Would you choose 1 ou 2 subwoofers for a stereo set?

Would you choose 1 bigger sub or 2 smaller ones?

For a living room 6 x 8 meters (speakers on the smaller side). (3.5meters high)

Mcintosh MA9000 + BW802 D3

I listen mostly to digital audio (DAC / Streamer)

Looking into 1 JL Audio 13" or 2 JL Audio 10"


Two subs are better because they can distribute bass frequencies better throughout a room for a more even response than a single sub.

In a room that size you need at least two 12" subs. Highly recommend the Martin Logan Balanced Force 210. There are two 10" drivers in each. Get two of them. They are a much better value than JL subs which are overpriced for what you get. I suggest you use a two way digital crossover like the MiniDSP. Your amp has all the ins and outs to run it. If you get a MiniDSP SHD you get the crossover and Dirac Live room control which will blow your mind!

Agree with @jasonbourne71 and @mijostyn - two bigger subs. Going from one to two subs made a significant difference in both the sound of my system and my level of enjoyment from what I hear. You need big and fast subs that goes low, to augment the bass frequencies provided by your main speakers. Maybe poke around and find out what other 802 owners are using successfully.

Two if you can. Much easier to tune.  I actually like 12 inch or smaller for better control.   I use an Antimode Cinema for DSP control.  Works very well and is only in the sub path. 

Rel, Rhythm, and SVS appear to be the leading subs these days. Personally, I like low Q sealed subs. I think they blend better than ported and have less group delay.  Even my HT, my twin 10 in push-pull sealed can make special effects move your stomach!  

"Fast" is a bit if a bogus term used to describe other parameters.   They have their frequency response and their Q. Both measurable.  The sub, like ANY speaker just needs to follow the signal. No delay, with as little distortion, and as little overshoot as possible.  A lot of sub "fast" is not crossing over your main speakers and sending too strong and too low of a signal to them. Boo-Kou distortion. Not having a subsonic filter on a ported sub can make a mush out of it too. 

The magic of a sub in a Stereo is not just deeper, but cleaner.  802's go plenty deep. Surprised you need a sub at all.  Not much music below 40 Hz. 

Room ambience below 40Hz on some recordings, and it is nice to experience even with no bass in the track.

Totally agree with two subs over one. If you can room correct the bass you'll be smiling when you are done. Agree with most all of the above comments. good luck

If you are optimizing for a single sweet spot for 2 channel listening and have a lot of freedom to move the subwoofer, speakers and listener’s position around, you can make it work well with a single sub even in a very large room.

If you don’t have full flexibility of placement mentioned above, restrictions on variable phase, etc. you could add another sub to help the compromised first sub (be tactical about it though without making anything worse).

First, check out hte AM Acoustics room mode simulator.  You can use it to pick ideal locations for your listening location, speakers and subs as well as evaluate where your lowest room modes will be and how to fix them.

Personally, I'd use one, on the basis of cost, foot print and performance.  I've had nearly perfect results in some situations with a single subwoofer. Having put that sub in, dealt with room modes, added appropriate EQ and bass traps I would then ask if I needed a second. 

Looks like I'd choose 2 big subs for your room, not small ones and definitely 2.

I would pass on the 10” JL. Too small, honestly I would pass on JL they are over priced and break a lot (I own two and have had 4 replacements subs…).


That is lay intuition tv. The speed a woofer can move is indicated by the upper limit of its frequency response. Most 15" subwoofers make it easily to 500 Hz. The transient response of a sub driver has to do with the relationship of its motor power to the mass of it's moving system. One issue is certain, the distance a driver has to move is directly proportional to the amount of distortion the driver produces. The smaller driver has to move farther to produce the same volume producing more distortion. The main disadvantage of larger drivers is the size of their enclosures. I use two 12" drivers per enclosure which is like using one 15" driver. I did this for packaging reasons. I do think once you get beyond 18" the cone becomes more difficult to control and pistonic motion can be lost. 


