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Good 'budget' subwoofer for modest 3.1 setup

Discussion in 'Home Cinema & Hi-Fi' started by gailjon, May 9, 2020.

  1. gailjon

    Gangster

    Joined: Nov 10, 2015

    Posts: 441

    Hi all,
    I am upgrading my small Yamaha WXA-50D and Monitor Audio Silver 1's to a modest 3.1 setup, replacing the LG HLX56S soundbar that I have been using for films. I have sourced a Marantz NR1509 to replace the Yammy.
    I have manged to get a decently priced used Silver C150 centre and am now looking for a small subwoofer to boost LFE for films.
    The LG had plenty of bass, a little boomy at times, but plenty of it. It has an 8" driver, ported to the front.
    Would a similarly sized 'separates' sub offer the same bass or would it be better going for something larger?
    I don't want a huge box, or the pictures to be shaken off the wall, just a nice level of bass that the speakers themselves can't replicate.
    Any suggestions? Perhaps a MA Bronze w10?
    I can get one of those for under £300 now which is in budget. (the less the better), and I dson't mind used/clearance, etc.
     
  2. Kamakazie!

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 12, 2003

    Posts: 1,814

    Anything from BK Electronics that fits your requirements.
    You won't find better for the money. They have a B stock / refurb shop on eBay as well if you don't mind that sort of thing.
     
  3. lucid

    Soldato

    Joined: May 29, 2010

    Posts: 5,335

    Location: Cheshire

    Although the Monitor Audio W10 is a sealed box sub rather than ported, it has an ABR (Auxiliary Bass Radiator) with is a second cone but without a driver magnet. This flexes in response to the main driver, and it adds some extra bass energy in to the room over what a single driver sealed sub can do, and does so without losing the speed (precision) for music that sealed subs offer. It's a decent sub for its size, but you can do better.

    BK subs are my Go-To brand recommendation at £200-£600.

    The entry-level BK sub is the Gemini II @ £240. It's also a 10" sub but with a single driver. It will match the depth of bass that the W10 can produce, and the speed, but maybe not the volume. The dimensions are marginally smaller than the W10.

    The XLS200 is the next model up. This is also a 10" driver sealed sub. The cabinet size is marginally larger than the W10, but this sub uses a higher grade driver and more powerful amp than the Gemini II. Monitor Audio quote their bass extension at 34Hz @ -6dB. The XLS200 is doing 17Hz at the same -6dB. It goes a lot deeper. It's £350 and available in either forward-firing (FF) or down-firing (DF) configurations.

    The further up the BK range you go the better things get. Many of the subs also have a clever dual-drive crossover which allows them to be driven at speaker level as well as taking the LFE feed from the subwoofer out.

    Your LG sub was/is boomy because the port is tuned to a fairly high frequency to give the impression of volume from a small driver box, and the sub itself isn't that well controlled. All of the better subs above will do far cleaner bass, deeper, with better control and less boom unless you drive them harder than they need to go.

    Sealed subs (Gemini II, XLS200, Double Gem, P12-300SB, XXLS400) all give speed and precision with music. The ported subs (Monolith, Monolith Plus) go much deeper and louder but sacrifice a smidgeon of speed for that. They're all still excellent though.

    BKs pop up regularly in used sales as people find the bass addictive and go for upgrades.
     
  4. gailjon

    Gangster

    Joined: Nov 10, 2015

    Posts: 441

    Wow, thanks for the quick replies.
    I had seen that BK were highly recommended and on ebay a Gemini 2 is only £211 (b grade).
    That seems like a great deal. I like the fact that it is down firing and that it has decent controls.
    Only thing now is Gemini or XLS200.
     
  5. lucid

    Soldato

    Joined: May 29, 2010

    Posts: 5,335

    Location: Cheshire

    If you can afford it, the XLS200.
     
  6. gailjon

    Gangster

    Joined: Nov 10, 2015

    Posts: 441

    That's my thoughts as well.
    I want something small and compact but with enough oomph for when we watch films.
    I especially like the opening scene of LOTR TFOTR when Sauron dies and the wave moves across the battlefield.
    On the other hand, I also like some bass with music so it needs to be well controlled.
     
  7. kidloco

    Mobster

    Joined: Nov 3, 2003

    Posts: 4,654

    Location: Up-Holland

    I picked up my REL T5i for £299 off the bay. Immaculate condition in piano black lacquer.

    sounds fantastic with music and movies. Very quick bass and blends in seamlessly with the fronts.
     
  8. lucid

    Soldato

    Joined: May 29, 2010

    Posts: 5,335

    Location: Cheshire

    Compared to the LG sub you're currently using, any (and I do mean any) of the BK subs or the MA W10 are in a completely different class.

