Whether you want to buy a new home theater system or car speakers, you might have come across the word woofer. Most people tend to refer to a woofer as a subwoofer and the other way around. Both speakers might be identical, but there is a slight difference between them.
When you go to a party or a concert, you might notice one or more speakers are used. This is because each speaker handles different sounds in different ways. And to produce good quality sound for the audience, woofers, subwoofers, and other speakers like tweeters and midranges are used.
What the woofer does is produce a low-frequency sounds which aids the listening experience. Hopefully, at the end of the article, you will be able to decide which type of woofer is best when you want to make a buying decision.
- What Is A Woofer?
- How Do Woofers Work?
- What Makes Up A Woofer?
- Why Do You Need A Woofer?
- Types of Woofers
- Factors To Consider Before Getting a Woofer
- Frequently Asked Questions
- 1) Are the Woofer and Subwoofer the same?
- 2) What Speaker Is Better: Woofer or Subwoofer?
- 3) What Is The Difference Between A Speaker and a Subwoofer?
- 4) Which Is More Powerful – The Woofer Or Subwoofer?
What Is A Woofer?
A woofer is an audio speaker driver designed to deliver sound at a low frequency. From the word ‘woofer’, the ‘woof’ describes the low bark of a dog. Therefore, the woofer produces sound in a narrow frequency range. It handles bass in the form of a stiff paper cone.
Most sounds from musical instruments and sound effects mostly come from a woofer, they reproduce the frequencies to a more suitable and smooth one that is pleasant to the ear. Woofers also improve the precision of reproducing sound and eliminate sound distortion.
How Do Woofers Work?
Woofers work by changing electrical signals into sounds. When an electrical signal is passed through the device, it causes a movement in the woofer allowing the woofer to create sound waves.
A simple explanation of how this works: One of the laws of physics that states energy can neither be created nor destroyed. This law can be applied to most audio systems and speakers.
As you connect amplifiers and receivers to the bass speakers, low-range frequency signals are sent through electrical signals. These electrical signals are then converted to sound and amplified by a coil that allows movement in the woofer’s driver’s cone. Such movement, usually back and forth, creates low-frequency sound.
Each audio distortion or difference in the sound is caused by the movements that go on in the woofer.
A woofer is very vital in a home theater system. It assists the high-frequency speaker (tweeter) to produce mid-range frequencies. Another reason they are used with home theater systems is because of their high range of frequency. Woofers have a frequency range between 50 Hz to 1000 Hz that enables them to produce low and mid-range audio frequencies.
What Makes Up A Woofer?
Woofers are designed in a cone shape. It is vital to the materials that make up the woofer. A woofer with good cone material is stiff, lightweight, and has no unwanted resonances.
The material used to make woofers are:
- Polypropylene: This material is commonly used in the manufacturing of woofers
- Paper: It might seem old-fashioned, but papers are great material for making speakers. They are sensitive to humidity and temperature.
- Doped Paper: This is another layer of material used to protect paper from the external environment. It makes the cone more rigid.
- Metal especially Magnesium: Metals in woofers tend to give great low-sound output. The issue with having them in speakers is that, if they are not properly made, they might give coloration issues.
Some materials like glass fiber and Injection-molded graphite are also used. Speaker manufacturers tend to produce woofers with materials like these so they can stand out from their compatriots.
You might be wondering which material is the best. All the material listened to above is good for woofers. Truth is, there are so many things apart from the materials that determine whether a woofer is good or not.
If a manufacturer designs a paper woofer really well, it might work better than a poorly designed super-expensive woofer that looks aesthetically pleasing.
The materials shouldnt determine the performance of a woofer. You should check for things like the filter, holes in both parts of the paper, the cabinet, and the layout of the listening room.
Why Do You Need A Woofer?
To get a full, three-dimensional sound effect you get in movies and music, a woofer is needed to perform its low-frequency magic. Without a subwoofer, gunshots and explosions for movies might not be highlighted as they should.
Also, you might not notice the tuba, bass, and trombone if used in particular music. There are more reasons why you should use a subwoofer highlighted below:
1. Better Sound Clarity: Woofers have a frequency range between 50 Hz to 1000 Hz making it able to pick up and clarify little sounds. The audio input is very clearer unlike when you use the normal speakers. With the woofer, you can be able to hear bits and little details of sound.
2. Boosted Bass: The woofer allows you to hear the fundamental part of music clearly (low-end). It delivers a wonderful listening experience and produces a sound quality that is almost the same as in a live concert.
3. Increased audio depth: If your speakers including the woofer are placed together, you get a great wall-of-sound effect. This adds detail and more depth to the music you’re listening to.
4. Sound distortions are eliminated: Woofers don’t give sound distortions as other speakers do. Sound distortion is caused when you use speakers past the purpose they are designed for. This can cause the speaker to distort the audio because of their inability to keep up with other speakers like; tweeters and mid-drivers.
