Do I Need a Subwoofer For My Music Studio?

Do You Need a Subwoofer For Music Production & Mixing? |

This article will discuss whether a subwoofer is necessary for music production and mixing, as well as the pros and cons of using a subwoofer in your studio or monitoring setup.

Subwoofers are a monitoring system component responsible for producing sub-bass frequencies ranging from 20 Hz to around 80 Hz, depending on calibration. Depending on the room and monitors, the crossover system determines the frequency range’s upper limit, typically between 60-150 Hz.

Later in the article, we will discuss setting up the crossover frequency. Subwoofers are commonly used in consumer audio high-fidelity equipment such as home theaters, car speakers, and venues such as movie halls, concert halls, festival speakers, and club speakers.

Sub-bass frequencies are typically felt in the body rather than heard, and they can significantly impact your audio, especially during live performances, events, and films. However, low-frequency ranges are sensitive, and it’s easy to muddy your audio if you’re not careful. Let’s dive deeper into this topic and answer the main question.

Do I Need a Subwoofer For Music Studio?

While not mandatory, a subwoofer is useful for musicians/producers whose songs are played in club/concert-type environments. If you’re mixing/doing sound design for films, ads, etc., that get played on a surround sound (5.1, 7.1, 9.1, etc.) medium, then having a subwoofer is recommended.

However, to use a subwoofer effectively, you need to calibrate and fine-tune your monitoring system properly, have a room that allows sub-frequencies to be heard and felt without masking or muddying up the mixes, and either accommodating neighbors/family or have no neighbors/family nearby.

Do I Need a Subwoofer For My Music Studio? (for mixing, mastering, and production) |

Let’s start with discussing surround sound. The “.1” in the 5.1 or 9.1 surround sound system is LFE: Low-Frequency Effects (3-120 Hz). Doing sound design, scoring a soundtrack, or mixing for films consumed in a theater requires a subwoofer. However, it’s essential to note that the LFE channel in surround sound is different from a subwoofer in a stereo system. It’s a separate channel used for special FX.

Secondly, if you’re doing sound game design, EDM, or club-based songs, particularly genres such as R&B, Hip-hop, Pop, etc., having a subwoofer helps you select the right sound across various frequency ranges. Therefore, installing a subwoofer for the abovementioned purposes is beneficial even in a stereophonic monitoring system.

Thirdly, if you have a space or monitoring environment that cannot produce frequencies below a specific low-end threshold, installing a subwoofer will not give you clarity and transparency of the low-end. Hence, consider your room and subwoofer placement.

An untreated room might not help and cause standing waves and phase cancellation issues. Proper placement and time alignment are crucial. Lastly, if you’re mixing in a home studio, consider the potential annoyance of the subwoofer to neighbors in residential settings. Know the sound laws in your area and monitor them conscientiously to avoid issues.

When are subwoofers necessary for my music studio?

Subwoofers are necessary for a music studio when you need to monitor low-frequency content in your mix accurately, which is usually the case when you are producing or mixing genres like EDM, hip-hop, R&B, and pop or doing production, sound design, and mixing work for films, trailers, and video games.

Without a subwoofer, it can be difficult to accurately hear the low-frequency content in your mix, resulting in an unbalanced mix that sounds good on some systems but not others. A subwoofer allows you to hear the full frequency range of your mix, providing a more accurate representation of the overall sound.

However, it’s important to note that not all music studios require a subwoofer. If your music doesn’t include a lot of low-frequency content or if you’re working in a smaller room where a subwoofer may cause too much bass resonance, you may be able to get by without one. It’s important to consider your specific needs and the acoustics of your studio when deciding whether a subwoofer is necessary.

Subwoofers are also important for film and game sound and mixing, as low-frequency sounds play a critical role in creating an immersive audio experience. In film and game sound, the subwoofer is often used to reproduce sound effects such as explosions, gunfire, and other low-frequency sounds that add impact and intensity to the audio.

Without a subwoofer, these sounds may lack the fullness and impact required to create a realistic and engaging audio experience. In addition, game developers and sound designers often use subwoofers to monitor the low-frequency content of their audio creations accurately. This ensures the audio sounds good across various systems, from small computer speakers to large home theater systems.

