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21 April 2009 @ 05:56 pm
Ask lj: just how important is 30 Watts in your subwoofer?  
I'd like to get a sub woofer. I'd like to get one that fits under the couch. That restrics my choice of subwoofers significately. There is a low profile yamaha that seems to be ok (not great) and fit the bill, The question is it comes in 100 wattt and 130 watt flavors, which a corresponding price hike. So my question to people who have had experience with subwoofers. Will I notice those missing 30 watts? I'm happy to shell out the extra money (my main speakers in my sound system are ~13 years old at this point, so a little extra just isn't going to matter if I keep the woofer for as long) but only if I'd notice the differnce.
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just a guy made of dots and lines: drakecrs on April 21st, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC)
You're going to get reactions ranging from "who needs a subwoofer?" to "omg, you are getting such a wimpy subwoofer? What's the point? You need speakers you can get buried in!"

Me, I'll just say "subwoofer? But I hardly know 'er."
Jeredjered on April 21st, 2009 10:31 pm (UTC)
What he said. You won't miss 30W on a 100W sub. Under the couch you'll get a nice rumble with it, and while probably not very accurate, it's probably fine for the price.

I have a 350W subwoofer (actually the previous model of this) that was recommended by [Unknown LJ tag]. It's really incredible, and it's really more about the physical effect than the sound.
Jeredjered on April 21st, 2009 10:33 pm (UTC)
That should have been avacon.
David Phillipsdphilli1 on April 21st, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
it really depends on how loud+distortion free you want your bass to be.

Quick summary of why subs need lots of power:
The lower the frequency, the more the transducer has to move to reproduce the sound b/c the wavelength is longer. The longer the wavelength, the more air the sub needs to move for a given volume. B/c air is squishy, it takes lots of power to move a lot of it. If you try to drive the air harder than you have power for, the sound gets distorted.

that being said, the max power rating for subs is entirely irrelevant for most people.
1) That rating is peak power -- max power the sub can output at a single freq
2) Most consumer level receivers can't source that much power (unless you have a powered sub...)
3) Unless you have a huge room (big home theater scale) or listen to your audio _really_ loud, you won't ever need to use that much power to balance out the high freq from the speakers.
4) low freq is non-directional to the human ear, and it bounces around in a room a lot. Therefore, a quality sub (lower power for same cost) with proper location will give better sound than a cheap high power sub stuck in the middle of the room.

my sub is rated at ~100W, and I've actually got it backed off about 50%. works fine for me.
Erikavacon on April 21st, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
Watts is not really the best metric for subwoofers, although it is relevant.
Especially with your main speakers, many subwoofers may not add anything if I remember right.
(I suspect that a 100-200W subwoofer won't add any real value over your front speakers on your first floor.)
What dimensions are you trying to fit within? Things to consider are the volume of your room,
how low you want the sound to go frequency-wise, and how much accuracy you want.
Also remember that the watts to loudness relationship is non-linear so adding 30% more power-handling
may only give you 3% more volume.
For the space-constrained, these are fairly good for the price (and are what I have):


Some others:

http://www.velodyne.com/main.aspx (they have some of the best tiny subs, but they're crazy expensive)

Axiom even has an app to help you select a subwoofer size based on your room size and listening prefs:


This site has some good reviews and details:


Someone I am is waiting for my courageforgotten_aria on April 22nd, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)
It's true that my front speakers are capable of a whole lot more bass than my amp gives them. I've sent the options to send the bass to the front speakers, but I think my amp is a bit shy about it, which is part of the reason I want a dedicated and powered subwoofer so that I can tweak thigns more than my current amp allows (my old amp could really drive those speakers. The new one really doesn't know how, I think because it's really especting a dedicated subwoofer.

You're budget for items like that seems to be on a diffent scale than mine. I can't really afford to blow $600 on a sub espeically since my amp is part of the problem. This is what I'm currently looking at:


If I stay with "under the couch" I have only about 7" of clearance.
Erikavacon on April 22nd, 2009 12:10 pm (UTC)
I wonder if you'd be better off with getting a 2-channel power amp for your
front speakers if your stereo has pre-amp outputs?
For example, maybe you can find a used version of something like this:


With a 6.5" woofer and a bottom frequency of 35 Hz, that Yamaha unit seems like
it is primarily for adding some bottom-end to small bookshelf speakers
in a small dorm room? (It really depends on what you're trying to do?)

Someone I am is waiting for my courageforgotten_aria on April 22nd, 2009 03:29 am (UTC)
I'm vaguely amused at our different price brackets. The large floor speakers I currently own came with an amp with tuner and tape deck, a 100 CD changer and a matching cabinate for only $600.
Podpeople. Benevolent podpeople. That's my theory.vibrantabyss on April 22nd, 2009 01:01 am (UTC)
Ok, I need to thank all the above folks, because I am now much more enlightened. And thank you forgotten_aria for asking!
Binkbinkbink on April 22nd, 2009 02:16 am (UTC)
Under your sofa you don't much care about distortion.
Also be aware that peak power and continuous output are two different watt values.
As I recall, the ones I have here that can make the valley echo, are only 300W so I am thinking you won't notice the difference between 100W and 130W.
I suggest you might learn something by visiting a store with a speaker room (my Best Buy has one, does your Microcenter?) and listen to 100W vs 130W.
Also remember, the particular speakers and the brand can matter--witness our great $20 Logitechs and my terrible $60 set.
If all you want is kick-ass (or rumble butt) computer effects, a mere 9W is remarkably effective.