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I am looking for information that would help me with purchasing a subwoofer for playing classical music.

I have been listening to 90% classical music for a couple of years now. I finally got myself a nice system (Chord Mscaller with TT2) to listen to classical music by headphones, which I really love. I then decided to get high efficiency single driver speakers to use with my system - Omega tower alnico speakers with a frequency range of 40-20kHz. They sound fantastic, but there is a sudden low frequency drop off. I cannot hear the lowest notes at times with classical music, and the ‘heavy feeling‘ of some music is lost. I added an old subwoofer to the system, and it helped a lot, although it gets a bit muddy. I figure a good sub would help much better.

Louis Chochos, the owner and maker of speakers at Omega, makes a sub, and it apparently has great synergy with his speakers, as one would expect. It is specifically made for music, not movies. It is fast and musical. The problem is that the frequency range is 28-160Hz (DeepHemp 8 Subwoofer), and so I fear that the lowest notes may still be missed. Other subs that are powered, musical, and fast seem to have a low frequency of 20Hz. One even goes down to 18Hz.

I figure that going with the Omega sub would be best, except for the 28Hz cut off. Do you happen to know if that would be sufficient for listening to classical music, or would another sub be more suitable. Is the latter, any suggestions?

Thanks in advance,

Fed
Single driver point source speakers can be wonderful for classical music -- think classic Tannoys.

The "heavy feeling" isn't there because these speakers only have a 6 inch driver, so they can't move much air. The lack of pressure is probably the problem, rather than volume dropping off for the bass frequencies -- the speakers may be well balanced. If you can get a frequency response curve at the listening position that would be helpful.

My first suggestion to you is that you change your listening position so that you're closer to the speakers -- that could sort things out perfectly. And they are ported, so make sure that they are a good distance from the wall behind them. Try the speaker in different positions from the rear and side walls, and try different listening positions - start by placing yourself so that you form an equilateral triangle with the speakers, with your ears at the same level as the driver. Make sure that there's plenty of absorptive material in the room -- books, rugs, curtains. These things can make a huge difference.

If you do want to explore a sub, you should certainly try the Omega one first because the major problems with using subs are frequency loss at the crossover, and timing the subwoofer output so that it sounds seamless rather than splashy -- presumably the guys at Omega have thought about this and dealt with it. My own feeling is that the sub route shouldn't be even thought about unless you listen to organ music.

But at the end of the day, the speakers may be too small for your tastes and your requirement vis-a-vis room and seating. Sorry.
 

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If you do explore subwoofers let me tell you a trick I invented. Attach the sub to the system and turn off the amp to the main speakers. Play some music. There will be low frequencies coming through the sub. Ask yourself: does it sound like music, or does it sound like grunting? If the latter, don’t buy the sub.

I have a sub in a system containing electrostatics, but I couldn’t find an affordable sealed sub which sounded good. I have a pair of passive dipole subs. I bought it because I do listen to organ music - my other systems are very satisfactory for other types of music. But none of them have the presence of the electrostatics - because the electrostatics move a lot of air. That presence is to do with sound pressure, not low frequency.

Another think to explore, paradoxically, is to add supertweeters. They can make the sound more transparent and analytic sounding, and so give the illusion of better low frequency response. If you can try supertweeters on a sale or return basis, it could be an interesting experiment.

All these things are hard to integrate, and I still think you’d be mad to change the point source sound. Better to get bigger speakers!

Oh another thing, if you explore these things, my experience is that it takes some time to really see what the effect of adding a new component is. At first everything sounds new and exciting, and it’s easy to convince yourself you've made a good decision, when in fact you have made a change for the worse. You absolutely cannot decide these things on the basis of a shop demo, or a short home demo. You need at least a week of a lot of listening.
 

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Did you patent your invention? :giggle: Listening to a subwoofer in isolation is ALWAYS going to sound somewhat "like grunting" because the frequencies are limited to under 60Hz or under 100Hz. The ear hears spatial clues and timbre variations in the overtones way above that range, so all you hear from a sub are low indistinct fundamentals. In fact, a subwoofer that sounded "musical" all by itself is probably not crossed over at a proper frequency to avoid interfering with your main speakers.
I wasn’t suggesting that you should hear melodies through the sub!

The thing that stops a good sub from being “grunting” is that a good sub captures the partials, the overtones. A bad sub just doesn’t, like a bad pair of main speakers misses timbre, and a bad amp doesn’t resolve timbre details well. This is, of course, partly a question of the sub’s amplification - the chip amps used in sealed subs may just be poor amps!
 

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So you think there is no need for a subwoofer with single driver speakers when listening to classical music?
Honestly, only you can answer that, because of your room, your amp, your musical taste, your ears, your conception of what recorded sound at home should be like, the compromises you are prepared to make, your pocket and your judgement about return on investment. Get a sub on sale and return for at least a week and see what you think.

The issue with single driver speakers isn't about bass -- 15 inch Tannoy Monitor Golds have excellent bass. There may be a problem about high frequency though.
 

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If there is ONE advance that has been made in speaker driver design in the past 50 years, I'd say it's in small drivers, with insanely long excursions, and active feedback electronics, that allow them to give a pretty convincing simulation of real bass from a small box.
Can you recommend some speakers for me to try - ones I can get in the UK? Smaller the better. And ones which can be controlled by a regular mid range amp.
 
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