Subwoofers form a crucial — yet often overlooked — part of any comprehensive sound system. They’re necessary for ensuring that the audio you receive is always of the highest possible quality and able to cover all ranges.
Most people think that having a robust sound system for your home theater is an unnecessary step to take in maintaining a pleasant viewing experience. You could probably get away with just one or two standard loudspeakers — but this is home theater we’re talking about.
In order to preserve the viewing and audio pleasure that you might find in a cinema — and indeed, bring that same pleasure to the comfort of your living room — you’re going to need at least two subwoofers along with every piece of audio equipment in your sound system.
Knowing which subwoofer to pick can be difficult and tedious if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Fortunately, there is a lot of information available. We hope that this article will provide you with all the insight you need to choose the right subwoofer for your home theater.
So without further ado, read on to find out more about what size subwoofer for home theater you need.
Why Use a Subwoofer?
To put it plainly, a standard loudspeaker will probably be able to cover a lot of pitch frequencies, but if you want a truly impressive feeling of oomph behind your audio output, you should get a subwoofer.
Subwoofers are specifically designed to be able to accurately reproduce low-pitch frequencies with very little distortion or interference. They cover the bass and sub-bass ranges of audio output.
If you intend to accurately capture the theater-viewing pleasure in your own home, a subwoofer will only bolster the overall quality of the experience, as well as lend some much-needed power to your sound.
What About Watts?
Typically, the deciding factor of any subwoofer’s quality (or supposed quality) comes down to one of two things — the size of its driver and its power. We will discuss the former later on in this article, but for now, let’s talk about power.
Many people tend to avoid higher-powered subwoofers. There’s a common misconception that high-powered subwoofers need to be played louder than their lower-powered counterparts. At the end of the day, however, you are always in control of your volume and your sound.
The wattage rating of any subwoofer is merely an indication of its capabilities, but it is not a representation of its proficiencies. For example, a 1000-watt subwoofer may be able to function decently when played at higher volumes; it may also perform even better when played at more moderate levels.
Power isn’t everything, but it’s a good place to start. When looking for the right subwoofer, consider how you like your volume. Do you like it loud and booming, or more tame and subdued? Don’t let a subwoofer’s watts be the only thing you consider. There are a few other things you should take a look at, as well.
Does Size Matter?
The size of your subwoofer is the most important physical consideration. Generally speaking, you should aim for one that can fit under a coffee table, one that is small and discrete. Some subwoofers are even able to be placed underneath your couch, but these models are often far more expensive, so look for something that’s financially comfortable for you.
When it comes to size, you will want to pay close attention to the subwoofer’s driver and its cabinet. An ideal subwoofer will have a moderately sized driver with enough space behind it in the cabinet. The smaller in size these two things are, the more power your subwoofer will need in order to compensate.
Placement is Priority
While it may not seem important at first, the location of your subwoofer can have a tremendous impact on the quality of your sound. If it’s more volume that you are after, placing a subwoofer against a wall will give it some added oomph, while placing it in a corner will make the sound even louder.
If you want optimal bass performance, however, you’ll need to spend some time discerning the best possible placement for your subwoofer. To do this, sit in your usual listening/viewing spot and have someone move the subwoofer around while you listen for spots where it performs better than others.
You could also do the opposite, instead placing your subwoofer where you would normally sit and then scaling the walls of the room to hear where the bass sounds best. Don’t neglect this step. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference the placement of your sub can make.
Lastly, if you’re struggling to find that optimal bass response, adding another subwoofer can help. This won’t necessarily equate to better bass performance across the board, but it can certainly help improve the sound. Again, fiddle around with placement before you invest in another subwoofer.
Equalizer Equals Better Sounds
Some subwoofers and other loudspeakers have a room EQ processing function that allows them to generate the best possible equalizer settings for any given room. Keep in mind, though, that while equalizers can optimize sound, it can’t make up for poor sound quality in any major sense.
For example, a good equalizer still won’t be able to make a low-end subwoofer sound like a booming, expensive one. Additionally, it also won’t be able to do much with poor sub placement.
Consider the Room
Lastly, when looking for a good subwoofer, you’ll need to consider your environment, as well. In a small, confined space, a single small and moderately powered sub should work just fine in providing you with the bass you need.
In a large room with open spaces and open pathways to the rest of your house, you’ll need at least two subs or a single, high-powered one.
Again, though, before purchasing an additional subwoofer, try to first optimize the device’s placement. You’ll be amazed by how much of a difference a quick shift of the subwoofer can make.
Many people equate “good bass” with “more bass,” but this is almost never the case. The booming sound you hear in some cars while in traffic may seem appealing at first, but it comes at the expense of quality.
You can make almost any subwoofer — no matter how bad it may seem — sound good with proper placement, volume control, and optimal equalizer settings. Unfortunately, there exists no clear-cut rule about which size sub sounds best in which size room.
To circumvent this to an extent, pay attention to subwoofer reviews. This should at least give you some idea of what to look for. Also, keep in mind all the considerations we’ve already listed here. If your sub seems to be performing poorly on its own, don’t immediately purchase another one to compensate. “More” does not equal “better.”
We hope that this article has at least given you some direction about what to look for in a subwoofer. We leave it up to you to experiment with device placement in order to optimize the quality of your sound and enhance your overall experience. Pay attention to the small details, and soon, you’ll never have to visit the cinema again.
Bear in mind that the above guide is just a rough suggestion of placement, size, and watts, and based on the specific subwoofer you select for your home theater, these may change. Remember to look at the size of your home theater and where you plan to place the subwoofer before selecting one.