What does a subwoofer do, and should you get one?

Bose Bass Module 700 sitting on floor next to TV stand

When you want to get serious about your sound experience, you should update your home audio system with speakers beyond the basics. One of your first significant investments may be a subwoofer. It’s one of the easiest ways to level up your entire range of sound.


What does a subwoofer do? A subwoofer (a.k.a. “sub”) is a fancy word for a speaker, and it’s dedicated to reproducing that throbbing low-frequency, bass-heavy beat you can feel in your bones at the club or during an action-packed scene at a movie theater. Low-frequency sounds you’ll enjoy with the addition of a subwoofer include bass-heavy songs, kick drums, a rumbling movie, TV sound effects, and more.


Here’s what you need to know about subwoofers, how they work, and if you need one.


How do subwoofers work?

Your average speaker is unlikely to be equipped to make low-frequency sounds and pitched audio frequencies shine. Although you can hear the bass on a regular speaker, only a full-range subwoofer will make the floor move because it can project frequency ranges between 20 and 200 Hz. The mechanics inside that produce the sound include their differently sized drivers or woofers, which range from 8 to 16 inches in diameter.

Types of subwoofers


Also known as a powered subwoofer, an active sub contains the amplifier and subwoofer in the same enclosure. These are generally more powerful than passive subwoofers and require an external outlet or AC source.



Passive subs are powered by an amp or A/V receiver. These external power sources can send the necessary power to achieve the bass sounds.

Benefits of having a sub in your living room

A TV and soundbar on a media stand with a Bose Bass Module 500 sitting on living room floor

Having a subwoofer as part of your home theater system helps you hear your music or movie as the producers intended it to sound. Sound can vary depending on room size and objects, such as furniture. The sub is capable of shooting sound in all directions, and you'll get the best results when you place it just right. Not sure where to place a subwoofer? Try placing the subs and TV speakers around the room and experiment with the best sound. Recent research found that room dimensions, source and listener location, and reverberant characteristics of the space all play a role in how sound travels in a space.

Benefits of pairing a soundbar, surround sound speakers, and subwoofer.

If you pair a subwoofer with a Bluetooth® soundbar and surround sound speakers, the sound will envelop you and be very realistic. Combining a soundbar with a subwoofer creates the ultimate immersive soundscape, including lower frequencies, vocals, and acoustics. It’s worth the investment for a fuller sound, especially if you value sound quality when enjoying movies, gaming, or your favorite tunes.


Pair an active sub with your surround sound and speaker system. The sub’s bass and sub-bass send out massive waves of omnidirectional sound, integral to the highest-quality 3D soundscape.


Bose Bass Module 500 vs. 700

Bose Bass Modules 500 and 700 side-by-side on a black background

For the best subwoofer Bose has to offer, the Bose Bass Module 700 will deliver. Simplicity is top of mind in the design of this speaker which has an elegant glass finish on top. Another difference from the Bass Module 500 is that the 700 is also available in Arctic White, and it offers more setup options with an HDMI cable and digital optical cable. The Bass Module 700 includes a universal remote, Dolby Digital, DTS features, and QuietPort Technology — placing sounds in different places in the room and keeping distortion minimal.


You’ll be surprised at how much sound packs into the compact Bose Bass Module 500. This stylish 10-inch cube vibrates low frequencies throughout the room. The Bose Bass Module 500 is a great addition to your home theater to elevate sound with surprisingly thunderous bass. It has wireless connectivity (although it comes with a power cord as an option), and you can easily control it through the Bose Music app, which has a power cord. We recommend placing it on the floor near your television and soundbar and not on an elevated surface. A study found that subwoofers not placed on floor level can affect sound quality. The best bet for the strongest and loudest bass response is placement by walls and corners. This subwoofer is easy to set up, as it wirelessly connects to Bose soundbars. It’s more compact, affordable, and lighter than the Bose Bass Module 700.


Level up your home sound

It’s worth investing in a solid sound system if you spend much of your time enjoying music or movies and want a quality listening experience. No matter what style you choose, a subwoofer can take your sound system to the next level.

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