@gfguimaraes wrote:

Would you choose 1 bigger sub or 2 smaller ones?

Neither, I’d go for two big subs from the likes of PSA (you can have two big ones of those for one JL Audio, and not sacrifice bass reproduction quality - on the contrary). 

I’m using one 12” sub in my room and it’s perfect, but my room is only 5x6.5 meters and I got lucky with placement.  It’s 2.5 meters behind my listening position.

Been living with a pair of 10" woofers in Kenwood cabs, 3 way units with the crossovers' disconnected from the tweets and mids; no big loss....
Driven by their own amp, so no conflicts...  Bottom is to a self-amped 8" Polk stand-alone sub.  Reasonably satisfied with the results, and the price was right, voices decently...*s*

Intrigued by the distributed bass concept (4 smaller subs ) and the means to give a go on it; 4 - 8" for the time being....got the goods, just need the time to fab it up.

IF that has some 'deficiencies', can add a stand-alone 15" (have a pair, sadly unmatched); for unreasonable levels of THUMP, have a 10" more suited to be part of a bass-ers' vehicle (magnet structure is the size of an old-style quart oil can and you'd not want to drop it on your foot, nooo....).

Overall space is 40' x 28' with 12' ceilings, so have the cubic feet to fill... ;)

...and so much for the radical ohm on the deranged...

Good weakend, y'all


Because I needed a small subwoofer that would fit under my modified-buffet stereo cabinet, I chose to start with one sub and was immediately pleased with the enhanced SQ.

However, after listening for a few weeks I decided something was off, the bass subtly imaging more to the side with the sub when listening at louder levels.

Since I have adequate crawl space height, I opted to hardwire a second, identical sub on the other side of the back of my room.

The overall SQ is now more balanced and richer than it’s ever been.

If you have doubts and/or budget constraints, plan for two but start with one and draw your own conclusions.

Based on trying one and then moving to two was a game changer.  I have REL's and they are connected directly to the amp so the subwoofers get the full signal from each channel.  

Good luck and let us know how you make out.

2 big ones, 12" is what I use. Only way to go for best integration into stereo.

I agree with Jason.  I personally think REL subwoofers are the most musical.  Their high level connection allow them to play more like woofers.  Nothing worse to me than a thumping bass.  I have two REL SHO’s in the corners.  I have the volume set at about 40% and the crossovers set to blend in seemlessly.  It really improves sound stage.  A game changer.  Jason knows a lot about this,

I’ve a dedicated 2 channel listening room that is your size but higher ceilings. I gradually added SW’s, so have a strong comparison. My aim was to increase’s the sound pressure level across the room without boominess and retain LF detail. I now have 4 SW: two 12 in Rhythmic along the front wall and two 10 inch REL on the sidewalls. The progression to stereo SW was a startling improvement in sound stage and detail. I’m enthusiastically aligned with the recommendations for stereo SW.

My take : the choice is not a simple binary choice for one sub versus two subs .

A key determinant is the build quality and parts in the unit(s) . since it is the subwoofers) in both of these situations that tends to call attention to the system and cause many of the problems thatmay be predicated .

One good unit is is better than two cheap units IMO.

The truth of the matter is that most subwoofers have fully earned their bad reputation. They usually suck. Most of them sound boomy, muddy and out of control with an obnoxious bass overhang that lingers so long as to blur most of the musical information up until the next bass note is struck. The cheap built ones as the mass-market models trying to capitalize on the home theater trend that is sweeping the land, and these are a big (and IMO, unacceptable… ) performance compromise for 2-channel Audio .

