Choosing a subwoofer is not an easy task. These speakers are used to balance out the frequency in your room when you want to hear great bass in your TV, music, and movies. They are also typically chosen because their greater physical size makes them ideal to fill out your home theater or living room when it comes to listening to movies. Keep reading to get full of information on how to choose a subwoofer.
Self-powered subwoofers are the most popular. They have a built-in amplifier. Powered subwoofers can provide volume (gain), and other controls that can also be adjusted from the home theatre receiver.
A powered subwoofer must be connected to the Sub output of a receiver. You don’t need an additional amp between the subwoofers and the receiver. This connection allows the amp/receiver/subwoofer to take the audio power load off the receiver and allows it to power the tweeters and midrange.
An external amplifier powers the passive speaker in the exact same way as other speakers in your system. An external amplifier is the best way to use a passive subwoofer within a home theater system. It should be placed between the passive subwoofer’s preamp outputs and the receiver’s subwoofer amp outputs. This arrangement frees the receiver to supply the amplifier power required by the subwoofer.
To reproduce low-frequency sounds, low-frequency bass output requires more power. Imagine connecting a passive subwoofer instead of a separate amp between the subwoofer and receiver. The receiver must produce enough power to sustain the subwoofer’s bass effects without draining the amp. The power required by the passive subwoofer, the size of your room and the amount of bass you want will all affect the subwoofer power output.
Ports and Passive Radiators
Subwoofer enclosures may have an extra port to force out air. This increases bass response more effectively than sealed enclosures. To increase efficiency and precision, some enclosures have a passive radiator instead of a speaker.
Passive radiators can be either a speaker without the voice coil or a flat-diaphragm. Passive radiators react to the air being pushed by an active subwoofer driver, rather than vibrating directly from the audio signal. The passive radiator works in conjunction with the active driver to increase the subwoofer’s low-frequency response.
Because the subwoofer’s low frequencies are not directional, it can be placed wherever it makes the most sound. The best placement will depend on the room’s size, floor type, furniture, and wall construction.
A subwoofer’s best position is usually in the front of a room, either to the left or the right of the main speakers or in the corner of the room.
Tip: Most home theater receivers have two subwoofer outputs. This allows you to connect multiple subwoofers.
How To Choose A Subwoofer
1. Sound Quality
Everyone wants to know if a subwoofer will improve their bass. A dedicated subwoofer will make your bass sounds better, regardless of how much you spend. You’ll notice a deeper, meatier bass. Subwoofers were specifically made to boost the low-end and work well in both movies and music.
There is one thing you can be sure of when choosing a subwoofer. While the sound quality is essential, it’s not what’s most important. We wouldn’t advise you to spend thousands or even thousands of dollars on the loudest subwoofer possible. You need to take into account factors like frequency range, size, and power output. It’s not about having the clearest bass, it’s about having the best bass. This means that sound quality is not something to stress at this stage.
2. Size of Subwoofer
Subwoofers can be described as boxes that fit under an end table. There is usually a large driver inside, which makes the noise. Also included is the amp. A driver must have enough space behind it to be able to function at its best. A 12-inch driver should have a large box, while an eight-inch driver might have a smaller one.
Bass waves can be very long so drivers have to work hard to create bass waves that you can hear. You can achieve this by using a larger driver, which is common at 12 inches. However, you can also find 15-inch drivers. Some models feature multiple drivers. Although two 6-inch drivers cannot equal one 12-inch driver, they will almost always perform better than one 6.
You can also go the other way, with lots of power. The power must go up as the cabinet and driver size decreases. If the sub had more power, an 8-inch sub could still sound as good in a small box as a 12-inch sub in one.
Read more: What Size Subwoofer Do I Need? Top Full Guide 2023
3. Power and Volume
Nearly every subwoofer that you will see is an active one. This means it uses its own internal amplifier instead of relying on the external amp. Your subwoofer’s heartbeat is its internal amplifier. It powers the speaker driver. This power is measured in Watts. Understanding it is key to selecting a sub that is good.
Two types of wattage are usually listed on subwoofer specs: Peak and RMS. The peak can be ignored for all practical purposes. Peak is a measurement of the subwoofer’s absolute maximum power when it is turned to its max. We aren’t saying that you will be doing this often, especially if your ears are sensitive.
RMS wattage is what you should be paying attention to. RMS stands to represent Root Mean Square. We won’t go into the math, but it is also sometimes called continuous wattage. It is a measure of the power that a subwoofer will produce when it is driven at a reasonable volume for a long time. Let’s take, for example, the Monoprice. It costs less than $150 and sounds great. The RMS wattage is 150 watts which is quite typical for this price range and should be sufficient for most people.
Remember that volume does not necessarily equal wattage. You can always lower the power of a subwoofer, no matter how powerful it is. Instead, consider wattage as the range of power you can push your subwoofer. Higher wattages mean that the subwoofer will produce clean, distortion-free audio at high volumes. Higher wattage numbers will obviously cost more.
We believe that most people will be happy with a wattage of 150-500 watts. This balances high power output and wallet-friendly prices.
4. Wireless vs. Wired Subwoofers
Subwoofers need to be connected to both a wall outlet and an amplifier to receive sound. You will need to connect the subwoofer with a power cable and the latter with an RCA Cable. What if you want to go completely wireless?
There are wireless subs available – check out the $699 SonosSub. They can communicate with their audio source via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and they work well. VIZIO makes wireless subwoofers for their soundbars, which is why the Sonos Sub is so easy to use.
