Can You Use a Soundbar Without a Subwoofer? Drop the Bass!

Written by Home Theater

Bose Soundbar 70066

It is good to have the right combination of speakers. A good soundbar and a good subwoofer can give you first-rate listening experience. Whether you are listening to your favorite song or watching the latest hit movies, an excellent sound system can play a vital role. But oftentimes, a traditional setup like this is not possible or inconvenient.  A lot of time, most people like the straight forward setup, or just a simple soundbar.

But, can you use a soundbar without a subwoofer? Yes. A soundbar can still work even without a subwoofer though it may affect the quality of the sound. A soundbar without a subwoofer will lack low-frequency quality, which is produced by instruments like drums, bass guitar, some wind instruments, and bass keyboards. As a result, it can sound thin. 

The difference between a soundbar and a subwoofer is their function. Soundbars are created to deliver improved stereo sound and surround-like experience with good bass response. However, subwoofers are specifically designed to handle bass frequencies. In this article, we will be discussing if a soundbar by itself is good enough for gaming and other alternatives for people who have budgetary and space restrictions. 


Reasons for Not Using a Sub With Your Soundbars

Small Space Requirements

Obviously, the ultimate setup for your gaming would be a gaming PC desktop with a big screen TV and receiver good 5 or 7.1 sound system with an amazing sub. However, with us poor saps that do not have a 20-foot living room and a nice country home and live in an apartment, we need to think about what we are going to be putting in a gaming space. Sandbar is a great alternative to a full setup because it does have mid-tones travels and a little bit of pace depending on how good your soundbar is.

Another good reason for having a soundbar in small spaces if you are moving around, hotel to hotel, if you are traveling or if you are going to a friend’s house and still want that up with your gaming laptop, a soundbar can be more portable. And there are mini soundbars out there that you can get for your laptop or even if you just want to move your gaming experience from your bedroom to the kitchen.


Smaller Budgets

Also, with a soundbar, you can get a full setup without the addition of other equipment like the receiver. You can pick one from Amazon under $70 or a pretty decent one for $300, which is still a better price range than a full high-end system.


Apartment Buildings

Another consideration for apartment buildings is you might not want a nice boomy bass going through your neighbor’s wall. You can still get a pretty decent gaming experience without a headset using your soundbar and not annoy your neighbors that much if you omit the sub.

Soundbar without a sub can be a good alternative to just using your crappy monitor speakers or bluetooth speaker or having a headset on all the time, especially if you are with friends.


If You Are interested, Read Our Article About 

Best Subwoofers: Our Top Picks

Do Soundbars Have Good Bass on Their Own

Many soundbars come with there own sub. Even a cheaper portable online for 40 bones or so, promise down to 100 hz. Which is pretty decent for a lower-end bluetooth soundbar. Now  a lower end stand-alone sub will get you around the 60hz. This is far above the sub-bass levels. If you must have that big boom, which is 60hz- 20hz, you are looking at getting a separate sub, rather than a soundbar with a built-in one.


Advantages of Soundbars Over Speakers

So if you are deciding on a smaller basic sub for your soundbar, then we need to decide if maybe you should just get a speaker sub combo instead of getting a full soundbar.

So, things to consider are space and price. Do you want something portable, bluetooth speaker might be the way to go, or this is going to be a more permanent but compact setup you can go with stand-alone speakers to go with your stand-alone sub. And the prices can be fairly comparable once you are going this route. However, with the speakers and sub, you are going to have wires everywhere, whereas the soundbar is going to just tuck nicely underneath your monitor or TV without too much fuss.

I personally have an old speaker system that is about ten years old that sounds great, and it is pretty small. I only paid about $300 for it. But what I end up doing is usually just hooking up my Bluetooth speaker because it is just less fuss with wires and less space on my desk. But I want that extra crunch for my games. So I end up hooking up the subwoofer. But if I did have a wireless Bluetooth that had an okay sub built into it, I probably would not bother with this either.

So now we need to consider when is just a regular soundbar, a soundbar with a bass, a soundbar bass combination, and just a traditional speaker sub setup is best for your situation. We are going to look at the prices and performance of each combination in the next section.


The Best Bass Solution for Your Money

There are three things that you would need to look at when choosing the right speakers with subwoofer. They are the frequency response, sensitivity, and impedance. The frequency response is the range of audible frequencies the speaker can produce between 20 Hz, which is the deep bass, and 20 kHz.

Sensitivity is nothing but the sound itself. It will give you an idea of how efficient the speaker is and how loud it will play. Lastly, impedance does not shed light on the sound quality. It only tells how much the strain the speaker places on the amplifier.

There are a couple of things that you would need to keep in mind when selecting the right speakers for your home. First is if the sound of the instruments and voices are natural and not muffled or shrilled. Another is if the speaker’s sound is balanced.

Cheap Stuff: $50-$150

As an example of the difference, we will look at a low end setup. If you need something basic, or you are just getting started, we will compare three different setups in this price range.


Speakers with Subwoofer

A simple setup of basic 2.1 PC speakers will run you around $50 to $80.

You will get the  frequencies from 20 hertz – 20 kilohertz.

You will get some bass, but no sub bass plus super high end tones will not be possible in this price range normally.


Soundbar With Included Subwoofer

Now with a soundbar with a built-in subwoofer, you will get about the same performance and your basic 1.2.

You will be paying about $50 to $100 to get a much smaller footprint and lack of wire spaghetti under your desk.


Soundbar With 3rd Party Subwoofer

What you can also do if you want the convenience of a soundbar but want extra bass and sub bass, you can add better quality 3rd party sub to your soundbar.

This range is $100 – $150.


The Good Stuff

After researching several price ranges mid and high end stuff, the story was the same. You can get set up a little cheaper with a traditional setup with the traditional headaches. The middle option being a nice soundbar with a built in sub, with the option of paying a little bit more for a 3rd part sub and getting that extra quality and low tones. As you go up the tiers of pricing, the wider range of frequencies you will be able to get. 9hz – 200khz being some of the extremes.


To get my recommendations for this year’s low mid and top end picks, check out my resources page here.


Soundbars and Gaming

The soundbars with built in subs seem to be decent enough to get an average to a good experience for a casual gamer. You will be able to hear the backbeats and low end music, with all the explosions and gunfire you could hope for in a typical FPS. If you are into retro and super casual games such as Minecraft, Stardew Valley and the like, you could squeak away just fine with a plain soundbar with no bass assistance at all. Lastly, if you are really into cinematic games and also will be watching movies on your setup, I would certainly look into finding the space and money for adding a 3rd party sub to your setup.



In conclusion, soundbars are not the best option for a super bassy experience, but a lot of them will be good enough for the average user. The advantages of using the soundbar are the small footprint lack of wires and even portability. For a light, small or portable setup, soundbars are a great option. While a traditional full speaker, receiver and subwoofer setup will still be best for the highest quality and permanent though costly setup.


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