Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Now that you’re thinking about fitting out the space in which you watch TV with your family and friends, you must be asking yourself a lot of questions. Sound is an essential part of the entertainment experience, and we’ll help you find the right accessories to suit your needs.

With the evolution of technology, speakers have reached an incredible level of precision. Some people still think that one speaker on each side is enough, but they forget that subwoofers are essential to generate quality sound.

Here you’ll find a summary of the technical details of subwoofers that you’ll need to take into account in order to make the right choice for you. You’ll also learn about the most popular models, get an idea of the approximate cost, and find out what their most important features are.




Summary

  • Subwoofers are speakers that are designed to address certain sound frequencies of audio-visual content. They will help you reproduce a higher fidelity and more powerful sound.
  • Like any other cutting-edge technological product today, they are extremely configurable and their properties can vary greatly from one model to another.
  • Don’t simply go by the higher price to distinguish their quality. Knowing their properties and functions will help you compare the features of the models and save you money while ensuring that your decision meets your needs.

The best Subwoofer: Our Picks

Buying Guide

What are subwoofers?

These are speakers that are responsible for processing low frequencies and bass, as well as helping to produce a rich, textured, ambient sound. They emerged in the 1960s and after many technological advances, by the year 2000, their presence was mandatory in clubs and concerts. Having one at home is a lot of fun!

Let’s take into account that bass, mid and treble sounds travel in different frequencies before being perceived by our ears. That’s why these speakers dedicated to low frequencies were born: bass is an essential and dramatic component of the listening scene.

“Sound is the vocabulary of nature” – Pierre Schaeffer

What are the advantages of subwoofers?

You may be like me, after installing it at home I had to re-watch all my favourite movies! The experience is totally different when the sound is so powerful and clear. You’ll feel like you’re in the cinema.

Did you know that the human ear can distinguish frequencies between 20 and 20,000 Hz? That’s why most subwoofers offer the advantage that they have at least 20 Hz frequency limit. With regular speakers there are simply sounds that you are not hearing in your concerts or movies.

Advantages
  • Significantly improve sound quality
  • Increase audio output volume
  • Increase drama
  • Allow you to hear sounds you don”t hear on regular speakers
Disadvantages
  • Take up space in the room
  • Only work with low frequencies
  • Are not independent
  • If not equalised correctly can reduce the clarity of sound

There are other factors to consider when making your decision to purchase the subwoofer that best suits your needs. We will review the most important of these below. There are a large number of models.

What should you pay attention to when deciding on a subwoofer?

Apart from power, size, frequency and colour, these speakers fall into two main categories, Active and Passive. This defines in a complex way the profile of the equipment, so you should consider this as a priority.

Active subwoofer. These are speakers that have a built-in amplifier, plus it allows you to control volume, frequency and phasing. It also offers automatic power on and has the option to use a remote control.

Passive subwoofer. The main feature of these is that they do not have an amplifier, which some consider to be a disadvantage. They also have no volume or frequency controllers and no remote control.

Active Passive
Amplifier Built-in No
Controls For volume, frequency and phase No
On/Off Automatic Manual
Remote control Optional No option

Remember that the main function of the speaker is to reproduce low frequencies. Both types of subwoofer will be able to do this. It’s a matter of finding the one you think most closely matches what you require.

Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare and rate different subwoofer models

We want you to base your buying decision on the same criteria as an audio professional. You don’t need to know more than what we’ve discussed in this article to make the same decisions as an expert.

Every manufacturer will tell you that their equipment is the best. But they won’t be able to convince you to buy something you don’t need if you consider the following features. When evaluating the speaker you will take home, check:

  • Sampling frequency (Hz)
  • Weight
  • Speaker dimensions
  • Integrated Amplifier

Sampling frequency (Hz)

If we categorise the main waves in which sound travels into three main groups, we have the highs, the mids, and the bass/bass. The subwoofer is responsible for reproducing the latter exclusively, allowing the other speakers to use their energy to reproduce the mids and highs.

A sampling frequency of 20 Hz to 200 Hz will be more than enough to allow you to channel those sounds to the speaker. Many commercial subwoofers are in that range. Check the specifications.

Weight

It may sound like a lie, but weight is one of the things that can determine the quality of the device. A 10″ subwoofer should weigh between 9 and 14 kg. Weighing less than 9 kg could mean that the quality of the subwoofer is not optimal. Make sure that the specifications support this.

Wood is the preferred material for the construction of the box in which the horn is embedded. Note that the finish should be uniform and free of irregularities and warping. The industry standard is MDF type wood, which works perfectly for the purpose of resonance.

Speaker dimensions

When talking about sound systems, one of the most relevant aspects is space management, with the aim of achieving a perfect balance between sound quality in the available space. This is why it is extremely important to consider both the dimensions of the subwoofer and the enclosures in which it is housed.

Mostly, the enclosure into which the horn cone is inserted is slightly larger than the diameter of the horn. Preferably it will be square or rectangular, to maximise air pressure. We recommend that you measure the space available in your home before deciding on a model.

Number of subwoofers

When you have a sound system for your car, or are setting up your home cinema, it’s important to consider purchasing multiple subwoofers, to create an immersive sound experience. And this, of course, affects the profile of your purchase, so here’s what to consider in each case.

1 subwoofer. A system with a single subwoofer won’t have much coverage, but it may be ideal when you’re only using it to provide ambience for gatherings with music, or if you’re looking for a simple home cinema. When you buy just one, make sure it’s enough to cover your needs, and look for a high sampling frequency.

2 to 4 subwoofers. With a system of up to 4 subwoofers you will get plenty of surround sound for maximum movie watching in the comfort of your own home. Since there are several of them, make sure they are not too big so that you can place them more easily.

5 or more subwoofers. These quantities are generally used for car sound systems, as the more subwoofers there are, the greater the sound capacity. When there are so many, they need to be small, otherwise it would be impossible to fit them all.

(Featured image photo: sklyareek / 123rf.com)

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