Subwoofers are speakers designed to produce lower sound frequencies that a traditional surround sound setup can’t reproduce on its own. Specifically, they generate frequencies that typically range from 20 Hz to 200 Hz and are used to improve the overall sound quality of an audio system. They are commonly used in home theaters, where it complements the front, center, and surround speakers.
The use of a subwoofer is necessary for people who are looking for an immersive experience. However, a great subwoofer is only as good as its setup. You can unleash the full potential of your equipment with proper placement.
So, where should subwoofers be placed? Keep on reading to find out.
The Importance of Proper Subwoofer Placement
Your room is a significant factor in the audio system’s quality of sound – your furniture, windows and walls all affect the sounds from your speakers. However, bass frequencies are particularly sensitive to environmental factors. For this reason, subwoofer placement is essential to maximize their performance, allowing them to create the best possible sounds.
Bass sound frequencies are omnidirectional, which means they transmit sound waves in all directions. So when they hit a parallel surface, like your living room walls, they bounce back into one another. This creates one of two scenarios:
- Standing waves: These occur when the speaker’s sound frequency meets the same frequency that bounced back from the wall, creating a boomy, one-note-bass sound that lacks definition.
- Bass nulls: On the other hand, bass nulls happen when the reflecting waves cancel the frequency from the speakers, creating a dead spot where you hear no bass sounds.
The only way to avoid these scenarios is to work with the room and practice smart subwoofer placement. Otherwise, you can expect subpar bass performance from your speakers.
Tips to Locate the Ideal Placement of Your Subwoofer
Knowing the answer to “where should subwoofers be placed” is the ticket to having a glorious bass experience. You can help your speaker achieve a vibrant and all-encompassing sound by keeping the following tips in mind.
Manage the Cords and Cables
The wires are the first thing you must consider when placing your subwoofer. You’ll want to ensure the cables are hidden to avoid potential damage. Wires lying across a floor can easily be stepped on, damaging the connection between your subwoofer and receiver over time. It’s a tripping hazard if you have pets, they might also chew the wires. So, for the sake of everyone’s safety and the longevity of your subwoofer, ensure that all cables are neatly hidden out of view, or opt for wireless subs. This eliminates the need for wires, ridding you of the hassle of cable management.
Start Up Front
Speakers, including subwoofers, are placed at the front of many home entertainment systems, which results in good sound blending since the bass is omnidirectional. However, when planning to put your subs at the front, it’s essential to consider the “Rule of Thirds .” Using your wall as your measurement, the ideal placement of the subwoofer is a third of the way. This will reduce standing waves and bass nulls, giving you the best possible sound.
Place in Corners
When asking where subwoofers should be placed, you will likely come across a corner placement recommendation. Setting your subwoofer in a corner reduces, but doesn’t eliminate, potential bass nulls, thus increasing its audio output. It’s an excellent way to make your bass sound louder without additional equipment. However, this placement still depends on how large your floor space is. If your subwoofer is too far from the listening area, putting it in the corner may not be viable.
Inside the Wall
Subwoofers placed inside the wall are popular among custom installations. However, they must be professionally installed since they need special boxes to hold them in place without affecting the sound quality. If done right, in-wall subwoofers effectively create a well-rounded audio experience. But it’s important to note that this placement can be expensive since it requires a lot of labor and specialized materials to have them positioned appropriately. Also, if you’re renting, it’s best not to consider this setup unless you want to anger your landlord and neighbors.
Inside a Cabinet
In-cabinet subwoofer placement is the worst-case scenario. The omnidirectional bass frequencies need room to produce high-quality audio, so cramming your subwoofer in an enclosed space defeats its purpose. If possible, avoid putting it in a cabinet unless you have a tiny living space and have nowhere else to place it.
Do a Subwoofer Crawl
The only way to know if your subwoofer is in the “sweet spot” is through the “subwoofer crawl” method, which involves the following steps:
- Place your subwoofer in one location and play a familiar soundtrack with a repeating bass line.
- Return to your main listening area and keep your head at or near knee level while listening (hence the subwoofer crawl name).
- Do this test in multiple locations and place the subwoofer in the area where it provides the most balanced-sounding bass.
Add a Second Subwoofer
When you have a large home theater with multiple rows of seats or a large space, moving even a few feet away from the ideal spot will result in worse bass sound quality. This means that your single subwoofer cannot evenly distribute the sound throughout the large room. However, you can quickly fix this by adding another subwoofer to your setup. Properly located ELAC subwoofers significantly increase the sound wave density in the room, resulting in smoother frequency responses at more listening positions.
Get the Best Sounding Bass With ELAC Subwoofers
Experience a new era of sound with ELAC, a brand committed to developing speakers that takes the auditory experience to the next level. You can expect exquisite craftsmanship, unequaled value and stunning performance in every product we create. ELAC is dedicated to developing affordable, high-quality speakers that give you the best sound. Contact us to learn more about our offerings.