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Sator

B&W DB1D vs REL Subwoofer

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I am seeking help in choosing between subwoofers principally for a music centred system. That means the subwoofer should be seen rather than heard. I live close to Lifestyle Store, N Parramatta and generally buy through them (they don't stock B&W). I am trying to avoid models that take up huge amounts of floor space and weight a tonne. Amplifier: Devialet 220. Mac user (NO Windows-based computer available for room calibrations, important as some makers offer calibration systems that are Windows only). WIll probably add a second sub much later down the track.

 

The models I'm considering:

 

1. B&W DB1D Dual 12" 

It is remarkably compact and not unduly heavy. W 429 x D 410mm. 43kg. Form factor is just perfect (perhaps a touch too good to be true)!

Maximum output from Class D amplifier 2000W. Continuous RMS output not stated by the maker (presumably about 1200W).

Has auto set-up/room calibration via iPhone app allowing equilisation of different frequency ranges to achieve a flat response, control room nodes.

Easier to coordinate low pass filter of the subwoofer with high pass filter on the Devialet eg can set the value at an exact figure.

Upgraded model from the previous DB1, which was a Stereophile Class A product (for all that is worth).

Not a recognised subwoofer maker.

 

2. REL Serie S 212/SE Dual 12"

Much bigger and heavier. W446 x D507mm. 55kg. At the limit of size/weight tolerance. Really tall at 816mm but REL does this to bring up the sound closer to head height.

Universally praised for its seamless integration with music systems coming from a well-respected subwoofer specialist.

Class D amplifier: 1000W RMS continuous output, 1700W maximum output (very similar to the B&W).

Less expensive than the DB1D by about $1k.

No auto set-up/room calibration to control room nodes, but the addition of a second sub might control this better than equalisation anyway (?). Heavier cabinet probably means better resonance control.

Can't set low pass filter at an exact figure (has to be done by ear) to match high pass filter on the Devialet amp.

Yes, it has the "High Level Input" design to help it blend into the main speakers better (but it is more spaghetti and how much of a difference does it really make?)

 

[3. Rel G-2 10" Reference Subwoofer

At W509 x D611mm, it is getting beyond my size tolerance even if it's lighter at 38kg. Why does REL have to make its models sprawl out flat along the floor like this for you to trip over? Add in lack of room calibration and it is out of contention, though a single 10" model may have cleaner bass than a dual 12" model]

 

n.b. frequency response ratings from manufacturers ignored for being unreliable. No independent measurements available for any of these models. B&W stated frequency response range is particularly spurious as the same value is stated for ALL of their models, and is thought to be an equalised value. Frequency response from rival dual 12" models is likely to be similar.

 

Both the N Parra store and a certain Castle Hill HiFi store keep pushing me towards a REL. The Castle Hill stockist of B&W and REL subs said he'd much rather sell me a pair of REL Rel Serie S S/5 SHO 12" subs than a B&W DB1d! But is a REL so inherently superior in its design that it is worthwhile putting up with the larger form factor and lack of auto setup/room calibration? 

 

Yes, you are supposed to audition them. But the difference in the audition room acoustics and overall system setup vs. that at home make meaningful comparison extremely difficult. Even if a seller does stock both REL and B&W, it doesn't mean they have all of these specific models in store for an A-B comparison. 

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Pls let us know details of your room size including ceiling height, openings etc, whether room is treated.  Also what are your mains, do you have a max budget?

 

What are you hoping to achieve with the subs?  And what type of music do you listen to?  

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Room is on the much smaller side about 16 sq metres. Room height 2.5m.

 

Room: not YET treated. 

 

Budget: unimportant (preferably <15K). Constraints are more in ergnomics i.e. no massive elephants. Size limit automatically imposes a budget limit and is non-negotiable. I am sick of massive Class A amps etc. 

 

Music type: unimportant. The reason for getting a subwoofer isn't direct reproduction of low register notes or low tessitura instruments. Even listening to solo violin, there is critical information:

Quote

Timbre is the “quality” of sound (not good or bad), but how we recognize whether the sound is a clarinet, trumpet or vocalist playing/singing the same pitch.  It is the absence or presence (strengths) of all the overtones above the fundamental or any pitch that is heard.  Of course, this goes out at least four octaves and in reality, more.  Ergo, if the bandwidth begins to drop at 20KHz, so does the ability to comprehend the full quality (timbre) of the notes, especially in the upper registers or tessitura

 

 

Hence the importance that the sub not be heard but that it goes as low as possible without qualitative loss.

