Q: Why would I want a subwoofer in my system?
The simplest and quickest way to answer this question is that a correctly integrated subwoofer(s) adds a sense of space, impact, and openness to the music and movie soundtracks you play. Subwoofers can add explosive dynamics, a visceral excitement, and even mid-range clarity to the listening and/or viewing experience. There are two primary reasons for wanting a subwoofer(s) integrated into a quality music playback system.
1. The primary purpose for adding a subwoofer(s) is to add bass extension in a room that might be acoustically compromised (i.e. lossy in the bass). The size of the main loudspeakers for this situation could be any size.
2. If the system consists of a high quality compact speaker (i.e. the Wilson Audio TuneTot or Duette) the addition of a subwoofer will extend and enhance the bass reproduction of the main system. Deep LF extension is naturally missing in a compact design. A system like this is usually found in spaces where larger ﬂoorstanding speakers are not permissible and only compact speakers can be effectively utilized.
Q: What are the beneﬁts of a passive subwoofer?
An advantage of the passive subwoofer approach is the freedom to use any crossover and/or ampliﬁer of your choice. Another key beneﬁt is the driver used in a passive subwoofer design is usually housed in an optimized enclosure. Lastly, built-in ampliﬁcation and electronics can take up valuable internal volume, potentially limiting the natural LF extension. Making the right system component choices, combined with a well made passive subwoofer, will invariably result in bass and subsonic performance that can surpass an active subwoofer design.
It’s best to consult your Authorized Wilson Audio Dealer to ﬁnd the right solution for your system and room.
Q: When is using a powered subwoofer the best choice?
Cost and convenience are the two biggest factors in determining the use of a powered subwoofer. Your Authorized Wilson Audio Dealer is happy to help you ﬁnd the best solution for your system and room, whether it’s a powered or passive subwoofer solution. Wilson Audio has both passive and powered subwoofer versions available for you to consider.
Q: When would I want to use two subwoofers instead of just one?
Using two subwoofers instead of one is more about quality than quantity (even if there is more LF output with two subwoofers). Two passive subwoofers will substantially add to the quality of sound reproduction in a listening room with full-range main loudspeakers, both in adding phase coherent bass extension but also subharmonic energy.
When you turn the well-calibrated passive subwoofers ‘ON’ your listening room will seem to expand and give you the impression that you are listening to the orchestra in a much larger space. This phenomenon of increased soundstage scale occurs even when listening to recordings of a simple solo violin or harpsichord. Both of these instruments, which are incapable of producing bass fundamentals, sound much more realistic when the subwoofers are engaged.
One could argue that using two quality passive subwoofers is more about space enhancement and foundation forming than simply LF rumble. For the highest quality in music playback, two passive subwoofers offer the best possible option for a truly satisfying experience.
Q: What is the best crossover frequency for my subwoofer(s)?
The best crossover frequency, to a great extent, is system and room dependent.
For LF applications, the subwoofer crossover frequency is usually set by the A/V Processor or active crossover and is roughly 10Hz above the LF extension of your main loudspeakers.
For music listening, using full-range Wilson Audio loudspeakers, the best option is to select the lowest possible subwoofer crossover frequency to start with (30Hz-40Hz). Listen to the results and adjust depending on if the LF sounds accentuated/elevated/ pronounced or lean/thin. While room acoustics play a big role in this calibration, the subwoofer crossover point is usually between 32Hz and 45Hz with an 18dB per octave roll-off while leaving the main loudspeakers functioning with no low frequency cutoff.
Your Authorized Wilson Audio Dealer is happy to help you ﬁnd the best solution for your system and room and will calibrate it.
Q: Do I need a subwoofer in my system if I only listen to music?
The answer is ‘YES’ if your room can accommodate them.
The benefits of subwoofers in your listening room will tend to give you the impression that you are listening to music in a much larger space. This phenomenon of increased soundstage scale occurs even when listening to recordings of a simple solo violin or harpsichord. Both of these instruments, which are incapable of producing bass fundamentals, sound much more realistic when the subwoofers are engaged. Adding one or two subwoofers to any music playback system is a great way to increase the performance of that system.
Q: What is the best place to install my subwoofer(s)?
If possible, install your subwoofer(s) on the same “arc” as the front baffle of the main loudspeakers. You can use a simple string to do this. Hold one end of the string at the listening position and with the other end of the string touch the front baffle of the left channel main loudspeaker. Make sure the string is tight when marking the distance from the listening position to the main loudspeaker. While holding the string in the same place at the listening position you can walk back and forth in the listening space in-front of the listening position and see where the equal length arc is located.
If installing along this arc isn’t an option, a subwoofer(s) can be installed effectively with the use of the Wilson Audio ActivXO. The audio and system calibration tools available in the ActivXO allow the installer to sonically move the subwoofer without physically moving it. The audio signal path in the ActivXO is completely analog which provides the purist path for transmission.
Your Authorized Wilson Audio Dealer is trained on how to install subwoofers and how to effectively integrate the ActivXO. Please contact them to help you find the best LF solutions for your system.
Q: Can I use subwoofers from other brands with Wilson Audio
Yes. However, to get the best performance and LF integration a subwoofer should match the main Wilson speaker in phase integrity, transient speed, dynamics and output from below 40Hz to the subsonic range. All Wilson Audio subwoofers fit this description.
Talk with your Authorized Wilson Audio Dealer about what subwoofer(s) would be best to install in your system.
Q: Can I setup a subwoofer with Wilson Audio speakers myself?
It is a straightforward process to integrate a Wilson Audio subwoofer with Wilson Audio loudspeakers.
However, as with WASP (Wilson Audio Setup Procedure), trained Wilson Audio Dealers are the best resource for you to use when optimizing your system with a subwoofer.
When you purchase your Wilson Audio subwoofer(s) from an authorized Wilson Audio Dealer, your Dealer will integrate them into your system at no additional charge.
Q: When would I want to use the Wilson Audio ActivXO?
The ActivXO was designed to seamlessly integrate a single or a pair of Wilson Audio subwoofers to Wilson Audio loudspeakers in your listening space. It is the ideal crossover to integrate a subwoofer, or a pair of subwoofers, with Wilson Audio loudspeakers. The independent controls for the phase, gain, crossover slope, and balance are perfect tools to seamlessly blend your subwoofer(s) into your system.
When you purchase an ActivXO from an authorized Wilson Audio Dealer, your Dealer will integrate the ActivXO into your system at no additional charge.
Q: Does the amp for the passive subwoofer need to be expensive/
The amp does not need to be expensive, it just needs to have enough power to avoid clipping which can cause distortion. Ideally, the amplifier needs to deliver high current. With Wilson Audio subwoofers, an amplifier of 100 watts or larger should be sufficient in most systems and room sizes. That said, amplifier upgrades can provide incremental improvements in the very best systems. A trained Wilson Audio Dealer can guide you to the best choices for your system.
For more information on subwoofer fundamentals, here is a great resource to use: http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/subwoofer-basics/