How to Choose a Subwoofer? A Complete Buying Guide

March 13, 2023
How to Choose a Subwoofer? A Complete Buying Guide
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How to Choose a Subwoofer? A Complete Buying Guide

Do you have a die-hard passion for hard-hitting bass as a movie and music-loving individual? 

Then having the right powered subwoofer makes a real difference in the quality of your home theatre experience. A subwoofer, also called as a sub, is a loudspeaker that dedicatedly reproduces the bass range of low-pitched audio frequencies. 

With the right set of subwoofers, you can experience bass that grips your soul. 

What is a Subwoofer? Tech Specs You Need To Know Before Buying

Subwoofers are specialised woofers acting as supporting components of full-range stereo and surround speaker systems for various settings.

For consumer electronics, the frequency range of subwoofers is typically 20–200 Hz; for professional PA & live sound, it is below 100 Hz; and in THX-approved systems, it is below 80 Hz. 

They consist of one or more low-frequency woofers installed in an air pressure-resistant enclosure that is usually built of wood.

What does Adding a Subwoofer do to the Sound System? 

The dynamic range of the sound system will be enhanced and the low frequency dive will be deeper if a subwoofer is included, ideally an active one. 

At the same time, it will boost the transparency of the intermediate frequency and make the sound reproduction stronger and less constrained. 

Since a subwoofer makes a real difference in the quality of your home theatre experience that's why we have put this subwoofer buyer’s guide for your home theatre together to help you choose the best one for your system. We'll also look at the key factors to consider while shopping, as well as which features and specs really matter.

Before we get into the factors that go into choosing a suitable subwoofer, let’s take a look at the types of home theatre subwoofers.

Also Read: Home Theatre: Why two (or more) subwoofers may be better than one

A Quick Look At The Types Of Home Theatre Subwoofer

Types Of Home Theatre Subwoofer
  • Passive Subwoofers

These are powered by an external amplifier. As extreme bass frequencies need more power to reproduce low-frequency sounds, many users prefer driving the subwoofer via a dedicated amplifier to reduce drain on your AV receiver.

  • Powered Subwoofers

The powered or active subwoofers are self-contained speaker/amplifier units in which the characteristics of the amplifier and subwoofer are optimally matched. They effectively combat the problem of inadequate power or other characteristics that receivers or amplifiers may lack.

  • Front-Firing and Down-Firing Subwoofers

In front firing speakers, a speaker driver is placed so that it emits sound from the side or front of the subwoofer enclosure. In down-firing subwoofers, a speaker is set bottom-facing so that it radiates downward and towards the floor.

  • Ports and Passive Radiators

Subwoofer enclosures with additional port force out more air, increasing bass response in a more efficient manner than sealed enclosures. Another type of enclosure utilises a Passive Radiator in addition to the speaker, instead of a port, for enhanced efficiency and precision.

  • Wireless Subwoofer

These cut out the cable clutter. A wireless-enabled subwoofer usually comes with a transmitter kit that can be plugged into the subwoofer outputs of any home theatre receiver.

Also Read: Everything you need to know about home theatre subwoofers

What are the Key Factors to Consider while Shopping for Subwoofers?

Before you step out shopping for subwoofers, here are some key factors to consider:

  • Consider The Right Size

Subwoofers come in a variety of sizes, ranging from 8 inches to 18 inches. The size of the subwoofer you choose will hugely depend on the size of your room and your personal listening preferences.

  • A Close Look At The Power Handling

Power handling refers to how much power the subwoofer can handle without getting damaged. It is important to match the power handling of your subwoofer with your amplifier or receiver.

  • Sensitivity Rate Is An Important Factor

Sensitivity is how efficiently the subwoofer converts power into sound. A higher sensitivity rating means the subwoofer will be louder with the same amount of power.

  • Pick a subwoofer with a Low Frequency Response for Deeper Bass

Frequency response is the range of frequencies that the subwoofer can reproduce. 

  • Choose Between Sealed or Ported Enclosure Type

Sealed enclosures provide tighter, more accurate bass, while ported enclosures provide more volume.

  • Select Subwoofers With High quality Build Quality

A well-built subwoofer with high-quality materials like stiff cones and durable surrounds ensure that the A subwoofer lasts longer and performs better.

  • Look for subwoofers from reputable brands 

It would be a good idea to read reviews from other customers to get a fair idea of the subwoofer's performance and reliability. Consider recognised brands. 

  • Deciding Between One Subwoofer Or Multiple Subwoofers 

Your listening preferences and the size and layout of your room are the key considerations that will help you decide whether to go for a single subwoofer or multiple subwoofers. 

For a small to medium-sized room, you only need to fill the room with balanced bass. To meet this purpose, a single subwoofer can be sufficient. Most importantly, a good quality subwoofer with a large driver and ample power can provide deep, rich bass that can elevate the music or movie listening experience to a whole new level.

To achieve a more powerful and immersive bass experience, multiple subwoofers can be a better choice, especially if you have a large or an irregularly shaped room.

Key takeaway: At the top of it all, the subwoofers should be well-matched and properly placed for optimal performance.

Also Read: Speaker and subwoofer placement, positioning and installation tips

Before Buying a Subwoofer, Decide Where to Place the Subwoofer
Subwoofer Placement

The overall sound quality of a home theatre or audio system is hugely driven by the placement of the subwoofer.

Here are a few tips on where to place a subwoofer for the optimal sound.

  • A good starting point to ensure the best sound quality would be to check the manual for the recommendations on the ideal placement for your subwoofer.
  • Place your subwoofer at least a foot or two away from walls or corners to avoid a muddy sound.
  • To find the optimal spot, try out different locations in the room to find the best sound. You could place the subwoofer in the front of the room, near the TV or speakers and then move it around the room, till you find the most suitable spot.
  • Look for subwoofers equipped with a built-in room correction software that can help optimise the sound quality based on the placement of the subwoofer. 

Ultimately, you could benefit immensely from an expert opinion. 

To make the right purchasing decision and get the most out of your new subwoofer, reach out to our experts at Ooberpad. Not only will they help you get the right subwoofer home, but will also share the best tips for set-up to get the best sound possible from your system.

Here's a quick and comprehensive video on Everything you need to know about Subwoofers

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