In case you hadn’t noticed from recent posts here, I’ve had bass on my mind a lot lately. In previous polls, I asked how many subwoofers you have and what type they are. Let’s get right to the next obvious question: How big’s your sub?
Subwoofer sizes are typically measured by the diameter of their drivers, and they can range from as small as 3″ to monsters upwards of 20″ or more. In the poll below, I’ve listed what I think are the most common sizes for home theater purposes.
A larger subwoofer can displace more air and extend to deeper bass registers for slam-bang impact, but may have difficulty reproducing subtler notes as well. Choosing the right subwoofer for your needs is a not just a matter of power, but about its interaction with your room acoustics.
I swear, some of the most satisfying bass I’ve ever experienced was in my old apartment home theater, where I had a pretty modest 8″ powered subwoofer. The specs on that thing were not impressive at all, but I was in a small room with highly-reflective walls, and I squeezed it into a nook (where a larger sub would never fit) to corner-load the bass, and the little box could really rock that space. There’s a scene early in the silly French supernatural thriller Brotherhood of the Wolf where the kung-fu badass sidekick character faces off against a bunch of brutes in a field, and when he kicked each of them in the chest, I could feel the air getting knocked out of my lungs. That’s an experience I’ve struggled to reproduce since moving to a larger theater room, even as I’ve installed bigger and more capable subwoofers.
For the past few months, I’ve been playing with an 13.5″ SB-4000 subwoofer that our friends at SVS were gracious enough to send me for review (which finally published this week, if you didn’t see it). It’s pretty great and I’ll be sad to remove it, but I’m not sure I can justify the expense of purchasing it right now. If not, I’ll reinstall the 12″ SB-2000. To be honest, that one was probably already sufficient for this room. I’m going to try to do some more measurements and comparisons before making that decision.