9 Reasons Why Your Subwoofer Sounds Weak

With the progress of technologies, people strive to achieve higher and higher sound quality.  Nowadays, professionals, fanciers, and amateurs put together complex audio and video systems to enjoy the high-fidelity sound. 

Every audio-video configuration needs an excellent subwoofer to be perfect.  Sometimes, however, your subwoofer may sound weak, and we will give you some reasons for that.

As with every technology, subwoofers can break or hum and sound weak.  The causes can be many and various, but we present you with the nine most common reasons behind your sub’s soft voice. 

Also read: Subwoofer hum causes and solutions

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Why Your Subwoofer Sounds Weak
Just because a subwoofer looks big and mean, doesn’t mean it’s always going to produce big sound.

It isn’t delightful while listening to your favorite band to find out that you barely hear the bass.  There is no reason for panic; however – often, the malfunction is easily fixable. 

Nevertheless, if you cannot find any simple explanation for the low or no sound, it would mean that your subwoofer sounds weak and needs a proper diagnosis.  

Loudspeaker Understood

The subwoofer is a loudspeaker designed to reproduce low-pitched audio frequencies between 20 and 200 Hz for consumer products.  (1) It contains one or more woofers assembled in a durable loudspeaker box.

The sub is an audio configuration whose optimal functioning usually depends on your audio system’s other elements, such as speaker drivers and amplifier.  The reason why your subwoofer sounds weak may hide in every component of this system.

Reasons for a Subwoofer to Sound Weak

Below is presented a sample list of 9 possible reasons why your subwoofer can sound weak, beginning with the most elementary.

  • Minimum low – frequency sound
  • Lowered  bass woofer level
  • Incorrect speaker settings
  • Poor room acoustics
  • Poor microphone or program sources configuration
  • Underpowered subwoofer
  • Incorrect amplifier size
  • Motor failure
  • An incorrectly polarized subwoofer in an array

Now let’s take a deeper dive in each of these.

Minimum Low – Frequency Sound

Many inexperienced users expect to hear the bass all the time and are very disappointed when they do not.  Do not forget that the sub reproduces only low-frequency sounds, such as bass guitar, drums, or explosions in the movies. 

If such low-frequency sounds are not present, the sub will remain silent. Before starting to worry, make sure you are playing media, which contains low-frequency sounds like rumbles or heavy bass. Only after that, you may want to check for other possible reasons. (2)

Lowered  Bass Woofer Level

Another possible reason is that your bass woofer volume is not adjusted correctly.  You need to check the level, and in case it is decreased to a minimum, increase it to your favored loudness. 

Many users ignore the bass level just because it adjusts separately from the other speakers. 

Most models’ soundbar remotes have a separate button, named woofer, for changing the bass sound. If your remote does not have such a button, you need to check your user manual.  (2)

Incorrect Speakers Setting

As already mentioned, the subwoofer is a system of woofers that functions the best in audio configuration.  To achieve that, you need all elements of the configuration synchronized. 

The subwoofer and the full range speakers produce different types of low frequencies. That is why it is critical to have your speakers set up correctly before using your audio system. 

The frequency settings of your subwoofer should match the frequency settings of your main speakers.  (3)

Poor Room Acoustics

Specialists in the audio-video field indicate that room acoustics are of primary importance for every audio-video system. 

Professionals also highlight that most homemade studios have nasty standing-wave issues, which even the best subwoofers can not overcome. (3) 

Poor acoustics can weaken the sound of your sub.  So, make sure you have good acoustic in your room before blaming your sub for the soft sound.

Poor Sources Configuration

Sometimes, when using subwoofers in a studio, for example, the sound sources may work poorly.  All you need to do is check your microphone or other program sources from your audio configuration to find out whether they cause the problem or the sub itself. 

Just connect your subwoofer to another source, such as an iPod or other. If the sound is good, then you need to look for malfunction in your source’s configuration.

Underpowered Subwoofer

In general, underpowering your subwoofer is not necessarily dangerous for it.  However, not giving your sub enough power definitely will cause weak sound. 

Also, you have to be careful not to power up the sub with an overworked amplifier.  An overworked amplifier sends out a clipped signal, which can seriously damage your subwoofer.  (4) 

Incorrect Amplifier Size

If your subwoofer sounds good at low playback levels, but the sound weakens when you increase the volume, this may mean only one thing.  Your amplifier is small for your system and needs replacement with a larger one of more suitable ability. 

Depending on the size of your audio system, more than one amplifier may be necessary.  The best configuration is one amplifier channel for each subwoofer.

Motor Failure

When your subwoofer sounds weak, a more severe problem can be a motor fault.  Once you make sure that the reason for the weak sound is not one of the above, verify whether the motor is still running correctly. 

The battery or the fuse may blow and cause issues to the motor.  Such a defect would affect the sound quality.

A Mis-polarized Subwoofer In An Array

When subwoofers work in a sound system, they must have correct polarity relative to each other.  If they do not, this will cause a lower sound pressure level (SPL).  Insufficient SPL will weaken all subs’ sounds.  That is why one of the first things that professionals do after setting up a sound system is polarity testing of all loudspeakers.  (3)

Subwoofer FAQ

Does The Weak Sound Mean That My Subwoofer Is Bad?

Reproducing weak sound does not necessarily mean that your subwoofer is bad.  It may just need proper volume adjustment, better acoustic, or some minor setup that you missed.  However, if, after checking out some of the above-mentioned possible causes, your subwoofer still sounds weak, it will need a professional diagnosis.  Such a diagnosis will determine what kind of further actions are necessary. 

How Do I Make My Subwoofer Sound Better?

There is more than one way to magnify the sound of your sub.  Some of the most common changes that fanciers make are to add phase shifter and filter to their subwoofers.  They also change the small cone’s type in front of the sub (spider) and are careful not to overcompensate it.  Finally, yet significantly, upgrade your subwoofer regularly.  A new voice coil or subwoofer enclosure will make them sound better. 

How Do I Make My Subwoofer Hit Harder?

The easiest way to make your sub hit harder is to turn its volume knob to zero and play music with a medium amount of bass.  Then turn the volume on the head unit almost to the maximum and increase the gain until the subwoofer starts to contort.  Lightly decrease the gain to eliminate the remnant distortion.  This method will function without fail, providing that your subwoofer is correctly installed and configured. 

Conclusion

Well designed and properly used, subwoofers can be a very convenient and valuable acquisition for your studio, home, or car.  They can be used both professionally and amateurish and bring satisfaction to their users. 

However, you need to have the technical knowledge to operate a subwoofer properly or study the manual very carefully.  Poor subwoofer configurations reproduce low-quality sound and have a short life expectancy.


Sources 

  1. “Subwoofer.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subwoofer  Assessed Apr 11, 2021
  2. “Subwoofer Sound Is Low.” Samsung Electronics America, www.samsung.com/us/support/troubleshooting/TSG01109875/ Assessed Apr 12, 2021
  3. Hugh Robjohns,  All You Wanted To Know About Subwoofers, Sound on Sound, www.soundonsound.com/sound-advice/all-you-wanted-know-about-subwoofers Assessed Apr 12, 2021
  4. Buck Pomerantz, “Why Subwoofers Blow: Slam, Bang, Pop, and Sizzle.” Crutchfield, www.crutchfield.com/S-rq4C2G6KZj0/learn/distortion-why-subwoofers-blow.html Assessed Apr 12, 2021

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