Subwoofers - need to get your opinion


Might be a dangerous Topic heading asking for opinions :slight_smile: but i trust you

Have a pair of Sonus Faber Guarneri Memento (I love these speakers) currently running a Sonus faber Cremona Sub that while a nice sub is on its final legs as i upgrade my system it becoming obvious this is going to be a weak link

Think i am about to go back down the Rel Path potentially s812 / S510 but open to suggestions

Keen to get opinions on those with subs

(1) one sub v 2 subs - am i better to go up the chain and get say a single S812 or two S510
(2) I am planning to do the BHK300 down the path so anyone running RELs on these any issues or views
(3) anything else that may help me in my decision before hitting the Hifi Store
(4) alternatives

thanks keep up the good work

You are going to get a lot of feedback but I am up early today so here goes.
I would suggest two medium priced subs over one expensive sub. The three main brands seem to be Rel, SVS, and Rythmik. Rythmik wasn’t very good at answering questions by email and I needed low level (preamp out) inputs only so I chose a pair of SVS 3000’s. Rel’s were above my budget and there are some issues with hum thatmay need to be addressed . JL Audio also has some very nice subs too and they are in Florida (I think). I would contact the various manufacturers and they will have suggestions. If you have some woodworking and soldering skills then GR Research has some very nice kits that use the Rythmik “servo control” amp and you can save a lot of money.


I too went with SVS SB3000 subs.
A phone app is available for ultimate control of volume, low pass filter (highest bass notes the sub will play), phase (delay), polarity, and a few other items. Inputs are singled-ended (rca).
They blend in nicely in my system.

I’m a fan of sealed subs like the JL Audios. Boxes with a port (or a passive radiator) in them tend to give you more apparent lows for the money, but can be less smooth and continuous in their extension. Note that I wrote “tend to” and “can be”, and buy what floats your boat.

Though I also tend to agree that two is generally better than one, one better sub with speakers like yours can work really well, particularly if you have freedom of placement. And if you’re thinking of adding another of the same sub later. Though the placement bit applies as much or more to two ; )


Integration of the the subs into your system is more important than the subs themselves. The JL Audio CR1 crossover is the tool I use in my system, Bouchard S400 , a pair of JL Audio 112 subs, BHK 250 , DS senior and Jeff Rowland pre. With the CR1 crossover I get good results.In my office system however,KEF LS50, Stellar 700 stack, DS jr and one JL Audio 110 I’ve never achieved the same integration and if I use the crossover in the sub the sound quality is degraded. If I had the room and money I would add another CR1 to the office.


jgiese - I agree in principal - a lesser sub, well integrated can outperform a better one poorly integrated, though that should be achievable with either. And two aren’t necessarily easier to do than one. Unless you don’t have any choice regarding placement.

Your very nice main system is far more costly than what Gareth is looking for. I’m using an f110 with a pair of Harbeth P3ESR’s (roughly the size of Gareth’s speakers) in my second system, and it doesn’t often make me feel the need for a second sub. I can put it wherever I want, however.

Given freedom of placement of the speakers and sub(s), I also would advise doing it first without external EQ or DSP. Those have always seemed to me (from experience) to be for fixing problems that you can’t fix via placement or room treatment. Don’t EQ the sound (and alter the phase) of the artists and engineers’ final mix coming out of your speakers, if possible. All your other components do that to some extent already. My two cents.


I strongly second what @jgiese said! The JL Audio outboard subwoofer crossover is the current state of the art in an analogue subwoofer crossover with sufficient adjustment parameters to get the job done seamlessly.

The size of a subwoofer(s) (output capability) is a function of your room size. If you get a sub(s) that is/are to small to do what you want it too, it/they will distort and sound like CR…

Two smaller subs can sound better than one larger one if they can be integrated into the room correctly, they will minimize peaks and valleys around the room. BUT, they are harder to set up without the proper equipment and knowledge.

Many on the various PS Audio forums own and love REL subs, they are certainly towards the top of what is available.


ahh the advantages or disadvantages of a different time zone (Australia)…

thanks for the feedback

@Baldy unfortunately GR research aren’t available in Australia but SVS and to my surprise Rythmik are so will add them onto my lets have a look and listen list. Interesting Rythmik are bought into Australia by a company that is heavily into Acoustic products and offer room sub integration services so that be worth looking into

Had a quick look at the JL audio site as well some sexy subs in there unfortunately once again no on in Australia is importing these while a trip back to the US this year is planned might be hard to fit these into my suitcase and saving that space for a cable run.

thanks @badbeef agree I have room treatments down my list - I really want to get the system to a happy point first then powercords, fine tune adjust and treat but my room size will have impact on the sub decision current room is 6.5m x 4.3m (22x14) and this was why i was thinking more towards one larger sub.