Edited by Sator

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For those interested, REL have an online calculator for matching a model to your speakers and room size. In my case, the relevant page is here:

 

https://rel.net/speaker-pairing/c2platinum/

 

The trouble with this is that it assumes that speaker/amp choice is mainly a function of room size. But it is an egregiously false misconception that comes from the AV world that you choose larger speakers/amps just to play music louder. The smaller models simply can't get down properly to around the sub 20Hz range (@ -6dB) while retaining control or finesse. I know I will always have the subwoofer volumes turned down to bare minimum levels irrespective of room size or subwoofer size.

 

As for the question of why you wouldn't get bigger main speakers, that too is mostly driven by ergonomics. To improve on what I have now, things start to weigh at least 55kg as well as being big and cumbersome, thus making repositioning them difficult (speaker placement is important and elephantine bombs discourage experimentation). Also, the optimal room placement for tweeters/mids is often the worst position for the bass drivers, which generally blow out in most living rooms even if they perform well in an anechoic chamber:

 

https://seriousaudioblog.blogspot.com/2012/05/two-great-articles-on-multiple.html

 

So there is an argument to be made for having separate subwoofers anyway. Doing this with a high pass filter takes part of the load off your main amplifiers as well.

 

It used to be considered sacrilege to pair subwoofers with serious audio speakers, but subwoofer technology has caught up, and they aren't as loose and bloomy as they used to be 15-20 years ago. But quality bass (not just quantity) still does not come cheap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Sator said:

That means the subwoofer should be seen rather than heard.

You have mentioned this a couple of times and I agree this is critical.  The key is proper integration of the sub(s) with your mains. Done properly, the sub(s) are not heard i.e. bass is not directional, not coming from sub(s).

52 minutes ago, Sator said:

Room is on the much smaller side about 16 sq metres. Room height 2.5m.

 

Room: not YET treated. 

Noted room is small, not treated.  Have you done any measuring using REW? (and there is a Mac version!) You will need to have a calibrated microphone e.g. UMIK-1 as well.  Your room will room modes and bass dips.  Have a read of this Bass integration guide which will give you a good idea of the challenges on integrating bass. It was written by Paul Spencer (Red Spade Audio) and a SNA member.  If this is all too hard, hire Paul.

 

Until you understand your room and have measured it, putting in a sub by itself is guesswork.  

------------------------

Your room is small and does not need a big sub.  Putting in 2 smaller subs is better to even out the bass and better aesthetically.  I suggest you consider 2 small REL or SVS subs. (and way below your budget) but do the integration properly with a DSP.

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6 minutes ago, Sator said:

It used to be considered sacrilege to pair subwoofers with serious audio speakers, but subwoofer technology has caught up, and they aren't as loose and bloomy as they used to be 15-20 years ago. But quality bass (not just quantity) still does not come cheap.

 

+1!!  :thumb:

 

Andy

 

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1 hour ago, Snoopy8 said:

 

 Have a read of this Bass integration guide which will give you a good idea of the challenges on integrating bass.

1


That's a good article. Thanks.

 

It does quote an article by Geddes that I also linked to above. It's all food for thought. It does once more highlight the issue of how important room calibration is, but then again a seller of calibration software WOULD say that!

 

The trouble is I guess I'm a burnt out audiophile who can't be bothered too much any more. The thought of setting up mics, learning complex new software blah blah makes me feel ill. There would have been a time I felt differently. 

 

It does push me a little more towards the B&W DB1D. In the Stereophile review of its predecessor, the DB1, they found that already in 2012 the B&W proprietary auto set-up was pretty good:

 

https://www.stereophile.com/content/bowers-amp-wilkins-db1-subwoofer

 

It's now even more user-friendly and iOS compatible (it used to be Windows only). You can just do it from your seat on your iPhone. No cumbersome mics needed. You can tell which company has the bigger R&D budget here.

 

I've actually already heard a bit of the counterargument (either from the Castle Hill dealer or else a birdie in my head):

 

1. Speaker design is more important than equilisation gimmickry that tries to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear (garbage in garbage out etc), and B&W just ain't a recognised subwoofer specialist like REL renown for the seamless integration of their subs in audio systems

2. You don't use equilisation on your main amp/speakers why have it on your subwoofer? It's just another electronic stage your signal's getting degraded by as it passes through.

