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How to select sub for a horn system

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I'm running some Unity Horns (the pre-cursor in some ways to PSE-144) on top of Paul at Redspade Audio's bass bins. All this sits within a small room (16'x12'x8') that is treated with multiple bass traps. The bass bins are run


The room layout is tough as there isn't a lot of space so whilst I could accommodate a 15 or 18' subwoofer but the tapped horn solution is unlikely to work. Also, in all likelihood, the sub will need to sit behind the listening position but I'm hoping a steep low-pass will avoid localisation. The idea of two subs is appealing so that I can use the locations to deal with room modes but this would entail smaller subs (12' or at most 15') and I'm hoping that with a single listening position EQ can deal with a single subwoofer. Another consideration is that whilst the speakers are capable of high volume listening levels are, generally, circa 80dB or less so peaks of 100dB at most. (The room doesn't cope with more).


I'm at a loss, though, as to how to think about selecting subs. My instinct is that any well-designed subwoofer with the right output head-room will be fine as performance is dictated by the room / EQ. Is this correct or am I missing something? Or, put differently, is there any benefit in high-end subs like JL Audio or SVS SB16 vs. say internet direct units like PSA S1500 or S30001 when on-board EQ isn't being used? (I've read here and elsewhere that these subs will outperform their budget, but high output, competitors but don't get it.)


Any advice on the question re performance criteria for subs as well as potential options for the specific scenario would be great.



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3 hours ago, Sub Sonic said:

I'd be having a chat to @Paul Spencer about room testing and possible options for subs :-)






Yes, I'll give Paul a call as he's always been super helpful.


The picture below shows the Power Sound Audio subwoofer specifications including outputs and teases out of my main questions. My focus is on music which, if pushed, I'd listen to at 80dB so peaks of 100dB which, with 10dB of headroom, would imply that any of these subwoofers would be fine as all do at least 110dB across the frequency range. Is this perspective correct? I guess the bit that I'm missing is around distortion (but this might be included in the measurement process?)

PSA Sub Output.jpg

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Thanks for the mention Matt.

When it comes to selecting a sub, the quality of the sub matters. You can go through the right process, choosing the optimal number of subs and positions for your room, treating the room with bass traps for ideal decay and applying EQ for a flat in-room response - you can do all this and still get a poor result, one which does not subjectively sound good, whether for critical listening with music or movies where we might be less fussy. It's a disappointing result where you've done everything right but you are still not getting that tight, articulate, accurate bass you were hoping for. It takes just one weak link in the chain and in some cases, it can be the sub itself.


If you decide based on dollars and decibels only, the result might not necessarily be the most satisfying. I've made that mistake and I've worked with clients who have made it also.

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