Do I Need a Subwoofer if I Don’t Listen Loud?

We know that money can be tight. You’ve already bought the big TV, an AV receiver, a bunch of speakers, and more wires than you thought possible. You’re kinda out of money. We’ve all been there. And you still don’t have a subwoofer! But you’ve set up your system, and it sounds pretty good to you (even without the sub). Plus, you don’t ever really crank the volume. Do you even need a subwoofer if you don’t listen very loud? Let’s discuss.

It’s About All The Sounds

“Hey, I don’t live very far from work. Do I really need a car with all four wheels or can I get away with only three? I don’t drive very fast.”

If that sounds ludicrous to you, that’s what asking about not needing a subwoofer because you don’t listen loud sounds like to an AV professional. Normal speakers (yes, even your floorstanding speakers) can’t play the lowest notes. They just aren’t physically capable of reproducing notes that low. Yes, they might be able to recreate what you’d describe as low bass. You may even be able to feel that bass when you crank it very loud. But they simply aren’t playing the lowest notes. Without those notes, you are missing out on some of the audio content. If you want to hear all the audio, you simply must have a subwoofer in your system.

They are not all this big

I Found a Deal On…

The follow-up question is always the same. People understand that they need a subwoofer, but do they need a “real” subwoofer or can they get a small/underpowered one? They’ll find a deal on Amazon or Facebook Marketplace for some “bass module” and wonder if that will do. Remember, they didn’t want a subwoofer in the first place and they don’t listen loud. Surely they don’t need the output of those massive subwoofers everyone online is recommending!

Subwoofers can be too big, but they can often be far too small. You may not want full pressurization, but you do want a subwoofer that can play all the way down to 20Hz. Those small subs? They don’t get anywhere near 20Hz. If you have tower speakers, they may not play significantly lower than your speakers. You may not listen loud, but that “subwoofer” will more likely distort and add noise rather than actual bass. Money spent on cheap, underpowered home theater gear is money wasted.

It’s Your System

It is very hard to appreciate what you aren’t hearing. If you don’t have a subwoofer, your system might sound like it has plenty of bass. At least it will until you add a subwoofer. When you do, you’ll finally hear what you were missing. Ignorance, in this case, might be bliss. If you can’t afford the correct-sized subwoofer for your room, it would be better to live without it until you can. We highly recommend you resist the urge to buy the “budget” subwoofer. Save up and get the right sub for your room. You’ll save money in the long run and you’ll be much happier with your purchase.

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