Best audiophile driver/design for around $1500?

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I have a pair of JL Audio F113's that I bought a few years ago and only used for about 3 months and then put them and the rest of my main system in storage due to a lengthy remodel.

My listening room is 18'x24' and I had to dial these back a little.
These will match a pair of Green Mountain Audio 'Continuum 3' speakers.


I probably should have gotten the F112's instead, as I have read they are 'faster' than the F113's.



In using larger cabinets I know you can get the same or better quality specs/sound as expensive commercial subs, how close can I get to specs/quality of the F112 with spending $1500? If so, I could sell my F113's to fund the building of 2 and have a sizeable amount leftover to add to my audio fund :)

I don't want to get crazy on larger cabinet size, but I could deal with 50% larger or so.


JL Audio Fathom®*f112v2-GLOSS - Fathom® v2

GMA Continuum 3 Specs:
 

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There has been much discussion about whether different driver sizes are 'faster' than other driver sizes, but I believe the generally agreed consensus is that the effects of the room, and/or lack of electronic EQ to tame peaks in the measured response at the listening position, are what makes a subwoofer sound 'slow' / 'smeared'.

Do you have electronic EQ at the moment? My bass setup is somewhat larger than two F113s and is in a room of smaller size (20'x14'x7'8"), and I think I need more bass at times, especially during movies, so it sounds like you have issues with room modes causing ringing if you say two 13" drivers are too much.


If you want 'audiophile' bass, though, and at 'Reference' levels for movies, I personally would recommend Sealed PPSL alignment and probably 2 or more boxes to smooth room modes, with something like a MiniDSP or AntiMode to smooth the response curve as required if you don't have something like Audyssey for electronic EQ.


Just looking at the prices for the JL stuff here in the UK, the F113 is listed at £4099 (!!) which is insane for just one 13" driver.

Compact solution? Yes, undoubtedly, so very much a 'lifestyle' product (IMHO, of course) but IIRC I put together my two Dual-18" PPSL with £600 Cerwin Vega amp in custom-built and veneered boxes for under the price of just one of those... and that figure includes paying a professional carpenter to build and veneer the boxes, and something like £150+ in fuel and vehicle hire costs to run up and down to deliver him the drivers and collect the finished articles in two runs.

I admittedly got a bit of a bargain on the box build costs, but even if I had paid double or triple, I still would have come out under the cost of just one of the JL F113s, I reckon.


In that size room I believe you need something equivalent to my setup to reach Reference level for movies, so you should definitely be thinking about going larger. A well finished cabinet will look like a great piece of furniture (and could double as a table or footstool if designed as such) so don't fear the size ;) :)


All IMHO, of course, and I'm sure others will come along shortly to disagree with me :p lol
 
Hi Y'all,

I second MemX's motion for PPSL or push-pull arrangement of drivers, maybe two or three w/ dual 12" per box would be sufficient? You want to arrange the drivers to be motion cancelling. The Dayton Audio RSS315HF-4 or ...HO-4 come to mind, and maybe one of the iNUKEs w/ DSP, e.g.: iNUKE3000DSP which is rated @ 2 x 1500W into 2 Ohm.

Regards,
 
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What is their enclosure?

My experience with auto room EQ is that it isn't good enough - based on runs with Behringer , Marantz AV, and REW. But a buddy swears the DSPeaker is wonderful.

In other words, makes no sense paying a fortune for auto-EQ when you really should (really, really should) work it out yourself with a US$60 mic and a Behringer all-purpose DSP

Ben
 
Yes, wherever you seen the 4099 GBP cost is quite out of line... as that is what a PAIR of the NEW F113 Version 2 costs.
I paid around 1850 GBP each for my F113 Version 1's, new, a few years ago.

I want the subs design to be the best 2 channel audio SQ first. The use for HT is secondary.
As I said, the F113's were in my system for a short time before I put everything in storage. What I meant by 'dialed back' was volume matching with my main speakers, I had to turn down the volume on the F113's or I felt that the subs overtook my system speakers.
At the time I was using an Edge NL12.1 (300 watt SS amp) one of the best sounding amps made.
My GMA 'Continum 3' speakers go down to a -3 db @ 35 Hz.
The pre-amp was a VAC CPA MKIII with the phono Signature mods.
I did not use a HF filter or anything between the preamp to the amp.
The only eq was done on the subs.


I had to downsize and no longer have the Edge amp or VAC pre-amp. I do have a vintage NM Harmon Kardon Citation I tube pre-amp, Citation II tube amp matched set (with all original Operating manuals, Assembly manuals, schematics etc. from original owner that I bought everything from) that will either be sold for audio funds or completely restored/modded (Citation II) and used in the system. Not sure what I will use for pre-amp, I also have a 1980's Accuphase C200X.

What would be great if I could get the same or even better SQ/performance of the F113 in a 4 cu. ft. or less cabinet and the cost to build 2 subs with amplification at $2500 or less... Possible? That would leave extra cash to invest in for more system updates/upgrades.

