Do Bookshelf Speakers Need a Subwoofer?

Do bookshelf speakers need a subwoofer? Most audiophiles are unable to resolve this long-standing subwoofer dilemma. Some people like the idea of pairing bookshelf speakers with a subwoofer while many others are not a fan of room-shaking bass.

Due to conflicting opinions and bold claims, listeners are confused about whether or not they need a subwoofer to move up to superior sound quality.

Subwoofers are renowned for producing intense, thumping bass. Undoubtedly, these pieces of audio equipment upgrade the sound but does your sound system truly need one? Let’s find out.

Do Bookshelf Speakers Need a Subwoofer?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to provide a simple yes or no answer to this question. Bookshelf speakers have a higher quality sound quality and do not need an external subwoofer to function well.

These speakers will produce decent sound without connecting any external device. Due to smaller cabinets and practical limitations, the sound produced by bookshelf speakers lacks bass.

The Bookshelf speaker system sounds great on its own and adding a subwoofer to the audio setup is indeed worth it.

These speakers specialize in producing mid and higher frequencies and need an external audio device for lower-frequency sound production.

Since subwoofers excel in producing low-frequency unidirectional sounds, it assists the speaker system to perform better. Besides the deeper bass, a listener would not be missing out on the additions from different musical instruments.

Frequency Range of Bookshelf Speakers and Subwoofers

As for frequency range, digital bookshelf speakers cover the frequency response range of nearly 60Hz to 20 kHz, some models having slightly smaller or wider frequency spectrum.

As it is evident that these speakers focus on the mids and highs. An additional subwoofer is required to boost the low-frequency performance of the bookshelf speakers.

The frequency response range of subwoofers is 20-200Hz, covering the low spectrum. Although the bookshelf speaker may not necessarily need a subwoofer, it would be a great addition to enable the speaker to perform at its peak potential.

As bookshelf speakers can not produce low-frequency sound waves, they can be coupled with a subwoofer to produce a wider frequency range and full sound spectrum.

Why do you Need a Subwoofer with Bookshelf Speakers?

It is not mandatory to pair subwoofers and bookshelf speakers together, these speakers can function without one. However, it is essential for the optimized listening experience.

To clarify, subwoofers are not just ‘bass cannons’, they let you feel the music by adding realism to the sound effects. Having a dedicated subwoofer will make the bass-rich music come to life.

Consider getting a subwoofer if you are interested in bass-heavy music and dialogue-oriented shows. Here are some reasons why you should add a subwoofer

  • Bass – As stated earlier, subwoofers can produce lower frequencies not possible with bookshelf speakers alone. Extended bass response is possible by pairing these two audio devices together. Deep, hard-hitting bass offers a more lively listening experience.
  • Soundstage – As subwoofers produce frequencies that can not be captured by bookshelf speakers, the two devices paired together offer a wider soundstage. It delivers the sound as intended by the singer.
  • In-built Amplifiers – Most subwoofers have integrated amplifiers, saving the owner extra money. There is no need to buy an extra amplifier to connect to the existing sound system.
  • Fit For Home Theater Setup – While bookshelf speakers alone offer impressive sound quality for home theater setup. Connecting a subwoofer will add bass and audio depth. Clean and crisp sound will enhance the home entertainment experience.

Subwoofer Promise Better Audio Experience

People fond of dynamic and bass-heavy music should consider getting a subwoofer. A listener would discover new low-end elements in their favorite music, action movies, and games.

Even though bookshelf speakers can function alone, you would most definitely not miss upgrading the sound system.

If you seek the best home entertainment performance, it would be worth widening the soundstage with a subwoofer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do bookshelf speakers have bass?

Yes, these speakers produce enough bass for a casual listening experience. However, it is not sufficient for EDM, hip-hop, pop, and bass-heavy music. Mostly, audiophiles are satisfied with the bass produced by bookshelf speakers.

Are Bookshelf Speakers Good Enough?

Yes, bookshelf speakers are good enough on their own. These speakers produce impressive sound and do not take up much space as floor-standing and tower speakers.


Mostly, there is no need to partner bookshelf speakers with subwoofers. However, it is up to the listener to determine how critical it is to their sound system. Bookshelf speakers function just fine and offer superior audio performance without a subwoofer.

Furthermore, there is no need to spend money on subwoofers unless you want to extend the dynamic range of the audio. With all that said, no one can deny the benefits of connecting subwoofers to the sound system.

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Cian has 7 years of experience in the musical instruments industry. His press and research articles are published in many well-known journals. Cian is part of our product testing team so he knows the criteria for the best products. Here at sound keen cian covers how to set up instruments and selection criteria for new products.

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