Pin Me

Understanding Home Theater Speaker Frequency

written by: Daniel Barros•edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 10/12/2009

If you've been wondering why your speakers need to handle a specific frequency or why frequency is even important to your home theater speakers, inside we have the answers you've been looking for.

  • slide 1 of 3


    Welcome back Home Theater Channel readers – if you’ve been with us now for a while, you’ll notice that we like to talk shop when it comes to our speakers. Knowing the most you can about a topic helps you to be not only savvy with your purchasing decisions, but also getting the best system for the price and even out-performing those who buy whatever others tell them. To that end, let’s take a look at the home theater speaker frequencies for each of your speakers:

  • slide 2 of 3

    Low Frequency

    Your subwoofer is equipped to handle your lower frequencies. The sub operates in the 20 Hz to 150 Hz range. Before we start delving in deeper into the talk of why this is important, let’s talk a little bit about frequency.

    As physics tells us, frequency is always inversely proportional to the period. A period is the amount of time it takes to complete one cycle. In sound physics, this is related to the amount of time it takes for a single sound wave to complete a cycle. Therefore, the more elongated the wave, the smaller the frequency – this is related by the equation T = 1/f, where T is the period and f is the frequency. It also follows that the smaller the period, the larger the frequency. This is why a high-frequency wave looks like a bunch of cosine waves stacked very closely together.

    Getting back to the speakers though, you need an independent low-frequency driver to give you depth of sound. While you could theoretically mount all the frequencies in the same box, it just wouldn’t sound as rich or as deep as the subwoofer can provide you.

  • slide 3 of 3

    Mid-Range and High-Frequencies

    The speakers that handle mid-range frequencies can also typically handle higher range frequencies – this is why you can have a 2.1 system that handles everything from deep rumbles to high-pitched people’s voices.

    The center speaker focuses on handling a very specific middle range, the range of the human voice. Your other two speakers on either side of the center speaker handle ambient sounds, or typically those found in the higher or slightly lower ranges. Thankfully, your system does all this independently for you.

    Your receiver has many different outputs for this reason exactly. They exist so that when you start playing a movie or song, the decoder in the player knows which channel to pump the sound through. The player will then send the signal to the receiver, which acts as a control center for all the operations related to sending the audio out over multiple channels.

    Your tweeters and woofers will be able to handle frequencies that are significantly higher than those that your sub can handle.

    Now that you have a handle on how sound works in your home theater system, I would suggest you start by configuring your setup to have the right amount of bass and treble and use the right type of sound, be it DTS or Dolby.