That is why I auditioned all the contenders and all-too-many pretenders, and bought the ATC C1MK2 subwoofer because for two reasons:

(i); its superior audio performance that integrated seamlessly with my HARBETG main speakers that’s bested all the others in my system.
(ii) It’s superior superior quality build and warranty

  • Compact 12″ Sub
  • Handmade ATC 12″/314mm driver with massive motor assembly and ribbon voice coil
  • ATC 200W full class A/B amplifier
  • High Level and Line Level Inputs
  • Comprehensive user controls to ensure best possible integration with partnering loudspeakers
  • 6 Year warrantY
  • Of course, this costs and it ain’t cheap = Choose wisely

Another benefit to using subs is the ability to high pass your main speakers, and possibly even mains that go as low as the 802s, thereby relieving the amplifier and the low frequency drivers in your main speakers from trying to push low bass frequencies.

In my case, I was able to switch out larger, full-range bass reflex (i.e., ported) main speakers for better sounding, acoustic suspension (i.e., sealed) speakers that offer much better sounding bass down to about 40Hz, and then roll in the subs from there.

You will only be able to determine whether using a high pass filter sounds better with your 802s by trying it. The result will depend on the HP filter you use, your subs, the ability of your 802s to handle low bass, the type of music you listen to, and the volume you typically listen at.

2 - 12” and my vote goes to REL. For music, REL are so much better and easy to blend with your main speakers than JL’s. 

Well, I have (4) JL-Audio F-113 subs near the corners in my room. I like being able to set the calibration adjustments for each in the room independently.


I had one vented REL and was happy vs no sub. Moved to two 12" sealed Rythmiks and was much happier. Now I have 4x 12" sealed Rythmiks and the improvement has been great again!

If you have total flexibility for positioning subs then 2 might be enough. I don't,  as the system is in my living room, and 4 subs is much better in my case. I also implemented MultiSub Optimizer software and a MiniDSP 4x10HD. When I had 2 subs I simulated in MSO using 2, 3, 4 by moving the 2 subs and taking measurements. 3 was better than 2 and 4 was better than 3. Went with 4 and haven't looked back. End of the subs path for me.

I suggest DSP-based active crossover, time alignment and room correction hardware and software such as Danville Signal dspNexux, miniDSP or DEQX

  • Time Alignment in 5uS increments
  • Sample Rate Conversation and Jitter Attenuation
  • Room Correction and Bass Management
  • Active Crossovers
  • low pass the subwoofer and high pass the full-range loudspeaker 

I use two 15” sealed Rythmik subs in a very difficult room with great results attributable to DEQX. Use a professional (Larry Owens) to calibrate the DEQX and plan on spending three hours of your time. 

Do some research into distributed bass arrays. There are numerous discussions on this forum, plus plenty of supporting articles online.

The basic idea is to use 4 or more subs placed asymmetrically around the room to flood the room with the low frequency information. 

The results are amazing.

I run 4 Subs. The 2 on the front wall are in phase. The two on the back wall are out of phase. X’s over at the Subs minimum 50Hz from my Cornwall IV’s.

I use two 15” sealed Rythmik subs in a very difficult room with great results

@markalarsen , Is the E15HP what you have? Are you using it for music listening primarily? (I have been curious about their 15in and 18in sealed models for a bit...Personally have not ventured any bigger than their 12in drivers for music).


For those who can do rudimentary woodworking (just a simple box), the Rythmik Subs are available as DIY kits. For those who can't, a local cabinet maker can do it for you pretty cheaply.

The 15" Rythmik sub comes in a China-sourced 3cu.ft. enclosure, but if going DIY Brian Ding recommends building a 4cu.ft. one, for free increased output.

By the way, the Rythmik plate amps feature the best controls available on the market, far better than most of the competition. Check out the Rythmik website for details.

Two subs or more. I’m using a pair of Rythmik subs,  F12SE-XLR3 and A370XLR3 amp


I’m  also using a Sublimeacoustic K231 as a 2 way XO. The miniDSP XO sounds promising, especially w/ room correction. I’d I was all digital, I’d be more inclined to pursue it. However, I’m not convinced my LPs would sound as good. 

