Creating the perfect surround sound setup, and placing speakers like the subwoofer requires careful consideration, this is why a lot of beginners have underwhelming surround sound configs.
If this sounds like you, then you’re in the right place, we’re going to discuss exactly how you can FIND the best spot for your subwoofer, and whether it can go behind you or not.
The quick answer to this question is YES, the subwoofer can go anywhere on your floor space, but this requires your subwoofer to work at a low frequency. Continue reading to find out what this frequency is.
How Do Subwoofers Work?
Subwoofers work by reproducing extremely low frequencies called bass waves, they’re pretty huge and can travel easily through objects.
These sound waves operate within a frequency of around 20-200 Hz, this is significantly lower compared to your midrange speaker that operates well within 2KHz-4KHz (2000Hz-4000 Hz).
The lower the frequency, the bigger the sound wave is, and the easier it can go through objects, this is how you get the deep “thumpy” feeling from them.
Normal speakers aren’t able to reproduce sound waves without distorting or sounding horrible, this is why subwoofers are popular in music and movie setups.
The construction of a subwoofer is important, it helps bring out the sound quality. To put this into perspective, your standard speaker will be housed in plastic or other weaker materials.
Your subwoofer will be housed in tough hardwood, not only is this important from a durability standpoint, but it also helps with the quality of the sound.
Thinner and weaker materials would allow the sound to resonate and distort, this isn’t what you want especially if you’re looking for immersion.
So Can A Subwoofer Go Behind Me?
Technically yes, you can put a subwoofer behind you because subwoofers and low frequency noises are non-directional meaning it SHOULD sound the same no matter where you place it.
And to achieve the best results by doing this, the subwoofer should operate at a lower frequency, below 50Hz is ideal if you want the best results with the subwoofer behind you.
The lower the frequency, the harder it is to localize the subwoofer, but in practice, it’s still better to have the subwoofer in the front of the listening area for the best performance possible.
This is because midrange information will leak through no matter the frequency, and this can give away the location of the subwoofer.
Potential Effects Of Having Subwoofer Behind You
Placing a subwoofer behind you may improve the bass response, this means it can feel more impactful especially in action scenes where there can be a lot of explosions.
Also, placing a subwoofer behind you may have a positive effect on your ability to perceive low-frequencies, so your depth of sound will be drastically better than if it was in front.
Placing a subwoofer behind you or the couch may also be ideal for people that don’t want the subwoofer to ruin the aesthetics in front of the room. This is a niche scenario, but many will still do it.
Now there are some negative effects of placing the subwoofer behind you, it may be uncomfortable and overwhelming due to increased reflections.
This is because the sound waves will bounce off walls, the couch, and many other objects causing muddy and unfocused sounds.
Does It Matter Which Way The Subwoofer Faces – Can It Face Backwards?
So placing the subwoofer in front of you is arguably the best location, but does it matter which direction the subwoofer faces – can it face backwards towards the wall?
No, the subwoofer works best when it faces open air, and its ability to produce high quality low frequency noises has a direct relationship to how the subwoofer is placed.
The main point of a subwoofer is to enhance bass whether it’s in a movie or a TV show so it sounds pleasing to the viewer, and to do this properly, the loudspeaker must face the listening area.
The goal is to have the subwoofer completely encapsulate the room in sound waves with no null spots(blind spots) so you can experience the same listening experience no matter where you are in the room.
Angling the subwoofer backwards also has another unideal effect, and that’s muffling the sound of the bass. This is due to how the bass has to travel.
Bass sounds best when travelling freely through open air, so when the subwoofer is facing a wall, the sound waves have to travel and bounce off the walls which will give off a muffled sound.
Placement For A Subwoofer – 3 Tips On How To Place It
It is said that placing the subwoofer in the corner of a room can increase its output causing the sub to sound and feel more powerful and boomy.
This is called boundary loading, it happens when the subwoofer is placed in a corner which causes low frequency sounds to be amplified.
Three boundaries interacting with the subwoofer will amplify its effect, so if you’re someone that likes to get the most performance out of what they buy, this is the best way to do it.
The subwoofer crawl is a method for finding the sweet spot for your subwoofer, this is great if you have a wired subwoofer, and don’t have the option of placing it in the corner.
Subwoofer crawl works by playing a favorite soundtrack with a lot of bass, sit down, and move the subwoofer until it sounds ideal.
Blocking a subwoofer can cause it to lose sound quality by distortion, this is because you’re limiting its maximum potential due to reduced airflow.
Tips On Placing The Subwoofer:
- Boundary loading – Place the sub in a corner
- Subwoofer crawl method – Finding the sweet spot
- Ensure Subwoofer isn’t blocked – So soundwaves can freely travel
Why Subwoofer Placement Is Important
So if you didn’t know already, the placement of the subwoofer is one of the main contributing factors to the overall output the subwoofer puts out.
For example, you can place a subwoofer in a cabinet, but there’s reasons why you shouldn’t due to sound quality issues.
But when placing a subwoofer, there’s two phenomena you want to avoid and that’s bass nulls and standing waves.
Bass nulls are also known as dead spots, and it’s caused when two or more soundwaves of the same frequencies collide at the trough of the wave, this causes a null effect(decrease in dB) due to the cancellation.
Standing waves are when too much bass is hitting the walls, this gives the effect of lack of sound definition, and can ruin the immersive experience.
And with these problems, they can be avoided with good subwoofer placement, you need to account for the dimensions of your room, and the furniture placement.
So if a subwoofer is placed too close to a wall, it can cause the bass to sound muddy or too boomy, and if the subwoofer is placed too far away from a wall, it can decrease the number of bass frequencies.
In conclusion, sometimes the only option you have is to place the subwoofer behind you, and in this case, it’s perfectly okay, and it can actually work well.
However, there are some placements that work better than others, utilizing methods such as the subwoofer crawl can help you find these placements.