Subwoofer vs Headphones: Which One to Go for?

You must have noticed that the quality of music we hear depends a lot on the speaker driver we use. The same music you listen to in subwoofers would sound somewhat different in headphones.

It is this difference that makes people want to know more about them before going for one or the other.

So, if you are planning to get a new speaker driver to enhance your musical experience, then the time to choose between the two has come. 

Let’s get on with this

Subwoofer vs Headphones: What Do We Mean by Them?


A subwoofer is a category of loudspeaker that specializes in producing sounds at low-pitched frequencies. The effect created by such frequencies is called bass.

The frequency range for a regular subwoofer varies anywhere between 20-200Hz. Subwoofers help in balancing the high-frequency sound of speakers with their own low-frequency or bass. 

A subwoofer is usually bound or attached to a cabinet. This is done to ensure that the sound coming from its diaphragm does not cancel out the sound coming from the mouth of the speaker. 


Over ear headphone on the head

Headphones, on the other hand, are a pair of speaker drivers worn around the head for solo entertainment. Their audio output differs in frequencies and can produce both treble and bass in different ratios. 

With the help of a transducer (a device used to convert energy from one form into another), the electrical signals in headphones get converted into a particular sound. 

Subwoofer vs Headphone: The Key Differences in a Nutshell

  • If you are a fan of listening to music aloud, then a subwoofer would be perfect for you. Headphones are for people who want to enjoy music on their own. 
  • A subwoofer’s basic task is to coordinate with a speaker in producing sounds with good bass. A pair of headphones, without having a subwoofer in them, produces bass due to being close to the ears. 
  • The quality of bass in a subwoofer is of a much higher quality. Headphones usually excel in producing high-pitched frequencies. Not that the bass effects of the headphones are average: it’s just that subwoofers outdo them in this regard.
  • The sound coming from the subwoofers resonate throughout the room. You can feel the sensation of bass in your entire body. Headphones specifically target quality bass in your ears. 
  • Spatial distortions are slightly higher in subwoofers as the sound echoes from the walls of the room. Headphones have no room for spatial distortions because the sound waves directly enter your ears.

Subwoofer vs Headphones: Final Verdict

So who wins the race between subwoofer and headphones? The answer is totally dependent on what kind of music you prefer and in what form. 

If you love listening to music aloud then subwoofers would give you high-quality bass to go to. On the other hand, for a more private and individual experience headphones are preferable.

Also, the bass is one of the deciding factors for many when it comes to music. Lovers of low-pitched frequencies should side with subwoofers as they are designed specifically for that. 

But if your requirement is not specific or if you prefer moderate bass, then surely headphones would do the trick.

Hope this helps you in making the right choice!

Vitaly Fedorov

Vitaly Fedorov is a seasoned audio technician and writer. After spending ten years in a studio team, I have decided to spread my knowledge to people in this domain. On this site, I work for headphone fixing or repair issues, that you’re thinking about fixing. Click on any article on my site and read the complete answer about that issue. I am excited to read your feedback.

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