Why do Audiophiles Hate Subwoofers? - What People Are Getting Wrong About Subwoofers
Now, before we even start, who are audiophiles? In a nutshell, audiophiles are individuals that are fascinated with pure audio as they focus solely on sound quality.
These people are very passionate about music and are huge fans of audio gadgets. Audiophiles are always curious about how technology affects how people listen to music.
But why Audiophiles Hate subwoofers, then?
In this article, we’ll discuss the reasons behind this question and possible solutions to their issues with subwoofers. So without further ado, let’s dive in.
The Reasons Audiophiles Don’t Like Subwoofers
As you may already know, subwoofers are made to produce low frequencies that are created by instruments such as kick drums and bass guitars. These allow listeners to hear low bass frequencies in songs and movie sound effects like explosions and blasts.
However, the main reason why the majority of audiophiles don’t like using subwoofers is that subwoofers transmit low frequencies, which have the potential to overpower other sound frequencies produced by the rest of the speakers.
When this happens, a subwoofer can disrupt the overall frequency balance, messing up the mids and highs. In an audiophile’s view, this damages the sound’s originality.
Unfortunately, not all subwoofers can be relied upon to properly produce low frequencies without hindering the overall balance of a sound.
In addition, some subwoofers over-emphasize the low frequencies in music. Only certain subwoofers can produce low frequencies without disrupting the music’s original balance. These subwoofers are somewhat hard to come by and can be pretty expensive.
So, since audiophiles prefer to keep audio as accurate as possible, they don’t like the idea of adding subwoofers to their audio setups. Because of this, subwoofers have gained a bad reputation among audiophiles.
Furthermore, subwoofers can be somewhat difficult to integrate. While adding bass is easy, blending the subwoofer with the remaining surround speakers is hard. Even though one can rely on a surround processor to aid in integrating a sub with the rest of the speakers, most audiophiles don’t like this idea since they trust the processor will only ruin the produced sound quality.
What’s The Solution?
Even though audiophiles and subwoofers seldom get along, there are ways one can integrate a subwoofer without ruining their listening experience. So, in the following segment, we’ll discuss some solutions one can employ to enjoy music without having to eliminate their subwoofer.
Check The Room Size
The first solution that can be used to solve the issue is to check the size of your room. If you focus on full production and recording in a small space such as your attic or basement, then the room size will affect the generated sound quality, especially the low frequencies. These low frequencies can travel at great distances, thus, if you put a subwoofer in a tiny room, it’s going to develop something called a “room boom”.
This phenomenon is when a small room amplifies the strong bass output of the subwoofer. The high bass reflection is going to ruin your sound by masking the song’s fine details that are recorded and altering every piece of its musical coherence.
Correct Subwoofer Placement
Another solution is trying to understand the acoustics of your room when placing a subwoofer. One mistake most audiophiles make is that they place their subwoofers in the wrong spots.
Some of them place their subwoofers right next to the main speakers, whereas others put them at an equidistant from both the left and right main speakers in hopes that they’ll be able to manage to perfectly blend both sounds.
However, what eventually happens is that big dips and peaks occur in the bass response, which completely ruins the reproduced sound quality. To solve this problem, you’ll have to understand the acoustics of your room.
You can perform a “subwoofer crawl” which is done by playing a tune and moving the subwoofer across the room until you find the ideal spot where the bass will blend smoothly with the mains.
Frequency Response Should Be Tuned Perfectly
As we already mentioned, one of the reasons why audiophiles hate subwoofers is adding additional components to the signal path of an audio system. And because most of these components usually ruin the reproduced bass quality by the subwoofer, you can use your subwoofer's crossover to tune the low-frequencies to a level that will match your room’s setup.
Generally, a subwoofer’s crossover setting will be between 80Hz and 150Hz. To ensure the bass blends well with the remaining speakers, you can increase or lower the crossover frequency by 10Hz. Play with these settings until you find a level where the bass doesn’t overwhelm high-frequencies or the vocals.
Select The Right Subwoofer
Even though this factor came last, it’s typically one of the first things you'll have to consider if you want to get the best audio experience. Most people don’t realize that speaker choice has everything to do with sound quality. Cheap speakers will naturally produce lower quality sound..
So, if you don’t get one that doesn’t interact with your room’s shape and size, then the walls and ceiling of your room will surely ruin the quality of the bass produced.
While you’ll probably get a subwoofer that meets your budget, you will need to ensure that you get one that produces the proper amount of bass within that price range. Listen to the speaker to figure out its performance, and remember to peruse through the subwoofer’s specifications, such as the frequency response, dispersion, and sound pressure level.
Why Audiophiles Hate Subwoofers - Final Thoughts
If you hate introducing a subwoofer to your audio system, this article has provided you with some great solutions you can try out.
Before choosing a subwoofer, you need to think about the acoustics of your room. From there, you should consider the placement of your subwoofer and the crossover settings to enjoy the best music experience.
About the author:
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!