Anyone who understands or appreciates audio will tell you that a subwoofer is important.
It’s responsible for delivering the heavy bass that can make the song you’re listening to or the movie you’re watching sound more intense.
The unfortunate thing about subwoofers is that they’re usually expensive.
Why Are Subwoofers So Expensive? (10 Reasons)
The average price of a high-quality subwoofer is anywhere from $100 to $500.
Subwoofers are expensive because of their niche status, their size, certain manufacturing costs like drivers and cases, and the type of subwoofer it is: a powered subwoofer or a passive one.
Let’s look into these factors in more detail.
1. Niche Audio Equipment
One of the reasons subwoofers are expensive is that they fit into a certain niche.
Subwoofers aren’t technically needed in an audio setup.
Most audiophiles will say they are necessary, but those who just want a basic setup can usually skip a subwoofer.
As such, since there isn’t quite as much demand for subwoofers as for other audio equipment, they are a bit more niche.
Cinephiles, audiophiles, and musicians typically have an interest in subwoofers.
They allow cinephiles to enjoy watching films and hearing the audio at its best.
They allow audiophiles to appreciate the low bass of their favorite songs or podcasts.
Musicians appreciate subwoofers since they can help make their music sound exactly how they intended it to sound.
As such, subwoofers are great, but they really only have value to those who want the most out of their audio setups.
Manufacturers keep that in mind when they’re producing their subwoofers.
They know that their products appeal to a certain type of buyer.
Since there is a targeted demand rather than a general demand, manufacturers are able to price subwoofers fairly high.
They know that this specific group of people will likely buy their subwoofers no matter the price since they have a deep interest in them.
They can’t easily buy the type of subwoofer they want elsewhere.
Subwoofers are expensive because they’re a niche product.
2. Large Size
Subwoofers are also quite large.
They’re one of the biggest, if not the biggest, pieces of audio equipment.
That makes them expensive for a number of reasons.
First, it means a subwoofer is likely made of many parts that make it function perfectly.
At the very least, it means its parts are a bit bigger than the parts that make up some other pieces of audio equipment.
That means more materials are used to make subwoofer parts.
That adds to the cost of manufacturing a subwoofer.
That also means that the case for the subwoofer needs to be quite large.
It has to house everything.
That requires a lot of materials which can also increase the cost of manufacturing the product.
Since manufacturing costs are high, the company needs to sell the subwoofer at higher prices.
It offsets its manufacturing costs by doing so.
Subwoofers are large, but they do vary in size.
Some are larger than others.
The bigger the subwoofer, the more expensive it’s going to be.
Subwoofers are expensive because they’re large which results in more expensive manufacturing costs.
3. Clear Bass Quality
The reason why a lot of people buy subwoofers is that they offer clear bass audio quality.
While other pieces of audio equipment can also offer good bass audio, nothing quite captures bass like a subwoofer.
It’s specifically designed to emit low vibrations and make bass clear.
A problem a lot of the other pieces of equipment have is that, while they’ll produce bass, the sound is usually unclear.
It can sound a bit muffled or even staticky.
This is problematic when a song relies heavily on bass.
You might not be able to make out the words or even hear the underlying rhythm.
A subwoofer is able to produce clear bass.
You’re able to hear every detail of the song.
While this makes a subwoofer valuable, it also makes it expensive.
For one, it requires precise engineering and manufacturing to achieve such results.
Companies are always looking to make the bass audio clearer and more refined.
As a result, companies continue to invest in research and development to find better means of producing clear, crisp bass audio.
Those sorts of investments and manufacturing costs make subwoofers expensive to produce.
Since they’re expensive to produce, they are sold at higher prices.
Subwoofers are expensive because of their ability to emit deep, crisp bass audio.
4. Case Material Costs
The protective case that subwoofers are in can also cost a lot of money to manufacture.
It all depends on the type of material used to make the case.
Some companies might try to make the subwoofers a bit cheaper by using standard plastic.
They look decent, but there’s nothing special about them.
Other companies know that buyers want subwoofers that look sleek or modern.
They want to be able to have their subwoofer blend in with the rest of the room’s aesthetic.
They don’t want the subwoofer to look out of place.
Considering how large subwoofers can be, the way the case looks matters a lot to certain people.
That’s why some companies will use expensive types of wood to create the case.
The wood might be rich and dark, stormy grey, or even light brown.
The goal is to create a case that makes the subwoofer look luxurious or sophisticated.
If the company uses expensive materials to make the case, then it becomes quite expensive to manufacture.
That’s even more true if the subwoofer is very large.
The case needs to be just as large so it can fit around it.
That means the manufacturer will use even more materials.
