Near field Subwoofer revelation

May 2, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

19 comments on “Near field Subwoofer revelation”

  1. It is most obvious and common knowledge that active subwoofers and especially active subwoofers with internal DSP/EQ have a delay compared to the main speakers. Thus it is mandatory to have them placed “near”-field (closer to the listener) in order to minimize timing and phase errors!

    1. That’s why most subwoofers have phase controls built in. Moreover many subwoofers are designed to be placed near the front wall or in a corner.

      1. ?????????????
        Maybe you should better search for the different meanings for phase delay and time delay!? 😉 I also wonder why audiophile (!) subwoofers for stereo should be placed in a corner or near a wall (this simply augments SPL by early reflections). Maybe that’s useful for home theatre applications?

        1. Yes it utilizes the room to reinforce the bass making them more efficient and producing lower bass. The room is not always the enemy. Moreover most people want subwoofers placed or tucked away along a wall or in a corner and not be wearing them on their heads like headphones. 🙂 I understand why audiophile purists don’t want to do damage to the sound of their main speakers and if not positioned or adjusted correctly that’s likely to happen which is also why cheap equalizers that don’t have spectrum analyzers, pink noise, and a calibrated microphone to set it correctly is not an option of many audiophiles. Most of the time it just messes things up. It’s got to be done correctly or you might as well not do anything but position your main speakers the best you can in your room and accept it as it is. The easy and safe way out of what can be a headache,

  2. Yes this is the most effective way to use a subwoofer (in a nearfield-position) Have been doing this for years withe REL subs. Many advantages as opposed to subwoofer placed far away behind main speakers: 1) You use less power….no need to blast the subs to hear deep bass. 2) more efficiency for the main speakers as you can limit the bass response for them to say 40hz. 3) If you live in a dwelling with shared walls better for the neighbors!

    Kind of reminds me of the concept for the 1974 Movie “Earthquake” – “Sensurround”

  3. This is exactly why I sit in a chair that has two ‘Bass Engines’ (Butt-kickers)
    attached to the underside…you can’t get any closer than that!

    1. Wise idea Martin. I did the same on a gal’s sofa – cut a board the same area as the springs underneath, attached the tactile driver to the board and SEVERAL zap straps fixing the board to the bottom of the spring assembly. No noticeable effect on the seating and VERY effective bass sensation. It DOES feel strange when you stand up mid movie or music and the bass just …. vanishes.

      Fun fact(?) Back when the Alpine bass engine first came out our Alpine rep told us the audio tactile driver (butt kicker) was (sort of) reverse engineered from the same type electronically driven pistons on trains that were designed to ‘pound’ on the train structure out of phase with the train/track noise to reduce the constant repetitive noise made by the tracks.

  4. I am a near field listener in my study. My conclusion is that I do not need a subwoofer in this application. I just enjoy the music.

  5. I have about 14 Subwoofers. I’m only going to keep about 6 of them. The 4 Sunfire Carver Signature dual 12″ subwoofers which amounts to 4 – 12″ Subwoofers and 4 – 12″ passive radiators, a 15″ PSB and a 18″ Velodyne.

    Surrounded by 6 subs some of which will be near field should do the trick…lol. Plus the two 10″ subs built into the sides of my main speakers.

    I just need to figure out a way to connect the power cords so not to overload the AC. Talking over 11,000 watts there to power them because the Sunfires are in small boxes and require 2700 watt amplifiers to drive them.

      1. I might buy another 15″ PSB and another 18″ velodyne and go with 8 subs to balance it out. That would mean a total of 10 subwoofers powered by about 15,000 watts of peak power counting the two passive subs built into the main speakers. 14 if you count the 4 passive radiators in the Carver Sunfires. None ported. That would bring the magnet weight over 300 pounds. Maybe just spread the 4 Sunfires around the room surrounding the main listening chair and stack the 15″ PSB on top of the 18″ Velodyne and place them at the back of the room using just the 6. I’m not sure what the final arrangement will be. Still trying to figure out how I would wire them.

        1. You really have 10 subs. A passive radiator is basically a port substitute where the diaphragm acts like the air in the port. There are some detail differences but it’s just a port substitute.

          1. Yeah I prefer acoustic suspension over ports or passive radiators but a passive radiator usually has better results than most ported systems. A transmission line is also a better option to most ports. Chris explained the pros and cons of most passive radiators and talked about how he designed a better one for the FR30.

            PSB made a decent ported subwoofer highly recommended in Stereophiles cheapskate components that totally disappeared in the room and blended perfectly with the room and speakers but it doesn’t quite go as low as I like a subwoofer to go, but for an inexpensive application it’s astonishing how well it sounds. I have 4 of those. Not sure what I’m going to do with those since I have 4 Sunfire Signatures with dual twelve inch active and passive drive units and 18 inch Velodyne and 15″ PSB sealed acoustic suspension subs.

            My mains are NHT 2.9 sealed designs with no passive radiators. Though not acoustic suspension passive radiators are sealed with no air escaping. I’m not against ports, transmission line, or passive radiators if designed correctly. But my first choice is acoustic suspension. Speakers moreso than other components there are much bigger pros and cons of different designs. Speakers are an art as well as a science and like art people have different tastes.

  6. I discovered the nearfield sub by sheer accidental necessity. Being the consummate tweaker, I needed to frequently adjust my sub’s level and sometimes x-over (to compensate for different recordings). So I tried placing it right next to my listening chair where I could reach the rear controls. You’ve mentioned pant leg shaking bass before…. that’s got NUTTIN on testicle tremoring, knacker clacking, nard numbing, jewel jiggling bass.

    Too far?

    I now have 2 selectable on-the-fly setups – the usual full range with a blended REL or switch to active crossover to a different room shattering drywall chaffing sub – for those more Scotch filled, concert viewing or rockin’ bass demanding situations. I have about a dozen presets (30Hz to 75Hz with or without slight EQ). Because different recordings need different band-aids. Purity sacrilege? Perhaps, but I can just never shake that internal quasi-irrational dreaded fear of overdriving my panels…. Because if you’ve ever heard that fingernail-down-the-blackboard maggie panel SLAP… shudder. It makes you feel guiltily horrible as if you just accidently smacked your dog…

    I still think Magnepans (any speakers or subs – but planars especially) should be on wheels with a remote joystick so you can move them in, out, forward, back, toe in/toe out to dial them in on the fly… I get my ten thousand daily steps just micro-adjusting my 3.7i’s. Because I’m convinced the “i” stands for “inchitis”

    C’mon… gimme HALF points for the quasi reference there….

    1. Probably keeps your back muscles in good shape too.
      Btw, how is that cute little mutt of yours?
      Has he taken your finger off yet?? 😉

  7. To me, near field listening means siting less than one meter from desktop studio monitors.
    By placing two studio monitors on top of two small desktop subwoofers you get perfect phase alignment at the listener’s ear level with superb clarity and stereo image .
    Small and powerful desktop subwoofers that are flat from 20 to 400 Hz can be made by using Motion Feedback (Servo bass).
    I have done this with 6 Inch drivers in 20X20X20 cm enclosures with excellent results.

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