Further, you may not need a subwoofer as a recording engineer if you only record vocals and occasional guitar. A better alternative would be to focus on improving your room and gear. However, a subwoofer can benefit your work if you record full bands or produce electronic music. Still, it may not be essential, especially if your work goes through further stages like mixing and mastering.

Lastly, if you are a mastering engineer, you must opt for full-range monitors or subwoofers. Some mastering engineers prefer using two subwoofers for increased headroom and better stereo imaging. Now, let’s delve deeper into a few things to remember when dealing with subwoofers.

Next, many producers and engineers argue that the subwoofer may produce a false picture of your mix, so let’s address that issue.

Does the subwoofer give a false picture of your mix?

Using a subwoofer can give a false picture of your mix if improperly calibrated or used inappropriately. If the subwoofer is too loud or not balanced properly with the other speakers, it can result in an unbalanced mix with too much bass or a lack of clarity in other frequencies.

That can lead to a mix that sounds good on the subwoofer but doesn’t translate well to other listening environments. To avoid this, it is important to calibrate your subwoofer properly using a frequency sweep and to regularly reference your mix on different speakers and headphones to ensure that it translates well across all systems.

Remember that your mixes must translate well to consumer-grade systems, especially for post-production sound designers who create video games, films, and content for consumer media like television, Netflix, etc. 

Lastly, it’s a good idea to use a reference track you’re familiar with to help you gauge the accuracy of your mix on the subwoofer.

How do I calibrate a subwoofer?

You can benefit from a subwoofer only if it is correctly calibrated with the speakers. Let’s focus on stereo speakers only. Suppose you want to benefit from the low-end clarity that a subwoofer offers. In that case, setting up the crossover frequency can be challenging, and it’s important to use acoustic measurements.

You must listen to your room carefully to determine where the room is losing low-end clarity. One way is to play pink noise from your sound system. You need to set up a flat frequency response of your entire monitoring system across the entire range, so you filter each frequency on the pink noise and measure it with an SPL meter.

It’s a rule of thumb to monitor subs 3dB below the set level. So, for example, if you’re calibrating your monitors at 80 dB SPL, you need to calibrate your subwoofers at 77 dB SPL. The rule of thumb is important because sub-bass frequencies take up much space and energy, and you don’t want the subs taking over the rest of the mix. 

How do I place the subwoofer? | Subwoofer Placement

Placing the subwoofers in the right position is another important and tricky concern. It’s a good idea to place a mono subwoofer in the middle of the left and right channels and at the bottom. However, there’s another rule of thumb that you can follow. 

The second process includes listening to well-recorded bass notes chromatically in a range of at least two octaves, setting a lower and upper limit, and finding a spot where the notes are the most consistent and where resonances, standing waves, etc., are the least

Further, here are some general guidelines to follow when placing your subwoofer:

  • Avoid placing the subwoofer in a corner
    When a subwoofer is placed in a corner, it causes an increase in bass resonance due to the room’s boundaries reflecting sound waves toward the subwoofer. This can result in an unbalanced and boomy sound. To avoid this, try placing the subwoofer away from corners.
  • Keep the subwoofer away from the walls
    Similar to placing the subwoofer in a corner, placing it too close to a wall can also cause bass resonance. The sound waves bounce off the wall and return to the subwoofer, creating an uneven bass response. Keep the subwoofer a few feet away from the walls to avoid this.
  • Consider using a subwoofer isolation pad
    Subwoofers produce a lot of vibrations, which can affect other equipment or furniture in the studio. Using an isolation pad can help prevent these vibrations from affecting other objects in the room.
  • Experiment with subwoofer placement
    Every room is different, so it’s important to experiment with subwoofer placement to find the optimal position. Try placing the subwoofer in different locations and listening to the sound it produces. Please pay attention to the low-frequency response and its interaction with the rest of the mix.
  • Use a frequency sweep to test placement
    Once you’ve found a location for the subwoofer that sounds good, it’s important to test it using a frequency sweep. This involves playing a test tone that sweeps across the entire frequency range and listening for any frequency peaks or dips. If you notice any issues, you can adjust the placement or use EQ to compensate for them.
Setting Up a Subwoofer in Your HOME STUDIO with SONARWORKS

How do I select the right subwoofer?

