How REL Recommends Subwoofers

Why We Take Subwoofer Pairing Seriously


The below text is a transcription of the video.

So let’s talk a little bit about how we recommend subs and what are some of the criterion we look at because we are really, really specific. These are not casual. Oh, well, everything above this price point gets this subwoofer. Everything below that price point gets this one. It is not a rote exercise and it can be confusing to people on both ends of the scale. Alright? I was just in Munich a couple weeks ago and really one of our best distributors anywhere in the world sells, I don’t know, 30, 40, maybe 66 packs a year. They’re fantastic. They’re wonderful people. Warm, encouraging. And I asked him, I said, you’re not really curious. You sell an enormous number of 812 6 packs, but almost no 510s. What’s going on with that? And they said, oh, you know, in our market wealthy guys, if they’re gonna go for it, they’re gonna go for the best.

So it’ll either be an 812 or something like a carbon special for that size and caliber of speaker. If they’re gonna do the refs, they’re gonna do ref 32s only. Like if they really couldn’t fit it through the door where they do a 31. So it’s just sort of a pride and ego thing. They’re like, Hey, you know, if I can afford it, I’m just gonna go as far as I can go. On the other end of things, we have people who under buy subwoofers like crazy, right? Who get a T/5x when what was really needed for that system was a pair of T/9Xs, the room, the speakers really would benefit from it. So I thought we would actually share a little bit about how we and, and what we listen for both in the field and in our development studios.

So there are a few different things. First of all don’t make the mistake of thinking you can shade a class. What do I mean by that? TX is one class and category of subwoofers. They’re our best all arounders, they’re an incredible value. They don’t cost much for all the cool things they do. Then the step up is to Serie S. When we say you need a Serie S, you need a Serie S. They do everything better by a lot. So we see these kinds of transition points as areas of confusion for people. Do I do, maybe do I do like two of the T/9Xs or one of the S five tens or even an 812 depending on the speaker? That’s a confusion point and we’ll clarify that. But the difference in speed in solidity, in depth and slam and extension low base on a 510, it is a profoundly better experience than a T/9x or even a pair of T/9Xs because that make the T/9x lesser or bad. Not at all. It’s developed for speakers that don’t have those kinds of characteristics that need that. So what do we listen for? We listen for all of the things I just mentioned and a bunch of others, but the first thing is we start to go down through our punch list is what’s the speed of the speaker? Is this a really fast sounding, you know, transient, intensive speaker, or is it something that’s just a pleasant all arounder? That right there may be the offset difference between a Serie S on one hand and a TX on the other. Remember, the TXs are faster than almost all the speakers are likely to be paired with. So it’s not a matter of slow versus fast. Both of them are fast, one is faster. And we start looking at scale. How big a sound is this speaker pairing likely to be able to make?

Right? If you’re talking about something like, oh, Bowers and Wilkins 702D3s, it’s a $5,000 pair of speakers. They make a pleasant, medium sized sound stage. It’s a really nice speaker, really beautifully balanced, top to bottom, doesn’t really do anything wrong for the money. That’s a pairing where a pair of T/9Xs works brilliantly. Start with a single add. The second one later, we’ve got no agenda around that, but that’s a perfect T/9x pairing. Then you start going up into things like, I’m just staying within Bowers and Wilkins so people don’t think I’m jumping from line to line and confusing or showing preference. Go up to their 800 series, go up to something like an 803 or an 804. You are no longer pairing with 9Xs. That’s immediately at least an S510 pair. Fast speakers really benefit from pairs as pairs are not about more base. They’re about being able to get perfect left and right. No room is symmetrical. The better the speaker is, the more you hear those kinds of things, you don’t necessarily know why, but what it results in is a very narrow dark sound stage. Everything sounds great up front, but as you get back into the drum kit and things back here, it gets narrow and narrow and stereo pairs open up the outer two thirds of the sound stage. So by the time we get up to S as you’ll see, far more s is being sold as stereo pairs or eventually even six packs because the clarity, the illumination. So we need to know the scale of the system starting with the speakers. Of course, it has to be supported by the electronics. It’s a system after all.

That gets us into S versus TX or ref versus S and that there’s that step up, right? Some of these reference speakers, right?

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January 2, 2024 - Posted in: Sound Insights