3. The High-Level Output design on a REL gives you more seamless main speaker integration without signal degradation because it's not electronically based

4. Computerised auto set-up and calibration isn't perfect and you shouldn't be over-reliant on it (quote and unquote!)

5. Just look at the weight of the cabinet weight of the DB1D vs REL 212! The REL weighs 12kg more. That's 12kg more of cabinet resonance control so critical on a subwoofer—much more important than post hoc equilisation.

6. Subwoofer position and using multiple subs is more important than EQ gimmicks

 

I know...devil's advocate. Here's how you might counter each of these points:

 

1. Room acoustics and troublesome modes play far greater havoc with a subwoofer's performance than speaker design. There are practical limitations to acoustic treatments of a living room e.g. most so-called "bass traps" really only work on mid-range and there may be ergonomic limitations to how much treatment is possible/tolerable. Even if the REL sounded perfect in the seller demonstration it might sound terrible in the real world.

2. While in an ideal world you'd rely on perfect room acoustics and ideal subwoofer placement so that equilisations isn't needed, most of us don't live in an anechoic chamber. Live with it and use equilisation. Or else move into an anechoic chamber.

3. REL High-Level Output doesn't fix room modes.

4. See Stereophile 2012: the B&W equilisation seems pretty good. It's probably even better now...and more user-friendly.

5. Probably a valid point, but the B&W has a tad more powerful amp to control the drivers whose opposed array of drivers may help to cancel resonances.

6. See 2. and you can always get a second B&W (a.k.a no I am NOT having a subwoofer THERE just because some computer program told me to put it there!)

Edited by Sator

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Thought I'd get this objection in before someone else does:

"OMG! You're going to rely on an iPhone (!) rather than a proper mic to calibrate a subwoofer? You must be joking if you think it's going to do as good a job!"

 

Me: I don't care. I can't be bothered setting up a mic on a mic stand in the living room to spend all day calibrating a sub. 

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26 minutes ago, Sator said:

The trouble is I guess I'm a burnt out audiophile who can't be bothered too much any more. The thought of setting up mics, learning complex new software blah blah makes me feel ill. There would have been a time I felt differently. 

I understand....  And you are well read and understand many of the intricacies and arguments.

 

To give you an idea of what I did, have a look below.  I have my dual subs well integrated but this requires more work than most people are prepared to do.  A single sub like the B&W DB1D with its DSP would not have solved my problems.

However, the B&W DB1D may yet give you what you desire, without pain of microphones and software.  :laugh:    If you asked me to pick one of your options, that would be my choice.

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39 minutes ago, Snoopy8 said:

I have my dual subs well integrated but this requires more work than most people are prepared to do.  A single sub like the B&W DB1D with its DSP would not have solved my problems.

 

 

I guess that thread also emphasises that we don't live in anechoic chambers. Even demo rooms in HiFi stores are designed around acoustics and aren't real-world settings. I think I will go for the B&Ws because of the Stereophile review of the former model shows that B&W have put a lot of R&D into their EQ capability. I have fairly lively acoustics and I struggle to see how acoustic treatment is going be a quick fix, as most of the things on the market don't do anything for bass anyway. There are ways of acoustically modifying rooms to control bass, but they too cause ergonomic compromises. As for getting two subwoofers, that had always been my plan. Just not all at once. Because the B&Ws are much more discrete in size, it makes it feasible from an ergonomic perspective to get two or even three of them, without them grotesquely dominating the room like REL 212s do. Everything is a compromise...yes...everything!

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Perhaps  Paul @Red Spade Audio might have some suggestions. I believe he offers a service for room/sub measuring and setting up.

Regardless of which subs you end up with, spend part of your budget to get them properly integrated - this will get you a much better result.

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A couple of really nice sub options you are looking at @Sator

 

I have owned quite a few REL's in the past and now have both REL and JL Audio.

 

The DB1D does look like a very fine sub, and it would unlikely be a poor performer with the stereophile rating.

 

You may be able to get an alternate opinion to lifestyle by going to Audio Solutions in Mascot. They are stockist's of both brands, although they did not have a lot of REL when I was last in there over twelve months ago, but may be worth a try;

 

http://audiosolutions.net.au/

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22 hours ago, Sator said:

Yes, you are supposed to audition them. But the difference in the audition room acoustics and overall system setup vs. that at home make meaningful comparison extremely difficult.

