Perhaps surprisingly, my first-time hearing music through a subwoofer setup was only a few months ago. I was in the studio with a producer, and I was struggling to understand how they were making this track sound and feel so good. I assumed they were a genius but after a bit of questioning they gestured to the KEF KC62 subwoofer underneath their LS50 Wireless II speakers. I ordered myself the same setup that day.
In case, like I was, you’re new to subwoofers: in a nutshell, the KC62, a powerful but compact subwoofer about the size of a football, extends the low frequency range, reaching bass levels that speakers aren’t capable of. When you introduce a sub to your setup, sounds below the frequencies of your speaker’s capacity are passed to the subwoofer, which will then emit those deeper bass sounds and radically improve your listening experience. You can physically feel the sub frequencies in your body which adds to the strength and size of the sound.
Producing a track with the sub in my setup sent me into a completely new headspace. Being able to feel the music I was making was so exciting for me. Saying all this, you need to be careful when choosing the best subwoofer for your system. A poor sub can destroy sound by giving too much or poorly defined bass. The bass can potentially seem slow or late compared to the speakers. One of the biggest issues music producers have is getting the low end to sit right. The accuracy of both the KC62 and LS50 Wireless II speakers helps your perception of the bass and subsequently helps you to produce and mix the bass into your track. I didn’t realise how much of a difference it had made to my mixing until I sent it over to my mix engineer, who commented on how little there was left for him to do in comparison to my previous tracks.
The best sub-bass frequency starts at around 60Hz and goes down to around 20Hz. In non-technical terms, that’s when you start to feel the heart-thumping vibrations when you're listening to music. Hearing is less sensitive in this low range of notes so we tend to feel them instead of hearing them. For me, the sub introduced a sense of power and emotion.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve felt an unexpected wash of emotion at a gig. Research by the McMaster Institute for Music & the Mind has shown that it may not just be the social and cultural experience of live music that gets us choked up. Our brains recognise and follow bassier rhythms faster than they distinguish higher-pitched noises. We, therefore, feel significantly more pleasure listening to lower frequencies, which the powerful subwoofers used at live music venues deliver in abundance.
Think of the LS50 Wireless II/ KC62 combination as your at-home alternative to the gig experience. The KEF setup has been an essential part of my studio equipment while I’ve been creating my EP but you certainly don’t need to be a musician or an audio nerd to appreciate them. The sub and speakers are super easy and quick to connect to with my phone or laptop so I use them for watching movies as well as listening to music. In fact, the KC62’s twin drivers are powered by 1,000W RMS of specially designed Class D amplification which, in non-technical terms, means they deliver the sudden bursts of power needed when watching action movies and the cinema-like three dimensional effect, immersing you in the movie.
Positioning of the sub and speakers is also important. The word subwoofer may call to mind massive, cumbersome boxes but the compact KC62 is easy to move, as are the LS50 Wireless II’s so you can experiment with their placement. You might want the setup in the corner of the room to make it sound louder or perhaps further away from walls, leaving room for the vibrations and preventing unwanted interference. Either way, you’ll want the sleek setup on show.
It’s not until you have a sub or listen with a sub that you realise the experience you’ve been missing out on. The LS50 Wireless II and KC62 combination will dramatically enhance any listening or watching experience and give the music or movie the impact it deserves. I wish I could make it a requirement that anyone listening to my EP uses this setup.