4 reasons your hi-fi setup needs a subwoofer

It’s easy for audio enthusiasts to succumb to GAS, or the Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Once you listen to a decent pair of speakers, you want to try the next best thing, and then something else, and then the cycle perpetuates itself.

Yet one of the biggest updates you can do to your hi-fi system will probably cost less than a whole new pair of speakers, and will last you through a multitude of speaker purchases.

I’m talking about what’s in the headline, of course. If you don’t already have one, your next audiophile purchase should probably be a subwoofer.

Unfortunately, I still see too many audiophiles dismiss subwoofers right off the bat. Sometimes it’s because they think they don’t need that much bass. Other times it’s because they think it’ll make their system sound boomy. But I’m here to tell you why these aren’t things you should worry about — and why buying a subwoofer is one of the most sensible purchases a music lover can make.

More Bass

Duh. A subwoofer’s main job is to increase the bassextension and/or output of your sound system. That’s particularly important if you use bookshelf speakers, but even full-sized towers rarely extend linearly all the way to the limits of our hearing.

Humans can hear roughly from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, and we can still feel frequencies below 20 Hz. Yet bookshelf speakers typically decrease in output below 100 Hz — they rarely have significant output below 40 Hz. Subwoofers are usually crossed over with your other speakers at around 80 Hz, taking over as you go lower. A good subwoofer will get you all the way down to 20 Hz or below.