Many homeowners struggle with where to put a subwoofer in the room. Some experts recommend that you place the subwoofer low near a wall to prevent audio beams from occurring. Others say that a certain distance from a wall is optimal.
So where the best place subwoofers should be? With this article, Hooke Audio will help you answer this question.
- 1 The Importance of Placement
- 2 Where To Put Subwoofer In Room?
- 3 Manual vs. automatic calibration
- 4 All It Takes Is To Dial It In
- 5 The “Subwoofer Crawl”
- 6 Additional Tips to Enhance Bass Response
- 7 Why a subwoofer?
- 8 Benefits of Using More Than One Subwoofer
- 9 Do You Need the Subwoofer to Be Placed Up High Near Your Ear?
- 10 Is It Possible to Place Subwoofers on the Floor?
The Importance of Placement
Although most people don’t see it that way, when you listen to an amplifier, the only thing you are really hearing is how your room affects the system. While walls, windows, and furniture can all affect the sound you hear, bass frequencies are more sensitive to these factors. It is important to place your furniture correctly.
Parallel surfaces are one of your subwoofer’s greatest enemies. Bass waves are omnidirectional and bounce around the room. They will bounce off walls and bounce back into each other, creating either standing waves or bass nulls.
Standing waves, which are affected by the room size and length of the soundwave, are excess in bass energy. This happens when a frequency is amplified by room dimensions or similar wavelengths that occur at the same time and location. In such cases, you will hear a “boomy” or “one-note” bass that lacks definition and tautness. Bass nulls are at the other end of the spectrum. These occur when reflection waves cancel each other out, leaving you without a sound.
You have two options when it comes to dealing with room acoustics. Acoustical treatments and smart subwoofer placement are necessary to work with the room. You can use anything, from room correction software to fancy EQs, when working against the room. When possible, we prefer to use the former over the latter.
Where To Put Subwoofer In Room?
Placing a subwoofer in a corner or near the wall will produce more bass, but not necessarily the best sound. Small, low-powered subwoofers like the ones that usually come with home-theater-in-a-box systems and soundbars tend to use small drivers paired with low-powered amps and, thus, tend to benefit from some boundary reinforcement. You’ll get more of the same awful bass. Although we agree that corners are often the best option, they are rarely the best.
Subwoofers with bigger drivers and powerful amps don’t have to be supported by your wall. High-quality subs sound best when they have pulled away from walls at least 8-12 inches. Subwoofers work best in the front of your listening area, closer to your front-channel loudspeakers. This will reduce phase cancellation and timing delays.
Home theater and dedicated listening rooms will have greater flexibility in subwoofer placement with up to some locations.
Where would you place a single subwoofer for optimal performance?
We suggest that you move your listening chair or sofa away from the place you usually sit. Put your subwoofer where you used to sit and start pumping out some serious bass (like boomy bass).
You can now move around the room and listen carefully to where the bass sounds, the most defined and even. It’s more than a visceral kick to your gut. Listen for the tone (or timbre) and texture of the notes. When you feel that things sound good, place a piece of tape on the ground. Then move to another location. Continue doing this until you have at least three or four options. This will help you narrow down your search.
Anywhere In The Front
The most common placement of subwoofers is in front of the room. This allows for the best mixing with the center channel speaker and minimizes localization effects. Bass is omnidirectional. A subwoofer placed correctly should not be obvious about its location. You should feel that the deep bass is coming from all directions. For best results, place the subwoofer on each side of the front stage.
Take A Look At The Corner
SVS recommends that corner placement be used. Corner placement stimulates all room modes and creates a more dense standing wave pattern. This decreases the chance of encountering nulls (acoustic cancellation points or ‘dead spots’) in the room.
If you think corner placement on the frontstage sounds great, then consider yourself lucky! Then relax and enjoy music and movies.
Under A Sofa Or Table
This is not the most efficient plan, but it will cause a loss in the quality of sound coming out of the sub if your satellite speakers rely on the sub to play frequencies above 120Hz.
In Another Cabinet
We understand that sometimes certain circumstances cannot be overcome. This is the worst scenario. A subwoofer that is placed inside a cabinet defeats its purpose. You’ve just closed the door and stuffed the sub in a closet.
Inside The Wall
This option is increasingly popular among custom installers. However, unless you are good at repairing and securing drywall, it is not something renters should consider installing. Even then, you could be seriously irritating your neighbors.
Professional installation of in-wall subwoofers is required. Special boxes are needed to secure the cabinet and isolate it from other rooms. It can be a very effective solution if done correctly. It is crucial to remember that in-wall subwoofers can be very expensive as they require crossovers and external amplifiers. Also, it takes a lot of labor to install them properly.
