Subwoofer vs. Speaker - Main Advantages & Differences

If you are on your way to picking out a home theater system, you might need clarification about all the different speakers. In reality, there are a couple of speakers, the main types being the speakers and the subwoofers. 

They look pretty much the same, and they both produce audio sounds, so you can almost conclude that they are the same. However, the subwoofer and the regular speaker are vastly different in how they produce sound and the type of sound they make. 

The principal difference between the two types of speakers is that they produce sounds of different frequencies. So, what is the better choice of the two - and what is better?

Let’s find out! 

Subwoofer and speaker

Subwoofers and speakers look similar - and they both produce sound, but that’s about it. If you prefer music with a stronger bass or sub-bass, your good old pair of speakers will not be able to give you a satisfying experience. 

Regular speakers focus on mid and high-frequency sounds, which is why they are a crucial part of a TV set or a laptop. These speakers work perfectly for reproducing voices, but if you listen to music, it can sound pretty underwhelming. 

So, you will need to add a subwoofer to your surround sound set if you want a good experience listening to music. Subwoofers exclusively work to reproduce the bass and sub-bass sounds you can commonly hear in music and they kind of ‘balance out the sound. 

The thing is - speakers can be used without a subwoofer, but the subwoofer doesn’t work without a pair of speakers. If you use your subwoofer without speakers, you can only hear low-frequency sounds, and the music doesn’t sound exciting.

Subwoofers

Subwoofers have a pretty simple purpose - to produce low-frequency sounds. The frequency range, however, mainly depends on the price of the subwoofer in question. 

Your subwoofer can commonly reproduce sounds ranging from 20 Hz to 200 Hz. If you choose well, even if you pick out a budget subwoofer, it will improve the sound quality significantly. 

With a subwoofer in your set, the sound will be crisper, and the music will feel more like a 3D experience. So, let’s take a look at the pros and cons below!

Pros

  • Deeper bass
  • Reduced strain on regular speakers
  • Clearer audio

Cons

  • Cannot be used by itself
  • Can be difficult to set up

Speakers

If you have a TV set, a laptop, or even a phone, you have some speakers at home. These speakers can reproduce low and high-frequency sounds, but the quality and intensity mainly depend on the range. 

The frequency range depends on the price tag, much like the subwoofers. If the speakers you got don’t have a large frequency range, the lower-frequency sounds will be barely noticeable, and the high-frequency sounds will be more defined. 

While you can certainly buy one subwoofer, bookshelf speakers often come in a pack of two or more to balance out the sound. Each speaker has its channel, and they work together to make the reproduced sound more of an immersive experience.

Let’s check out the pros and cons:

Pros

  • Easy to replace the factory speakers
  • Speakers cover a wider frequency range
  • Speakers work on their own

Cons

  • Cannot reproduce the deep bass
  • Sub-bass sounds are muddy

How to Pair a Subwoofer with Speakers?

Elevated Sub

Subwoofers are great; when you pair them with your speakers, you will instantly see an increase in music quality. When you use the speakers on their own, they have to produce high and low-frequency sounds, but when you pair them up, they are relieved and can solely play high frequencies.

When you use a subwoofer, the speakers can produce only mid and high-frequency sounds, just like they were meant to be. 

Now, if that convinced you that you need to pair a subwoofer with your speaker set, it’s good to know that it’s not difficult. It will allow you to hear a full frequency spectrum, and it only takes a few touch-ups to perfect the audio quality.

You first need to connect the subwoofer to the receiver using a cable - if you don’t have any, you will need a speaker cable set. Most subwoofers come with charts showing setup options to spare you the effort. If your subwoofer came without any charts, Google is your friend here.

When you connect them, it’s time to fine-tune the subwoofer to optimize the sound quality. At the very least, there will be two dials on the subwoofer, but high-end models can come with far more. Essentially, you should focus on the volume and the crossover frequency dials. 

The crossover frequency dial sets the highest frequency your sub will produce. We advise you to play with it a little to see the best setting. As for the volume dial, we recommend setting it in the middle first and going down and up to see what sounds the best.


Final Thoughts

Home soundsystem

Now that you have all the differences between a subwoofer and a speaker, it can be safe to say that the subwoofer doesn’t truly work without a speaker. A pair of speakers, however, can easily produce sound, and you can enjoy music without a subwoofer.

The thing is - the music doesn’t have depth without a subwoofer. Additionally, without a good subwoofer, your music won’t give you that immersive experience because it won’t have any bass. 

Lastly, speakers can work without a subwoofer, but it’s always a better experience if you pair them with a subwoofer or two!


Barry Allen

About the author:

Barry Allen

I grew up to be a self-proclaimed stuck-up audiophile, and I – partially – blame Pinnacle Speakers for it.


The whole point of me starting this website was to keep the tradition going. Although the means have changed, the mission remains the same: Bringing „sterling sound“ as they once put it into home theaters and sound systems worldwide! 


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