Subwoofers are generally not something you see way too often in studios. For the most part, producers working in smaller spaces don’t feel the need to get them, while there is also the fear of overpowering the acoustics. With that said, you can’t really have that perfect representation of your mix without a proper studio subwoofer. That goes even if you have some of the best studio monitors out there.
Table Of Contents
|Image||Studio Monitors / Rating||Summary||Check Price|
|+ -|| Adam Audio Sub8 |
Total of 4.87/5
A smaller but incredibly efficient sub from a very highly respected brand.
|+ -|| JBL LSR310S |
Total of 4.70/5
One of the best bang for the buck solutions on the market.
|+ -|| KRK 10S2 V2 |
Total of 4.53/5
Plenty of power delivered to a capable driver in a solid cabinet.
|+ -|| Rockville Apm10b |
Total of 4.13/5
A very solid affordable subwoofer that meets all the requirements for monitoring.
|+ -|| Mackie MR10S Mk3 |
Total of 4.13/5
Great sub coming from the masters of budget monitoring and proper sound.
|+ -|| Samson MediaOne 10S |
Total of 3.93/5
Probably the most attractive entry level subwoofer out there at the moment.
|+ -|| Cerwin Vega XD8s |
Total of 4.13/5
Unusual, but ultimately a pretty effective low-cost solution for home studio monitoring.
ADAM Audio's reputation in music production community is a very respected one.They simply make some mean monitors, sometimes even in the affordable range. Sub8 is basically what happens when they come together to create a bulletproof source of the deep sound. This subwoofer offers plenty of power with lots of headroom. ADAM Audio went really far in order to increase the practical value of Sub8, including adding motorized knobs. The amount of transparency you can get from one of these is outstanding. ADAM Audio Sub8 will follow you down to deepest depths of frequency response, all while retaining sound integrity and linearity. Even though it's not really cheap, it has given the rest of the industry something to think about.
JBL's LSR series of studio monitors have proven to be a proven option numerous times by now. However, if you still need more bass clarity, JBL has one more trick up their sleeves. JBL LSR310S is a subwoofer designed to give you a rather flat and transparent representation of low-end frequencies that reach as low as 27Hz. With a massive 10" down firing woofer and 200 Watts power on demand, it's fair to say that LSR310S has plenty of headroom to offer. Its main quality is the price to performance ratio it brings to the table. While it isn't the cheapest option out there, LSR310 will get you a lot of bang for your buck, that is for sure.
KRK's studio monitors have become somewhat of a legend in the music production world. Even though professionals often decide to go for the much better, but also exponentially more expensive setups, even they appreciate KRK's products. With that said, KRK's 10S2 V2 sub woofer was a highly anticipated model. When it finally hit the streets, all of the expectations were met and some exceeded. The sub features a 10" aramid glass cone with some 160 Watts delivered by a great Class D amp. That translates to lots of headroom and a very tight performance. You can count on decent transparency with this one. Another thing worth noting is the variable crossover, which makes the KRK 10S2 V2 compatible with any monitors.
Rockville Apm10b represents what happens when a brand focuses on pure performance rather than anything else. This subwoofer is not much of a looker, but that is not what it was meant to do. Rockville has implemented some alternative solutions when designing Apm10b, such as the front firing slotted bass reflex port. However, the most attention grabbing specs are its 10“ woofer cone and a powerful 200 Watts amplifier. Add to that a fairly complex crossover network, and you have an extremely capable bass machine. It is flat out of the box, with plenty of headroom available even in larger rooms. If you are looking for an affordable yet capable subwoofer, Rockville Apm10b is about as good as it gets.
Mackie's series of studio monitors have brought them a good amount of fame. With that said, their subwoofers are no joke either. Mackie MR10S Mk3 is by far one of the most straightforward subs on the market right now. The defining features of this model are its power, which is set at 120 Watts RMS, and the size of the driver included in the package. For a 10" glass-aramid composite driver, it feels very nimble. All of the standard features are there, along with some non-standard ones. Simple in design, Mackie MR10S Mk3 is a very solid choice for both larger and smaller studios. Naturally, it works best with Mackie monitors, but it can definitely work with other brands too.
Samson is one of those brands that covers a multitude of audio equipment. They aren't most popular for their studio monitors, but they have a few great models to offer in this category. Samson MediaOne 10S is definitely one product in their lineup that's worth looking into. It's a massive woofer with an equally massive 10" cone. Being active, it delivers some 100 Watts of pure bass power. With that in mind, Samson did go with someunorthodox design solutions. The first thing that comes to mind is the down firing bass reflex port. While it is tuned pretty well, it does limit the use of this sub in certain scenarios. Overall MediaOne 10S is pretty transparent, decently powerful and affordable.
Cerwin Vega XD8s is one of the rarely affordable subwoofers designed for studio monitoring purposes. It's defined by its compact size, plenty of power and a rather practical design. Instead of being a large cube, Cerwin Vega went with a tower chassis made of proper MDF. While some might think that an 8" woofer is nothing to write home about, the speaker that comes with this sub is more than capable of moving some serious air. Most importantly, the nominal response you get without any kind of EQ applied is surprisingly flat. On top of that, Cerwin Vega tuned this sub for a pretty wide frequency response range, allowing you to go deep but also enjoy those higher bass tones.
Even though it might seem fairly impractical to add a dedicated subwoofer to a set of studio monitors, there are quite a few reasons why this is actually a good idea. We will cover some of the most game changing reasons, which should give you all thereasons necessary to open up to boosting that low end. Let’s start with the simple things.
