Audio - Home Theater FAQ's and Information

Audio  - Home Theater FAQ's and Information

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Subwoofer Info

Where is the best place to put a subwoofer in my room?

First of all, it is generally believed that the bass you hear below approximately 100Hz is non-directional. This means you can point the loudspeaker in any direction and the sound will still reach the listener's ears. Since much of the bass that subwoofers produce is below that frequency, you can place the subwoofer almost anywhere in the room. This is the opposite of full range speakers, which have just a few placement options in a room that allow them to sound good, as they must be positioned for the best combination of imaging and tonal balance. Putting a subwoofer in a corner of the room will make the sub sound the loudest. If your subwoofer is a ported design, keep it at least twice the diameter of the port exit (probably 6-12") away from the nearest wall so that air flowing out of the port is not obstructed. If the bass seems too "boomy" you can "fine tune" the sub by moving it farther from the wall until it sounds smooth to your ears. A popular way of finding the best place for your subwoofer is to hook it up and put it right where you will be sitting in the room. Play something with good, consistent, deep bass and walk around the room. The spot you stand at where the bass sounds best to you is a spot where you might put your subwoofer.

Corner placement of the subwoofer is best because this yields the loudest output (highest efficiency). This does not mean that it will always sound best in this position, and therefore, experimenting with placement is always suggested. It's also important to have the sound from the sub reach the listener in sync with the sound from the main speakers, otherwise the sound will never blend properly. You should not be able to "hear" your subwoofer as a separate entity; instead, it should seem that your main speakers go deeper with greater impact and authority. To achieve simultaneous arrival, the subwoofer should be similar in distance to the listener as the main speakers. It also helps to put the sub in the same general area as the main speakers. If you do not need to maximize sub output, try putting the subwoofer about 1/3 of the way along the front wall of the room as that may offer a smoother tonal balance than corner placement.

Can I put more than one subwoofer in my room?

There are some people that feel you can never have enough bass. This is a personal preference, of course, and as long as the subwoofers are placed right, multiple subwoofers will produce more bass. It is important to note here that unless the second subwoofer goes deeper than the first one, adding additional subwoofers will only raise the volume of bass. This will not produce deeper bass. Just like finding the best place for one subwoofer, you need to experiment with different positions to find the best places for two or more subwoofers. Some people use one subwoofer for a certain frequency range and the second for another (such as the LFE channel in 5.1 recordings). Other options used are connection of one subwoofer to the front channels and one to the rear channels or one to the center channel and the other to the remaining channels.

Sometimes, adding a second subwoofer can smooth bass response throughout the room. This is due to strong acoustic standing waves in the room which are dependent on the basic room dimensions (height, length, and width) and the placement of the sub and primary listening area. With a single sub, it is possible to obtain strong bass at one spot, with very weak bass elsewhere in the room. You can hear this by carefully listening to bass as you move a few feet in any direction. If you have strong bass/weak bass problems, using a second sub in a different location may reduce the severity of the problem. The important thing to remember is to find what sounds best to you! Each room is different, experiment until you find the placement that produces the most pleasing bass to your ears.

What are the different ways of hooking up a subwoofer?

The first method works with all amplifiers and receivers whether they are set up for home theater reproduction or not. Connect the positive speaker terminal of the receiver/amp to the corresponding (right channel, left channel, etc.) positive speaker input terminal on the subwoofer. Then connect the negative speaker lead from the amp/receiver in the same manner. Repeat for the next speaker. Connect the speaker leads from the receiver (main L&R) to the subwoofer speaker level inputs. Then run wire from the sub speaker level outputs to your main L&R speakers. This method allows the subwoofer to produce the low frequencies, sending the upper bass, midrange and high frequencies to each connected speaker. Most subwoofers have controls so that the user can determine the range of low frequencies they want the sub to produce.

The second method applies to amps/receivers that have a separate "subwoofer out" jack or a separate LFE (Low Frequency Effects) jack. The LFE output is the .1 in the Dolby Digital 5.1 designation and applies to those amps/receivers that have that feature. Remember that 2 channel recordings never have any LFE signal. These connections use an RCA jack, so a cable with those jacks is necessary (special "subwoofer cables" use these jacks and may be purchased separately). Connect the "line out" jack of the amp/receiver to the "line in" jack of the subwoofer (or the "LFE" out to the "LFE" in) describe here the difference between : normal sub out and LFE signal. That is, two-channel signals will have sub out but NEVER LFE out. This connection allows the amp/receiver to control the low frequencies going to the subwoofer. These frequencies are directed by the "bass management function" in the amp/receiver. Examples of "bass management" include, but are not limited to, speaker size settings (i.e. Large or Small) or subwoofer output controls located in the amp/receiver.

The third method of hookup involves some combination of all of the hookups listed above (see next question).

What is the best way for me to hook up my subwoofer?

Unfortunately, there is no one "best" way to connect a subwoofer. Every receiver or amplifier is different, every brand of subwoofer is different, every room is different in the way it supports or cancels low frequency information, and the quantity of bass desired may differ for each listener. Additionally, the same hookups to the same amps/receivers and the same subwoofers can produce different results if "bass management" settings (speaker size selectors, etc.) or subwoofer settings are different. The best thing to do is to experiment. Depending on the amp/receiver you have, hooking just the "LFE" jacks up usually only sends bass special effects of a 5.1 encoded movie to the subwoofer. In that case, when music is played on a two-channel source (CD or such) for example, the subwoofer would not receive any signal at all. That situation would call for a hookup of both the "LFE" jacks and the speaker terminal jacks to a subwoofer in order for the subwoofer to produce bass with all sources. The best way to hook up a subwoofer is what sounds best to you, with your equipment and your individual tastes! It does take some time and experimentation, but when you have listened to all your options, you know which one is best for you.



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Salem, OR 97303


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