Best Subwoofer To Use With A Two Way Speaker System

I received my new Wilson-Benesch Vertex stand mounted loudspeakers in mid-January.  After about a 200 hour break-in period and a few position tweaks I am now in audio nirvana but without the final low octave or so.  I carefully chose my associated electronics and couldn't be more pleased.  My Sutherland N1 preamplifier has 2 outputs so I can use it to drive a crossover/subwoofer system.  
I am entirely certain that my spouse would never stand for me to add a W-B Torus Infrasonic Generator & the accompanying Torus Amplifier at about $12,000. I would like some assistance from those that have the experience to advise me of something very good to mate with my system at a much more reasonable cost.  Thanks

How much are you willing to do? Bass traps/eq or set and forget?

Do you have a lot of choices in finding the best location?
I've been using (off and on) a B&W ASW-650 for 15+ years with no complaints. If I were buying new, I'd look at a JL Fathom 12 or 13 (version 2) or a Velodyne DD-12. Either of these would more than meet my humble needs...
It would help to know what your other equipment is in order to determine what would be a good fit.
But, lacking that info, I would heartily recommend a pair of Vandersteen 2w, or 2wq subs and crossovers. They are by far the best integrating subs I have owned.
My system is:
W-B Vertex Loud Speakers
EKSC Eagle 11' Mono Blocks
Sutherland N1 Preamplifier
Custom shielded interconnects
VPI HW 19 TT w/ Ortofon TA 110 Tonearm & Ortofon Cadenza Blue
   Phono Cartridge
Custom W7 Silent PC with an Delta M-Audio Audiophile 2496 sound card     running WinAmp for MP3's and other software for higher resolution  
Kimber Bifocal X Loudspeaker Cables
Resolution/Imagining/etc. are nothing short of stunning.  Just missing the lowest octaves.
My room is on the smaller side however I have a very high ceiling and currently very little room interaction. I am willing to do some acoustic treatments and have some space to experiment with placement.
Perhaps check with W-B if there are any sub brands they recommend? Surely they realize not everyone who owns a pair of their speakers can afford a $12K sub. They may have some good advice and given the relative rarity of W-B in the marketplace might be a better source of advice. Also if you bought the speakers new how about the dealer?
Best Subwoofer To Use With A Two Way Speaker System
If you want to get HT type bass go with the multitude of 12"-15" units.

If you want one s/h that will blend perfect and give you an octave or two lower like it’s an extension of your Wilson-Benesch, then I suggest you look for an oldie but very nice Yamaha YST-160 or 305. These have proper linear amps twin 8" with servo control, very tight and musical, no doof doof droning HT sound from these. And they are the perfect height to use as stands, if you get two.

Cheers George

The days of putting a sub in the corner, choosing a bass heavy recording and trying to make adjustments while standing behind the sub are long gone. Today your matching the sub to your room and the mains. 

There are a few powered subwoofer brands that offer servo driver control and different forms of auto and/or manual digital signal processing built in. They can make integration unnoticeably seamless and lessen the need for room treatment. Some offer multiple EQ presets, visual setup monitoring from 200Hz on down, and remote control. You could even slave a lesser non DSP sub using the line level EQd signal and greatly lessen your rooms nodes while using smaller subs.

Do your homework by looking up the latest DSP setup instructions on the manufacturers sites that might suit your needs. They vary greatly as do the recordings ELF content, hence the remote control. 

I hope your spouse likes to boogie. Enjoy.
I can't recommend more highly the B&W DB 1 sub that I've used for several years in a very high end system currently with Wilson speakers. You will never know it's in action except that your bass response will be awesome seemingly from only your main speakers. It also has great features such as room correction. They have recently updated these subs with remote control among other things. At $4500 list I can't imagine spending more and used ones when available(rare) fly out the door. Last thought. Get two if you want perfection plus they look good and are relatively compact.
You may find the best subwoofer is no subwoofer. Make sure you try before you buy. You dont want to muck up the speakers sound quality that you now enjoy... with an inferior sub.  
Thank you to all of the above.  A home audition is a must as "aolmrd1241" expressed.  I am thinking that it boils down to three of the brands that seem to do most things correctly, in no particular order: The B&W DB1, Velodyne & JL Audio.
Any other critical requirements?
If your amp meets the requirements, you should strongly include the Vandersteen 2Wq subwoofer. It is one of the best integrating subwoofers around. It's super fast and is great for a 2 channel system. IMHO.
Perazzi28, I find the Sutherland N1 preamplifier very interesting. Appearance wise I especially fancy the nixi tube numerators. If you have a moment I was wondering what you were using for a preamplifier previously and your impressions of the N1 especially the phono section.