There has been much discussion about whether different driver sizes are 'faster' than other driver sizes, but I believe the generally agreed consensus is that the effects of the room, and/or lack of electronic EQ to tame peaks in the measured response at the listening position, are what makes a subwoofer sound 'slow' / 'smeared'.

Do you have electronic EQ at the moment? My bass setup is somewhat larger than two F113s and is in a room of smaller size (20'x14'x7'8"), and I think I need more bass at times, especially during movies, so it sounds like you have issues with room modes causing ringing if you say two 13" drivers are too much.


If you want 'audiophile' bass, though, and at 'Reference' levels for movies, I personally would recommend Sealed PPSL alignment and probably 2 or more boxes to smooth room modes, with something like a MiniDSP or AntiMode to smooth the response curve as required if you don't have something like Audyssey for electronic EQ.


Just looking at the prices for the JL stuff here in the UK, the F113 is listed at £4099 (!!) which is insane for just one 13" driver.

Compact solution? Yes, undoubtedly, so very much a 'lifestyle' product (IMHO, of course) but IIRC I put together my two Dual-18" PPSL with £600 Cerwin Vega amp in custom-built and veneered boxes for under the price of just one of those... and that figure includes paying a professional carpenter to build and veneer the boxes, and something like £150+ in fuel and vehicle hire costs to run up and down to deliver him the drivers and collect the finished articles in two runs.

I admittedly got a bit of a bargain on the box build costs, but even if I had paid double or triple, I still would have come out under the cost of just one of the JL F113s, I reckon.


In that size room I believe you need something equivalent to my setup to reach Reference level for movies, so you should definitely be thinking about going larger. A well finished cabinet will look like a great piece of furniture (and could double as a table or footstool if designed as such) so don't fear the size ;) :)


All IMHO, of course, and I'm sure others will come along shortly to disagree with me :p lol
 
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woops... meant 8 cu. ft.
Would like the enclosure to be no more than 24" tall x 24" wide x 30" deep.

And a reminder... best sounding, low distortion, 2 channel audio use is the primary goal, HT use is secondary.

Hopefully that opens choices up more and will be less expensive... Too bad the LMS Ultra 5400 is discontinued, that would have been my choice for sure.
Those 2400 watt speakerpower plate amps look sweet! But, are spendy.
 
In that case, two of these, Sealed 8cuft each, one per channel of a CV5000 should be awesome and utterly unstressed for music playback, meaning very low distortion :) and come in about $3k.

HS24mkII 24″ Subwoofer | Stereo Integrity

Data-Bass (This is the Mk1 version)

I have read that they are an excellent sounding driver, but I'm afraid I've not had the pleasure myself yet.



To ask the question, is the listening position a single seat and just you listening? Or is it a sofa for several people?

If it's the former, you may only need one subwoofer as you can optimise its location to give the best results at the seating position, without needing to worry about smoothing the response across the room, which more than one box will enable you to do.
 
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Would like suggestions that people have experience with... going up to 8 cu. ft. enclosures and then nearly doubled the cost of the drivers from previous to $2400 and still need amplification/enclosures.



In that case, two of these, Sealed 8cuft each, one per channel of a CV5000 should be awesome and utterly unstressed for music playback, meaning very low distortion :) and come in about $3k.

HS24mkII 24″ Subwoofer | Stereo Integrity

Data-Bass (This is the Mk1 version)

I have read that they are an excellent sounding driver, but I'm afraid I've not had the pleasure myself yet.



To ask the question, is the listening position a single seat and just you listening? Or is it a sofa for several people?

If it's the former, you may only need one subwoofer as you can optimise its location to give the best results at the seating position, without needing to worry about smoothing the response across the room, which more than one box will enable you to do.
 
Too bad the LMS Ultra 5400 is discontinued, that would have been my choice for sure.

In that case, two of these, Sealed 8cuft each, one per channel of a CV5000 should be awesome and utterly unstressed for music playback, meaning very low distortion :) and come in about $3k.

HS24mkII 24″ Subwoofer | Stereo Integrity

Data-Bass (This is the Mk1 version)

I have read that they are an excellent sounding driver, but I'm afraid I've not had the pleasure myself yet.

Would like suggestions that people have experience with... going up to 8 cu. ft. enclosures and then nearly doubled the cost of the drivers from previous to $2400 and still need amplification/enclosures.

For what it's worth, I've direct experience with the two super drivers mentioned here, comparing them side-by-side (along with other drivers), in fact, so I might have some input to offer here. (I'm one of the very first users of the HS-24 MkI since it first came out and picked up a LMS-Ultra 5400 shortly after when there was some debate comparing the two and I was curious enough to 'put up or shut up'.)

From this experience, I can attest that what MemX read is right: the HS-24 is a top tier driver and the one I would and have recommended over most (much more expensive) others. It makes a fine showing against the LMS-U and would be my choice without hesitation. It's just as clean until it reaches excursions that would require two or three Ultras each on their own amplifier to match in output and digs down deeper with ease. (This is actually a bit of a problem for me: I've tried to use the LMS-U to help fill in against room modes, but it'll quickly reach surround dimpling excursions and run the risk of bottoming out while the big sub is still loafing along thus giving me integration headaches. If the LMS-U weren't handy to have spare as a well-known touchstone when I play around with comparing subs, I'd have dropped it for another 24" in a heartbeat.)

