Help me choose a subwoofer!

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Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sat Mar 09, 2013 1:33 pm

Hi all,

So far you have helped me build a pc and choose a monitor, now I'm looking for help in choosing a subwoofer for my home theater system.

I currently have a Sony receiver, not sure of the model number but its only 2 years old. I have 2 Infinity primus bookshelf speakers, an infinity center channel, and infinity rears. My current infinity 10inch sub had started over heating and while googling a remedy I have learned that it is a very common issue and I would like to avoid the brand if possible.

I would like to spend no more than $300. Any suggestions where to buy? What brands? My current usage is tv, blue ray, and music. I do share walls with my neighbor so I won't need anything that will rattle the walls too much haha. Just looking for some low frequency for a better listening experience.

Let me know if you need additional information about my current setup.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sat Mar 09, 2013 1:47 pm

Couple of questions first:

Is the receiver doing the high/low crossover or is the sub doing it?

Is it a passive or powered sub?
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:03 pm

Klipsch-Sub-12HG-Synergy-300-Watt
Something like so?

Sharing the wall with a neighbor really means you shouldnt have a sub, though. At least not one like that unless you keep the volume down.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:21 pm

Captain Ned wrote:Couple of questions first:

Is the receiver doing the high/low crossover or is the sub doing it?

Is it a passive or powered sub?


Currently my receiver is foing the crossover and my sub is powered. I've never owned a passive sub. I suppose that would take out he variable of over heating.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:17 pm

15 years on, I'm still very pleased with my Velodyne powered subwoofer but it was probably 50+% over your budget. Something like the Impact-10 would be 33% over. I bought my folks a less expensive Infinity sub and I didn't like the muddiness.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:59 pm

I'll be the oddball and say build your own. It's very slightly over your budget but would definitely be more than you'll probably ever want: http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdet ... er=300-770
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:30 pm

Waco wrote:I'll be the oddball and say build your own. It's very slightly over your budget but would definitely be more than you'll probably ever want: http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdet ... er=300-770

That's not really building your own, now is it? You're paying for a pre-selected woofer, pre-selected amp, pre-selected cabinet. You're paying $339 for the joy of screwing together sub-par parts. 250 watt amp is not enough power to drive a 15" sub. At least not if you still want good sounding bass. My opinion... and it's not worth much but there it is.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:35 pm

If you're lucky enough to live in a densely-populated area, I'd recommend shopping around in the used market. You can get some pretty good deals on used speakers. A few years ago I picked up a Paradigm sub that was originally ~$800 for around $350. Still working well. You might try listings such as Audiogon or regular old classifieds such as Craigslist and Kijiji if you don't get anything from the audio-specific ones.

However, if you don't like the used market idea, are in a more modest sized room, and are sensitive to the neighbors, you can get an entry level model from a more budget-oriented internet direct company. These companies generally will give you better bang for your buck than what you get at a box store (unless you find a good clearance sale).

For example, The HSU STF-1. Currently $20 off at $279. Don't let the modest 150W or 8" woofer size fool you. It will compete with many Box store 10" models for output and extension. Though it's not going to work miracles in a larger room. If you are in a larger room, you may want to step up a size or two, such as the STF-2, or even VTF-1, but they will cost you another $80 and $180, respectively. Anything larger will be overkill with your neighbors situation. And besides, once you get to the $500 range and above, there is a lot of competition for good subs.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:00 pm

It depends on the design, really, but 250 W could be plenty for a reasonably sensitive subwoofer (large cabinet, properly chosen woofer for the design).
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:16 pm

UltimateImperative wrote:It depends on the design, really, but 250 W could be plenty for a reasonably sensitive subwoofer (large cabinet, properly chosen woofer for the design).

Depends on what we want out of a sub. If it's movie-related crashes/booms, it'd do OK. If you're trying to accurately replay E. Power Biggs' recording of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, you need many large cones and absurd wattage.

OTOH, you could do this:

http://www.royaldevice.com/custom.htm
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:41 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
UltimateImperative wrote:It depends on the design, really, but 250 W could be plenty for a reasonably sensitive subwoofer (large cabinet, properly chosen woofer for the design).

