Expertly Curated Guide to Top 5 Things to Consider When Buying a Subwoofer

March 15, 2022
Expertly Curated Guide to Top 5 Things to Consider When Buying a Subwoofer
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A speaker that has been precision-designed to render bass for all the other speakers in a home theatre or stereo system is essentially a subwoofer. 

It goes a long way in adding layers of massive sonic impact as well as subtle sound that transforms all of our music, movies, and TV shows into a more captivating experience.

Essentially, adding a subwoofer to your system delivers better bass

If you really want to feel a musical note or sound effect in a movie, melody in the music, then Bass is the ultimate bedrock for such experiences.

However, choosing a subwoofer that packs a hefty punch with bass, requires 5 key qualities alongside knowing exactly what you want to listen to.

1. Power Rating is a key factor

Power Rating is a key factor

Image Courtesy: JL Audio

Subwoofers use various flavours of amp architecture. While some are equipped with ridiculous power ratings that can easily turn heads, in all probability, a lot less power is needed than you would asses. 8” subs for small rooms works reasonably well with 150 watts while massive 15” subs for larger rooms would suffice, at maximum with 500 watts to put out all the bass.

However, if budget is not a constraint, get a more powerful sub, the amp won’t have to work near its limit, ensuring lower distortion and better headroom. Online calculators can help you select a sub, depending on your room size.

2. Driver size matters to tackle distortion and non-linearities
Driver size matters to tackle distortion and non-linearities

Since you are required to to move huge volumes of air to reproduce the low notes, factor in the size. The movement of air happens two ways. One is closely related to the surface area of the driver(s) as well as the driver’s excursion (how far the cone moves in and out).

Small subs try to move the air by having higher excursion but if the excursion gets excessive, it can result in distortion and non-linearities. Large cones move more air with less excursion, but their larger area can result in cone break-up issues leading to harmonic distortion. There needs to be an optimal balance between size and excursion.

It would be helpful to check the ratings on the driver(s) to see what size of voice coil and magnet they have. It’s recommended to have a bigger motor structure.

3. Cabinet and finish are major things to consider for aesthetic reason
Cabinet and finish are major things to consider for aesthetic reason

Subs are usually built of wood products. A section of manufacturers claim that a sub doesn’t require a sturdy cabinet, but this is not a common opinion. It’s best to look for a sub that has a rigid, well-braced cabinet to negate the possibility of sympathetic vibrations in the audible band.

Subwoofers are good-sized components and take up huge space in your room. If the sub will be visible, work on the finish, so it complements with the rest of your décor.

4. Get the loading right to enhance the movie watching experience
Get the loading right to enhance the movie watching experience

Subs are either sealed or ported. Designs with passive radiators belong to the ported category. Sealed subs come with smaller cabinets than ported/passive radiator designs.

It is commonly known that sealed subs are tighter and better for music while ported designs make for a better fit for movies and have more bass extension. This isn’t a rule set in stone, but it is something worth paying heed to. Get the right loading after getting a clear understanding of what program material you will playback most often.

5. Give a thought to opting for multiple subwoofers
Give a thought to opting for multiple subwoofers

It’s highly recommended to  find a subwoofer that has its own room correction. Opting for multiple subwoofers is a good idea too. It is not uncommon to find less expensive subwoofers sounding better than a single, albeit more pricey one. 

A lot is contingent upon the room interactions and how several subwoofers spaced around the room can cut down or highlight various room effects, resultanty facilitating a smoother response.

Apart from these key performance qualities, some important specs to consider are:

  • Subwoofers that fail to reproduce the deepest bass notes or tones (they are unable to reach at or below 20 Hz.) They try to compensate for it by exaggerating the mid-bass performance to hide the missing notes, leading to boomy, single-note bass, that makes for an unpleasant experience.The best subwoofers deliver the deepest bass, so look out for ones that maintain output levels the whole way down.
  • Pay attention to how much energy and power it emanates with the very deepest bass notes, and ideally to find out that you should reach out to the experts at Ooberpad, so they can cut out the hassle for you.
  • Look for a subwoofer that offers fast impulse, or change in momentum (accelerating and decelerating). Pay close attention to how bass integrates with the other speakers.

Finally, a good subwoofer should energise a room and not overwhelm the soundstage or reveal its placement, distractingly. A good subwoofer adds a powerful and tactile sonic element while also remaining complementary to the system as a whole.

Click here to know more about the subwoofers offered by Ooberpad.

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