You are here

Log in or register to post comments
notabigdeal
notabigdeal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: Aug 18 2011 - 7:57pm
Subwoofer vs Bigger Loudspeakers

I consider myself a beginner / entry level audio enthusiast. I want to get better quality sound. Here's what I have:

Yamaha 7.1 receiver

Paradigm Esprit B/P loudspeakers

Velodyne CT100 subwoofer

This setup cost me about $1,000 5 years ago.

I went to a store today and listened to a McIntosh setup with $10,000 B&W speakers and I loved it.

I don't have that kind of money though.

My first question to the experts is, is it possible to get similar quality sound with a smaller speaker + a subwoofer? vs bigger loudspeakers.

 

Thanks

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 hours 9 min ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
Depends on what you mean. 

Depends on what you mean.  You can get the same frequency range from top to bottom with a big speaker and with a small speaker/sub combination.  However, there is more to sound quality than FR.   Besides the bass response of the Esprit B/P loudspeakers is pretty good but, overall, will not compete with high-end B&Ws, with or without a sub.  I've owned both.

Kal

notabigdeal
notabigdeal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: Aug 18 2011 - 7:57pm
Thanks for the response. Is

Thanks for the response. Is there a - say- $5,000 speaker when combined with a nice subwoofer that would compete with the B&W ?

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 hours 9 min ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
Yes.  First, which B&W are

Yes.  First, which B&W are you referring to?  How big was the room you heard it in?  How big is your room?  How is it treated/decorated?  Are you going to listen in stereo or multichannel?

Kal

notabigdeal
notabigdeal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: Aug 18 2011 - 7:57pm
B&W diamond 803

They were the 803

http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Speakers/Home_Audio/800_Series_Diamond/Pro...

My room is not that big, but it will be bigger, i'm looking at these as a long term investment.

I will be listening in stereo. I've got carpet on the floor.

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 hours 9 min ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
Ideas
notabigdeal wrote:

They were the 803

http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Speakers/Home_Audio/800_Series_Diamond/Pro...

My room is not that big, but it will be bigger, i'm looking at these as a long term investment.

I will be listening in stereo. I've got carpet on the floor.

Well, the 804Diamoond and 805Diamond are candidates.  There are other lines with similar offerings.  The only thing I can specify is that you do some more listening to determine exactly what you liked about the 803Diamond demo.  A Mac/803D system (with other components) in a different room from yours has too many variables to be certain that it is primarily/only the speakers.

notabigdeal
notabigdeal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: Aug 18 2011 - 7:57pm
That actually makes a lot of

That actually makes a lot of sense. What i'm wondering is what would I be missing by going with a smaller speaker + subwoofer system when compared to a bigger 2.0 system?

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 21 hours ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
Smaller

How about something not real small and two subwoofers? Two subs are always better than one.

notabigdeal
notabigdeal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: Aug 18 2011 - 7:57pm
well the reason i suggest

well the reason i suggest smaller is because of cost. I'm wondering if there's a 2.1 or a 2.2 system that would give me same quality as the $10,000 B&W speakers.

notabigdeal
notabigdeal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: Aug 18 2011 - 7:57pm
would the two subs be stereo?

would the two subs be stereo?

kager
kager's picture
Offline
Last seen: 9 months 6 days ago
Joined: Oct 1 2006 - 8:28pm
Two subs

Two subs should be easier to integrate, it would give you a more even sound through out the room. 

I had an Rel sub for a while with a pair of Von Schweikert VR-1's in a 11x14' room. While it didn't sound bad I was always playing with the sub to get it to sound right to my ear. I finally gave up and sold the sub with the speakers and bought the Magnepan MMG's..

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 21 hours ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
Yes, but!
notabigdeal wrote:

well the reason i suggest smaller is because of cost. I'm wondering if there's a 2.1 or a 2.2 system that would give me same quality as the $10,000 B&W speakers.