Depends on what we want out of a sub. If it's movie-related crashes/booms, it'd do OK. If you're trying to accurately replay E. Power Biggs' recording of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, you need many large cones and absurd wattage.

OTOH, you could do this:

http://www.royaldevice.com/custom.htm


Generally, you start requiring absurd wattage when you try and get more output from a smaller cabinet, especially if sealed. But 250W can go a long way with a sensitive driver and a big ported cabinet - to the point where you could get more output/extension with a 250W amp in the right ported enclosure than a sealed sub with a 1000W amp that is half the size.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:55 pm

I have personal experience with three different models made by Hsu Research, and I find them to be exceptional value for the money. Their cheapest is about $300, but it is $20 off right now. Check it out: http://hsuresearch.com/products/stf-1.html

They sell factory-direct only, which can be inconvenient, but results in a great price for what you get. (That said, spending more does get you more, and it all depends how much you expect from a subwoofer.)

Most of the people in this thread are assuming you want to geek out over the details. I love geeking out over the details, but I won't make that assumption about you, Skullzer. Purchase the sub I linked to if you don't want to think about it, otherwise say something to the contrary. :)
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:57 pm

cynan wrote:Generally, you start requiring absurd wattage when you try and get more output from a smaller cabinet, especially if sealed. But 250W can go a long way with a sensitive driver and a big ported cabinet - to the point where you could get more output/extension with a 250W amp in the right ported enclosure than a sealed sub with a 1000W amp that is half the size.

Hence the under-floor folded-path sub. With that path length, driver power requirements are probably pretty small.

Having lived through the original late '70s/early '80s WPC wars (the ads back 'n' forth in Playboy really were comical) I'm always quick to dismiss claims of "you need megawatts". As always, it depends on what you're really asking the sub to do. Until you define that, there's not much point in looking at specific examples.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sun Mar 10, 2013 12:31 am

danny e. wrote:That's not really building your own, now is it? You're paying for a pre-selected woofer, pre-selected amp, pre-selected cabinet. You're paying $339 for the joy of screwing together sub-par parts. 250 watt amp is not enough power to drive a 15" sub. At least not if you still want good sounding bass. My opinion... and it's not worth much but there it is.

No, but it does bring it into the realm of affordability.

Also - 250 watts is more than enough in an apartment and cone size has very little to do with output. You really only need a ton of power if you're planning on extreme SPL levels or you're trying to get a lot of output out of a small cabinet (neither apply here).

Wattage doesn't mean a whole lot if you've got an efficient setup. I have "only" 300 or so watts RMS on my subs but they can easily take your breath away...it's all in the choice of drivers and the enclosure. Of course it's nearly the size of a refrigerator...but what good is room if you don't use it? :lol:


Anyway, on topic, the kit I linked will play smoothly and relatively loudly from the low 20 Hz range (in room) all the way up to wherever you cross it over within reason.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sun Mar 10, 2013 1:21 am

This is a little OT but I'll tell you what bothers me when looking at subs - the utter lack of smaller/lower-priced subs that have crossed-over line level inputs and outputs. I get that most people use subs with a multi-channel receiver with its own crossover or as an LFE x.1 channel, but damned if it isn't rare to find a sub with input/output crossover for use with 2.1 systems where the '2' part is powered speakers. Before anyone links anything, I know there are some, I'm just saying they aren't common - many manufacturers don't have anything like that at all, or if they do it's at the upper end of the model range. (but if you want to go OT and provide some links for such subs, feel free :))
Last edited by MadManOriginal on Sun Mar 10, 2013 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Sun Mar 10, 2013 6:42 am

Almost every audio person I've spoken to has had pretty good things to say about SVS subs. Their new entry-level SB1000 and PB1000s are cheaper than their usual fare, but unfortunately a bit over OP's budget as new. Second hand ones, however should fall right inside that $300 mark.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:31 am

No mention of which speaker sizes and models the OP is currently using, but if you're using a smaller sub (say, 8") or else crossing over the sub fairly high up to compensate for smaller mains, that may be contributing to the overheating problem -- the subwoofer is doing more work than it really should. HTIB and computer 2.1 speakers are designed to operate this way since the "subwoofer" is really just filling in for two woofers that don't exist, while home theater subwoofers are meant to pick up material that the mains cannot handle.