What About Wireless?
If you are concerned about wireless subwoofer placement and wiring, consider getting a wireless adapter like the SoundPath Wireless Audio Converter from SVS. Although it won’t eliminate the need to locate a power outlet, it will reduce the need for one. Make sure the Bluetooth model you choose is ultra-low latency. Some Bluetooth models can have unacceptable delays; this is fine for headphones but not when syncing up with up to nine wired speakers.
Manual vs. automatic calibration
Mid-range and higher A/V receivers now have automatic room correction (ARC). While they can detect things like channel levels and speaker distance, they are notoriously inept when it comes to determining crossover settings. Crossover refers to when a speaker stops producing bass, and the subwoofer takes control. This setting is crucial for getting the best bass response possible in your room.
Some ARC software is more effective than others. Anthem’s ARC is the best we have seen. Sonos Trueplay is next, and it is far more efficient because it only needs to deal with a few Sonos speakers. Dirac Live is also loved by many in the A/V community. Yamaha’s YPAO and Audyssey are less effective than others.
It’s better to do the crossover calculations yourself than rely on an automated system. Automatic calibration can be used for all your speakers. However, must manually calibrate subwoofers. Below is a detailed explanation of how to do this.
All It Takes Is To Dial It In
After you have found the perfect location for your subwoofer, adjusted some system settings, and set the phase, crossover point, and volume, it is time to adjust the sub’s phase and volume. The subwoofer crossover frequency will be higher if the speakers are smaller than the others. You can find the frequency response specifications for your speakers online or in your manual. Take that number and increase it by 10hz.
It is simple to set the crossover dial: Turn it up. This will effectively disable the sub’s internal crossover and allow your A/V receiver to take over. If you don’t have an A/V receiver/processor, or if you use line-level inputs to control the crossover for stereo rigs, then adjust the crossover to produce bass as close to the desired point. This usually depends on the speaker’s low-frequency extension rating. If you’re still with your pizza buddy, you can also use the crossover to adjust the volume until the sub and main speakers are in harmony.
Next, listen to bass-intensive music. Movies are not reliable and won’t give your ears anything familiar to hold onto. You should adjust your phase control if you notice a drop in bass energy, or what we call “suckout”, near the frequency at which your main speakers and subwoofer crossover. You can play the same track repeatedly and have your friend change the phase setting.
This could be a continuous dial or a switch with just one or two positions. When you reach the maximum setting that produces the best sound, stop. Bad placement may be the cause of your problem. You can go back to this guide’s placement section and try again.
Instead of trying to control the effects your room has on sound, you can tweak the room.
A common error in volume is to set your subwoofer’s volume dial at its highest setting. Instead, adjust the volume dial to 75% and adjust the output level of your subwoofer from the A/V receiver/processor. You can adjust the volume in large swings, then gradually in smaller increments until the subwoofer is no longer noticeable.
The subwoofer should “vanish” into the sound, giving the illusion that the entire system reproduces the bass response. A well-integrated subwoofer can also increase the soundstage’s depth and width.
Subwoofer manufacturer SVS offers a good set of guidelines to help you dial in your crossover.
The “Subwoofer Crawl”
SVS recommends using the “subwoofer crawl” technique if corner placement does not require an optimal bass response. It is very effective and can determine the best location for your subwoofer if you have many options and want the best sound. These are the steps:
- Place the subwoofer at the main listening position (where you will be sitting) and play some bass-heavy music.
- Loop a familiar song with a repetitive bass line.
- You should evaluate the bass quality of each subwoofer in the room. Listen to the subwoofers while keeping your head above/near your knees (hence, the term “subwoofer crawl”).
- Place the subwoofer in the area that produces the best balanced-sounding bass.
Additional Tips to Enhance Bass Response
Flexibility In Listening Location
It doesn’t matter if you have already located the best subwoofer in the room. However, it is worth being flexible about the listening position. Moving away from a null or peak can bring about significant changes in your seating position.
EQ Can Help
Nulls and ‘dead spots” should be avoided. However, standing wave modal peak or “boomy spots”, which are often caused by high amplitude, can be controlled with equalization. Some auto-setup programs for AV receivers can equalize subwoofer channels. There are many external options if your receiver doesn’t EQ the subchannel. Subwoofer equalizer: There are many systems available that are both affordable and efficient.
Trap That Bass!
Bass traps can be a problem in family/living rooms due to their size and visual impact. Bass traps can be used in listening rooms or home theaters. They reduce the amount of reflected energy in the room. This can decrease the severity of modal peak and null, as well as minimize decay/ring times. This dramatically improves sound quality.
