Budget Sub Shootout: Which Would You Pick? [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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11-07-2008, 08:41 PM
Hey all! I'm hoping to gather some data here and determine the most popular sub out of these choices. I have a pair of AV123 ELT525M's on the way and I need to order a sub soon! My MAX budget is $300 shipped. My listening preferences are 50% music / 50% movies, and it will be hooked up to a Onkyo TX-SR506. My room is about 13ftx13ft and I don't want to use paypal/ebay.

Some facts:

Velodyne VX-10: 36-120 Hz +/-3dB, 2" Voice Coil, 100 RMS, 35lbs, coated fiber cone
Acculine Asub: 25Hz-150Hz, 3" voice coil, 125 RMS, 56lbs, paper-composite cone
Klipsch KSW-10: 29-120Hz (plus/minus 3dB), 55 RMS, 29lbs, fiber composite cone
Energy ESW-10: 27Hz-120Hz +/- 3dB, 100 RMS, 28lbs, High Excursion Injection Molded Cone MMP
Cadence CSX-12: 25-500Hz, 2" Voice Coil, 150 RMS,

Thanks and happy voting!

11-07-2008, 09:43 PM
How about a write-in vote for the Mirage Omni S8


11-07-2008, 10:38 PM
I have heard from numerous sources that 8" woofers in this price range just aren't worth it, and I'm not sure that would be big enough for my room... would you really choose the Mirage over the other options?

11-07-2008, 11:24 PM
Sorry, but I think you've got things backwards. 13 x 13 is not a large room. In fact it sounds like a bedroom or den. A sub with an 8" driver in this price range is more apt to be of higher quality (with flatter frequency response and lower distortion) than one with a cheap 10" or 12" driver. Also the speakers you bought, the AV123 ELT525M are very low in sensitivity (efficiency..it is rated at 83dB's). That means you are going to get 6dB's lower volume out of them compared to average speakers with a 89dB rating at the same wattage input. The ELT525M's will require 4 times the power to reach the same volume level as a speaker with the 89dB sensitivity (increase of 3dB's = double power...increase of 6dB's = quadruple power). The reason I mention all of this is that you are not going to be able to blow the walls down with your setup. Sounds like the ELT525M is a very accurate speaker but definitely not a party speaker. So an accurate high quality sub with a smaller driver would be a better match IMO with your speakers.

I'm not familiar with the Acculine or Cadence lines. However, I do not see any pro reviews on them. They both look sort of like they might be boom boxes.

I voted for the Energy in the list above. However, for $21 more at $321 shipped (no tax) I would buy the HSU STF-1. No inflated specs here, just a high quality sub.


Or two of these (one on each side of the front wall):



11-08-2008, 02:42 AM
The Acculine is a very nice sounding sub for the price. Especially in a smaller room. Do a search over at AVS and you will see that its very popular. But roadrunner makes a good point in that the HSU is a very high quality sub. Easily the best of the bunch. It's all HSU does and he does it very well.

11-08-2008, 03:34 AM
Very interesting Roadrunner. It is indeed for my bedroom. The Energy ESW-8 for $99 from audioadvisor was actually my first choice for a single sub, but now look at me, I was swayed into spending more money on a higher qualilty sub :). About the HSU STF-1... the total would come out to be $321. For $325 shipped I could get an Elemental Designs A2-250 or the new BIC H-100 replacement the VK-12... would you still pick the HSU over these 2? Anywho... I really can't go over $300 for a sub, even if it's $22 :o I can actually get the BIC VK-12 from Keenzo.com for $256 shipped... but I'm afraid a 12" driver would be too much for my bedroom.

About the ELT525M's... I haven't actually purchased them, I'm just going to be trying them out for a short while. But what I really like about the ELT525M's is that they NEVER dip below 6ohms... and since I have an entry level receiver Onkyo TX-SR506, which a nominal ohm load of 8 (manual says 6-16ohms), this was really important to me because I plan on playing them most of the day, and sometimes at high volumes. Nearly all the other speakers I was looking at, Ascend Acoustics 170SE, Infinity P162, Infinity P362, PSB Image B25...while they have higher sensitivities, they also all dip to 4ohms, or slightly under 4ohms, which I am afraid would tax my receiver too much. If you can recommend me a speaker that doesn't dip below 6ohms, and be in the budget of the ELT525M's ($300) I would be all ears :)

I will check out some reviews on the Mirage Omni S8 though... looks like a nice little sub.

