View Full Version : Should I mix with a sub-woofer?

10-11-1999, 07:54 AM

Looking for advice and to learn what others are doing in their studios. I have a home project studio, using Event 20/20bas monitors and was wondering if including a sub-woofer in the configuration and was the correct thing to do.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance

10-11-1999, 10:25 AM
sorry to jump in on your tail, ratz, but I've got the same question. I'm using NS10's and find it hard to judge the bottom of my mixes. The response graph of the NS10's show a significant rolloff @ 100Hz and I was wondering if a sub would be an appropriate option to buying monitors with a lower range. Any suggestions on a particular sub? (cheap?) I'm sure someone out there has had the same issues. . .

10-11-1999, 10:36 AM
hey ratz. great topic. I also have event 20/20 and have the same problem. one thing that helps a some is make sure on the back that your Lf is all the way up but we are still missing a bunch of bottom end. would also like to hear from someone that has same speakers and have tryed the subs. Mixes are very hard to judge with this set-up aand I feel like if I had differant moniters that i would have to start all over again learning them. anyone with sub pease help

10-11-1999, 11:49 AM
I donīt think there is a yes or no on this subjekt. Iīve got a sub just to get the feel of what its like down there. The question if you should mix with a sub or not depends on you, I find it hard to set the levels with a sub because Iīm use to mix in nearfieldīs but friends of mine love it. Right or wrong ?
Donīt know is there one?


10-11-1999, 01:47 PM
I have the same prob with the Event 20/20's. Everyone asks for more bass, more kick, when on any other system it's gonna be too much. I was thinking it was time to get something better, but haven't considered adding a sub??? looking for advice as well!

Jim Clark
10-11-1999, 02:34 PM
I own Event 20/20 bas monitors also, and have used a sub for some time now. I was doing a hip hop project a few months back, and picked one up to give me more bottom. Needless to say the client was much happier hearing that big bottom (no Spinal Tap jokes, please).

I am pleased now, but it took some time to dial in the right volume and crossover points for the sub to get mixes that translate well on other systems. I'm sure you guys have all tried your mixes on many diferent systems and listened to all kinds of program material to learn your speakers.
Well, there will be a similar, if not as long learning curve to get used to your "new" set-up if you do go with a sub. BTW, remember to feed your sub both channels of your program material, not just one side - it does make a difference.
Good Luck!

10-11-1999, 02:47 PM
When you're dealing with nearfeild only monitoring I think it's important to just be familiar with your monitors. What should a mix sound like on them? ie if you play the latest U2 album and you don't hear lots of 30htz then chances are if your mix has lots of 30 in it, it's too much.
I've worked in a couple of studios with some big monitors and they're really good for checking that bottom end, but you still have to reference it to other stuff. After a few hours your perception of what is good bottom end and what is too much tends to drift.

A sub is a good idea, only if it's a good sub well matched with your system.
The boys in the PA shop recently rigged up 2 double 15 sub bins into the company van, just cos they could, and it sounded like s h i t. plenty of bottom, not at all accurate, not at all a unified sound, andthat is the possible problem with subwoofers sometimes, they don't sound like part of the same sound

I find it important to 'trick' myself into accurate monitoring, ie not necessarily a flat line with pink noise but a sound that makes me think that sounds good off a few CDs I know should sound good.
That might be a little bassier than normal for me, but it means my mixes don't end up too bottom heavy compared to other CDs.

We've got Genelec 1031A monitors and they have very good bottom end for a near feild, nice top end, and great mids. hell they're probably the best monitor I've used.
I've tried the events and thought they were way too bright, which will result in dull mixes from my ears.
Room size and shape is critical too, and orientation of you set up.
We had the control room facing one way, and there was no bass, set it up facing the other way and great bass.
Standing waves and all that can suck the subs andbass right out of your speaker cone, and are fixable with bass traps etc. Lots you can do,if you know your monitors are producing good bottom end but you can't hear it.

Monitoring it seems is pretty subjective.
Got to find the sound that makes other CDs sound right to your ears, then you've got a good starting point for your mixes.

[This message has been edited by delphypop (edited 10-11-99).]

[This message has been edited by delphypop (edited 10-11-99).]

