One of the things you likely love about cinemas and live concerts is the awesome sound that surrounds you, hitting you hard in the gut. The sound of the chase, the thumping of the bass drum and the bass guitar, that low frequency sound you actually feel more than hear. It draws you into the action, leaving you excited for more. All of these things are powered by a subwoofer.
Most speakers are made up of multiple cones or drivers, each designed to reproduce different frequencies of sound. 2-way speakers will have a ‘tweeter’ for high-pitched sounds and a mid-range driver for middle and low frequency sounds. Larger, 3-way speakers will also have a large ‘woofer’ cone, and that’s where the deep, bassy sounds come from.
The subwoofer takes the low even lower – hence the name “sub” woofer. This is what you hear thumping at concert venues, cinemas, some car stereos and more. Many people want to replicate this in their homes or other locations. Watching a movie at home, even with a top of the line television
, will not give you that thumping sound unless you add a subwoofer.
You should now understand why many people route all their audio through a home theater system
. This system tries to replicate what they enjoy at the theaters. So how does one go about choosing the best subwoofer? This is what this guide is going to help you address.
It is important to understand that a subwoofer CANNOT work alone. It must be added to a system that already includes speakers designed to reproduce the highs and mids. You should also know that a subwoofer can be powered or passive. Powered means it has an inbuilt amplifier and so does not require any external amplification. In most cases, a powered subwoofer will have the capacity to power two top speakers of a stipulated power rating. Passive on the other hand means it will require external amplification. It is very important to understand this. Make sure you know what you’re plugging the subwoofer into, and whether that is an amplified connection.
Another thing that must be considered is the connectivity of the subwoofer to the other speakers or audio system. Without the correct audio cables
, you’ll be left with an expensive paper weight. You need to be sure the subwoofer you get will be able to connect to your existing sound system or the one you plan to get.
With subwoofers, price is a major factor to consider. You can get a subwoofer from $100 to $400 and above. You should not expect that a subwoofer that costs $100 will have the same power output or features as those that cost $400 and above. The more features you want, the more you should be ready to pay. The features that will add to the cost include the wattage, woofer size, powered or passive, etc.
Another thing that really does affect prices of subwoofers is brand integrity. Some brands have over the years built a reputation for quality. The fact that you can vouch for their products even before using them adds to the cost. What we have done here is look through top brands and picked out the five products that offer the best value for money.
There are cheap subwoofers that we cannot in good conscience recommend to you. Like we stated earlier, we have only selected products that will offer you great value for money. With our selection, whatever you pay for a product – high or low – you will get full value and more for it.
There are some standard factors on which to base your choice of subwoofers. Working with these factors, you can easily determine what is important for you. These features include:
- Type – Powered or passive
- Wattage – This shows the power output of the speaker
- Woofer size – larger woofers generally deliver more depth
- Cabinet size – This can affect the sound but may also be too big or too small for where you want to use it
- Connectivity – Does it have enough or the right connections you need to connect them to your sound system
- Power requirement (for powered subwoofers) – Be sure the power input requirement is right for you (110Volts, 220 Volts etc.)
- Brand integrity – This has to do with the reputation a brand has for delivering quality products
- Extras – Any other features that catch your fancy
Construction and Design
The first thing you want to check with any subwoofer you are considering is whether it is powered or passive. This cannot be over-emphasized. Like we’ve mentioned before, if it is passive then it will require external amplification. If it is powered, it will not require any external amplification. It will, however, need to be connected to a power socket.
Next, you need to consider the size of the cabinet in the location where you want to place or use it. Of course, if it’s too big for your entertainment console or any other location you intend for it, you will definitely need to reconsider. Most speakers are constructed with wood because of its acoustic properties. A few are made with plastic but not the top end products.
Make sure it’s solidly built and the material used is acoustically efficient.
Performance and Ease of Use
One of the most important things to consider is how easy it is to connect to other speakers or your existing sound system. Check the connection options and the wattage. Ensure the connection options provided on both your subwoofer and the system you want to connect it to are compatible. Also, ensure their output power ratings are compatible. If you were to get a powered subwoofer of 100 watts and connect it to a system of 30 watts, the bass would be disproportionately powerful compare to the rest of the sound stage. If you have an existing amplification system and high - mid speakers of say 50 watts and you get a passive subwoofer of 100 watts, you will be under-driving the subwoofer so it won’t perform optimally.
How exactly do you know which subwoofer is best for you? It’s our hope that our buying guide (above) has addressed that. Armed with the information provided therein, be on the lookout for features that are most important to you. With these in mind, let’s now review our top 5 selection.
Now you’ve taken time to go through these reviews, you need to take the next step and make the purchase. But remember that each brand has numerous subwoofers beyond the ones reviewed, so feel free to check some of them out before buying if none of the featured ones is exactly what you want.