What Subwoofers do Movie Theaters Use?

The art of sound is truly understood when we hear the sound that is loud action noise, the sound of birds chirping, the waves of the sea, or even the philosophical lines from your favorite romantic movie.

Every one of these moments is understood with the most authentic essence of sound. And a good subwoofer is a necessity because it gives that extra immersion. A cinema subwoofer is, more often than not, bulkier in size than regular subwoofers, goes very low in terms of hertz, and is sometimes custom-made with woofers for that extra bass. 

As we talk more, we will get to know some critical details about subwoofers and the relevant brands and types. 

What subwoofers do movie theaters use? 

What subwoofers do movie theaters use

I have come across many brands, some of which you may have never heard of, so I have tried to list out the names of a brand that is not only famous in the movie theater industry but famous for the generic people as well. I’ll add the features of the subwoofers I talk about and the maximum features I can find. 


When it comes to Bluetooth speakers and headsets, JBL is a common name but little did you know that JBL has contributions to all of the sound industry. Especially in movie theaters. More often than not, you will hear the bass in an IMAX theater through a JBL subwoofer. 

I have seen that a large subwoofer box that is custom-made for the theater is built in JBL’s 2245 H woofers. When it comes to their products, there are basic single-powered subwoofers to professional, high-powered subwoofers. 


I can think of two notable cinema subwoofers the JBL 4641 Single Power Subwoofer and the 4281F Pro Grade Subwoofer.

  1. Their sensitivity can go from 95 to 100 decibels. 
  2. Their SPL levels can be around 125 to 140 decibels.
  3. Their weights can go up to 200 pounds or more based on the power they will drive. 
  4. Some of the JBL subwoofers can go as low as 35HZ and might be exceptions of even less. 
  5. Their power handling also varies depending on the power it will drive, which can be from 600 watts to as high as 4000 watts. 
  6. Their Nominal impedance is around 4 Ohms to 8 Ohms, depending on the power level. 

Note: For your convenience, the JBL website has a comparison option where you compare the specifications of the music devices you would like to purchase. 


Another relevant name in the Audio industry is, of course, Klipsch, the premium-grade speakers with a sleek finish you have at your home. Even the new car speakers that you recently installed are maybe from Klipsch. Klipsch subwoofers can be seen in IMAX as well as THX theaters. Some of the subwoofers are THX certified as THX claims as “part of their family.” Like the THX-1200-SW.


To give you an understanding of the subwoofers, the KPT-1802-HLS, and the KPT-884-SW. One is extra robust and built for large auditoriums and theaters, and the other one is for small auditoriums.

  1. The sensitivity level of the KPT884 is 98 decibels, while the other goes around 102 decibels.
  2. The maximum SPL of the KPT1802 is 136 decibels, and the KPT884’s peak SPL level is 129 decibels. 
  3. The nominal impedance of the KPT884 is 8 Ohms, and the more powerful one has a nominal impedance of 4 ohms. 
  4. The weight of the Klipsch subwoofers can also go up to 330 pounds or more. 
  5. Peak power handling for the KPT884 is 1200 watts, and for KPT1802, it is 4400 watts. 
  6. The Klipsch subwoofers can go as low as 18 Hz, like KPT884. 

Note: Some of the subwoofers may be for auditoriums only, whereas a few others can work for both spaces. Make sure you discuss this with a specialist or the dealer.


Now, you may not have heard of LW if you’re not in-depth in the cinema industry, as they don’t really sell consumer-grade speakers that you can just buy from your shop. They don’t even create headsets, from what I know. Their business is rather Business to Business instead of Business to Consumer, so LW may be the right option for you other than the two options I have mentioned because LW only sells pro-grade equipment. 

To my knowledge, the LW speakers can go very low in terms of frequency response and are widely used around the THX theaters.


The LW 954 V2 THX and the LW 6123 are the two subwoofers that I can think of based on the size of the theaters. 

