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Subwoofers - Focal JM Labs

A good subwoofer will transform your enjoyment of movies and multi-channel music, by offering rich, deep and tuneful bass response. From the impact of an action scene in a movie or the bass solo on live music, a high quality subwoofer brings all these things to life. A subwoofer is the "0.1" bit in a "5.1" channel system and is therefore ideally used with 5 other speakers, consisting of front and rear speaker pairs (which can either be small satellite speakersbookshelf speakers or floorstanding speakers), along with a centre speaker. We also sell pre-selected 5.1 speaker packages.


For over 30 years, Focal designed and built hi-fi speakers and drivers that wowed music lovers and critics alike and set new standards for class performance. Focal combines passion, tradition and technology for ultimate listening.

Focal JM Labs was founded in the 1970’s by Jacques Mahul, a trained engineer and specialist in speaker drivers (hence the "JM" part of the brand name being his initials). Jacques started manufacturing drivers only under the "Focal" brand and thanks to their innovative design they were incredibly popular, and so he created the "JM Lab" brand to create his own range of loudspeakers to go with the drivers.

The brand revolutionised the bookshelf speaker segment of the market with the release of the famous DB13 which featured a dual voice coil that offered a similar level of sound and bass response as larger speakers.

From 1990 onward, Focal JM Lab enjoyed swift growth in both home audio, car audio, studio professional audio and headphone markets, and soon became France's leading loudspeaker brand. The 1990s also saw the brand establish itself overseas, especially in the rest of Europe, the Far East and North America - and now 70% of Focal speakers are sold to international owners.

In 2011, driven and united by their passion for exceptional sound quality Focal and Naim Audio merged, creating a new European leader in audio which promises to deliver exceptional products

What is a "good" Subwoofer though? In contrast to cheaper, mass-produced home cinema systems with subs that can easily distort, a good subwoofer should reproduce a wide frequency range accurately, down to the lowest possible octaves and reproduce bass notes clearly rather than just "rumble".

Our carefully selected range of subwoofers are a world apart from lesser alternatives included with cheaper home cinema systems. Our range features the best models we could find at various price levels that provide the best possible low octave performance to give your music, movies and gaming experience that added oomph!

Subwoofers come in a range of sizes and shapes – some models are designed to be no-compromise and deliver the best, most dynamic bass possible while others seek to offer improved bass performance in a compact product that is easy to accommodate in the living room. The size of the driver, or woofer, is directly related to the bass performance of the subwoofer and the amount of bass it can produce. Standard woofer sizes range between 8 inches and 12 inches, though larger and smaller models are available to suit your purposes. Some models feature a pair of smaller woofers, rather than a single driver, which operate in unison to deliver vibrant bass, in a much more compact cabinet.

Bass frequencies are largely non-directional, meaning that subwoofer placement is substantially easier than placement of a typical hi-fi stereo speaker. Having a subwoofer at the back of the room should not sound any different to having it at the front of the room. This means that, while they are often large and bulky, positioning somewhere discrete should be quite easy without affecting the overall sound quality and your cinematic or musical experience.

Subwoofers tend to be “active”, which means that they have an internal amplifier, and allowing sound to be directly outputted at line level from an amplifier or AV receiver. Subwoofer amplifiers are usually “Class D”, which allows them to be built to more compact specifications and offer maximum efficiency. A subwoofer’s power rating is determined directly via the power of its amplifier – so a 400W model features a 400W amplifier internally. There are some passive subwoofers available

To ensure the maximum possible sound quality, a well-designed subwoofer cabinet is integral. Rigidity and bracing, as well as a solid cabinet, prevent unwanted resonance ruining the coherency of the outputted bass. Subwoofers are isolated from the floor via spikes or isolating feet, which minimise the amount of contact between the subwoofer and the floor, decoupling and isolating it from the surface, and preventing unwanted resonance.

Frequency response is an important measurement of  bass performance, and how low it can go. Frequency response is measured as a range, such as 40Hz-120Hz, which in this case would mean the subwoofer is able to produce bass as low as 40Hz. While depth is not the only measurement of performance, it can be a useful measurement of the subwoofer’s capabilities, which when considered with driver size, allows you to understand what you are purchasing a little better.

If you need further help choosing a subwoofer, please call or e-mail us - we can also offer AV demonstrations in our Birmingham showroom.

Subwoofers - Focal JM Labs

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