Do you really Need a Subwoofer in your Home Studio?
Do you Need a Studio Subwoofer?
It's happened to all of us at some point.
You work all night on your mix and take it to the car the next morning only to find that it lacks any sort of warmth or depth to it like the songs on the radio.
In most cases this is due to a lack of low end, or even more commonly a low end that wasn't properly mixed. Now this isn't to say that there is an absolute method to mixing low end as it can and will vary from track to track or depend on the artistic vision of a song.
But one thing that's certain is that if you don't have a method to properly monitor your low end, chances are it won't sound as good as you'd like across various systems.
And one simple way of fixing this issue is by integrating a studio subwoofer into your monitoring setup.
The Benefits of a Subwoofer for Studio Monitoring
OK so we know that most people don't even read these things nowadays so we'll skip right to the point.
Here's the TL;DR of the various benefits that adding a subwoofer into your home studio can provide:
1. Accurate low end monitoring
A subwoofer will hit those frequencies that even large 8" monitors simply can't get to.
2. Find and eliminate offending frequencies
Ever notice how that kick drum and bass are always fighting for the same space?
No? Well it's no wonder why your mixes suck. Fortunately, adding a subwoofer into your home studio setup can help immensely with understanding how your elements below 120Hz are working with — or against each other.
3. Actually "feeling" the sound while monitoring
You know when you go to a club and you can actually feel the 808s hitting in your chest? That's not an illusion, that's the actual physical interaction you're feeling from the sound waves. Having a sub allows you to feel the frequencies as someone would playing out your music in a venue or their car. And because bass frequencies are so large, it adds that extra physical component to the sound as well whereas harsh highs won't have the same effect.
One more thing to consider - Not all Rooms are Equal
While a subwoofer will improve your ability to hear these frequencies, your ability to hear them properly will largely depend on placement and the room you're in.
Some people are blessed with the privilege of having a great sounding room without any treatment. Others not so much.
How to Integrate a Subwoofer into your Studio Setup
Low frequencies travel further and are absorbed less rapidly than say, a vocal that's boosted around 8Khz. They also tend to get trapped in the corners of a room which is why you commonly see acoustic panels on the corners referred to as bass traps.
This doesn't mean that if your room is untreated that you're doomed to an eternal fate of never getting a good low end. In fact, your ability to hear the low end in a song will vastly improve with the addition of a sub.
The idea is simple. Keep the sub beneath your monitors and in the middle of your setup. Here, we even made a video for you on this process:
Do I Need to Treat my Room to use a Subwoofer?
Treating a room simply helps you hear the audio that's being played back to you more accurately. And with that said, it's also certainly possible to over-treat your room to something so dense and void of sound that researches say you'll go crazy by just spending ten minutes inside of it.
To learn about room acoustics, check out our guide here.
OK, I'm sold on Subwoofers, now which do I Buy?
Mackie offers two Subwoofers for studio monitoring at varying price levels so you can find the right solution for your home studio.