10-11-1999, 03:05 PM
When I spotted a sub unit(1094) for my Genelec 1031A's at my second hand dealers I got excited. When I asked what the unit was like, and the repair guys laughed and said all the stuff started to fall off thier shelves when they tested it out, they had a sale!
It takes a while to get used to. Do that by playing CD's you know and your own past work. keep tweaking, moving...till you are happy.
Get the most features for tweaking that you can. It is a PITA to crawl around on the floor and tweak, get a friend to "go down" for you!
So you can judge from your normal sitting position.
Subs, I immagine are a must for "Jeep rumbling" R&B and Dance music but optional for Rock n Roll.


10-11-1999, 05:19 PM
Thanks for all the feedback. I have been struggling with the lows, in that my mix sounds right on while in the studio, but it is not translating well when I bounce/burn a CD to demo it in my car. The lows are creating an ugly rumble in my car system. I have pretty much assumed all along that it is simply due to errors I am making in the mix, but since I have been having continued problems resolving it, I thought that perhaps a sub could "assist" me.

Thanks again

10-11-1999, 08:47 PM
A sub can make a huge difference with your NS10's!! I recently produced a few projects that were mixed by someone else using NS-10's and a sub. I always liked NS10,s, but missed the bottom end. After hearing them with a sub, I was blown away. Yamaha actually makes a few sub models that you can find at Best Buy or other home audio stores. I know it sounds bad, but they're great. Relatively inexpensive too. Like one of the other replies stated, make sure you play some familiar CD's through them to set volume and crossover level. Heres another trick...Once you have set the levels, make sure you put a piece of tape over the knobs so they don't get inadvertently moved during a session. You could really screw your mixes up!

10-11-1999, 10:46 PM
I had the same problem with bass rumble. It turned out that I was always second guessing myself and still getting some rumble. I began to think my ears were losing their grace. Then while on a trip to Holland, I tried some nearfields and purchased a pair of Genelec 1030A's. I can't praise these monitors enough. Small, yes. But their bass is surprisingly accurate and translates to every system I try my mixes on.
I'll do a mix on the Genelecs, get comfy with the sound then try it on my Monitor 2's. It's working everytime so far. I agree it's all a matter of taste, but when your monitors are not working for you, look for something new. If they're not translating well, something is wrong. The Genelecs have the bass ports on the front and I suspect this is one of the main reasons I get a more accurate reading. With this design, the room is less of a factor and standing waves are diminished. And in most cases, if your bass seems diminished while mixing and is overwhelming outside your studio, a standing wave is the culprit. I guess you could say near fields are like oversized headphones...you want everything pointing at your ears, not the walls. Give it a try Ratz. It sure breathed new life into my playpen...

Kenny Gioia
10-11-1999, 10:57 PM

It sounds like the problem you're having with your car mixes is too much sub information.

NS-10's tend to ignore too much sub. So instead of crapping out like a car stereo they sound fine.

Sub woofers are great with NS-10's beacause you almost don't need a crossover. Theres nothing down there.

The Event 20/20 do try to produce down there
And like the Tannoys will crap out.

Here's a neat trick I've noticed. If you you watch the Events 20/20's on your mixes sometimes the woofer will just start moving like crazy. Even though you can't hear it you have too much Sub Freq.

Most Professionally Mastered projects don't make the speakers move too much. Combination of rolling off Sub Freq, Bass Compression and proper mixing of course. Happy Subbing.

10-12-1999, 06:10 PM
The Mackie HR-824's are outstanding. I never have to go back and eq the low end on my mixes now. Flat response down to 40 is really helpful. I actually do quite a bit of eqing below 80 now. The NS-10s sound really harsh, and have almost no low end. Get the HR-824's. A sub can help you mix in some situations, but it can also give you a false sense of bass. If you use one, make sure it matches your system. I would recommend getting monitors with good low end.

10-12-1999, 08:16 PM
Check out the JBL LSR 28P's. Really nice bottom end. You can get a sub with them, but in switching it in & out it really isn't necessary to have the sub unless you want the teeth loosening bottom. Switch the sub on for you R&B clients & off for your rock / everything else clients & it isn't a giant stretch between the two sounds.

10-13-1999, 06:23 PM
Ive had the same thoughts before,
balance is the key!!!

anyone seen the Event Tria monitor system?
are those topboxes the same as the 20/20s?
sub and topboxes...five way...good price...