The idea doesn't translate very well to subwoofers. You can often identify good speakers in a bad room. With subs it's different. You can have a bad sub in a good room and a good sub in a bad room - quite often you won't know which you are hearing, because we typically can't discern the difference just by listening.

 

Retail demos will often not show the kind of acoustic problems you will have at home.

14 hours ago, Sator said:

Paul wrote this useful article for SNA (amongst several others on subwoofers):

 

https://www.stereo.net.au/features/6-reasons-to-use-subwoofers-for-music

 

I've read it a couple of times over, though I believe his service is based in Melbourne and not in Sydney as I am.

We also offer a remote service.

If you want to minimise the visual impact of the sub/s on your living room, a few things to consider. Firstly, from a performance point of view, many audiophile music systems don't benefit significantly from more than one sub. The benefit is not automatic and quite often adding more subs will create some issues. Secondly, in some rooms, two smaller subs can outperform a single much larger sub, minimising visual impact and giving you a great result. This might be the case where every possible position has a big dip in the middle of the bass - this is where a second sub in the right position can solve the problem. This requires testing.

 

If you're not wanting to do any testing, I'd suggest sticking with just one sub. Otherwise, step two might be a step backwards.

 

An example might help.

 

2sub-example-5db.png.4ce782505b3684d8a0beafad4f40f7aa.png

 

Black shows an existing sub in a fairly typical position. There is a big peak at 26 Hz which makes a fairly small sub perform quite impressively on LFE effects. It's about 15 dB above the average sub level. On the other hand, notice the big dip in the midbass from around 30 - 50 Hz? This was making the bass a bit underwhelming, especially on movies where much of the action is happening. With just this one sub, you could bring down the peaks  and you'd have to leave the dips. You'd get a much more balanced bass as a result.

 

However, this example really does call for a second sub. The red line shows the same sub in a different position. You can see that this second position doesn't suffer from any of the same dips. The final result after calibration is one that would not have been possible with any single sub.

 

So you've seen a good example of how you might benefit from a second sub (with optimal positions) but now let's look at a different room in which one sub is just fine.

 

710226019_3subpositionexamples.png.40b05dd82c3439c5fff7805263212093.png

 

Three different positions tested. This room has a few positions like the black, which is near ideal for a sub without any EQ. There are no significant dips and where a position like this is feasible, you just need a little EQ to adjust the balance - you can see the upper bass has a bit too much emphasis. Otherwise, there is no real performance reason for more than one. Armed with this knowledge, you might make a different sub choice than going in blind.

 

You can also see, the other positions are not so good. The red position has no real impact below 50 Hz - a sub there would sound anemic. The green position is even worse. It has about 18 dB less than the ideal position. This means you would need 8 subs in the green position to do the same job as one in the right place, in that particular room.

 

If you were to walk into these two rooms, you would not be able to guess which is which. However, the strategy that makes sense for these two rooms is entirely different. The best answer is very room and system specific.

 

Edited by Red Spade Audio
duplicate plot removed

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7 hours ago, Red Spade Audio said:

The idea doesn't translate very well to subwoofers. You can often identify good speakers in a bad room. With subs it's different. You can have a bad sub in a good room and a good sub in a bad room - quite often you won't know which you are hearing, because we typically can't discern the difference just by listening.

 

Retail demos will often not show the kind of acoustic problems you will have at home.

We also offer a remote service.

If you want to minimise the visual impact of the sub/s on your living room, a few things to consider. Firstly, from a performance point of view, many audiophile music systems don't benefit significantly from more than one sub. The benefit is not automatic and quite often adding more subs will create some issues. Secondly, in some rooms, two smaller subs can outperform a single much larger sub, minimising visual impact and giving you a great result. This might be the case where every possible position has a big dip in the middle of the bass - this is where a second sub in the right position can solve the problem. This requires testing.

 

If you're not wanting to do any testing, I'd suggest sticking with just one sub. Otherwise, step two might be a step backwards.

 

2

 

As always, Paul, interesting and informative advice.

 

The point about the room having a disproportionate effect on the performance of subwoofers is something that is reiterated by a number of writers on the subject.

