The lowdown on subwoofers

September 4, 2017
 by Paul McGowan

9 comments on “The lowdown on subwoofers”

  1. Paul: how do you hook up a subwoofer using a all PS Audio system: DMP, DS DAC, BHK Preamp & BHK 250 power amp? I rearranged my Martin Logan Summits according to you rule of the thirds. The soundstage and highs opened up quite a bit but the bass seemed to be much attenuated as compared to my previous arrangement. Do you think adding the Sub should help? Thanks! …Ken

    1. You bet it will. Connecting the sub is a matter of understanding first how it likes to be connected – high level from the amplifier outputs, or low level from the preamp – then coming up with a scheme to do so.

      For example, if it is a low level input subwoofer wanting an output from the BHK preamp, it’s easy enough to either use a Y connector on the power amplifier input, one side goes into the amp, the other via a short cable to the subwoofer.

      1. Paul,

        I run 4 mono power amps ( Crimson 640 e) how would I fit a subwoofer to this type of set up ? Any advice much appreciated. I use a aesthetix Calypso sig PREAMP.
        best wishes

  2. I like to ask those who employ subs how do you remove the low frequency that is going to your subs and not going to your main speakers ?
    Electronic crossovers are very rare Pass Labs XV1, Marchand XM126 and Bryston 10B are the only ones I know about that are decent sounding.
    I would really enjoy a BHK Signature preamp with passive built in crossover for LO, MID and HI.
    Can you imagine a BHK preamp with triamp outputs feeding six BHK amps without any passive crossover in between. And each amp is fed by a P10.

      1. Hi Paul. I’m quite surprised to hear that you prefer running the main speakers full range as opposed to using an electronic crossover. I’ve had the opportunity to use my single JL f113 with full range speakers, ‘stats, and my current superb 2 way monitors. The sub integrated well with the full range speakers. It never integrated correctly with the electrostats- I believe that the sub simply could not keep up. With my current monitors I experimented with numerous set ups, positions, and crossover options. I could never get them quite right as much as I tried -although getting the position and phase worked out made a huge difference. I purchased an inexpensive dbx pro crossover and it provided an incredible improvement in the sound. It sounds extraordinary, I would not go back to full range on the main speakers again.

        I’m sorry that you disagree with the electronic crossover approach. If PS made an electronic crossover in the league of my sensational new DirectStream DAC, I would consider that a mandatory purchase. Even better, a device with the sophistication and flexibility of a DEQX unit with a PS DAC would be a game changer. Perhaps this niche would be worth reconsidering. -Jeff

        1. It’s a tough one, for sure. The quality of the subwoofer has a lot to do with how well it integrates with the main speakers. This is one of the reasons I love servo woofers so much p- they are fast enough to keep up with anything – even electrostats. The RELs get closest in my opinion, but still they struggle at anything higher than about 35Hz.

          If you try and go much above 35Hz, then you run into these problems.

          Using an external electronic crossover can be effective but you are compromising the purity of your main signal through this device. If the overall sound is better for it, then that’s the way to go.

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