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A Subwoofer Shopper’s Guide

If you’ve been sitting in traffic in any city, no doubt you’ve heard that bass-thumping sounds from the car behind you. It feels like your whole car is shaking to their music. Or if you’ve been to a f...

If you’ve been sitting in traffic in any city, no doubt you’ve heard that bass-thumping sounds from the car behind you. It feels like your whole car is shaking to their music. Or if you’ve been to a friend’s house with a nice home theater setup and you’ve been shaken out of your seat by the movie soundtrack, you’ve experienced the latest rage in stereo equipment–the subwoofer! A subwoofer reproduces the lowest of all sound tones. It even generates sound waves too low for a human to hear. We just feel the thumping in our bodies. This is the job of the subwoofer.

Two Types of Subwoofer

There are basically two types of subwoofers: active and passive. An active subwoofer has a built-in powered amplifier to help boost the power going into the subwoofer. This extra power allows for a larger and louder sound. A passive subwoofer has no power supply or built-in amplifier. It takes power from another source, usually another amplifier or the car or home receiver. An active subwoofer is generally easier to setup as you have fewer cables and configurations to deal with. A passive subwoofer requires some skill in assessing how best to cable the subwoofer to the rest of the components. If you are looking for an easy way to add some deep bass to your home theater setup, then go for an active subwoofer. Usually all you need to do is to plug the amplifier into an AC outlet, and run a couple of cables for the sound input.

Costs for Subwoofers

There is a great range of prices for a subwoofer. You can get a good quality, name-brand subwoofer starting around $50. This is for an entry-level passive subwoofer from a company like Sony. You could spend thousands of dollars on a high-end subwoofer from companies like HSU Research, Bose, and others. And the cost of the subwoofer is only part of the equation. Remember, if you go with a passive subwoofer, you will need an amplifier and possibly a crossover filter to drive the speaker. In most cases, you will also need subwoofer cables to connect the speaker to your audio system.

Best Place to Research a Subwoofer

Probably the best place to start your research on subwoofers is to ask friends who already have them Ask them what they like (or don’t like) about their subwoofer. Ask how difficult it was to install it. And ask them if there are any shortcomings to the particular subwoofer. Next, head out to a few audio specialty stores to actually listen to as many different types and brands of subwoofers as you can. Listen to a $60 subwoofer followed by a $600 subwoofer and compare what you hear. Ask and look at the way the subwoofer is installed. Unless you know exactly what you want, a subwoofer is not something to be purchased online without listening to it.

Whether you are putting together a home audio system or boosting your car’s audio output, a subwoofer is a worthwhile investment. It adds tremendous depth to your music and adds an extra layer of realism to a movie soundtrack. Shop around and listen to many different brands before you decide which subwoofer is right for your application and your budget.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR


When he isn't blasting his neighbors away with the latest movie soundtrack, Dean Novosat writes all about subwoofers on http://www.wooferspec.com.



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