- Subwoofers have been around for almost half a century and can enhance the audio experience for gamers, music lovers, and movie fanatics.
- Subwoofers not only add bass to your music but also offload the demand for lower frequencies from your main speakers, allowing them to work more effectively.
- A subwoofer can improve your sound system overall, play music louder with less distortion, and be compatible with most setups.
Upgrading your home sound system can feel like an endless case of shiny object syndrome. You just improved one component, but now another is lagging behind. This is especially true for those who take their sound quality seriously, be it with music, movies, video games, or all three. Other times, you’ve jazzed up your speakers, but it feels like the sound is still lacking, particularly in the lower frequencies. If either of these situations sounds familiar to you, purchasing a new subwoofer could solve your problems. Read on to find out how they work, and all the perks of owning one.
A Little Background on Subwoofers
You might be surprised to learn subwoofers have been around for almost half a century. Like with most gadgets, however, they’ve been steadily improving in quality over the years. While not every sound system makes use of a subwoofer, most could undoubtedly benefit from one. Whether you’re a regular gamer, music lover, or movie fanatic, subwoofers can enhance the experience.
By using woofers to produce deeper sounds, subwoofers can improve the listening quality of these frequencies. This is especially true in the 20 – 200 Hz range. A good rule is to set their threshold around 10Hz above the lower range of your main speakers. This will cover the most important frequencies.
Subwoofers are mostly known for helping lower frequencies to be more pronounced, adding deep sounds and bass to the sound. While this is definitely true, it’s a relatively common misconception that subwoofers only work to add bass to your music. Another great aspect of subwoofers is that they offload the demand for lower frequencies from your main set of speakers, which allows them to do their own job much more effectively. If you’re after the most premium listening experience, especially in an awkward home space, a subwoofer is a great addition.
Reasons to Buy a Subwoofer
Now that we’ve covered a bit about how subwoofers work, let’s dig into the main reasons for buying one.
1. Hear Hidden Frequencies and Better Bass
Unsurprisingly, the biggest advantage of a subwoofer is producing more pronounced bass. These frequencies are usually produced poorly or completely absent in a regular setup. You’ll probably notice this fairly quickly with bass-heavy music genres, but it’s possible you may not even realize what you’re missing with your favorite movies. Powerful explosions and ambient noise add a lot to the cinematic experience, and can easily be missed. Many of the frequencies reproduced are more likely to be felt as vibrations rather than audibly heard, but this massively helps to create impact and add immersion. Due to the way humans hear sounds, even a few Hz in the lower range can make a big difference.
2. Improve Your Sound System Overall
While the big benefit of using a subwoofer is to produce more of those rich, bassy notes, there’s a lot more to love. Because they cover these frequencies brilliantly, your main sound system doesn’t have to struggle as hard at a task it’s not designed for. This work is being handled by the subwoofer, so the main speakers can concentrate on producing higher frequency notes more comfortably. The result is a sound that’s more true to what the artist or composer intended when creating the music, meaning you can experience it exactly as they wished.
3. Play Music Louder With Less Distortion
This is related to the point above, but important to note. Because the subwoofer handles the lower frequencies using its own built-in amplifier, this leaves the amp of your main speakers to do its job better. As a result, you’ll find you can play music at louder volumes than before without experiencing noticeable distortion. This is a big bonus, especially if you’re holding a celebration or simply want to enjoy the latest action movie to the max.
4. Use With Most Setups
You can often run into problems when updating your sound system. It’s not uncommon that certain branded models only really work well in conjunction with devices made by the same brand. Fortunately, however, the situation is different with subwoofers. If you’ve got your eyes on a particular subwoofer, chances are it’ll be compatible with your setup. Whether you’ve got a floor-standing speaker, tower speaker, or bookshelf speaker, you can configure a subwoofer to work with it seamlessly. Be sure to set the crossover frequency correctly and adjust the subwoofer’s volume level, and you’ll have a system that integrates brilliantly.
5. Make Better Use of Your Space
Understandably, some people worry that a subwoofer will make their audio sound more unbalanced. Others are concerned they’ll produce excessive bass in a small room. Luckily, you can avoid these situations with some planning. You may already be experiencing some undesirable bass effects in your space because lower frequencies can “hang around” in certain areas of the room. This means that some frequencies are amplified, and some are canceled out, making for an erratic listening experience. By experimenting with different locations for your subwoofer, as well as carefully adjusting the phase settings and equalization, you can mitigate these effects and enjoy more audible and more balanced bass than before.
6. Save Money on Upgrades
One of the best parts of owning a subwoofer, apart from the sound quality, is that they’re economical. Speakers tend to become outdated much quicker than subwoofers. In addition, by offloading your bass demands to the subwoofer, you can afford to overlook this aspect when buying a new speaker. By focusing on qualities other than bass production, you can save yourself a few pennies and enjoy your subwoofer for many years to come. What’s more, by reducing the demand on your main speakers, you’ll increase their longevity far more than if they were used alone.
Best Subwoofer Options
Subwoofers can make a huge difference to your sound system, but there are a lot of options to choose from. We’ve listed some of our favorites below.
Q Acoustics Q B12
- Sealed cabinets reduce unwanted vibrations
- Powerful bass for any setup
- Hideaway cables
- Integrates easily with Q Acoustics speakers
As far as expense goes, the Q B12 from Q Acoustics sits rather squarely in the mid-price range. It still packs a powerful punch of bass, however. Like a lot of subwoofers, the Q B12 can take a couple of hours to break in properly, but it’ll reward you with rich, effortless-sounding bass that will shake the room.