5. Smooth Audio experience: The woofer delivers powerful bass that is in the low range. Making it the best speaker that allows smooth emission of sound waves without them interfering with one another.
Types of Woofers
Woofers come in different types with different capabilities of the frequencies ranges. Each produces a unique, undistorted sound. They are four main types of woofers and they are:
- Standard Woofer
- Rotary Woofer
A subwoofer produces low-frequency audio known as bass. They produce frequencies between 20 Hz and 200 Hz. Subwoofers deliver a bassy sound because of the low-frequency waves it creates.
They also increase the bass line in music. Multiple enclosed woofers make up a subwoofer. They are distinguished from other speakers due to their ability to produce low-level thumps.
Mid-woofers produced sound in the range between 200 Hz and 500 Hz. They are built such that if the sound frequency is greater than 500 Hz or less than 200 Hz, then the sound frequency will deteriorate.
The rotary woofer also delivers audio with good bass. But, the mode of audio production is different. The Rotary woofer comes with an amplifier (coil) that changes the pitch of a set of fan blades. Changes in the pitch of the blades created sounds of low frequency. The rotary woofer consumes less power than subwoofers because of how it is built.
Factors To Consider Before Getting a Woofer
At this point, you understand what a woofer is, how it works and why you need to get one. You might be interested in getting the woofer sooner or later, this section explains some factors to consider before making a purchasing decision. Here are five things you should consider:
- How well the woofer handles power: Most woofers are powered. They need more power to work. You might be thinking they have different watt ratings. Yes, they do, but the more power your woofer gets the more protected the woofer’s amp from overpowering. This will ensure the audio you get is less distorted and gives more headroom.
- Sensitivity: With or without high amplifying power, Woofers with high sensitivity are loud. Check the woofer you want to buy for sensitivity rating. Woofers with high sensitivity ratings need less power to produce great sound output.
Getting a woofer with high sensitivity would save you money and space. You might want to note that some woofers with high sensitivities tend to sound harsh when used in low volumes.
- Size of the Drivers: The size of the woofer driver you want to get, should be based on the type of setting you want to have. If the driver’s depth is too small, it might not give the bass output you want. And if it is too large, it might not fit into a standard cabinet speaker. Generally, woofers with large drivers produce a loud bass output.
- Loading: Woofers come in either ported or sealed. The ported woofers are really great for watching movies due to their passive radiators. The sealed woofers, on the other hand, are great for listening to music because they are tighter due to their small cabinets. Your needs would determine which one is best for you.
- Frequency Response: The range of the sound produced is dedicated to the frequency response. Pick a woofer that is within the frequency range of 20 Hz to 100 Hz. A good frequency range is great for tight lows, clarity, and highs.
- Finish: Make sure you buy woofers with rigid cabinets. Rigid woofers reduce sympathetic vibrations that make the listening experience bad.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Are the Woofer and Subwoofer the same?
The woofer and subwoofer are very similar in so many ways. You can consider the subwoofer as a specialized woofer. The distinct feature among them is that the subwoofer covers frequency between 20 to 200 Hz while the woofer covers a much larger frequency of up to 200KHz. Also, a subwoofer is larger than a woofer.
2) What Speaker Is Better: Woofer or Subwoofer?
Which speaker is best depends on you and your audio requirements. You might want a rich bass effect from a low-frequency sound, in this case, the subwoofer might be a nice go-to.
Or you want heart-thumping beats like the one you get at concerts and parties. A home theater system with a woofer is recommended to boost the quality of your sound system. A woofer delivers a high range of frequencies, making it suitable for home use and car audio use.
3) What Is The Difference Between A Speaker and a Subwoofer?
Speakers are designed to grasp electrical signals from CD players, cassettes, or whatever you are playing audio from to convert them into audio that we can hear. It simply takes electrical signals and converts them into vibrations that can be picked by the human ear. Normal speakers deliver audio without modifications. The woofer is designed also to pick electric signals but to deliver the audio at a low-frequency range.
A whole speaker system produces sound at large and contains the tweeter, subwoofer, and the woofer itself.
4) Which Is More Powerful – The Woofer Or Subwoofer?
A subwoofer consumes more power than a woofer. Since the woofer has a wide range of frequencies, there is less power drawn from the amplifier, unlike the subwoofer. If your car audio system has a subwoofer, the subwoofer might hit a low bass note if the battery is low. The light of the car will be affected as well. This is because of the power it draws from the battery.
However, a woofer might consume power if there is a low-frequency driver in it. Even though it would never be as much as a subwoofer. The power consumption of a subwoofer ranges between 200 – 1 Kw while that of a woofer is between 10-100W.
Woofers are super important when setting up an audio system. They reveal details and low-frequency sounds that a normal speaker can’t. Be sure to check back and weigh in all the factors you need to consider before buying a woofer.
You may also be interested in:
- Active Vs Passive Subwoofers
- How To Break In A Subwoofer
- Subwoofer Crossover Settings – The Ultimate Guide