How to choose the right subwoofer for your home entertainment system
Bass is the bedrock upon which great sound is built. Whether it’s the thrilling soundtrack to a Hollywood blockbuster, a soaring live orchestral performance, or the natural timbres of a beautifully recorded acoustic guitar – bass provided by a good quality subwoofer is vital. Ryno Goosen, from The HFX Group, offers some insight into what you should look for when investing in a good quality subwoofer.
What is a subwoofer?
Subwoofers are made to reproduce only the lowest frequencies for those heart-pounding thumps and deep, rumbling roars that make the experience so thrilling and give it an almost tactile quality
What to look for when buying a subwoofer
Determine how much power you will need. As a rule of thumb: The larger the driver, the deeper the bass but the smaller the driver, the quicker the response time. If the driver is too big, it may not keep up with rapid drumbeats for example. However, if it is too small, you may not be able to feel that bomb going off in your favourite action movie.
This is an incredibly important spec of any subwoofer, as it shows how low the speaker can go. “The human ear can hear sounds as low as 20Hz, however, although there are subs that can reproduce such low frequencies, they are incredibly pricey. A good quality subwoofer should be able to go down to at least 35Hz” explains Ryno.
Passive versus powered subwoofers
Passive subwoofers are powered by an external amplifier, while powered subwoofers boast their own power source.
The minimum power any subwoofer should have is 150 watts for accuracy without distortion, but the more the merrier.
Front-facing versus down-firing
A front-firing subwoofer boasts a speaker that is mounted in such a way that the sound radiates from the side or front of the subwoofer enclosure. A down-firing subwoofer’s speaker radiates the bass downwards, towards the floor.
Any quality subwoofer should have a “crossover” frequency of about 100Hz.
The size of the subwoofer does not necessarily dictate its power.
If space is an issue, opt for in-wall subwoofers, which are custom-built into your wall or ceiling.
Subwoofers that come with pre-set modes are very useful, as they can customise the sub’s bass response depending on what you are listening to e.g. movies, video games, rock music, jazz, sports, live concerts and so on.