Published on June 14th, 2020 | by Ali Dino


Subwoofer vs. Speaker – What’s the Difference?

There are many instances where people cannot differentiate between a subwoofer and a speaker. Most people always assume that a subwoofer is a speaker, which is somehow true. However, there is a big difference between the two, in a nutshell. A subwoofer can play audios with relatively low frequencies while a speaker only plays medium and low frequencies. The two, however, are the same as both are audio systems and will add to the quality of your audio.

What Exactly is a Speaker?

A sophisticated explanation is that a speaker is any gadget that will make a sound from an electric signal. In a simpler term, a speaker is a gadget that will enable you to listen to the audio.

A speaker is an integral part of any audio system, and it will help you improve the quality of your audio. A speaker can be found within most of the electronics from the computers to the most advanced home theater systems.

What is a Subwoofer

At the mention of the word subwoofer, most people already see that prominent box speaker that creates that booming effect. That’s true, most subwoofers in the market are big and vast and are known to have that significant effect with audios.

In technical terms, a subwoofer is a speaker that’s able to capture low-frequency audios. It is through the use of subwoofers that you can be able to hear, and in some cases, feel the audio. Subwoofers are designed in such a way that they produce audios that have a low frequency that is hard to hear with the human ear, and all you can do is feel the vibrations.

Main Differences Between a Speaker and a Subwoofer

Here are some of the most notable differences between a speaker and a subwoofer as highlighted on

1) Frequency Spectrum

One of the most notable differences between the two is the frequencies spectrum that the two play. In many cases, a speaker will be able to play audios with low and high-frequency music.

This is across all the types of speakers irrespective of brand or size. Some people tend to think that prominent speakers can act as a subwoofer. This is very wrong, and a speaker can hardly act as a sub no matter how big it is.

On the other hand, a subwoofer will play low frequencies. It is the type of audio that’s hard to capture with a regular speaker. There are advanced subwoofers that can capture frequencies that too low that you can’t hear with a human ear. However, a subwoofer is not able to play medium or high-frequency audio.

2) Design and Make

When it comes to design, there are very few features that can separate between the two. A subwoofer comes in a big wooden box while a speaker comes with almost all types of shapes and designs. The speaker’s design doesn’t follow a specific pattern, and it all depends on the brand.

From afar, it is hard to tell a speaker while a subwoofer is very easy to distinguish. Traditionally, a subwoofer comes with a big box, which is pretty easy to know. The big box in a subwoofer is essential in creating the boom effect.

Additionally, speakers have a tweeter, which plays a vital role in trying to balance the audio. They are also equipped with a circuit, which is known as a cross-over. The cross-over splits the frequencies between low and high frequencies.

On the other hand, a subwoofer does not have a tweeter or a cross-over. Instead, it is equipped with a large coil and a big magnet so that they can handle powerful signals. They also have a large and rigid speaker, which is essential in helping it out during excursion.

3) Cost Differences

Well, the cost is a delicate area to gauge between the two. Traditionally, a subwoofer costs more than a speaker. However, some speakers now cost more than subwoofers. In the real sense, their main difference comes on the individual specs.

The more specs a speaker or a subwoofer has, the more it will cost. So, the cost is a hard area to gauge between a speaker and a woofer. However, both a speaker and a subwoofer are essential in your home theater system.

4) How they are Set Up

The speakers are mostly found in most of the gadgets, and they are capable of functioning on their own. Speakers can be able to play low-frequency bass thou the quality is poor. It is for this reason why; most speakers are crafted to play medium and high-frequency audios.

Different brands have designed speakers in such a way that they are more geared towards their specific tasks. Gone are the days when speakers were designed just for the sake of it. Currently, the market has speakers that are made to do a specific task. Thou these speakers are expensive, they can function with absolute clarity.

On the other hand, subwoofers are not made to be played alone. It is hard only to feature the sub without other equipment. To function better, a sub acts as a complement to the speakers, and together, they can produce superior quality 

Final Thoughts

There you have it. Those are some of the most notable differences between a speaker and a subwoofer. Thou a subwoofer it technically a speaker, it can play low-frequency bass.

Everything in a subwoofer is made to ensure it creates such a big boom that can be felt across the room. Speakers, on the other hand, are designed to capture high and medium frequencies.

In the current market, some speakers are designed to be large and can capture low frequencies as well. However, they are not subwoofers, but they can be versatile in usage.

If you would want to use your speaker as a sub, you can start by removing the tweeter and the cross-over. This will work for you, but it is prudent to have both the speaker and the subwoofer. Both these two functions better when played together rather than alone.

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