Should A Subwoofer Be On The Floor (And Why)?
We all want the absolute best that we can afford when it comes to our sound systems, don’t we? We crave crystal clear sound, outstanding dialogue, and a booming bass that is sure to irritate our neighbors.
We spend hours conducting our research, reading review after review, consulting all the forums we can find before purchasing our woofers, subwoofers, and other speakers. We take pride in assembling our sound system and wowing family and friends with outstanding audio.
Whether we are audio fanatics or just trying to enjoy our music and movies, a subwoofer will be an integral part of our sound system. Responsible for delivering a deep bass that fills our music, it’s a staple and usually the first speaker people buy.
But where should it be placed? Can it go on the floor? Why or why not? These questions run around our heads, taunting us before sleep and plaguing us through the day. Well, no more!
Today we will find out where a subwoofer should be placed and why to ensure your sound system is the best it can be!
Should a subwoofer be on the floor?
While you can place a subwoofer on the floor, it’s not the best option. You can, of course, place it on the floor if that’s your only option, but if possible, your subwoofer should be elevated for the best results.
We will cover why you should elevate your subwoofer and how to do this, later on, so be sure to stick with us! But for now, let’s take a look at why the floor isn’t the best place for your subwoofer.
Why shouldn’t I put my subwoofer on the floor?
When you place the subwoofer on the floor, you need to be aware of vibrations and the room response. Let’s look at these now in closer detail to help you decide where to best place your subwoofer.
Subwoofers are designed to give you deep bass and what comes with those are some sweet vibrations. The vibrations are created within the subwoofer enclosure itself and are perfectly normal; it’s how those lower frequencies for your bass are achieved! But when you put the subwoofer on the floor, those vibrations start to cause problems.
The vibrations will be transferred to the floor, causing the floor itself to vibrate. These vibrations can disrupt the performance of your subwoofer and even make it hard for you to hear your music or dialogue in movies. Plus, constant vibrations surely can’t be good for your homes!
Now there is a way around this, soundproofing. You can soundproof your room and deaden the floor to reduce the impact of the vibrations. While it can be helpful, it won’t 100% remove the problem.
The vibrations from your subwoofer will still be powerful enough to transmit outside of the room, leaving family members or housemates shaking! These vibrations will also rattle, especially when placed on wooden floors. This rattling can disrupt your listening experience and, in some cases, can be very loud.
It’s best to avoid this and not place your subwoofer on the floor.
Room response is another factor that you need to be aware of when placing your subwoofer on the floor. Now, room response is a bit of a tricky issue, especially if you aren’t well versed in room acoustics. You can brush up and read around this if you want, but we found just understanding some of the aspects can be helpful! After all, the more you understand room response, the better your sound will be!
There are peaks and nulls created when you have bass playing in any room. These peaks and nulls will impact the listening experience, and it’s worth understanding them. Without spending too much time debating and diving into them, peaks and nulls are created when sound waves are interfered with, causing the bass to sound too boomy (peaks) or inaudible (nulls).
Too boomy bass or dull sounds is the last thing any of us wants! There are lots of reasons why they can occur, and there are ways to fix them too! You can reduce them by doing one or both of the following:
- Improving room acoustics
- Providing an even distribution of bass in a room
Let’s look now at how you can improve these and potentially place your subwoofer on the floor!
Improving Room Acoustics
Reducing peaks and nulls in your bass can be achieved if you reduce the sound reflections in a room. Drywall rooms, for example, are less reflective than concrete rooms. If possible, have your walls and ceilings made from drywall to reduce the reflection and keep your bass as it should be!
We can’t all replaster our walls, so bass traps are an excellent solution in these cases. They are popular for those with home theater rooms and will absorb sound to deliver better acoustics than you previously had.
You can look at other ways to improvise your room acoustics, too, if you wish, soundproofing can often help, but it’s best to speak to a professional about this if you are unsure!