In the former case, stepping up to a larger sub (at least 10", and preferably 12" given your limited price range) should help. In the latter case, you may want to sell your current sub and the mains, then take that and the extra $300 and purchase a pair of tower speakers rated down to about 45Hz.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:04 pm

Ok, I have a stupid question:

How on earth can it be that you need more than a 250W Sub in an apartment?
I'm running around with an El-Cheapo™ 16W Creative sub and I barely dare to turn the volume up, because I don't want my Neighbors to wave Torches and Pitchforks.

In fact, I can't really enjoy music/movies via speakers at all, that's why I prefer to use my DT880s.

I'm just asking if I miss some super secret sound absorbing forcefield generator that lets you blast in your flat and not aggravate the neighbors. :D
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:19 pm

Ifalna wrote:Ok, I have a stupid question:
How on earth can it be that you need more than a 250W Sub in an apartment?
I'm running around with an El-Cheapo™ 16W Creative sub and I barely dare to turn the volume up, because I don't want my Neighbors to wave Torches and Pitchforks.
In fact, I can't really enjoy music/movies via speakers at all, that's why I prefer to use my DT880s.
I'm just asking if I miss some super secret sound absorbing forcefield generator that lets you blast in your flat and not aggravate the neighbors. :D

What you're saying is mostly true, but a true subwoofer (which is not what you have) will have actually deep bass instead of "boomy". It will annoy neighbors less, within reasonable volumes.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:45 pm

Ifalna wrote:I'm running around with an El-Cheapo™ 16W Creative sub and I barely dare to turn the volume up, because I don't want my Neighbors to wave Torches and Pitchforks.

In general, the larger a material is, the slower it wants to move, and the more energy it takes to make it move. This is the primary reason that tweeters can be as small as 10-20mm in diameter yet have excellent output, while even a modest subwoofer is usually at least 8" in diameter.

Meanwhile, the world about us seems to have a natural resonant frequency at 60Hz, and humans can hear that frequency quite well, too. Most of the "punchy" bass output from small stereos and and computer 2.1 systems is centered around this range, because it is relatively easy to produce and gets a positive reaction from customers. It also tends to travel through walls and generate irate phone calls from neighbors.

Real subwoofers often pick up at 50Hz or lower, and any sub worth owning should go below 30Hz, preferably to at least 25Hz. These frequencies are much harder to produce with appreciable volume, and it takes a tremendous amount of energy to reproduce these audibly. Find yourself a really good sub that goes down below 20Hz and then run a 20Hz test tone through it, and just at the threshold of audibility (if you can hear it at all -- many people can't), you'll hear a loud crash in the other room and discover that you no longer own a china cabinet.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Mon Mar 11, 2013 12:59 pm

Thanks, ludi.

I really didn't think much about frequency response and required energy, but it explains a few things.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Mon Mar 11, 2013 1:20 pm

I will make a recommendation that is within budget :)

The BIC H100
http://www.amazon.com/Acoustech-500-Wat ... B0006DNW6U

I have a friend with one and I thought it sounded great. It used to be the go to recommendation on the AVS forum for a budget subwoofer. I haven't followed subs for a while so I'm not sure if it is still holds the bargain crown.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:05 pm

As long as you dont have air wents between apartmetns and decently thick walls, having 2x 12" ported subs is not a problem. Of course, it really requires you to isolate the sub enclosures from the floor by use of absorbant feet, but it works totally alright, and for reference, I kindof like music like Infected Mushroom and Yello.

Although those people using spikes, they will annoy neighbours to no end even at modest volumes if they are the wrong frequency.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Mon Mar 11, 2013 3:32 pm

All this neighbor angst. I have a 15" sub and play movies in the weekend at -24dba on my receiver reference (-24 to what they play at cinemas I think) and have never had a single complaint. But I play lower when I play games (well, except games with good audio and bass like Crysis 2 and BF3) and do turn down the volume after 22:00 if I play games, even in the weekend. No complaints after four years.

