Cannot seem to get subwoofer right

I cannot seem to get subwoofer setting right. I’ve watched Paul’s videos and also read the REL guides.

My speakers are late 70s Wharfedale E30 94db 1w/1m 18Khz - 63Hz ± 3db according to the plaque on the back of the speaker although some old brochures say it’s 43 (could be a misprint)

Anyhoo. I’m using a Wharfedale SW150 connected for my amp using the speaker level inputs. The amp is a SET 2A3.

Music sounds wonderful but I added the sub cause I wanted to experience more and feel more of the music.

So here’s what I did. I don’t have luxury of putting the sub in my seat and figuring out ideal position in fact I can only place it somewhere near the main speakers no too close about 4 feet away and about 2 feet from the wall.

I set the sub volume to max and the crossover to its lowest 30hz

And then I played Take 5 Dave Brubeck a track I’m very familiar with. Turn up the crossover till I hear it rumble as a separate entity then adjust the volume then turn the crossover back down again. I get to a point where I can visualize the bass player behind the speaker and it all sounds great… then I try a different track and I find the bass is flat until I turn the volume up but then I ever so subtly am able to locate the sub.

Blends in perfectly with the take 5 but other tracks like say Holst Jupiter it disappears and I have to turn it up where i can feel the bass but also locatable as coming from sub.

What am I doing wrong ?

Does your amp have line-level outputs?

The amp has only speaker outputs and standard rca out for aux, cd and tape

I have speaker wire from the SW150 speaker level inputs going into my amp and then my main speakers go into my amp as well

You are doing nothing wrong once a sub is set to “flat” with your satellite’s. Use the methods you mentioned to do that.

What is wrong, is that balance of sources will VARY, a LOT, from master to master and you can’t chase that such that every cut will present the bass exactly as you like it. OK, you CAN but you’ll be back here again!

Listen to a broader variety of cuts and accept that sources, especially in the bass, vary. Once your system is as neutral as can be, yes, stuff will fall above and below that bass balance all the time. A sub will not give you “perfect” (what we like) bass balance all the time.

Some will point to the joke about a system that is adjusted to play one song really well…nothing else. Subs can be used to do exactly that. I say get your system FLAT and go with the flow. It will be pretty good most of the time excellent some of the time and lean the rest of the time. It isn’t you, it is the way music is mastered.

Room placement won’t fix the masters, it will change the RANGE of lean to BOOM some, but it won’t set the bass balance across all sources just the way you like it. A better room room position allows a more neutral balance in the bass across your sources, but it will still present the masters balance. The same songs will be lean and some too bass rich, just not accentuated by the room as much so the sources are more true…to the source.

I think you’re doing fine and just haven’t realized how source master dependent bass is. Once you get that unfortunate bass balance variation squared away as not a broken sub I think you’ll be very happy with your sub.

Galen Gareis


I see thanks for that explanation

You are getting pretty good information here. Recordings are all different and older analog recordings are usually thinner in bass response than modern digital recordings. Why? Extreme low bass could cause cutter heads or playback styli to physically jump out of the record grooves.

REL has some great information on their website about adjusting woofers and the 2 tracks they recommend are great for working with woofer integration. The track from the “Sneakers” soundtrack is particularly good. As you are setting the woofer level you should hear the mallet strike the drum head and decay—repeatedly. Both of the tracks they suggest are lengthy enough that you can adjust and return to your listening position.

Other good tracks are the upright bass track on PS Audio’s setup disk, and many of Brian Bromberg’s recordings can help with definition.

Your goal is to get low bass while keeping good definition in the bass lines and not muddying up the midrange. It isn’t too difficult to get it close and you can continue to fine tune over several weeks of time. I always keep notes about my adjustments as a reference in case I change something.

Once setup to your liking, don’t worry too much if the occasional recording sounds thin or has boomy bass. That happens.

Good luck.

I dial-in using RELs technique. However, I don’t use a recording to do it because that is how I wind up with what you wound up with, a set point too specific to the musical material used. When I dialed in my REL subs, I have two T/9is, I used a series of looped low frequency test tones all recorded at the same level. You can find test tones for that purpose on various websites. With that approach I dialed in just once and have never had to touch the settings since.

My two cents.

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Are you just using just a single sub? If, so, that can make for uneven response, or at the very least make it harder to get right.

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Thanks all I did some adjustments yesterday and I think the sub and speakers are seamless now. Tested with a mix of My vinyls and some classical in tidal. Happy with the sound