When I first discovered subwoofers I could not believe my ears.
The authority they brought to all music was stunning.
Each improvement in subwoofer quality should be clearly heard as moving closer to reality.
Those who cling to bookshelf speakers without using a subwoofer obviously haven't listened to real music.
I am not talking about film bass here but the bass which supports music as a solid foundation.
Bass provides the scaffolding from which the higher notes are hung,
And delicately arranged and endlessly re-arranged.
Without the foundation and scaffolding it all collapses into a mere jangle-jingle.
The subwoofer must be well integrated with the speakers and the room.
Ideally this requires something like REW to at least find a nice balance.
The ears are easily fooled and highly susceptible to suggestion.
How many of us have listened to a whole piece without realizing something wasn't even turned on?
As subwoofer quality and cone area increase so the cone excursion falls.
You can pump bass artificially hard.
Or you can waft it effortlessly into terrifying being.
I prefer the latter.
There is no substitute for sheer cone area moving a couple of thou' at 120dB!
There are no small elephants which can bellow over 7 miles from the herd.
Nor small double basses. Nor 10" fog horns.
No bijou whale which can circle the entire globe with his gigantic acoustic power.
A contra-bass anything does not come in a shiny, veneered, shoe box.
A large drum or instrument sounding board produces infrasonics. [Sub 20Hz]
Which small subwoofers have never felt let alone tried to reproduce with authority.
You may never have heard the great organ pipes inter-playing at the very limits of human perception.
The composers obviously felt it necessary to achieve that precise effect by writing down all the pedal notes.
They could only have understood them from listening to real cathedral organs with 32' ranks.
You certainly won't hear anything like this very strange reality [at home] until you have acres of bass cone area.
Our world abounds in natural infrasonics.
They can be felt and heard in any large space:
Supermarket, concert hall, factory or train station.
Try standing in a corner of one of these great spaces.
If you can stand the crushing acoustic pressure!
Bass instruments have inspired man to march to war, or to dance wildly.
They have moved and terrified him with large drums and bigger horns for countless millennia!
We have a species memory for bass written into our genes.
When did you last stand in dumbstruck awe as a mere slip of girl beats the hell out of the bass drum as the band passes in step?
Did you not flinch at that raw power in your chest and stomach and paralyzed mind?
And you still think you can listen to realistic music through a 10" speaker?