Wireless subwoofers are not worth the effort, despite their high praise. One, you pay a lot more to get a single wire – the RCA connector connecting your subwoofer and your amp. Wireless subs are often part of a closed ecosystem. This means that subs like the Sonos model above won’t work with other Sonos equipment. You’ll lose your chance to upgrade your system later.
We believe that if you aren’t planning on using speakers from one brand in your system, it is better to have a regular wired Subwoofer. You’ll enjoy the better sound quality and will spend less over the long term. While wireless subs are useful, they have a limited range of capabilities compared to their wired counterparts.
5. Frequency Range
Frequency is the measurement of how loud or low a sound is. Frequency can be measured in Hertz (Hz) and subwoofers need to be able to understand frequency. A subwoofer capable of reaching the lowest frequency possible is a great subwoofer, as bass notes have a low frequency.
Humans can hear to 20Hz and feel to 10Hz. This is the frequency range that makes our stomach rumble. These frequencies are the most important for subwoofers. Modern subs can reach 25Hz depths, but some, such as the $2,000 Power Sound Audio S3611 can go down to 16Hz. A subwoofer should be able to reach 25Hz. However, you can go for 50Hz if you don’t like bass. A subwoofer with a lower frequency floor will cost you more.
Take note of the highest frequency your subwoofer can emit when it is being set up. The crossover is the point at which your regular speakers cease producing sound and your subwoofer begins. The majority of A/V receivers allow you to set the crossover manually, which almost guarantees better bass sound. This feature is not available on all hi-fi amplifiers.
6. Front-Firing vs. Down-Firing Subwoofers
The driver of a front-firing subwoofer is facing forward. Down-firing subwoofers have the driver on the bottom of the subwoofer and pointed towards the floor. There are very few differences between them. The choice of which one you choose depends on where your subwoofer will be placed. A front-firing subwoofer is a better choice if you know that it will be near the main speakers. You can choose one of the two without any adverse effects.
Subwoofers that are front-firing or side-firing have the sound radiating from the subwoofer enclosure. The sound is directed downwards by down-firing subwoofers.
Both types deliver similar results. Subwoofers reproduce deep bass frequencies in a non-directional manner, so it is difficult for our ears and ears to determine where the sound is coming from.
Front-firing subs should be placed at the front of the room. The best down-firing subs are placed in corners or alongside walls to achieve the best results.
Read more: Down Firing Vs Front Firing Subwoofer: Which Is Better?
7. Room Calibration and EQ
The bass is more sensitive to its surroundings than any other type of sound. It is slow-moving and heavy, so it reacts poorly to spaces that aren’t ideal. This can cause it to collect in corners and become muddy and difficult to distinguish. This is why subwoofer manufacturers are able to include DSP (Digital Signal Path), technology in many of their subwoofers. It’s basically a way to improve and alter the sound before it gets out of the subwoofer’s front. This allows it to interact with your room in an easier way.
There are two types of DSP. The first is Equalization (EQ), which allows you to increase or decrease certain frequencies. This is what a subwoofer should have. It can be set up in an app like the $999 SB-3000. Do not worry if your EQ isn’t adjusted correctly. Presets can help. With room calibration, you don’t have to do that.
The included microphone can be attached to your subwoofer to calibrate the room. It then plays a series of test tones. The mic records the tones and adjusts the subwoofer accordingly. You can expect major improvements in clarity and realism with this tech. These upgrades will almost always cost more. They are not necessary, and most people can do without them. These are what you should get if you want the best bass out of your subwoofer. They won’t be found in subwoofers below $500.
8. Ported vs. Sealed Subwoofers
Subwoofers are a strange world. The more expensive they get, the more likely it is that holes will be drilled in them. These subs are called ported and have one or more ports that connect to the interior. Sealed subs on the other side have no ports. Most subwoofers, in general, are sealed. The majority of models on the list of the best currently available meet this requirement.
Sound quality is the key difference between sealed and port subs. The difference between sealed and ported subwoofers is in sound quality. Ported subwoofers can produce huge volumes, while sealed subwoofers have more controlled sound quality. You don’t have to worry about subs with ports if you are just purchasing one for your small hi-fi or home theater setup. Portability is recommended if you have a large room or are willing to spend a lot of money.
Read more: Sealed Vs Ported Subwoofer: Which Is Better?
9. Home Theater vs. Hi-Fi
Subwoofers can be used to play music, movies, or even for gaming. This is because subwoofers can be used in hi-fi systems, and you will rarely need to purchase more than one. This is because one subwoofer can play music and it will, but also because most stereo amplifiers are incapable of transmitting sound to multiple subwoofers.
It’s a whole different world for home theater. When you build a surround-sound system, many A/V receivers can output sound to two subs simultaneously. Not only can they double the power but they can also provide that bass-loving sensation. This sensation is the feeling that the bass surrounds you from all directions, hitting right in your stomach. Although it is costly to buy two subwoofers if you are willing to experiment with them and have a budget you can achieve amazing results.
10. What is The Cost of Subwoofers?
Subwoofers under $100 are not recommended. We have heard mixed reviews about subwoofers priced below $100. You can find excellent subs starting at $140. If you spend a bit more, you will often get amazing results. There are many subs that cost between $200 and $1,000, some of which are truly exceptional.
Subwoofers can be expensive. If you spend more than $2,000, you get more power and wattage. A subwoofer that costs more than $2,000 is not worth it unless you have a large room and an audio system. Subs can be purchased online, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to test them in high-end audio shops. We have compiled a list of the top subwoofers available right now. Click the button below to see the complete list.
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