Well, it's been a few years since I built my "temporary" cabinet for my HS-24 MkI (I've not wanted to take it out of my system long enough to build something prettier), but I think, once bracing is accounted for, the volume comes in somewhere around 12-14ft^3. Not exactly a small box even if it doesn't effectively take up much more floor space than the box for the "little" 18" LMS-U. The MkII using its stronger variant of the original motor looks like it'd be surprisingly happy in 8ft^3 and be an all around better performer in that box than mine in its more imposing presence.

I'd venture that one in a 8ft^3 box on a good amp and some manner of DSP to help with the room issues would be a noticeable upgrade even before accounting for output. A second, as suggested, should be scary good and help tame the room, but would be a bit outside your budget if you build your own boxes and opt to use something like an iNuke 6000DSP or a lot if circumstances require that you hire someone to build your cabinets for you and get a heftier amp and separate DSP option.

Speaking of the 24"...were budget less "limited" (as though your current budget weren't somehow already a great deal), I'd suggest a Deep Sea Sound Mariana 24SC. That would net you one of these 24" drivers, one of those massive SpeakerPower amps, a cabinet almost to your size requirements (and the option to have one built custom built specifically to your needs), a DSP and a warranty. I've no direct experience hearing one of these, but the owner of the outfit is one of the good guys of audio from my experience. (Also, from what I've seen, he'll come out and set the sub up himself if you're within travel distance.) The cost, however, is way out of budget even after your budget creep, but there's an 18" offering. I don't think this would be more than a lateral move and only mention it because it fits into your budget and offers a custom option while side stepping the work good DIY requires if you're time or resource (no saw) limited.
 
Would like suggestions that people have experience with...

My personal setup uses the now-discontinued SI HT18s. I believe they don't have as much motor force (or as flat a motor force curve across the range of excursion available) as the LMS, but they were $160 each instead of almost a grand each (which the LMS are/were, IIRC), which is incredible value for a driver with their specs. In my 20'x14'x7'8" room they are utterly unstressed - I don't think I've seen them move more than about 5mm each way during music reproduction, even when producing a measured 119dB, so the only distortion I ever hear is when it is present in the material being played back. The sealed alignment also means no group delay issues or port noise issues (and the ability to play down to 5Hz or so when I get a miniDSP in the chain to boost appropriately), so combined with the several large diameter drivers barely moving (and Audyssey electronic EQ to tame some room modes), they always sound clean and 'tight' because they are just cruising along.

The PPSL arrangement is just incredibly clean. I wasn't sure what to expect when I had them built because I'd never heard a PPSL subwoofer before and was not (am still not!) aware of anyone else in this country who has built/bought one (I am happy to be corrected, though!), but I liked the idea of much-reduced (even-order) distortion and I can safely say that I have zero regrets about taking a step into the unknown. They are rich, warm and textured yet airy and transparent at the same time, but never sounding 'thin' or 'dry' unless the music is recorded that way.

Having bought them to replace a ported SVS sub, for a while I thought there was something 'missing', but then I realised that it was distortion that was missing - instead of that 'fat' bass that sounds over-boosted and bloated, dominating the listening experience, it is refined and subtle but has the displacement and power required to really kick for sudden sharp transients. They are amazing for pretty much all genres of music; previously I used to listen to a lot of 'dance'/club music because I do like it and the bombastic SVS played to its strong beat-based characteristics, but since having the PPSL, I have found myself listening to more and more well-recorded, high-dynamic-range classical music and less and less poorly-recorded, distorted, flat-dynamic-range dance music, simply because they are so revealing. They have literally broadened (some would say 'improved' :p) my taste in music, and the first thing I do when I wake up or get back from work is to put some music on - I just can't stop listening to them.



Anyway, the HT18 are now discontinued but the equivalent in the SI line-up presently is the DS4 18:
http://stereointegrity.com/product/ds4-18-subwoofer/

4cuft each is about right for them (as it was for the HT18) so you could build two dual opposed boxes with a driver at each end, then run each box off one channel of an iNuke6000DSP (so you have DSP as well): https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-NU6000DSP-BEHRINGER-iNUKE/dp/B005EHINIK/.

4*$259 + $399 = $1435

Add a little for shipping, however much you want for boxes (depending on if you're building them yourself / having someone else build them / making them pretty / leaving them with a basic finish), a bit for stuffing and cables, and potentially a little for the work required if you want to put the iNuke in a different room due to potential fan noise, and I'm sure you'd come in under $2k.

Alternatively, look at the speakerpower amps or the cerwin vega amps with a miniDSP for EQing, or go all out and buy a Lab Gruppen amp (which I think has inbuilt EQ tools).


Building PPSL boxes rather than Dual Opposed would be a bit more hassle and they will need to be larger to account for the slot space, but check out my build thread for pictures - once finished, the slot makes them look less 'bulky', and seeing the side of the rear of the inverted driver (rather than a face-on driver cone) makes them less 'visually dominating' while also pleasing my 'how does it work' inquisitiveness.
 
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