Featured, How To's & Tips

Blog - Subwoofers Simplified

The job of a subwoofer is often misunderstood. Most people know subwoofers produce low notes and sounds, but still aren’t sure why they need one. Many times, people’s first introduction to a subwoofer is hearing a one-note behemoth that shakes the room – which is fun for a movie when the scene calls for the room to shake but can be quite-off-putting when you’re trying to listen to something and all you hear is over-bloated bass.

A subwoofer is simply a speaker that reproduces the very lowest audio frequencies. A properly integrated subwoofer can bring the thrill and action alive in your movies in even in the most modest audio system. The problem with subwoofers is they’re often all you can hear. We love bass! We love the ability to make the room shake and our chests thump. It’s fun! We also get used to over-bearing bass quite quickly, which means a properly integrated subwoofer may not sound right at first.

You’ll likely want a subwoofer if you use your system for movies, but even for music a subwoofer can be very helpful, especially for a system with smaller speakers. A good quality subwoofer that produces more than just loud, one-note bass can really enrich the sound of your music.

Many times, improper subwoofer placement is the biggest challenge you’ll face when building your audio system. We often compromise between where a subwoofer sounds best and where it looks best, with aesthetics often taking priority over acoustics. Low notes are affected by walls, corners, and furnishings in ways that can seriously diminish sound quality. KEF subwoofers use an ingenious equalizer that compensates for room placement issues by adjusting the low frequency output based on placement. KEF subwoofers can even adjust for apartment living, allowing you to have great bass response while still being a good neighbor! Because of these innovative features, the compromise between acoustics and aesthetics is no longer an issue.
With KEF’s Wireless Subwoofer Adapter Kit, placement of your subwoofer is no longer limited. The KW1 Wireless Subwoofer Adapter Kit eliminates the need for a bulky cable connection from your amplifier to the subwoofer. Simply connect the KW1 Transmitter to the output of your amplifier and then connect the KW1 Receiver to your subwoofer. You can then place your subwoofer anywhere in your room, without compromising performance at all.
Most people think all that really matters is the size of the subwoofer – the bigger the better, but that isn’t necessarily true. Size shouldn’t always be your main consideration – the quality of the design and manufacture are equal in importance.

Subwoofers produce bass by moving air – just like any other speaker – so design and driver performance are critical to a great experience. Before you buy, it’s best to know exactly what you need: If you live in an average-sized home, you don’t need a huge subwoofer. A 10” or 12” driver can fill an average room with deep bass while working well with the rest of your speakers. And believe it or not, a properly designed subwoofer featuring a driver as small as 6.5” can do a fantastic job producing the low notes every movie and music fan wants to hear. KEF offers a line of subwoofers in sizes to meet your acoustic and aesthetic needs.
Connecting your subwoofer is generally pretty 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. LFE contains only the low frequencies. 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 speaker output from the amp to the high-level input on the subwoofer. For more information on connecting your subwoofer, always consult your subwoofer’s user manual.

When using a KEF LS Wireless product (LS60, LS50 Wireless II, or LSX II), subwoofer connection is even easier. Simply connect the RCA cable to the SUB output on the LS – there’s a SUB connector on both the primary and secondary speakers for ultimate convenience! Once connected to your LS Wireless product, you can control the subwoofer’s volume and crossover from the KEF Connect app.

Subwoofers can be a major enhancement to any music or movie system, and they’re not incredibly difficult to set up, especially with a quality product that has been designed to be user-friendly and high performing.
By Jack Sharkey for KEF
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