Distribute the bass evenly
Your second option is to distribute the bass evenly across the room. Thankfully, this is one we tend to have more control over and can be done by considering the placement of the subwoofer.
When the subwoofer is on the floor, you have an uneven pressure distribution (remember these are high-pressured devices) where the maximum bass will be in the lower portion of the room, and there will be less bass in the upper portions of the room.
It’s worth remembering that the job of your subwoofer is to fill your room with bass. No matter the power of your subwoofer, if it’s placed on the floor, then the bass won’t reach the whole room. And if it does, it certainly won’t be even. So if you feel that your bass isn’t being distributed evenly across the room, consider changing the location of your subwoofer.
Where else can I put a subwoofer?
As we have established, the floor isn’t the best place for your subwoofer. To ensure that your subwoofer performs as well as it should, it should be elevated. If possible, it should be mounted to ensure the bass reaches and fills every corner of your room.
Some subwoofers will come with instructions and brackets to mount them, and we think it’s best to do this in a position where the sound will reach every corner of the room. When mounting or elevating your subwoofer, safety needs to be your main priority.
Subwoofers can be hefty pieces of gear and need to be anchored correctly. Ensure that your mounting brackets or other methods are strong enough to support the subwoofer and are unlikely to detach from the wall. If you are concerned about safety or cannot attach anything to your walls, it can be best to place the subwoofer on the floor. But if you can, consider all the safety aspects and hang your subwoofer in the best place for an even bass distribution.
As every room is different, it’s hard to determine where this will be, but generally, it is best in the middle of the room. It’s also worth placing your subwoofer at ear height if you can
Now, we know elevating a subwoofer isn’t always ideal. It’s not for everyone, and in these cases, you can place your subwoofer on the floor, but you need to be mindful of any implications of this, such as the vibrations we mentioned earlier.
But it isn’t your only option! You aren’t stuck between mounting your subwoofer or leaving it on the floor. Instead, you can use another surface to elevate your subwoofer. You can place the subwoofer on a table, shelf, or cabinet to elevate it and deliver better sound quality.
When placing your subwoofer on any of these, you need to check that the table or cabinet is heavy enough. It needs to be heavy enough to take the weight of the subwoofer, but its performance too. You don’t want to place it on a surface that’s going to rattle when the subwoofer vibrates. These vibrations will cause the surface to rattle and transfer to the floor, leaving you with the same issue!
Another option is to build a box to elevate the subwoofer. Commonly, boxes are built that will elevate your subwoofer by roughly 12 inches. You can then line the box’s insides with a double plastic protective layer and fill the inside with sand. You want the box to be heavy and able to dampen the vibrations from your subwoofer.
Building the box isn’t too complex and can be done yourself. It’s the perfect solution for those who don’t have heavy enough furniture to place their subwoofers on. If you do struggle, there’s a wealth of tutorials online to check out and follow along.
What else should I consider when placing my subwoofer?
The first and best place to go when considering where to place your subwoofer is your user manual! When you purchase your subwoofer, check the user manual before installing it. Usually, a brand will state where and how to install your subwoofer; checking this beforehand ensures that you place your subwoofer in the best place.
Check this beforehand, and consider what they recommend to install your subwoofer. They will often recommend mounting brackets that are best to use too. For first-time subwoofer owners, check the user manual before installing; it’s usually the most helpful place to go! In some cases, not placing your subwoofer as your manufacturer suggests can void any warranties!
You will often find people here with similar rooms or subwoofers to yourself that can offer advice. You never know; there might be an audio expert lurking in there that can offer you perfect advice! Checking forums and help pages can also be helpful.
And just like that, we have come to the end of our subwoofer journey together today. As you can see, your subwoofer should be elevated in an ideal world. Elevating your subwoofer will allow you to enjoy your movies and music with minimal vibration!
Should you need to place your subwoofer on the floor, consider the vibrations and room response to try and get the best sound.
Remember, if you can mount your subwoofer, you will enjoy the best possible bass to enhance your audio experience!