Subs need to be inside cabinet - how to optimize? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 25 Old 05-11-2014, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm nearing the end of construction on our new home. To make my finished basement more open, I decided to forgo a dedicated theater room and ended up creating an "open" theater that is sunken to create a room that's approximately 16'Wx16D'x11'H. On the screen wall I had a custom cabinet built with the intention of using LCR's behind an AT screen and housing the subs within the lower cabinet. I'm fully aware that this sub placement is not optimal, but as the final details are being installed I have a chance to tweak the construction to optimize the sound quality of the subs.

Here is an overall view of the built-in unit. I plan on placing the subs in the two open cabinets (currently with shelves in them)


Here is a close-up of the right cabinet:


I had a bit of a "communication issue" with the cabinet maker and although I wanted my subs to sit on the concrete floor I ended up with a nice wood bottom to the cabinet. One of my options is to cut out the bottom and set the sub on the concrete (with a piece of carpet or rubber in between).

My question is: what is the best sub for this application, and given "carte blanche" to modify the cabinet, what would you suggest to end up with the best sound quality?

As a starting point, here's what I'd do if forced to make an immediate decision (I'd be doing this for each side, 2 subs total):
1) Take out the shelf (obviously) and cut out the bottom of the cabinet
2) Buy a 15" front-firing sealed or ported powered sub and set it on rubber pads on the concrete floor
3) Replace the two cabinet doors (currently not on the cabinet) with a single frame filled with speaker cloth.
4) I'd also put a 2" layer of OC703 behind each sub and also behind the LCR's on the screen wall

Sub budget is around $1K. I'd use my HSU VTF2 Mk3's but they're ported and down-firing and I suspect they'd rattle the cabinet apart. If I'm wrong please let me know!

Thanks for any and all advice!
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post #2 of 25 Old 05-12-2014, 05:43 AM
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I've never had luck putting a sub in an enclosed space like that. I even have issues putting a sub under a table. It always ends up sounding too boomy. My only advice it to cut off as much around the sub as possible. Even consider removing the top. Maybe some subs are better than others in that kind of environment.
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post #3 of 25 Old 05-12-2014, 11:18 AM
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To the OP: In the June 2014 issue of Sound&Vision magazine there is an entire article about "How to HIde Your Subwoofer in a Cabinet."

The article is named "The Cabinet & the Subwoofer". The article is on page 28.

Not on-line as yet.
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post #4 of 25 Old 05-12-2014, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jswayze View Post

I'm nearing the end of construction on our new home. To make my finished basement more open, I decided to forgo a dedicated theater room and ended up creating an "open" theater that is sunken to create a room that's approximately 16'Wx16D'x11'H. On the screen wall I had a custom cabinet built with the intention of using LCR's behind an AT screen and housing the subs within the lower cabinet. I'm fully aware that this sub placement is not optimal, but as the final details are being installed I have a chance to tweak the construction to optimize the sound quality of the subs.

Here is an overall view of the built-in unit. I plan on placing the subs in the two open cabinets (currently with shelves in them)


Here is a close-up of the right cabinet:


I had a bit of a "communication issue" with the cabinet maker and although I wanted my subs to sit on the concrete floor I ended up with a nice wood bottom to the cabinet. One of my options is to cut out the bottom and set the sub on the concrete (with a piece of carpet or rubber in between).

My question is: what is the best sub for this application, and given "carte blanche" to modify the cabinet, what would you suggest to end up with the best sound quality?

As a starting point, here's what I'd do if forced to make an immediate decision (I'd be doing this for each side, 2 subs total):
1) Take out the shelf (obviously) and cut out the bottom of the cabinet
2) Buy a 15" front-firing sealed or ported powered sub and set it on rubber pads on the concrete floor
3) Replace the two cabinet doors (currently not on the cabinet) with a single frame filled with speaker cloth.
4) I'd also put a 2" layer of OC703 behind each sub and also behind the LCR's on the screen wall

Sub budget is around $1K. I'd use my HSU VTF2 Mk3's but they're ported and down-firing and I suspect they'd rattle the cabinet apart. If I'm wrong please let me know!

Thanks for any and all advice!

First, let me compliment you on your home theater. It looks terrific, and I know you've put a lot of thought behind it.

