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Seeking advice on speaker/sub options for more bass

Discussion in 'audio' started by booja30, Apr 10, 2019.

  1. booja30

    booja30 pfm Member

    My current setup consists of a Naim NAC72, NAP140, and a pair of Epos ES11s. My sources are a RPi with IQaudIO DAC+, CCA, and a NAT02. I've been quite happy with this setup for the most part, and it works well for many genres of music.

    Last week, for several hours each day, I was merging our music library from various sources (CDs I hadn't ripped, previously ripped material in the cloud, old mp3s, purchased Amazon music tracks, etc.) and was listening to headphones most of the time. I flagged a few favorites that I wanted to replay on the system later. This included some electronic, dub, reggae, Massive Attack, Portishead, etc...

    At the end of the big organization task I sat down to play around with my relatively new RPi, and picked some of those tracks. Some were ok, but many were just completely different and underwhelming on the stereo. It's not that my headphones are spectacular (Bose QC25), just that they could do bass down to 20Hz, and the speakers seems to give on anything below 50Hz. The ES11s aren't in a big room, and are placed close to a solid masonry wall (3 inches from wall to back of speaker), about 5 feet apart. I've had them on and off their stands, and it hasn't made much difference. I've tried with and without a HiCap BTW. It really seems like a limitation of the speakers.

    Before anyone suggests swapping out the entire system, or doing lots of home demos, I'll got to mention I live in southern Spain, there isn't much of a used hi-fi market here, and posting from Spain is incredibly expensive.

    I'm thinking I've got two reasonable options:

    Add a sub: I've been looking at BK Gemini II and XLS200DF as options. They're affordable, well rated, and I could switch one on/off depending on the type of music I was listening to. The downside is I've seen a few threads here where people gave up on integrating subs and ended up with new speakers in the end.

    Change speakers: I've seen people recommend ES14s to ES11 owners looking for more oomph, but I'm skeptical they'd do that much better in the low frequencies. I don't have a ton of floor space, and we're still planning on living in a few more cities before settling down, so I don't want to get something really large just yet. I'm thinking floor standers might be the way to go. Whatever I choose, it would need to be flexible WRT placement since we're kind of nomadic these days.

    Either way, I'd like to hear what people would recommend for under £500. Used is fine! I'm not looking for 'trouser flapping' bass that I've read about on PFM (hilarious!), but some more low end power would be fantastic for some types of music, and also for movies.

    What would you suggest? Thanks in advance.
  2. SteveG

    SteveG pfm Member

    I've a similar amp set-up and am using Naim Credo's and fine the bass on them decent. I know they're not the most popular of speakers with some people but I've had mine for many years and been happy with them.
  3. Euan

    Euan pfm Member

    Could it be a room issue?
  4. booja30

    booja30 pfm Member

    It's possible, but I have read on PFM that they roll off below 50Hz (seems to be the case). Also, if possible I'd like to find something more forgiving to various room layouts since we may not be settling down any time soon.
  5. Darren

    Darren All Business

    I've had various REL subs in various systems for the last decade. I've never struggled to integrate them with stand mount or floor standing systems. I've only ever had improvements in terms of sound quality and wouldn't be without one now. Bigger is often better in my limited experience - subs tend to be more 'obvious' when working hard. its always satisfying to know your system is full range.
    davidjt, booja30 and drummerman like this.
  6. Hifi_swlon

    Hifi_swlon pfm Member

    Best thing to do would be measure the room so you know exactly what you’re dealing with. If you like the QC25 sound you can aim for a similar FR but bass isn’t trivial to get right in a room. It may not necessarily be that you need more bass. But it probably is, or rather some more and some less.
    darrenyeats likes this.
  7. mandryka

    mandryka pfm Member

    I would try a preamp with bass lift first, a Quad 34 for example. It so happens that I have one for sale.

    I play organ music and so bass is important to me. I think it’s really hard to get musical bass from small subs and small speakers. I have very large subs, two of them. Four in fact (two dipoles.) And they’re controlled by their own independent large and powerful amp and a crossover specially designed to work with the main speakers. This was a last resort, I tried various active subwoofers with unsatisfying results, it wouldn’t suit someone living in a small city appartment.

    Your room may make a difference, it did in my case, it’s a minimal modern interior with reflective surfaces everywhere. And anyway in my case installing bass traps was not enough
  8. booja30

    booja30 pfm Member

    Thanks. It's good to get some positive feedback on the sub route. I've poked around on PFM and found lots of people having trouble integrating subs, but I'm guessing that's due to people being more likely to post about something going wrong than going right.

    Looking at BK subs, I'm weighing the pros/cons of two smaller subs (e.g. Gemini II 10" 150W) vs one more powerful sub (XLS200-DF 12" Peerless 275W). I'm guessing a single large beast might be easier to set up, though a lot of people think a sub next to each speaker is the way to go.
  9. booja30

    booja30 pfm Member

    That would be fun to hear organ music through bigs subs. I heard a few recitals in Paris and London and it was spine tingling.

    I'm not sure a bass boost/tone control would help because I've played 20Hz-20kHz sweeps through the system and the bass really only becomes audible around 40Hz, then levels out around 50Hz(?). Below 40Hz the cones just seem to move less, and I the only thing I can hear is a little whooshing through the back port.
  10. FireMoon

    FireMoon pfm Member

    The hardest part will be finding a sub that allows you to roll it off as low as you might need to properly integrate into your system. That said your speakers sound like the sort that pretty easily integrated. I did a fair bit of research before setting my own up and came to the conclusion, setting up subs and Enochian magick have a shed load in common when it comes to arcane rituals and esoteric mathematics. The reality was, it took a mate and I about 10 minutes to dial them in and unless they're needed, you simply don't hear them.

    If there's one test for integrating subs it's a well recorded 70s film of a big car door being firmly shut. You should hear a reassuring thud that has no overhang.
    booja30 likes this.
  11. Jeff Young

    Jeff Young pfm Member

    Magnepans have a reputation for being hard to integrate subs with, yet I had no issues with a PSA 15". Did I get lucky, or is all this integration stuff over-hyped? Dunno....
  12. Darren

    Darren All Business

    One sub per speaker will make the sub harder to detect but our American cousins frequently use one larger sub and get along just fine. The last time I set up a REL it took around half an hour and was a huge upgrade. The sheer scale the sub brought to the system really deserved hearing.
    booja30 likes this.
  13. Darren

    Darren All Business

    Lots of drama queens around......
    The .6 I'm currently using were also easy to integrate with a REL.
    Jeff Young likes this.
  14. davidjt

    davidjt pfm Member

    If you're buying second hand (hard to do in Spain I know) all REL's set-up instructions are available on line. (Key: A little goes a very long way)
    booja30 likes this.

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