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  1. #1
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    stupid question about subwoofers in cabinets

    I am close to putting together my very first ht system for my family room. My biggest issue (and some of you can probably relate), is that this is a "family room" which means kids and toys and focal point of the house, etc. My wife will lose it if I have a subwoofer sitting in the room. So my question is how bad is it to put a sub in a cabinet. I am having a custom cabinet made in the family room, so I can probably do something on the floor with a door that opens up, but there will still be cabinet walls on both sides of the sub.

    I have heard different opinions, with some saying no way and some (including from a local high end audio store) saying sure. And, even stupider question (but I have never done this before so I am entitled) how bad would a system sound without a sub (KEF iQ3 bookshelfs and surrounds).

    As an aside, although I am buying mostly Marantz and KEF equipment from a local dealer, the dealer recommended sub is a yamaha st225, which I am sure is not top notch by any stretch but it is cheap ($200) or so. I need this sub, whether it is out or inside a cabinet to be very small, and it seems like for quality small subs (velodyne, sunfire) you need to get up to $700+, which would make this the most expensive single item in the whole set-up, which I am probably not prepared for. I figure a cheap Yamaho sub is better than no sub at all, and this one is small. Any thoughts on how bad this would be or other budget small sub recommendations?

  2. #2
    Color me gone... Resident Loser's Avatar
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    There are...

    Quote Originally Posted by maanba
    I am close to putting together my very first ht system for my family room. My biggest issue (and some of you can probably relate), is that this is a "family room" which means kids and toys and focal point of the house, etc. My wife will lose it if I have a subwoofer sitting in the room. So my question is how bad is it to put a sub in a cabinet. I am having a custom cabinet made in the family room, so I can probably do something on the floor with a door that opens up, but there will still be cabinet walls on both sides of the sub.

    I have heard different opinions, with some saying no way and some (including from a local high end audio store) saying sure. And, even stupider question (but I have never done this before so I am entitled) how bad would a system sound without a sub (KEF iQ3 bookshelfs and surrounds).

    As an aside, although I am buying mostly Marantz and KEF equipment from a local dealer, the dealer recommended sub is a yamaha st225, which I am sure is not top notch by any stretch but it is cheap ($200) or so. I need this sub, whether it is out or inside a cabinet to be very small, and it seems like for quality small subs (velodyne, sunfire) you need to get up to $700+, which would make this the most expensive single item in the whole set-up, which I am probably not prepared for. I figure a cheap Yamaho sub is better than no sub at all, and this one is small. Any thoughts on how bad this would be or other budget small sub recommendations?
    ...in-wall sub's out there and I am of the opinion that things that are designed specifically for such use would likely be better than buying a free-standing unit (whose performance will probably be critically dependent on placement) and then stuffing it in a box...

    Unless they've repealed the laws of physics, you can't get the HT-type LFEs out of a bookshelf speaker with a roughly 6" woofer...you need to move air and lot's of it...while the KEFs spec goes to down to 45Hz(+/-?dB tolerance)) you really will need that last octave or so to provide the visceral punch of those laser totin' mechanical lizards...

    jimHJJ(...short answer: Your gonna' need a sub...)
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  3. #3
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    interesting

    the in-wall is something I hadn't really considered, but sounds interesting. A quick look on line shows a range of prices from $500 and up for the sub, and becuase it is an in wall you need a seperate amp which is another $500 and up, so it is not cheap.

    Do you know of any that you would recommend. I will try to find some nearby to listen to, but any help would be nice.

  4. #4
    Listener MikeyBC's Avatar
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    I've seen some nice subs that double as a table in the corner, just dont get that ugly (IMO) plain black finish.
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  5. #5
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    If you're having a custom cabinet made, it'd be nothing to build the subwoofer as a separate, integrated "chamber" of that cabinet....
    Not only that, but building your own would yield a far superior sub for the money than what you can buy commercially available.

  6. #6
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Generally subwoofers that already provide their own enclosure are a no-no for sticking inside of a cabinet like an entertainment unit. Reason is that furniture cabinets typically do not control for resonances or vibrations like a speaker or subwoofer enclosure would. Depending on the resonant characteristics of the cabinet, you will likely hear some very annoying vibrations and resonances. Plus, the free air inside of the cabinet will produce its own tonal characteristics, sort of like two speakers in one, neither of which are optimal.