As far as sticking a subwoofer inside a cabinet, it's done quite frequently and often successfully. When I auditioned a subwoofer from Hsu Research, the sub was inside a cabinet behind the seating position with a cloth front. As far as setting a sub on a wood platform or the concrete slab, it shouldn't make much difference, provided the platform is well constructed and braced. The subwoofer's feet is enough to mitigate vibrations and it doesn't matter if it's down-firing or front-firing.

With that out of the way, I must tell you there are inherent problems with locating subwoofers where one simply points and says, "I want them here and here". The only way I know to find out the best locations to place a subwoofer is via the sub crawl. And you're in luck. You already have a subwoofer to accomplish the crawl test. You place your subwoofer on top of your main listening position (or on a chair where you think you want the seating locations to be) and crawl around with a dB meter and your ears to find out the best and worst locations. I like to use music I'm really familiar with that has long measures of deep bass. Others will use test tones. With any luck there may be two or three locations where the subwoofer will sound good, and probably a lot more locations where it will sound bad. If the subwoofer gods are with you, the subs won't sound terrible where you have determined the present cubbyhole locations.

So let's say the subwoofer gods are with you on those location (miracles happen). However, anytime one adds a second subwoofer, even if the sub crawl tells you that's the best location (or second best location), other phenomena come into play. I often read about one subwoofer canceling out the other and the person loses precious SPL. There are things that can correct that (some even opt for a third or fourth subwoofer), but I just wanted you to know that setting up a home theater isn't easy and usually comes down to trial and error. The more flexible you are (have several different sub locations in mind or can move the seating positions), the higher the chances are of getting the sound you are hoping for or are expecting.

I wish you the best on your new HT.

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post #5 of 25 Old 05-12-2014, 12:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Spyboy - thanks for the tip! I'll stop by a bookstore tonight and pick up a copy.

dsrussell - Good point about one vs. two subs. I only considered two since that's the way I have it now in my dedicated room, but I was able to move them around (via crawling, REW'ing, etc.) to optimize the sound. In this case I'm fairly constrained to one cabinet or another.To your point, maybe I'll load up the HSU and my receiver and try it out in the space. I don't have carpeting or any acoustic treatments in place, but at least I can get an idea of how the room sounds.

I should point out that the photo doesn't show the whole space - the room is open in the back and partially open on the right side. I don't expect the same performance as my current dedicated isolated room, but I want to get it as good as I can.

I looked at a bunch of manufacturer's websites last night and saw there were options for both in-wall and remote-mounted subs (via tubes and such) so I may have options beyond the current cabinet. I'm also going to consider in-wall speakers for my surrounds and possibly my rears. At this point my LCRs will be either sealed or front ported since they need to go up against the screen wall to maximize my projector throw.

Thanks!!
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post #6 of 25 Old 05-12-2014, 01:05 PM
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^^ By all means, place your Hsu inside the cubbyhole and test it out (first one cubbyhole, then the other). It will give you a good idea if you have a serious problem or not. Moving a subwoofer just a foot can have surprising effects (positive or negative). I wouldn't worry too much that there isn't carpeting in your room right now. That effects higher frequencies (such as coming from your mains) far greater than the lower frequencies coming from your subs.

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post #7 of 25 Old 11-22-2014, 04:18 PM
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Hiding Subwoofer in a Cabinet

Hi JSwayze,

I was reading your post and I wanted know how everything turned out and if you lost any sound quality by placing your subs inside your cabinet? Also, would you mind sending me picture of your finished product? The reason why I am asking is, because I am about to go through a renovation myself in my great room. Currently, I have an entertainment center with all my components and TV installed with my sub sitting right next to it.

We are doing away with the entertainment unit and building a fireplace with custom built-in cabinetry around it. My dilemma is, where to place my sub-woofer?? I've been tossing around the idea of having the cabinetry built around my sub (10'), but I'm afraid of loosing the boom I currently have now and the rattling that I may incur by placing it inside the cabinet.

Please let me know your thoughts and any advise you can give me. I look forward to hearing back from you.
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post #8 of 25 Old 11-23-2014, 02:04 PM
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I haven't done this myself but I know someone who did. If you are building custom cabinets why not create cabinet fronts that are cut to allow mounting a 12 or 15 inch bass driver and then using a separate amp. This would create cubby holes that themselves are sealed boxes.
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post #9 of 25 Old 06-08-2015, 07:19 PM
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I'm bringing this back to life because I am having the same dilemma.

