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6 Reasons To Avoid A New Subwoofer Today

Modern powerful subwoofer indoors, closeup. Audio speaker system

6 Reasons To Avoid A New Subwoofer Today

First and foremost, this is not a “reasons to avoid a subwoofer” article because subwoofers are awful. Not at all. If you’re looking for reasons to hate subwoofers, you won’t find them here. However, there are some fundamental reasons to avoid a new subwoofer, no matter how badly you might want one.

A Little Bit of Background on Subwoofers

For the non-discerning, amateur audiophile, a subwoofer is a thing that adds some ‘thump’ to your listening experience, whether that’s a home theater system, a car system, or a system for listening to music around the house.

Dedicated audiophiles know that there are several different types of subwoofers, such as bandpass, sealed cabinet, forward or downward-firing, passive radiator, ported, and horn-loaded subs. They all have their pros and cons, mostly specific to given set-up situations.

Subs feature a range of 20–200 Hz and they create an underlying layer of depth and richness to music and movies that regular woofers simply can’t match. Raymon Dones patented the first true sub in 1964, and the rest is history. Low-range frequency, with low to zero distortion, has been a hit ever since.

Reasons to Avoid a Subwoofer

Reasons to Avoid a Subwoofer
Harman Kardon speakers are known for having a sound quality that’s very heavy on the subwoofer

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There’s little doubt about what a subwoofer can do for the overall atmosphere of the music you listen to or the movies you like to watch, especially hip hop, R&B, rock, action movies, and horror movies. But there are a few reasons for avoiding subs altogether and here they are, in no particular order.

Mismatching Subwoofers

This is a big no-no for a lot of good reasons. Every subwoofer is different and creating a mix-match setup with different brand subwoofers and, even worse, different types of subs, is a recipe for disaster. Unless it’s the exact same sub, the number of problems you create is more significant than the ones you solve.

  • Different frequency responses mean different soundwaves in the room, which sounds terrible
  • The underperforming, old sub is relegated to obscurity at really low frequencies
  • It’s difficult to find the perfect audio arrangement for mismatching subs
  • There will be noticeably lower-quality audio on one side of the room

In fact, even in the best-case scenario, you’ll literally reduce the overall quality of your sound system with mismatching subs. Unless you can get your hands on the same one, this is one of the biggest reasons to avoid a new subwoofer.

You Don’t Know Anything About Subs

This may sound harsh but it’s absolutely correct. Correct subwoofer placement is vital to get the most out of it. You can take all of the different types of subs, place them all in the same spot (one at a time), in the same room, and you will get a different sound and vibe from each.

Subwoofers are all about bouncing soundwaves off of objects throughout the room. For instance, a forward-firing sub is an absolute waste of potential if you install it close to the ceiling or on the floor. It needs to be in an ear-level position. When you are sitting, you should be able to look straight at it without raising your head or nodding.

Bandpass subs are very loud and probably don’t have a place in a small living room. A sealed cabinet sub is one-directional, so optimal placement is vital. These are just some of the subtleties of subwoofers and far from the only things you should know about them.

When you’re shopping for a sub, know exactly what you’re looking for and how it will play into your existing setup. Otherwise, you’re bound to be disappointed.

You Live in an Apartment

There are common courtesy reasons to avoid a subwoofer as well, even if we don’t exactly like them. Remember, subs are at their best when they can bounce soundwaves off walls, creating an excellent, low-frequency flow throughout the room that enriches the listening experience.

Your neighbors will suddenly lose interest in everything else in their life except for an absolute, laser-concentration on your shiny new subwoofers. It’s best not to bring that kind of negativity into your life so save your money for an outrageously expensive sound system on the day you move out.

It’s possible to find a small, passive radiator design since those are usually the smallest and are often connected via Bluetooth. Your neighbors will thank you.

There is a Break-In Period

There is admittedly a bit of argument among audiophiles as to how long the break-in period is—anywhere between 2 days and 2 weeks usually. It’s like purchasing a new baseball glove. You have to break that thing in so it isn’t a stiff, unmanageable mess.

If you don’t have time to properly break in a new sub or it won’t match what you already have, it’s among several reasons to avoid a new subwoofer. Breaking in a sub requires playing music with a heavy to medium amount of base for two hours every day for between a week and nearly two.

After that, you have to incrementally raise the volume each time you listen to music or watch movies. Not everyone has the time to fool with it and if you don’t properly break in a sub, it may never reach its full potential.

Obtaining Precision-Sounding Subs is More Scientific Than You Think

You heard that right. In a lot of cases, it’s not a matter of unboxing the latest sub you saw on Amazon one day and throwing it up on the end table. Of all the reasons to avoid a subwoofer, this is the most difficult to lay out in layman’s terms.

For most audiophiles, the goal is anywhere between 20Hz and 80Hz and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Those frequencies need to be smoothly reproduced in a room that has the acoustical qualities to match the sub. The best subs in the world will sound like garbage without precision placement and a room that is capable of handling the sub.

Dealing with maximizing bass is known as bass management. From here, you get into channels, low-frequency contributions, crossover filtering, active and passive systems, route line-level signals, surround sound controller, monitoring controller, LFE signal, low-pass-filtering, digital surround inputs, and more.

