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SUB THREE upgrade from ancient 2Ws


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This week I took delivery of two new SUB THREEs!  
Very exciting.

They are replacing a very old set of 2W subs that I've had for about 13 years.  I purchased the 2W's second hand with the intention of upgrading them to 2Wq's.  Sadly, by the time I got around to that the 2W->2Wq upgrade was no longer offered and I just had to make due with them as they were.  From the serial numbers, it looked like they had been produced before the turn of the century and were clearly pretty old when I got them.  They did still work and sounded pretty good in my system but I have been interested in the low frequency room equalization since I talked to Richard about it at one of the CES shows years ago.

The room I have is odd in its dimensions and layout.  Try as I might with room placement I was never able to get the 2Ws that well balanced.  Getting the overall levels matched was fine, but looking at the frequency response, they peaked in very different ranges.  I'm really curious to see if indeed the adjustments in the SUB THREEs will indeed be able to overcome or at least improve on that.

So far, things are sounding good!  In the same positions and using the same X-2 crossovers as the old ones I don't have to run the sensitivity levels nearly as high to get the same SPL readings.  Adjusting the contour, right between 4 and 5 sounds the best to me for now.  The overall contrast between these and the old ones is significant.  I think just having the contour control alone makes a huge difference.

My plan is to leave the equalizers alone for now and just use them as they for a couple weeks.  Once it sounds like they've broken in, I'll take a whack at the low end room adjustments.

S3_Unpacked.jpeg

S3_Home.jpeg

IMG_6731.jpeg

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1 hour ago, stratocaster said:

Not to mention, how did you manage to get these in and out of your car and your house. 

I learned that a Toyota Prius was designed to accommodate exactly two SUB THREE boxes.  The tolerances are very tight.  Two will fit, but that's it.  The hatchback glass pressed gently on the corner edge of the rear box and the forward box was right up against the front seats.  Both boxes made flush contact with the roof.

It may seem obvious but just to confirm, a Porsche Cayman will accommodate no SUB THREE boxes, zero.  

At the dealer, we used a furniture dolly to get them out of the store and next to the car and then just lifted them up and in.  At home, my son (14) helped me carry them from the car and up to our studio.  Luckily I did not strain or pull any muscles in the exercise, but its several days later now and I still do feel a little tender in a few lower back areas.  I'm really glad its just that and nobody sustained any injuries.  They are heavy (understatement).

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3 hours ago, Robertsmania said:

 At home, my son (14) helped me carry them from the car and up to our studio.  

Good old teenager labor... The first time I got the 2WQ and V2W, I had to move them from my garage where the UPS guy dropped it, to my third floor attic on a stairwell that reminded me of the Winchester mystery mansion... too many steps leading to nowhere.. I just used the good old "box in a bedsheet" trick to pull the suckers in their box all the way up. That ordeal left me with a deep sympathy for people who have to move them 😀

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I guess they are pretty heavy.  Even when I could lift things, I hate moving anything.  I watched Rutan and his set up guy carry both boxes of Quatro's carefully up the stairs to the loft.  It wasn't fun watching them move let alone doing it!  ha.  

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On 2/5/2021 at 12:34 PM, stratocaster said:

Congrats on the upgrade. Looking forward to reading about your experience with these especially the methods you employ to dial them in.

My plan is to take it slow and one step at a time.  There are so many things that I want to jump in to with adjustments and tweaks, but I know from past experience that it will be better to be patient.

For now I have the new SUB THREEs in exactly the same location as the old 2Ws and am using the same wiring and X-2 crossovers.  Adjusting the level and contour starting with the stand up bass recordings on the Vandertones and then adjusting a bit with other music I really like.  They sound great so far and I plan to just run them like this for another week or two to let them break in.

