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Q: Adding a powered subwoofer for multi-channel music system ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Adding a powered subwoofer for multi-channel music system
Category: Arts and Entertainment
Asked by: mahars-ga
List Price: $100.00
Posted: 12 Jul 2004 12:07 PDT
Expires: 11 Aug 2004 12:07 PDT
Question ID: 373125
I am interested in purchasing a powered subwoofer for music listening.  I have
a Harman Kardon AVR630 receiver, Cambridge Soundworks Ensemble,
Surround, and Center Channel speakers, and a Denon 2200
DVD/DVD-Audio/SACD player.  The listening room is approx. 2,400 cubic
feet, in a 12.5 by 25 rectangle.  The Ensemble speakers are a
sat/subwoofer system, going down to about 40Hz.  I do not plan on
using the system for movies.  I am looking at the following

Paradigm PDR-12
Velodyne CHT-12
Polk Audio PSW303
Cadence XLNS-12
Cadence XSUB-12

I would like opinion, information and/or recommendation on the following:

1) Would adding a subwoofer add to the listening experience?
2) Opinion, information and/or recommendation of those subwoofers. 
"Loud" is not as important to me as accuracy and clean, tight bass. 
More musicality is better for me than "explosive" power.

Thank you

Request for Question Clarification by jbf777-ga on 12 Jul 2004 15:15 PDT

Thank you for your question.

I'm not finding anything review-wise online for the Cadence subwoofer,
and only user reviews for the Polk Audio subwoofer.  Would you perhaps
like to pick different products in place of these?


Request for Question Clarification by jbf777-ga on 12 Jul 2004 17:37 PDT
(I do have reviews for the Paradigm and Velodyne).

Clarification of Question by mahars-ga on 12 Jul 2004 20:10 PDT
Reviews of the Paradim PDR-12 and the Velodyne CHT-12 are fine.  A
direct comparison of the two would be fabulous!
Subject: Re: Adding a powered subwoofer for multi-channel music system
Answered By: jbf777-ga on 13 Jul 2004 13:08 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello -

Thanks for your question.  If you need any clarification, please don't
hesitate to ask.

1) Whether to buy a subwoofer or not will most likely depend on two
things: how much bass you like to hear, and whether hearing the entire
frequency spectrum is important to you.  Considering that your
speakers' frequency response goes to 40 Hz, a subwoofer should add to
your listening experience if the music you listen to has any kind of
bass.  Mathematically speaking, 40 Hz approximately represents a low E
on a piano keyboard.  This means that the 7 keyboard notes below this
are being attenuated, and are not fully represented in your system at
present.  For example, if there's a 15 dB drop at 31 Hz, you're
hearing 15 dB less of every low B note that is played through your
system.  Notes are not unfrequently heard below E -- especially D and
C.  Sure, your system will allow you to hear the notes below 40 Hz,
but because your speakers are not rated to officially respond fully
below this level, their output will be at a lower level than the notes
above 40 Hz.  So if you're listening to a track that has musical
activity below 40 Hz, you will not hear them without a subwoofer in
the exact manner they were meant to be heard when the track was
mastered.  Whether this is an issue to you is a personal preference. 
But theoretically, adding a subwoofer would afford you a more accurate
and complete representation of every note on the frequency spectrum. 
In other words, things should sound fuller.

What I would recommend is to visit a local audiophile, home-theatre,
or any other store that has a surround-sound setup with a subwoofer. 
Do an A/B test -- listen to the system with the subwoofer off, then
turn it on.  Make sure you're listening to a system that's within your
general shopping price range, and make sure the subwoofer isn't overly
boosted in relation to the other speakers.  Try a few of your favorite
audio tracks through the system.  Another thing to do would be to
either rent a subwoofer, or buy one with a 30-day-money-back
guarantee.  Either way, this will give you a real-world experience
with the speaker, your setup, and your room.

Here is a user-discussion type article in Stereophile Magazine 
on the topic:

To Sub or Not To Sub

2) The following are the results of my research for review articles. 
At Audio Review, you will notice people who have used both of these,
and have picked one over the other.  I haven't been able to find a
specific article that directly compares them, but there is discussion
containing both products here:

HT Guide

In addition, this site is a veritable "data warehouse" of both
consumer and editorial reviews on these types of products:


Paradigm PDR-12

Home Theater Hifi

Audio Review; 4.67 out of 5; 37 reviews,PDR-12/PRD_120357_2741crx.aspx


There are 8 more reviews here (scroll down to PDR-12)

Velodyne CHT-12
Total DVD

Home Cinema Choice

Sound and Review
"The CHT-12 is one of the few subwoofers I've tested at any price that
could produce clean output at 20Hz," Tom Nousaine, Stereo Review, June
You can get the full review faxed or mailed to you by calling Sound
and Vision (ask for Jae Segarra, 212-767-6000).

Audio Review; 4.38 out of 5; 15 reviews


According to the company website:
Velodyne CHT-12 was recognized as the recommended sub of the year in
its price category by Potrebitel Magazine.

Polk Audio PSW303

User Reviews

No editorial reviews found.


If you're not limited to the above, you might want to check out the
following; it looks to have amazing reviews from several prominent

HSU - $499
Scroll down to see review excerpts.

Little more expensive "bigger brother": note this speaker actually
goes right down to 20 Hz:

HSU VTF-3    
*  "2003 Editor's Choice Gold Award...Class AAA Rating" Lowest priced subwoofer   
      to receive a Class AAA rating by $1000. Stereophile Guide to Home Theater.
*  "...VTF-3 is the current champ of the low-priced super subwoofer class." 
      Howard Ferstler, The Audiophile Voice, October 2002
*  " Maximum Output mode...the response stayed flat between 20 and 26 Hz, 
   with no indication of a rolloff at 20 Hz, and less overall frequency-response 
   variation from 20 to 100 Hz."
      Robert Deutsch, Stereophile Guide to Home Theater December 2002


Here are the specs for the PDR-12:

Here are the specs for the CHT-12

Select search strategy:
  <product name> 
  <product name> reviews
  "<product name> is"
  "<product name> is" +I OR +we
mahars-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Exactly the information I was looking for.  Provided links to
web-sites with additional detail.  Answer was very clear and very

Subject: Re: Adding a powered subwoofer for multi-channel music system
From: purkinje-ga on 13 Jul 2004 15:58 PDT
Something else to keep in mind-- if you want accuracy, enclosed
subwoofer systems are more accurate (sealed off from outside air),
whereas vented subwoofers (those with air ports) are able to produce
louder bass sounds with less accuracy.
Subject: Re: Adding a powered subwoofer for multi-channel music system
From: jbf777-ga on 13 Jul 2004 16:36 PDT
mahars -

Glad to be of help!  Thank you very much for the kind words, rating
and tip.  I hope you find the right subwoofer for your setup.  Please
stop by again!

Subject: Re: Adding a powered subwoofer for multi-channel music system
From: mahars-ga on 13 Jul 2004 21:56 PDT
There seem to be less subwoofers with sealed enclosures.  Most seem to
be bass-reflex or ported.  (Do you know what "slot load venting" is?) 
Any experience with manufactures of sealed enclosure speakers - KEF,

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