REL Carbon Special Subwoofers or the REL G1 Gibraltar Reference Subwoo

Hi Everyone-Im looking to buy 2 subwoofers for my 2 channel stereo. Ive got the Aurender A30, Mark Levinson N53 amps N526 preamp and the Wilson Benesch Resolution 3Zero Speakers. I have all Clarus cables, power cords and power conditioners. They were all purchased used on Audiogon except for the Clarus. I’ve never had subwoofers in a 2 channel rig before just in my HT. Reading the forums here I have been seeing subwoofers being dicussed a bunch of times and has peeked my interest. My main speakers aren’t giving me enough base so I have decided to purchase either the Rel G1Gibraltar or Rel Carbon Special Subwoofers. I’d like to hear some comments on these two subwoofers or if you have any other subs you think I should be looking at.







Ag insider logo xs@2xfleetowner123

It's hard without knowing your room's dimensions, but here's my opinion based on your speakers. I would get dual REL No. 31 or No. 32 subwoofers. I owned Carbon Specials, but the passive radiator drove me crazy. I also owned REL G1 mkIIs and now REL No. 32s.

@ricred1 May I ask why passive radiator from Carbon Special was a concern?

I’m seeing all (current) REL models are designed with passive radiator, no?


REL Reference models, the No. 31 & 32 are sealed subwoofers that don't use a passive radiator. 

I initially loved the Carbon Special. My listening room is upstairs, carpet over a suspended wood floor. I could hear the passive radiator and in my system/room it eventually drove me crazy.

The No. 32 is totally different. Despite their size, the No. 32s completely disappear, there's texture to the bass. It provides deep, articulate "musical bass", that's simply wonderful in my system. My wife recently confessed that the No. 31s were worth every penny to her. My results doesn't mean that everyone will arrive to the same conclusion.

It is difficult for me to imagine, you have a 100 thousand dollar speaker and you feel you need more are making a huge mistake. Your speakers have the best bass I have ever heard.. you want big and fat and flabby,,go for it.

I will get pair of Rel 31 tomorrow.


It will replace two 18 inch sealed subwoofers of Scana 3.2/


In due course, I will give my impression of it.



I am not a big REL fan. IMHO the way they suggest to set up subwoofers is defeatist. The best subwoofers today use two drivers running in phase at opposite sides of the enclosure. This cancels out any Newtonian forces that otherwise would cause the subwoofer to shake or vibrate. Turn up the volume on a bass heavy piece and put your hand on the enclosure. If you feel it shaking or vibrating that is distortion. Dual driver subwoofers are made by Kef, Martin Logan and Magico. There may be others I do not know about. I recently heard the KEF REF 8b and I thought they were excellent, not cheap either. 

Your speakers cross to the midrange at 500 Hz. This means your woofers carry a significant amount of midrange. Middle C is 254 Hz. Removing the bass below 100 Hz will definitely lower distortion noticeably in the midrange. In your case it will not improve headroom much if at all because the tweeter is the limit. You need to use a high pass filter of high order to achieve the best result. Most subs do not come with a high pass filter and the low pass filters are slow so the subs creep into the midrange which produces awful results. This is why low crossover frequencies are recommended. Digital crossovers however can go up to 10th order. As long as you use a stereo set of subs and a fast digital crossover you can easily run subs up to 125 Hz without damaging the midrange. This results in the lowest distortion. If you are worried about digitizing the signal IMHO the benefits outweigh the deficits. 

I previously owned Martin Logan subwoofers. To each their own, but I prefer REL over Martin Logan. I'm a firm believer in there are no absolutes in audio, only preferences. If possible, the only way to know what works best in one's system is through a home audition. 


This is interesting.  

Your speakers cross to the midrange at 500 Hz. This means your woofers carry a significant amount of midrange. Middle C is 254 Hz. Removing the bass below 100 Hz will definitely lower distortion noticeably in the midrange. 