10-14-1999, 09:48 AM
Elbanano hit the nail on the head.Genelecs are extremely "room forgiving" on the low end.On the other hand,I've tried to use 20/20's in less than ideal rooms and the bass was totally out of wack(as in "almost none").The main consideration when using a sub is to cross over at a low frequency(80 or below)so the upper bass (kick,bass punch)is still being delivered by the main monitors.Set the sub volume just high enough to extend down the bass frequency-not to increase the bass volume.You'll be suprised at how little level will actually be coming from the sub.This works for me.Good luck.

10-14-1999, 07:34 PM
Seriously folks...don't use a subwoofer when mixing an album. Listen to your favorite CD's and judge the room and your monitors that way. I've mixed in SSL rooms for the past 8 years and in no way should you ever mix with a subwoofer unless you're doing 5.1 mixing, which requires a subwoofer. You'll only be disappointed when you bring it home and play it on your system there. The best setup, in my opinion as a professional engineer, is to try to get the best sound you can from a set of NS-10's. I have a set of Genelec 1031A's to reference my mixes as well. Having tight acoustics in the room you're mixing in is as important as the monitors you use to mix.
So please, do yourself a favor...don't use a subwoofer. Unless of course you're just listening and not judging your mix by it.

[This message has been edited by bunny (edited 10-14-99).]

10-15-1999, 06:47 AM
I agree with bunny, but also believe to have as many resources as possible to check it from. I mix with NS-10's and also another speaker system with a sub-woofer. If the mix sounds great on both, then I know things are heading in the right direction.

10-15-1999, 05:30 PM
The above advice is OK if you own the room you are working in, but not if you are renting a space or are a freelancer.
I have a Behringer Ultracurve 8024, that I use to get a room eq (it has a pink noise self line up program using a mic) when I travel around, it's easyier to carry than a sledgehammer and a construction team!
Needless to say I spin my fave CD's to orientate myself further. When I bypass the Ultracurve while playing my ref CD's, it always sounds worse & not as I know it Jim!
Happier in than out! (it is a bit hasrsh, I admit, I am hopeing the AES input option comes out soon so I can bypass it's own cheap converters)
A tip for the unhappy "non owners" out there!

10-16-1999, 12:01 AM
The problem I've found has been judging low end material in the mix when using ns-10's. I'll take a mix home and suddenly hear a lot of low end resonance in the bass drum that wasn't evident in the control room. If I solo the bd track I can hear the envelope of the sound and can sense that there are lows but I think I'm only hearing the harmonics of the fundamental that fall above 60 Hz or so. I really can't hear that while the whole mix is being monitored so its hard to judge exactly whats happening down there. Is it possible to hear that balance, maybe my ears will get better with practice? My theory with NS-10s is that if you can make a mix sound good on them then it will sound good almost anywhere. They really don't sound all that great to me as a system I enjoy listening to music on. This theory has worked out for me as mixes sound great to me in my car or at home with the exception of some low end balance issues. I'm thinking of using the sub at the end of a mixing session- turning it on just to reference the low end fill out the mix. I realize I'll have to fiddle with the crossover and level a little when I first include it in the room to find a balanced setting that I can rely on.

10-16-1999, 12:15 AM
Some of these comments are very interesting. I've been waiting for someone to state the obvious but I haven't seen it yet. I've only seen a couple of posts that even mention room acoustics.

You need to mix in an ACCURATE environment. So many people talk about monitors and how important they are but hardly anyone mentions the acoustics of a room. This is SOOOO!!! important and cannot be emphasized enough.

Treat your room with the correct acoustics. After choosing your monitors, hire someone to come in with a TEF or Meyer Sound analyzer and tune your room with a great parametric equalizer. If you need a subwoofer to get your room tuned accurately then great, use it. If you don't need a subwoofer to get your room tuned accurately then great, don't use it.

Acoustically accurate rooms are a must for propper mixes.

10-16-1999, 09:19 AM
Interesting topic, thanks to all!

I use Event 20/20bas monitors and have very good translation success with them, but not without having used them for a long time.

I do quite a bit of hiphop stuff, and the first time I did one of these, the CDs we made didn't translate -anywhere- !! The sub-bass that sounded good in the room made all the other systems just selfdestruct from all the deep lows. Speakers walked off of shelves and tables. A disaster.