 

Then we'll start with other adjustments...  I did get a pair of M5-HP filters to use instead of the fixed 10K X-2 cables I had been using.  Long ago when I first setup the 2Ws I did experiment with the adjustable WX-2 crossover box but that was when most of my interconnects were RCA.  When I switched amplifiers and recovers and went with balanced connectors I just got the suggested X-2 and it does drop the crossover point just above 80Hz on my system.  But it will be interesting to see with the M5-HP how things sound above and below that.

The main speakers are a pair of 2Ce Signature II's from 2007 and I'm running them on a Sunfire TGA-5200 amplifier with a Marantz 8801 preamp.

HP-M5.jpeg

X-2_20K.jpeg

Edited by Robertsmania
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  • 2 weeks later...

I stayed up way too late last night listening to stuff.  I had discovered a distortion issue with the midrange drivers in my 2Ce Sig II mains and had sent them in for repair.  After putting the rebuilt drivers back in the system yesterday I couldn't stop listening to a wide range of recordings and was consistently blown away by how much better the system sounds now.  Amazing.

 

Anyway...  eventually I was able to tear myself away from track surfing and took some measurements of the crossover options I have for the subwoofers.

There are three options:

  1. The old fixed X-2 crossovers I've had for a long time and used with the 2W's.  These are labeled as 10K and according to the volt meter testing with my amplifier it reads 0.691V at 80Hz so its pretty close to that target.
     
  2. The lowest setting on the M5-HPB listed as 10K on the sticker and 20K on the 2W documentation with switches 1,2,9,10 on.  According to my volt meter, this reads 0.848V at 80Hz which means the actual 3dB crossover point is quite a bit lower.
     
  3. The second to lowest setting on the M5-HPB listed as 20K on the sticker and 33k on the 2W documentation with switches 1,8,19 on.  According to my volt meter, this reads 0.617V at 80Hz and 0.696V at 100Hz.

 

So far I've been running the subs with the old fixed X-2's and now that they've had some time on them to break in I think its time to move on to comparing the crossover options.  Philosophically, I think it will come down to either option 1 or 3 above for 80Hz or 100Hz.  The much lower crossover with option 2 seems less than ideal, but I'm going to evaluate anyway and try to see what really sounds best.

Here are a few initial measurements of the various combinations...  I know this is pointless to present as any kind of visual aid but the data overload makes a pretty picture!

Studio_Xover_Comp_01.jpg

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FWIW,

I found moving to a lower impedance setting usually resulted in an increase in bass response.- And, how much bass you like is kind of like 'salt to taste'.

A lot depends upon the subs positioning and room interaction. Though the Sub 3 graphic equalizer should minimize  those issues

bob

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By being able to EQ the bass, I believe you are able to get a similar smoothing that you can with a 'swarm' of 4 subs.  I also think finding the right place for teh four isn't the easiest thing to do based on folks I have spoken with who have done this.

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On 2/19/2021 at 11:15 AM, MNSki said:

Do you still have the 2Ws? It would be interesting to see what a swarm of the 4 subs would graph at. 

 

10 hours ago, ctsooner said:

By being able to EQ the bass, I believe you are able to get a similar smoothing that you can with a 'swarm' of 4 subs.  I also think finding the right place for teh four isn't the easiest thing to do based on folks I have spoken with who have done this.

No, the old subs went away last month.  I think there are questions in the Ask Richard section about mixing 2W's and 2Wq's and that was not recommended.  So I doubt two really old 2Ws would mate very well with the new SUB THREES.  What I hear from them in the same room locations with the same crossovers is a lot better and I'm also running them with much lower sensitivity level to get similar SPL output.  I think the adjustable contour makes a huge difference - and that would be a weird thing trying to balance the old/new with different Q values.

I have thought about using one input on each SUB THREE from the main speaker on that side and have the other input driven by the corresponding surround speaker.  I'd set the level, contour and eventually low end room correction for the mains and see how it sounds with the other input coming from the surround speaker.  Right now the bass management in my processor cuts off the surrounds and sends their low frequency to the mains, where it comes out the subs anyway - but that is going through a lot of extra steps.

