As you are creating your home theater or surround sound setup, there are many things you need to think about, such as the placement and orientation of your speakers.
This can bring many questions about positioning, especially for special speakers, such as subwoofers.
A subwoofer should face you instead of the wall. For the best listening experience, a subwoofer should be placed near other speakers and oriented outward, so that the audio is adequately projected throughout a room. This allows for optimal sound quality and keeps the subwoofer safe while in use.
Continue reading to learn more about subwoofers, how they work, and if they should face you or the wall in your audio setups.
Why Should a Subwoofer Face You?
The role of a subwoofer in your audio system is to handle the bass, allowing other speakers to put more power into other frequencies of sound. According to most sources, subwoofers can play audio from 150 Hz to 15 Hz.
A subwoofer should face you because this positioning offers the best listening experience and safety.
When a subwoofer faces the wall instead of you, it can reduce overall sound quality. It can also cause the subwoofer to beat against the wall, leading to damage.
Subwoofers create sound by amplifying the current and converting it using magnets to create vibrations.
These vibrations are visible in the “driver cone” in the subwoofers, causing what we perceive as sound to leave and travel towards the listener.
So, when a subwoofer isn’t facing the audience, the sound it produces doesn’t reach the listener.
Another element to subwoofer placement is safety. The device emits air around itself in all directions (but mostly in the front).
With this, placing a subwoofer facing the wall could cause issues, especially if it is a large machine that you are playing directly against a wall.
While the wall may help reverberate sound, it could also cause component issues if the subwoofer beats against it.
Subwoofers Work Alongside Speakers
In a home setup, subwoofers have a specific set of functions. For example, if your subwoofer is in your car, you are most likely just using it to listen to music (such as EDM or rap).
It is less important to have a subwoofer blend in with other speakers, as the bass is more prominent in music than in movies. In a car, the subwoofer is there to boost bass (rather than widen the audio experience as a whole).
On the other hand, if your subwoofer is in a home theater setup, this means that you are most likely using it to watch TV shows and movies.
Subwoofers can help improve a movie’s sound quality rather than simply boost the bass frequencies.
For these reasons, many people will put subwoofers against a wall facing the audience, so that the sound is blending with the other speakers and traveling directly towards the listener, rather than risking the sound weakening as it bounces back.
Tips For Positioning Subwoofers in Your Audio Setup
When determining the best placement for your subwoofers, you’ll need to consider how your audio system is currently set up and where your speakers are located.
Placing your subwoofer too far from the speakers or in the wrong direction can result in lower sound quality.
1. A Subwoofer Can Be Near the Wall, Just Not Facing It
It’s perfectly safe to push your subwoofer towards a wall to give extra support and reverberation in the sound, but it shouldn’t be facing the wall.
It is important not to orient the subwoofer towards the wall, as it can dampen the sound or cause the problems mentioned previously.
2. Consider the Placement of Surrounding Furniture
There are other large objects such as tables, bookshelves, and sofas, that can also affect sound quality.
Like walls, the placement of these objects in relation to the subwoofer can either help or hurt the sound.
Larger pieces of furniture can change how a subwoofer’s sound is projected in a room, so you’ll need to take some time testing out the sound quality for your desired effect.
If you have a subwoofer placed on a desk or table, it’s still recommended to position it outwards towards the audience, instead of pointing towards a wall, door, or window.
3. Place a Subwoofer Next to Speakers, Facing Outwards
This is probably the most applicable topic to all subwoofer users, as you need other speakers to listen to audio with a subwoofer. For audio quality, there are a few ways people orient speakers and subwoofers together.
The main method is simply to put the subwoofer near the other speakers, facing the same direction.
This allows its sound to mix with the regular speakers and can also save space.
4. Strategically Hide Your Subwoofers
Another method is to “hide” your subwoofer somewhere else, such as behind the audience. This isn’t always guaranteed to have a great sound and can even muffle the audio, but it could potentially give you a surround sound experience if you’re strategic about where you hide them.
Ideally, you should refrain from putting anything directly in front of them, such as furniture, blankets, and pillows, because these items can affect the subwoofer’s sound.
Instead, check out these ideas for hiding your subwoofer:
- Use bookshelves. In most cases, placing your subwoofer on a bookshelf can make it blend in and look sleeker than if it were out in the open. Just make sure the shelf is wide enough and can hold the weight of a subwoofer.
- Hide them behind your TV or furniture. You don’t want to place a subwoofer too close to furniture, as this could dampen the sound. Instead, use it to fill an empty corner in the room, or place it in an open cubby in your entertainment center.
- Get smaller subwoofers. These already hide in their own right because they’re much smaller and easier to conceal. Many people choose to put them on/in their ceilings and walls to hide the subwoofers and make the sound go through the whole room.
5. Check Your Subwoofer’s Positioning for Security
In general, you want to give your subwoofer space in front so that it can easily project noise without damaging its internal components or those in other objects.
Avoid putting subwoofers in areas where they could get damaged (such as the kitchen or bathroom), and make sure they won’t get in the way of foot traffic.
If you plan on mounting a subwoofer, use the right adhesives and hooks to hold it tightly in place.
How Subwoofers Improve Your Listening Experience
When you position a subwoofer correctly, you’re guaranteed to get an optimal listening experience. Not only will you be able to enjoy the bass in your favorite music, you’ll also feel like you’re at the movie theater whenever you watch a film or TV show from home.
Here’s a quick look at how subwoofers can improve your at-home listening experience:
- They improve the health of your sound system by taking a majority of bass work.
- They improve the overall depth and quality of your sound system.
- They allow you to “feel” the audio (especially in small settings).
- They give you a movie theater experience at home.
Here are some drawbacks to using subwoofers, especially if you’ve positioned them incorrectly or they aren’t in a secure location:
- They have lofty prices (often with big machines or combos), and can be expensive to repair/replace.
- Some can be bulky and take up too much space.
- They can make audio seem “too loud” if used incorrectly.
- The audio can cause issues in apartment settings if you rumble the walls.
After going through all of this information, there is a lot you need to think about when determining the best placement for your subwoofer.
Positioning it incorrectly can lead to damages and reduced sound quality.
Ultimately, you’ll want to make sure the subwoofer is facing you and not the wall, as this delivers the best listening experience possible.