With all the great selection of speakers and sound bars on the go is a subwoofer really needed? We get asked this a lot and it’s really up to yourself and depends what you want from your system. What is your budget? Are you just wanting to enhance your audio a bit or do you want a totally immersive experience? What do you like to listen to – is it for music or big movie nights or both?

There are some great sound bars that have a variety of built in speakers and they will sound phenomenal on their own. For example the Harman Kardon Citation MB1100 has a selection of built in speakers and drivers. It comes with Dolby Atmos and will sound absolutely fantastic. However the subwoofer will generate a sound that even the best sound bar cannot. When we set up sound bars we will try and match the client with the one that will suit their needs so you will get a great audio system.

What does a sound bar do?

Sound bars are basically compact speaker systems built to fit well below a TV. They have an amazing array of tech and some have up firers, down firers and an array of speakers pointing in various directions designed to bring a real “surround sound” feel to your system. A more basic sound bar won’t have as many speakers and may have a wee bit older tech. As TV’s sound systems can sometimes be sacrificed to the ‘thinness” demands of a TV, it will generally sound better with one that without.

They’re generally easy to install (most of the time) compared to cabling a bigger surround sound system and sometimes will have a wireless sub in the package. If you want a simple installation and improve your audio system then a sound bar is a great way to do that.

Also if you don’t like the idea of a visible sound bar then James does a great selection of invisible sound bars with flush finishes or completely hidden if you don’t want to see them at all. Sonance also has a great range of invisible speakers which include an in-wall sub.

What is a subwoofer?  

Often the biggest speakers in your home entertainment system, subwoofers are simply amazing speakers which are capable of reproducing low pitched audio frequencies, typically 20-200Hz. They’re fantastic for listening to music and also for watching movies. They will produce that rumbling audio that you get when you’re in the cinema if there are explosions or if the drums are playing. You’ll get a wider, more encompassing sound from having a sub woofer in the room.

So do I need a sub?

Again, it’s really up to you but the fact remains that a subwoofer will let you hear sounds that most sound bars just can’t manage. Maybe however, you’re not really fussy about the audio. Maybe you just want it to be a bit better or you’re trying to keep your budget down a bit. Then just a sound bar addition will be great. You can always add a sub later if you want to. Once you’ve had one though, you’ll find that you will always have them as most people get used to the sound and love it.

There are also more subs available on the market which means that you can get something that will suit your room. Some will come as a package but again, it’s fairly simple to add one on if you want later. Harman Kardon do a great Citation range with a wireless connection and they have the choice of a couple of subs in that which have a great fabric finish and look great in a room. They’re a nice price range too from £299 for the compact to £699 for the bigger premium option.

Most subs can be strategically placed somewhere out of the way, they’re available in various sizes and can usually be hidden behind a sofa or in an area where they’re not obtrusive.

Wisdom audio slimline subwoofer

Wisdom Audio do a beautiful S10 slimline sub in gloss black or white which is just lovely in a room. For a really subtle look then James do a fantastic slim in-wall subwoofer where only a small part of the grille is visible. This requires a wee bit more work to fit so you’d want to get this professionally installed if possible. Unless you’re good at DIY yourself that is.

If you’re wanting to improve your garden then Sonance do a great range of garden speakers too which include a subwoofer. There are ones that are made to look like rocks or you can get the SGS model. This is dug in in the flower bed so completely out of the way.

Where to put your subwoofer in a room

You can experiment a bit with this but there are a few rules that will make it sound better. The sound will be affected by the position in the room, furniture placement and even fabrics.

Ideally place it beside a corner of a wall or beside a wall (but not too close or that will negatively affect the sound). It may not be possible in the room so experiment a wee bit here. You want the sound to bounce off the wall but not have a harsh sound.

Think about your cabling – dangerous cabling across the room obviously doesn’t look great with your new sub! Obviously wireless subs are much easier to find a position for.

Will it work well/fit under your sofa? Give it a try – this is a great way of getting the effect of the rumbling from your sub.

What we would say is crank up the volume and try it in various positions in the room. Move it around your furniture and sit in various places – see what works for you!

Are there any disadvantages?

The only issue may be is if you have a neighbour and you don’t to affect them with the sub. It’s not so much the noise that could affect them but they may feel the vibration. So what do you do with this? Think about the type you are going to buy and where you’ll position it. If your neighbours are in a flat below, don’t buy a down firer. And if they’re upstairs, don’t go for an in-ceiling sub.

Position your sub close to you and keep the volume lower. You can use sound proofing which will help. If the floor is carpeted then great, especially if there is a layer of fibre, rubber or foam underneath. We’ll go into this more in another blog.

Still unsure?

We install all types of home entertainment systems and work with speakers every week. Our installers are great at knowing what would work in your property. If you’d like some advice regarding your audio system or what type of sub you might like, just get in touch. We’re available at our office in North High Street in Musselburgh if you want to pop in. Or if easier, just ping us an email or give us a buzz.