What is the difference between a woofer and a subwoofer

What are they?

Woofers and subwoofers are quite similar to each other but they also have some significant differences. The woofer is the word derived from the bark of the dog “Woof”. This is due to the low sound of the bark of the dog. The woofer is a specialized loudspeaker that simply gives out the sounds from the electrical signals which are of low frequency. They usually give out the sound from frequency between 20-2000Hz

Subwoofer – as the name suggests it is a woofer in itself, that produces even more low-frequency sound than the woofer. The sound frequency is around 20-200Hz from the subwoofer and sometimes in a specialized speaker, it is as low as 100Hz. Subwoofers are usually combined with a woofer to get the right effect in the music system.

What makes the Woofers and Subwoofers different from each other?

As mentioned, subwoofers are woofers but with a lower frequency of sound output. With many similarities, there are a few differences from which we can tell them apart. Let’s look into them now.


Subwoofers are part of systems like home theatre of a good movie viewing sound system that requires detailed sounds from high frequency to low frequency. There is always overlap in frequencies between woofers and subwoofers, but when there is a requirement in detailed low-frequency sound then subwoofers are required. When the sound source does not involve any low-frequency sound then you can skip having a subwoofer in your music/home theatre system. But a woofer is always required in a sound system as it will cover the sound of a mid-range of frequencies. So, in gist, the woofer can go in without the combination of a subwoofer but the subwoofer always needs the company of a woofer.


The woofer as mentioned produces sound out of the electrical signals for a larger spectrum of frequency when compared to the subwoofer – it covers from mid-range to low range of frequencies. It ranges from 40Hz to 1KHz and covers most of the sounds of low frequency and hence is called the bass.

On the other hand, although known as the bass the sound produced by the subwoofer is as low as from 20-200Hz of frequency. When we say low-frequency sound then they would include the high-quality sound of wind movement which describes the depth of the sound. You can make out the speed of the wind with this depth. Another example would be of an explosion, where the depth of the sound defines how big the explosion is and how near or far it is.

Human speech is known to be the mid-range frequency sounds and these are produced by woofers and speakers. But when you talk about a baby’s sound it is a high-frequency sound and not so well produced by woofers. They are best produced by tweeter which is known to producehigh-frequency sounds.

The Build

The subwoofers are required to be built in a wooden or plastic casing so that the sound effect is good and the bass of the sound is contained to give you the effect. They are paired with the woofers so that their sound merges and gives the complete effect. As they concentrate on their range of low-end frequencies and require a lot of power when compared to speakers the subwoofers require a source of electrical power. In the case of woofers, this is not necessarily required.

Subwoofers also require an amplifier to produce sounds as the low-frequency sounds have a long wavelength. For the subwoofers to produce that sound they require enough power to move the air around. This is the reason an amplifier is required to regulate that power for the subwoofer to work as expected.


There is no great difference between the woofer and subwoofer construction-wise. Subwoofers will have more height than the woofer to take into consideration the depth of the sound. The magnets in the subwoofer will be stronger to produce that additional low-frequency sound when compared to the woofer.


These were some of the differences in the woofers and subwoofer in a sound system. Subwoofers give great detail to the bass effect especially in the home theatre system or the car audio system. Also, they are very useful for musicians on the stage and the DJs who require high quality and detailed sounds to perform better. If you just connect a subwoofer to the music/sound system all you would hear are those low-frequency explosions or some of the wave sounds. Woofers and subwoofers are required to be part of the complete sound system without any doubt.

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