Soundbars are a crucial addition to a home theater, but you will often see them paired with a subwoofer. So why does a soundbar need a subwoofer?
Well, subwoofers do one thing really well, and that’s reproducing low level frequencies. Standard speakers just aren’t able to do it to the level of a subwoofer.
But the truth is a soundbar technically doesn’t need a subwoofer to work, however, the subwoofer is a crucial component for soundbars and the experience they’re meant to deliver.
What Is A Soundbar?
A soundbar is pretty much a long loudspeaker that is composed of many speakers. The soundbar as a whole will sit right underneath your TV, and project audio to the viewer.
The soundbar acts as a center channel, and its job is to replicate surround sound or stereo sound. This is why soundbars are popular with home theaters.
A soundbar has a set number of channels, and each channel will have at least a single speaker, or many speakers working in conjunction.
A 5.1.2 soundbar will have 5 center channels, 1 subwoofer, and 2 upfiring speakers. And this is a popular soundbar config for Dolby Atmos.
A soundbar is considered many times easier to set up compared to a true surround sound system, this is because you don’t have to plug in multiple speakers, and it’s significantly smaller.
Size is a huge selling point for soundbars, not many people have a huge living room which they can use to set up an entire surround sound setup. Soundbars solve this by seamlessly integrating with the TV.
What Is A Subwoofer?
A subwoofer is a loudspeaker also, but a subwoofer’s job is to reproduce low pitched sounds which are also known as bass and sub bass.
Subwoofers are able to play these sounds perfectly which means you will hear exactly how these sounds were meant to be heard.
Subwoofers come in different shapes and sizes, but they have one goal, and that’s to reproduce low frequencies.
Because subwoofers generate a lot of bass, it’s important that a subwoofer is made out of sturdy material so it can handle the air pressure, and not lose bass to air.
Also Read: Can You Add A Subwoofer To A Soundbar?
Do Soundbars Need A Subwoofer?
If you’re on a budget, you could probably go well with a soundbar without a subwoofer, but if you’re going with a high end soundbar, then a subwoofer is definitely necessary.
Some high end soundbars such as the Q990B come with a subwoofer, but there’s some soundbars that require you to purchase a subwoofer separately.
1. Subwoofers Improve Cinematic Experience
If you’re building a home theater, and you have the intention of watching a lot of movies, a subwoofer can be the addition you need to take the immersiveness to the next level.
If you’re a fan of action movies like me, then you’d know that there’s a lot of rumbliness, and thumps in them which isn’t replicated well on a normal speaker, a subwoofer could easily solve this issue.
Even if you’re not going to watch action movies or TV shows, a subwoofer can still have a huge impact on normal movies as it will turn you from a passive listener into an active listener.
What this means is that you’ll be able to feel the bass coming from the subwoofer which will make everything in the movie scene feel more realistic.
2. Subwoofers Are Great For Listening To Music
For music, a subwoofer is also extremely important, especially if you listen to music with a lot of bass. It will make music more impactful, and can probably change your opinion on a song.
For organ music, the frequencies can get as low as 16 Hz which is well within bass range, so you’ll need a subwoofer to accurately recreate those low octaves.
For rap music, a subwoofer can also be a decent addition. While the bass isn’t as low as organ music, it can enhance any low frequencies in the song.
If you’re a producer who makes beats, then a subwoofer is definitely necessary. Some bass modules such as the 808 kick drum require a subwoofer.
3. Accurately Reproduces Low Level Frequencies
A normal speaker won’t be able to reproduce low frequency noises without heavily distorting, so a subwoofer is necessary as they’re able to reproduce lower octaves without distorting.
And the distortions from a normal loudspeaker can get quite annoying and ruin immersion if you’re watching action movies. And it only distorts the louder the speaker is.
This is because subwoofers replicate notes in the low-frequency spectrum almost perfectly.
Where Do I Place A Subwoofer?
When a subwoofer is used, it’s almost always placed in one of the corners of the room, typically one of the front corners.
Doing this makes the subwoofer feel louder by increasing its output. This makes music and movies more impactful.
But you usually cannot place it far away from the soundbar if it’s wired, so you will need to find the best location out of the options you have.
However, if you have many locations you’re considering, then you can use the subwoofer crawl method which is like a trial and error method.
This works by playing a soundtrack you’re familiar with, evaluating the bass at each location, and keeping your head at knee level.
After this, pick the location where you feel the bass is more accurate, more balanced, and more impactful. This is ideal if you’re looking for the best location possible.
How To Connect a Subwoofer To Soundbar?
There are usually two ways you can connect your subwoofer to your soundbar, and that’s a wired or wireless connection. They both have their pros and cons.
If your soundbar/subwoofer connection is wired, then you have to connect the subwoofer’s cable to the output port on the soundbar.
If you have a wireless subwoofer, then you will want to link the subwoofer to the soundbar via Bluetooth. The steps on connecting the soundbar via Bluetooth should be present within the soundbars manual.
If you purchase a subwoofer that is separate from your soundbar, then you will need to first ensure that the subwoofer is compatible with your soundbar.
In conclusion, a soundbar is able to function just fine without a subwoofer, but for an immersive experience, you will require a subwoofer. for multiple reasons.
A subwoofer improves acoustics in many areas such as movies and music, it makes movies much more impactful, and it makes music better to listen to.
The good news is that some soundbars will come with a subwoofer that is perfectly compatible with the subwoofer. If your soundbar didn’t come with a subwoofer, you can still pair a compatible unit you find online.