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Where Do You Put Your Subwoofer(s)?

Today's post in Steve Guttenberg's Audiophiliac blog is entitled, "How much bass is too much bass?" In it, Steve asks his readers to reveal how much bass they prefer. This inspired me to ask readers a related question: Where do you put your subwoofer(s)? After all, a sub's placement has a big impact on the amount of bass you hear—putting it in a corner (illustrated above) boosts the bass more than putting it against a wall, which in turn provides more bass boost than placing it away from the walls.

Aside from sheer bass level, optimum subwoofer placement depends as much or more on the room's resonant modes and how well they can be controlled. Another factor is domestic tranquility—most partners of home-theater buffs don't want a huge sub sitting in the middle of the room.

So where do you put your subwoofer(s)? Why did you make that choice? Was it for bass boost, room modes, the spouse-acceptance factor, or some combination thereof?

Vote to see the results and leave a comment about your choice.

Where Do You Put Your Subwoofer(s)?

Ovation123's picture

I have an unusual piece of furniture for my gear. It was formerly part of an office desk system and it is about 40 inches tall and five feet wide. It is divided in two from top to bottom. The lower left (from my view while seated--it is directly in front of me) is about 20 inches deep, 25 inches tall and 30 inches wide. In the middle of that space (on the floor--there is no bottom shelf), I have have placed my sub, though not fully recessed (tried that--too boomy). So it is partially in a corner, partially out into the room and partially along a wall. With my Anti-mode 8033, it measures nicely flat with REW (not perfect by any means but a lot better than w/o the 8033). No other place to put it in my overcrowded room. Planning to change rack and other furniture over the next year or two which will afford me flexibility and room for another sub to complement my Boston Acoustics PV900.

theo's picture

My main home theater is really setup in our open, step down living room. I initially tried the only true corner in the room and the bass was terribly boomy. I then setup the sub in the listening position and crawled around the reiner for the best trade off of location and sound. I did also play with sub orientation and phase and found that pointing the sub 90 degrees to the left actually sounded a bit cleaner than 0 degrees facing into the room. I tried the techniques for Bass Jim Smith outlines in the book, Get Better Sound and what Floyd Toole Writes about in his book.

mweston's picture

For subwoofer owners who do not have electronic equalization, Veledyne makes an inexpensive subwoofer maangement system that can control up to three subs and do it with an eight band parametic equalizer automatically or manually. It is supposed to work with any sub. By using this system, placement is not as critical and boominess can be controlled. Kudos for Velodyne for thinking this product up. Hmmmm!!! Sounds like a good review topic for Home Theater mag. Curious minds want to know, Scott!)

DS-21's picture

and largely useless without the expensive MIC-5 spatial averaging kit, because a proper mains-sub integration will require spatially-averaged measurements of the mains and subs together (so that the measurements cover the interaction between them). That said, I've had an SMS-1 + MIC-5 for years, and find it the best measurement tool to quickly and effectively set up subs. (I no longer use my SMS-1 for processing; I use a much cheaper and more powerful miniDSP to effect individual level/delay/EQ for each subwoofer.)

As for where subs should go, Dr. Geddes' placement strategy - at least three subs, with one in a corner, one far away from that, a third far away from both of the other two and above the room centerline, and any other subs far away from the initial three - has always worked the best for me, compared to any other method (such as the Welti/Devantier symmetrical placements). Right now I have one in the front-left corner, one most of the way down the left wall (back of the room is open), and one elevated on the right wall and about 1/3 of the way down it (re: the front wall). All of the subs are concealed. The main sub is inside a porous cabinet, one sub is tucked under a coffee table, and the third is in a cubical on a shelf, with a woven basket side used as a grill.

yachtmandu's picture

Most of you don't really have sub-woofers. Your sub-woofers are really a substitute for woofers because your mains are small, with small drivers, in tall narrow boxes that simply aren't able to push enough air for real bottom end. Today's sub-woofers exist because the marketing guys at the speaker companies figured out a new profit chain, and thus you all have to buy a "sub-woofer" even with higher end gear. In our theater/sound room are a dozen or so main speakers: EPI's, Genesis, Advance, ESS, Klipsch, and a pair of hybrid Altec/JBL's in WEM/Hiwatt boxes the size of a washer and dryer...driven by amps and pre-amps with power transformers the size of bowling balls - all from yester-year and all that easily pull down to 20 Hz (flat +/- 3dB). And yes, I've tried many subs with the mains set to small and the result is always the same - smaller sound stage and sloppy bottom end. The only subs that worked were six JBL Pros borrowed from the band. These were real sub-woofers, came on at around 20 Hz and pulled down to about 8 Hz - pipe organ territory; well below any LFE effects on any blu-ray. We tested those subs with a foghorn fx disc from an engineer friend and seriously, you need a g-suit for this one. The window in the room blew out, the drywall cracked on the adjacent walls: all I could hear for a week was white noise, pink noise and Pink Floyd tunes they never recorded. Next door, the neighbor complained their cat left home, a light fixture dropped from the ceiling, and their swimming pool guy posted a tsunami warning. That's what 1,000 watts RMS per channel will do. Friends have everything from sound bars , HTIB, to ribbon speakers, mini's with a sub, old school/new school setups...and without fault they all sound pretty good - so here's the bottom line on bottom end, and audio in general: your system should sound good at any level. Your ears are the only judge of quality that matters. Happy new year to all. PS...I ordered half a dozen tactile transducers (bass shakers)...sometime this month we'll be ready to rumble.

yachtmandu's picture

"Where Do You Put Your Subwoofer(s)?"

On Craigslist.

And if they don't sell to a sucker this month, they go to the curb.