Something you should consider when selecting a subwoofer to match your main speakers is Box Alignment .. by that I mean ... Ported .. Sealed .. Transmission Line and/or Open Baffle ... each one of these designs rolls off at a much different rate per octave and can cause difficulty in seeming the sub to the main speaker if mismatched  

A ported style speaker rolls off at 24db per octave .. a sealed (acoustic suspension) type speaker rolls off at 12db per octave .. a transmission line speaker rolls off at a shallow 6db per octave  

If your main speakers are transmission line like Salk's are they roll off at 6db per octave .. if you select a ported sub that rolls off at 24db per octave at the point of intersection of your main speaker's rolling off and your sub rolling in the transmission line Salk's main speaker will have much more output at the specific frequency of crossing over  

Your WBV's are plus or minus 2db at 44Hzs let me change the parameters for sake of example a bit and say you owned a Salk stand mount transmission line speaker that rolled off at the same 44Hzs point and added a ported sub that rolled in at 24db per octave  

You would want to set the crossover frequency on the sub at 1 octave above the main speakers -3db point  .. this is where I feel you should set any and all sub crossover points at for proper overlap and seem less blending ... 1 octave above your mains speakers -3db point regardless of type .. make or model   

Now your sub crossover should be set at 85 to 90Hzs for proper integration ... but at 50Hzs where both are operating .. the main speakers are rolling off at only 6db and have much more output at that frequency than the sub does as it's rolling in at the 50Hzs frequency ... a difficult match for blending as the mains have more output at that frequency ... 50Hzs ... than the sub 

Here's two  examples to help you better visualize ... Taylor Swift and Michel J Fox are walking the Red Carpet together ... she's tall talented and beautiful ... he's handsome ..very short and equally talented ... not a great photographic opportunity because of the gross height miss match even though each is very attractive and very talented  

One more example  ... 6'8" Yankee outfield Aaron Judge  hits a home run into the third deck ... upon returning to the dug out utility infielder 5'6" Ronald Torreyes tries to high five Judge but must be lifted by a team mate to reach Judge's hand ... both excellent players but a serious mismatch in height  

The same can be said for the mismatched box alignment on two great speakers .. both the sub and the main speakers are the best of the best but don't line up  

It's amuses me that in this hobby when the word synergy is used so often ...  that when it comes to selecting subs to match main speaker most only choose the best of the best without consider the Box Alignment synergy  

I suspect this is the major problem that audiophiles have  with their sub's matching and seeming with their mains and why  it is often said that subs don't work well in two channel systems  

Because your WBV's are ported I strongly suggest you only consider ported subs and not the best of the best or the I like these as recommended by members here and on other boards  




Enter your text ...
Thanks to "donvito 101" for bringing the Rythmik subs to my attention!  Great post from "davehrib" on sub design/integration! Nicely done.

To "m-db"
Regarding the Sutherland N1 Preamplifier that I selected for my 2 channel system.  Prior system configuration was using a home theater setup with initially a Marantz 7701 Pre-Pro and later a Marantz 8003 Pre-Pro with a Sutherland Ph3D Phono Stage.  Not really ideal.  Next came a long distance move and my decision to go back to my "roots" so to speak and configure a new 2 channel system.
My long term friend/engineer/dealer & turntable designer George Merrill and I discussed preamplifiers.  He and Ron Sutherland have had a long relationship and collaborated on some engineering projects.  George uses Ron's N1 exclusively and Ron uses George's Merrill-Williams 101.2 Turntable exclusively.  Probably the 2 most under-rated components.  Neither actively pursues reviews so what exists is strictly gratis from the industry. George installed the Ortofon tonearm and cartridge on my VPI.
In George's opinion there is nothing better than the N1, only others that cost more and never really deliver anything that matches it.  Ron combines his finest phono stage and his excellent line stage in complete dual mono perfection.  It provides 2 outputs, 6 inputs with the last being a white noise generator for component/speaker break-in. It can drive reasonably long interconnects without problems if the interconnects are not unusual in resistance or capacitance.
The sound of the phono stage lacks any coloration. If you find a review of the N1 the reviewer's only comparison is with whatever else they are familiar with and draws conclusions from that bias. This is of course a single-ended device. Ron wouldn't have it any other way.  Less is more. Fewer parts and a shorter signal path.  I did a home audition of an Ayre Preamplifier. No slouch in it's own right but the N1 was clearly superior to me. It simply allows your cartridge to present itself without the preamplifier getting in the way. A lofty and rarely realized accomplishment.  Even though there are a lot of preamplifiers on the market, from my experience there are not many great sounding preamplifiers to choose from.  Add in the distinction of being a full-featured preamplifier and the list grows very small very rapidly.  Loosing a separate phono-stage is huge. It eliminates more interconnects and the potential for noise. Yes the N1 is quiet.
In the end it was a no-brainer as all my components are single-ended. I own a vintage Precision Fidelity C-4 Dual Cascode Preamplifier that had to have the power supply rebuilt and now that it is back I am having fun listening to it's line stage which is really really nice. The phono stage/line-stage just can't create the details/micro details/dynamics & micro dynamics of the N1.
My previous loudspeakers were the Dayton Wright XG 10 Mk II Electrostatics' and the B&W 804's.
Link to the N1 owners manual:
Link to George Merrill:
It is truly wonderful never to look back in regret when you know you made the right choice!
Best regards,

Ahem, cough, cough, didn't I recommend the Vandies first?
No problemo, I am glad you are considering them. Unless you have some weird amp, they are sub that seamlessly integrates with you speakers.

