Are subwoofers usual in HiFi?
This is a debatable topic to say the least, but really there is a simple answer. The simple answer to this question is yes!
With that being said, its understandable where people maybe feel as if it is more of a home Cinema product, but in reality, the benefits that a subwoofer can make are quite staggering.
So, first and foremost… what are those benefits?
Naturally a richer, deeper bass is achieved but arguably the key benefit is the control you can achieve in the lower frequencies. This then creates a much more noticeable 3 dimensional aspect to the sound, while improving the dynamics vastly.
Another advantage is the control you can achieve with the bass, as a subwoofer offers many adjustment controls. This therefore means you can tweak the sound bit by bit until it is just the way you like it.
Using a subwoofer which has a neutrik connection also means you have volume control from your amplifier. If you increase the volume on your amplifier, then the subwoofer also increases to match. In this way you get the equivalent bass in proportion to the volume, offering that perfect sound.
With using a floor stander, you can only control the bass via room treatment or positioning, and often it can mean the bass can be boomy or uncontrolled. A subwoofer alleviates that problem.
Can I use one subwoofer or do I need two?
While a single subwoofer is technically ok (as bass is omnidirectional), using a subwoofer for each channel is without question the much better solution. The reason for this is quite simple, and is essentially because each channel then has its own individual subwoofer to control the bass for that specific channel.
A single subwoofer has to try and deal with what each channel needs, and understandably that means there are limitations and compromises. A stereo subwoofer set up alleviates that issue.
You can of course begin with one subwoofer, and later add a second, as naturally there is a larger cost involved in purchasing two subwoofers, but that is another advantage of this kind of setup, the upgrade options which are available are vast!
What about the size of the subwoofer?
When many people think a subwoofer, they think about these enormous boxes that make the ground shake with bass. In reality that is not the case, and subwoofers come in an array of sizes, and for HiFi purposes, a small subwoofer is often as much as you need. This therefore means they don’t really take up very much room at all.
Of course it is all relevant to your system, higher end systems will benefit from higher end subwoofers, as the specifications of the speakers and subwoofer need to be similar in order for them to blend correctly and these subwoofer can be slightly larger (in order to house more reference components) but often size is less of an issue when going into the realms of the elite audio user.
Do we therefore recommend a stand mount and subwoofer combo over floor standers?
In simple terms, no that is not the purpose of this article. Floorstanders are without doubt a great option, and in many applications are the prefect solution. Realistically most users will opt for the floor standing option, however the purpose of this article is to not necessarily think a floor stander is the obvious choice. In many circumstances, some users think that when they are upgrading a floor stander is what you MUST buy, because it is the best option.
Not necessarily, it is all relevant to your room and needs, and in many circumstances, a stand mount on the right stands with the right subwoofer matched to it can outclass the sound of an equivalent floor stander.
This is where we, as a dealer come in. While many people will say, just buy this more expensive floor stander because it will improve the sound, we ask the more important questions, such as what do you want to improve in the sound, what room size do you have, are there any room issues and so on.
With that information on hand we can then advise on what solution bests works for you as an individual, and as a dealer getting you the right sound, not just a “better” sound is what we focus on.
Swapping your £1000 stand mounts speakers for £5000 floor standers may very well improve the sound but for that £4000 of money you spent, was it the best sound you could achieve? Well that’s where we come in, as we will advise on that exact question, and offer you the best possible way to maximise your sound for the least amount of outlay, thus maximising your budget.
I hope this article has removed the misconceptions of using subwoofers and perhaps given some food for thought when considering your next move. This is of course a brief document on the question, so please get in touch with one of our staff who will be more than happy to offer advice and answer any questions you have.