If you have a moment

January 26, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

Our good friend and former editor of Copper, Bill Leebens, is facing some hard times at the moment. Bill’s looking at some expensive surgery for which he does not have the funds to cover the costs.

If you know Bill or would like to help out, a donation link through Facebook (yeah, I’m not a Facebook person either) has been set up here.

Thanks for anything you can do.

As for audio related stuff, how many of us have had the notion to get our money’s worth when it comes to subwoofer performance? I know I’ve felt the urge.

When REL’s John Hunter upgraded my home theater’s subwoofer from a smaller 10″ to a massive 15″ version, the first thing I did was crank up the Kevin Bacon movie, Termors to laugh again as Val and Earl fight giant earthworms. Aside from the fact the movie’s a crack up, I was of course hopeful the new sub would rattle my cage and shake my booty.

It did, and then some.

But when the fun’s over and the excitement of the new has worn off, it’s time to put that subwoofer in its place—where we don’t hear it as a separate entity, but rather as it should be: integrated seamlessly with the main system.

Got to make sure those giant earthworms sound real.

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40 comments on “If you have a moment”

  1. I don’t know Bill, but have read Copper and wish him all the best.

    I’m using 6 ceiling speakers for home cinema using AppleTV and Airplay. I could add a wireless subwoofer, I just don’t like rattling bass, even for movies.

    Horses for courses, as they say, subwoofers were primarily intended for home cinema, not 2-channel audio, where they seem to be a can of worms. Not seen the film, but did he smoke them out?

    It’s going to be one of those days, hopefully FR can find some rock videos about invertebrates.

    1. I tried subwoofers…didn’t like ’em.
      My O/93’s make enough bass in my 18’x 13’x 9′ room…
      & that’s coming from a Rock ‘n Roller who listens to
      music at between 94 to 106dBs 😮

      1. Hi! I didn’t like subwoofers the way I knew them from others – not even the expensive ones. Then I tried a cheap sub that I tuned in myself (following Pauls and John Hunters advices). And that was good. Now I have a pair of REL T/Zero (with ELAC Debut 6.2) and it’s game changing. This would increase the quality of the speakers by a class.

        1. Hello burphy,
          Each to their own of course.
          I can’t pinpoint exactly what it was about the subwoofers that didn’t work for me.
          For nearly 38 years I got used to listening to a full-range (20Hz – 22kHz) pair of floorstanders & I suspect that that is the configuration & ‘sound’
          that appeals to me the most.
          Possibly if I would’ve taken more time to futz around & experiment with them in my listening room I may have got a better result, however, it is a living-room with furniture restrictions within said room so, for me, the subs could only be placed in certain positions that may not have been optimal.
          Anyway, the set-up that I have now, without subwoofers, is sounding better than anything else that I’ve had in that particular room & so I’m gonna stop right there & just enjoy the music from here-on in 😀

  2. I remember a comment years ago that has stuck with me regarding subs.
    You don’t want to be aware of IT when its working but really miss IT when its not.
    Then for a different situation, ie my grandson’s 21st. I am putting together a bunch of 15″ JBL for some party music and a band and they sure want to know the subs are working.
    The things we do.

  3. Hi Paul,
    I’m so sorry to hear about your good friend Bill Leebens.
    I hope that he can overcome his current difficulties & get back to enjoying his life.

    So now you have to check the footings (foundations) under your house more often…grea-a-a-at (eye rolling emoji)
    How’s your home insurance policy?
    Does it include ‘destruction by subwoofer’ clause?

    There’s been some discussion about CoViD-19 & vaccinations here on Paul’s Posts over the past two years…I’m sure that it’s pretty-much the main topic for discussion around the planet.
    With that in mind, a friend reminded me today not to worry about CoViD-19 too much,
    since life itself is just a sexually transmitted disease 😉

    Here is three minutes & fourteen seconds of both visual & aural beauty:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuRF0Jh7SCk

  4. Steven – Not sure about FR finding rock videos about invertebrates, but I’m starting to think he will listen to anything if the visual beauty is like that.

  5. There is nothing like an a pair of 18” well integrated subs for the first octave. I didn’t realize Rel made 18” subs. Maybe he has finally studied that physics chapter?

      1. Thanks for the link, Tony, but that takes me to the product called the 25 which is a 15″ driver and, after searching their site, I can’t find one that includes an 18″ driver???? Surely Paul knows the difference, right?

        1. Let’s be kind and call it a typo. Paul and I are in the same age group. I can tell you from personal experience that mistakes like this have happened to me.

        1. No worries, Paul, with as much as you speak and write, I am surprised there are more typos…
          My experience with subwoofer has taught me that size matters. Years ago, I started with 8″ subs, moved to 12″, then experimented with 15″ and finally have found a home for 2-18″ subs all of which only cover the 20-40hz range. Although smaller drivers can reproduce the lower frequencies, they just can’t do it at louder volumes and, at those louder volumes, the command a larger driver has (vs smaller drivers) is astounding. I do find it interesting that if you look at Magico and Wilson’s subs, they are all large diameter drivers to complement their effort to provide state of the art support for their speakers whereas Rel seems to have chosen to fly under their offerings with subs that complement more of the mainstream (no intent here to say they are inferior in quality, but only in raw SPL) Audiophile. I love organ music and have listened to & recorded the Spreckles organ (https://spreckelsorgan.org) in San Diego for years. I’d like to think that I have a fair amount of experience with what unstressed low frequencies should sound like.

