Two Cheap Subwoofers or One Expensive One – Which To Buy?

There is a saying that goes, “Just enough knowledge to be dangerous.” I’m not sure if anyone says it but me, but I say it all the time. When first learning about a new hobby, you quickly approach maximum Dunning-Kruger levels. Getting an in-depth level of knowledge about any topic requires time. When learning about home theater, we often do it as we are shopping. Usually when deals are going on. So time is often limited. One question that is often asked when someone is shopping for subwoofers is if they should get two cheap ones or one expensive sub. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as binary as the question suggests. Let’s discuss.

The Genesis of the Single Expensive vs. Dual Cheap Subwoofers Question

If you spend any time online researching subwoofers, you’ll find recommendation after recommendation for dual subwoofers. Why? Because it will even out the bass response in your room. Who doesn’t want even bass? You know that you do!. But the problem is that subwoofers are a lot more expensive than you expected. Buying one might stretch the budget. Buying two? That’s going to require some financial gymnastics or cutting your budget in other areas.

Everyone wants to save some of this if they can. Fair enough!

But there are budget offerings out there. Sure, the single sub you were looking at was the one everyone recommends, but you can get two lesser subwoofers for just a little more. Is this a way to get that even bass without breaking the budget? Or should you just get the bigger, single subwoofer and save up for the second?

The Truth of Dual Subwoofers

Dual subwoofers will give you more even bass across every seat in your theater. At least that’s why everyone says. And it is true, as long as you have a rectangular room that is fully enclosed. The truth is that if your room doesn’t fit those very specific parameters, a single subwoofer might be better. On top of that, do you really care about even bass? What does that really mean?

This theater actually has four – two in the front corners and two at the back!

As we’ve explained, “more even” bass means each bass note will play at the volume that was intended. This is true at your main seat. Not only that, but more seats in your theater will have that same bass experience. That’s great if you have a bunch of seats that you care about. But what if you don’t? What if you really only care about the one seat (the one your butt is in)? Making the bass better for the other seats seems like a waste of money.

One Sub or Two? Which Is It?

Here’s where the answer gets a little tricky. The right answer really depends on your budget. What you need is the correct-sized subwoofer for your room. When you shop for a subwoofer, you shouldn’t be looking at the size of the subwoofer or the price first. You should be looking at whether it will pressurize your space. Oftentimes, the correct-sized subwoofer for your room is larger than your expensive option. But I’ve seen people budget for two massive subwoofers in small rooms that were completely overkill.

Once you’ve determined the correct-sized subwoofer for your room, you can compare that to your cheap dual subwoofers and expensive single subwoofer plan. Where does it fall? If it allows you to buy the dual subwoofers now, go for it! If not, you’ll have some decisions to make. We are never going to recommend that you buy a subwoofer that will not pressurize your room. If you can afford two, that’s great. If you can only afford one, that’s okay as well.

Start off by properly placing your single subwoofer and then…and this is going to be controversial…live with it for a little while. How does it sound? Do you like it? Do you feel like you have even bass or is it boomy? Yes, that second subwoofer will even out the bass for the other seats (and yours as well), but is it worth the extra cost? We can’t tell you that. All we do know is buying one expensive OR two cheap subwoofers that are too small for your room is a terrible idea. Neither of these options will perform well. Figure out the correct-sized subwoofer and go from there. Happy shopping!

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