    Where the LG bangs its single-note bass and booms when the going gets a little complicated, the other subs will simply play. They won't sound strained. They'll play real notes so that the thud of stones catapulted at walls sound different from giant trolls falling in battle. What can occasionally trip up people is that it will be loud without sounding noticeably loud. By that I mean like driving a car with a big engine compare to one with a smaller engine. The LG is the small engine. To get anywhere it needs to be thrashed, so you're constantly aware of the engine noise and vibration. It's intrusive. With the big engine it just gets you up to speed without fuss. There's power in reserve, so much so that you end up going faster than expected until you're used to the effortless power delivery.
     
  9. hornetstinger

    Soldato

    Joined: Sep 6, 2016

    Posts: 6,956

    What about power sound tv42.

    Dual 21" drivers lol
     
  10. strocky

    Gangster

    Joined: Jul 9, 2007

    Posts: 327

    Subscribed
     
  11. gailjon

    Gangster

    Joined: Nov 10, 2015

    Posts: 441

    Your advice is spot on. I am looking forward to getting a new sub, either the Gemini or the 200. Pity I can't try before I buy!
     
  12. hornetstinger

    Soldato

    Joined: Sep 6, 2016

    Posts: 6,956

    Buy the best sub you can, I can guarantee within six months you'll be eyeing the xls400 and thinking wish I went for that.

    Gemini is ok for a bedroom
     
  13. hornetstinger

    Soldato

    Joined: Sep 6, 2016

    Posts: 6,956

    Bk subs are good however some issues with them put me off, also slightly limited on features, if you need them.

    So like svs but prices have gone up, own a couple.
     
  14. .one.

    Mobster

    Joined: Aug 1, 2006

    Posts: 3,655

    What features are missing on a BK ?
     
  15. hornetstinger

    Soldato

    Joined: Sep 6, 2016

    Posts: 6,956

    High pass filter
    Room compensation
    Parametric EQ
    Adjustable high and low pass slope
    Delay on output
    High level output
    Plus few more

    Download 4000 or ultra manual they have lots of features. High end model, but I have used a few of those features.
     
  16. hornetstinger

    Soldato

    Joined: Sep 6, 2016

    Posts: 6,956

    High pass filter
    Room compensation
    Parametric EQ
    Adjustable high and low pass slope
    Delay on output
    High level output
    Plus few more

    Download 4000 or ultra manual they have lots of features. High end model, but I have used a few of those features.
     
  17. agw_01

    Capodecina

    Joined: Apr 11, 2004

    Posts: 19,644

    Probably the fact that they don't have 4x 21" woofers! :D

    @gailjon, how big is your room? This is an important factor when choosing a subwoofer. Get it wrong and you'll be kicking yourself for not going for the next model up. You can turn a big sub down, but can't turn a small sub up.

    +1 to the comment about the BK B grade subs. I bought a B grade BK subwoofer from their eBay store and probably saved myself £150 over a brand new model yet it was in absolutely pristine condition. I couldn't find a mark anywhere. I can only image it was a customer order that was cancelled and they were finding it hard to sell (it's a white subwoofer).

    It doesn't have an auto standby mode though, which I could have probably spec'd when buying brand new but the guys at BK are very helpful and I'm sure would add this to a B grade sub if you asked nicely.
     
  18. hornetstinger

    Soldato

    Joined: Sep 6, 2016

    Posts: 6,956

    Yup don't want upgradis with a sub.

    I have Wharfedale sw-150. Good for bedroom and small living room
    Svs sb12+. Suited for medium sized room for home theatre, or large room for music (demands not that great)
    Svs SB 13 ultra. Great for large rooms music and movies. My room is 2500' cubed and it copes fine on its own and ran a few dB hot.
     
  19. gailjon

    Gangster

    Joined: Nov 10, 2015

    Posts: 441

    Room is about 5.5m x 4.5m but oas it is a general use family room, separate to the sitting room, we are only using it to watch family movies together we are not needing thunderous bass.

    My front speakers are MA Silver 1's and MA Silver C150 centre and the amp is a Marantz 1509, none of which scream massive overkill.

    I am tempted to just get the Gemini and see ho wit goes, at adding bass to my music and allowing us to watch films with some bass with them.

    As I said, the LG sound bar was always strong enough for us, but a bit boomy at times and of course wasn't involved in stereo listening.
     
  20. lucid

    Soldato

    Joined: May 29, 2010

    Posts: 5,335

    Location: Cheshire

    LOL... I bet it isn't.

    I think you mean 2500 cubic feet, not 2500 ft cubed. There's a massive difference.

    2500 feet cubed means 2500 x 2500 x 2500.

    Each 2500ft is roughly 1/2 a mile. So you've said that your room is 1/2 mile long x 1/2 mile wide x 1/2 a mile high.

    2500 cubic feet gives us a more reasonable 10ft ceiling height x 20ft long x 12.5ft wide.