I live in a 13 floor apartment block with concrete walls and ceilings.

Since my sub died, I have bought a B&W ASW 610XP since I don't have a huge listening room, and it is "tighter" in the bass (shorter waterfall in room modes) since it is sealed. I can hear more "details" in the bass, especially in Crysis 2 when I enable armor. Very happy so far, and am currently building some angled walls and bass traps but that is another discussion.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Mon Mar 11, 2013 4:29 pm

DarkUltra wrote:All this neighbor angst. I have a 15" sub and play movies in the weekend at -24dba on my receiver reference (-24 to what they play at cinemas I think) and have never had a single complaint. But I play lower when I play games (well, except games with good audio and bass like Crysis 2 and BF3) and do turn down the volume after 22:00 if I play games, even in the weekend. No complaints after four years.

I live in a 13 floor apartment block with concrete walls and ceilings.

How nice it must be. I have lived in three apartment complexes in the past -- one modern woodframe with light concrete floors (loud music came through the walls, occasionally heard footsteps overhead), one older wood frame with better isolation and light concrete floors (loud music came through the walls), and one older woodframe with insulated wood floors (everything louder than a normal conversation was audible on a scale of 3 to 11). The last of these was enhanced by the fact that for nearly a year, a college wrestler on the other side of my bedroom wall seemed to be hosting the male-sponsored equivalent of a Craigslist bordello.

It is possible to nearly eliminate the noise transference, generally by either (a) using steel framing and heavy concrete for all floors and unit perimeter walls, or (b) building wood frame with a double firewall and insulation between all units. Most US apartments, and many older condominiums and townhomes, are not built this way, especially outside of urban cores.

In short, a little neighbor angst is generally a good thing.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:14 pm

ludi wrote:Meanwhile, the world about us seems to have a natural resonant frequency at 60Hz, and humans can hear that frequency quite well, too. Most of the "punchy" bass output from small stereos and and computer 2.1 systems is centered around this range, because it is relatively easy to produce and gets a positive reaction from customers. It also tends to travel through walls and generate irate phone calls from neighbors.

Real subwoofers often pick up at 50Hz or lower, and any sub worth owning should go below 30Hz, preferably to at least 25Hz. These frequencies are much harder to produce with appreciable volume, and it takes a tremendous amount of energy to reproduce these audibly. Find yourself a really good sub that goes down below 20Hz and then run a 20Hz test tone through it, and just at the threshold of audibility (if you can hear it at all -- many people can't), you'll hear a loud crash in the other room and discover that you no longer own a china cabinet.


Yes. Most tones below 40 Hz or so are not as immediately apparent or striking aurally and probably much more neighbor-friendly (unless you really over overdo it and they have china cabinets, of course). The problem is that most usages don't have subs crossed over below 50 Hz. Unless you have large full range floor-standing speakers, most speakers that are used in home theater (bookshelves or even smaller satellites) don't come anywhere near 50Hz extension at a 0 db drop.

This means that if you have speakers with good bass response, you may get away of crossing the sub at 60 Hz, but often, you need to cross at 80 Hz or even higher (which poses challenges for flat subwoofer response unless output at given frequencies are limited by built in EQ or similar). In summary, most lower cost subwoofers pairing with average speakers is a recipe for boominess in the 40-80 Hz range. Add room nodes to this and you often will risk provoking neighbors sharing a wall every time you watch a surround sound movie with proper dynamic range so you can properly hear dialogue in quiet scenes. Even worse, I'm sure some sound tracks are mastered purposefully to accentuate mid-bass (as most people never get to experience true sub-bass at home).

ludi wrote:It is possible to nearly eliminate the noise transference, generally by either (a) using steel framing and heavy concrete for all floors and unit perimeter walls, or (b) building wood frame with a double firewall and insulation between all units. Most US apartments, and many older condominiums and townhomes, are not built this way, especially outside of urban cores.

In short, a little neighbor angst is generally a good thing.