The answer to that is yes with a caveat. You still have to spend around $10,000. With speakers smaller size doesn't necessarily mean less cost. It does however, almost always mean less bass. So even if you save by buying small but very good speakers a good sub (or two) will bring the total cost back up to that $10,000 area.

To sum it up:

To get sound as good as the $10,000 B&W speakers you like you'll have to spend a comparable amount of money.  

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 21 hours ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
YES
notabigdeal wrote:

would the two subs be stereo?

Yes, you would have one sub for each speaker.

notabigdeal
notabigdeal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: Aug 18 2011 - 7:57pm
How about other brands?

Thanks everyone for the comments. I listened to the smaller B&W (bookshelf type diamonds) today and they sound amazing as well, but miss the bass.

What other brands / models do you think I should look at that would give comparable performance for less cost?

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 hours 9 min ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
Speakers
notabigdeal wrote:

Thanks everyone for the comments. I listened to the smaller B&W (bookshelf type diamonds) today and they sound amazing as well, but miss the bass.

Was that with or without subs?

Quote:

What other brands / models do you think I should look at that would give comparable performance for less cost?

So far, you have referred to the "quality" of the big B&Ws and to bass.  The latter is, imho, easy but I still have no idea what your "quality" standards are.  You need to listen to many more speakers to get a handle on it.  There are many, many brands and you can get a guide from the reviews here. 

Kal

notabigdeal
notabigdeal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: Aug 18 2011 - 7:57pm
Hi Kal, 1. It was without a

Hi Kal,

1. It was without a subwoofer.

2. That's the real question, isn't it? :) Chances are, I won't ever own a huge house, or a living room. I don't need to play to an audience either. This is for my listening pleasure in an average size living room. I've almost decided to go with an Arcam source and amplifier to upgrade my Yamaha. For speakers, I like the B&W a lot but they're expensive and I haven't listened to a lot. I listened to a KEF Q900 which was pretty good too. I do require decent bass from my future speakers. This brings us to the beginning of the discussion where I was wondering if I can get the same quality bass with a separate subwoofer(s) vs a bigger speaker.

jackfish
jackfish's picture
Offline
Last seen: 11 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Dec 19 2005 - 2:42pm
The answer to your question is a

qualified yes.  $8000 monitors/bookshelves including appropriate stands and perhaps a pair of Rythmik F12 subwoofers could sound as good as the B&W 803s. Whether or not there is successful integration of bookshelves and subwoofers depends on drivers, crossovers, the room and EQ implementation.

If you are looking for something that sounds surprisingly good for much less than $10,000, and you don't have a big room, a pair of Magnepan MMGs with the Magnestand modification and a Rythmik F12 subwoofer could fit the bill.  An Arcam FMJ A38 would do nicely, but you might consider the bang for your buck an Emotiva USP-1 and XPA-2 could provide.

http://www.goodsound.com/equipment/magnepan_mmg.htm

http://www.soundadviceblog.com/reviews/review-magnepan-mmg-speakers/

http://www.indiespinzone.com/mag/mag4.html

http://www.audioasylum.com/forums/MUG/messages/11/112536.html

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/preamplifiers/689-emotiva-usp-1-stereo-preamplifier.html?start=1

http://www.audioxpress.com/reviews/media/lyle710.pdf

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/power-amplifiers/496-a-secrets-power-amplifier-review.html

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 21 hours ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
Quality bass

Yes, you can get the same quality bass. A properly integrated sub woofer will give you the low end you want. Good sub woofers can cost as much or more than the mains.

IMO:

Anything smaller than a 10" cone will usually not be sufficient. Of course this supposes you want bass that's loud, clean and deep .

Distributed bass (2 or more subs) works better. You get higher output. Asymmetrical placement helps smooth out room nodes giving smoother overall response.

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 hours 9 min ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
????
notabigdeal wrote:

This brings us to the beginning of the discussion where I was wondering if I can get the same quality bass with a separate subwoofer(s) vs a bigger speaker.

