The subwoofer is a must in surround sound for the best movies and music experience. But does it need to match the speakers?
At A Glance: The subwoofer must match the speakers in the crossover, phase, and volume to have a homogeneous sound that boosts the realistic touch of the video content.
Keep reading to know how to match it in each category. I am giving the exact settings that I have in my home theater. Also, I will discuss the most frequent questions too.
Why should the subwoofer match the speakers?
The subwoofer and speakers both play different frequencies but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t match them.
The matching is critical to blend the subwoofer into the surround sound. If the sub is not matched with the rest of the system. Its sound will stand out from the rest of the system. This is not right.
We are going for 3D because we want to feel the visuals in real-time. The same rule applies here. The sound should not be felt like it is coming from the speakers or the subwoofer.
The sound should feel like it is coming from all around the space. In this way, you feel like you are the Vikings fighting on the battlefield.
The home theater was invented for the purpose to feel the movies in the comfort of your home. I use the word feel not watch.
Also, the world is going for the 3D and the LCR hidden behind the projector’s screen. Why does the enthusiast want that? Because to feel the situation of the movies should immerse you in it.
That’s why the subwoofer should match your surround sound. So, it can immerse you in movies or music.
To completely optimize the surround sound read my guide. You will get top-of-the-notch sound after this optimization.
How to match the sub with the rest of the system?
The subwoofer can be matched with the system throw two ways. The first method is to calibrate it with calibration software and the other method is to calibrate it manually.
Calibrate it with a software
Many software will calibrate the whole system with the subwoofer at once. This method works for almost every newbie and intermediate home theater enthusiast. But pros don’t stay here and they want more from the surround sound.
The pros always look for tiny improvements to bring to their system.
But the upcoming section is for those newbies that want to calibrate the subwoofer with the help of their ears. I too believe that the ears are the best calibrator tools.
There are many good calibration software but I love the Dirac live.
Match the crossover of the sub with the system
The frequency crossover of the system should be flowing well without errors from speaker to speaker.
The crossover is a rule that tells the speakers that you have to play these frequencies and tells other speakers that you should play these frequencies. The frequencies make the speakers work as one team.
So, how to set the best crossover settings? Well, the subwoofer needs to play frequencies below 40Hz and no higher frequencies than the 120Hz. Any other speaker in the system should not play frequencies lower than 40Hz. The other speakers should leave them for the subwoofer.
In this way, the subwoofer will sound great and it won’t sound boomy or shallow. This will give the subwoofer a defined bass texture.
To read the complete crossover settings for surround sound. Check the chart in my article.
Phase match the subwoofers to the speakers
If you are using a single subwoofer in your home theater. Then you should leave the phase value to the calibration mic or at zero.
But if you are using dual subwoofers then you need the subwoofers to match the phase. If they are not phase-matched then they will sound different and the overall sound immersion will not work.
If the subwoofers are the front then leave them at the same phase value. If they are opposite from each other then leave one subwoofer at zero and continuously change the phase value of the other subwoofer. To the point where you hear the sound of both homogeneous and you spot no variations in the sound of both of the subwoofers.
To phase match three or more subwoofers. Read my guide to know how.
Match the volume of the subwoofer with surround sound
The subwoofer should not be louder or lower in volume than the rest of the speakers.
The subwoofer volume should be the same as the speakers. But here is a question. The subwoofer may be bigger or small in size. Should the volume be 3dB for every subwoofer if the speakers are 3dB? No, it doesn’t work that way.
The volume will vary for each speaker in the system. The general rule of thumb is that every speaker should hit you with 75 dB. But dBs can be measured with a tool and here we are discussing our ears.
The simple rule for the ears is. Play music and close your eyes. Take a remote in your hand. Continuously change the volume of the sub to a point where you are feeling that the bass sound is coming from the wall, not from the subwoofer. Or to the point where your brain can’t sense where the subwoofer is placed.
In this way, the subwoofer will match the surround sound in volume no matter at what dB value the sub is on the receiver sound settings. That value is working the best for you.
Know, are subwoofers good for movies and music? This knowledge will help you.
The subwoofer should match the flow of all the speakers in the surround sound. The bass is an integral part of the sound and it should go in the flow with the other levels of sound. In this way, the sound will be immersive. You need to match the sub.
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Can you use any subwoofer with any speaker?
The subwoofer should not be very small than the size of the speakers and neither should it be very big then it. A slight difference in the size will be good but a higher number will ruin the experience. This is because the bigger subs are slow and smaller or fast.
If the speakers are 4 inches then go for a 6-inch or 8-inch subwoofer but not for 10 or 12 inches.
Can you mix different sizes of subwoofers?
If you are adding two or more subs to the surround sound then make sure they are of the same size better will be if they are from the same brand and series. This will ensure a homogenous sound of both.
Along with the phase, the subs should match each other in size too. The size is very important. Here the size does matter. The bigger subs are slow and the smaller are fast.
Do all my speakers need to be of the same brand?
It is not required but it is recommended. You can mix the brands of each speaker in the surround sound or you can have a different brand of speaker for each channel in the surround sound.
The matching of the brand and series of the speaker is recommended because the brand has designed them with the same engineering methods that’s why they will sound great. It is not required because intermediate to pros home theater enthusiasts can match all types of speakers.
Helpful Resources For The FAQs To Read More
- This was my opinion, read more about the subwoofer settings from this NYtime blog. (Resource for the first answer)
- This was my opinion, read more about it from this Reddit discussion. (Resource for the third answer