Subs or new speakers

G’day Forum Members,

My wife has put here foot down when I was window shopping for some new speakers on the computer. I was merely checking out specs as to what looked nice and if my amplifier a Nait XS 2 could drive them before a visit to the HIFI store 2.5 hours drive away for a listening session.

Since new speakers are out and I am not allowed to upgrade the amplifier. I am wondering what forum members would recommend one sub or two subs? I have posted here as I did not want to hi-jack another topic/post on the subject.

My dealer has recommended REL T/7x or T/9x sub woofers. One is justifiable, though if I add two then the price rises and I am looking down the line of new speakers, please do not tell Shelley :innocent:

I have looked at my dealers take away hone systems and notice a Uniti Star (70W) matched with a pair of Focal Kanta No. 1 speakers. Yes they are a bit of eye candy and at twice the price of two subs, tempting , though again I must keep my hands in my pockets.

The music room is 4.4m W x 5.6m L, withe listening position about 3 metres away from each speaker forming an equilateral triangle, I hope that makes sense. With myself at the apex on a comfy couch. The speakers are two feet in from the side walls and rear wall as recommended in the Celestion manual that came with the speakers. Both Celestion stands filled with fine lead shot.

The current speakers as I have mentioned quite a few times are the Celestion SL6Si. They perform very well yet the lack of bottom end that I do desire. I have lived with them for 30 plus years and am not allowed to replace them until they break. They are possibly a good investment as I will probably never overdrive them and will see me out. I do enjoy them though I have a niggle when they kept on blowing up my Amber 50b amplifier the woofer in one was replaced. I was told at the time it was an upgraded woofer as it did actually come with a very fine see through dust cap on the woofer. Normally and a selling point of this model series was the lack of dust caps on the woofer.

So the bottom line is:

  1. Add one REL T/9x
  2. Add two REL T/9x
  3. Save up and purchase some nice book shelf or floor standers. Something from the Kanta line.

When recommending speakers may I ask you to Google Audio Trends as this is my local Naim Dealer in Melbourne Australia. As I will be purchasing speakers from their line up.

Warm regards,

Your wife sounds a bit like mine!
Having had experience in this arena I would suggest aiming for the floor standers. Work on it. She will come round. If you go for the sub/s you will make your purchase and she will lock you into that decision for years and you won’t feel like you can do much else. It sounds like you have a decent sized room so I think you will benefit from the bigger speakers as a foundation. Then try for a sub/s later. As for speaker choice, that’s personal preference. Can’t help there.


Hi Mitch. Why won’t she let you buy new speakers? You could buy ProAc’s that would be same size or a bit smaller or bigger and could use the same stands, and sound I suspect quite a bit better. Is it the $$ she’s going on about?

I disagree with mark I think her head will spin around trying to get floor standers. I’d look at ProAc D2R


Yes opus, it is $$$. I should add that my two Sources are a CD5 XS and a Linn LP12 at Akurate level. I think I am growing tired of the Celestion’s and have the niggle about the dust cap I mentioned. It is like having a cricket in the room and you can not find it.

Though they do still work. That is the Celestion’s.


Try to involve her in the decision. Ask if she likes certain speakers and try to please her with the choice. She will warm to it. Well my wife did, eventually! When she realised that you won’t let it go she will come good. She’l be right mate! To use the Aussie slang!


Two subs is better than one but three is ideal.

Rather than adding a sub I’d really be looking at new speakers. The Celestions are too hard to drive for the Nait and don’t have much bass, according to comments from owners.

The whole ‘not allowed’ thing is interesting and something for you to work out with Shelley. Maybe the answer is to be carrying the speakers upstairs and to accidentally drop them, ensuring the drop is enough to write them off. Then get something that’s a good match for your Nait. The Kanta would be too much I’d venture, but something that costs about the same as the Nait seems about right.


@Gigantor looks to me your choices at the store you mentioned would be Focal , B&W, Sonus. Those look like their top three brands. The get her involved idea, she’ll pick the cheapest, because they all sound the same.

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@Gigantor looking at their products B&W 705 S2 if she’ll be ok with the tweeter on top. Sonus Farber Sonetto 2, Focal Aria 906.

My opinion B&W will have great bass, Sonus will be very musical and easy to listen to maybe a bit less transparent then the B&W and the Foca, the ones I’ve heard have been a bit too forward.

