Subwoofer placement/orientation - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 03-31-2011, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm a true newbie at this (which is probably apparent from my questions).

I recently purchased a soundbar with wireless subwoofer and I'm wondering where I'm supposed to put the subwoofer. I originally had it on the far wall from the soundbar and it seemed to be okay but sometimes we were aware of the source of the bass -- which I understand is a not good. I then moved it behind the TV but I that didn't seem like a good spot for it. Now I've moved it about 12 feet away from the TV on the same wall (there's a flagstone fireplace in between) and sort of in the corner, about 4" from both walls..

My question now is whether it's supposed to be oriented in a specific way. Right now, I have the speaker part facing the room. Does orientation matter for the subwoofer or can I turn it any way that fits?

Thank you.
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post #2 of 4 Old 03-31-2011, 12:38 PM
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When I used to do audio setup (When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth), the common wisdom was the sub-woofer(s) should be close to the main speakers. There was only stereo back then and usually this involved two sub-woofers. When doing a setup, I usually attempted to keep the subs as close to the plane of the main speakers as possible. However, the subs often ended up behind the main speakers which usually worked okay. (WAF)

When it comes to soundbars and HTIB's, this is a totally different ball game. I have not seen or heard one of these devices that included a true sub-woofer. A real sub-woofer is designed to reproduce only the lowest one to one and one-half octaves of bass.

Below 40hz, the beginning of the lowest octave, most sound is non directional and actual placement matters little. Above 60hz, almost all sound has directional information. This means, if your sub-woofer is well away from your main speaker, you will ocassionally have sounds coming from it that are non-coherent with the sound coming from your soundbar.

Back to soundbars. The device that is usually called a sub-woofer, included with your soundar, is actually only a woofer. Some are very good. Some go thump, thump with little sonic information. Since your sub (I will call it that for practicality since that is what the manufacturer calls it) is required to probably produce about half of the bass region, and never goes down to the lowest octave of bass, for the cleanest, most natural sound, it should be as close to the main sound source as possible.

If your wireless sub uses a cone driver facing a specific direction, typically, this should fire into your listening area. Some manufacturers will, on occassion, give you varying instructions, but a driver on one side of a device usually indicates that side should face the listener. There are also subs out there with drivers facing downward, to use the floor as bass reinforcement. Also, some subs have what appear to be two woofer cones. One of these is usually a passive cone which acts to make the system behave as a ported system to increase efficiency and extend bass response (lower, not louder).

With most consumer soundbars, the manufacturers offer little practical advice on setup. When the tell someone the sub can be mounted up to forty feet from the main unit, Joe six pack, thinks that is where it should be and starts cutting a whole in his living room wall.

Actually, trial and error is one of the best ways to go about woofer placement. Sometimes the advice I have listed above might result in standing waves in a room and a one-note bass sound.

Hope this helps.

David Freeman
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post #3 of 4 Old 03-31-2011, 08:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you David. I read about sound reflecting from walls and wondered about that. I have moved the sub-woofer around the room and actually preferred the apparently undesireable rear wall location. The new location seems to be working out okay now that I re-oriented the box to face the room rather than the TV.

We're rather behind times when it comes to audio here -- as in a 40+ year old stero system and a first generation Bose CD player. As you predicted, we've become accustomed to the improvement over the television's built-in speakers. It may not be true surround sound but people do notice it. I was demonstrating the difference to my niece the other day and when I switched from the TV to the soundbar, she looked to find the source of the sound.

Thanks again for your many suggestions.
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post #4 of 4 Old 04-01-2011, 11:22 AM
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Just curious. Which soundbar did you purchase? Sounds as if you are pleased with the sound quality.

Something I find amusing and disappointing is the snobbery or dismissiveness of many audiophiles towards soundbars. From the newer generation of audiophiles who believe you need five, seven or nine channels calibrated using Audyssey and believe if you are not truly surrounded by sound you are missing something, to the old heads like me that calibrate with a meter and think that two channel audio calibrated with a meter is as close to perfection as it gets.

Even when I was involved with custom audio in the 1970's and 1980's, I always tried to get a feel for what a customer could afford and wanted to spend as there were usually a number of reasonable options (back then). Soundbars fall into that category for me.

Soundbars usually offer vastly improved sound over built-in TV speakers. Built-in speakers have mostly gotten worse over the past five or six years due to the thinning of the hi-def panels plus the fact so many are orientated in a downward firing position without compensating equalization in the amplifier section to offset the assosciated problems.

Soundbars are relatively easy to set up and usually take some effort to make them sound horrible. This is not the case with many HTIB's or inexpensive seperates. Plus for many people, sound coming from the location of the TV is the only option decorator wise.

I still have the remnants of a medium expensive audio system in my sun-room. And yes, there is a night and day difference between the sound of my audio system and any of the soundbars I have encountered over the years. However, I hear my soundbar more while watching TV in a week than I listen to my audio system in a month. The audio system is used for classical, opera, occassional jazz, pop or country. It is also used for filling the whole condo with sound on those days that my wife and I are cleaning or have a big project and want some noise to accompany us.

Anyway, hope you enjoy your soundbar like I enjoy mine.

David Freeman
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