My two Rythmik non-ported direct servo subs are lined with GR Research "No Rez" damping+foam material and use Swiss Digital Fuse Box units. Both mods make a big difference in output and sound quality. No Rez has an effect equivalent to both increasing enclosure inner air space and damping enclosure vibrations so you aren't listening to the enclosure resonance any more. The SDFB with a copper slug sounds like a much more powerful amp.  CC: @bdp24 , @lewinskih01 , @rhg3 

My two Rythmik non-ported direct servo subs are lined with GR Research "No Rez"

Shoulda thought of this before...Excellent idea man! I have been using the isoacoustics aperta with my F12Gs...Ordering some No Rez now!

@deep_333 No need for anything expensive under a sub for isolation. Just use a $25-$30 set of four spring feet with at least half of the springs damped with closed cell foam earplugs. Can do the same under components, optimizing tone with 50-75% of springs foam damped. More damping means more bass and low mids.



@mijostyn Wrote:

  I do think once you get beyond 18" the cone becomes more difficult to control and pistonic motion can be lost.

I don't think it's the size of the cone that's the big issue. I think it's the spider, the length of the voice coil and a careful choice of suspension elements, that helps prevent the pistonic motion loss in woofers. FWIW, I have 15'' and 18'' woofers from the same manufacturer in my two channel stereo system and the only difference between the two woofers is the 18'' has higher horsepower, longer voice coil length and higher efficiency. Both woofers exhibit no dynamic offset. 😎 See below:

Woofer dynamic offset is a problem long known about but seldom discussed or treated. With high input power at low frequencies, many woofers tend to shift their mean displacement forward or backward until the coil is nearly out of the gap. This is most likely to happen just above each low frequency impedance peak of a system. The result is a high level of second harmonic distortion and subjectively a bass character that loses its tightness at high acoustical output levels [4]. The cure for offset, as shown by T, H. Wiik [6], is a restoring spring force that increases in stiffness at high displacement in an amount that counterbalances the reduced B field at the extremes of voice coil travel. Such a nonlinear spider will in fact reduce distortion and eliminate the tendency to offset.

(4) M. R. Gander, "Moving-Coil Loudspeaker Topology as an Indicator of Linear Excursion Capability," J. Audio Eng..Soc., vol. 29, pp 10-26 (Jan./Feb. 1981).

(6) T. ti. Wiik, "Transient Distortion Caused by Nonlinearities in Driving Force and Suspension of a Loudspeaker," Presented at the S6th Convention of the Audio Eng. Soc., Preprint No. 1205 (C-6), _lareh 1977).

One issue is certain, the distance a driver has to move is directly proportional to the amount of distortion the driver produces.  The smaller driver has to move farther to produce the same volume producing more distortion. 




The new DEQX units which will be along shortly are insanely more user friendly and considerably more expensive. They will not require an expert to set up. Their build quality has gone up significantly. The Pre 8 has a 4 way crossover with 8 DAC channels! It will retail for $10,995.00. 


I watched a 21" driver under a strobe doing a snake dance at relatively small excursions. A good 18" driver should be OK. The problem is the size of the enclosure needed to house the thing. I would like to be able to see my screen!

As others have said, absolutely go with two.  Your room isn’t all that big, and two E110s will be more than sufficient as they go down to 23Hz -3dB.  If it was me I’d get two Rhythmic F12Gs as you can get two for just a little more than one E110, and the F12G goes down to 14Hz.  Either way, two good subs are better than one bigger one especially for music.  Just my $0.02 FWIW. 

@gladmo: NoRez is a great product. Since I built sealed enclosures for the Rythmik 15" kit, I braced the Hell out of them: 1.5" x 1.5" Baltic Birch ply braces (doubled pieces of 0.75" x 1.5") every 6" inches, in all three planes: front-to-back, left-to-right, top-to-bottom. The braces take up a lot of internal volume, so the boxes ended up being rather large (for 15" subs): 24" tall and deep, 18" wide. When you do that NoRez is not necessary.