23 hours ago, GdnrBob said:

FWIW,

I found moving to a lower impedance setting usually resulted in an increase in bass response.- And, how much bass you like is kind of like 'salt to taste'.

A lot depends upon the subs positioning and room interaction. Though the Sub 3 graphic equalizer should minimize  those issues

bob

Yes, changing the crossover to a lower value does boost the subwoofer level.  I think its a factor of the way it inverts the expected slope of the crossover.  If you went from a 100Hz to 80Hz crossover, the level at 60Hz would be higher - so the sub responds with a higher output at that frequency.  I think thats why it would be dangerous to run them directly with no crossovers in place, the super low frequency levels would be unexpectedly high and the sub would think it was being asked to deliver really intense response.

For the ranges that I've been experimenting with the effects of the different crossovers are certainly obvious and measurable, and I compensate by re-setting the sensitivity so that the 0-300Hz SPL level for the sub is consistent when evaluating the different crossover values.

What I have to work with at the moment are 100Hz, 80Hz and 55Hz.  I think 55Hz is too low to consider using, but I've still been taking some measurements with it for comparison.

Positioning and room location obviously has a huge impact on the bass response at the main listening position.  Mostly I think this has to do with how the sound waves from that speaker bounce around the room and reach you.  I do wonder if the phase at different frequencies as influenced by the crossover doesn't also have an impact on how it sounds matching to the mains?  Or does the first order crossover influence both the phase of the main speaker as well as the sub?  Since the sub is not going to be the same distance from the listener as the mains, it seems like the subtle timing differences in when the sound reaches you would affect which frequencies boost or cancel in the overlap range?

 

Adjusted so the 0-300Hz SPL is @81dB here's what I see for the L sub in isolation, the corresponding main speaker frequency response with the same crossovers (but without the sub) and the full channel.

 

Studio_Xover_Comp_Sub_81_FR_02.jpg

Studio_Xover_Comp_Main_FR_02.jpg

Studio_Xover_Comp_Full_FR_02.jpg

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I do wonder if the phase at different frequencies as influenced by the crossover doesn't also have an impact on how it sounds matching to the mains?  Or does the first order crossover influence both the phase of the main speaker as well as the sub?  Since the sub is not going to be the same distance from the listener as the mains, it seems like the subtle timing differences in when the sound reaches you would affect which frequencies boost or cancel in the overlap range?

Boy, you really are thinking this through.

If I didn't have a couple few shots  of The Balvenie, I'd try to decipher those graphs.🤪

B

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I am so very happy with my system right now!

Seriously, it has never sounded better and I cant stop listening to one album after another. 

-----

First of all, I found a good crossover setting.

In my room, with the placement and distances between the mains and subwoofers, I find crossing them over at 80Hz does sound best.

Making the switch from the fixed X-2 to M5-HPB crossovers I was a little frustrated that my choices seemed to be either 55Hz or 105Hz with the settings in the documentation.

Experimenting with other non documented settings, I was able to find a good 80Hz crossover with switches 2,8,9 ON. 

Please take care if you are trying to find settings on the M5-HPB to match your amplifier and deviating from the recommended values.  Apparently switches 1/10 and 2/9 are linked and using either of the pair without the other puts asymmetrical capacitance on the legs.

With the 0.5dB resolution on the volume control of my preamp, I can't get exactly 1.0V at 1KHZ.  So my approach was to get as close as possible, and then add/subtract the difference to the 0.707V target.  I've verified consistent results using the vandertones tracks as well as my signal generator, and then used a sine wave tone to find where the voltage does hit the adjusted target voltage and noted that as the observed xover point.Xover_Comp_V_02.PNG.d8fd9cc0d83b8ba2e9c7c3dc98256534.PNG

-----

Second, I took a whack at the low end equalization.