A few important parameters to consider while selecting your subwoofer include frequency response, size, power, room size, brand reputation, budget, and product reviews. Next, you can select between mono and stereo speakers per your needs.

Let’s consider the other factors in detail:

  • Mono/Stereo subwoofers
    Many people prefer using stereo sub-woofers. However, theoretically, a mono subwoofer must be sufficient, as low frequencies travel farther due to longer wavelengths, and due to the reflections from all over the room, it’s hard to localize the subwoofer sonically in the space. A good quality subwoofer will give you no idea where the device is.
  • Frequency response
    Look for a subwoofer that has a frequency response that matches the needs of your music, film, or game content. For example, if you work with bass-heavy music, you’ll need a subwoofer to reproduce frequencies as low as 20 Hz.
  • Size
    The size of the subwoofer matters, as larger subwoofers can typically reproduce lower frequencies and provide more power. However, larger subwoofers may not be necessary for smaller studios.
  • Power
    The power rating of a subwoofer is an important consideration when selecting a subwoofer for your music studio, as it determines the subwoofer’s ability to produce accurate and impactful low-frequency sounds. It is measured in watts, and it’s important to consider the subwoofer’s power rating concerning the size of your room and the type of content you’ll be working with.
  • Room size
    Consider the size of your studio when selecting a subwoofer. You will need to install a larger subwoofer for a larger room, while a smaller one may only need a smaller one.
  • Brand reputation
    Research the brand and reputation of the subwoofer you’re considering. Look for brands that have a reputation for producing high-quality audio equipment. Some great brands that manufacture and sell subwoofers are JBL, Yamaha, KRK, PreSonus, Dynauaudio, etc.
  • Budget
    Subwoofers can range in price from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Consider your budget and look for a subwoofer that provides the features and performance you need within your budget.

Lastly, you don’t want bad-quality sub-woofers producing mid-range frequencies that mask your entire mix. Instead, a high-quality sub-re-generating speaker will have a good driver size of at least eight inches, a well-built low-resonance enclosure, and a good frequency response with a lower limit of at least 40Hz.

Some great studio monitor subs are Yamaha HS8S, Mackie MRS10 MK3, KRK 10S V2, etc. You can read the entire list here

Low-Frequency Limit
PreSonus Eris Sub 8
8 inches
100 Watt
30 Hz
KRK S10 G4
10 inches
160 Watt
30 Hz
Adam Audio T10S
10 inches
130 Watt
28 Hz
Yamaha HS8S
8 inches
150 Watt
22 Hz
Dynaudio 18S
18 inches
500 Watt
16 Hz


An acoustically treated room is the most important consideration before installing a sub-bass frequency monitoring system. While it’s important to consult an acoustics professional/engineer, there are a few things to remember. Firstly, a square room is not ideal, as the room will produce standing waves that will mess up your monitoring. 

Secondly, the room should be big enough to let at least the low frequencies, if not sub-bass frequencies, complete their cycle, and there should be just enough absorption panels not to absorb the subs too much. Although, if your room swallows low-end, then sub-woofers will greatly help! If not, here’s a guide to acoustic treatment that you can study. 

What are some alternatives to subwoofers?

Subwoofers are not the only option for monitoring low-frequency content in your mix. You can use several alternatives to accurately represent your mix, including wearable devices/jackets like SUBPAC, near-field monitors, high-quality headphones, and room correction software.

Firstly, let’s discuss devices like SUBPAC. The theory behind the device is that sub-bass frequencies are better felt than heard; hence instead of using a subwoofer or monitor, you can use a wearable device to monitor sub-bass frequencies. 

Subpac is a wearable device that provides physical feedback of low-frequency content through vibrations. It can be combined with headphones or speakers to provide a more immersive monitoring experience. The device is designed to sit on the back of a chair and is connected to an audio source through an auxiliary cable.

It then reproduces low-frequency sounds through transducers that send vibrations directly into the user’s body, allowing them to feel the bass in a way that traditional speakers or headphones cannot replicate. Subpac can be particularly useful for DJs, producers, and musicians who must monitor low-frequency content accurately, especially in noisy environments.

