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Who Are Subwoofers Right For?


Ask anyone if you really need a subwoofer — industry professionals, audiophile enthusiasts, or movie buffs — the answer is likely yes. But is this really true? We will attempt to answer this question as honestly and unbiased as possible.

The reason most people prefer a subwoofer is due to the fact that a traditional surround setup is not going to be capable of reproducing low frequencies heard in music or movies. It’s just not possible. To create the really low frequencies that accompany bass heavy R&B music or those special effects-heavy blockbuster movies, you’ll need a speaker driver at least 8” in diameter, preferably larger. This isn’t marketing, it’s physics. To get accurate low frequencies out of a tower speaker you’ll need to go with something such as the Klipsch RF-7 III.

If you consider yourself an audiophile and want more depth than two channel stereo has to offer, then you will likely desire a subwoofer. Simply put, you’re not getting everything your music has to offer without one. This is especially true with bass heavy music.

If you’re a cinephile, the same holds true. Action movies with massive explosions are going to lean heavily on low frequency reproduction via the subwoofer. Without one, you’re not experiencing the movie in the way in which it was intended.

But what if neither of these describes you. What if you like movies, but only watch dramas? What if you like music, but nothing with thumping bass?

If you’re goal is to avoid a subwoofer, then you’ll want speakers with substantial woofers. Tower speakers tend to have more woofers, and the fact that the cabinets are larger, means more airflow, and therefore more bass. If you don’t need the extra low frequencies achieved via subwoofers, towers can still provide clean bass. Unaccompanied, bookshelf speakers are generally going to struggle reproducing bass. Even if you don’t listen to a lot of material with serious bass, a subwoofer will still be a massive benefit if your main speakers are small.

Today, it’s possible to get wireless subwoofers, in-wall subwoofers, and other models that make dealing with the big black box easier. We certainly recommend going one of thoese routes rather than going without. However, if you are going without, be sure to do your research and invest in tower speakers that can really pack a punch.


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