The Complete Guide to Subwoofers

Considering a subwoofer for your sound system? For a hardcore audiophile, a sonic setup isn't complete without one. 

In this subwoofer guide, we'll unveil the secrets to perfect bass. From subwoofer placement to size, number and type, you'll be enjoying richer, more expansive audio in no time.

What is a Subwoofer?

A subwoofer is simply a speaker designed to handle the lowest audio frequencies, between 20 and 200 Hz. Often overlooked, the function of a subwoofer should never be underestimated. Specialising in providing very low frequencies that traditional speakers may not be able to reach, subs add depth and detail – it is not just about playing low and loud.  

Does a Subwoofer Make a Difference?

Your speakers do incredible work to create the perfect soundstage - but even the greatest speakers can benefit from a little help.

While your speakers tackle those heavenly high notes in your favourite song or deliver crisp and clear dialogue when you watch the latest blockbuster in your home cinema, subwoofers take care of those all-too-often neglected low notes. 

With speakers alone, you miss the drama of rolling thunder in a movie scene or the detail of the bass that completes a track. With a subwoofer handling the low-end, your loudspeakers are free to deliver a more dynamic performance, and the final puzzle piece slots into place for a complete and complex soundscape. 

See our guide to how a subwoofer enhances your immersive audio experience to learn more about the incredible benefits subwoofers offer.

KEF LS50 Wireless II placed on top of side a board beneath it there's a Kube 8b subwoofer

Do I Need a Subwoofer for HiFi?

High fidelity is defined as the reproduction of sound with a high degree of faithfulness to the original. So, if a movie has a bass-rich score or a song was created with rich low notes, faithfulness to the original will be enhanced with the exquisite bass reproduction of a subwoofer. 

What Placement is Best For a Subwoofer?

When it comes to subwoofers, the better it’s positioned, the better the bass.  So, be sure to consider where your subwoofer will be situated to benefit from the sub's full mastery.

Consider where you’ll be sitting to listen. Place your subwoofer here, then move around the room, head close to the ground, to see where the sound is best - this will give you a good guide as to the optimum position for your subwoofer. 

How Large Should Your Subwoofer Be?

How large your subwoofer should be depends on the size of your listening room. If you have a large room and want quality sound to reach every corner, a larger subwoofer will fill the space with bass. However, if you have limited space, a smaller subwoofer such as our Kube 8 MIE will still surprise you with the thunderous bass that emanates from such a modest-sized sub.

What is an Active Subwoofer?

An active subwoofer is a subwoofer with a built-in amplifier, as opposed to a passive subwoofer, which needs the help of an external amplifier to drive powerful sound. Passive subwoofers tend to be smaller, but the sound is less intense if not enhanced by an amp.

KEF Kube 12b next to a reference floor stander speaker

Should I Choose a Ported or Sealed Subwoofer?

Ported subwoofers contain openings known as ports, resulting in truly earth-shaking bass. However, due to their enormous sound capabilities, ported subwoofers are often more costly and are only needed if you are trying to fill a vast space with sound.

Sealed subwoofers do not have openings and, as such, do not produce the same thunderous volume as a ported subwoofer. However, their airtight cabinet provides precisely controlled sound. 

How Many Subwoofers Do I Need?

If you’ve decided to add a subwoofer into your audio setup, you may be considering if multiple models are better for intense bass.

In most cases, a single subwoofer is all you need. However, if you’re filling a larger room with powerful sound from a speaker model such as our LS60 Wireless, multiple subwoofers may be the key to evenly spread bass to match your speakers’ audio output.

Why Opt For a KEF Subwoofer?

As specialists in loudspeaker design, KEF’s subwoofers are truly in a league of their own, with incredible technologies like Uni-Core and the Music Integrity Engine providing an unparalleled performance.

Uni-Core combines both drivers into a single compartment in a space-saving design that allows you to enjoy the fantastic bass you’d expect of a larger subwoofer but from an ultra-compact cabinet.

The Music Integrity Engine is the combination of algorithms behind your KEF subwoofer’s digital signal processing. From a phase correcting feature that conquers timing issues to the iBX Intelligent Bass Extension the DSP of a KEF subwoofer is beyond compare. 
Plus, our bass drivers move with immaculate precision thanks to the P-Flex surround.

Reference 8b

If you’re looking to invest significantly in creating your dream audio experience, the Reference 8b is our phenomenal flagship subwoofer, offering 1000W of bass-boosting power. 

KEF reference 8b subwoofer

KC62

For those who want impeccable bass without sacrificing legroom, KC62 brings up to 105DB of bass from a cabinet the size of a football.

Titanium grey KC62 subwoofer next to a black LS50 Wireless II on a s2 stand

KC92

Larger than the KC62 and louder. Our KC92 gives you up to 110DB of bass - the same as a rock concert. 

KEF KC92 White subwoofer

Kube series

Our Kube series subwoofers bring you the genius of the Music Integrity Engine at a lower price point, with four size options so you can choose the right subwoofer size for your space.

KEF Kube series

T2

For those concerned about having to sacrifice interior design aesthetics for their subwoofer, let us introduce the T2. The slim cabinet allows this subwoofer to hide from view while providing bass that’s anything but discreet. 

KEF T2 subwoofer

How Do I Connect My Subwoofer to My Speakers?

Connecting your subwoofer is generally quite simple: Use the LFE outputs on your amplifier or receiver or a pre-amp output if your receiver/amplifier doesn’t have an LFE output.

If your receiver doesn’t have an LFE or a pre-amp output, you can use the subwoofer’s high-level inputs by simply connecting the amp's speaker output to the subwoofer's high-level input.

For more information on connecting your subwoofer, always consult your subwoofer’s user manual or see our blog ‘How to Integrate Your Subwoofer with Your Wireless Speakers’.

Welcome a KEF subwoofer into your audio setup today and complete your soundscape. 

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