I strongly recommend anyone doing this exercise to watch this video where Richard goes through the whole process:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C60LoHGtI0

Normally, I would have my son help me with this kind of thing - reading the sound meter while I made the adjustments but it was late and he was already in bed.  So I setup a webcam on my laptop and that let me see the meter clearly from the other side of the room - it worked really well.  I could switch tracks, record the values on the worksheet and make the adjustments on each subwoofer easily and comfortably.
https://www.vandersteen.com//media/files/Manuals/Vandersteen Audio Setup Data 80 Hertz High-Pass.pdf

I went through several iterations and it did seem like some of the adjustments did affect their neighbors, but by the third pass it seemed like the readings were consistent.  Although I wasnt able to get to the 1/3 targets on all of them, there were improvements across the board.

After going through the EQ, I went on to re-setting the "user controls" for level and contour.  The settings I ended up with were close to where I had been before doing the EQ, but a little lower on sensitivity and a little higher on contour.

Then I started listening to things to evaluate, and OH MY GOD how much better it sounded overall was amazing.  I've been track surfing since then...

-----

Today I took some measurements to see what the frequency response  looks like now compared to the way it was.  I was shocked to see how flat the stereo response is.  The individual R and L channels do still have quite a bit of variation, and from what I understand of the process that's fine and the goal is to reduce the magnitude of the peaks/valleys. 

In these graphs, the darker lines are the current values after the equalization and the lighter ones are from the way it was with all the pots set at "noon".

Studio_EQ_Stereo_02.jpg.5c5aba519d791eea2974dabc659b3d9b.jpg

Studio_EQ_L_02.jpg.654c0bc37a9978c711f983df12dd7675.jpgStudio_EQ_R_02.jpg.ae8600f70b82cb6ac9f8559ab27357ca.jpg

 

 

Edited by Robertsmania
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Your WebCam on the SPL meter idea is genius! I’ve been just walking back-and-forth across the room as I’ve done a couple 5A set ups over the past month. Tedious to say the least.

I’ve continued to move my speakers around the room looking for “the spot.” Now that I think I have found it I’ll give your remote broadcast method a try when I take my next pass at the settings.

Best, John

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On 2/27/2021 at 11:50 PM, Robertsmania said:

I am so very happy with my system right now!

Seriously, it has never sounded better and I cant stop listening to one album after another. 

-----

First of all, I found a good crossover setting.

In my room, with the placement and distances between the mains and subwoofers, I find crossing them over at 80Hz does sound best.

Making the switch from the fixed X-2 to M5-HPB crossovers I was a little frustrated that my choices seemed to be either 55Hz or 105Hz with the settings in the documentation.

Experimenting with other non documented settings, I was able to find a good 80Hz crossover with switches 2,8,9 ON. 

Please take care if you are trying to find settings on the M5-HPB to match your amplifier and deviating from the recommended values.  Apparently switches 1/10 and 2/9 are linked and using either of the pair without the other puts asymmetrical capacitance on the legs.

With the 0.5dB resolution on the volume control of my preamp, I can't get exactly 1.0V at 1KHZ.  So my approach was to get as close as possible, and then add/subtract the difference to the 0.707V target.  I've verified consistent results using the vandertones tracks as well as my signal generator, and then used a sine wave tone to find where the voltage does hit the adjusted target voltage and noted that as the observed xover point.Xover_Comp_V_02.PNG.d8fd9cc0d83b8ba2e9c7c3dc98256534.PNG

-----

Second, I took a whack at the low end equalization.

I strongly recommend anyone doing this exercise to watch this video where Richard goes through the whole process:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C60LoHGtI0

Normally, I would have my son help me with this kind of thing - reading the sound meter while I made the adjustments but it was late and he was already in bed.  So I setup a webcam on my laptop and that let me see the meter clearly from the other side of the room - it worked really well.  I could switch tracks, record the values on the worksheet and make the adjustments on each subwoofer easily and comfortably.
https://www.vandersteen.com//media/files/Manuals/Vandersteen Audio Setup Data 80 Hertz High-Pass.pdf

I went through several iterations and it did seem like some of the adjustments did affect their neighbors, but by the third pass it seemed like the readings were consistent.  Although I wasnt able to get to the 1/3 targets on all of them, there were improvements across the board.

