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Subwoofer Types


How do subwoofers affect your Home Theater experience? What is a subwoofer, anyway?

Subwoofers are becoming more and more crucial to the home theater experience. When you go to the movie theater, you marvel not only at the images projected on the screen, but the sounds emanating around you. What really grabs you, though, is the sound you actually feel; the deep bass that shakes you up and gets you right in the gut.

A specialized speaker, known as a subwoofer, is responsible for this experience. The subwoofer is designed only to reproduce the lowest of audible frequencies.

With the popularity of home theater sound systems resulting in specialized speakers for center channel dialogue, main soundtracks, and surround effects, the need for a speaker to reproduce just the deep bass portion of a movie soundtrack is all the more important.

Passive Subwoofers

Passive subwoofers are powered by an external amplifier, in the same fashion as other speakers in your system. The important consideration here is that since extreme bass needs more power to reproduce low frequency sounds, your amplifier or receiver needs to be able to output enough power to sustain bass effects in the subwoofer without draining the amp. How much power depends on the requirements of the speaker and the size of the room (and how much bass you can stomach!).

Powered Subwoofers

To solve the problem of inadequate power or other characteristics that may be lacking in a receiver or amplifier, powered subwoofers are self-contained speaker/amplifier configurations in which the characteristics of the amplifier and sub woofer are optimally matched.

As a side benefit, all a powered subwoofer needs is a line output from an amplifier. This arrangement takes a lot of the power load away from the amp/receiver and allows the amp/receiver to power the mid-range and tweeters more easily.

Additional Subwoofer Characteristics

Additional subwoofer design variations include Front-firing , and Down-firing, and the use of Ports or Passive Radiators.

Front-firing subwoofers employ a speaker mounted so that it radiates the sound from the side or front of the subwoofer enclosure. Down-firing subwoofers employ a speaker that is mounted so that it radiates downward, towards the floor. In addition, some enclosures employ an additional port, which forces out more air, increasing bass response in a more efficient manner than sealed enclosures. Another type of enclosure utilizes a Passive Radiator in addition to the speaker, instead of a port, to increase efficiency and preciseness. Passive radiators can either be speakers with the voice coil removed, or a flat diaphragm.

 

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