One of the more energized topics over at our forum, HomeTheaterEquipment.com, is about the use of multiple subwoofers in audiophile and home theater systems. Historically, audiophiles have felt frustration as they fought the use of subwoofers in their systems but, in recent years, people have increasingly converted over to the use of a sub. The fact is that even some of the largest-format audiophile speakers, like Focal's Grand Utopia BEs and Wilson Audio's Alexandria Series 2 speakers - which pack the retail price tag of a new Rolls Royce Phantom or a used Lear 35 jet - can use the help in the deepest of deep frequencies. That's why products like Wilson's Thor's Hammer subwoofer exist. Value-oriented audiophiles are realizing that they can buy smaller, high-performance speakers that require less power, thus allowing consumers to buy more exotic power amplification while using a sub (or pair of subs) to do the lowest-octave work to create a smoother, more coherent full-range sound for less money.
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Home theater enthusiasts are also questioning whether or not to use multiple subwoofers for the all-important LFE channel, also known as that "point one" speaker in your 5.1 or 7.1 speaker configuration. Sound engineers put some serious energy into those subwoofer channels on today's Blu-ray mixes, and getting rock-solid bass in your theater only makes your home theater sound more like a well-tuned professional screening room. The issue: how to get the best subwoofer performance and whether it is worth it to devote some of your upgrade money to an additional subwoofer?
Professional acoustician Bob Hodas has tuned many of the top recording studios in the world, including A&M Studios, Eddy Van Halen's 5150 Studio, Electric Lady Studios, and countless others. He suggests that multiple subwoofers are good for both audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts and that you should "keep an open mind when it comes to your room." All rooms are unique, and any speaker/sub package that you choose will react in ways that are specific to your space. For audiophiles, Hodas suggests that stereo subs positioned in the same plane as the main speakers can often provide the ability to make deeper, smoother sound than even large floor-standing speakers. Hodas says that most people can hear stereo separation in a lower range than some people have suggested, so having low-frequency support deep into the lower registers is a smart investment. For home theater systems, Hodas suggests that you consider using three or four subwoofers, with one of the subs being a larger, truly full-range sub that is set up first, and then using the additional subwoofers to "fill in" any frequencies that the main sub can't reproduce in the room. When using the correct measurement tools - be they SMAART Spectra Foo, or something like Room EQ Wizard - you can see how your system performs in different sections of your room. With more than one subwoofer at work, you can create smoother coverage in the lower frequencies over more seating locations in your theater.
Click on over to page 2 to hear what some leaders in the speaker field have to say about subwoofers . . .