What’s the Best Way to Improve Bass in a Multiroom Audio System?

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Q I have an existing housewide audio system with a receiver connected to a speaker selector and speakers and volume controls in four rooms. The bass isn’t very good, and I’d like to improve it. How can I add a subwoofer to my housewide audio system? — Don Hamilton

A On the surface, this seems like it would be a simple answer: “Just plug a subwoofer into your receiver and set the volume! Done and done!” But that won’t work correctly for various reasons (unless you never adjust the system’s volume level or don’t mind mismatched bass). In the system described above — a receiver powering a housewide audio system with volume controls in each room — you have two different volume controls: the receiver’s volume, which sets the overall maximum level of the system (think of this as the gas), and the volume controls in each room, which lowers the volume of that room (think of that as the brake).

Connecting a sub directly to the receiver adds a third volume control — that of the sub — and the sub would get its input signal level based on the volume level of the receiver, not the volume control in a room, so level matching would always be a challenge. However, there are a few ways to make this work correctly.

1. You could get a subwoofer with a high-level (speaker wire) input and wire it into the speaker wire output from a volume control in a room. Retrofitting a four-conductor wire inside the wall from a volume control location shouldn’t be too tricky, but you would need a local power outlet for the sub. With this approach, the subwoofer level will increase or decrease based on the volume control.

2. You could add a new stereo receiver for any room where you want to add a subwoofer, and then use a wireless audio sender like the SVS SoundPath Wireless Adapter to send the sub signal to that room. You would want to remove the existing volume control and adjust that room’s volume from the receiver.

3. You could install a wireless audio system using a Sonos Amp and add a wireless Sonos Sub or Sub Mini. Again, you'd want to remove the existing volume control and just use the Sonos app to adjust volume. Once the Amp and Sub are paired, you will have a reliable setup that provides a significant boost in bass and overall sound quality. As an alternative, consider upgrading the speakers in given rooms to larger models. Going to an 8- or even 10-inch speaker will produce significantly more bass and a richer sound overall.

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foregak977's picture

Adding a subwoofer to a multiroom audio system can indeed be tricky due to volume control dynamics. | https://www.drywallwaco.com