 

Here by way of slight contrast is what Jim Smith wrote in a series of articles on subwoofer setup:

 

Quote

 

I would far rather have no subwoofer than have to use one subwoofer. Or, to put another way, if you can’t have stereo subs, wait until you can. Don’t compromise your system with just one.

 

https://www.psaudio.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Copper-Issue-17.pdf

 

 

BUT!—he is advocating always setting up subwoofers with the aid of measurements. He himself uses an iPhone app, the Studio Six Digital AudioTools RTA. I guess what Paul is saying that if you aren't going to use measurements to set up, you're less likely to run into trouble by restricting yourself to only one sub. It is interesting that Jim Smith wrote that for his own system he has two REL subwoofers, which he has set up without the use of native equalisation and seems to rely on measurements plus subwoofer positioning. Once again that raises the question (when choosing a subwoofer model) as to how crucial whether a maker includes native equalisation is, as long as measurements are used to aid the process. Of course, I appreciate that to rely entirely on native equalisation is expecting too much of it to the point of expecting it to transform the sow's ear into the proverbial silk purse using digital magic. Though I well imagine the answer to whether you NEED the native EQ capability is going to depend on the room! There are likely some rooms where no amount of repositioning will fix all ills, and the digital fix becomes a necessary evil (if it is even that).

 

Talking about trying to keep the subwoofers out of sight, I wonder if you agree with REL that the manufacturer's convention of keeping subwoofers low to the floor itself entails an ergonomic compromise adhered to merely to conform to consumer expectation:
 

Quote

 

“When you hear low-frequency information out in the real world, it doesn’t just come at you from off in the corner, it envelops you from all directions.” Thus, the height factor of the 212SE is equally important to disappear audibly.

 

http://www.tonepublications.com/review/the-rel-212se-subwoofer/

 

 

Raising at least one of the drivers higher might have an impact on acoustics, for example by also reducing early reflections off the floor. The downside is:

 

Quote

 

The REL 212/SE is on the big side for a subwoofer. In fact, it’s about the size of a small washing machine. 

 

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/rel-acoustics-212se-subwoofer/

 

 

Two of them and your living room turns into a laundry.

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Ask Paul about Rythmik subwoofers - they may have what you are looking for, in sound quality, extension (well below 20 Hz) as well as not-too-huge enclosures. Many models also have a single band parametric equaliser.

 

I purchased a couple of the 12” Rythmik servo kits from him and couldn’t be happier (BTW I have no connection with Paul apart from being a happy customer).

 

Cheers,

 

SS

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Interesting, looking at the Rythmik website:

Quote


http://www.rythmikaudio.com/products1.html

 

For music-only systems we recommend our sealed subs.

 

 

The REL 212/SE has a rear port/vent, unlike the B&W DB1D, which is a sealed model.

 

BTW I prefer to buy locally as getting things that weight about 40kg shipped interstate is a pain. My local stores deliver to your place for a reason here, and it's easier if there are issues related to servicing.

 

 

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18 minutes ago, Sator said:

The REL 212/SE has a rear port/vent, unlike the B&W DB1D, which is a sealed model.

 

That's the key, IMO - for music ... sealed is the go! :thumb:

 

Andy

 

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1 hour ago, Sator said:

BTW I prefer to buy locally as getting things that weight about 40kg shipped interstate is a pain. 

I shipped my 45kg sub from Brisbane to Melbourne with no problems. Shipping should be a minor consideration.

----

The key is properly integrating the sub based on the room characteristics. It is a shame that many people underestimate its importance and do not spend enough effort and/or money doing the integration.  

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Once again: I don't care. Rule 1 of all couriers: only ever deliver when you aren't at home (they must monitor my place). I end up driving to the depot to pick it up 90% of the time. Shipping back when there's trouble. Another massive pain. Lifestyle store is virtually within walking distance to me. Much easier.

 

Castle Hill store is only 10-15 minutes drive too for the B&W.

Edited by Sator

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Hmmm...spoke too soon, the thing at the back (and the base too) of the REL 212/SE isn't a vent. It's a passive unit:

Quote

 

The 212/SE uses two matching Continuous Cast Alloy passives that are stiff, lightweight and incredibly well behaved. Our approach to passive design results in performance more akin to a variable ratio driver size – as more power and deeper bass is demanded, the passive comes to life, gradually expanding the capabilities of the active engines.