Get Dual Subwoofers
Even if you make every effort to place subwoofers in optimal locations, one subwoofer won’t have the best frequency response at any listening position in the room. This is a problem for larger homes with multiple rows of seating.
The room’s modal density is significantly increased by upgrading to a dual-subwoofers. This results in smoother frequency response at different listening positions and less potential for apparent peaks/nulls. This makes any EQ easy to use.
SVS offers a wide range of powered subwoofers that fit any room, budget, and audio system. Our Subwoofer Matching tool will help you find the right pair for your speakers. Enter the speakers you want to match, and our matching tool will instantly recommend the best settings and options.
Why a subwoofer?
A box specifically designed to pump out bass will give you far more for your money. Subwoofers are much less noticeable than floor-standing speakers that have drivers large enough to do the same job. Subwoofers are also equipped with dedicated power, which reduces the strain on your multi-channel amp or A/V receiver. They are more efficient at satisfying low-end requirements.
A subwoofer properly integrated will improve the overall sound quality and sound quality of your system. It will increase the depth and breadth of your soundstage as well as the better sound quality from your loudspeakers since they have been relieved of much of the heavy lifting.
Benefits of Using More Than One Subwoofer
If you want to get the best listening experience possible, having more than one subwoofer in your room is the best option. The subwoofer’s reaction to the room is what causes the bass to dip or peaks. If you place another subwoofer in a different area of your room, the two will produce different peaks and valleys at different seating positions. This will help even out the frequency response.
A room will be more effective if it has multiple subwoofers. You will reduce dips and peaking, as well as get a more natural bass sound because each subwoofer doesn’t have to work as hard when they are combined.
Do You Need the Subwoofer to Be Placed Up High Near Your Ear?
The subwoofer is an essential component of a home theater system. Although the placement of front, center, and surround speakers is fairly straightforward, the subwoofer needs to be considered.
Most sound waves coming from other speakers in the room are unidirectional. These speakers are able to handle sound waves at high and mid frequencies that travel in straight lines. It becomes more difficult for sound waves to travel in one direction as the frequency decreases.
Is It Possible to Place Subwoofers on the Floor?
The subwoofer handles the low frequencies, so almost all sound waves that come out of it will be omnidirectional. This means they will travel in all directions.
You don’t need to position the subwoofer high above the ear or in front of the listener.
Why the Subwoofer should not be placed on the Floor
If the line of sight isn’t a problem, why shouldn’t subwoofers be placed on the ground?
Two main reasons are the reason.
Because they can handle low frequencies that require significant power, subwoofers are the heartbeat of entertainment systems. Speaker cones are larger than other speakers and move at a greater rate and with more energy. The subwoofer enclosure generates a lot of vibrations.
The subwoofer will vibrate if it is placed on the floor. This is what we don’t want from soundproofing and acoustic perspectives.
Soundproofing means that any vibrations caused by the subwoofer on the floor will be transmitted to the rooms below or adjacent rooms. The vibrations can travel outside of the room regardless of how much money you spend on soundproofing.
These vibrations, from an acoustics standpoint, would cause some rattling in wooden floors which would make the sound experience more unpleasant.
A subwoofer is not recommended for use on the floor.
Room Response This is a complex topic that can be difficult to understand if you are not familiar with room acoustics. It is worth learning about the key aspects of room acoustics as they could help improve your room’s acoustics.
There are always peaks and nulls when it comes to bass. These can affect the listening experience. The interference of sound waves can cause peaks or nulls. This could make the bass sound too loud (peaks) and inaudible(nulls).
We don’t want our bass sounding either dull or boomy. There are many reasons why peaks and nulls can build up in space.
These can be minimized by:
- Improved room acoustics
- A room can have a different distribution of bass.
Improved Room Acoustics
You can reduce the number of sound reflections in a space to keep peaks and nulls to a minimum. Drywall rooms reflect less than concrete rooms so it is a smart idea to use drywall for your ceilings and walls.
Installing bass traps is another way to improve the room’s acoustics. Bass traps can be very beneficial in sound absorption and are essential for home theater rooms.
The room would respond better if it had better acoustics.
Even distribution of bass in the room
This is due to the location of the subwoofer, and the area of our interest in this article. Remember that the subwoofer can exert high pressure.
The Subwoofer driver is constantly pumping out low-frequency and high-energy bass. When the subwoofer operates, high-pressure waves are created.
The subwoofer should be placed on the floor to create uneven pressure distribution. This means that the bass will be concentrated in the lower part of the room, while the bass is more prominent in the upper areas.
A subwoofer’s job is to provide the bass in a room. A high-powered subwoofer that easily fills a room with bass will not be as effective if it is placed on the ground.
The floor is not the best place for a subwoofer to distribute bass evenly in a room.