Ceiling speakers are part of the entertainment system in most homes because they improve the listening experience without taking up space. Sometimes, however, you’ll find yourself wondering if they’ll sound better when paired with a subwoofer.
Do you need a subwoofer with ceiling speakers? Ceiling speakers don’t need a subwoofer to deliver a high-quality audio experience. However, combining the speakers with a subwoofer of the right size can improve the sound setup’s efficacy, especially under specific applications. A home theater or bass-music setup will need a subwoofer.
Ceiling speakers can create the immersive experience, which is the goal in most installations, but a subwoofer can take the quality and depth of the experience up a level. The rest of the article will look at all you need to know about adding subwoofers to your ceiling speaker installation.
What Is a Subwoofer?
A subwoofer is a loudspeaker designed to deliver the lowest frequency sounds (bass). The sounds that can be generated on a subwoofer can’t be replicated by most standard speakers, including ceiling speakers.
The quality of the bass that can be delivered from a subwoofer makes it one of the most important additions in any home theater system. Without it, you won’t get the full depth of the sounds in movies and music.
There are many subwoofers in the market today, with each one designed to meet specific low-frequency needs. However, even the cheapest subwoofers can deliver better bass and low-frequency sounds compared to a ceiling speaker.
Why Ceiling Speakers Don’t Deliver Low-Frequency Sounds
Ceiling speakers are small-sized and circular-shaped speakers that are designed to fit into a cutout in the ceiling. They are usually bought in a pack to provide wider coverage of the room, and they are also installed to blend into the ceiling neatly.
However, the speakers’ small-size nature means that they have a limited sound-field and can’t carry a lot of power. Therefore, they don’t have the power or size necessary for the delivery of low-frequency sounds.
What Are the Benefits of a Subwoofer?
Some of the main benefits of a subwoofer, in general, include the following:
Better Music Punctuation
Some music genres feature musical punctuations—delivered via instrumentals and vocals—which standard speakers may struggle with delivering. Listening to such sounds with just ceiling speakers can lead to a loss of detail and a generally muddy acoustic sound.
On the other hand, a subwoofer will deliver all the punctuations as they were intended by the music producers, delivering a smoother sound experience.
Listening at a Higher Volume Without Distortion
Have you tried listening to music on a normal speaker at high volumes? You will hear sounds that show the speaker is struggling to keep up. In some cases, the “buzzy” sound will make you lower the volume. With a good subwoofer, the sound frequencies will be better separated, allowing you to enjoy distortion-free loud music.
Better Depth of Sound
Most normal speakers will not deliver sounds lower than 50 Hz. With such an experience, you’ll never get the full depth and reverberations of bass and other lower frequency sounds.
On the other hand, a subwoofer can go lower than 20 Hz in some cases, which is well below the limit you can hear, but you’ll feel. You will hear and feel all blasts, shots, bass kicks, bass strings, etc. ensuring a more captivating experience.
When Should You Use a Subwoofer With Ceiling Speakers?
You should use a subwoofer with your ceiling speakers if:
- You are running a home theater setup and want the full range of cinematic feels.
- You want to listen to your music at the highest quality.
- You are not only listening to background music or genres with little or no bass (such as opera).
- You enjoy the experience of heavy-bass while watching movies or listening to music.
- You have floor space for a subwoofer box.
Where’s the Best Position for Your Subwoofer?
The best position for the subwoofer you intend to combine with your ceiling speakers will come down to your personal preferences. Ideally, however, it should be positioned in front of the room, right beside your entertainment console.
You can also put the subwoofer in any corner of the room. If you want to keep it out of sight, you can put it inside a wall. Taking it into the ceiling alongside the speakers is a bad idea as your roofing structure most likely doesn’t have the strength to hold onto the installation.
You don’t need to have the subwoofer right next to the ceiling speakers to enjoy the benefits that come with installing one.
Factors in Choosing a Subwoofer for Your Ceiling Speakers
Selecting the right subwoofer from the options in the market can be intimidating, but there are a few factors that can guide you towards making the best decision.
The Enclosure Type
Subwoofers can either come in a sealed wooden enclosure or a vented one. The models that come with a sealed enclosure tend to produce more accurate bass because there’s no space for air movement in or out of the speaker. On the other hand, vented enclosures are designed to produce deeper-sounding that will fill the room a bit better.
Subwoofers are typically designed as either downward-firing or side-firing. The side-firing subwoofers have a side or frontal focal point from where the sound is delivered while the downward-firing subs live up to their names—pointing downwards.
Side-firing subwoofers are a better choice if you want a bass that will spread evenly while the downward-firing option will deliver more localized sounds.
A bigger subwoofer will deliver more powerful sounds while a smaller one will deliver a tighter, more vibrant bass. The right option will come down to the size of the space. The different subwoofer sizes in the market are 8 inches (20.32cm), 12 inches (30.48cm), 10 inches (25.4cm), and 15 inches (38.1cm).
Perhaps the most important factor to consider when picking a subwoofer is its power handling capacity. Just as they come in different sizes, they won’t all have the same volume capacity. For the best results, you should always choose a subwoofer that matches your amplifier or receiver’s wattage.
Most subwoofers are black ion color, but some come with a touch of steel, copper, or gold. If you are particular about how the subwoofer’s appearance will interact with the rest of your interior décor, this is a factor that requires attention.
What Are the Best Subwoofers to Pair With Ceiling Speakers?
Some of the best subwoofers in the market today include the following:
- Polk Audio PSW10 – It is a 10-inch subwoofer that delivers up to 100 watts power. It can deliver low frequency sounds as low as 40 Hz.
- Klipsch R-120SW – This is a powerful 200 watt, a 12-inch subwoofer that can deliver low frequency sounds lower than 30 Hz.
- Klipsch Reference R-10SW – This is another highly-rated product from Klipsch. It’s a 10-inch subwoofer delivering 300 watts of dynamic power and bass as low as 29 Hz. Perhaps its biggest selling point is the price.
- BIC America F12 – This is another affordable but powerful 12-inch subwoofer. It packs 475-watts of power, and you get a five-year warranty on your purchase.
Do you need a subwoofer with ceiling speakers?
Subwoofers are not compulsory when using ceiling speakers. However, if you want to get a better overall sound from your sound setup, and get more enjoyment from your ceiling setup, you should get a subwoofer.
It’s a sure way to create a setup that will deliver a complete cinema experience for the movie buff or a music listening experience that every audiophile will appreciate.