No these aren’t a special breed of dog that woof. A woofer and subwoofer are large coned speakers that provide low-end frequencies to complete a sound set-up. If you’re in the music scene or planning on investing in a custom home theater system and want to read up before your purchase this article is for you.
Let’s start with understanding the different speakers available and their capabilities when putting out different frequencies and sounds. There are subwoofers, tweeters, mid-range, and woofers. This is the reason why you see different Live performance artists have a wide array of different-sized speakers.
Let’s focus on the subwoofer and woofer bit of the set, they might look similar but there are big differences between the two. The first being they both handle different frequencies and provide and balance on different aspects of the sound.
If you are confused on which one to get, not to worry this article will clarify any doubt you might have to ensure you purchase the right low-end speaker for your sound system.
So let’s get started with Woofer Vs Subwoofer and which one is right for you.
Recommended Read: How To Bridge An Amplifier?
Woofer vs Subwoofer
This article will cover everything you need to know about the differences between a woofer and a subwoofer. Read on to find out which one to buy and which one of the two will be best to use depending on your set up.
What is a Subwoofer and where is it used?
A subwoofer or commonly known as a sub is a loudspeaker that is designed to emit and put out low-end audio frequencies. Low-end frequencies that are below 100 Hz to be precise that is also known to most as bass.
Since the focus is on low-end sub frequencies, subs are able to generate a continuous bass for any audio to create a high volume of the bass line in any music genre that might sound off without a sub.
There are two types of subwoofers in a sound set-up, the first being a powered subwoofer that works with the help of a built-in amp that provides the required power for the subwoofer to function and also needs a power input. The second is a passive subwoofer that requires no power supply but requires a powerful external amplifier that is made specifically for the subwoofer driver and board.
In most outdoor sound setups, you will find passive speakers as the most common. whereas in a studio environment power subs and speakers are preferred.
What is a woofer and where is it used?
A woofer is more or less a loudspeaker, the speaker is an electro-acoustic transducer that emits audio frequencies that are sent to the speaker. A woofer is fitted with a large wide cone that helps the human ear perceive the lower end of the audio spectrum. In fact, the woof from a woofer refers to the bark of a dog and how low and heavy it sounds to the ears.
Basically, to make simple a woofer is a special speaker and a subwoofer is a more specialized woofer that is able to put out a more precise range of low-end frequencies that a woofer can not.
Main Differences between Woofer and Subwoofer
An easy way of differentiating between the two is by the amount it costs to purchase the woofer as subwoofers are generally more expensive because of the larger speaker cone and precise frequency response.
- The second would be the size of the subwoofer would be twice the size of a normal woofer. The distortion levels are much lower on the subwoofer because of its large cone to emit such frequencies. The last would be the power consumed by the speaker as a woofer consumes less power when compared to a subwoofer.
- The outer body oref a subwoofer is made of either high-quality plastic or low resonating wood. The wooden ones are generally more expensive. In the casing, there can be more than one woofer fitted in it.
- In the case of a subwoofer, since it focuses more on the lower end than compared to a woofer, they are designed to be larger than a woofer.
- The huge size of the cone or driver allows it to push out a lot of air while maintaining the frequency at the same time. Where you place your subwoofer and how it will help you understand the multiple subwoofer variants available.
- The most common designs you might have come across would be the horn-loaded, band pass, bass reflex, and infinite baffle subwoofers. These are designed for different environments and work accordingly to it. So best check with the technician if the subwoofer will work for the set-up you have in mind.
- The range of frequency your subwoofer can cover is determined by the way you use it. In general, the subs you see at home for home theaters have a frequency response between 20-200hz and the maximum a sub in a live outdoor setting can go down to is 100hz. Like you once you see at a wedding or a gathering.
- Because they have a narrow field of the audio spectrum, subs are more often purchased for their fuller sound and solid bass that cannot be done by a normal woofer.
This is a bad part of all this, as it makes tuning and EQ’ing your sound system a bit more complex. Nothing comes easy right!
The complexity starts with the requirement of additional speakers to cover the other frequencies so that the sub doesn’t overpower the other frequencies. That’s where your twitters that handle the top end of the frequency range, Mids that handle the in-between range of frequencies come in.
How do woofers and subwoofers work?
The basic functionality of a woofer is to convert electric audio signals into sounds, which revolves around the concept of an electrical signal that controls the driver’s movement or speaker’s movement and generates sound waves through the air.
- The variable audio differences in distortion that you can hear from the sound are thanks to the speakers.
- In a home theatre set-up, the woofer is combined with the mid-range speakers and Tweeter creating something called tower speakers or main speakers. They cover all frequencies above 150-200hz.
- Woofers have a frequency response range of 20hz to 2khz, this allows them to play low end to mid-range frequencies. Thanks to their wider range of low and mid-range of sounds, woofers are the perfect low-end speaker for a home set-up.
Understanding this you will find it easier to differentiate between a woofer and sub by the frequencies they deliver.
- Subwoofers are mainly used for large-scale production that requires a wide range of low sounds to cover a large area with solid bass sounds. That can’t be said with the woofers as they produce high frequencies as well as they do mid-range and treble.
- Though the frequency range of woofers is decent enough to be used in the majority of applications, you will still need the power of a subwoofer to make your setup sound full without anything lacking.
- If you are planning on getting a sound system that has more than two speakers like a 5.1 channel set up or 7.1 set up. Then a woofer is a must and recommended for high-quality sound.
- The clarity and fullness of sound of your sounds system will be defined by the subwoofer or woofer you get.
- Subwoofers are great to feel the thump that producers and musicians try to deliver when making their music. Hence they’re perfect for home theater systems and clubs as they cover the lower-end frequencies completely. Woofers are an excellent choice for portable sound systems like the woofer for your car audio set-up.
Things you should keep in mind
- A woofer is similar to a subwoofer but only specialized for certain tasks depending on where you place it.
- A woofer covers a frequency range from 20hz to 2,000hz.
- A sub-woofer only covers the lower ends for robust bass from 20hz to 200hz.
- Subwoofers are larger than woofers.
Which is better for my car stereo Woofer or subwoofer?
A woofer should be your first preference as a subwoofer would first add a lot of weight to your vehicle while requiring additional power to make it work. Woofers are much smaller and work great in a closed environment. If you don’t mind the extra weight and battery drain, a sub will give you better performance but at a cost.
Is it possible to use a woofer as a sub?
Yes, but it would still be called a woofer as the driver in the woofer is providing extra frequencies that the subwoofer limits itself from to provide a seamless bass response.
Why is the speaker called a woofer?
The first thing you have to understand is that the speaker driver of a woofer (the exterior cone) is large in size and is able to emit mid and low-end frequencies and very few high-frequencies. The reason why it’s called a woofer is that the low-end frequencies resemble the bark of a dog. As a bark from a dog has little or no high frequencies and majorly a low vibration.
Greetings! My name is Michael and this is my website Audio Sandwich.
I've been specializing in audio equipment and accessories for a while and have a little something in store for every kind of hi-fi enthusiast.
Based in California, I keep attending special launch events across the globe. This has helped me understand the products better, and with a unique hands-on experience I'm able to provide you with easy to understand reviews about the best in audio tech from around the world.