Now choice of placement that’s a whole other issue - while i have some control, nah who are we kidding wife acceptance factor effects purchasing and sub placement decisions…

thanks for the thoughts - may have to hit a hifi store or two over the weekend …

The only thing I’d say is that I’d never take a sub without parametric EQ or DSP, because you’ll otherwise for sure run into problematic nodes somewhere.

If you don’t need this at the end, fine…but you should have the choice, as most probably you’ll use this feature.

I’ve heard both RELs and they’re GREAT options, I would favor the smaller S510 (and start with one), for the following reasons:

  1. S812 while goes 1Hz lower, biggest difference is higher amp power. This evidently is done for those thunderous sounds from LFE a home theater needs, like an explosion that you need to feel! On music system, this is not as necessary unless you listen at very high volumes
  2. S510 with smaller woofer, potentially would match your smaller bookshelves better, meaning, it would have a better frequency response (in theory) at the higher range of bass than S820. I do NOT know this for sure, BUT, from experience, larger subs work better with floor standings, and smaller subs work better with bookshelves. As you can cross over them at higher range with better synergy
  3. Price, size
  4. You could do double sub, IF you need it.

So, I’d buy one, try it, if your sub placement isn’t ideal for one sub, you can always get a second later on. S812 would be better if you also use this for HT. My 2 cents.


For what ever it is worth, I have 2 SVS ultra 16’s and 2 Rel S/5 SHO .
On the SVS I have them for 2 years and had to replace the plate amps 3 times.
SVS has a outstanding customer support they ship me replacement amps ASAP. But what to do when the warranty is up big??
On my Rel subs I have them for 4 years and never have any issues with them however as you stated,I have experienced hum issues I had to address. I hope this helps you in some way.


Their phone app is really nice. There are more adjustments than I know what to do with but the nice part is you can save 2 or 3 profiles that you like and then fuss with the settings to try something else.

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You had to replace the amps 3 times in 2 years? Yikes…

I’ve had a pair of Rythmik’s smallest sealed servo (all models are servos but not all sealed) L12 for 4 years. My space is 2200cu. ft. and open on two sides and these guys will pressurize the room to fantastic levels or play quiet and articulate. They are essentially 12" cubes and both have disappeared into my space.

Rythmik is a two-man operation as far as I know. However, when one of the plate amps died a few weeks after delivery, it was promptly replaced.

I added a Jenson transformer to feed them high-level from mono block. They are the most musical, tight, loose, punchy, duff, loud, quiet - whatever the track demands subs I’ve heard in 20+ years of messing with subs including a few SVS models as well as Vandersteen.

I think having 2 makes placement easier as they can be dialed (both in location and phase) in to help each other and counter a room mode or three depending on their spread.

Continuous phase, crossover and gain. Two choices of slope and three for extension. I don’t think any other adjustments are needed but all of these are required.

If I was younger and more able, I would totally buy the kits from GR and the parts from Rythmik although at $550 each they aren’t much. Price hasn’t changed in 4 years…

For what it’s worth, this is my experience…

Check out these if you need a little ‘more’ -

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O yes, very unsettling

I prefer this kind…



yes, that wins!

That gives me a headache.


Gareth – I use two BHK 300s with Nola KO floorstanders and two s812s. Everything sounds great. I like REL’s high level input, which ties directly to the BHKs’ speaker terminals. You just have to make sure PS Audio sends you the negative ground terminal for the black wire (it’s free; a small piece that screws into the back of the BHKs); otherwise there is a hum issue with REL’s high level input. As for 1 v 2 subs, the biggest difference I noticed when I went from one s812 to two was soundstage width (it got wider, duh). I’ve also read that placement is less critical with two, but I can’t say I’ve heard that with my system. I also note that this system is in a fairly large non-resonating basement room, and I wanted two subs just to fill the room (that said, invest in bass traps and some other room treatment if you’re going to throw that much bass around). In my home office with a suspended wooden floor, I use a smaller REL, just one, and it’s more than enough.

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