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How Do I Choose the Best Home Theater Powered Subwoofer?

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  • Written By: Alex Newth
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Images By: Roman Milert, Ludmilafoto, Intel Free Press, Pavel Losevsky
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2016
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Subwoofers — with their extra bass and added audio realism — are common in many home theater systems, and a home theater powered subwoofer uses extra power to increase the depth of the bass even more. Finding the best home theater powered subwoofer should start with considering the size of the room. While power is an important consideration in a powered subwoofer, a user should be careful not to get a powered subwoofer that is too powerful, because this can blow out the rest of the home theater system. Most powered subwoofer units send sound out in all directions, but some may send sound in only one direction, bringing the user's specific needs into play. The subwoofer enclosure will determine how well a powered subwoofer uses power and how accurate the bass is.

Before purchasing a home theater powered subwoofer, the user should measure the area where the subwoofer will be placed. Getting a powered subwoofer that fits snuggly in the desired area is usually best. A user can get a powered subwoofer that is larger or smaller than the area. A larger unit may take up valuable space, however, and a smaller one may look misplaced in a large area.

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The size of a home theater powered subwoofer does not reflect its power; this depends on the woofer cone and amplifier. A woofer cone is a cone built into the powered subwoofer that increases the power of the bass, and a larger cone produces a stronger bass. Amplifiers are not measured by size but by power. Getting a powerful amplifier will create stronger sounds, but a subwoofer with too much power can blow out a room's electricity, or overwhelm the area with too strong of a sound.

Low-frequency sounds, such as bass, tend to go in all directions, so it does not matter where the user places a home theater powered subwoofer. At the same time, higher-frequency sounds tend to have a specific direction, meaning the powered subwoofer has to be properly positioned to work as intended. Checking the direction of the powered subwoofer — unless it can send sound in all directions — will be important, especially if the user wants to place the subwoofer in a certain area.

A powered subwoofer comes with two main enclosure designs. The bass reflex enclosure uses power very well, but the bass may activate more slowly or at the wrong time. With an acoustic suspension enclosure, more power is needed, but the bass will be extremely accurate.

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