This. It should be illegal to build an apartment or condo building without proper noise isolation (ie, concrete between units). Or at the very least, required by law to plainly state degree noise isolation. I've spent my time in older buildings with issues in this area and it really can be a huge restriction on personal privacy/freedom. While I've never had someone running a bordello next door, I did live in an older townhouse where the staircase was next to the adjoining wall. Every time I walked down the stairs after 10 PM, I'd have the neighbor at my door. Never mind audio systems. I didn't last long there. But I suppose some people would just call this a "first-world problem".
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Mon Mar 11, 2013 5:50 pm

cynan wrote:This. It should be illegal to build an apartment or condo building without proper noise isolation (ie, concrete between units). Or at the very least, required by law to plainly state degree noise isolation. I've spent my time in older buildings with issues in this area and it really can be a huge restriction on personal privacy/freedom. While I've never had someone running a bordello next door, I did live in an older townhouse where the staircase was next to the adjoining wall. Every time I walked down the stairs after 10 PM, I'd have the neighbor at my door. Never mind audio systems. I didn't last long there. But I suppose some people would just call this a "first-world problem".

Much easier than concrete (and more effective, as concrete is a wonderful sound transmission medium): Frame each adjoining wall leaving a 2" gap between studs to the inside of the other side's sheetrock. Frame each adjoining wall so that the 16" on center is halved from each adjoining wall's POV. Stuff the middle with lots of Pink Panther fiberglass (yes, age is speaking there). It gets you 90% of a full double-framed and double-rocked boundary wall at a significant savings in materials & labor as there is no direct connection (other than the pink stuff) between the two walls. Of course, it works better with 2x6 framing compared to 2x4 framing.

For the record, steel studs are The Devil's Work. Simply cannot abide those flimsy POS pretenders for real structural members.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Mon Mar 11, 2013 7:25 pm

While concrete might be good at bearing sound, having air->concreate being the medium boundrary it have to traverse to get there, that takes alot of energy, since you actually have to have soundwaves getting the very thick concrete to move. That is the reason why it's important to elimante structual sounds that traverse from speaker cabinet->Spikes->floor/walls, because those on the other hand, is pretty easy to get traveling way to far. If you then hang a nice stone-wool pad a bit out from the wall you absorb even more energy.

But there are lots of good ways to elimanate sounds, the classic studio way is having a freestanding/floating room inside the room where you decouple the whole "inside" room from the foundation. If then then add tripple layers of 12mm plaster plates on walls and double on ceilings with a couple of wads worth of insulation behind and then cover all, and I mean ALL seams with latex so it's airtight, you have a pretty good box where very little sound will espace. Of course, those things usually have a ton of other ways to absorb and diffuse sound inside the "box" too...
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:27 pm

Hey guys, thanks for all the info. The issue with the neighbors isn't really that bad, just need to keep it low after 10:00pm.

ludi wrote:No mention of which speaker sizes and models the OP is currently using, but if you're using a smaller sub (say, 8") or else crossing over the sub fairly high up to compensate for smaller mains, that may be contributing to the overheating problem -- the subwoofer is doing more work than it really should. HTIB and computer 2.1 speakers are designed to operate this way since the "subwoofer" is really just filling in for two woofers that don't exist, while home theater subwoofers are meant to pick up material that the mains cannot handle.

In the former case, stepping up to a larger sub (at least 10", and preferably 12" given your limited price range) should help. In the latter case, you may want to sell your current sub and the mains, then take that and the extra $300 and purchase a pair of tower speakers rated down to about 45Hz.


My current bookshelf speakers are the primus 160's, 6.5inch drivers, frequency range on these are 49hz-20,000hz according to the manual. I had my crossover set to 80hz I believe on the receiver.

My center channel is the infinity beta c250. Don't have all the specs atm and don't feel like looking them up on my phone.

Unfortunately selling my current setup and buying towers isn't an option due to space and the rest of the furniture.
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Re: Help me choose a subwoofer!

Postposted on Fri Mar 15, 2013 11:31 pm

Also, I had my receiver setup to recognize my main speakers as "small" speakers, could that have contributed to the failure of my sub?
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Skullzer
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