Field Notes

SYSTEM THINKING

A Subwoofer & Setup Designed For Analog

The classic RELs of decades past always sounded wonderful, but when it came to using them with analog front ends they could run into trouble. For around 15 years, many REL designs as well as those of some competitors used ports to reinforce the bass just at the point that a driver starts to run out of gas. Ports are essentially a tube into the cabinet that, like blowing across the open mouth of a Coke bottle, produces output at a certain (low) frequency.

The issue when it comes to analog is there is an awful lot of VERY low bass well below the music caused by the not-so-flat nature of vinyl records. This sound, if bad enough could drive the older ported designs crazy.

Today, we design using exclusively sealed box designs and those that use specially tuned ABRs (auxiliary bass radiators). We tune our ABRs so that they are pitched exceptionally low which keeps driver and ABR interaction down to a minimum. Sealed box designs are just as the name states, a driver sealed tightly into its well-damped enclosure. Both styles of design use the internal air spring of a tightly sealed driver/box combination to reduce the amount of unruly noise that analog can stimulate. They work well but can still be overdriven with a truly warped record so use good judgment and common sense.

Tip: When we ran the world’s largest, most successful high end audio distributor, we used $6,000 air piston-based isolation platforms originally designed to isolate electron microscopes to keep the world’s best turntables from overdriving our systems. Today, those chasing the highest performance still use newer variants of this approach. Back in the day the Townshend audio Seismic Sink was far and away the best reasonable facsimile we ever tested but these are now out of production (cost was between $500-1,000). My understanding is that the new Townshends using polymer isolation feet are beyond even the original and easier to use but a bit costlier, then again you get what you pay for—availability is via http://www.ear-usa.com/townshend-audio/  in the US.

Tip2: If you are using a relatively lightweight suspended (spring-based) ‘table like a Linn Sondek we strongly recommend buying a wall-mounted shelf. Pro-Ject and Solidsteel make two excellent products. The Pro-Ject better suits affordable/lighter weight ‘tables while the Solidsteel is better suited to heavier weight ‘tables and both are available through Music Direct https://www.musicdirect.com/Search?category=Furniture&sort=popularity|DESC&page=1&c1=tab-products&c2=grid
Audio Advisors sells the Rega wall shelf that works with virtually all its ‘tables. http://www.audioadvisor.com/products.asp?dept=248


April 19, 2017 - Posted in: News