Do I Need a Subwoofer For My Music Studio? (for mixing, mastering, and production) |


Another option is nearfield monitors with larger woofers, which can reproduce a wider frequency range, including the low frequencies typically handled by subwoofers.

High-quality headphones with a flat frequency response can also accurately represent the low frequencies in your mix. To isolate sub-frequencies and monitor them separately, use a low-pass filter on your master bus and treat/process it separately.

Further, to avoid errors, you can use bass traps, which are acoustic panels designed to absorb low-frequency sound waves and help reduce unwanted bass resonance in your room, improving your monitoring accuracy without needing a subwoofer.

Lastly, room correction software can also help improve your monitoring accuracy by analyzing your room’s acoustics and applying EQ adjustments to compensate for any issues. Lastly, sub-bass frequencies are felt and not heard much!

Pros & Cons of Using Subwoofer For Mixing & Mastering


  • Complete Range Coverage
    Using subwoofers is not necessary when mixing in stereo, but it’s always essential in surround sound. When using it, you can cover the entire frequency spectrum without leaving anything behind while knowing how each range interacts. Also, that gives you an idea of the complete stereo imaging too.
    Hence, it has that extra low-end coverage and depth that stereo monitors are missing.
  • Helps with absorption-heavy rooms
    If you have a room in which low-end is not that audible, gets swallowed by the surroundings, or has too much absorption due to faulty acoustic treatment, subwoofers can help you with a clearer and more audible bass sound.
  • Necessary for bass-heavy mixes and songs
    Some genres of music are made to be played in clubs, with big speakers and heavy bass-driving systems. Many dance songs depend on subs, and it’s necessary to understand how that frequency range sounds clearly. In that case, you should consider mixing and producing with sub-woofers.


  • Subwoofers can exaggerate low-end in acoustic songs.
    Genres like jazz, acoustic pop, folk, choral, ballads, etc., do not have much information in the 20-100 Hz range. However, the coloration added due to sub-woofers while creating that kind of music may lead you to mix in a way that isn’t natural or organic. For example, you may unnecessarily boost high mids or highs to compensate for the overwhelmingly heavy bass sounds in the output.
  • It takes time to get used to
    You must adapt your ears while using sub bass and know how the sounds translate to the external environment and other sound systems. That, however, takes time to get used to, as you may leave too little bass in the mixes or end up masking the entire mix with bass frequencies.
  • Difficult to manage
    Subwoofers are difficult to calibrate and dial with stereo monitors, as setting up the crossover frequency is tricky. Secondly, positioning them correctly is also another hassle. Finally, the room must be treated or adjusted to the sub-bass sounds big enough, and ears must get used to it too.
    You may also need soundproofing, as the sub-bass frequencies and the disturbances caused by them may disturb your neighbors, roommates, family members, etc.
  • Subwoofers Require Precise Adjustment
    Calibrating a subwoofer involves a delicate balance of art and science. If your subwoofer features an active crossover, ensure it smoothly takes over where your monitors taper off rather than doubling the bass energy at overlapping points. Additionally, fine-tune your subwoofer’s level for a natural sound; insufficient subwoofer levels might not adequately compensate for monitors or room acoustics. Excessive levels could result in a bass boost or increased boominess. Moreover, modifying your stereo monitor level may change the optimal subwoofer level.
  • Subwoofers are a big investment.
    You must spend money to have a good subwoofer with a good SPL rating, resonance cabinet, and low-frequency extension. Cheaper alternates are available in the market but may ruin your monitoring system. Hence, everyone may be unable to afford subs; more importantly, that investment may be better spent elsewhere.


To sum up, a subwoofer can be a useful addition to your monitoring system if you are a musician or producer who works on genres that require a lot of sub-bass frequencies, such as EDM, R&B, and hip-hop, or if you work on sound design for films, ads, or games. However, to benefit from a subwoofer, you need to calibrate it correctly, place it in the right position, and choose a high-quality sub-re-generating speaker that meets your needs.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that a subwoofer is not mandatory for music production and mixing, and it’s possible to create excellent mixes without one. It ultimately comes down to personal preference and your work type.

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