Why you need a subwoofer. Or, “What’s goin’ on down there?”

So your newest masterpiece is ready to be mixed in SONAR’s pristine 64bit audio engine for the rest of the world to hear, but are you really hearing the full range of your mix? If your monitoring system does not include a subwoofer, then you most likely are not.

While an ear can be trained to work with almost anything over time, a good monitoring system is crucial for making more accurate judgments in mixing. In my early days as a fledgling engineer, the studio I worked out of had a nice set of monitors but no sub. So what does that mean? Endless time wasted making (at that time) cassettes to run out to the car with so you could find out that the low end was either too high or too low or not hitting the right frequencies. Back to the board, hope your guess at the eq adjustment was right and then back to the car again. Better fire up the coffee machine, this could take all night.

Another very important thing to consider is the listening environment of the average listener. The majority of cars come with a subwoofer installed and most music in the home setting is played on home theater setups that include a sub. If you are not using a sub then it becomes hard to know what the public will hear when they crank up your latest tune.

Some of you may be thinking “I don’t do hip hop or dance music, I’m doing Celtic blues/polka fusion.” Well this still applies to you. There are lots of nasty low end gremlins that can creep into your recordings due to room noise, clashing low end frequencies of instruments and many other problems. I have experienced this myself when I put a CD of a jazz combo I recorded into my friend’s car system. Out of the sub in the back I heard this horrible rumble and realized that it was on the recording! Because I couldn’t hear it on the monitors, anyone with a sub would now have this bonus rumble to accompany their smooth jazz experience. Needless to say, I vowed never to let that happen again and pleaded with the studio owner to invest in a sub. He did, and I have tracked and mixed with one ever since. Not only did my mixes get way better but I also saved huge amounts of time not having to run around playing test mixes in the parking lot to see if the low end was punchy enough.

So when you’re checking out our new Concrete Limiter for the Pro Channel in SONAR X1 Producer Expanded, turn on your subwoofer and feel the ground shaking effect of the Bass Lift switch!
Until next week: Have a good time, all the time!