subs then you will really like the HSU sub.Check out their reviews online. VTF-3 MK5 HP Subwoofer

First off, I want to thank everyone for all the help and tips, I really do appreciate everything. I am still doing my road trip tomorrow because it will be fun and I am addicted. Lol. I think I will hook up my vandys 2wqs when I get home from vaka. It's been 18 yrs since hook up and I think I forgot how.  I will hook them up with my spare amp and book shelves just in case something goes wrong.  Don't want to ruin the new equip..  Unfortunately I dont know any audiophile people in my area and if feels like a lonely road to audio heaven.  I did go to the gik website. I think I will make some diy bass traps. I have full work shop, another one of my hobbies.  I appreciate any guidance on the vandys I can get.  Again thanks for help, keep it coming. I will update you all on my trip tomorrow on the subs i demo. But I think you are all correct by saying that I need to bring my vandys to life once again. Pete
You can download the Vandy sub set up on the Vandy website.If you have the M5-HP, don't use the settings on the box, but the ones on the sheet.
As long
as you use the crossover, you can't hurt anything.
Set the crossover to the impedance of the amp. Most times, using the 1st or 2nd lower setting gives better results.
Since you haven't used them in a while, your batteries might be drained and need to be updated. Or, if you are using the wX-2, find the values you need and get a set of fixed crossovers. There are some for sale here on Audiogon, but might not be the correct values.
good on ya, have fun on vacation !!!!!
the fact that your sub is still in production all these years later after countless upgrades, investment by Vandersteen and now with 11 band EQ should speak octaves about the quality and suitablility for many systems. The others you are considering are also without doubt good.
Thanks for the setup tip Duke.
cant agree more, bass, especially in the 50-70 HZ range varies wildly....just play Steely Dan - Two against Nature...that will get ya running to dial it back !!!!! but what a great album...ha
You can use Worst Buy to shop prices, but I'd never advise you to use them to demo any speaker for SQ. Unknowledgeable sales staff, random setup, and all the rest of Worst Buy's other business practices rule them out for a serious listening experience. Correct setup is most important for speaker audition, especially subs.

Plus, a little advice from someone that's been there - go for 2 subs if at all possible.
I use 2 REL (a Q108MKII down-firing 8") is in a fixed position behind my left main speaker nestled in a corner created by a gas fireplace...sounds great...the second sub (Q150e 10" front-firing) is next to my right main speaker and it's using vinyl "spikes" that allow it to be moved around the wood floor easily and often...closer to the main speaker, further back toward a corner, stuck in a window for deck bass. etc. All work perfectly, and all tuned to my listening spot...standing waves or other unwanted bass anomalies in other parts of the room have zero impact on the sweet spot. I turn the sub levels up and down a little here and there, and they really compliment my Klipsch Heresy IIIs that have clear and coherent bass but only to 58hz or so.
I feel most people do not understand REL's technology.  I listened to a pair of Vienna Acoustic Mozart's at Soundings paired with one REL S3.  When he unplugged the S3, I was unable to hear much of a difference.  Then he asked me what did I notice.  I responded by saying the vocals sounded more 3 dimensional and clear.  He told me I finally got it.

What is nice about Soundings in Denver is they specialize on master setting speakers and adding REL subwoofers to every system they sell.  He demonstrated Master Set by moving one of the speakers out of place.  I suddenly heard both right and left speaker.  He also had to raise his voice significantly playing this track at the same volume level.  He then set the right speaker back into place and it suddenly sounded more relaxing.  The sound was being projected between the speakers and he was able to talk to me at conversational level.

We then went back to the REL S3 and I was able to hear a larger size sound stage.  It sounded more 3 dimensional.  I was not able to hear a heart pounding bass beat.  It just sounded seamless.

I contacted John Hunter at REL and I was totally surprised when he responded.  We had two other emails where he explained how his technology works.  I have a L-Shaped living room with dimensions 13.5 Feet x 18.5 Feet that opens to our dining room with room dimensions 195 feet x 12 feet.  He as well as Soundings told me instead of adding one REL S3 to my system, I needed to add two T/9i's located in the corners behind left and right front speakers and play them in stereo.

I now plan to have Soundings do the master set and add the T/9i's.  Fortunately, Soundings is considered to be one of the best at master setting speakers in the country according to John Hunter.  He also told me he considers Soundings to be one of his most accomplished REL retailers in the country as well.
Yep, great subwoofer integration is amazing.
 You don't need a very expensive sub, but you do need great configuration.