So I put the NS10s back up and got a radio shack subwoofer, rewired the (200Hz, duh) crossover down to 80Hz, and now I have a great system to -check- NOT mix on. The NS10s just ignore everything below 100Hz and the sub shows me who's wild in the basement.
With these as a check system, I learned the parameters of the Events quickly and now hardly ever use the NS10/sub system.

The sub is also useful for stuff for TV. There can be a lot of wild low end in some music I get for ads and shows because the producers don't use a sub. By the time the stuff gets to the broadcasters it just teems with inaudible energies, so the sub shows me what garbage might be down there and I can cut it to keep the broadcast information cleaner.

Thanks all,


p.s. I treated my room and leave the switches on the Events (and Mackies too when they visit here) flat.

Silver Surfer
10-16-1999, 10:29 PM
Thumbs up to Blairl. Room Acoustics is the most underrated factor in determining if your mix translates outside your mix environment.
Don't get me wrong, hip speakers are cool but more importantly, one should know the advantages and disadvantages of their monitoring systems in a given acoustical environment.
Engineers monitor on Dynaudios, Genelecs, NS10's , Radio Shack Optimus, Auratones etc. to obtain great results. You should choose a set of speakers you like, understand their frequency response and learn how to compensate for their flaws. I don't prefer the "sub" way of working but good luck. http://www.digidesign.com/ubb/images/icons/smile.gif

[This message has been edited by Silver Surfer (edited 10-17-99).]

10-20-1999, 10:22 AM
This Stuff Is Great!!!!

Just a few questions about setting my mix room up correctly. We have moved from the Event 20/20bas to Genelec 1032A's. I know that we are going to be happier with just that move but I definitely see a need to make the room as good as it can be. Considering we just got the 1032's we are on an EXTREMELY tight budget for a while. So budget in mind how can we have our room EQ'd to sound as good as it can? What will we need if will call someone in to EQ it for us, etc.

This may seem extremely simple and near stupid but what type of EQ should we buy, if any, and what is involved in setting the room up to be accurate? our room is longer than it is wide and right know we are facing longways about a third of the way from the front wall. the front, rightside, and back walls are carpet and the left is wood (we do plan on carpeting over most but not all of the wood) with a window taking up most of the back half of that wall (the window is about 4ft from the floor and about 31/2 ft tall and about 6-7ft wide). I don't have exact demensions right now, sorry.

Thanks for reading this and any ideas would be appreciated. Just want our new Genelecs to be in a good home.

10-21-1999, 12:29 AM
There are two really good parametric EQ's for tuning recording studios:

1) Meyer Sound CP-10 http://www.meyersound.com/low/cp-10.htm

2) Klark Teknik DN410 www.klarkteknik.com/pages/Products/DN410.html (http://www.klarkteknik.com/pages/Products/DN410.html)

These are kind of expensive so if you're looking for something good but a little cheaper you might want to try Ashley Audio or Symetrix parametric EQ's. Don't use Graphic EQ's, they do weird things to the phase.

As far as acoustics go, it's kind of hard to tell until your room has been measured. Some people will go out and buy a bunch of bass traps and wall panels when they don't need them. Too many acoustic tools can cause problems. RPG has some good started kits for recording studios. www.rpgdiffusors.com/ (http://www.rpgdiffusors.com/)

You should get someone who knows what they are doing to tune your room. If they don't know what a TEF or SIM System II analyzer is, then you should find someone who does.

[This message has been edited by blairl (edited 10-20-99).]

10-25-1999, 03:01 PM
****A good rule of thumb for setting up subs: Generally you don't need to (or wouldn't want to) put a high pass cross-over on your monitors when hooking up a sub. This is true with 2-way systems in particular. If you run a 3-way system and add a sub (why? -well ok, maybe for the clients) and the LF-driver is 10" or bigger, you could consider high-passing them, but on smaller system you'd tend to find the filter coloration a lousy trade off. Better idea is to play with the positioning of the sub to get everything in-phase.
**** another thing: generally I fins that: If I can actually hear the sub, it's too loud.
Well, it's all a matter of taste however. I tend to find, if I'm mixing on my reference 1039's, clients tend to respond that they lack punch in the sound, so I switch to 1032's with a sub, and they love it.


10-25-1999, 03:05 PM

(I envy you, my room is just 15ft long, but some 25 feet wide)
you should be happy that the room is longer than it's wide - then at least it's possible for you to get a resonable LF-reference. (ideal room depth is at least 24ft)