Tower speakers

The Bass Sounds Good from My Speakers Do I Really Need a Subwoofer?

Subwoofers are such strange speakers that people normally “discover” them in their research for surround sound. A speaker that only plays bass? That doesn’t make much sense. For those that have already bought speakers, subwoofers make even LESS sense. They can already hear the explosions! Darth Vadar sounds normal to them. If the bass already sounds good from their speakers, why do they need a subwoofer? Let’s discuss.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

You can’t know what you are missing if you’ve never heard it. That’s the simple truth. Noticing something that is not there takes lots of experience. If you’ve made a meal lots of times, you can tell if one ingredient is missing with the first bite. Everyone else? They say it tastes fine. Because they don’t have the experience to know how it should taste.

Bass is the same. You not only have to have experience with low bass, but also with the low bass that is produced by certain content. Did you see Dune in the theaters? How many times? Enough that, months later when you rented or bought the movie, you’d recognize any missing bass from your system? That’s unlikely. When you say that your speakers sound like they have good bass, it isn’t that the subwoofer isn’t needed. You can’t know what you aren’t hearing.

Some Bass Isn’t the Same as All the Bass

We aren’t saying your speakers aren’t producing bass. Regardless of the size, they certainly are. Most bookshelf speakers will reach down to 80Hz (or maybe a little lower) and tower speakers will have even more extension. Those super low bass notes you aren’t hearing? They have harmonics that are higher. Your speakers can certainly play those harmonics. This gives you the hint of those notes. Your brain is capable of filling in the rest.

Until you actually experience the bass.

Here’s the litmus test for whether or not your speakers have good bass or if you need a subwoofer it get all the sounds. Do you still prefer to see movies in the theaters? Is it, at least in part, because of the audio? If so, you need more or better bass. Getting surround sound at home is pretty easy. Recreating most of the frequency range isn’t that hard. But the bass? That’s tricky.

Take Away

The minute I got dual subwoofers in an enclosed room with adequate room treatments, I stopped going to the movie theaters. Because the theaters rarely sounded as good. The only theaters that could compete were IMAX or Atmos theaters, and they cost a lot. And I can’t be sure the only real difference was the volume. IMAX and Atmos theaters tend to play at or near reference level. That’s generally louder than I like at home. If I turned up my system that loud, it’d probably sound similar.

Your speakers may sound like they have pretty good bass, but you’ll still need a subwoofer to recreate those lowest notes. Need help shopping? Check out our guide!

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