Since the cost of manufacturing a high-quality case is expensive, the company will sell the subwoofer at expensive prices.
Subwoofers are expensive because the material cost of their cases can be quite high.
Because subwoofers handle low vibrations, it’s not uncommon for cheap subwoofers to break quickly.
The vibrations can cause a lot of stress on the parts.
You might start to notice that there’s a bit of static coming from the subwoofer over time.
This indicates that it’s starting to degrade.
High-quality subwoofers tend to last a lot longer.
That’s because companies usually use higher-quality parts to make pricier subwoofers.
The company will use materials that last long despite constant exposure to low vibrations.
The result is a subwoofer that lasts far longer than an inexpensive one.
The material costs tend to be more expensive, so the product is more expensive, too.
The subwoofer’s durability also means that it’s unlikely that the individual is going to buy another subwoofer anytime soon.
As such, the company has to make the most money it can on the initial sale of the original subwoofer.
It can’t rely on any repeat purchases.
To make the most of its money, it needs to put a high price on its subwoofers.
Subwoofers are expensive because of their durability.
6. Audio Driver Costs
One of the most important parts of a subwoofer is its driver.
A driver is essentially responsible for creating sound.
It takes the electrical pulses it receives, then transforms them into mechanical energy.
It creates the vibration that you hear.
There are several different parts that make up the driver.
The quality of each part determines the quality of the sound.
The very best subwoofers can emulate the sound that mimics the source with a high degree of accuracy.
It can make it seem as though the musician is playing live right in front of you.
Since an audio driver can be quite expensive to make, companies have to offset the cost by putting high prices on subwoofers.
The better the audio driver is, the more expensive the subwoofer is going to be.
Subwoofers are expensive because high-quality audio drivers are expensive to make.
7. Surround Sound Capabilities
Not every subwoofer is capable of producing surround sound.
Some are made specifically to solely generate bass audio.
Others, however, are capable of producing surround sound.
These types of subwoofers sometimes come in a set.
They’re designed to sit in certain places in your home.
They also produce audio in a slightly different way.
Surround sound, as its name might suggest, emulates the sound system of a movie theater.
It makes it sound as though the audio is occurring all around you.
The goal is to make the experience as immersive as possible.
A surround sound system isn’t the easiest thing to create.
It isn’t as simple as putting a bunch of speakers around you.
Each speaker has to work with the others to create that sort of sound.
They’re usually specifically designed for that purpose.
Subwoofers that come with surround sound capabilities tend to be a bit more expensive.
Their manufacturing tends to be precise and involved.
It’s a niche within a niche.
Because manufacturing costs are higher, the price is also higher.
Subwoofers are expensive when they have surround sound capabilities.
8. Audio Customization Capabilities
Some subwoofers allow you to customize their sound levels.
Not every speaker comes with this capability.
Being able to control the different levels of the bass might help you find the richness or tone that you’re looking for.
It can also help make your sound a bit crisper.
The problem with customization capabilities is that the subwoofer becomes more expensive.
Being able to control the different tones in the bass might put more stress on the parts.
To ensure the subwoofer doesn’t break, the company has to use more expensive parts.
The subwoofer also needs more sophisticated engineering put into it since it needs to be able to change based on the listener’s customizations.
If they’re turning the dial one way, then the subwoofer has to know what to do.
It requires more intricate manufacturing.
Since these take a bit more production time, they sell at higher prices.
Subwoofers are expensive when their settings are customizable.
9. Room Size Requirements
The size of the room in which you want to put the audio system can also determine the price of your subwoofer.
If you have a large room, for example, then you may choose to buy an expensive subwoofer.
That’s because you’re going to need a larger one that is able to fill that room with sound.
If it’s too small, then you won’t be able to enjoy it throughout the room.
If you have a smaller room, then you can likely get away with a cheaper subwoofer.
A small subwoofer should adequately fill a small space with sound without much problem.
As such, your room’s requirements can sometimes make subwoofers expensive.
Subwoofers are expensive when you have a large room.
10. Powered Or Passive
The type of subwoofer you buy can also determine how expensive it is.
Subwoofers are either powered or passive.
Passive subwoofers tend to be less expensive.
They usually need a connection to an amplifier or receiver to work.
The benefit of a passive subwoofer is that you can buy a few and set them around the room to create surround sound.
Since they all connect to the same amplifier or receiver, it makes for a great home theatre system.
A powered subwoofer has a built-in amplifier.
It doesn’t need an external power source.
Since power is already built into the subwoofer, it tends to be more expensive.
You’re essentially buying a subwoofer and an amplifier all in one.
Subwoofers are expensive if you buy a powered subwoofer.