How To: Get the Most Out of Your Subwoofer

Subwoofer placement and configuration can come as a tricky affair - some are even a puzzle on their own, but calibration comes especially with its share of frustrations when you don't have a room that has been designed with acoustics in mind from the get go. With a little help from our friends over at Cnet labs, we're here to make it happen, no matter how strangely shaped your room may be...

Tips from Home Entertainment's Editor-in-Chief Geoff Morrison goes a little something like this:

"Voecks immediately zeroed in on the importance of placement, which is absolutely crucial to getting the best out of any sub. I'd go so far as to say an average sub, perfectly placed and set up, will outperform a great sub that's been carelessly placed and set up. That's because the sub's interaction with room acoustics can play havoc with sound, all too frequently resulting in boomy, uneven bass.

True, you can get away with that to a degree if all you're trying to do is add oomph to movie soundtracks, but a muddy-sounding subwoofer will muddle the sound of music. Some call it "one-note bass," and subwoofers that sound like that bug me."

Okay okay, we get it. Bad placement. Bad sound. Makes sense. Now where's the optimal placement for a sub, we ask? Well, there's a nice little writeup over here that you can take a gander at, but here are some quick tips for the lazy:

  • Placement: Since subs are non-directional, corner positioning is a de facto strategy. That is unless your sub's less than 8-inches, then you should place them about 3-4 feet to the left or right from your front speakers.
  • Listen to your ears: One position may differ from one room to the next, but what you're looking for is a non-muddy sound, that is deep and still has mid and upper bass.
  • Connectivity: If you've never dealt with the back of a subwoofer, it can be a maze-like affair with labels like LFE and crossovers - which makes no sense to the average person, but can be easily thought out as this: LFE means it'll receive a direct interconnect from your A/V receiver for the signal. This is the preferred route of connection if you have it available. The crossover can basically be thought of as the overlap between your subwoofer and speakers. Which leads us to....
  • Calibration: Turn your crossover to the max while you use your A/V receiver to calibrate the distances using a separate mic or manually entering in the distances between the sub, speakers, and you. The settings themselves will vary with the size of your speakers. When you're all done with that, the last thing you need to worry about is...
  • Volume: It's entirely subjective and really depends if you rattle your windows all the time - or only during huge explosions in a movie. We prefer the latter, but it's really your call.

Did our mini-guide help you out? Have some other tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

(Image: PSB Subwoofers)

(Via Cnet)