  1. The LW 954 V2 THX has a nominal impedance of 8 Ohms, and the LW 6123, which is the more powerful one, can go as low as 4 Ohms. 
  2. The LW speakers are such a relevant name in the industry because some of their subwoofers can go low up until 24 Hz. The LW 6123 is capable of that. 
  3. The LW 954 V2 THX has a max SPL level of 132 decibels, and the other can go peak at 137 decibels. 
  4. The sensitivity level of LW 954 V2 THX is 100dB half space, and for the LW 6123, it is 101 decibels. 
  5. Their weight can go over 200 pounds like the LW 6123 is around that mark. 
  6. The LW 954 V2 THX can go 700 watts AES, 1400W Prg, and the LW 6213 can go 700W AES, 1400W Prg.

Important: If you want subs for the peripheral zones of the theater, then LW has got you covered, and you can get the LW 7517 V2 SUB. LW says that it is suitable for surround setups like the 7.1 setups. 

Also, you may be wondering why I have compared a powerful version and an initial variant for the subs. It is because it gives you an understanding of the overall spectrum; you will need to get both types to build around your theater. The high-powered ones will mostly be behind the curtains. The others will be across the theater, which is lower in wattage. There are also other brands that you may consider, like Bose or Dominus. 

You may read also will you pick only a subwoofer

Where are the subwoofers placed in the movie theaters?

In a typical IMAX theater, the majority of the subwoofer is behind the screen and spread throughout the hall to give you that rumbling feel whenever there’s a plane movie or there’s loud action going on. Based on my research, I have seen that there are around eight large subwoofers in an Imax theater, particularly JBL subwoofers. 

And in terms of the peripherals, you will see that there are around 10-15 subwoofers across the whole theater. Those subwoofers are not as big as the ones behind the screen. 

Understand the types: How are movie theater subwoofers different from typical subwoofers?

Where are the subwoofers placed in the movie theaters

Well, from a generic point of view, the first and the most obvious difference you will see is the size of the subwoofers. The reason behind this is that the bass extension is way too high than any other subwoofer, which is why the subwoofer needs to be more significant. Although some of them you may see are the size of your subwoofers inside your home, regardless of whether sealed or ported subwoofer. The height of the movie theaters is typically around 20 to 60 inches, and the width may vary depending on the size of the type. 

Since there is a large crowd and a massive space to cover, for that reason, the subwoofers are required to play at an extremely low bass than other pro-grade subwoofers or any subwoofers. The frequency of the bass decline, the cone excursion that is observed in the subs starts to increase, and at one point, the subwoofers run out of cone excursion. That is why we can see that there are plenty of subwoofers; it can hit up to 35 subwoofers. 

The reason behind sealed subwoofers

You also may want to know if they are sealed or ported subwoofers. Sealed subwoofers are more competent to handle higher SPL levels than a ported subwoofer. A ported subwoofer will most likely blow if they get this much pressure. 

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How does IMAX make things feel real through their subwoofers? 

Compared to THX theaters, IMAX is incredibly meticulous when it comes to letting the audience feel the moments more clearly. Their sub-woofers are competent to play as low as possible. The usual THX sub-woofers are around 40hz, while the IMAX subs go down as much as 23hz, which lets the customers feel the whole octave. With the phantom image of IMAX, the depth of immersion further gets increased. 

What is the difference between a pro audio subwoofer and a cinema subwoofer?

Well, the critical difference, as I have said before, is the cinema subwoofer allows you to play really low bass, whereas, for pro audio subwoofers, it is actually redundant. And the other difference, which is to my observation, is that some of the cinema subwoofers are ported subwoofers. It may be that those subwoofers that do not share the brand are also usable for other cases as well. 

Wrap Up! 

Thus, I hope I have made some sense in explaining to you the subwoofers used in movie theaters. To know in depth about all the things, I suggest you talk with an audiophile. This may give you a general idea of the subwoofers.

The idea about the brands and the differences between ordinary speakers and the cinema ones. I have spoken about two relevant brands and another specialized brand in professional B2B usage. This discussion has also been a learning experience for me, as I have shared my experience and gotten to know a lot about the industry. 

Thank you, and I’ll see you in another query. 

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