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Subwoofer placement is a very critical step to take. It can break or make the realism of the movies and music. The step should be taken with precision and a lot of care. So, where should a home theater subwoofer be placed?
At A Glance: As a general rule of thumb, there is no absolute place where the subwoofer should be placed. That’s why you should continuously change the placement of the subwoofer across the theater room, where its bass fills the best.
Keep reading as we will be discussing the most common placement options and will analyze each one. Don’t forget to read the final verdict, where I will be choosing the best of the best placement option.
Top 6 Most Common Placements Of A Subwoofer
I am going to present the most common placement options in front of you. I will rate each one at the end of this article. The rating is based on what top home theater owners are choosing and what I choose and believe in.
The 1# at the start of the option doesn’t mean it is the best of the best. Read completely to know which one is the winner.
1# Subwoofer placement in the rear of the room
This placement is one of those placements that need more calibrating work than others. Also, you have to take care of the blank bass spots created by this placement.
If by any chance, the subwoofer SPL is higher than all the speakers in the system. The bass will feel like it is coming from the back of the audience. This is not an ideal thing to feel the bass at the back.
That’s why you have to play a lot with the sound pressure level of the sub to match it in your seating area. So, it should not feel different, or its sound should not stand out from the rest of the speakers.
Now, you will be saying, “Daniel! But the bass has a non-directional sound”. I know that, but it does feel like the bass is coming from behind when its SPL is not adjusted.
Another issue that this placement will create is that it will contribute to a blank bass spot. These spots can be easily spotted by your brain when the sub is at the rear.
To solve this issue, you will have to install another sub on the opposite side of the corner in the front. But if you need to install another at the front, then why should you go with the rear anyway.
It can contribute to a 3rd issue, which I am going to discuss in the below placement. You will know what that 3rd issue is by reading the second placement option.
Read this guide to remove audio problems from your home theater. How to optimize home theater audio? I have added 5 simple steps to this guide.
2# Subwoofer placement in the front corner
This option is one of the best, but not the best of the best.
This is best because you get the best bass impact in this placement.
But try to keep it a foot or two away from the wall. This will ensure keep the port noise in check if you are using a sealed sub. By the way, read my guide to know which subwoofer is right for a home theater, ported or sealed? I have compared them in many areas. You will know which one to use.
But at the front corner, don’t place it away from you if your room is large. Try to keep it 4-5 ft away from you and also from the front speakers.
This distance from you will receive the needed amount of SPL in your listening area.
Also, its placement with the front speakers will ensure that the subwoofer is matching their tonality. This tonality can’t be achieved when placing the sub at the rear. Guess it! Right? This is the 3rd issue that would be caused when the sub was at the rear.
But at the front, you should adjust the dB level of the sub to 75dB to match the speakers. You can do this with a good SPL meter. Read this guide, the best SPL meter for home theater. I have reviewed the top 3.
3# Subwoofer placement behind the couch
It is one of the best options to keep the sub at. The sub in this placement gives one of the finest realism touches to the home theater experience.
But you have to blend the sub with the front speakers to avoid the sub localization. You have to keep the volume and crossover of the subwoofer low and check where you feel like the bass is not coming straight from the back.
Also, place the subwoofer 3-5 ft away from the rear wall if your couch is near to it. This will ensure the prevention of all the issues that will come with rear placement.
If your subwoofer is side-firing, then place it a foot away from the couch so that the vibration is not felt right away. Also, you don’t want the sound to interfere with the couch material.
Read this guide about the best subwoofer review. I have reviewed the top 7.
4# Can you put a subwoofer in a cabinet
This is one of the worst placements I can see. No matter how hard you try, there will always be rattles and vibration sounds in the cabinet itself.
This will generate many new sound frequencies and will irritate the audience. There are absorption pads available in the market, but they will not kill the vibrations 100%.
Because these pads are placed at the bottom of the subwoofer and the other side of the subwoofer enclosure is exposed to resonate with the cabinet of a desk or something else’s cabinet it is kept in it.
If your sub is ported, then the air coming out of the port will also contribute to the noisy sound. You need a sub to be well-ventilated, and its port air should not be colliding with anything.
5# Placement spot found by crawl method
This is the second-best spot for the home theater subwoofer. To do it.
You have to place the subwoofer in the audience seating area, and you have to crawl around the home theater to observe where you are feeling the best bass in the room.
When you have successfully found the spot. Mark it and now place the subwoofer there. You will experience the chest-hitting bass there. But this is vital for a single person as an audience. If you have more audience in your theater room then it might fail. This can be solved by installing dual subs.
Read this guide, on which is the better single or dual subs for home theater. I have stated how to install dual subs for the best experience.
6# Continuously changing the subwoofer placement for testing
This method can give you the best spot possible and I can say that will be the best of the best placement.
Get an assistant for yourself to find this placement. My wife was an assistant to me.
She sat on the couch and I continuously changed the placements of the subwoofer until she said, “Wow, now this is the best place”. When I sat on the couch, I said, “wow, it is not”. LOL! She has no audio background, that’s why. The only connection she has with the audio world is her mad husband.
We switched our roles. She moved the subwoofer around, and I sat there to observe, and this time I found the best spot for my subwoofer.
Why does this method work the best? Because each room and its condition is different. The placement that works for me might not work for you and vice versa. That’s why with this method, the audience finds the spot that works for them and their theater room.
What is the best place to put a subwoofer? (Final Verdict)
|In a cabinet||2/10|
|In rear of the room||4/10|
|Behind the couch||6/10|
|In the front corner||7/10|
|Placement found by crawl method||8.5/10|
|Continuously changing the placements||10/10|
The best place for the subwoofer to be put in is to continuously change the position of the subwoofer and placement around the home theater to find the spot where it feels the best. Because every room is different. The one placement work for one room might not work for another room.
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Should a subwoofer be on the floor?
The subwoofer should not be placed on the floor because it can contribute to low-pressure frequencies on the floor and resonance and rattle sounds.
The subwoofer should be a little higher than the floor and should be on a vibration absorption pad to kill that resonance with the floor.
Does it matter where a subwoofer is placed?
It does matter because it can make or break the realism touch that it gives to movies, games, and music. That’s why I always hunt for the best possible placement.
To find the best placement. Follow one step from the above guide.
Which direction should the subwoofer face?
It doesn’t matter which direction the subwoofer should be facing. It can do well in any direction. But try to keep its firing side away from hard surfaces to avoid sound impurity.
When the firing side is near hard surfaces, it can contribute to sound impurity. The bass will collide with surfaces and that will change its nature of it and the bass will not feel right and might reverberate around the room if the room is not acoustically treated.
Helpful Resources For The FAQs To Read More
- This was my opinion, read more about it from this Quora Discussion. (Resource for the first answer)
- This was my opinion, read more about it from Klipsch Blog. (Resource for the second answer)
- This was my opinion, read more about it from this Reddit Discussion. (Resource for the third answer