Subwoofer Placement For Optimal Sound
How to place your subwoofer for optimal sound...
Setting up a sound system may seem straight forward, especially if it’s an out-of-the-box product. But one thing many people over look is subwoofer placement and this can greatly affect the quality and volume of the sound.
One of the most common misconceptions about subwoofer placement is that the low frequency speaker can go anywhere. This is theory true, but in practice its quite different. Sub bass sounds are omnidirectional so the ear can’t locate its source, but the subwoofer on most systems is set to produce sounds slightly above the sub bass range – low end of a kick drum, guitar or male vocals, mid and low end bass guitar etc. – and our ears can easily pinpoint where theses sounds are coming from.
How To Place Your Subwoofer
Sub bass sounds are those under 80kz, so any system with the bass crossover set about that frequency – generally all small speaker systems – will suffer greatly should the sub be placed too far from the speakers. To avoid this problem, try keeping your sub no further than 5 ft. away from your speakers.
If you have large speaker cabs/towers and a sub with some girth, you should be able to adjust the crossover frequencies yourself. If not, refer to the manufacturers handbook to see what they advise.
Another misconception is to place your sub in the corner of the room to increase its bass output. Again, this is true, putting a sub in the corner can indeed increase its volume by up to 6dB, it can also make the bass smoother and less distorted. But placing you sub in the corner can make it extremely hard to balance the levels with your other speakers.
Think about it, if the manufacturer wanted the subwoofer to output louder, that’s how it would have been built, and the same goes for the music itself, if it needed more bass, that would have been added during the studio mix down and mastering. The idea is to get your speaker levels perfectly balanced to reproduce exactly what was recorded. Boosting or cutting EQ is generally reserved for fixing sound in rooms with awkward acoustics.
Similarly, putting the sub near the wall will also increase its output, this time by up to 3dB. Since most of us live with limited space, its likely the sub will sit somewhere near a wall, and this is not completely bad.
Unless you’re prepared to run speaker calibration software such as Audyssey, the best way to find the perfect place for your sub is through trail and error. If your sub is too quiet, its likely sitting in a spot causing it to producing a flatter response, and in that case you could try moving it closer to the wall, or even into the corner if necessary. And of course if your sub is too loud, try moving it away from walls or the corner, whilst making sure its not placed too far from your speakers.
- Steve Guttenberg: Subwoofer setup dos & don'ts. Cnet, 02/25/2012.