Danny Richie recommends NoRez for even his GR Research open baffle subs and loudspeakers, on the large unsupported (structurally) panels.

I use two but I have used a distributed bass array of four placed asymmetrically within the room which eliminated all the rooms standing wave bass modes and provided immediate sense of timing or room loading.

I've since manage a similar but not as total effect with two bass mode carefully positioned subs.

JL Audio makes a potent high quality product. Personally I found their F113 automatic / frequency only optimization lacking the flexibility of added  manual adjustability. This Youtube shows the Quality.



FYI, since REL are -6dB "Sub-Bass Systems" their frequency rolloff begins so early they usually don't excite a rooms standing wave bass modes allowing for greater flexibility of positioning at the cost of actual subwoofer extra low frequency presentation. Claims of superior musicality are purely subjective.  

TWO subs for sure….2 subs are sonically better than one, even huge one. I don’t think 2 10” subs will properly pressurize your space. Unless you’re only listening to acoustical jazz you will sense something is missing. I have multiple SBS subs that do a great job in my HT room but for two channel listening I would go in that direction. Get two subs to compliment your lovely B&Ws. JL or REL should be you’re candidates. 10” subs will be lacking in your large

space. First choice for me would be two JL F112 V2s. They are very fast and the built in DSP room correction is fantastic and a relatively small footprint. +WAF. THE RELa are great but have less power and don’t hit the same. Good luck and cheers 

Two subs. Try one in the front and one in the back to see if it makes a more 3 dimensional sound. 

Always two or more sub woofers. 

I have two REL S812s and love the balanced distribution and performance. Tuneful and dynamic. 

Hey gfguimaraes...thanks for your question.

My space is a small 10' x 10' x 7 1/2' cube dedicated studio...hard worked for good sound.  For several years I used a pair of sealed 10" UltraCube Paradigm subwoofers beneath my monitor stereo pair of speakers, quite successfully.  The monitors sat atop some nice IsoAcoustic stands, a functional arrangement giving the illusion of full range speakers in a small space. 

Several months ago, one of the subs failed.  Surprisingly to me, the single sub improved the overall sound.  Another lesson for trying options in building a system.  The Paradigm subs were $150ea... a lucky Goodwill store find. 

So, it was time to get to work exploring the best choice with around a $1,500 budget for a better, larger single sub.  Having the good fortune of befriending a number of skilled, experienced audio friend over the years, the consensus was in choosing the Rythmik L12 Direct Servo subwoofer, delivered to Maine directly from Texas for $629.00.  With the money saved by not choosing the usual suspects, I also purchased two 24" x 48" corner traps from ATS Acoustics.

One is a true bass trap positioned on the front wall corner, and the other a "full frequency" trap on the opposing backwall corner, diagonally opposed the bass trap.  Keep in mind that I also have made extensive room tuning, dampening and diffraction choices over the years.    

The results of the larger single Servo sub and tuning are a dramatic improvement overall.  In running test signal frequency sweeps (Stereophile and YouTube,) there are sensations in the room at 20 decibels...way down in volume, of course, but the room is triggered by them, indicating very deep bass well under 30 cycles (that's for the ol' timers.)

As a result, large orchestral, rock and other big stuff benefits greatly, however, more valued, is what accurate, solid deep bass can do for the rest of the frequencies...again, do some homework.  My goals are always natural unamplified sounds in a real space.  This delivers. 

Recently, in addition to these improvements, is the The BACCH DSP Plug-In download, (see topic below.)  I'm into week 5 or so in using the BACCH Plug-In, cost $320.  Still no downside, a real keeper. 

Note:  I have a friend/audio Tech who sets up my digital needs remotely.  Invaluable.    

More Peace     (bold print for old eyes)               Pin


Another vote for two subwoofers. There are many good subs from which to choose, but if you want the best stereo imaging then you want two. I have two SVS SB3000s that I like especially for the iPhone app that permits nuanced adjustments.