 

The down firing passive produces deep, floor-crawling bass that makes a room shudder. Mounted above the amplifier panel on the rear is the second passive. This unit produces wrap around “atmospheric” bass that adds air and shimmer to the sound. Coupling with either the rear wall or the rear corner of a room allows for bass to develop exceedingly long wavefronts and adds an ease and effortless quality unique to single-box designs.

 

https://rel.net/shop/subwoofers/serie-s/212se/

 

 

Crawling and making the room shudder? Shimmer effect? Sounds terrible for an audio subwoofer.

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I've looked a bit more into the Rhythmik subwoofers and I am impressed. I can see why Paul offers them. For a start, they have submitted them to an independent agent for measurement, and they measure well. These offer exceptional, probably even remarkable, value. 

 

But I can tell you that I can instantly rule them out in my case. The reason is simply the ergonomics. Their top models all tend towards 15" drivers, which makes them even larger than the REL 212/SE, a 12" model already pushing the limits of my size and weight tolerance. Making their presence even less beholder-friendly is the fact that the Rhythmik cabinet finishes are somewhat basic compared to a REL or B&W (and this is putting it mildly). What is striking is the top FV25HP model with dual 15" drivers (it weighs in at an elephantine 104kg). Like the B&W DB1D, they use Hyprex Class D amplifiers, except rated even higher at 1800W RMS (this presumably indicates a continuous RMS output not a peak transient output). Yet it appears (based on the US price) that they cost considerably less. It goes to show how much extra we end up paying for the badge, the cabinet finishing, and the advertising (presence at shows, publicity, sales reps etc). Though admittedly, B&W uses novel driver cone material, and sports cutting-edge digital equalisation technology.

 

Alas, I am a failed audiophile. BAN ME! There would have been a time I'd have pounced but these days no way am I having such less than eye-candy behemoths in my house. If you have room for these, can be bothered spending all day moving 100kg subs around your room measuring for the right positioning, and you can tolerate the finishing then I'd certainly agree that these need to be put on your short list.

 

It goes to show that Paul has shown great professionalism in that he is a seller of rival gear to that from REL, B&W etc, and yet has shown much restraint in posting although he is probably secretly contemptuous of the B&W specs from a price/performance perspective. For some fabulous snark about the B&W DB1D check this out:

 

Quote

 

These are audio jewelry subs....they will be purchased by those who spend $5k on an amp because it "sounds better"(sorry, I've never "heard" an amp, only speakers and the room they are in), spend a fortune on cables and power cords to make sure the signal is "pure", and because their system is so high end that these details matter, unlike in a lower cost system that is not as detailed, airy, revealing, accurate, as the artist intended etc etc etc.

 

These people would never buy a $1k sub that actual testing reveals performs better in all metrics. This is for people that hear what they think they hear, and a $4500 B&W sub will be more detailed, subtle, accurate, fast, musical, tight, crisp and provide better imaging and soundstage than any non "hi-fi" ID sub could ever hope to be. B&W would be foolish to price these close to what they are worth, as their intended audience would then pass them over.

 

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/113-subwoofers-bass-transducers/2744561-bowers-wilkins-db-series-subs-announced.html

 

 I love it!

 

 

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I’m using  a pair of the 12” sealed (1200CI) models in somewhat undersized (42l instead of around 55l) DIY enclosures to good effect, they both measure well and sound good.

 

Would custom cabinets be an option for you, using the Custom Installation CI1200 or CI1500 models? You could then tailor the cabinet shape/finish to suit your own room/tastes. Recommended enclosure volumes vary from approx 55 litres to 135 litres depending on size of driver and sealed/vented options. Cost savings over the factory finished models would partially offset the custom cabinet cost.

 

http://www.rythmikaudio.com/DS1200ci.html

 

http://www.rythmikaudio.com/DS1500ci.html

 

Cheers,

 

SS

 

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Once again, there are plenty of audiophiles here who would leap at a custom installation option, but we are talking about getting your local furniture maker to make the enclosure for you. Not for failed audiophiles like me who can't be bothered any more.