11-08-2008, 06:04 AM
I guess I might be a little late returning to the question but...Yes...the 8-inch Mirage (or other 8-inch subs) is definitely big enough. I was intentionally looking for something smaller to recommend. My primary listening room is 12' x 15'...similar in size to your room. My sub in that room is an 8-inch Velodyne and it can easily put out far more bass than I want. I use a Mirage sub in the den (around 12' x 15', too) and I like the way it's a little more controlled than my Velodyne.

11-08-2008, 12:54 PM
I use a 506 as well and it will be fine with any of the speakers you mentioned. Especially since they will be crossed over at 60 or 80hz which takes a load off the receiver. Even with full bandwidth the Onkyo is fine.

Keep in mind the ED sub is huge for a room like yours. Stick with the HSU or Mirage and youll be in good shape.

11-08-2008, 01:48 PM
Exospire, It looks like you have set a budget of $300 for speakers, $300 (?) for a sub and about $210 for a receiver, correct me if this is wrong.

Impedence is a very complicated subject. As a general guide I would not use a speaker with a nominal impedence spec of 4 ohms with an entry level receiver like the 506. However, speakers with an 8 ohms rating vary greatly as to their actual impedence. Some 8 ohms speakers never drop below 7-8 ohms while others drop down to 4 ohms. The actual impedence curve varies up and down greatly with each speaker depending on the frequency. I think you are taking the impedence spec as a brick wall guideline. Only consdier impedence if you see the actual measured impedence curve from a pro review or specific mention of it in a review. Many of the receivers now use the 6 ohm power reference to meet tough rating guidelines. That doesn't mean they won't handle a speaker that drops down to 5 ohms on an occasional basis for brief moments.

More important, especially for receivers, is the sensitivity (also called efficiency) rating of a speaker. I think this is extremely important for you with the 506 since you say you play "sometimes at high volumes." This is why I would recommend looking at the Axiom M2's.

The ELT looks like a super little monitor but compromises with a very low sensitivity. It is probably great with low to moderate volumes but not for the peaks required with loud movies or music. With an entry level receiver I would look instead towards a speaker with at least a sensitivity rating of 4-6 decibels higher or more (87-89+).

I would not underestimate the importance of a high quality sub. Remember it will probably be crossed over from the small main speakers at about 100Hz. That will be a significant part of the low frequencies in music and especially in movies.

Do not cross over any bookshelf speakers at lower than 80Hz regardless of what their specs indicate. In fact, cross over the ELT at 100Hz. This will give a flatter blend and that will take some of the load off the 506 amp. Be sure the sub is place at the front of the room only.

Here is a high volume alternative:

Energy ESW-10 $171 at amazon, shipped

2ea HSU HB-1 for $328 shipped



11-08-2008, 04:24 PM
It's funny, last night after I signed off I quickly looked up the Axiom V3, which has the 6 1/2" woofer... or wouldn't I even need that since I will be crossing the bass over to the sub at 80-100hz?... anways I saw that it consistently stayed above 6ohms. I was considering this speaker a while ago, but a lot of people were saying they are very bright and maybe a little fatiguing after listening to them for a long time... so that kind of threw me off but maybe I should give them a chance. Then again, many reviews state that it is a very smooth sounding speaker, so ya got me.

Those HSU HB-1's have horn tweeters, which I have read can tend to be bright. I'd like to stray away from bright speakers as much as possible :)

As for the other speakers... for the ones I mentioned I was indeed able to find measurement charts in the pro reviews.

I was reeally considering PSB, but the PSB Alpha B1's... Image B25... both have significant dips to ~4ohms...
I was also considering the Wharfedale 9.2's... but it sounded like they might be too laid back... and the KEF iQ3's. I can't find a measurement chart for the 9.2's but I did for the Wharfedale 9.1's and they do dip below 4 ohms at around 110hz... can't find a chart for the KEF's right now...

I'm also trying to find this pdf article from I believe hifi choice magazine that compared the monitor audio br2 to like 5 other speakers including maybe kef and mission... but was great was that they had the measured impedances as well, but I just can't find this article right now. On monitoraudio's website they ahve a link to the article but it is only to the page concerning the BR2's... anyone have any idea where this whole article can be downloaded?

11-08-2008, 04:45 PM
I second the Mirage S8 sub over all the other subs you mentioned. Who ever told you that 8" subs are not worth it are mistaken. There are plenty of 8" subs that will blow away larger subs. I use a Velodyne CHT-8 sub for HT in a room 17x17x10 and it does a very good job and its a budget sub~ $300 about 10yrs ago. Cheap larger subs usually will have less precise bass than a small sub in the same price range from my experience in sub shopping.

