If you’re looking to add some more bass to your vinyl setup, a subwoofer might be the perfect option for you. Of course, there are many different aspects to consider before introducing a subwoofer into your system.
In this article, we’ll cover all the questions you have about subwoofers as well as some of the best subwoofers for vinyl.
Do you need a subwoofer for vinyl?
To start out, a subwoofer is not necessary for listing to music on vinyl records. Most speakers connected to your turntable should be fine at producing moderate bass tones.
What a subwoofer will do is boost the low bass tones in music. For some musical genres, this can work very well, and for others, the difference will be negligible.
Integrating a sub to a vinyl setup
If you’d like to pair a subwoofer with your existing speakers you’re in luck as it’s a fairly simplistic process.
More importantly, is the mixing of the sub. You want to make the sub is properly integrated with your existing speakers. Turn the sub on, play a vinyl record, and adjust the volume until it’s barely heard, then turn your speakers on. Fine-tune the volume of the sub again and make sure the bass presence is felt, but none of the mid and high tones are being negatively affected.
At this point, you should have some great sound!
Pros and Cons of Using a Subwoofer with Vinyl Records
There are certainly reasons someone would want to incorporate a subwoofer into their speaker setup. Here we’ve outlined the pros and cons of doing so:
More bass: An obvious one here, but combining a sub with your speakers means more bass frequency response in your system. This allows you to hear a wider range of sound, specifically in the low-end where the bass tones live.
Improves speakers: If you have speakers with poor low-end performance, sometimes adding a sub is all you need to do to improve your overall system’s sound. Smaller speakers can create distortion in the bass tones, so taking that load off of them with a subwoofer can dramatically improve the overall sound quality.
Needs to be adjusted frequently: Vinyl, especially older records, were not made with subwoofers in mind. That means that some records will sound great at certain sub settings while others will be overblown. You will need to fine-tune your sub to whatever genre of music you’re listening to at the time.
Can cause record skips: If your sub is set up close to your turntable or record player it can cause skips if the bass is too heavy. Of course, this can easily be fixed by turning down the bass or moving the sub woofer away from the turntable.
Best subwoofers for vinyl listening
Odds are if you’re on this page you’re at least somewhat interested in incorporating a subwoofer into your vinyl listening system. We’ve outlined a few of your favorite subs and why you might want them for playing vinyl records.
Our top pick: Polk Audio PSW10
- POWERED SUBWOOFER FOR EXTRA BASS & PUNCH – A 10-inch Dynamic...
- LOUDER CLEARER SOUND EVEN AT HIGH VOLUME – Enjoy a thrilling...
- DOUBLE THE AMPLIFIER POWER TO 100 Watts of Dynamic Power with its...
- Size: 10 Inches
- Power: 100 Watts
- Inputs: RCA, Speaker Wire
- Frequency response: 40-160 Hz
The Polk Audio PSW10 is a brilliant 10-inch sub that packs a punch for a very affordable price. Integrated into the unit is volume control, a low-pass filter, phase switch, and various inputs – most importantly the speaker level inputs & outputs can be used with an amplifier.
We think 10-inch subs are perfect for vinyl as they provide a huge punch without incorporating some deeper tones that are sometimes overlooked in older vinyl records.
Best budget subwoofer: Elac SUB1010
- Enclosure Type: bass reflex
- Amplifier Type: Class AB
- Amplifier power: 120 watts peak/ 60 watts RMS
- Size: 10 Inches
- Power: 120 Watts peak
- Inputs: RCA, Speaker Wire
- Frequency response: 38-200 Hz
The Elac SUB1010 is an awesome budget option with stellar sound performance for the price! The frequency response is impressive, allowing for some low tones in the mix. One of our favorite features is the adjustable frequency cut-off knob, allowing you to select exactly where you want the sub to stop and your speakers to pick up.
The power output is impressive, but with subwoofers for vinyl that is less of a factor as they will generally be running pretty low.
Overall, for the money, you can’t go wrong with the SUB1010.
What music genres sound better with a subwoofer?
There are a few genres of music that benefit from subwoofer playback. These are often bass-heavy genres that rely on driving rhythms to get their audiences moving.
Rap & Hip Hop
Rap & Hip Hop music on vinyl can greatly benefit from the deep bass tones and power produced by a subwoofer. Rap music often incorporates 808 bass notes, which are low sine waves that can sometimes struggle to be heard in smaller speakers.
Subwoofers take that load off the normal speakers and create a sound to get the room bumping.
EDM, or electronic dance music, also incorporates many of the bass tones and kick drums from hip hop and rap. Depending on the sub-genre of EDM, the songs can be very bass-focused. By improving the bass signal, you can actually hear bass rhythms in the music better which dramatically improves the overall listening experience.
R&B, like all of the other genres mentioned above, is very bass and melody forward. What makes this genre unique is the dual melodies between an often higher-pitched vocal track and a low bass track.
Incorporating a subwoofer into your setup can bring this whole audio range alive and give a newfound appreciation for the dynamics of this genre.
A less-expected genre on this list is Rock. Firstly, we realize that Rock is a relatively broad genre, and not every song will benefit from incorporating a powered subwoofer. That being said, turning a sub’s volume low while listening to Rock allows for more presence in the bass guitar of the track, which can really help drive the rhythm.
Using a subwoofer with vinyl setups – Final thoughts
Ultimately, incorporating a sub into your vinyl system is a choice you have to make based on your music taste and existing speakers. We recommend that you upgrade your speaker first before getting a sub, so if you need any help with that we have our powered speakers for turntables guide available for learning more.
We hope you found this information useful. Thanks for reading!
Lead Editor / Owner
After beginning his career in the video and audio recording industry, Andrew started HiFi Hippo to share his knowledge and passion for vinyl and vintage audio with other readers.