The clean, curved, and versatile glossy finish of the Q B12 is sure to blend in perfectly with many types of setups, and the aesthetic improvement offered by the neat, hideaway cables is always welcome. As well as this, the thick, sealed cabinets of the subwoofer help to cut down on unwanted vibrations, and produce an all-around impressive sound, whether you’re watching movies or pumping out the bass.
A slight drawback, especially for those who like to keep things dust-free, is that the front grille can’t be removed. This isn’t a major issue, but you can expect some grime to accumulate over time. All in all, if you’re after a well-rounded subwoofer and are on good terms with your neighbors, you can’t go wrong with the Q B12.
The price point on the KEF KC62 isn’t anything to sniff at, but, luckily, neither is the sound. For a subwoofer that looks so small and unassuming, the KC62 produces deep frequencies. So deep, in fact, that you’ll be hard-pressed to find another subwoofer that can perform better.
There are a couple of negatives when it comes to the KC62, however. Since the subwoofer is so small in size, strategic placement is more important than ever. The performance will be greatly affected by even a tiny shift in position. You also can’t access the controls wirelessly, as they are only found on the rear. This may be fine for some users, but depending on your setup, it can get rather inconvenient fairly quickly. Overall, the KC62’s pros are greater than its cons, especially if you aim to go as low as you can with your frequencies.
Sonos Sub Mini
- Noise-canceling woofers reduce rattle and buzz
- Easy customization via Sonos app
- 5 GHz connectivity
- Works well with movies, games and music
Sonos is a giant in the speaker space, and with good reason. When it comes to wired sound, Sonos is incredibly hard to beat. There’s a good chance you already have a Sonos device in your collection.
While Sonos is more known for its wired speakers, the Sub Mini is an impressive gadget. It may not produce frequencies as deep as some other options, but does a great job with virtually all genres of music as well as movies. The woofers have noise-canceling technology, meaning the chances of hearing an unpleasant rattle or buzz are slim to none. Customization is also easy by using the Sonos app, helping you to optimize the Sub Mini for your space as much as possible.
There are a few areas where the Sub Mini falls down. Firstly, the subwoofer is small, and the casing isn’t the most durable and can bend. This may not be a massive issue, though, since you’re unlikely to be manually handling the subwoofer all that often. As well as this, there are no controls on the Sub Mini, and you must control it via the app. Another factor to contend with is that, unlike most subwoofers, the Sub Mini is designed to be used within a Sonos sound system. The Mini can’t be used with third-party devices. Unless you’re a big Sonos fan, this may be the nail in the coffin. However, if you already have Sonos speakers in place, and are short on room space, the Sub Mini could be just the thing that you need.
As well as a rather minimalist name, the Monoprice 9723 seems to have been designed along the same theme. Essentially looking like a black box with a little curvature, the 9723 gives an understated look. This is sure to fit in well with any setup with a darker aesthetic. The 9723 doesn’t go quite as low as other subwoofers, with its range bottoming out at around 50Hz. The range does go up to 250Hz, however, which offers some more flexibility for these higher frequencies.
Fans of manual controls will also be pleased with the 9723. There’s a whole control panel with knobs to control frequency, gain, and power output, allowing you to customize it to your system easily.
Just because the name and design may lack some imagination, the 9723 isn’t a subwoofer to overlook easily. The sound quality may not be as amazing as some alternatives. But the price is substantially lower than a lot of other subwoofers. For a budget-friendly and minimalist option to boost your speaker performance, the 9723 delivers exactly as expected.
SVS SB-1000 Pro
The SB-1000 Pro may not be the cheapest model, but it’s certainly not the most expensive either. Those who don’t find manual controls bothersome will be happy with the SVS app. This allows for intuitive adjustment of performance and volume. The size of the SB-1000 Pro is quite flexible as well, as it’s not tiny or gigantic. As such, it’s easy to slot into most systems.
SVS is renowned when it comes to subwoofers, perfectly balancing the scales between affordability and quality. As well as being relatively budget-friendly, the SB-1000 Pro effortlessly pairs up with speakers of almost any brand. Whether you’re playing movies or listening to your favorite tunes, the setup is easy to tweak.
It’s hard to find many faults with the SB-1000 Pro, as the sound produced is crisp, complex, and faithful. However, the power is comparatively quite low, and the subwoofer may struggle in especially large environments. But for most users, the SB-1000 Pro produces world-class audio at a price you can’t be that mad at.
Whether you’re a bass lover or a connoisseur of cinema, there are many reasons to buy a subwoofer. As well as significantly improving the overall sound quality, they reproduce lower frequencies more accurately. This makes your experience more immersive and true to how the producers and artists intended. As well as improved audio performance, you can expect increased longevity from your main speakers, as well as a long life from the subwoofer itself. If you’re trying to make the most of your sound system and extend the life of your current components, adding a subwoofer into the mix is always a good idea.
|Hear Hidden Frequencies and Better Bass
|Q Acoustics Q B12
|Improve Your Sound System Overall
|Play Music Louder With Less Distortion
|Sonos Sub Mini
|Use With Most Setups
|Make Better Use of Your Space
|SVS SB-1000 Pro
|Save Money on Upgrades
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