11-11-2008, 04:50 PM
What no SVS.

11-11-2008, 05:17 PM
Can you get an SVS sub for $300 shipped?

11-11-2008, 05:36 PM
How about this HSU Dayton sub, it's in your price range,,,link:


It has some pretty good reviews.

The Mirage S8 is also a very good sub.....vardo

11-11-2008, 10:54 PM
Vardo, interesting link on PE HSU10 sub. I get their catalog but had not noticed this. It appears that the HSU10 for $226 might be the STF-2 HSU sub. Same dimensions. PE doesn't give much info. The other HSU8 and HSU12 at PE don't deem to match up with any current HSU models. There is only a one year warranty, but at $226 this might be an excellent buy.

Exospire, I hear you about horn speakers but some of the newer models seems to be quite smooth. However, if you read the reviews on the HB-1 and HB-1 MK2 speakers you will find that they do have a very flat response out to near 20kHz. Even though smooth and with low distrotion you will probably perceive these as bright if you are used to speakers that have a gradual rolloff above 10kHz.

What is really interesting is that in one of the reviews where Dr. HSU gives a demo he actually uses the Onkyo TX-SR506 to drive them. That should answer your questions about the Onkyo being able to drive speakers below 6 ohms. Remember though that these are in the 90dB range of sensitivity and not the 83dB range as the ELT mini monitors. Even in a bedroom at loud volumes the extra dynamic range headroom requirement for musical and movies peaks can require high amounts of peak power for instantaneous milliseconds. The difference between 83 and 90 dB's is a factor of about 5 to 1 power difference.

That means if you run the HB-1 MK2's with a receiver with 75 watts per channel it would be comparable in peak volume to driving the ELT's with about a 375 watts per channel receiver. Also you could get the same volume out of the HB-1 MK2's with a 15 watt per channel receiver as the ELT's with the 506. The ELT's might sound great but I think you would be better off with a much larger amp. What many people perceive as speakers producing very loud output is actually distorted output. For example, if you drive a very low efficiency speaker and a very high efficeincy speaker to the exact same volume, and presuming the low efficency speaker is causing the amp to "clip" (this is the beginning of significant distortion), the low efficency speaker which is reproducing distortion will be perceived as sounding louder when in fact they are playing at the same exact volume. The distortion makes the low efficiency speaker seem louder than the other speaker which is simply producing the exact same output at low distortion. When you hear people say that they drive their speakers so loud that their ears bleed they are actually driving the amp into clipping and are hearing highly distorted sound.

This is important and why I recommend staying away from very low efficency speakers unless you have adequate power. Otherwise you will not get the dynamic range inherent in many of the new movies or extremely dynamic music.

This is not saying you need to go with the HB-1's but do go with a speaker that is of medium or higher speaker sensitivity (sensitivity and efficiency are the same thing).


11-12-2008, 12:53 PM
Here's a list of Monitor audio subs and speakers

And I would give serious consideration to the Monitor Audio S6's and forgo the Sub for now. These speakers will blow away any of the speakers your looking at. And you won't need a sub for 2ch music.
They have the Monitor Audio S6's for $579.

11-12-2008, 03:30 PM
Ive heard good things about the Velodyne

11-12-2008, 06:17 PM
Can you get an SVS sub for $300 shipped?

Opps sorry didn't read that part.:o


11-13-2008, 06:47 AM
Have you thought of building one on your own? It can be very rewarding if done right. Or one of the PE kits if you aren't so inclined. Most everything is already done with them. All you need is a Philips head screwdriver and a little spray glue.

11-13-2008, 02:55 PM
Going to get the Mirage Omni S8, thanks for all the help :)

GMichael... I have thought about it, but I'd rather not at this point... I just don't have the time right now :O

11-13-2008, 04:10 PM
Great choice on the Mirage. Its probably the best out of the bunch although the HSU sounds like a very nice sub. All the subs you looked at will all do the job, so don't second guess yourself or else it will drive you nuts in this hobby.

11-13-2008, 05:32 PM
Yeah for sure. I've read that the HSU seldomly goes on sale for $250... but at a price point of $299 I just couldn't get it over the Mirage. I emailed HSU and asked if they thought it would go on sale again before the year's end and he doubted it due to low supply.

11-22-2008, 04:15 AM
I know your not looking on Feebay but......

I just bought a Velodyne DPS-10 off there BNIB for $225 shipped.
It's GREAT in my 10x15 room...lil big but not bad at all.

Hard to find a small sub that sounds decent MOST 8in in your price range tend to sound very muddy!
I vote you go with a 10in and live with the size like I did. I'm not disappointed that I did!