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Giving advice on replacing SL6Si speakers is always going to be very hit or miss, the Celestion SL series always had a very specific sound profile. I ‘auditioned’ a pair long ago when I bought my Spendor SP2s. The Celestions did a better job with chambre music, but were much less convincing with rock or high energy pieces with a full scale orchestra. Yes I can see why you a thinking of adding a sub; however I’m not sure it’s the best approach. Things have moved on a long way in the last 30+ years. (I had to substantially upgrade the crossovers in the Spendors to keep up, as newer designs at 1/2 the price had overtaken them - the new crossovers fixed that!)

Due to the acoustic characteristics of the Celestions - primarily their subtlety and finesse - I think you’ll may well have to listen to a lot of speakers to find a balance that suites you. There are now speakers that can give these characteristics and also sound more full and more dynamic, however you may find that the overall balance is so different that you can’t tolerate many of them. Speakers are such a personal choice.

If you do decide to use sub(s), please don’t make the usual mistakes of placing hem in the corner of the room (good for LF effects channel in Home Theatre, but dreadful for music) or placing them beside the main speakers (this causes a massive discontinuity in the timing between the main speakers and the sub(s)).

By far the best way to connect them is to connect a DSP box to the L&R sub out of the amplifier (use it to combine the channels if using one sub) then connect it’s output to the sub(s). Use the DSP to precisely control the crossover from the mains to the sub, and you can also use it to apply room correction as subs invariable excite the room resonances. Get a calibrated instrumentation mike (such as a miniDSP UMIK-1) and a copy of REW; use this to align the crossover to the sub - it’s FAR more accurate than trying to ‘do it by ear’.

Bu the way SL6s aren’t actually difficult to drive as such (they are a fairly benign load), but are quite low efficiency hence requiring the power amp to work a bit harder for a given volume level.

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Dear Opus,

Thank you very much for your informed reply and checking out my dealers website. This would have taken time by you and I am very much appreciative. When I saw the complete recommended systems. The Uniti Star (70W) was coupled with a pair of Focal Kanta No. 1 speakers. This would have been very hard one to get past home plate. Though if Purchased two REL T/9x subs I would be half way there.

I have had a nice reality shock and the prices of the speakers you have mentioned are much more achievable. Thank you very much for the extra time you have spent on this reply. I will print our your reply, do some on line research and ask my dealer to have these speakers ready for a listen plus the Kantas.

Very much appreciated,

Warm regards,


Thank you Xanthe,

I will take this onboard.

Warm regards,


As you’re travelling so far it may well be worth telling them what you like about the Celestions, what you would like improved and what characteristics from them on which you’re not willing to compromise!

Also, as they’re so different from most recent speakers, it may well be worth taking the Celestions along for comparison (I know they’re quite heavy, but at least they’re quite compact!).


@Gigantor hey Mitch the only things you need to take is music you’re familiar with and Money. I wouldn’t bother taking your old celestions with you in fact I suspect they don’t even sound like they did. 30 year old Caps dry out Ferro fluid degrades.

I’d also shelf the Sub Woofer idea and stay focused on the speakers. I think new speakers will be way better in the bottom

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@Gigantor hi Mitch, Clef Hifi in south Melbourne are ProAc dealers you should try and get a listen to ProAc D2R ! I think they do everything, price, performance, beautiful wood finishes. Google for reviews

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If you go to audition replacement speakers instead of subs, take your old ones with you and listen to them first in the dealer’s room, which will give you a direct comparison given that the room may make everything sound different from in yours.

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I really think the idea of listening to the old ones at the dealer doesn’t serve any purpose.

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I beg to differ. It sets a baseline - and this is speaking from experience lugging large heavy IMF RSPMs to 3 different places to audition other speakers, where the room characteristics were not all the same. Hearing mine first (with same amp and source as I used at home) made the assessment of new ones easy.

Putting budgeting aside, I think it is best to find a more suitable speaker for your amp / room. I did play around with different subs before, and I’ve never found any one that really worked (for me).

I strongly disagree. Have you heard the Celestion SL6Si? It’s such an unusual speaker that trying to replace it without direct comparison would be most unwise. As IB points out you’d also not be comparing like for like as the dealer’s room wont sound the same as yours, so you wouldn’t have any baseline for comparison.

First I don’t believe that the tweeter used ferro-fluid at all, and secondly the crossover is well known to be massively over specified and have great longevity, particularly as polyester capacitors aren’t generally capable of ‘drying out’ over time! It’s entirely possible that the characteristic hasn’t actually changed that much.