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Home Theater Review's Best of 2016 Awards
It's the most wonderful time of the year. Nope, not the holidays. It's time for Home Theater Review's annual best-of list, where we highlight the best products we've reviewed in the past 12 months. Whether you're looking for the pinnacle... Read More
PSB SubSeries 450 Subwoofer Reviewed
Brent Butterworth reviews PSB's $1,499 SubSeries 450 subwoofer, which combines two 10-inch passive radiators with a 12-inch active driver powered by a 400-watt RMS Class D amplifier. Read More
THIEL SmartSub 1.12 Subwoofer Reviewed
Brent Butterworth reviews THIEL Audio's new SmartSub 1.12 subwoofer, which features a 12-inch driver, a 1,250-watt Class D amplifier, and an advanced built-in room correction system . Read More
OEM Systems ICBM Subwoofer System Reviewed
Want the benefits of multiple subs without the big boxes? Brent Butterworth tests the ICBM in-wall subwoofer system from OEM Systems, which includes four eight-inch in-wall subwoofers driven by a single P-500XB amplifier. Read More
Paradigm Prestige 2000SW Subwoofer Reviewed
Brent Butterworth reviews Paradigm's Prestige 2000SW subwoofer, which features a 15-inch driver, a 2,000-watt Class D amplifier, a variety of attractive finishes, and the company's excellent Perfect Bass Kit. Read More
Origin Acoustics Bassic SUB8 Subwoofer Reviewed
If you're in the market for subwoofer, you have plenty of options. The first step to narrow your choices is figuring out how large a subwoofer you will need. If you have a large room, you will need a large... Read More
Power Sound Audio S3600i Subwoofer Reviewed
Brent Butterworth reviews the S3600i subwoofer from Power Sound Audio. This muscular sub combines two 18-inch drivers and a 1,700-watt Class D amp in a 137-pound cabinet. How does it perform? Read on to find out... Read More
Home Theater Review's Best of 2015 Awards
It's that time of year again--time for the HomeTheaterReview.com staff to pick the products that we feel represent the best of the best from all of our 2015 reviews. We've covered a variety of categories and price points. See if your faves made the list. Read More
Artison RCC Nano 1 Subwoofer Reviewed
Brent Butterworth reviews Artison's first freestanding subwoofer, the RCC Nano 1. This micro sub measures just 7.5 by eight by nine inches and uses two 6.5-inch drivers and a 300-watt Class D amp. Read More
Sunfire XTEQ12 Subwoofer Reviewed
Brent Butterworth auditions the XTEQ12 subwoofer from Sunfire. This top-of-the-line $2,000 sub features a 12-inch driver, a 12-inch passive radiator, and a 3,000-watt amplifier. Read More
Klipsch R-115SW Subwoofer Reviewed
Brent Butterworth reviews Klipsch's $899 R-115SW subwoofer, a ported design that uses a 15-inch Cerametallic driver and an 800-watt Class D amplifier. Read More
Everything You Need To Know About Subwoofers1.0 Overview of Home Theater Subwoofers
2.0 Types of Subwoofers
3.0 Room Correction For subwoofers
1.0 Overview of Home Theater Subwoofers
Subwoofers are speakers designed specifically and exclusively to reproduce the lowest register of audio in home theater and audiophile systems. Often using large drivers sealed in a square-shaped box, subwoofers originally were designed to augment the lackluster bass performance of floor-standing speakers. Getting subs to integrate with audiophile speakers in the early days was without question a challenge but, when done properly, the results added tremendous impact to the overall sound.
Today, subwoofers get a lot more respect, because in 5.1 surround, the "point 1" channel is the LFE or subwoofer channel, meaning that even with most good surround sound formats, ranging from Dolby Digital to DTS to today's best lossless formats like DTS Master Audio and Dolby True HD, your subwoofer is getting discrete audio mixed and mastered only for your woofer. The significance of this for audio and movies is that the mixing engineer can determine exactly where the most bass-demanding effects or instruments can go; the best place for them to go in the mix is the subwoofer. It allows your main speakers to do what they do best and do it more clearly, while not sucking the life out of your amplifiers, which are trying to power a gigantic explosion or the dynamics of a tympani drum. Most modern subwoofers today are powered with digital or powerful class AB amplifiers, allowing them to do their job of reproducing bass from around 140 Hertz to subsonic levels of below 20 Hertz.
2.0 Types of Subwoofers
There are two main categories of subwoofers: passive and active. Passive subwoofers are woofers generally lacking internal amplification, which means they require one channel of amplification and sometimes an external crossover component. Passive subwoofers were more popular in the late 1980s and 1990s, but with the advent of class-D digital amps, specifically with Bob Carver's Sunfire True Subwoofer, the size of powered subwoofers shrank and the power, volumes and depths that even a small subwoofer could reach drastically increased. Today, it,s hard to find a passive subwoofer in the market, as most of those currently available in the marketplace are active.
3.0 Room Correction For Active Subwoofers
One of the most important developments, along with the application of digital (class D) internal amplifiers, for powered or active subwoofers is the advent of automated room correction for subwoofers. Increasingly active subwoofers had more and more set-up options that, without question, confused the heck out of consumers who didn't know how to set parameters such as phase, let alone how to physically place a subwoofer to get the best performance and most seamless integration with their main speakers.
Today's most feature-rich subwoofers come with room correction software and a calibration microphone which, with the flip of a switch or two, can easily optimize the settings and even the placement of a subwoofer in a music or home theater system. The audible difference between a subwoofer optimized for a room vs. one just plunked on the floor and turned on is not subtle. The room has a major effect on a subwoofer and placement can make a gigantic difference. Setting levels, phase and polarity can also make a notable improvement that can be heard by mainstream consumers.