Subwoofer with Floorstanding Speakers?

Still enjoying my Sonus Faber Olympica Nova Vs in our den where I mostly listen to jazz. However…I had a nostalgic experience tonight and streamed up some Def Leppard and cranked it LOUD.  With this kind of rock, I am missing a little of the bass I remember from my school days. Got me thinking, how many of y’all are running a subwoofer in your stereo setup with floorstanding speakers?  What do you think?  Any issues with sound distortion?  


Yes. Subs are great. Adds that visceral feel that’s difficult to achieve with speakers alone, even bigguns. 

You need to seriously ask how you are going to integrate subs with those and your room.

Yes, tons of issues can crop up, and distortion is just one of them.  I wrote about a few things to think about before you commit.  Still, a well integrated amp is glorious


Bigtex, I have been running the Nova III’s for a few months now and they have about 500 hours on them. And I gotta say I have been impressed on some recordings of how much bass these things pump out. I will say that when they were breaking in, I switched L for R and now have the rear vents facing inward and that was part of the improvement. My room is approx. 16 wide by 28 deep plus hallways and kitchen. I do have a sub but not used on 2 channel. I really wanted the V’s but these stretched the budget as it was. 

I have never used the sub on 2 channel but have considered experimenting, I would be curious what results you get. Please let me know.



You have to get the right sub. For example you may want to avoid home theatre subs (like ported subs). You may want to avoid slow subwoofers that stuggle to stay fast enough for matching speakers. You may not want subwoofers that don’t have enough connections or controls to match your electronics and speakers. You may also want a servo subwoofer which is a fast amplifier and signal sensing system. Also don’t over power the room with the wrong subwoofer. I chose Rythmik subwoofers F12 SE for my Vandersteen speakers. The amp I have is a Parasound and it has RCA outputs (variable) for the subs. I had full control to blend the low freqs. I have REW but have not used it.

I have four subs (3 Rel + 1 SVS) that supplement my floorstanders (Vienna Acoustics Mozart Grande). Adding the subs is the best thing I have done in many years to improve my listening experience.

I run subs with large speakers. Without the subs my system is just ok but with the subs it is outstanding. Bass really matters and does make a huge difference  


All speakers need subs. Even wilson audio runs subs with their supersize speakers. Unless the speaker is active all speakers improve with subs. 

With big speakers you need to use a highpass. If you look up the measurements of your speakers and cross them over where the woofer starts to roll off before the port picks up (probably 60hz) it will work out pretty well as a starting point. 

I run an active sub with floor standing speakers to augment only the bottom octave.  The sub runs off the main speaker outputs to the high level inputs, and the low pass crossover gets set at its lowest setting (<50hz).  I do not run my main speakers through the high pass filter of the sub to avoid any degradation to the signal, and I set the gain of the sub very low so that it's barely audible.  My intent for the sub is to augment what the floor standers do, not feature it.

There are really two possibilities here. One, you do miss actual low bass… but more likely your memory was flabby over highlighted bass. Better audio systems have much more accurate bass, which can contrast with college.


However, subwoofers will add bass. Always add in pairs… this will also help extend the soundstage as well. When I had Olympica I had a pair. Although mostly what they did was increase the soundstage. I happily got rid of them when I upgraded my speakers.

@bigtex22 --

Still enjoying my Sonus Faber Olympica Nova Vs in our den where I mostly listen to jazz. However…I had a nostalgic experience tonight and streamed up some Def Leppard and cranked it LOUD. With this kind of rock, I am missing a little of the bass I remember from my school days. Got me thinking, how many of y’all are running a subwoofer in your stereo setup with floorstanding speakers? What do you think? Any issues with sound distortion?

Remembering an experience of played back music (or just experiences in general) can be tricky, as such recollections can be "modified" in one’s thinking back on them - not that I’m implying this in your case. Moreover, the gear used for playback back then could’ve been woefully bass-heavy and yet despite of it being perhaps less than "audiophile" inclined formed itself as a reference in your head, and as such may prove at odds with your current setup and its likely more frequency balanced qualities in reproduction.

Or, maybe the above is just a load of redundant b*llocks, and you’re simply in want of some added bass impact with named music as is, earlier references and recollections be damned. Whether a subwoofer, preferably a pair of them (or more), will address your issue or not is dependent on several factors, not least of which is how you decide to implement them.

