What Does A Subwoofer Do?

By Richard Pryn •  Updated: 08/31/22 •  6 min read

If you’re in the process of building a sound system at home or for your car, you might be wondering what a subwoofer does and whether you need one.

These speakers can seem a bit confusing and even unnecessary if you aren’t familiar with sound systems, but they’re by far the opposite!

What Does A Subwoofer Do?

These bass-heavy speakers are a key addition to any sound system and deliver a rich, deep bass that takes your listening experience to the next level.

In this handy guide, we’ll break down everything there is to know about subwoofers – from what they actually are to why you need to get one for yourself!

So let’s get started, shall we?

What Exactly Is A Subwoofer?

Okay, so first things first – what is a subwoofer, actually? Let’s take a closer look.

Subwoofers, also often referred to as subs, are a type of speaker that primarily provide lower frequencies.

Standard two-channel or surround sound systems can’t deliver low frequencies between 20-200 Hz; unfortunately, this range is where the richest bass notes come through. That’s where subwoofers come in, with a clean and rich bass that you can feel in your body.

Because they fill this niche that other types of speakers can’t, subwoofers are a crucial addition to any sound system.

Normal speakers can’t do justice to heavy-bass music like EDM, hip hop, or drum and bass. Using a sub is almost a completely different experience, and lets you listen to your music the way it was meant to be listened to.

Subwoofers aren’t just used for music, however. Installing a sub in your home theater lets you get the best movie experience possible.

Watching a high-octane action movie with the rich, crisp bass of a subwoofer elevates it to a new level!

How Do Subwoofers Work?

So now that we’ve covered what subwoofers actually are, let’s take a look at how they work.

Like other types of speakers, subs turn an electrical current into vibrations using a magnetic coil; these vibrations are amplified by the cone, producing sound waves that travel out as music.

Subwoofers are different from other speakers because of their frequency. Subs produce a much lower range of sound than most speakers (from 20 Hz to 200 Hz). This is because of the magnetic field generated by the sub’s coil.

As a result of this, the subwoofer can generate far deeper bass notes to deliver that punchy, rich bass that they are famous for.

Because of its low frequency, the bass from a subwoofer is so intense that you can actually feel it!

These vibrations let you literally feel the music, making it a more intense and incredibly enjoyable experience.

What Are Subwoofers Used For?

Subwoofers are a great addition to any sound system, and are handy for all sorts of reasons.

The most obvious one here is their sound quality – subwoofers deliver clean, rich bass that other speakers can’t, making them a must-have when you’re kitting out your sound system.

Subs are especially important if you love bass-heavy genres of music like hip hop or EDM, where you aren’t getting the full experience unless you can enjoy the deep basslines in all their glory.

Whether you’re setting up a home sound system or kitting out your car speakers, subwoofers are essential.

On top of being a must-have for any music fan, subwoofers also make a great addition to your home theater. They enhance the audio and soundtrack of your movie for a more immersive and intense experience. 

Subs aren’t just important for their sound, however; on top of making your listening experience even better, subwoofers take a lot of strain away from the rest of your speakers.

As they channel lower frequencies that regular speakers struggle to reach, subs reduce the stress put on the other speakers in your sound system.

This improves the overall quality of your sound, keeping it rich and smooth. It also means that you can turn up the volume without the risk of distortion or crackling.

Are There Any Downsides To Subwoofers?

While subwoofers are a great addition to any sound system and serve a wide range of purposes, there are some downsides to using subwoofers.

Because of their incredible bass and low frequencies, subs cause a lot of vibrations. While this isn’t much of an issue as long as you don’t turn the volume too high, the bass from a subwoofer can be damaging.

If the gain and volume are too high on your sub (especially in a car sound system), it can crack your windows, loosen some of the parts, and even cause damage to your ears.

This issue is even worse in a car, as the enclosed space amplifies the volume even more.

However, as long as you are careful and responsible with your subwoofer, you’re unlikely to encounter any issues.

Make sure to never turn the gain or the volume too high, as this can be damaging to your car, home, and hearing!

While there are some downsides to using a subwoofer in your sound system or home theater, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Their rich, clean sound and impressive bass makes them a crucial addition to any sound system, and lets you listen to your favorite music as it should be heard.

Whether you’re kitting out your car’s sound system or setting up a home theater, you’re missing out if you don’t include a subwoofer. 

Final Thoughts

Subwoofers are incredibly useful for a variety of reasons and are a necessary addition to any audiophile’s collection.

From home theaters to car sound systems, subwoofers provide a rich and deep bass that enhances your listening experience and lets you literally feel the music!

So now that you know a bit more about what subwoofers are, how they work, and why you should get one for yourself, it’s pretty clear that you should do yourself a favor and add a subwoofer to your sound system.

Trust us – your ears will thank us!

Richard Pryn

Hey there. I am an award winning composer for movie trailers, including Bladerunner 2049, Diablo II, WandaVision, and loads more. I am the founder of The Trailer Music School where my aim is to teach everything I know about music composition, production, and generally being a functional human being. I podcast, blog, vlog and jog (sometimes). I also love coffee, nachos and self-improvement. I live with my wife, three kids and numerous pets. I am also known by my pseudonym, Richard Schrieber (it’s a long story).

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