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How Do I Choose the Best Home Subwoofer Amplifier?

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  • Written By: Jeremy Laukkonen
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2016
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The process of selecting the best home subwoofer amplifier can depend on which home theater components you already have. If you already have a subwoofer, then you will first need to determine whether it is powered or passive. Powered subwoofer speakers do not require additional amplification, so you will not need to make any further purchases. Passive units do need amplification, though, so you typically will base your choice on factors such as how many watts of power a unit offers, the physical configuration and whether it has a crossover. You could choose a subwoofer that includes a built-in amplifier if have not yet started to assemble the pieces of your system, which might allow you to save money compared with purchasing a separate passive subwoofer and dedicated low-frequency amp.

A home subwoofer amplifier is a component that provides power to a dedicated low-frequency speaker. It is possible to hook a home theater subwoofer directly to the main amplifier in a system, but that can reduce the power that is available for the other speakers. To achieve the best sound quality possible, it typically is best to use a pre-amp output from the main amplifier and connect that to a dedicated home subwoofer amplifier.

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There are two main kinds of subwoofers that can be found in home theater systems, and they are categorized based on whether they include built-in amplification. Before you select the best home subwoofer amplifier, it is first necessary to choose between these two options. When a home subwoofer amplifier is built into the speaker unit, it typically is called a powered subwoofer. This is a good choice for many people, because it is simple and usually less expensive than the other options. A home theater pre-amp output typically can be hooked into a powered subwoofer, and aside from plugging the unit into an electrical outlet, there are no other connections to be made.

The other kind of subwoofer is referred to as passive, because it is nothing but a speaker inside an enclosure. If you select this kind of subwoofer for your home sound system, it will be necessary to locate a dedicated subwoofer amp. One of the most important factors to pay attention to in this case is wattage, because you need to select a unit that can put out enough power for the particular subwoofer that you have. You might also base your decision on how your sound system is set up, because some of these units are rack mountable. Another feature that you might want to look for is a crossover, which can allow you to attach the right and left speaker channels to the home subwoofer amp in order for the low frequencies to be stripped out.

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Logicfest
Post 2

@Soulfox -- I'm not sure I agree with you on buying an amplifier with matched speakers because they are rarely of the best quality. You are better off purchasing a surround sound amp with all of the features you want and picking up speakers the same way. You'll get both the amp and speakers you want without making any sacrifices.

And it is best to pick up a powered subwoofer. That is, quite often, the only way to make sure you will get the "thump" you want as you will have a lot more flexibility in setting the volume of the unit.

Soulfox
Post 1

Another option is to match a non-powered subwoofer with a home theater system that has an output specifically for a subwoofer. Most of those surround systems do have that, and seeing that output usually means some consideration has already been given to amplifying the bass signal sufficiently for use with a passive subwoofer.

Of course, if you want to save even more money you can purchase a surround sound system with both the amplifier and all the matched speakers (including a subwoofer) already provided. If you go that route, remember to not go cheap if you want great sound -- there are plenty of package systems out there and the low prices of some may be tempting, but resist the urge to save a few bucks.

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