Much if not most of the bass impact of music resides in the central/midbass area, and if you’ll run your main speakers full-range and blend in your subs fairly low (say, with a bit of overlap a low-pass set at ~40-45Hz), I’m not sure your subs will add the can kind of impact you’re looking for. Actually, I’d either blend in the subs rather low <35Hz or fairly high from 80Hz on up to stay out of the most predominant central bass region and any mixture of mains/subs here, which in your case translates into a favorable 80Hz on up subs low-pass.

This however leaves you with the need of high-passing your Sonus Faber’s, and not everyone are happy with a digital cross-over/DSP unit over their already passively configured main speakers, although I’d say with a quality digital XO the benefits of high-passing the mains (more headroom, lower distortion, likely better overall integration) will clearly outweigh any negligible influence of the DSP itself and a possible A/D to D/A conversion here. High-passing your mains from 80Hz on up necessitates a pair of subs placed symmetrically and close to each main speaker. Generally I’d avoid using a built-in high-pass filter in the subs; buy a separate, quality digital XO instead.

If for some reason the thought of high-passing your mains seems less desirable to you I’d suggest the following: experiment with the placement of your main speakers, and see if you can retrieve perhaps some midbass energy this way. Then add a pair of subs from the likes of PSA (using pro woofers and quality ICEpower amps) low-passed in the 40-50Hz vicinity and hereby overlapping your mains a bit. A pair of sealed PSA models like the S3012 with dual opposing pro 15" B&C woofers would seem a great match. Should you still lack midbass impact I’d go forward with high-passing the mains and a cross-over no lower than 80Hz with the suggested PSA subs.

I suggest you first consider a single SF Gravis V not because its an SF product rather for the flexibility its accompanying application can provide regardless of speakers its paired with. 

Without any personal experience with the Gravis I question it's -6dB frequency response rating. Without having read its application instructions if it has auto calibration it makes for far less manual adjustments. It appears to include four customizable presets and assuming the application offers remote control of adjustments and volume. I've found this combination allows a subwoofer interactive flexibility that I can't live without and worth most any increase in expense.  

With the subwoofer placed at the listening position playing a low frequency cadence you should be able to identify your rooms bass modes by simply strolling around. The loudest mode becoming the subs location should provide a single sub adequate performance at the listening position. Later the Gravis V can serve as the master for most any more economical non processing sub. They need not match.

Have fun with it.   

It appears that your Olympica Nova V's can be bi-amped. You might want to start by trying that to see if that adds enough low end to your rock recordings. Integration would be far simpler. Separate gain control with each amp would be required for best results. Without it there might not be a noticeable difference.

Your Nova Vs go to 32Hz, but that is already down a few db. So yes, there is information below that point, lots of information on some records. Although 32 Hz is pretty good, lower than that is better. 

Bass is the backbone upon which the rest of the music rides on. Up until the mid 80’s subs weren’t needed. Then the Mfgs etc started pushing midrange because it has the majority of the music.R&Rollers weren’t considered in this because classical and jazz were the accepted genres. In doing so, they robbed the bass from the speakers so that now, even a supposed full range speaker needs a sub for life of the music. It took me a while to accept that but i have run subs for 20 yrs and choose Rel as THE sub IMO. As has been said, pairs are better and the Rels add so much more to the music, IE sound stage and make the speakers sound bigger.And they are very easy to integrate. Depending on your room size, there as a Sumiko S10 for sale which is the Rel S5 clone. It operates in the same way as Rel and Suniko was the distributor here in the US for many years.and somehow pretty much copied the Rel ,,, at least for a year. .

BTW no affiliation with the seller. Just familiar with them and have them myself

I use a pair of Martin Logan Depth i, in my small room. It’s vibration cancelling design is why I chose them. Using Stillpoints SS underneath them. Good tt decoupling is a big help

I have the Vandersteen Sub 3. Costs more than the others, but integrates seamlessly and frees up your amp from the lower frequencies.


Like; "Slaw" above. I use the Martin Logan "Depth" in my small system.

    But use (4) of the Martin Logan, "Descent" subwoofers in my main rig.

Which is an actual, "Line Source", "Dipole" system.

Just (1) of the "Depth" subs will impress you. Especially for the amount of air it will move, and that air at very impressive speeds. And the accuracy still floors me. Nothing comes close to it at that size.

But having (4) of the "Descent" model subs integrated into a rig?

It can be beyond words...

The key is the "Integration".

