Soundbars make for quite the upgrade to your home’s sound system. While you may have the most prominent, flattest, most high-quality television on the market, audio quality tends to dip as TVs get thinner and thinner. That being said, soundbars have certainly spiked in popularity these days.
And many of today’s soundbars come equipped with an external subwoofer to enhance audio capabilities even more, bolstering your movie-watching, series-binging experiences.
While the soundbar is a thin and sleek speaker that easily mounts above your TV or simply sits nicely on an entertainment system, subwoofers are another story in terms of placement. So the question becomes figuring out soundbar subwoofer placement.
What Does A Subwoofer Do?
If you’ve been in the market for a soundbar, you may not have even realized that most of these speakers come with an external subwoofer. While it’s nice to have a little bonus product with your purchase, there’s also the chance that you don’t know what a subwoofer does or even need to use it with your speaker.
The simplest way to describe a subwoofer is the bass. Subwoofers control all the lower frequencies of sound, from music to sound effects during intense movie moments. The subwoofer is necessary to produce high-quality, low-range sounds because your two- or three-channel speakers can’t do it on their own.
So, if you want to get the full effect of your favorite movies, shows, and music, you really should plug in that subwoofer and learn to make the most of your soundbar’s system. Plus, using a subwoofer takes unnecessary stress off your regular speakers, which allows for clearer sound and higher audio quality.
And if you have your subwoofer turned up high enough during some explosion-ridden action scenes, you’ll literally feel the sound through the floorboards, which is a pretty cool addition.
Why Is Placement Important?
If you’re not an audio expert or even a super-dedicated moviegoer, you probably don’t know that your subwoofer placement matters. That is if you want to get the most quality out of your product.
Let’s stop right here to say, if getting the absolute best sound quality isn’t really important to you, you can definitely put your subwoofer wherever you want. It will still improve your audio, and it’ll sound awesome, so feel free to put it on the closest shelf or wherever it blends into your decor best.
Now for those of you who would never, ever put a good thing to waste, let’s talk about the importance of subwoofer placement.
A little known fact is that the shape and structure of a room can have a significant impact on the quality of sound coming from your audio system, no matter how fancy or expensive it is. Everything in the room plays a role, from your furniture and nick-nacks to the ceiling and windows.
All of these things play a role in how your speakers sound, but they are particularly impactful on your bass frequencies – which is what your subwoofer handles.
When your subwoofer is competing against parallel surfaces, aka, your walls, the sounds waves bounce around in various directions and create either standing waves or bass nulls – both of which lower the quality of your music.
This is why you need to know proper placement, so you can avoid these types of waves that either minimize the bass definition or leave you with audio dead spots.
Obviously, you can’t do much about the walls in your home, and it seems a little extreme to renovate your house for one bass speaker, but you can do some things to work with the structure of your room.
Where Should I Put My Subwoofer?
A common location for subwoofers is in the corner of the room or tucked tightly against a wall. This makes sense from the human perspective.
On the one hand, if you put it in the corner, it faces outward towards most of the rest of the room. And on the other hand, when you press it against a wall, it delivers more base.
However, neither of these methods gets you the highest quality bass sound.
To achieve the best quality bass sound, you should start by keeping your subwoofer towards the front half of whatever your listening space is. If you’re working with a stereo system in your room, place the subwoofer facing your bed. Keep it in the half of the room across from the bed.
If the subwoofer is for your family’s entertainment room with the best TV for movies, you should face it towards the seating area in the half of the room across from it, typically near the TV itself.
Just remember that the rule of thumb is anywhere in the front. You should never put your subwoofer directly parallel with viewing or listening areas such as the sofa, and absolutely not behind the viewers or listeners themselves.
This next part may sound ridiculous, but one of the best techniques you can use to find the best location for your subwoofer is to literally get on your hands and knees and start crawling.
Move your subwoofer around the room with music playing or the TV on and listen carefully to hear where the bass sounds the evenest. Listen for things like definition, tone quality, and texture, and mark the spots on the floor where it sounds best.
Once you’ve completed this silliness, you can check out your best options and make your placement decision based on what you think looks best in the room. Quality first, decor needs second.
Tucked away in the corner against the walls is not your best option, but your subwoofer should still incorporate a corner of some kind. The key here is to not press it all the way back, but rather leave 6 to 8 inches between the walls and the speaker.
Doing so maximizes the direction of the audio in the room, but keeping it off of the walls will eliminate the risk of messing with the sound quality of your bass. You can also shove socks or tennis balls in the rear port to remove any interaction with the wall at the back.
Wireless is Best
Some of you may be wondering how you’re supposed to do all of this moving around and repositioning when your subwoofer has to be attached to your soundbar. You’d be correct in your thinking that a cable seems super-inconvenient at this moment.
If you can help it, it’s definitely ideal to get yourself a wireless subwoofer. If you’re planning on just sticking the bass speaker right next to the soundbar, on the entertainment center, or in the cabinet below, then the cable problem really isn’t much of an issue for you.
However, if you want to make the most of your product and get the best quality sound, then having a wireless subwoofer will prove to be a huge relief.
With a wireless speaker, you can essentially place it anywhere in the room. It also makes it much easier to operate the testing phase since you can move it around freely and easily, rather than taking the time to search for available outlets or messing with extension cords.
Subwoofers can take your listening or viewing experience to the next level. Audio geniuses probably already know tons about amplifying your bass and obtaining the best in sound quality, but us regular folks are often clueless on the subject.
Use the tips in this guide to make the most of your subwoofers, and get soundbar subwoofer placement correct. Whether you’re throwing a raging bachelor party or just trying to make the best possible home theater for your family and friends, a subwoofer can certainly step up your game and make you an audio hero.
image: Aaron Yoo, Flickr, CC 2.0