The original plan was to build a false wall, however doing that would put my screen in my lap, so I opted to build a cabinet/stage that spanned the width of my room. It's completely open on the inside, and measures 24" deep by 139" wide by 26" tall. There is no floor, so the subs will sit on the concrete, or on patio stones.

The top of the cabinet is 3/4 mdf which is glued and nailed to the top of the frame. The frame is constructed by 2x4 framing. When it's done, it will have a faux leather top, and it will be covered by frames with speaker cloth.

The plan is to put 2 subwoofers in there. By having the whole width of the room to play with, I can pretty much place them anywhere.

That being said, I'm still paranoid that I will be getting rattles/boomyness when it's all done.
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post #10 of 25 Old 06-08-2015, 07:27 PM
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You can also place the subs behind the screen.

Just an option
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post #11 of 25 Old 06-08-2015, 08:41 PM
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That was the plan originally, but the screen would have had to come forward considerably more.
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post #12 of 25 Old Yesterday, 01:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Jubrown View Post
I'm bringing this back to life because I am having the same dilemma.

The original plan was to build a false wall, however doing that would put my screen in my lap, so I opted to build a cabinet/stage that spanned the width of my room. It's completely open on the inside, and measures 24" deep by 139" wide by 26" tall. There is no floor, so the subs will sit on the concrete, or on patio stones.

The top of the cabinet is 3/4 mdf which is glued and nailed to the top of the frame. The frame is constructed by 2x4 framing. When it's done, it will have a faux leather top, and it will be covered by frames with speaker cloth.

The plan is to put 2 subwoofers in there. By having the whole width of the room to play with, I can pretty much place them anywhere.

That being said, I'm still paranoid that I will be getting rattles/boomyness when it's all done.
Hi, Jubrown. How did it turn out to work? I'm within the similar design of stage under the screen and have the same concerns.
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post #13 of 25 Old Yesterday, 05:03 AM
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I'm within the similar design of stage under the screen and have the same concerns.
The main concern with having two subs in the front of the room is that both will excite the same potential cancellation dip from the reflection off the wall in back of the LP. If the LP is close enough to the wall in back of it, ie., less than 3.5 feet with an 80Hz crossover, it might not be a problem. Otherwise it's usually better to have one sub in the front of the room and the other in the back of the room.
Another issue with this arrangement is the Allison Effect response dip where the radiating plane is 1/4 wavelength from the wall behind that speakers. A major advantage to separate subs and mains is the ability to place the subs close enough to that wall, and the mains far enough from that wall, that the 1/4 wavelength frequency doesn't fall within either of their pass bands. That advantage is lost when all the speaker baffles are the same distance out. Required reading before building anything:
http://arqen.com/acoustics-101/speak...-interference/

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The main concern with having two subs in the front of the room is that both will excite the same potential cancellation dip from the reflection off the wall in back of the LP. If the LP is close enough to the wall in back of it, ie., less than 3.5 feet with an 80Hz crossover, it might not be a problem. Otherwise it's usually better to have one sub in the front of the room and the other in the back of the room.
Another issue with this arrangement is the Allison Effect response dip where the radiating plane is 1/4 wavelength from the wall behind that speakers. A major advantage to separate subs and mains is the ability to place the subs close enough to that wall, and the mains far enough from that wall, that the 1/4 wavelength frequency doesn't fall within either of their pass bands. That advantage is lost when all the speaker baffles are the same distance out. Required reading before building anything:
http://arqen.com/acoustics-101/speak...-interference/
That's great insight! Thanks a lot.

In respect of Allison effect, I'm planning to go with Tribe III on-walls, so if I get the idea right, this effect shall not be an issue here (pls see pic. attached, 1 square = approx 2 inches)
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They will be affected, but at a fairly high frequency. The only ways to eliminate Allison Effect in mains is to have the speakers either far enough out from the wall so that the 1/4 wavelength frequency to the wall is below the speaker pass band, or to wall the speakers in, so there is no reflection.

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They will be affected, but at a fairly high frequency. The only ways to eliminate Allison Effect in mains is to have the speakers either far enough out from the wall so that the 1/4 wavelength frequency to the wall is below the speaker pass band, or to wall the speakers in, so there is no reflection.
Will mid/high frequency absorption panels around in-walls help then?
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If it's in-wall it's walled in, no Allison Effect.

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If it's in-wall it's walled in, no Allison Effect.
My bad typo mean on-walls

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On-walls can usually be improved when there's damping on the wall behind them. It needs to extend a goodly distance around them, at least a foot in each direction.

