What do you think about subwoofers in a stereo system?

In Germany especially, but also in many other parts of the world, subwoofers to this day have a rather bad reputation for hi-fi purposes. While being nearly mandatory in a home cinema environment, stereo-audiophiles tend to disregard the bass-specialists. We've asked the subcribers to our STEREO Magazine newsletter what they think about subwoofers and published the comments and results here.

  • Would not seem proper without a sub bass system
  • Big JLA unit here
  • I use two subwoofers to augment my full range speakers in stereo playback and also in surround sound playback. (I use supertweeters too!)
  • essential for ambiance as well as improved midrange detail
  • I believe that subwoofers are better designed to produce accuretely the low frequency ranges of sound, in the most efficient way. I find them very complementary to full range speakers which, in some cases, have a harder time to produce solid and stable low frequencies, such as with electrostatic or magnetic planar drivers. They are obviously very useful for bookshelf speakers. A good and accurate subwoofer, well matched and integrated into a stereo system, can reproduce the full range of sound, as well as create a 'presence' that fills the listening space. I own three subwoofers, one from Bob Carver's Sunfire and two from a Canadian company, Paradigm.
  • Good old vintage stereo speakers of the 60s through 90s in general had reasonable bass, but modern ¨fashion¨ bookshelf speakers, many at insane prices $5K through $50K are mostly quite inadequate with their 5´ or 6¨ mid/woofers . In fact, the audiophile jargon for ¨high definition¨ bookshelf speakers reveals sublime ignorance, as the almost total lack of bass leads to a brilliant and superficially impressive mid/top heavy sound that is mistakenly considered ¨high definition¨ when often it is just screechy, ha ha ha
    So in this context, subwoofers are just about vital for any upmarket bookshelf speaker to produce balanced sound. In summary, the vendors have converted their fashion deficiency into an imaginary virtue for marketing. The sad corrollary is that when ¨$$$ bookshelf audiophiles¨ actually hear real hifi balanced reproduction, they accuse it of lacking in definition !!! The blind leading the blind...
  • I use a large sub in the home theater system for movies and music
    I do not use one in the high end 2 channel system that has full range floor standers.
  • I use one REL and plan to add a second one. Just essential (and I have floorstanders!).
  • I use them for my stereo and my HT.
  • Subwoofers do much more than create low bass. They enhance the size of the soundstage and when properly set up make any speakers sound better.
  • I have realized that bass management plays crucial role in overall audio system setup. Two subwoofers are minimum, should use more. I use two. Cheers!
  • Its called STEREO after all
  • For high-end systems active loudspeakears with integrated dsp are clearly preferable. Subwoofers remain a niche product. I had different subwoofers in combination with electrostatic speakers and the results were not that convincing.
  • 10,000
  • I find stereo subs essential to realistic sound with my full range floor standing speakers.
    I use two REL T9i.
  • I use a subwoofer in both my 2 channel systems, I have yet to experiment with 2 stubbies in one system.
    I love them.
  • For HiFi the subwoofer was on but you didn't notice it was on. If you hear the woofer, it was to loud.
  • A sub woofer is fine for the length of a movie but tiring on the ears if used 100% of the time.
  • I don't use one now but will in the near future. I have found that a good subwoofer, like a REL, can help fill in detail to music that you wouldn't expect to happen.
    I wasn't a believer but am now.
  • AVI DM10s and sub woofer form a 3 way system...
  • Almost never heard a 2 channel or HT system where a good sub did not make it better.
  • I use one and would use more than one if I had the space and budget for it at the moment. A high quality, well designed, sealed subwoofer can be seamlessly and very well integrated into a two channel hifi system. Today it is more easy than ever before to achieve a clean mix of 2 channel stereo with subwoofer given the excellent room calibration tools available combined with room treatments.
  • Limited space so smaller/bookshelf speakers. I use a smaller REL (two, actually) to enhance the bottom end a little. In a larger room I might still use a sub where, perhaps, a bigger stand-mounted system has superb middle and high end but doesn't quite make it in the lower frequencies. There are any number of such speakers so the sub market could be quite large. Ultimately, though, given the space, I would reach for high quality, full range floor standers (including similarly impressive amp(s), etc. ) No sub.
  • The subwoofer doesn't just lower the bottom end of your system, if it's a good quality one and properly integrated with your speakers it ads body to the sound, it makes it richer and a pleasure to listen to. It can be done without it, but it will be more expensive.
  • I like having a subwoofer but do not like it to be obvious. I prefer for it to support the other music rather than overwhelm it.
  • I use REL T Zero with Adam A5X and it is not a real subwoofer as it is -3dB at 40Hz but it improves the sound by a huge amount. It is fast, musical and never boomy. On top of that, if you follow the manual it is very easy to integrate in a two channel system.
  • Worth having
  • Some excellent speakers need a sub for better results. Synergy and happy marriage are important for successful results.
  • I found it an easier combination for placement in a medium size room, furthermore, my subwoofer is equipped with an automatic calibration system, to adapt his response to both the room and the speakers. The result is that most of the undesirable resonances are eliminated, and floor stand speakers (bass reflex with a front port) are less influenced by the side walls and furniture than classic floor stands.
  • Magico S1 speakers used with a Paradigm Studio Reference 12 sub in a 4 x 4.5 x 3m listening room.

STEREO Magazine Issue #25

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