Do You Need Two Subwoofers in a Small Room?
“I have a small room, I don’t really need two subwoofers…right?”
I’ve seen so many questions that start like that. They go on to ask for subwoofer suggestions. There are times when one subwoofer can be preferable to two. But those times are rare. And they are not at all connected to the size of the room.
The Small Room Fallacy
Subwoofers are notoriously misunderstood. Partly because some of the best research about subwoofers has come out in the last decade. Mostly because the Internet is full of people passing on old, outdated, and often wrong information about how subwoofers work. This leads people to think that a subwoofer fills a room with bass. While this is true, this then leads them to believe that multiple subwoofers are needed if the first cannot do the job. They mistakenly believe it is akin to having a large family. You can either buy two small cars, or one SUV to get everyone to the same place at the same time. That is simply not how subwoofers work.
Small Room = Small Subs
The size of your room doesn’t affect the number of subwoofers you need between one and two. But it does affect the size. Each subwoofer you buy needs to be powerful enough to fill your room with bass all by itself. If your room is small, you don’t need that much power. You can certainly overbuy by purchasing a subwoofer that is too big, but it doesn’t do you any good. So, this isn’t a question of one bigger subwoofer or two smaller ones. You’d either buy the correct size subwoofer once or twice. But why would you want to buy two subwoofers in a small room?
The second subwoofer you buy doesn’t help the first fill the room with bass. Instead, it helps even out the bass response in your room.
Your small room means that the bass waves will be bouncing around like crazy. They will be interacting with each other many times. Having two subwoofers can make the bass much more even in nearly any room. This is especially important in small rooms. Two subwoofers can help even out the peaks and dips in the bass frequency response that can come from a single subwoofer. While this can make the bass more even across all your seats, it can also help significantly in your primary seat.
If you click on any of the links above, those articles will take you through all the caveats. Bass is probably one of the most difficult things to get correct in any home theater. Your room and the subwoofers interact in sometimes unpredictable ways. There is no harm in buying a single subwoofer first and seeing how it goes. Or buy two and test out both single and dual configurations. Just make sure you buy from someplace with a good return policy. Not sure which subwoofers to buy for your room (regardless of size)? We have a guide for that.