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say I currently have two active cabinets, with 15" woofers on them.

Would adding an additional 15" subwoofer to the setup improve the lows, or just produce more of the same volume?

How about 12" subwoofer?

The question is: what is the perceptible difference beetween the woofer in full frequency cabinet and subwoofer?


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Please keep in mind that systems that have a sub woofer also have a special channel to power it. I believe these are generally active dedicated circuits vs. a passive crossover found in most 3 way cabinets. –  filzilla Nov 19 '13 at 20:07
I understand that. However, my question was more like this: if the current 15" speaker doesnt provide much "pressure" (you know feeling the bass in your belly), would same size subwoofer add that? –  mrQQ Nov 22 '13 at 13:13
that's a fair question. I think one would need to compare the transfer curve of the amp output vs. the response of each subwoofer to qualify. –  filzilla Jan 8 at 17:47
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2 Answers

The size of the driver is just one specification that you need to consider. Power handling, voicing, and crossover type will affect the performance.

As an example, I have a pair of first generation JBL Eon PA speakers that use fifteen inch drivers. I also have a JBL Prosumer ten inch powered subwoofer. Neither product could be called esoteric, or super high performance. The bass produced by the Eons when pushed is really lacking. The little ten inch sub on the other hand can make the house shake to where you would think Godzilla was stomping on the roof..

So to answer your question, Yes... a dedicated subwoofer will probably generate more bass energy, than a set of stereo speakers. This will be especially true if the stereo speakers utilize a passive crossover. This doesn't mean you will achieve better overall sound. There will undoubtedly be an overlap of frequencies between the full range speakers and the sub which will tend to muddy up the lows. A proper Sub/Satellite system should be designed to work together.

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The cone size is only one variable determining the lowest frequency to be produced by a speaker (read more here). As such, a 15'' sub is likely to output lower frequencies than one on a multiway speaker.

But the only way to know for sure is by looking at the frequency response of each device.

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How do you figure the sub will output lower frequencies than same size driver on a multiway speaker? –  mrQQ Nov 30 '13 at 18:16
The only way to know for sure is to look at the frequency response specification of each speaker. If it is branded as a 'sub' - it should, but may not be. –  Izhaki Dec 1 '13 at 20:09
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