A lot of that is just jargon for identifying more recognizable terminology but it all matters just the same. If you want to reign supreme in the world of subwoofers, you have to read and speak the language. For most, a soundbar will do the trick just fine.

A Second Sub Doesn’t Add Value in a Standard Set Up

We’re talking about living rooms, dens, basements, and entertainment rooms of various, personal aesthetics here, not professional sound studios. The reality is, there are limitations on the human ear and what it can decipher amidst all the noise.

Low frequencies, generally anything below 100Hz are fine from a singular source. However, the human ear isn’t fine-tuned enough to differentiate between low signals from dual sources in a typical room.

For instance, if someone blindfolds you and places you in front of an entertainment center in a small to mid-size living room, you would not be able to differentiate between the low signals from the two sources.

Two, identical subwoofers are set up in the room, one in the left corner, facing you, and one in the right corner, also facing you. Both are equally distant from you at 10′. Play either one alone and you will probably know the direction of the active sub. Play them at the same time and your ears can’t differentiate between the directions

That’s because humans have trouble identifying sound direction indoors, especially at low frequencies. In other words, if you already have a sub, there’s little advantage to owning another.

Alternatives to Subwoofers

Alternatives to Subwoofers
Modern home theater set up with soundbar, sub, and two shelf speakers in a 5.1 system.

With enough reasons to avoid a subwoofer, what are the potential alternatives? Unfortunately, not much. A sub is a sub, after all, and a regular shelf speaker just isn’t up to the task of producing the low-frequency range you get from a sub.

Of course, any kind of speaker system is probably a good upgrade over the factory speakers you get from a TV. When it comes to music, Echo devices are capable, even if they are unable to fill the room with deep, thrumming bass. There’s always the Echo Sub or Studio, but those kind of count as subs so they aren’t much of an alternative.

Easy to Use
Amazon Echo Studio Speaker With Alexa
$199.99
  • Amazon Smart Plug included
  • 5 speakers produce powerful bass, dynamic midrange, and crisp highs
  • Dolby Atmos
  • Ask Alexa to play music, read the news, and answer questions
  • Stream songs from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, and more
  • Highest quality audio formats available: HD, UltraHD, and 3D
  • Use your Alexa devices like an intercom and talk to any room in the house with Drop In and Announcements.
  • Built with multiple layers of privacy controls
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/10/2024 07:11 am GMT

Soundbars are good options too but mostly for TVs. Soundbars lack a dedicated subwoofer but are capable of producing deeper bass than some of the competition. Outside of that, there really is no substitute for a good sub. If you already have a solid subwoofer, however, there is little reason to go hunting for another.

Great Sound
BESTISAN Soundbar
$69.96
  • Wireless Bluetooth compatibility
  • Adjustable bass
  • Can be wall-mounted
  • Switch between equalizer modes via remote
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/10/2024 06:23 pm GMT

Reasons to Not Avoid a Subwoofer

If you don’t have a subwoofer and you’ve put together a substantial system for listening to music or watching TV, a subwoofer makes for an excellent addition. Of course, it depends on where you live as well. The last thing you want to do is grab a large bandpass subwoofer when you live in an apartment.

For those who have an extensive gaming setup, home theater setup, or a DIY home music studio, there’s every reason to purchase a subwoofer and no reason to avoid one.

Wrapping Up

Subs can get quite technical, especially if you know very little about them. There are a lot of reasons to avoid a subwoofer, all of which are covered above. If none of those apply to you, however, feel free to grab one and add some depth to your listening experience.

As a side note, do a little homework on the operational capabilities, background, and viability of a solid subwoofer in your home. We want you to get the most out of your listening experience and, if you don’t have the right setup or choose the wrong type of sub, you may end up disappointed.

  1. Amazon Echo Studio Speaker With Alexa
    $199.99
    • Amazon Smart Plug included
    • 5 speakers produce powerful bass, dynamic midrange, and crisp highs
    • Dolby Atmos
    • Ask Alexa to play music, read the news, and answer questions
    • Stream songs from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, and more
    • Highest quality audio formats available: HD, UltraHD, and 3D
    • Use your Alexa devices like an intercom and talk to any room in the house with Drop In and Announcements.
    • Built with multiple layers of privacy controls
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/10/2024 07:11 am GMT
  2. BESTISAN Soundbar
    $69.96
    • Wireless Bluetooth compatibility
    • Adjustable bass
    • Can be wall-mounted
    • Switch between equalizer modes via remote
    Buy on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/10/2024 06:23 pm GMT

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to break in a new subwoofer?

The general consensus is that it takes anywhere between 2 days and 2 weeks to break in a sub, with somewhere in between being the best bet.

What happens if you don't break in a new subwoofer?

If you fail to break in a new subwoofer, the odds are good that it will never function to its full potential for the life of the sub.

What makes a high quality subwoofer?

The stop-and-go potential is what makes a great subwoofer. If it can’t stop on a dime and hit the right low-frequencies on queue, the bass will sound consistently off.

What size subwoofer is best for bass?

The best subwoofers for all-around bass are sealed cabinet subs that are 10″ in size.

What frequencies do subwoofers produce?

Subwoofers produce between 20Hz and 200Hz but the magic spot is between 20Hz and 80Hz.

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