The motivation behind starting Subwoofer Pros was to develop a line of subwoofers for the modern professional—a person who works in small and large rooms, involved in a variety of applications (music, broadcast, and film) and a variety of styles of music—all while trying to balance performance and value.
For many users, the quest to find an appropriate subwoofer ends with the selection available from the manufacturer of their main monitors. While this usually ensures easy integration with their main monitors, all too often, these subwoofers offer a limited feature set. Users are then caught in the quagmire of “what do I buy for bass management in my rig because I’m working on a film this week, then mixing a two-channel single next week, followed by a video game the week after.” What we saw was the need for a subwoofer with a universal bass management solution that could be used with a variety of monitors, that would be simple and easy to operate for the end user, and also provide excellent performance down to 20 Hz (switchable to 8 Hz should the user need extended low frequency information).
Collaborating with Bag End Loudspeakers
A lot of research went into deciding how to provide the best performance and feature set for the lowest amount of money. This search led to us having Bag End Loudspeakers, an American manufacturer, build the Subwoofer Pros products for us, here in the United States. We offer end users products with lots of really good options, while surrounding these main products with accessories that add flexibility.
Overcoming Sub Setup Learning Curves
One of the problems we saw is that many end users have trouble properly implementing subwoofers into their setups. It is very easy to make one heck of a mess with a subwoofer and all too often, it seems like the more features you put into a sub, the further out of reach the goals become. Consequently, we designed a subwoofer with features that ensure excellent performance and easy integration and left out features that often aren’t properly used.
This is especially true with setting up phase and polarity. Properly setting up the phase of a subwoofer to minimize any nulls within the crossover region is tricky and can’t really be done without specialized equipment, experience and lots of time. To maximize the time users spend using their system, rather than setting it up, we have limited the phase/polarity adjustments to a simple polarity switch.
At the same time, some users don’t know how to approach low-pass control. Many users set up a low-pass filter, don’t really like how it sounds, try adjusting it further and can spend weeks tweaking settings only to never be completely happy with the results. For this reason, we didn’t include a variable low-pass filter. Instead, we designed a fixed low-pass filter, 6 dB down at 95 Hz, that we feel works well with a variety of monitors.
There are two methods to implement a subwoofer. One is the philosophy we prefer, but not everyone does. We suggest sending a full full-range signal to your main speakers. Then, using Y-cables (or some other device to split the signal), send that same signal to the subwoofer. Finally, balance the levels to taste. The second method is to send your signal into the Subwoofer Pros’ inputs and utilize the 95 Hz high-pass filtered thru outputs to connect to your mains. This is especially helpful when using small mains, since they are not able to handle low frequencies.
Our reasoning behind preferring to run main monitors full range is due to the ability of our ears to localize frequencies below 100 Hz. When suddenly all the low end below 100 Hz is coming from a different location, it can be rather distracting. Regardless, our subwoofers offer the flexibility for the user to choose the method that will work best with his or her setup.
Positioning a Third-Party Subwoofer Brand
For many users, the relationship with their studio monitors is key to their success. Consequently, many users hang onto their monitors well past the model being discontinued. (The NS10, anyone?) Yet during that time, needs often change. This led us to develop a product that was, above all else, flexible.
Brad Lunde is the founder and principal of TransAudio Group, a Las Vegas-based distributor and product developer for the pro audio industry.