My speakers cross over at 270.  I can't change that on my speaker (MUCH lower price).  Much of the vocal range is under 500 Hz.  I did not consider that it would be reproduced with a woofer.

@ricred1, I am only referring to two subwoofers in the ML line, the Balanced Force series. The others are no better than anyone else. There are absolutes is audio. In this case a subwoofer with two opposing drivers is going to perform better than a single driver sub of the same overall quality. Personally, I will not have any of them. I overbuild by own.

@12many , Yes! Isn't that something. Most woofers are actually lower midrange drivers. They are in a portion of the frequency range where we are very sensitive to pitch and distortion. Doppler distortion or Doppler pitch changes occur with objects in motion. The lower a woofer goes the further it has to move to project that frequency at similar volume. The motion becomes visible below about 100 Hz at a moderate volume. The smaller the woofer the more obvious it becomes unless it is used in multiples. The cone is travelling towards you then away from you, changing directions. The same thing occurs when a car passes you. If the driver leans on the horn while it is passing you the tone of the horn changes rather dramatically. Most of us have experienced this first hand. If not I am sure there are YouTubes that demonstrate this. In the case of the woofer, when it changes direction it is changing the pitch of every other note it carries. The larger the portion of the frequency range the woofer carries the more damage it does. In your case you are better off than the OP whose woofer covers another entire octave. Other than making more low end this is the other major reason to use a subwoofer. People will mention how much a subwoofer improves frequencies above the subwoofer range and this is why. What kills me is that most subwoofers do not include a high pass filter for the main speakers totally ignoring a major reason to use a subwoofer in the first place. 

Please, if you are going to use subwoofer use a complete two way crossover. If you really want to take it to the next level use a digital crossover with bass management and room control which requires a measurement microphone usually supplied with the crossover. Some of the very expensive units do not supply a microphone. They expect the dealer to install and adjust the crossover. They will sell you the microphone and computer program as an option. This is a very powerful system. If you think you can do it by ear, have fun trying. I tried for 20 years and could never get it to my satisfaction until I got a TacT 2.2X. It did it in about 1 hour and the bulk of that time was me trying to figure out how it worked. The manual sucked.  

Not going to argue about audio. I owned a Martin Logan subwoofer from their balanced force series. I prefer my current subwoofer. 

Fat chance you will find a subwoofer that can match the speed of the woofers on your speakers. Two Isobaric woofers. If that means anything to you, I would suggest you purchase one Wilson Beseech Torus. The most advance and fast woofer I have heard. Keep in mind it is clean without the doubling that is usually associated with subs. The walls of you listening room are not going to shake, not without the usually 80 Hz. 

s_r_a,    I've never heard subwoofer designers or manufactures mention the speed of their products. Is there a measurement that's not widely known, the sound of out of phase or a subjective observation?

What is, "the doubling associated with subs"?



Very similar to what happens when you toss a large rock into calm water. The first wave is sent out, and smaller and smaller waves follow. An no, manufactures will not tell you their speakers often double. You might want to do a little research on this. 

s_r-a,   I'm a hack, so I just googled, 'how is subwoofer speed measured?' What turned up was subwoofer distortion, performance, phase, and port length, nothing on measuring a subwoofers speed. Can you suggest another search?

If I were a subwoofer manufacturer whose sub measured faster than brand W, publishing the measurements or their attributes would seem to be valuable marketing.


Could what you call doubling be a result of a drivers back wave? Your rock in the water analogy seems appropriate for reflex and open baffle subwoofers. Most people can easily hear the difference between a ported and a sealed sub.

Pressure created by the back wave within a sealed cabinet subwoofer appears to have a noticeably different reaction. Sealed subwoofers with increasingly more robust driver motors, servo limiting and those using proprietary equalization have lowered measured distortion dramatically.


This link seemed an interesting primer albeit from a manufacturer:


No manufacture will admit that their sub woofers double....I am retired from business as a small focused dealer. Have nothing to sell. If you want to know what bass should sound like google Wilson Benesch torus...there is so much technology there.