After going through the EQ, I went on to re-setting the "user controls" for level and contour.  The settings I ended up with were close to where I had been before doing the EQ, but a little lower on sensitivity and a little higher on contour.

Then I started listening to things to evaluate, and OH MY GOD how much better it sounded overall was amazing.  I've been track surfing since then...

-----

Today I took some measurements to see what the frequency response  looks like now compared to the way it was.  I was shocked to see how flat the stereo response is.  The individual R and L channels do still have quite a bit of variation, and from what I understand of the process that's fine and the goal is to reduce the magnitude of the peaks/valleys. 

In these graphs, the darker lines are the current values after the equalization and the lighter ones are from the way it was with all the pots set at "noon".

Studio_EQ_Stereo_02.jpg.5c5aba519d791eea2974dabc659b3d9b.jpg

Studio_EQ_L_02.jpg.654c0bc37a9978c711f983df12dd7675.jpgStudio_EQ_R_02.jpg.ae8600f70b82cb6ac9f8559ab27357ca.jpg

 

 

This is really great discussion.

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  • 2 weeks later...

First, thanks to @Robertsmania for this post and all the clear details and data!  Very interesting and helpful.

Second, I installed two new Sub Three’s in my system yesterday.  I have 2008 Quatro fabric speakers with M5-HP high pass filters set to the input impedance of my amplifier (100k).  With some very familiar reference tracks I initially set the sensitivity to 88 dB and the contour to 6.  While my listening so far has been brief and I recognize the subs and new AudioQuest speaker and power cables need to break-in, I have been very pleasantly surprised with the improvements including soundstage improvements that I really didn’t expect. 

My question is....after break-in I will calibrate the SUB THREE EQ per the procedure like I have done previously with the Quatros.  Should I then attempt to calibrate the Quatros and the SUB THREES combined?  It would seem I could fine tune even further with both of them together.  Any thoughts on how I might do that?

Appreciate the input

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Great question.  I've never thought about that.  I don't know many who have subs with the powered speakers, but when I've heard Quatro's and 5's with subs, I have been blown away.  If I could sneak a pair of three's in the house, I'd do it in a heartbeat.  Even with powered built in subs, by using sub threes the mid should be even better.  

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The Basics of Blending the SUB THREE(s) with the Quatros.  (I have this information from talking with Richard Vandersteen about how he does it.) 
 
Start by setting the Sensitivity Setting on the SUB THREE(s) (85 dB as a starting point since you have Quatros) and adjust to the desired level listening to the standup bass recordings from track 13 and 14 of the supplied calibration disc. Once these are set to your liking in your room, proceed to the EQ calibration process.

 

Now adjust the 11 band EQ on the SUB THREE(s) and on the Quatros to the “noon” position. The Contour Setting on the Quatros should be set to 1 and the SUB THREE’S contour should be at 1.

 

Using the Quatro Setup Sheet available from the website here, set your initial readings and calculate your target readings.   

 

Now proceed with the same procedure you used to set the Quatros, but split the pot changes evenly between the SUB THREE(s) and the Quatros. Remember, the goal is to get to the Target dB reading, not to “O” dB.
 
Finally, return to track 13 and 14, setting Q and low-frequency level on the Quatros and Sensitivity setting on the SUB THREE's to your taste.  You may need to go back and forth between the SUB(s) and the Quatros for optimum results.  Please note that it is very important the the Q settings on both the SUB THREE(s) and the Quatros be identical or you will have phase issues.
Edited by Brad O
Q settings must always be the same
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