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There’s something utterly mesmerizing about a deep bass. It’s the reason thousands of people shell out loads of cash every year to catch the latest action-thriller at the local movie theater. Watching it from your laptop just doesn’t deliver the same memorable experience.
(What’s even more mind-boggling is just how much money we’re willing to spend on overpriced movie popcorn and fizzy drinks! But, that’s a discussion for another day).
The same thing applies to music. You don’t quite get the same level of enjoyment when listening to your favorite jams from your mobile device. The bass just makes everything better.
But, “better” is subjective. From a professional standpoint, this may not necessarily be what you want when producing music. Which brings us to the age-old question: Do you need a subwoofer with studio monitors?
Here’s everything you need to know.
What Is a Subwoofer?
If you’re thinking about whether or not you should get a subwoofer to use alongside your studio monitors, then you probably already understand what it is. It is the speaker that belts out the deep bass in your favorite tracks.
Your run-of-the-mill speakers are incapable of emitting such low-frequency tones. They don’t even have nearly enough power to do it.
Subwoofers, on the other hand, do. They are the “point one” in both studio and home stereo setups. So, if you come across numbers like 5.1, 3.1, 2.1, etc. the “.1” refers to the subwoofer, whereas the other digits before the decimal point refer to the other speakers/studio monitors.
Types of Subwoofers
Now that that’s out of the way, the first thing you need to know about them is that subwoofers come in two flavors: Commercial subwoofers and studio subwoofers.
Commercial subs are designed for the average Joe who wants to get a cool (but often inaccurate) listening experience. Studio subwoofers, on the other hand, are used by music professionals in their line of work – production.
To the average eye, the two types may look similar. But, there’s one key element that separates the two: Accuracy.
Commercial subs are designed to give listeners a superior and pleasurable sound experience. So, they enhance the bass and overall sound to make it sound good.
They allow users to modify the equalization curve and adjust the sound quality based on what they like. Whether or not it is what the artist and producer had in mind when they produced the track is entirely subjective.
Studio subs are not designed to “sound good.” They are built to sound “correct.” They give the listener the most accurate sound possible. It’s the purest and most balanced form of the recording.
Any tweaks made to the frequency response of the recording are made to correct issues that may have cropped up in the acoustic environment, but not necessarily for subjective pleasure.
Regardless of the type of subwoofer, you’re dealing with, the one thing they have in common is that they are “…all about that bass… no treble…” Their whole reason for existence centers on reproducing low-frequency musical notes and sounds that make you want to pop that booty.
Do You Need a Subwoofer With Studio Monitors?
Well, to start with, the subwoofer we’re referring to is a studio subwoofer. So, the question then becomes, do you need them with studio monitors?
When producing music, all aspects of the recording need to be of the best possible quality. You want to catch all flaws and nuances and compensate for any issues that may have come about in the recording. Studio monitors allow you to listen to the recording and get the most accurate representation of the sound.
“Sound” here means all frequencies – both high and low. As mentioned before, a regular studio monitor doesn’t have enough power to play low-frequency musical notes and sounds. Subs, on the other hand, do.
You may want your bass frequencies low – like in the 20Hz to 30Hz range. You won’t hear these notes as much as you’re going to feel them resonating in your chest cavity. Only a professional-level studio sub can help you achieve this frequency response accurately to a tee.
The other important reason for using a subwoofer with your studio monitors is to offload power from the other speakers. This allows them to focus only on producing mid to high-level frequencies. This leads to a more complete and accurate sound experience, which is the ultimate goal of every music producer.
Choosing the Right Studio Subwoofer
We’ve all come across those tiny speakers that are capable of producing an impressive amount of sound. When it comes down to choosing the right sub for your studio monitor, size matters – a lot.
The rule of thumb is – the larger it is, the higher its power rating will be. So, when shopping for a sub for your studio, this should be the primary factor driving your search. You want to go for a subwoofer that’s anywhere between 10 and 12 inches in diameter.
A great option for a 10-inch sub would be the JBL Professional LSR310S. It has a power rating of 200 Watts and delivers a deep low-frequency response in the 20 Hz range. It is an excellent addition to any professional recording environment.
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for something a little bigger, the Polk Audio 12-inch sub delivers a whopping 460 Watts of pure unadulterated bass. It has an ultra-low frequency response that ranges between 60 Hz to 120 Hz. It is perfect for mixing low-frequency recordings.
A Must-Have for Bass Projects
Bottom line: Do you need a subwoofer with studio monitors? The answer to this is a resounding – yes.
If you plan to make action movie soundtracks or produce music with deep bass, there are no two ways about it. You’re going to need a studio subwoofer.
In the meantime, check out our blog for the best active speakers for 2020 if you’re shopping for one.
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