          1. Two 18″ subwoofers! I would advice having a structural engineer check out the foundation on your house. 😉

            I am fortunate enough to have Magico S7 speakers which I find produce very good bass. Being into Classic Rock, I do like my bass and I am pleased with what I get right now. I have noticed the Magico subwoofers on their website and they actually frighten me just a bit.

            I do use a REL G1 in my video system. It supplements two ATC 2 way speakers. I have it connected to the high output of the stereo amp in my video system and I too do not mess with the LFE stuff. And even though it is a video system I practice that the subwoofer is right when you cannot tell it is on, but can tell when it is off.

            1. Hahaha Tony. Maybe we could get a discount for multiple structural engineering reports. Since I was unfamiliar with the S7 I checked their website… Here is a quote regarding the woofers, “The excursion rate of the voice coil is measured at 15-mm linear movement and produces clean and undistorted sound pressure levels up to 120dB @ 50Hz / 1-meter.”.

              That is some serious capability, Sir. I would love to hear them!

              1. Assuming the pandemic ever ends and you are in the NYC area give me a shout and we will set it up.

                One thing I want to make clear is that there will be no 120 dB sound pressure levels ( SPL ) produced. That is really dangerous. 120 dB SPL can cause serious hearing damage with just one exposure. At 130 dB SPL you have immediate ear pain and possible ear bleeding. Call me a wimp, but I want to keep what is left of my hearing.

  6. Paul,
    Sorry to hear about Bill, I’m not a Facebook person either
    .
    When it comes to subs I take a different approach. My recently completed towers incorporate 10″ subs and plate amps but they’re not connected to the “LFE” low freq effects channel, the .1 in 5.1 home theater. They’re connected to the same signal my left and right amplifier channels are with the plate amps doing crossover duty at 90 Hz. In this configuration they’re more properly thought of as bi-amped 4 way speakers. I run the plate amps at a level that would probably get me kicked out of the American Bass Lovers club, adding only 1 or 2 db on the bottom. Enough to rattle the windows should I desire but not enough for at least one younger friend who “wants to hear it thump”.

    Checkup at the doctors this am, I always dread being poked and prodded. A necessary part of getting older I guess but I still don’t have to like it!

    OHT

  7. I bought the Tremors 4K disc the day it was released, and probably watched it 3-4 times since. It’s a crack up for sure.

    I have 2 15 inch subs. At least 2 is a must for home theater. I also don’t think I will ever build a 2 channel system without them. It’s a delicate balance to get them integrated. You want to “feel” the bass, but not have them dominate the room.

    When you have subs, you realize that position is everything to get proper bass response. Additionally, the proper position for bass response is never in the same place your front speakers are located, which is generally out into the room considerably. When everything is in one cabinet, it’s seems you are in compromise mode.

  8. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for mentioning Leebs in your post; I hope it will lead to more donations. We are all praying and keeping our fingers crossed…

    Regards,
    John

  9. I remember when a bottom firing subwoofer cracked the concrete floor at the McCormick convention center in Chicago back in the early 80’s… Impressive!

  10. In the 80s (surely you’ve heard of them) I needed a couple of emergency surgeries and lacked insurance. It ruined me for a couple of decades.
    Re subs…when I first got my Goldenears, one of the first things we watched was the Star Trek film with Chris Pine. My wife was afraid the neighbors would think the Enterprise was landing on our street. LOL. The next day, we had to go through the house straightening pictures on the walls.

  11. I’ve had the itch for 15″ and 18″ subwoofers before and have owned three different pairs, including HSU and SEATON. After a few weeks I always ended up selling them, never missing them. If I had home cinema, I might have kept them, but for listening to music my floor-standing full-range loudspeakers have sufficient, naturally sounding bass. For my digital pipe organ, I have a 9-foot tall 24″ diameter sub with 18″ driver for the really low pedal bass, but it would be overkill in my regular music listening system.

  12. A very wise audio dealer offered this advice years ago. “You should not be aware of a subwoofer when the system is playing, only if you turn it off.”

    But that was for music, not movies and home theater.

    Funny story: an audio friend was obsessed with bass extension and bragged his system was finally able to cause ripples in his swimming pool using a frequency generator. Another audio friend was there for the demo and ask, “OK, but how is it with music?”

  13. Isn’t there some other way than having to create a Facebook account to donate for Bill Leebens
    surgery? I will not be part of Facebook, but I’d like to donate to help Bill as he helped me about 2 years ago when I was rehabbing a pair of AR-5 speakers.

      1. I used it but it automatically stores your credit card details. Don’t like that. You can go into Settings and delete them after making the payment.

  14. Mentioned this before but the most awesome bass, by far, I ever heard was at Harry Pearson’s playing a track from Lost World with a real volcano. The speakers were Scaena line sources with 4 15 inch woofers using a technique I first heard of in the 70s from McIntosh. The woofers were in very small enclosures so the box resonance was about 180 Hz. The crossover was around 60 Hz. Passive 12 dB equalization was used to be flat down to 16 Hz. Needless to say the sub amps were powerful. This method has incredibly tight bass since below resonance drivers don’t want to move in a closed box and it’s the amp signal controlling everything.

    Harry’s concrete floors were shacking. I still recall the flying saucer eyes in Harry and my friend George Bischoff as if they were waiting for flying 15 inch woofers which never came. I’ve taken the CD to other venues withlarge subs and nothing has come close to that one experience.

  15. Thanks for the nod toward subwoofers. Happy to own a Martin Logan Dynamo 1600x, it has some of the most advanced tech built right in which includes Anthem’s room correction software, and mates well with the electrostatics and I would think any other fine speakers.

    You hardly know it is there since the mains run down to 34Hz. It is quiet unless something drops in at 35Hz. or lower. (O:

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