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Old 2012-12-07, 18:07
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selig selig is offline
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 10,511
Originally Posted by blank View Post
Subwoofers are a strange subject because people will tell you differently depending on the circumstances. But the rule of thumb appears to be this:

1) Don't use a subwoofer for mixing
2) Use a subwoofer for mastering

I'd say there's no rule of thumb that I've ever seen. No mixer or mastering engineer uses one set of speakers exclusively. If the sub is WELL INTEGRATED with the mains, there will be no perceptible difference between a system with separate subs vs one with the subs built into the mains (when comparing full range systems).

IMO it is absolutely necessary to have at least one full range system for all mastering and mixing work. Makes no difference to me whether the sub is in a separate cabinet or in the same cabinet as the main drivers. I've heard great sounding two way systems (with 15" woofers) AND great sounding 3 way systems (two way mains with a separate sub or two). When setup correctly you shouldn't be able the tell the two systems apart.

The main problems with a sub woofer added to a home system probably have more to do with room treatment IMO. The lower frequencies are incredibly difficult to control, and if there's a room mode (boost) or a 'dip' (cut) in your space, adding a subwoofer will only exaggerate that problem. In other words, if you have a room mode that boosts 60 Hz, but you are using speakers that only go down to 80 Hz or so, you probably won't 'hear' the mode. But as soon as you add a sub to your room, the problem will be revealed and you may blame the sub (when it's really the room's fault).

It's also important that the sub 'integrates' well with the mains, which is an elusive quality that can't be readily defined. Trial and error with regards to sub manufacturer/type, placement, room acoustics, and the settings on the sub (crossover, polarity, level) are all contributing factors in how well the sub will integrate with the mains. I prefer to stick with one brand where possible (currently using JBL LSR6328Ps with the LSR6312SP sub) for the best integration, but I've also heard plenty of rooms that sound great with 'mix-n-match' systems (but setup by experienced engineers in well treated rooms). :-)
Giles Reaves, aka 'selig'
Audio Illusionist, Musical Technologist
Selig Audio, LLC

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