Gee whiz! ANOTHER sub that integrates seamlessly? I've never had a "seam" problem with my B&W.
You absolutely did and I apologize for the oversight.  You get first creds!
Thank you
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perazzi28, thank you for your informative response and the accompanying links, very helpful.
I would respectfully suggest the Goldenears Supersub XXL..  I love mine and have had them successfully mix with a few friends' various speakers that lacked low end. Each of them ended up buying at least one and still are very happy with them. The enclosures are reasonably sized, attractive to look at and have lots of servo processing to allow easy placement.  I find them very musical and easy to integrate. 
Thanks for the recommendation. I will take a look at everything suggested. It truly helps when knowledgeable people have valuable input.
I own the least expensive 12" sealed subwoofer made by SVS--the SB 1000 (just 1...not enough room for 2). It cost ~$500 + shipping. The sound is excellent in every way: powerful, deep, impactful, tuneful bass (sealed is obviously the way to go for music listening). This sub is quite a bargain.

The same basic sub but with more max output power (500W vs 300W) is available as the SB 2000. It's a big bigger and said to put out a lot of powerful bass. Neither the SB 1000 nor SB 2000 have room correction software. You have to adjust them by ear--old school (fine with me).

As you go up SVS' line, subs get bigger & far more powerful in the Ultra models. The 13" ultra has 1000W, DSP sound contouring, and costs ~$1,600 each. The 16" ultra, their newest model, has been getting a lot of attention in audio circles. It has app-controlled room correction software said to be very effective. Power is 1,500W and it costs ~2000 each. This unit has been compared to audiophile subs costing 2-5X as much, and it is said to be more than competitive.

If I had a big living system & needed subs, I wouldn't hesitate to get a couple SB 1000's or SB 2000's. You get great sound at bargain prices.
I have the Wilson Benesch Arcs and I pair them with a REL Strata III, picked up on CL for $400. Great combo, easy to dial in, and they blend together well so the REL isn't intrusive.  Sounds like I have floorstanders instead of monitors, but without overpowering the room.
I'm using a JL Audio E110 sub with the 2 way Lawrence Violin SE speakers. My Primaluna Int amp has only a mono sub output but it is more than enough in my 13 x 18 room. Since the speakers go down to 38hz, my dealer suggested I run the speakers at full range and crossover the sub at 45Hz. Both the speakers and subs are about 48" from the front wall. I was told to invert the speaker wire and adjust the phase on the sub until there was a null in the bass. I switched the speaker wires back to normal and then adjusted the volume on the sub to where it can't be hardly heard and doesn't overwhelm the sound of the speakers. As a result the bass is tight and no boom. If your room is larger you might consider the E112 or 2 E110.

JL subs are known speed and clean sound.  Check out the online and magazine reviews

Ive had very good luck with REL.  A pair of Subs has worked far better than one.
I have a pair of REL Strata IIIS with Decapos. Agree with Chlv0ter, adding a 2nd sub was as significant as adding the 1st one and not just for bass performance but overall smoothness, dynamics and clarity, just more musically convincing. These RELS integrate so seamlessly, they never impose as I have heard with other sub systems.
If I had the room to add a 2nd REL and could locate one in my area, I'd definitely try it.   I believe in what the commenters say above - what one does well, two likely do better.   It's not happening in my 11x10 room, but if I had the space for it I'd love to hear what a 2nd REL would do for the sound.
Hey, Perazz...
I recently purchased the JL Audio e112 to add the extra low end to my B&W 804's.  My decision to purchase the sub was due to a review (yes, I know it's not the best way to purchase a piece of audio equipment).  But I did have a small fear the sub wouldn't blend as well as I wanted it to.  Well, my small fear diminished once I got the sub dialed in to the system.  the extension is almost heaven.
But I knew there was more that could be done.  I looked into how to improve the bass even more - and that's when I researched a sub acoustic platform which essentially eliminates any vibrations from the sub to be transmitted into the floor (and thus into the walls).  This little 70 dollar addition transformed the bass even more...was more fluid and blended even better than before!  That much closer to heaven...  I "cannot" stress how much acoustical treatment will transform the sound for you.  Good luck in finding your audio nirvana