A subwoofer is a speaker device that only produces the lowest tones, otherwise known as the bass. A subwoofer is not intended to be used as a stand-alone speaker, music would not sound like music if it was only played through a subwoofer. Rather a subwoofer (also known as a sub) is meant to augment other speakers that handle higher ranges in frequency and enhance the music or sound through stronger low tones.
How A Subwoofer Works
A subwoofer is usually a larger sized speaker, between about 4″ and 21″ for a consumer product and up to 5 feet for professional and some prototype products. As a part of a home theater system, usually one sub is added to between 1-7 other speakers to create a surround sound environment and is meant to augment the bass on the smaller speakers.
Subwoofers will contain their own individual drivers and amplifiers, because it takes a lot of power to drive the sound a subwoofer makes. They are normally contained in a custom sized box, or enclosure, which must be strong enough to resist the high air pressures created by them. If the box deforms, the sound quality will suffer significantly.
Normally a subwoofer will be the largest speaker in a a speaker set. The large size of a subwoofer allows it to move a large volume of air, which is necessary to create powerful low frequencies. The higher volume of air a subwoofer moves, the more powerful the sound.
Subwoofers actually become more efficient as they get larger, which helps explain why you see more subwoofers of larger sizes than smaller sizes. Recent technological improvements have allowed subwoofers to be smaller than in the past and still create the more powerful low frequency sounds of larger speakers. Despite technological improvements, the physics of smaller speakers means that there are still performance compromises when it comes to creating strong, low-toned bass sounds from a small subwoofer. Simply put if you want to feel strong bass, you need a big subwoofer.
Subwoofers work in tandem with your other speakers and supplement the bass. Usually a receiver device will decode sound output and decide which tones to send to each speaker. A subwoofer handles only the lowest tones, usually those between 20-60 hertz.
With a Sonos system, the subwoofer integrates easily and intelligently into the other existing speakers to effortlessly augment the sound system. The Sonos Sub is extremely strong and can easily be hidden under a table, couch, or displayed prominently if you desire.