    Dealing with the room acoustics and trying to optimize the bass around the room boundary effects is difficult enough even under more ideal conditions. But, putting a subwoofer into an entertainment unit or furniture enclosure just makes the low frequencies all the more difficult to get right. Every subwoofer I've ever heard that was placed inside of a furniture cabinet has sounded awful.

    If you are going to stick a subwoofer inside of a cabinet, you will need to eliminate the open spaces by stuffing it with soundproofing material. This approach will present its own set of problems if you use a ported subwoofer with a vent and/or driver that's pointed anywhere other than directly towards the cabinet opening.

    As to whether you "need" a subwoofer, a lot of that would depend on what you're looking for and what types of main speakers you already use. Bad bass is bad bass, and going with a low end subwoofer and stuffing it inside a cabinet will simply give you lots of bad bass. What you need to aim for is not quantity, but quality. If the size of the subwoofer is a concern, then there are plenty of options for smaller units out there.

    Small subwoofers that can extend further down into the bass range can cost you more than larger subs because they need to incorporate higher amplification power, drivers with a longer throw, and potentially servo controls to limit the distortion in order to attain a comparable bass resnpose as a larger sub. That Yamaha does not incorporate these features into the design, so depending on which main speakers you use, that sub might not add much bass to your system. Otherwise, unless you're using really small satellite units as your main speakers, it's fine to go without a subwoofer on your system.

    Some other subs that are around the same size as the Yamaha YST-SW215 include the Martin Logan Dynamo ($600), Rocket ULW-10 ($500), and Acoustic Visions MRS-10 ($450). These will all legitimately extend down to about 25 Hz with a relatively small cabinet. Other subs can provide comparable performance for less money, but they are ported designs that use larger boxes. Other small subs from Velodyne, Sunfire, and REL also deliver great performance, but will cost more.

    http://www.acoustic-visions.com/~aco...ed/mrs10.shtml
    http://www.av123.com/products_produc...rs&product=6.1
    http://www.us.martinlogan.com/speaker_intro/dynamo.html

    A more radical approach would be to go with a subwoofer that's built as a piece of furniture. I have no idea about how good this sounds, but this is another option.

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  7. #7
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    i'm no audio pro but i have my sub in a cabniet in the bottom of my center.when i want to use it i open the front doors and let her rip.i enjoy the sound and works for me.i used a spl meter to set everything up and to ME it sounds just fine.so give it a try and see what happens,my sub is the small sony powered sub 100.00 at cc.the main thing is if YOUR happy with the set up up and works for you who cares what anyone else thinks,but thats just me.hope it works out for you.

  8. #8
    I put the Gee in Gear.... thekid's Avatar
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    I had the same Sony sub mentioned above in my entertainment center and it worked out ok for music at a reasonable volume. However as Wooch mentioned when used for HT and depending on the movie and volume I would get an occasional rattle. Nothing that made the sound intolerable. The amount of the rattles you might get would probably depend on several factors-the volume you often play your music/movies at and the material of the cabinet. My entertainment center is a pretty substantial wall unit but I think if your cabinet was thin pine or particle board you would be more inclined to get some rattles. On the other hand a cabinet too sturdy might lead to a more "boomy" sound.

    I sympathize with your situation because my wife at one point wanted all my speakers in the entertainment center because that was what is was "designed" for in the first place. After hearing the speakers in the cabinet she gave up. However when I went with a larger sub (62lbs) it actually worked out better than my smaller 8" sub because we were able to place the larger sub near a chair and put some dried flowers on the top so it looks more like a accent table than speaker. Good luck!

  9. #9
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    great advice

    thanks guys. this is all helpful.

    Woochifer (or anyone else for that matter), you seem highly knowledgeable - have you heard any in-wall or in floor models. I know I can find some from Niles, Polk and Boston Acoustics on-line. It seems like an interesting option, although if I didn't ultimately like it or wanted to upgrade or change it seems like a pain in the rear, as you can't just buy a new one you have to actually take something out of the wall. Also, the cost is pretty steep relative to a stand alone becuase you need a seperate amp. Still, if you guys had high recomendations I would consider.

