There are great suggestions in the forum regarding external subwoofers and how much they could add to the game. I’d like to share a slightly different approach that is not as straight forward, but gives you more opportunities or a solution for subwoofers without high level input (little spoiler for everybody who wants to use RCA: Look for Line Out Converter).
For me it all started with adding more (and even) bass to the music in the game room. I didn’t want to spend too much on it and get a decent result at the same time. After seeing the recommendation of the Monoprice 12in powered woofer for $85 shipped here in the forum, I thought I should give it a try and ordered 4 of them. Quite a bargain with the discount applied to my order. In order to get more control over the bass (reduce modes, get it deeper and more linear) and playing with the thought of a stripped down double bass array (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_bass_array), I added a Behringer Ultradrive DCX2496LE to the configuration and connected the music’s sub signal to Input A. Interestingly BestBuy offered the Ultradrive for $150 (new) end of last year. Now it seems that it’s not possible to get a new one for less than $250, which I would be happy to pay as well, given what it can do.
The configuration wasn’t too difficult with REW and a minidsp UMIK-1 mic. With the electronic correction of the Ultradrive it was no problem to get the Monoprices to perform quite linear down to 30Hz @96db. I am certain that they would go easily beyond that in my configuration (also linearly), but I didn’t try. It’s too loud in the small room anyhow and I don’t need to quake the house…
With that working, I found it not right to hook up the pinball machines via the usual method.
Nevertheless I really like the idea of just tapping in on the bass speaker via alligator clips. A quick google search revealed low price line out converters to hook up the machines via the bass speaker to the Ultradrive. I used the PAC SNI-35 Variable LOC Line Out Converter, which costs less than $10. There are others out there, but this one does the job just fine for me. I added alligator clips, grounded the PAC in the machine and connected it via RCA to 6.3mm Plugs to a small Behringer Xenyx mixer (I had it still lying around), which feeds into the B input of the Ultradrive. Of course you could also hook it up with RCA to a sub directly.
The result is quite impressive, destroying a saucer in #AFMr is absolutely insane now. The bass from the external system kicks quite hard and blends in nicely with the machine itself and its shaker. The main challenge has been to find the right balance and it is quite low on the external system, because it can dominate the sound quite easily, which sounds too artificial for my ears.
What this did with #T2 has been more impressive though. I read a few times that it’s not really making sense to install a better speaker system for this one. I beg to differ now – it’s worth it, especially for the moment when the motorcycle rides by or when hittting with the cannon. I am blown away. Easily the best $15 mod, because I had the rest anyhow…
Of course this is less for monetary reasons.
Sharing a sub between 2 machines in the conventional way is cheaper up to a config of 12 machines or so. This approach is more interesting if you want to get a deeper bass, play also music on the system and/or like to optimize things and play around with the bass (and an Ultradrive or similar device). Using more powerful subs could also be an option for bigger rooms.
My 16 channel mixer is on standby to backfill the small Xenyx once my collection grows.
Have fun and pump up the bass!
PS: Yes, Ultradrive, mixer and the PACs still need a cleaner install...