Cheap Dave's Home Theater


Sub-woofers: the most bang for your buck

After the very large picture probably the most impressive thing in the home theater is being able to make really good bass and lots of it.

After the very large picture probably the most impressive thing in the home theater is being able to make really good bass and lots of it.

People have been watching TV in their homes for over 60 years. We all know what TV and movies sound like through a 3", $3 speaker. The part of you sound system that will make you and your guests feel like you are really in a theater is coming through the sub-woofer.

Unless you can afford very large speakers with 8" or larger drivers the best way to get good bass is with separate sub-woofers. With a 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1 system the .1 is the low effects channel. The reason it is .1 is that it isn't amplified. So your system f[produces 5 channels of amplified signal and one un-amplified low frequency channel for your sub-woofer.

Prices for sub-woofers have dropped in recent years. I just think the market for $1,000 sub-woofers is extremely limited. So there are a lot on the market now starting at about $300. These are mostly powered models that have their own amplifier integrated internally. This makes it prety simple to set them up and add good bass to almost any system.

For my system I installed 2 in-wall NHT sub-woofers. These are passive units with an 8" long throw driver. Unlike many in-wall speakers that rely on the wall cavity, these speakers have a complete cabinet and are designed to isolate themselves from the wall.

I am using a 60 watt NHT amplifier to drive both of them. So far I have been able to drive plenty of bass without clipping the amplifier. I may use one of my hand me down receivers at a later date just to drive the subs. The amplifier has a variable cross-over that lets me adjust the cut-off point for the subs. The lower I set it the more they just focus on the extreme low end and the harder it is to tell where they are.

So if you have an extra amplifier around (you last receiver) you might look for a deal on a passive sub, otherwise a powered sub will add more boom to your room. If your budget is tight and you can't afford a foundation cracking sub now don't worry you can always add a second one later.