AVS Special Member
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Southern California
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There ARE speakers, for example the KEF Q900, that have such extended bass response that a subwoofer is really superfluous in most systems (read the Stereophile test article where they were listened to with and without a sub).
This used to be more common back in the 1960s and 1970s, when good speaker systems mostly had 12-inch or larger drivers and had very good low bass, and the term subwoofer was almost unknown.
Things have changed a lot, but you can still buy a Klipschorn corner horn speaker system that will go lower than most subwoofers! It just takes a huge room to use them...lol.
It is certainly more space-efficient to use a pair of "bookshelf" speakers or narrow "tower" speakers and a subwoofer than to use two really big wide speakers with very low bass capability.
This is important to many people who want a large video screen and don't have the space for those big doggies.
I have the Vandersteen Treo speakers, and they have low enough bass response that I only use my subwoofer for maybe 30% of my music listening, where VERY low bass is in the mix.
Of course they cost $6000, also, so it is a lot cheaper to use small speakers and a subwoofer in most cases.
It's all a matter of economics and personal preferences; we go with what suits us.