Holiday season grows VERY near....retailers are fetch'in their a** with the economy the way it is.....gonna be some GREAT deals to be had out there!!!

11-22-2008, 12:01 PM
The Mirage S8 is anything but muddy. Its a very good sub for the money.

11-23-2008, 12:59 AM
Sub is supposed to come on Monday. My coaxial cable came from monoprice today so I'm all set. When I get the sub should I rerun odyssey or just set the speakers to small and 80hz?

11-24-2008, 02:39 PM
Hey! Just got the sub, got it all connected and everything. I didn't rerun odyssey or anything, on my Onkyo receiver I just set subwoofer to yes, speakers to small, and crossover to 100hz. I didn't know where to set the volume level knob so I set it at about 1/3 of the way and started a song. I could hear some bass but it sounded too soft. So I set my receiver +4 db to the subwoofer and put the volume level at half way - sounds amazing, very clean, and it's night and day between this and my old Klipsch Promedia 4.1 sub. Sounds very good, now to let it break in...

One quick question though, is my +4 dB setting on my receiver ok or should I back down a bit until the sub is broken in?

11-24-2008, 04:10 PM
For a home theater application, where the receiver can control what goes to the sub, you don't need the level control. Try turning off the Filter switch on the front panel.

11-24-2008, 04:57 PM
I have the filter off, but the level control adjusts the volume of the sub... should I not be using this knob or do I have something not set up right? The filter switch I thought was just for the sub's crossover if you weren't using the LFE.\, but I thought the volume level knob still applied.

11-24-2008, 05:04 PM
Congrats on the sub. You made a good choice with the S8.

What speakers did you decide upon?

11-24-2008, 05:15 PM
I'm currently trying out the AV123 ELT525M's and they are really pleasing to listen to.

Without the sub, I would definitely want something with more bass, but with the sub now I'm not sure that I would. I do want to get a center channel though, and that would be the ELT525C... that plus the ELT525Ms would be about $525'ish.

I am thinking about however trying out the AV123 X-Series CS as fronts. They are currently running a holiday special and you can get them for $159 each! Which would be $477!

The X-Series CS has 2 6.5" woofers and a much better sensitivity (the ELT525Ms are 1 5.75" woofer and 83 dB). I've also heard that the X-Series might be a touch warmer than the ELT525's. I dunno, how do you think the X-Series CS would stack up against the ELT525 series?

I read somewhere that the width of soundstage on the X-Series CS was limited to inside the speakers... but isn't it pretty much like that for all bookshelfs, or is that more of a trait to using MTM's as fronts? I also don't know if the CS in the review was the new Encore CS w/ the new India tweeters.

11-24-2008, 05:32 PM
I have the filter off, but the level control adjusts the volume of the sub... should I not be using this knob or do I have something not set up right? The filter switch I thought was just for the sub's crossover if you weren't using the LFE.\, but I thought the volume level knob still applied.

I tried it out...you're right. I guess I'd forgotten about that. Anyway...Mirage recommends not playing your sub to its fullest potential until you're past the 50-hour break-in period, but turning it up halfway, even with the +4dB setting, isn't pushing it to the fullest. It sounds like you're doing the right thing.

11-24-2008, 05:35 PM
I dont know much about those speakers, but I prefer 6.5" drivers over 5.75". Every speaker line that I have listened to that offers both 5 and 6" drivers, the speakers with the larger drivers always sounds better to me. Now if your comparing different speaker lines, thats like comparing apples to oranges. Besides, I'm still a fan of the Wharfedales, they sound good and I have never seen a bad review on them.

11-24-2008, 05:47 PM
I read somewhere that the width of soundstage on the X-Series CS was limited to inside the speakers... but isn't it pretty much like that for all bookshelfs...

I read that review, too. I think the reviewer was being critical of the speaker, expecting a wider soundstage even from bookshelf speakers. There are some great bookshelfs. It's not a limiting factor. Some audiophiles prefer them.

11-24-2008, 06:48 PM
I wish they had an ELT525 bookshelf with a 6.5" woofer. With AV123's awesome return policy, I might just get the x-series cs-encores, compare them to the ELT525's, and keep the one I like the best.

edit: What's the quickest way to break in a sub? I've just been leaving a huge mp3 playlist play all day, but I assume the sub only breaks in during parts where there is actually bass, so then it would make sense to just play the songs that feature the most bass over and over right?

11-24-2008, 07:37 PM
A wide dynamic range at normal listening level is the recommended method, as opposed to heavy bass. Playing it all day is a good way to go.