REL Acoustics Studio II powered subwoofer Stirling Trayle on REL Setup
Since Sumiko and the REL's manual offer different recommendations for setting up the Studio II, I asked Sumiko's Stirling Trayle to explain his recommended setup procedure.—WP
"To begin the setup process, choose a piece of music that has a repetitive bass line that is quite low in frequency. We recommend the soundtrack to Sneakers (Columbia CK 53146) because it has a repetitive bass drum throughout, which gives you a lot of time to move the woofer around—but, more important, it was recorded in a large venue and therefore has a deep and large-scale bass signature.
"Phase Orientation: After plugging the REL in and connecting it, set the bass control's Coarse setting to position 2 and raise the Gain control to the 12:00 position. Start your setup cut and go to the corner where the REL has been placed. Trying to ignore all other aspects of the music, listen to the bass drum and the effect the drum has on the listening room. Switch back and forth between the two phase settings (Normal and Reverse). Whichever sounds louder is correct—this means the woofer is acting in concert with the main speakers, adding bass, not canceling it.
"Room Orientation: Try orienting the woofer with the front wall (behind the main speakers) or turned 90 degrees—with the connection panel facing the side wall. The orientation that yields the most bass is, again, the correct one.
"REL Placement: Start with the REL as far into the corner as possible, then slowly move the woofer on a diagonal out from the corner, trying to keep it equidistant from the walls. Listen for the point at which the woofer exhibits increased output and the lowest bass. Somewhere between several inches and several feet from the corner, the woofer will 'unlock'—at this point the speaker is working with the room to provide the most efficient pressurization and the lowest possible frequency response.
"Crossover settings: With the speaker properly sited and the phase set correctly, you can begin to tune the crossover. Working with both Coarse and Fine controls—and the Gain still set at 12:00—you are looking for the point at which the woofer begins to intrude on the primary speakers. Each detent on the Coarse dial is equal to four on the Fine control. (With both dials set to 1, the crossover frequency is 25Hz; with both set to 4, it's 100Hz.) When you've reached the point where the woofer begins to interfere with the main speaker, you can subtly adjust both crossover setting and gain to reach a seamless integration of the two. This is the time-consuming part.
"Gain must be adjusted in conjunction with crossover changes. In general, choosing a lower crossover point necessitates more gain; selecting a higher crossover setting calls for less gain. Many audiophiles tend to set the crossover point too high and the gain too low, for fear of overwhelming the main speakers with bass—this results in a loss of bass depth and dynamics. The proper crossover point will increase overall dynamics, extend the bass frequencies, and improve soundstaging."—Stirling Trayle