Monitor speakers, although being a niche product, still share the same issues as their general purpose counterparts. In other words, a standard studio monitor speaker will have to work very hard in order to cover the entire frequency range you need. If you look at most modern monitors in the affordable and mid range segment, they generally come with smaller low-frequency drivers.
In some cases, the drivers are so small that they are more suitable for driving mids than anything else. Depending on your needs, this type of configuration may or may not work. More expensive monitors are less prone to this due to much larger transducers being used. The main benefit of having a studio subwoofer in your setup is to have a dedicated transducer covering those super low frequencies. For starters, your monitors might not even be able to go that low. Second, even if they are, you won’t get that perfectly linear response.
Just like studio monitors, studio subwoofers are tuned to offer optimal transparency. Your frequency response should be pretty flat with most of these, and that is not an easy task when your reach those two digit Hz values. In that sense, a subwoofer might help you open up your monitoring capabilities a bit more.
As we have mentioned before, every set of studio monitors works within a specific frequency range. Some go lower than others, but they all exhibit some sort of drop when you start reaching the bottom of the range. Adding a subwoofer to your setup can relieve your monitors from dealing with those frequencies. In that case, all they have to do is work the mids and trebles, which most of them do rather well.
Most modern studio subwoofers come with a variable crossover. This feature allows you to set the exact frequency where the subwoofer will kick in and monitors fade out. Depending on the model you have chosen, you will get more or less sensitivity in choosing that frequency. Even so, a great majority of models out there will have a setting that is more than enough for getting the job done.
When you set the crossover to hit that sweet spot, your monitors will be able to divert all of the power from the amp to frequencies where they work most comfortably. On a similar note, your new subwoofer will cover the lower end with much more power than your monitors ever could. We are talking anywhere from 100 Watts to 200 Watts or more, of dedicated low-end boost.
One of the main problems we have with subwoofers, in general, has to do with sound wave propagation. Lower frequency sound has a much longer wave length than higher frequency one. As such, they are much more prone to bouncing off the walls and conflicting with other frequencies. Sometimes they will even cancel out a good portion of the frequency range.
Dealing with these problems is an art form. Your standard monitors suffer from this as well, and the only solution is careful positioning. Even so, you can’t really eliminate the issue, but rather minimize it. Modern studio subwoofers come with a feature called ‘phase shift’. What it does is simply move the wave out of phase for a value equal to a half or less of its wave length. While phase shifting the woofer does help, it won’t completely eliminate the issue either. However, if you exercise proper positioning, do a solid tune-up of the subwoofer, that phase shift can make a big difference.
If you have read into the science behind proper studio monitor positioning, you probably know how important it is and how clinically precise it can get at times. With subwoofers, it’s a bit of a different story. Where studio monitors need to be in the center of the room, some 38% of the way from the back wall and at 60 degrees of angle from your head, subwoofers are much more forgiving.
You can be far less strict with subwoofer positioning. The idea here is that humans aren’t really able to determine where a low-frequency sound is coming from. At least nowhere near as accurately as we can find a source of the high-frequency sound. Even so, it is recommended that you start by placing it in between your two monitors Doing so helps you get a more saturated response with all sounds coming from a single direction.
The only issue is that sometimes your room can refuse to cooperate. In that case, you have to experiment with different locations. This is where the phase shift feature comes into play too. If you have placed the subwoofer somewhere and it just doesn’t sound right, try pushing it out of phase. Chances are it will help a bunch.
Subwoofers, just like all low-frequency speakers, need that driver cone real estate in order to create low sounds. You just can’t get a good bass response with having enough material pushing the air. In other words, the diameter of the transducer matters. The smallest we recommend you go is around 8″. That is the point at which the driver starts to struggle to dig deep into the frequency range. Something like a 10″ cone will do great. Going larger than that can be beneficial, but might not be as practical for home studio applications.
Additionally, subwoofer size is going to be directly tied to the price of the unit. Smaller subs are most often cheaper, while those with larger cones usually tend to cost more. There are some exceptions to the rule, though. For example, the ADAM Audio Sub8 we’ve discussed at the beginning of the article is an 8.5″ subwoofer. Yet, it can blow many larger models out of the water. The question of efficiency and performance is always going to be there. Brands like ADAM Audio are experts at tuning the sub to perfection. Other brand’s subs might suffer from increased inefficiency. It all depends. The point is that you can’t really go too big with subwoofers, at least not with those meant for home studios.
One of the main differences in design you will see out there are front firing and down firing subs. Former is the golden standard while the latter take things to a different level. Both have pros and cons, but it was found that down firing subs might be just a bit more efficient. The main reason for this is that a transducer pointed at the ground doesn’t have to fight gravity. Instead, it relies on it to achieve optimal performance. In that case, you can get away with driver cones which aren’t too robust or stiff, which helps with the overall response.
The only issue with down firing subs is that they can sometimes be a pain to setup properly. It takes some serious calculations if you want to get things just perfect. Not to mention that behavior of a down firing sub tends to change ever so slightly depending on the surface it is on.
Studio subwoofers are the last piece of the puzzle. Adding them to your monitoring system can significantly increase the quality and transparency of your overall frequency response. The ones we have shown you are some of the best on the market, as well as a proof that you don’t have to spend a small fortune to find something that is half way decent. You’d be surprised just how far a budget sub can get you. Those mixing electronic music or any other bass heavy genre really need to consider adding a subwoofer. It can make a night and day difference.