    Otherwise, I may just have to sit down with the wife and talk it out. By the way, the Martin Logan online looked like a nice compromise, becuase it is almost like a nice piece of furniture (on-line, anyways). Would that be as good as some of the other highly recommended subs on these forums (sunfire and velodyne). Or I may just buy a small cube and put it somewhere in the cabinet and see what happens. I am increasingly thinking that the small yamaha would probably just not be worth it.

    With respect to usage, this will be mid-volume all the way (I rarely crank, although occasionally this will be turned up), both for movies and music, although I have this gut feeling that setting up a system to watch movies and not having strong bass would limit some of the "I just did something really cool" factor.

  10. #10
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    I dont see why ya can't just buy a small cube sub and set it behind a couch or in the corner or something. I can't see why that would be so bad. Then again, I personally don't have to mess with WAF (wife approval factor, as it is commonly said in these forums) 'cause i aint got one. good luck anyways.

  11. #11
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    Another suggestion.

    A friend of mine has a rather big black sub which he hates the look of. He built a coffee table out of MDF to measure so that the sub just fits underneath. He then threw a table cloth over it, which reaches all the way to the floor, and put a vase of flowers on it. Casual visitors not in the know don't even realise there is a sub, not that is, until the table cloth starts moving backwards and forwards during more energetic sounds due to the amount of air the sub moves.

  12. #12
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    I purchased a BRS passive sub from DAK (Do you remember them?) many years ago for $99. It has a 15" woofer in a Oak vinyl 24"x18" cabinet. I didn't like the sub (too boomy), but kept it because it made a better coffee table than I could find at a furniture store. I later bought Legacy Focus speakers with 3 12" woofer/ch, so I didn't need a sub, but still have the coffee table. I've seen end table designs and if designed correctly could be your solution, but they weren't cheap ($500+).
    If you do decide to go with a sub within a cabinet make certain the design is compatible. If the cabinet is enclosed (no open back) you'll want a sub which is front or down firing with a front port. A sealed front-firing would be perfect, but the design, although more accurate, would require more power because it's less efficient. I always found Yamaha speakers to be less than adequate. I believe they make good receivers, amps, DVD players and sound reinforcement (PA) speakers, but find them a little harsh for home use. I always get better results buying speakers from a speaker company. The one time I didn't (BSR) I got a coffee table. Actually, come to think of it, $99 for a good coffee table isn't too bad.

  13. #13
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bfalls
    I purchased a BRS passive sub from DAK (Do you remember them?) many years ago for $99. It has a 15" woofer in a Oak vinyl 24"x18" cabinet. I didn't like the sub (too boomy), but kept it because it made a better coffee table than I could find at a furniture store. I later bought Legacy Focus speakers with 3 12" woofer/ch, so I didn't need a sub, but still have the coffee table. I've seen end table designs and if designed correctly could be your solution, but they weren't cheap ($500+).
    If you do decide to go with a sub within a cabinet make certain the design is compatible. If the cabinet is enclosed (no open back) you'll want a sub which is front or down firing with a front port. A sealed front-firing would be perfect, but the design, although more accurate, would require more power because it's less efficient. I always found Yamaha speakers to be less than adequate. I believe they make good receivers, amps, DVD players and sound reinforcement (PA) speakers, but find them a little harsh for home use. I always get better results buying speakers from a speaker company. The one time I didn't (BSR) I got a coffee table. Actually, come to think of it, $99 for a good coffee table isn't too bad.
    That was a BSR subwoofer, and If I had a known you back then I would have came after ya with a switch. That was a terrible sub that for its size couldn't bust a grape in a wine factory. Too much distortion, not enough woof!
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  14. #14
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    update

    thanks for the great advice.

    I am pretty much committed (read I have no choice) to putting the sub in a cabinet and just have a door that will open when in use. I went back to listen to the speaker set-up again, and I basically implied to the dealer that he was giving me bad advice on the yamaha sub, and the store agreed to update the sub to an infinity ps-10 and throw it in for free (I am buying the rest of the system there as well). They didn't have one set-up, but they had a Jamo sub set up and they told be that the Infinity was significantly better than that. They had the Jamo set up in a cabinet which clearly was worse, but not terrible.

    Reviews on the infinity sub are pretty favorable. Can you guys give me thoughts on how this might sound in a cabinet? I could also, as long as I am on this slippery slope, upgrade further to the ps-12.

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