I thought we answered that in the affirmative.

notabigdeal
notabigdeal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: Aug 18 2011 - 7:57pm
so far
Kal Rubinson wrote:
notabigdeal wrote:

This brings us to the beginning of the discussion where I was wondering if I can get the same quality bass with a separate subwoofer(s) vs a bigger speaker.

I thought we answered that in the affirmative.

Right.

notabigdeal
notabigdeal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: Aug 18 2011 - 7:57pm
KEF Q900

I listened to KEF Q900 speakers the other day and they sound amazing without a subwoofer. Theyre $1600 per pair. I've got to be mistaken. How can a $1,600 speaker sound as good as the $10,000 B&W's ?

I don't have a very educated ear so I'm wondering how the experts evaluate a speaker.

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 21 hours ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
As good?

Did you hear them side by side?

Kal Rubinson
Kal Rubinson's picture
Offline
Last seen: 8 hours 9 min ago
Joined: Sep 1 2005 - 9:34am
Q900 vs. .................
notabigdeal wrote:

I listened to KEF Q900 speakers the other day and they sound amazing without a subwoofer. Theyre $1600 per pair. I've got to be mistaken. How can a $1,600 speaker sound as good as the $10,000 B&W's ?

I don't have a very educated ear so I'm wondering how the experts evaluate a speaker.

They do not sound as good as the 800 series B&Ws but they are an outstandingly good value.  See September Stereophile.

Kal

notabigdeal
notabigdeal's picture
Offline
Last seen: 3 years 1 month ago
Joined: Aug 18 2011 - 7:57pm
side by sude
JoeE SP9 wrote:

Did you hear them side by side?

 

No , these were at two separate places at two separate times. Amps were different as well. The KEF's were attached to the Arcam A28 amp which i'm very interested in.

Can you tell the difference between a good speaker and an awesome speaker in low volume?

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Offline
Last seen: 1 month 21 hours ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm
Hear a difference?
notabigdeal wrote:
JoeE SP9 wrote:

Did you hear them side by side?

 

No , these were at two separate places at two separate times. Amps were different as well. The KEF's were attached to the Arcam A28 amp which i'm very interested in.

Can you tell the difference between a good speaker and an awesome speaker in low volume?

It's very hard (close to impossible) to accurately and fairly compare two different speakers unless they are side by side and driven by the same gear.

IMO, yes, you can and should hear the difference between a good and an awesome speaker at any volume.

Luna Mar
Luna Mar's picture
Offline
Last seen: 7 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: Feb 7 2014 - 8:11am
Missing bass

Hi, I think I have the same issue. My bookshelf PSB speakers doesn't have enough bass. I don'twant to invest in new set of speakers. But I was thinking of whether I can use my powered Mirage subwoofer (1 unit) and connect it to the SP2 line of my Arcam Fmj A38 integrated amplifier (the PSB speakers are currently connected to the SP1 line.  Is this possible and doesn't damage the amplifier because by doing so, both speaker lines-SP1 and SP2 are both active? Or, is there another option?

Also, is it possible to simultaneously use both SP1 and SP2 lines  with 2 sets of speakers - the PSB speakers plus an old B&W DM220 - all working at the same time? Just curious. 

Thanks.

commsysman
commsysman's picture
Offline
Last seen: 2 days 10 hours ago
Joined: Apr 4 2006 - 11:33am
SUBWOOFER

Connect the speaker-level inputs of your subwoofer TO THE SPEAKERS.

Just run wires from the speaker terminals to the subwoofer.

There will be only a small current to the subwoofer input, so this does not put any significant additional load on the amplifier.

The wire also does not to be very large between the speakers and subwoofer; 18 or 20 gauge is enough.

 

P.S.- Did you notice that this is a 2-year-old thread?

  • X
    Enter your Stereophile.com username.
    Enter the password that accompanies your username.
    Loading