Subwoofer Pros and Cons (Explained)

Almost every electronic appliance has its own benefits and drawbacks and subwoofers are no exception.

Boomy bass lovers may not be too keen on discussing the drawbacks of a subwoofer due to their craze for listening to low-frequency sound.

On the other hand, a few disadvantages for some may sound advantageous to others and vice versa.

Let’s take a quick look into some of the pros and cons of subwoofers in audio systems.

Advantages of Subwoofers (Pros)

Low-Frequency Response

Subwoofers can handle the lowest frequencies and provide depth and clarity of bass tones that a typical surround system or a two-channel fails to reproduce alone.

Subwoofers are typically designed to handle the lowest frequencies ranging anywhere between 20Hz to 200Hz on average.

That being said, certain subwoofers can even reproduce the lowest frequencies i.e., lower than 20Hz, making it almost lower than human hearing limits.

Large Drivers

Large tower speakers typically have that extra bass oomph and may not require an additional subwoofer.

However, if your home audio system is equipped with bookshelf speakers, they won’t be able to achieve the low bass frequency (boomy-bass effect) because they are far smaller.

Subwoofers are equipped with large drivers to generate low-frequency sound waves and move large volumes of air.

The large drivers help to produce deeper bass by moving air in large volumes during motion.

Accuracy in reproducing bass notes

Subwoofers can accurately reproduce bass notes in the lowest frequency range making them perfect for most music genres.

All you need to do is properly set up the subwoofer and adjust the settings accordingly in case of a passive subwoofer.

Active subs on the other hand do not offer much customization as are usually designed to automatically adjust the frequencies and sound levels for different music notes.

Makes you feel the sound

Several melodic notes usually sound vague or dull without the inclusion of bass.

Hence subwoofers are integrated to reproduce a perfect blend of musical notes that makes you feel the depth of the sound.

Blends with your audio system

Subwoofers can also be included in multiple audio systems by making use of the right wirings and settings.

You can connect it to a soundbar, television, smartphones or tablets, computers or laptops, and other audio systems, etc.

Disadvantages of subwoofers

While subwoofers offer many benefits to bass lovers, there are also some potential disadvantages.

However, the disadvantages of using subwoofers for some may sound advantageous to others.

Let us look into some of the possible disadvantages of adding subwoofers to the audio system.

Higher Cost

One of the prime disadvantages of adding a subwoofer to the audio system is the cost.

Let’s be honest, subwoofers are expensive, especially if they are of high quality.

Additionally, the setup cost of stand-alone subwoofers will require an additional receiver or amplifier for power.

It simply means, adding a subwoofer to the audio system can add to the overall cost.

Hence, those who are on a tight budget will ultimately have to compromise on their audio requirements and invest in low-end to mid-end quality units.

Space Utilization

Subwoofers can be bulky and can take up a large amount of space in your room.

Hence, it may become difficult to accommodate a subwoofer and customize your audio setup in your desired space.

In this case, you will need to opt for a high-end subwoofer that can offer the same level of sound in a compact enclosure (But this can be costly).

Another option is to go for a low-cost subwoofer but you will have to compromise on your desired sound quality.

Finally, for those who have very limited space, using a stand-alone subwoofer may not always be the best option.

Complex Set-up

To experience the best sound quality and to perform optimally, subwoofers require proper setup and timely maintenance.

First, it’s important to choose the right size and type of subwoofer for your room and set it up correctly.

Especially for subwoofers with multiple drivers, or a home theater system consisting of multiple components, can complicate the setup.

Here, you’ll need to make sure all the components are connected properly and can be adjusted in the various settings for the best sound possible from your subwoofer.

This may not be easy and will involve some experimentation with the positioning of the subwoofer and adjusting the settings on each component.

Not suitable for High-Frequency sound

Subwoofers are designed to handle the lowest frequencies ranging between 20Hz to 200Hz to produce bass.

A stand-alone subwoofer may not be able to offer quality music with mixed frequencies and will need a supporting unit that can handle the higher frequencies together.

Room Acoustics

The acoustic properties of your listening room can significantly impact how a subwoofer performs.

To solve acoustic problems, acoustic treatments or room correction software may be required.

The lower frequencies tend to bounce back off the walls and other surfaces, which can result in an uneven frequency response in your room.

Hence, factors such as room size, shape, and furniture placement should be considered for a better bass response.

Otherwise, certain parts of the room may have too much bass while other areas may lack it.

Finally, low-frequency sounds (bass effects) can be heard and also be felt, which can be annoying at times resulting in discomfort for some people.

Disturbance in the surrounding

The excess vibrating waves (low-frequency) hit the walls, floors, and objects harder that come in contact and create a shaky environment all around.

It can be disturbing to some in several circumstances or situations.

Hence, it becomes a disadvantage for someone who loves to enjoy the boomy-bass effect of a subwoofer but is bound by a situation where the volume cannot be increased.

Final Thoughts

Overall, subwoofers can be a great addition to any audio system if they are properly set up, however, you should also consider all of the potential pros and cons before investing in one.

As discussed few drawbacks of adding a subwoofer to the audio system may not be applicable to most people.

Be it any sound system one should always consider the cost, space requirements, potential sound issues, and acoustical problems before investing in an audio system.

Finally, to acquire the perfect blend of sound quality one should add a subwoofer with proper setup to their existing audio system.

Armed with a Diploma in electrical engineering and a remarkable 12 years of expertise, he excels in rejuvenating music systems, washing machines, dryers, and laundry-related appliances. Manish's profound insights and practical know-how establish him as a credible authority in appliance and music system repairs. Contact: manish.singh (at) subwooferblog.com. He's always ready to lend a helping hand!