September 02, 2022
Debate has long raged about what’s needed in a studio to create great tracks and when it comes to subwoofers this is no exception. The truth is, whether you need a sub in your studio depends on a few key factors including your gear setup, your goals, your room, and your preference.
Here we’ll talk a little about why you may or may not want a sub in your studio.
It’s tempting to want more gear just for the sake of having more gear, but there are plenty of reasons you might not need a subwoofer in your studio:
Don’t assume that a subwoofer will improve the sound of your room or your mixes. If you’re building a new space and you’re not sure about a sub, it’s wise to get situated first. Properly treat the room, set your studio monitors, and do some listening and maybe a couple of mixes. If you feel like everything is sounding awesome and you’re hearing everything you need to, then you probably don’t need an additional component.
Additionally, if you feel like your monitors just aren’t big enough for the room, you may need bigger monitors rather than a sub. You can refer to manufacturer specs for guidance on what room sizes a set of monitors is designed to serve.
While some setups and rooms don’t need more bass, others can benefit greatly from a well-chosen and well-calibrated subwoofer. A few reasons you may want to consider a sub include:
Especially if your studio is small, subwoofers aren’t a necessity as much as a way to enhance an already well-treated room and well-designed setup that’s just missing something. Don’t assume a subwoofer can’t help you in a small room, either. Sometimes a modest space built in a small room with small monitors can use that extra fullness that a sub can add.
Remember that a sub shouldn’t drastically exaggerate the bass in your room – at least not if you’re hoping for translatable mixes. Instead, it should give you the extra fullness and depth you may be missing from your monitors and allow you to hear phenomena like masking and how well your mix might perform in a bass-heavy environment like a club. At nominal listening levels, you won’t necessarily hear the sub as much as feel it, but at louder levels, you’ll be able to get a real idea of what’s going on below 100Hz or so.
When it comes to what you need in your studio – whether that’s a subwoofer or an $80,000 console – you’re the only one that can judge, and there’s no wrong answer. Just don’t assume you need one, and by the same token, don’t assume you couldn’t use one.
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