Well, we are home now after a long 10 HR day. Went 2 places about 10 miles apart.  First stop, JL e110 vs REL t9i. No doubt the Ms and I both agree we love the REL t9i.  Just disappears, 3d and just such a real musical sub.  I know JL is very well made, but for us, it's REL all the way.  They did not have the s3 in stock,  mid February which is fine for us, we will be back from vaka and settled in.  Before we left we did listen to Rockport, all I can say is WOW, but back to reality 36k my pockets don't go that deep. And the setup with was another 60k.  In my dreams. Next stop quick lunch, need to feed the furnace.  Stop 3, always my favorite place because the own and staff are just awesome and they just make it fun.  This is where the paradigm defiance x12 is, but after talking with John he always brings me back to reality, place that I prefer to stay out of. Lol. He said my weak link is my lexicon dc1. Which I totally agree. He also said i probably could use a little room treatment.  Throw rug on the wood floors.  So we discussed the anthem avm 60, mrx 720 and marantz 8805. He advised to go with the 720 and save some $$$. I already own a 2ch class A and 3ch amp. He stated for me to set up the 720 and then he will make a road trip to see the room, run arc on pc and go from there. He did say I could take a used fathom and x12 if i wanted. But i should just wait and do 720, then after we check everything out I should bring in the subs and demo in home. I said i like the REL.  Lol.  He said try it first along with others and then make my choice because every room is different and if I still like REL,  I should get them. That's the great thing about going there. He doesn't care if u buy from him, he wants u happy.  So this is my plan. And seriously my vandys 2wqs are way over my head, honestly I dont have that kind of knowledge. This room is music and HT.  I will eventually do atmos, but no sides do to room configuration.    Thanks for all the input, appreciate everyone's help on this and will keep u posted on my adventures.    Pete
put your 2wQup for sale here, lots of people want them :-)
help fund more music and the toys!!!!!

If you can get your hands on the Golden Ear Super Sub XL, I highly recommend giving it a listen. I think that it beats SVS out of the water for Music however the SVS is way better for HT. Just my opinion.
I still think the Vandy subs w/crossover are the least intrusive way to add subs to a system. Simple and elegant.
Mind you, I also own a pair of HSU subs (forget the model-VHS-1?), but the 2wq's are so much more seamless. I'll get the Sub 3's when I sell them.
Bob I hear you, but to me, i think they are complicated to setup. Like I said, I am really not good with this stuff.  Hence the reason I will be purchasing a anthem preamp, use the Mike and it does everything for me. I can hook up all the basic connections, but all this Hz, db, crossover, adjusting this and that etc..... confuses the heck out of me. I do love my music and ht. Thanks Pete 
I am surprised no one mentions the ARCAM AVR850.  I love the G technology.  It plays the first 50 watts in pure A.  We switched between this and the MacIntosh and the ARCAM was far superior.  A lot more detail.  What is nice it provides the best of two worlds.  Both 2 channel and surround for home theater.
Way to often, listeners are expecting the wrong performance from a sub. We mistakenly expect the sub to perform the tasks that should be performed by our mains. The detail, impact and timber we typically expect to hear in bass, is in frequencies above 40HZ. Frequencies below 60 HZ are non directional and do not contribute to the imaging character of the main speakers. There is nothing quick or detailed about deep bass; even at 40Hz, it takes over 25’ to complete one cycle. Since every room and the amount of space will effect the performance and requirement of equalization for any given sub, as others have mentioned, it’s very hard to evaluate, in a dealer’s show room, how a particular sub/subs will perform in your home.
Aside from budget, you’re room and willingness to do some experimenting with placement and settings should be the deciding factor, but any of the subs mentioned should do well at loading a medium sized room with enough clean bass energy to fill out the very bottom of your bass performance and that should be all you are trying to do with a sub.....Jim
Frequencies below 60 HZ are non directional and do not contribute to the imaging character of the main speakers.
This is often claimed, but easily proven mistaken. Low frequencies do contain directional clues - it's all about phase.
There is nothing quick or detailed about deep bass
If it's fast bass, it's not bass. If it's a fast woofer, it's not a woofer - it's a tweeter. But bass can contain an incredible amount of detail. There's much more to bass than the "thud thud thud" of a subwoofer.
Well there are a couple of things I need to do prior to adding my subs. Sitting here yesterday and today listening to music and movies, i realized my room is in need of some serious room treatment.  Hardwood floors.  I finally took notice and now I think I will treat the room first, but not over due it. Thinking thick throw rug in front of speakers. Maybe a couple of panels. So I need to address these issues first before I get a sub or two. 
@ cleeds
It’s true that phase as well as controlling standing and canceling waves is important, as is system integration and is true that good deep bass is considerably more than thump, thump, thump. But, for a fact, frequencies below 60Hz in most home sized rooms are non directional and radiant in nature and of themselves, do not establish specific placements on a stage.
Because instruments that perform in the lower mid bass frequencies between 60Hz and 200Hz (kick drums, bass guitar, string bass, bass viola etc) also produce sub harmonic frequencies falling below 40Hz, a good sub/subs, set up properly, definitely adds a needed degree of texture, timber and fullness to a system.

+1 audiokinesis

Adjusting the controls on the subwoofer amp for best performance is critical; a mis-adjustment can easily make much more of a difference than the variations among competent subwoofer brands. Here is the sequence I generally suggest:

1. Adjust the level of the sub(s) to blend well with the mains;

2. Adjust the lowpass filter frequency of the sub(s) to get a better blend;

3. Adjust the phase to get an even better blend;

4. Go back to step 1 and cycle through these steps a couple more times.

+1 erik_squires

Yep, great subwoofer integration is amazing.
You don’t need a very expensive sub, but you do need great configuration.

Happy listening.....Jim

Room dampening is always a good first move. It may also help, if you can and wife permitting, to add a bit of dampening to the wall behind the speakers. Hanging decorative black-out drapes on the wall behind my speakers made a huge difference in my room, but also decorative wall rugs or acoustic panels work well.....Jim
Yes I do need to correct the room first.  Probably start with a throw rug or 2 on the floors. I am also thinking about some decorative acoustic panels. I have zero experience in room treatment and don't want to waste money and screw it up.