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Crawling for Bass - Subwoofer Placement Tips

by March 29, 2001

Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks in placing your speaker system whether it is a 2 channel or multichannel surround system is finding the best location for your subwoofer. It is not only a matter of choosing which location will sound best, but it is also a matter of ergonomics and dealing with space constraints of the listening room.

My advice in this matter is simple yet useful. I recommend doing the following procedure listed below when nobody is home or at least able to witness what you are doing as it may potentially result in having you committed or at the very least it will lead to a psychiatric evaluation.

You can follow our instructions below either by reading or by watching this short and informative video of the Subwoofer Crawl.  You can even use this technique to help place multiple subs in your room by repeating it for each sub you install into your system.  Though, some tweaking may be needed to optimize the sound for a wider listening area.


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Instructional Video: Easy Guide to Subwoofer Placement

Subwoofer Placement Procedure

  • Connect the "Sub Out" of your Receiver / Preamp Processor using an RCA cable into a Y-cable into the "L" and "R" inputs of your subwoofer. Note: Unless otherwise stated by the manufacturer, be sure to utilize both inputs of the sub as many subs sum the "L" + "R" inputs to yield a 6 dB gain from the input voltage of the processor.
  • Place the Subwoofer in the most common location of your listening area. (Usually your couch, chair, or bean bag).
  • Play a bass heavy CD or other format (not 8 track!) that you are familiar with and turn the volume up so that the sub is really working.
  • Note: The reason why you should crawl is that standing will put you about 5 feet off axis (depending on how tall you are) with the sub and thus will change the characteristics of the sound enough to potentially cause you to place the sub in a non optimal position.

    Now get on your hands and knees and pay homage to the subwoofer (just kidding). Seriously, for the next part of this set-up, prepare to do some crawling (this is the part that could get you committed, but its all worth it!)
  • Crawl around the listening room and listen for when the sub seems to sound the best. (IE. Listen for depth, loudness, tightness and definition)
  • If possible, place the sub as close to this position as you can. This will ensure you have chosen the best location in the room.
  • Now get off your knees and calibrate your system.

For Example:

  • Adjust crossover point on the sub for optimal blend with main speakers.
  • Adjust gain control of sub to tonally balance your system.
  • Repeat A + B until satisfied.

This is a starter for those integrating a Subwoofer into their system for the first time. A more detailed placement guideline will be presented shortly for the more advanced users.

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About the author:

Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

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