The subwoofer is one of the most fundamental components of a home theater installation. A proper subwoofer setup can take your audio system from average to a bone rattling, immersive audio experience. The low tones of the subwoofer are felt more are heard, but the subwoofer’s ability to affect you on a primal level is its key selling point. In fact, two subwoofers are typically better than one.
Selecting a Location
The correct placement of a subwoofer has a lot to do with the acoustics of your room. If you’re going it alone, you’re going to need a lot of time for trial and error to find the best location. When setting up an audio system, the entire room becomes the concert hall. Sound bounces off the walls, floors and ceilings to add to the natural amplification from the speaker system. Bass waves from a subwoofer are omni-directional, which means the sound waves tend to bounce all over the room. Placing it against the wall isn’t always the best option either. The ideal location is typically about a third into your room, but depending on your setup, you could place it in the wall, in a cabinet, under a couch or table, or even a corner if you have limited space.
Checking the Placement
Work with the room and walk around the space while the subwoofers are playing to listen for dead spots or a booming effect. Dead spots occur when waves reflected off your walls cancel each other out. A booming effect happens when a specific frequency is being reinforced. It’s not the speaker that is causing this, but your placement of the speaker. So, if you don’t like the sound you’re getting from your home audio system, experiment by adjusting the subwoofer’s location.
Most speakers come with the ability to calibrate the subwoofer. The default setting is rarely going to provide the best result. Set the crossover frequency to about 10 hertz above the frequency response specs for your speakers. Begin your adjustments from that point, and go lower until you find the right setting to give you the best audio. Use bass-intensive music, and avoid using video games or movies when setting up the subwoofer. Finally, set the volume at about 75 percent of its maximum setting as a starting point. Tweak the system as necessary until you get a response that pleases you.