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The main concern with having two subs in the front of the room is that both will excite the same potential cancellation dip from the reflection off the wall in back of the LP. If the LP is close enough to the wall in back of it, ie., less than 3.5 feet with an 80Hz crossover, it might not be a problem. Otherwise it's usually better to have one sub in the front of the room and the other in the back of the room.
... it seems that several concepts of boundary reflections shall be considered, once placing the subs and speakers:
1) room modes and effect of standing waves
Avoid nodes (nulls) at any cost as they can't be cured with EQ. Avoid antinodes (peaks) if possible, though can be partially cured with EQ. "Problematic" frequencies are dependent on specific room size. Proper placing of seat positions is a solution. Anthony Grimani gives a great talk on this at HTG 178 episode, starting with minute 4.

2) SBIR-effect (S is for Speaker)
Arises due to speaker positioning relative to the wall. Speaker positioning within 1/4 wavelength from the wall leads to cancelation of the frequency with this wavelength (non-modal frequency null). As far as I understand, cancelation (and nulls correspondently) occurs at specific points (where speaker is and each 1/2 wavelength further: 1/4, 3/4, 5/4 etc.). Can be avoided with proper speaker positioning (Bill shared a great reading on that).

Natural question here is: If cancelation occurs only at specific points, rather than the whole wave (as if two waves with 180 phase shift meet), can't it be cured with moving a listener position instead, so it is not in 1/4, 3/4, 5/4 of this specific wavelength? or while cancelation occurs at the source (speaker), then it distorts the whole sound field across the room?

PS. To be more precise, as you move from the line perpendicular to the wall, connecting you, speaker and the wall, things become not that straightforward, because the path of the wavelength changes. But low frequencies (below the Schroeder frequency for the room) wavelength is so much bigger than typical room, that these changes are pretty minor and perpendicularity of the wall doesn't matter.

3) LBIR-effect (L is for Listener) or LBE (Listener Boundary Effect)
Arises due to the listener positioning relative to the wall. The physics is the same as for SBIR: when sound wave hits the wall it cancels at 1/4 of its wavelength (and each 1/2 further), so you need to move seating position to avoid cancelation at the given frequencies.

Thus issue with 2 subs at front wall comes exactly from the 3rd concept (LBIR): at given frequency (seating distance from back wall = 1/4 wavelength, 3/4, 5/4 etc.) the seating area is in null and both subs contribute equally in cancelation at this point due to similar wave paths. Is it correct?
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Natural question here is: If cancelation occurs only at specific points, rather than the whole wave (as if two waves with 180 phase shift meet), can't it be cured with moving a listener position instead, so it is not in 1/4, 3/4, 5/4 of this specific wavelength?
That's why I mentioned having the LP less than 3.5 feet from the rear wall. That places the 1/4 wavelength dimension above 80Hz, below which is where cancellation nulls are most problematic. When it's more than that you're going to get a null unless you counter the null with subs behind the LP.

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That's why I mentioned having the LP less than 3.5 feet from the rear wall. That places the 1/4 wavelength dimension above 80Hz, below which is where cancellation nulls are most problematic. When it's more than that you're going to get a null unless you counter the null with subs behind the LP.
Thanks Bill!
So in case LP is within 3.5ft range from rear wall (and not in room modes at the same time) 2 subs at the front wall may be a viable solution.
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Thanks Bill!
So in case LP is within 3.5ft range from rear wall (and not in room modes at the same time) 2 subs at the front wall may be a viable solution.
Chances are it will be OK. The next question is the symmetry of those subs. 99 times out of 100 you see them symmetrically placed with respect to the side walls and/or mains. 90 times out of 100 they shouldn't be. When it comes to designing listening rooms interior designers, who love symmetry, shouldn't even be allowed in the house.

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Chances are it will be OK. The next question is the symmetry of those subs. 99 times out of 100 you see them symmetrically placed with respect to the side walls and/or mains. 90 times out of 100 they shouldn't be. When it comes to designing listening rooms interior designers, who love symmetry, shouldn't even be allowed in the house.
Yeah, I see where you coming from
Will try to balance between sound quality and WAF. Thanks!

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Will try to balance between sound quality and WAF. Thanks!
You're dealing with polar opposites. Women in general don't care what it sounds like, only what it looks like. It's the reason Bose survives.

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