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What’s the Big Deal About Subwoofers?

As you’re in the process of building your killer home audio system, you've probably already chosen a pair of speakers. But this is just the beginning. A powered subwoofer is an essential component of any audio setup, whether it's for movies, music, sports, gaming or all of the above.

MIProTechs is here to answer some of the most common questions we get about subwoofers, and how they can elevate your home entertainment experience.

What’s a Subwoofer?

Subwoofers are speakers dedicated to bass. They produce lower frequencies that a typical two-channel or surround sound setup are not able to reproduce by themselves. Such frequencies are most commonly produced by instruments like kick drum and bass guitar, and movie sound effects like explosions.

Why Do You Need One?

While the other speakers in your setup let you simply hear bass tones, a subwoofer enables you to truly feel the sound as if you’re right on stage at a concert, or right in the thick of the action in a movie.

Even if you don’t listen to a whole lot of bass-heavy music or watch action-packed movies, a subwoofer is still a great thing to have because it shoulders the burden of reproducing those deep tones from the rest of your audio system, which can improve your overall listening experience by creating more compelling dynamics, a wider soundstage, more accurate stereo imaging, and more vibrant, fuller sound.

Where Should I Place a Subwoofer?

To be honest, you can put your subwoofer almost anywhere, especially since many models nowadays are wireless. However, since each room is built differently, the results can vary. There could be some trial and error involved if you're serious about having the best bass performance from your subwoofer.

Depending on the space you’re working with and how much décor, furniture, and other stuff is competing for floor space, you might have to get creative and do some rearranging in order to find that “sweet spot”. But we promise that it is definitely worth it.

In addition to placement, room acoustics are going to play a big role in getting the most out of your subwoofer. You might have the most bombastic fantastic subwoofer on the planet, but poor acoustics can make it sound as if it isn’t even there at all. Acoustic panels, diffusers, and bass traps are all great options to improve room acoustics. If you’re not looking to get fancy, simply “padding” your room with rugs, carpeting, upholstered furniture, and even plants can all help as well.

How Do I Optimize My Subwoofer?

A subwoofer performs best when it doesn’t draw attention to itself. The bass coming from the subwoofer should not overtake the sound coming from your other speakers, but rather blend seamlessly with it.

The first calibration variable you’ll be working with is crossover, or the point where your other speakers roll off and the subwoofer begins producing bass. You should ideally set your crossover point at around 10hz above the lowest frequency range of your other speakers.

Next is 0/180 phase control. We won’t get into the mechanics, but all that matters to you is that speakers and subwoofers perform best when their woofers vibrate back and forth simultaneously. When they don’t, it means they are out of phase, and the bass is cancelled out. To dial this variable in, listen to some bass-heavy music like hip hop or EDM, and switch between both 0 and 180-degree settings. Whichever one sounds better to you, keep it. If you can’t hear a difference, stick with 0 degrees.

Should I Have More than One Subwoofer?

If you’re on a budget or just starting out in building your home audio system, we recommend sticking to just one subwoofer for now. But as your system grows over time, adding a second one can help to more evenly distribute the bass throughout the room, which ultimately improves bass performance.

Have any additional questions about subwoofers or home audio systems in general? The experts at MIProTechs are here to help. We are Southeast Michigan’s premier provider of home entertainment technology and are ready to help you build the sound system of your dreams.

Call us at (248) 987-6171 or schedule an appointment online.