 I use a quality, "The best I could find" active crossover. The sub's use "Blue Truth, Air", "Balanced XLR" cables from the crossover to the subwoofer's amplification section. And then seamlessly integrated with, "Linkwitz-Riley", Constant Voltage, 4th Order, "24dB/Octave Slope".

Beyond Words...

2 floorstanders 2 subs here. Can't do without the subs now, was a great investment. 

Rarely, if ever, is the location of the main speaker optimized for BOTH bass and mids and high frequencies. It's the reality of acoustics within a room. Furthermore, I have never heard of someone removing their subs IF they have been properly integrated and dialed in.  

Not only will your Def Leppard sound better but so will every other type of musical recording.


First step would be to upgrade power amp. Then the rest of the audio chain.

Adding subs is a complicated matter and a final step, if needed.

Added two Rythmik F12SE’s to my Revel Ultima 2, Studio 2’s. I’m 2 channel only. It definitely was worth it. It’s just a fuller sound, and I think one way of describing the improvement is that they hit low base with strength and tightness.

As you can see, the answer is...

Yes, no, maybe, kinda and no, it won't work.

@inna I’m running a McIntosh MA8900 with 200 continuous watts - plenty of power for my current speakers. The only other component is my Roon Nucleus+.  I’m all digital.  

+1 jpan. The room will be the key. As stated already I would run your speakers full range and set the subs crossover low to start. Good luck ! 

bigtex22, I am not familiar with your equipment and can't know if the amp is enough for the speakers. But I didn't mean just power ratings, it is much more than that.

If you go subwoofer route to begin with just make sure you can return the subs in case you don't like what you hear.

Of course, the room is always extremely important.


When you see live music, the bass and sometimes keyboard players have 18” or bigger speakers.  

I spent a lot of money building a smallish (3.3 x 4.5 m) listening room, it sounded terrible. The bass was so overblown that the cones of a pair of unconnected speakers in the room would be moving.  One wall in particular vibrated and sounded terrible at any appreciable volume. I spent money on all sorts of passive solutions that helped but did nearly solve the problem. However I used 2 subs connected to my pre amp via a minidsp, cut pass to my Audio Physic Sitara 25's floor standers and plugged there ports. Set minidsp to cut at the 3 room mode frequencies.  Problem solved, no awful bass, no rattling walls, until volume is set on crazy, so my experience is yes subwoofers were definitely a massive improvement. Sounds stunning too.

@bigtex22 My room size is 13ft X 18ft. I bought 2 JL212 subwoofers to compliment my Kharma Exquisite 1E Signature. The subwoofers are very important as they provide the foundation for full bodied to the music especially jazz and rock. I recently bought 2 Funk Audio LX21.0 which greatly improved the emotions to the music. The software for tuning the DSP of the Funk subs  is very user friendly and easy to setup. I recommend you to go for the Funk LX18.0 or the Lx21.0.

Happy listening.

+1 knotscott!

Two RELCarbon Limiteds with my floorstanders.  Low and subtle, supports everything and visceral enjoyment.  Turn them off and they are missed!

I just put in a REL T/9 in with my floor standing speakers. As soon as I can find another matching unit used im going to make it 2. Be hard to live without it now.

I am with a @knotscott: I keep the sub volume and crossover low.

I loaned a friend of mine an older Velodyne micro V for his modest system. At first he didnt like it. But after playing with it for a couple weeks he now confesses it would be hard to live without.

Its worth the effort and fun to try. Even if you dont keep it at least now you know. Satisfaction either way. Find a good used unit to try and then sell it if you dont like it.

It's akin to a foundation for a house.  You never see it but if you take it away.....

I think mofojo said it.  YES.

But integration/location is critical and multiple sealed subs generally get things really right. You'll never know they're there but you'll know when they aren't.  Plenty written on the subject.


I'm using 3 F12's and love them.  Mixed with Legacy Audio Signature III's, 2 channel system in a 16' x 28' x 8' room. Wish I had 14' ceilings though.

I have a pair of "overkill" subs with a pair of floorstanding speakers and was fortunate that, in my new house, my dedicated listening room is much better suited to the integration of the subs with the side speakers, compared to the last house we lived in, where that listening room added it's own bass, regardless of what the bass line in the music was, requiring me to add 10 bass traps to make the integration tolerable.

If you are successful at integrating subs to your room they add a dimension to the musical experience that you'll really enjoy, especially the "visceral" experience.