 

This is probably a fair summary of the role of equalisation by Jim Smith:

 

Quote

 

EQ/room correction cannot replace getting the system/room basics right before running the program. If the room correction program is as good as many of us are hearing, completing the system with room correction – after building on a solid voicing foundation – could yield incredible long-term benefits.
 

https://www.psaudio.com/?issuem_pdf=true&amp;issue_id=393

 

 

Alas, it looks like I am going to be forced into learning some sort of software for measurement frequency response plots. Jim Smith:

 

"I tend to like the Studio Six Digital AudioTools RTA. Its onboard calibrated mic is generally acceptable for our task. And for even higher accuracy, it’s a snap to use their iTest mic with your iPhone or iPad. Just plug its mic cable connector into the charger outlet, and not only does it work, it automatically calibrates the system to that mic"
 

https://www.psaudio.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Issue-19.pdf

 

Info on the iTest mic can be found here:

 

http://www.studiosixdigital.com/audio-hardware/itestmic2/

 

You can purchase it from the Australian distributor ($484 AUD) and plugs into the Lightning input of an iPhone:

 

https://www.noisemeasurement.com.au/store/index.php?route=product/product&amp;product_id=62

 

The internal mic of an iPhone has some limitations:

 

Quote

 

All current iOS devices include built-in microphones. These mics tend to be very consistent from one unit to the next, and are wide-range. However, Apple does include a very steep high-pass filter (which cuts low frequencies), presumably as a wind and pop filter. The low-frequency roll-off for the internal mic in these devices is very steep, on the order of 24dB / octave starting at 250Hz.

 

However, with the advent of iOS 6, and AudioTools 4.7, we are able to turn off the low-frequency rolloff filter, thereby resulting in fairly flat response. Of course, this is still basically a cell phone mic, and the performance is limited. Also, often we find that real-world mics get dirty or damaged in usage and performance degrades over time.

 

Also, in most of the later models, there is a limiter—making SPL measurements, as well as more sophisticated measures such as Impulse Response difficult to make accurately. Again, we can disable this limiter (as of iOS 4.3), so we can work around this.

 

In iOS versions prior to iOS 6, we have compensated for these mics as much as possible, but given the physics of the situation, the usefulness of the low-frequency information is limited. We therefore strongly recommend upgrading to at least iOS 6, and the most current AudioTools release.

 

http://www.studiosixdigital.com/audio-hardware/iphone_3gs_microphone.html

 

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17 hours ago, Sator said:

I've looked a bit more into the Rhythmik subwoofers and I am impressed. I can see why Paul offers them. For a start, they have submitted them to an independent agent for measurement, and they measure well. These offer exceptional, probably even remarkable, value.  

Both REL and B&W subs have also been independently tested as well, although I've not seen the units you are considering tested. Here is one collection of tests:

https://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/subwoofer-tests-archived/6015-index-subwoofer-tests-manufacturer-model.html

 

Quote

But I can tell you that I can instantly rule them out in my case. The reason is simply the ergonomics. Their top models all tend towards 15" drivers, which makes them even larger than the REL 212/SE, a 12" model already pushing the limits of my size and weight tolerance. Making their presence even less beholder-friendly is the fact that the Rhythmik cabinet finishes are somewhat basic compared to a REL or B&W (and this is putting it mildly).

 

In the Rythmik range, there are no top models. The larger models simply have more output. There are a few SE models that have a piano gloss black sprayed finish. I should also point out that we don't carry the finished Rythmik audio range. We supply kits or premium custom manufactured subs.

 

A few comments about the 3 subs you are considering.

 

The B&W is less than half the size of the large REL but close in weight. This would suggest the B&W most likely has a more inert cabinet. Further, the driver mounting on front and rear offers vibration cancellation. Considering these together, the B&W would be superior in this regard.

 

Given around 1kw amps in both, the performance difference will be mostly related to size and alignment. The B&W is sealed and half the size. The REL has a passive radiator alignment, which means it performs more like a ported sub with the potential to tune it lower relative to its size. If we assume similar driver excursion capability, then you can expect similar capability for music (above 40 Hz primarily) but considerably more output from the REL for home theatre (below 40 Hz). I'd anticipate the REL would probably have 6 dB more output at 20 Hz and this advantage would diminish to zero around 40 Hz. This is a fairly quick rule of thumb that applies to the same power and excursion with a ported sub being twice the size. So at 20 Hz, the REL behaves like two of the B&W but for music this generally doesn't apply.

 

If you are choosing between these three, I'd rule out the third option as a bit limiting. Out of the remaining two I'd probably nudge you more towards the B&W, as I suspect it offers more of what you actually want. I don't think the extra size of the REL is justified here. Overall I think it's a better fit in terms of what you've said so far.

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