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If you're a music producer or audio engineer, you know how important it is to make sure your music has a powerful, punchy low end. And in order to dial in the low-end in your mixes, you need a high-quality subwoofer.
A good subwoofer can provide numerous benefits to your studio setup, including improved accuracy in bass response, increased headroom, and a more precise mix. However, selecting the right subwoofer for your studio can be a daunting task, with many factors to consider.
In this blog post, we'll explore the benefits of having a good subwoofer in your studio and guide you through the process of choosing the right one for your setup. So, let's dive in and discover how a subwoofer can elevate your studio experience.
As you likely know, a subwoofer is a loudspeaker designed to handle low-frequency sound waves, typically in the range of 20 to 200 Hz. While regular studio monitors can reproduce some bass frequencies, a subwoofer is specifically designed to handle the extreme low end of the frequency spectrum, providing a powerful and precise bass response.
Subwoofers use a specialized driver designed to handle the large air movements needed to reproduce low frequencies. The driver is typically housed in a specially designed enclosure that controls and shapes the bass response.
Subwoofers are a critical component of a professional studio setup because they allow you to accurately monitor and control the low-frequency content in your mixes. Without a subwoofer, it's easy to miss low-end information, which can lead to imbalanced mixes, unwanted resonances, and a frustrating amount of mix edits.
By adding a subwoofer to your monitoring system, you can hear every detail of your mix, making informed decisions about the low-end content and ensuring a more accurate, balanced final product.
There are several types of subwoofers available in the market, including passive and active subs, ported and sealed enclosures, and different driver sizes and materials.
Passive subs require an external amplifier to power the driver, while active subs have a built-in amplifier.
Ported enclosures have a vent or port that allows air to escape, providing a louder, more boomy bass response, while sealed enclosures are airtight, providing a tighter, more controlled bass response.
The driver size and material also affect the subwoofer's performance, with larger drivers providing more volume and smaller drivers providing more precision. Ultimately, the type of subwoofer that works best for you will depend on your studio's specific needs, room size, and budget.
There are a few important things to consider if you’re thinking about tossing a subwoofer into your mixing space.
First and foremost, you’ll want to take an honest look at the space you mix within. Will a subwoofer improve your control room’s playback, or will it ultimately cloud up the sound of a small room? Is your room’s low-end response linear enough to be able to rely on what you’re hearing?
On top of acoustic considerations, you should also think about the target material in your environment. Is the genre you work in stylistically relying on low-end?
Lastly, it’s important to grasp that the way your studio monitors interact with a subwoofer will differ based on each make, and there’s importance in matching the right sub to the right monitors.
Each factor plays into the way you outfit your listening room, selecting the right subwoofer choice is a crucial decision to be made.
Now that we’ve talked about the factors you’ll need to consider when selecting your subwoofer addition, let’s take a look at some of the really popular options on the market.
Needing little introduction, ATC’s been one of the premier names in modern high-end studio referencing. The boutique company’s knack for offering detailed, honest listening experiences doesn’t end at their nearfield monitors—enter the SCS70 Pro subwoofer.
Perfectly complimenting an existing ATC monitor setup or working well with immersive multichannel setups, the front-firing 12” woofer reaches down to a near undetectable 22 Hz with extreme accuracy. A completely portless design, the SCS70 utilizes a fully sealed approach in order to remain colorless sonically and avoid resonances. Tunable with low pass filtering, level control, and more, the ATC presents a no-excuses, high-end option for any control room that will benefit from a subwoofer.
Designed for use in both high-end studios and discerning broadcast operations, Genelec’s 7370a is a front-firing, 12” self-powered subwoofer that delivers pristine low-end reproduction by way of ultra rigid materials.
With thoughtful features like onboard routing for 7.1 systems as well as Genelec Loudspeaker Manager for delivering fine tweaks across the system, the 7370A is another great example of what Genelec delivers best: flexible options that still cater to the highest, most discerning standards.
If you’re used to walking into control rooms worldwide and spotting the recognizable shape of Genelec speakers, you’re already well familiar with the reputation the company has for being some of the most trusted high-end loudspeakers available.
Making waves in recent years with their line of boutique nearfield monitors, Amphion’s Flexbase 25 is a bass extension system that allows for more definition and control within your Amphion system.
Believing that subfrequencies need to be represented in stereo for modern music-related tasks, the Flexbase delivers low-end content in stereo, designed to be placed in the center between traditional nearfield speakers. Allowing users to adjust the stereo spread, crossover, and more, the Amphion Flexbase makes for an impressively adaptable playback experience.
With its paired FlexAmp 1200 amplifier, the Flexbase 25 pairs well with any existing Amphion playback setup, from smaller systems to large ones.
Utilizing an array of four different 9” side-firing speakers, the Core Sub from Dynaudio shares many of the key groundbreaking features from other Dynaudio Core products like onboard DSP and aluminum heavy woofer design for superior stiffness.
Sharing the same DSP as the rest of the Core line, the Core Sub communicates with existing monitors to ensure the tuning and playback are identical and uniform across the spectrum in your room. A flat response down all the way to an inaudible 15 Hz means that you can trust your ears when it comes to low-end content in your mix, and each system leaves Denmark hand-calibrated for precision. Just like the rest of the Dynaudio line, the Core Sub is an incredibly accurate tool for playback that shines in the most demanding of environments.
Delivering low-end by way of a front-firing, front-ported design and a single 13” woofer, Focal’s Sub12 exhibits incredible low-end definition, allowing for even the deepest frequencies to be played back accurately and rigidly.
