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Do You Need a Subwoofer with Ceiling Speakers?

Whether you already have ceiling speakers or you’re looking to add them to your home entertainment center, you may be wondering if you need to add on a subwoofer, too. There are so many subwoofers on the market, and all of them can enhance and elevate your sound.

Do you need a subwoofer for ceiling speakers? A subwoofer isn’t required with ceiling speakers, but it will help in handling all the bass or low-end frequencies that ceiling speakers can’t produce. Plus, it greatly enhances the experience of your sound system as a whole.

Ceiling speakers are created to fill a need that many home theater enthusiasts have: produce sound from above to create a fully immersive experience. Yes, they add a new dynamic to your sound, but with a subwoofer, the sound can be even better.

Issues with Low-End Sound in Ceiling Speakers

Ceiling speakers are circular-shaped speakers that are created to fit nested into the ceiling. Since they are small in size, in order to blend in, ceiling speakers produce a narrower sound field and have less power behind each individual speaker. When buying ceiling speakers, people often buy a group of them, rather than just one or two, to cover a wider area.

We have another article about whether or not ceiling speakers need a backbox that you may be interested in if you’re starting from scratch. But if you already have your in-ceiling speakers instaled, let’s talk about that subwoofer.

The Purpose of a Subwoofer

People that are new to high-end audio systems are often surprised to hear that a right stereo and left stereo speaker is not all they need to complete their sound system. In any home theater system, a subwoofer provides one of the most essential sounds in a room.

As a speaker that is built to produce low-end tones and bass, a subwoofer will ensure that you’re enjoying the full extent of the bass and low-end frequencies in your sound and getting the best quality sound possible. Without a subwoofer, you won’t get to enjoy the full sound in movies, music, and beyond, and sound can easily fall flat.

What Is a Subwoofer?

A subwoofer is a loudspeaker that has the job of producing all of the bass or the lower frequencies in the sound. An excellent subwoofer lifts the listening experience in a beautiful way that no other audio speaker component can produce. There are many benefits to including a subwoofer in your sound system.

Adding Control and Speed in Low-End Music

Different genres of music present rapid stops and starts in the instrumentals and vocals that standard speakers can struggle with, and it results in an undetailed and smeared acoustic sound. A subwoofer helps solve that and provides a smoother sound experience, punctuating some of this sound in the low-frequency sound space.

Playing at High Volume with No Distortion in Sound

In low-end speakers, when you crank up the music at an extremely high volume, the low-end speaker often has trouble keeping up. A good subwoofer plays distortion-free and effortlessly loud, no matter how loud you play it.

Revealing Feeling and Sound Other Speakers Can’t Produce

The majority of low-end speakers drop off at 50 Hz, which will deprive you of the clarity and full depth of the bass tones in your audio. A subwoofer will get as low as 20 Hz or even lower, right down to the human hearing limit. This means that you will never miss a note with a subwoofer.

Blending Seamlessly with Other Speakers

When sounds are combined perfectly, a subwoofer allows the speakers to sound their best without being overpowered. It is a true sound enhancer, adding a component that acts as a foundation for the higher frequency sounds.

Where to Put Your Subwoofer

The placement of your subwoofer often depends on the flexibility you have in your space, but they can be placed in:

  • A corner of the room
  • Anywhere in the front of the room, commonly right in front or beside an entertainment center
  • Inside a cabinet with optimal breathing room and ventilation
  • Inside of a wall, which can help keep it from getting too much attention

We have a separate article about where to place a sub relative to your soundbar, and most of the direction here applies to this situation too. Be sure to check it out.

Choosing a Great Subwoofer

With an extensive range of subwoofer selections, choosing the best subwoofer model for your home entertainment system can be intimidating. Make sure to factor in these variables when making your decision: the enclosure, the design, the size, and the power.

There are higher-end options like the Sonos Sub (on Amazon) that have loads of features, but you can also find other high-quality units like the Klipsch R-120SW (also on Amazon) that will look smart and add a lot to the listening experience.


Subwoofers are placed in two types of enclosures: a vented or a sealed wooden enclosure. A subwoofer with a sealed enclosure is built to produce an accurate and tight bass, since there is no space whatsoever for the movement of air (in or out).

Ported and vented enclosures are built to produce deeper-sounding bass that is more broad and room-filling than a subwoofer with a sealed enclosure. 


Subwoofers are designed in two main styles: the side-firing subwoofer and downward-firing subwoofer. Side-firing subwoofers, like we’ve talked about before, are pointed on the side or in the front, whereas downward-firing subwoofers, as the name suggests, are pointed downwards.

The bass in the downward-firing subwoofer is less directional than higher frequencies or treble. But, if you want the bass sound to spread evenly, then you’ll want to pick the side-firing subwoofers.


The size is also a vital factor in picking a great subwoofer. If you need your subwoofer to produce a more vibrant, tighter-sounding bass, then it’s best to go with a smaller-sized subwoofer. For a broader, more powerful sound, a larger subwoofer is the best choice.

Subwoofers are available in different sizes, such as 8 inches, 12 inches, 10 inches, and 15 inches.


Another factor to consider is the power handling capacity of the speaker, which is vital for all subwoofers. Not all subwoofers can handle the same volume of energy. Make sure that the subwoofer you choose matches your amplifier or receiver before purchasing to get the maximum output.


When using ceiling speakers, it’s not a complete necessity to add a subwoofer into the mix. But with the addition of a subwoofer, you’ll get a better sound overall and even more enjoyment out of your ceiling speakers.

If you want to recreate the cinema experience in your home and wish to emulate a multi-dimensional and powerful sound, a subwoofer is a vital component.

Piet Moloi

Wednesday 10th of March 2021

I want to install ceiling speakers for my newly built house but dont have the expertise to do so. Can you recommend a company in Gauteng in South Africa