I could not go back to a system without a subwoofer or two (well 5 in my case), with care and measurement you can add perfectly timed articulate bass and avoid the one note monochromatic problems you have with non EQ’d bass from large floor standers. You can have as much low frequency support as you need in your room. My sub pack for my mains on two channel only add what the mains miss below 35Hz. Those who think a sub is a poorly integrated boom box, have poor subs and no idea how to integrate. It would be no different to saying I dont like the woofer in this badly designed speaker


Two of the 5 friends supporting Extrema’s down to under 20Hz


Those Sonus Fabers look absolutely great

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Opinion is nothing to do with it. If you have only heard a sub to bring “more evils” you have never heard a system that has a properly installed sub.


My experience:

  1. The sub. Really must be sealed and, particularly for Naim gear, fast.
  2. Positioning. Will depend on the room and your listening position. Plenty of info on the web but crucial to get it right.
  3. Sub settings. Look at how your speakers roll off on low frequencies and try to tally it up. If in doubt, just experiment going up and down. SVS provide a really helpful tool that provides you setting information for many types of speakers.
  4. Your speakers. It is harder with smaller stand-mounts, I believe, to dial them in as you’d typically be looking at a higher and more noticeable cross-over points.
  5. The room. A long room with the sub firing down it (and diagonally) has been best in my experience. Something to do with the wavelength and not overpowering the room with bass.

Or I dislike what subs do. And yes, like most things in hi-fi, it is a matter of opinion and not a matter of fact. Speakers, and a sub is a speaker is it not? Speakers are notoriously subjective. To suggest that opinion has nothing to do with it is just daft.


Don’t disagree with much, but scratching my head at what a ‘fast’ subwoofer could be. By definition they can’t be ‘fast’ where fast would mean high frequency response… I guess you mean correctly dialled in phase with respect to the main stereo speakers? or possibly critically-damped response with no undue cabinet or room resonances?

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In the context of subs (and not only), “fast” is the response time. The low-pass filter in the subs inherently introduces a small delay in processing the input signal, causing a smaller or bigger time delay when compared to the sound coming from the main speakers. This misalignment can cause unwanted boom and muddiness. It is measured in ms (miliseconds), the smaller the better/faster the sub. The Rel S series have a claimed response time of 7ms if I remember correctly, T series at 9ms.

Very true indeed… and the more technically capable a speaker is the more ‘marmite’ it becomes in my experience.
There is a lot to be said for having a lesser capable loudspeaker system that matches a wider range of material and let your brain fill n the missing gaps.
Music recording/capture/production and replay is just so compromised … so having an one size fits all speaker system that excels at all content is realistically not achievable …so you choose your compromises and sweet spots to suit preferences, tastes and budget.


So indeed phase…
I would also say having the sub set up so it’s critically-damped in your room is equally important.

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We all have opinions but unfortunately some of your statements just aren’t true. While I can see some may think this, saying a sub can never be properly integrated for a seamless blend is just not accurate. When dialed in correctly, a proper sub should allow a pair of bookshelfs to sound like a large pair of floorstanders, if this isn’t the case the sub is either not dialed in correctly or the sub just isn’t of the proper quality. When dialed in correctly you shouldn’t be aware of them being there (as in they draw no attention to themselves), but if they get turned off the sound collapses in comparison (& not just a reduction of bass).

If you’ve never heard a good sub, that was designed to work with 2ch I understand your opinion completely. Generally they say, get a sealed sub, it’ll work better for 2ch but I can say just because a sub is sealed does not mean it will integrate properly for 2ch audio. I have used a couple small sealed subs in the past that I could never get a seamless blend no matter how much a tweaked (one was the Kef T2 mentioned above the other was an SVS model, either are poor choices for 2ch). From my experience the better quality the sub is for 2ch use, the easier it will be to dial in correctly. I’ve had best luck with subs that offer the speakon high level connection such as REL, MJ Acoustics, BK Elec, etc. Another common issue is people will either set gain too high or the crossover point too high (or a combination of both). On my pair of BK subs, I had them modify the starting point of their low pass crossover, so I can set the crossover as low as 30hz. This gives me further flexibility when matching them with close to full range floorstanders.


Getting low frequencies to work well in a domestic room is actually quite hard as depending on room size the Schroeder transition frequency dictates where the room has the greatest impact on the audible sound. Surely I’m talking rubbish ? My full range speakers sound great ? They might be okay, but I can guarantee they could be better the impact of the room will be compromising these frequencies and a lot of the problem with subwoofers is not only the poor quality of sub itself but often more important the fact that all of the SPL you are adding is below the schreoder frequency so needs great care to do well.

The ‘fixes’ are well document and in theory and ideally you start with room treatment but for bass it’s massively intrusive, expensive and not often viable. So the next is ensuring that the phase alignment with your mains works effectively and that room modes are minimised and managed by placement and EQ. This will all help and you can simply ‘torture’ the subs only and avoid doing anything that compromises signal to you mains. As always less is more BUT if you get the fundamentals wrong you are simply getting your sub to exasperate problems, compromise the mains and turn a small bass mess (usually the case) into a huge mess.

Getting the basics right is very easy with a £100 mic and free REW, when you get into more complex phase alignment and integrating successfully across a wide seating area more reading, measuring and understanding is required. But it doesn’t need to be super complex a sweep will show you whether you are in the right ball park very quickly. Decay curves, waterfall charts and RT60 graphs will quickly show where your bass problems lie. The ‘boom’ or slow soggy bass is usually largely due to room nodes and getting the decay reduced as much as possible and reducing the energy pumped in to a Node will quickly bring things back in line.

The main problems with subs in the past was poor subs with insufficient power and low Xmax drivers and no thought about room and system integration. That’s no longer a problem with a little care and time investment

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What happens or what is the disadvantage of connecting the high level cable at the amp end? Thanks.

Naim amps are fussy about the speaker cable they use, and attaching an additional cable for a sub can contribute to any imbalance. You might get away with it, just as you might get away with using regular speaker cable with less than ideal indictance and capacitance. There’s nothing to lose by trying - your amp will not explode just because a sub is wired to it!
If you wire the sub to the loudspeakers this problem is eliminated. You can also buy specially modified cables that are designed to allow you to connect directly to a Naim power amp if you prefer. I would suggest that the best approach is to first determine the optimum location for the sub using whatever connection method is convenient, even if that means using only one channel. Then if the optimum location happens to be near the amp, you might not be so keen to run cables from two loudspeakers on the opposite side of the room.