If you have been thinking of building a new home theatre system, you must have given the speakers for your theatre a proper thought. However, regardless of whether you are mostly thinking of a setup for movies, games or videos, a strong powerful subwoofer is one of the most imperative components that you will need to complete your audio system.
If you ask an expert, a subwoofer is primarily built for bass. In simple language, it is the speaker which enables the delivery of sound at lower frequencies in the range of 20-200 Hz. Usually, a standard two-channel surrounds sound setup is not able to reproduce on its own. But, you must be wondering, where do these low frequencies come from?
The low frequencies come from the instruments like the kick drum, bass guitar, and pipe organ. During movies, explosion sounds also fall into the category. However, you might also ask, why would I get one? You are able to hear different bass from speakers like the bookshelf or floor standing speakers. However, if you are looking to feel the sound, you will have to think of a subwoofer.
If you love listening to bass-heavy music such as hip hop or EDM or watching loud action-oriented films, subwoofers are extremely essential. If you want to experience exactly what the director or music intended you to feel, a subwoofer is all you need.
Nevertheless, if you are not an action fanatic, do you need a subwoofer at all? A subwoofer is a bass-thumping steamroller, but that is not all. It is what helps take away the heaviness of speakers, allowing you to have an improved experience of the overall audio system.
What does subwoofer do?
In a summary, to point out the key features of a subwoofer:
- Widens the soundstage
- Makes the stereo imaging more accurate
- Comprises of compelling dynamics
- Creates a more all-encompassing and vibrant sound
Subwoofers are usually powered, which means, they are equipped with a built-in amplifier. This is usually done by connecting an AV-receiver via an audio cable (be aware, not using a speaker cable). Most subwoofers are active. You will need a lot of power to control a subwoofer, almost up to 2000 W. Every subwoofer will need specific electronics connected to it.
You might wonder why there is need of so much power. In simple science language, it can be answered based on the need to move a huge amount of air. Bass sounds produce large soundwaves that can be produced through a large driver. Furthermore, a subwoofer will also need a lot of control to be clearly audible.
Problems associated with a subwoofer
Basses come with a huge amount of energy. And for this reason, the placement of a subwoofer can go wrong very easily. You furniture will vibrate, some sounds will be amplified larger than the other. This can happen, for instance, when you place the subwoofer close to a corner. This will cause lot of frequencies to attenuate, causing the basses to sound thin.
Where to place a subwoofer?
As mentioned, subwoofers can become hard to handle at times. However, large spaces usually undergo fewer problems than smaller ones. Using an AV-receiver with the proper calibration system allows you to experience the subwoofer at its best. Why so? Well, it will solve lots of small issues for you. Nevertheless, when it comes to the heavy issues, you will need a more advanced model, and as well as an expensive model. In the present world, subwoofers come with their own measurement and equalization system.
In general, it is advised to place a subwoofer in front of your room (rather than at a corner or against the wall). It is sometimes not possible to do so. In such cases, the best thing will be to move it to the back of the room and if you do so, not to set the crossover too high.
Some people have tried to place subwoofers away in cabinets. While you may think it helps to save space in the room or do not distract the aesthetics in your room, it actually has a negative impact by allowing more room for the sound.
The acoustic treatment
The acoustic treatment is an important factor to bear in mine when you are trying to make the best out of a subwoofer. You need to make sure the room you are placing the subwoofer in is acoustically good. Acoustic panels, bass traps and diffusers help to contribute to better acoustics of rooms. In addition, AV receivers sometimes come with room correction technology. It is also pretty useful because it calibrates each speaker to create the perfect harmonious ambience around.
The best subwoofer is the one which does not ask for too much of your attention and hence, they should also be able to function as one unit with the other speakers in the room. The bass traveling from the subwoofer should be able to mix well with that from all the other speakers in the room.
Subwoofers have a low-pass knob on their back. This crossover is referred to the frequency where the speaker starts to roll-off, and the subwoofer begins to produce the bass notes. You must try to dial-in this crossover point to 10Hz over the speaker’s lowest frequency range to achieve this purpose.
You need to get yourself a subwoofer because it is going to take the experience of a home theatre to the next level. Nevertheless, you can always add a second subwoofer as your system starts growing, keeping in mind that the bass is well distributed throughout the entire room. The output should be melodious and your experience should be felt harmonious. All in all, subwoofers are crucial part of the audio system in your homes. If budget is still an issue, try a subwoofer and then if you feel its worth it, grow the crew!
You may also like to read: How to Make Your Voice Sound Better.