Imagine setting up your new surround sound setup, but you feel like the subwoofer is out of place, or it doesn’t fit your aesthetic. Hiding it in a cabinet could help with aesthetics, but at what cost?
I’ll tell you why placing the subwoofer in a cabinet isn’t a good idea. It’s actually not hard to place the subwoofer and make it look aesthetically pleasing if you’re a beginner.
The reason placing the subwoofer in a cabinet is a bad idea especially for home theaters is because it can interfere with the performance. Preserving performance is arguably more important than preserving aesthetics.
Can You Put A Subwoofer In A Cabinet? – Is It Ok?
I’m not saying it’s impossible to get a subwoofer to work in a cabinet, it’s just that there’s a lot that comes with it such as distortions and reverberations.
So to answer your question, yes you can put a subwoofer in a cabinet, but you will have to accept the fact that the sound quality will be inferior compared to if it was on a hard floor.
The last thing you’d want when watching your favorite movie, or listening to music is hearing rattling due to the vibrations your powerful subwoofer is generating.
It can cause quite the nuisance, this is why it’s recommended that you place the subwoofer in a discrete location so it can easily send out low frequency noises without causing a disturbance.
Also, you have to understand that the subwoofer pretty much is already inside its own enclosure, specifically engineered to handle the power of the woofer inside. When you place it inside another enclosure, it can throw this engineering off.
Rattles & Resonances
If you’re serious about placing your subwoofer inside your cabinet, it’s actually possible if you’re careful with your considerations, read carefully.
The type of cabinet is important, especially the material, you preferably would want to place your subwoofer in an extremely sturdy cabinet made of hardwood like oak.
Secondly, the cabinet shouldn’t consist of any objects that will rattle under extremely low frequencies, this includes silverware, jewellery, and other loose objects.
Only then can you place a subwoofer inside the cabinet without having to hear rattling that’ll ruin your movie or music experience.
To prevent completely ruining how the subwoofer performs, you first must understand how they work. Subwoofers generate huge bass waves which need to travel freely without being restricted by any object depending on the frequency.
So when you’re placing a subwoofer inside a cabinet, if you’re not careful enough, the potential to inhibit and block soundwaves is high when the frequency is above a certain point, typically 50Hz.
To fix this, the cabinet’s opening must be proportionate to the size of the subwoofer driver. This is if you’re trying to install a subwoofer into the cabinet’s enclosure.
If you intend on having your subwoofer inside a closed cabinet, then you will want your subwoofer to be high quality, and able to produce low enough frequencies even for a subwoofer.
With your subwoofer at a frequency of around 50Hz, it will find it extremely easy to penetrate the walls of your cabinet making this ideal.
But as previously stated, you will want to stay wary of the vibrations, preferably a custom made cabinet made out of solid material should be enough to handle the subwoofer.
Where Should I Place My Subwoofer Then?
A subwoofer technically speaking can be placed anywhere on your floor space, but many declare that placing the subwoofer in the corner of the room can increase its output.
However, the best spot to place the subwoofer requires trial and error, you can use a method called the “crawl method”.
The crawl method works by playing your favorite song or soundtrack and then you evaluate the bass at each location you place the sub at knee level. Wherever the bass sounds the best, place the sub there.
If you don’t have the patience to use this method, placing the subwoofer at the front of the room, or in a corner really isn’t a bad idea, and the performance shouldn’t differ too much.
Can Subwoofers Go Behind Me?
Yes you can place a subwoofer behind you, but this doesn’t mean it will produce the best experience possible. But if you insist, and it fits your aesthetic, it can be pulled off.
Performing the subwoofer crawl, you will find that the optimal spot will always be in front of you opposed to behind you depending on the frequency of the subwoofer, typically above (80Hz).
The reason for this is the lower the frequency, the harder it is to localize the subwoofer due to them having longer wavelengths, and penetrating objects easier.
So, if you insist on having the subwoofer behind you, we recommend having a subwoofer that produces low frequencies (below 80Hz).
Also Read: Can Subwoofers Go Behind You
Why Do You Need A Subwoofer
In reality, you don’t really need a subwoofer, this is because your soundbar, floorstanding, or bookshelf speakers should be able to handle and simulate a decent acoustic experience.
But from a technical standpoint, you do need a subwoofer, technically speaking, your normal speakers aren’t equipped to process and accurately reproduce low frequency noises.
But your subwoofer is, and to put it into perspective, a typical subwoofer has a frequency range of 20-200 Hz whereas normal speakers have a frequency range of 2KHz-4KHz (2000-4000 Hz).
So this has an effect on an emotional and immersive level, especially in movies. When low bass isn’t reproduced properly, it won’t have the intended effects on the viewer which will leave the scene with minimal impact.
This is why when you watch movies in an actual theater, the experience is far more memorable compared to if you watch the same movie on a standard TV screen.
Another benefit with subwoofers is that they’re able to be used in music, especially when it’s played loud, and it won’t distort the bass like normal speakers would.
This is because the woofers and tweeters in your midrange speakers can’t handle extremely low frequencies, they will end up distorting the louder you go.
In conclusion, you can put your subwoofer in your cabinet, but it won’t be recommended for most individuals as it’s quite difficult to get right.
Firstly, your cabinet must be strong and well built so you don’t suffer from rattling caused by vibrations, this can be quite distracting.
Secondly, your subwoofer must be at a low frequency, below 50Hz is ideal if you want your subwoofer to be omnidirectional and to penetrate your cabinets walls.