Using W-Cone composites made of woven glass fiber, the Sub12’s speaker achieves a result 20 times more rigid than Kevlar, making for stable and accurate results all the way down to 28 Hz, even when playing back in high SPL environments.
Onboard tuning controls, incredibly linear performance, and a precisely tuned laminar port make the design of Focal’s Sub12 a strong low-end counterpart to even the most discerning nearfields.
Designed to integrate perfectly with Barefoot’s MicroMain45 monitors, MicroSub45 reaches down to 25 Hz with tight, accurate low end by way of two side-firing 8” drivers. To be clear, MicroSub45 is designed to be used in pairs in conjunction with the MicroMains, so one unit pairs with each speaker.
With 500 Watts in each, Barefoot’s subs allow your listening system more overall headroom, as well. If you’re utilizing a non-Barefoot speaker system but still want to rely upon their accuracy and craftsmanship when it comes to low-end, fear not—the MicroSub can be used as a low-end extension option for any monitor setup of choice.
Originally conceived as a subwoofer compliment to the KH80 monitors, Neumann’s KH750 sub is a sealed, front-firing design utilizing onboard DSP control and a single 10” driver. With the Neumann Control app, users can set up and calibrate their KH750 to the existing system in minutes, allowing for quick and accurate integration.
Reaching all the way to 18 Hz with a tight, rigid bass response, the KH750 makes a great choice for smaller control rooms or stacks well with other KH series subs in larger format operations. Just like the rest of Neumann’s renowned KH series speakers, the KH750 sub proves to be a powerful, elegant, and honest solution to modern playback.
Using an 11” front-firing woofer and a rear laminar port, the Sub6 was designed to get loud without any loss of bass frequency accuracy. A custom-designed built-in amplifier ensures the most transparent performance possible, and Focal’s W Cone material leverages glass fiber weaves to deliver rigidity even at the lowest frequencies.
Thoughtful touches like added footswitch control and phase adjustment parameters make using the Sub6 simple and effective. Whether you’re used to the Focal environment, or just want reliable low-end extension for your existing monitors, the Sub6 stands tall as a great option.
With a linear frequency response straight down to 25 Hz, Adam’s Sub10 Mk2 makes an impressive subwoofer choice for existing speaker systems, whether previously Adam equipped or not.
A 10” woofer with a paper diaphragm mated with a down-firing reflex tube allows for honest and distortion-free low-end referencing, and the compact form factor makes for easy placement in either studios or home theater scenarios. Matching the quality that made the rest of Adam Audio’s line famous, the Sub10 Mk2 is a premium yet a robust option for low-end playback.
Rather than using a single woofer design like the Sub6, Focal’s Sub One opts for dual-side firing 8” drivers. Added front-facing ports allow for the Sub One to be placed near walls or corners without fear of unwanted buildup.
Designed to be a great compliment to the acclaimed Alpha Evo and Shape lines, Focal’s Sub One is precise and features very low distortion all the way down to 32 Hz. Toss it under your workstation and get mixing, or use it with home theater-style setups for bold, rigid low-end extension.
A robust, 1000-watt subwoofer delivered at an impressively affordable price point, the WS-12 fits right in with the rest of the Kali Audio line – high performing, while surprising users with reasonable budgets.
A 12” woofer with onboard DSP, the WS-12 allows users to tune the sub to the existing playback environment, making for easy integration with other speaker systems. Because of its robust format and size, the WS-12 also makes for a great onstage option for live use. Regardless of intended use, Kali’s thorough design and performance prove that trusted performance doesn’t have to break the budget.
Expanding on the popular Adam T Series monitors, the T10S is a self-powered subwoofer that was engineered specifically for use with the T5V and T7V monitor systems. Using a down-firing 10” driver, the T10S reaches an impressively low 28 Hz figure while maintaining critical rigidity. As one of the most compact options in the segment, the T10S can be placed in even tight spots with ease, and carry flexible rubber feet to keep the low end decoupled from the flooring.
Once you select the perfect subwoofer fit for your playback environment, it’s important to consider a few factors when integrating the new speaker. Just like the positioning within a room matters for your studio monitors, you’ll want to consider the intended placement of your subwoofer.
Many of the options we previously explored feature front porting so that users can toss the sub close to a wall without the worry of frequency smearing due to the port noise. Other options are specifically intended to sit at the center of your listening field for perfect linear phase representation. Each subwoofer has a particular way it wants to be integrated, and each will allow the listener to calibrate the system to fit into the existing speaker array.
Calibrating and tuning your sub will either take place by utilizing its DSP processing via the associated app, or by simply dialing the knobs on the rear of certain units. Once everything is time and phase aligned with your monitors, you can find the right crossover that works for your system to ensure tight but honest mixing.
Remember, similar to the role acoustics play in your listening environment, the subwoofer will only deliver accurate results if the user’s control room is treated to allow a linear low-end response. Be careful not to introduce more power into a room with untreated acoustic issues, or you may find the addition of extended low-end information isn’t helpful. Like all acoustic concerns when adding more speakers, careful execution is crucial.
Overall, the forward and extended low end that goes into most modern music introduces the need even more for engineers to trust the low frequencies that they’re hearing. The addition of a sub to a control room either large or small can help for more impactful, controlled mixes that require less guesswork. If your mixes suffer from smeared or dishonest low-end, a quality subwoofer in your studio might just be the perfect solution.