Bass Speakers And Subwoofers

Whether you’re purchasing a single set of floor speakers or an entire home theater setup by purchasing individual pieces, you might be lured by the idea of bass speakers, with built-in subwoofers. This can be cost-effective because you don’t have to buy a subwoofer separately, but you also might find yourself disappointed by the quality of the sound your speakers produce.

First, it’s important to understand the difference between a satellite or standard speaker and a subwoofer. Subwoofers are a special type of speaker designed to handle frequencies below 50 Hz. Some bass speakers are advertised as having subwoofers built-in instead of as a separate component. Very often, these can’t handle the lowest frequencies as well as a separate subwoofer, and the sound quality suffers.

If you’re looking at bass speakers and trying to determine if they’re going to give you that high quality sound, look at the cone of the speakers. This is the round indentation in the front, where the sound actually comes from. If the circle is fairly small, it’s not going to be able to reproduce sounds below 50 Hz very well, and may not be able to handle 25 Hz and below at all. If the cone is less than 10″ in diameter, you could find there’s a lot of distortion and loss of clarity in the sound. This is the reason that small speakers like those for a computer and small stereo speakers, even good ones like the Logitech X-230, can’t give you the same rich sound quality as larger speakers—the cone size just isn’t big enough to handle sounds below 50 Hz. The best quality subwoofers are typically large, and they’re called subwoofers rather than bass speakers. You will want these to have a solid place on the floor or cabinet as they will vibrate a lot if wall mounted, unless mounted on very sturdy speaker wall brackets.

If you’re on a budget, purchasing something billed as a bass speaker that has a built-in subwoofer is an option that can save your wallet, but you won’t get the same rich sound quality thanks to distortion in the sub-bass frequencies. They’re simply not large enough and sophisticated enough to handle lower frequencies.

To understand why, think of musical instruments. The larger they get, the lower the sounds.  Flutes and piccolos are small tubes that create high-pitched sounds. A tuba is large with a wide opening for the air to come out of the instrument. Lower frequencies require more air and more space because the sound waves in lower frequencies are longer and require more air. A small speaker cone in a subwoofer means less air and space. While a large bass subwoofer speaker of this type has the space and air to handle even the lowest sub-bass frequencies.

You don’t even to have a subwoofer or even anything billed as a bass speaker in your system, but you’ll find that, since you’re hearing all the frequencies and not just the higher ones, you’ll get unparalleled richness of sound and quality by adding a quality subwoofer.

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