Knowing how to achieve the perfect subwoofer setup may just be the key to elevating your listening experience, even in a smaller apartment or townhouse. While it does take a little work, below are some subwoofer setup tips for you to get the most out of your audio system while reducing noise-induced tension with neighbours.
We recommend trying out these tips one at a time until you find the ideal subwoofer placement for your space. When it comes to performance, a proper setup – especially in a smaller space – can do wonders even with a moderately priced system, and you just might find that a system running at peak efficiency is less likely to send energy through your walls and floors. The result? An immersive subwoofer setup ready for movie nights with friends and neighbours.
• Fine-Tune Your Subwoofer Output Volume
• Find the Ideal Subwoofer Setup Location
• Do the Subwoofer Crawl
• Hardwood or Carpet? Optmising Your Subwoofer Setup
• Reducing Vibration to Improve Subwoofer Listening
• An Unintuitive Subwoofer Setup Solution
• Last Tips
Fine-Tune Your Subwoofer Output Volume
If you can hear your subwoofer as a separate audio component it is either in a bad location or the gain is set too high. Getting your subwoofer in balance will increase the quality of your sound while reducing excess noise spilling over into your neighbour’s space.
For music absolutely, and for movies generally, you should not necessarily hear your subwoofer as a separate component in your system. You should feel and sense that it's there without your attention being drawn to it. When setting your volumes, start with the subwoofer at its minimum then slowly raise the volume until you hear it and your eyes are drawn toward it. At that point, back the volume off slightly – until the bass is in the room evenly without a noticeable origin. As you raise and lower the overall system volume, the subwoofer output will be smooth and succinct.
Find the Ideal Subwoofer Setup Location
Subwoofers are generally placed along walls or in corners simply out of convenience. But from a listening point of view, they’re not the best place for an optimised subwoofer setup.
Try placing your subwoofer in the middle of the room or near where you usually sit; you can hide it under a table or behind a chair if necessary. A subwoofer setup that's closer to you lessens the need to pressurise the entire room with bass energy – you'll still get that sense of vibration and deep sound you're looking for.
Do the Subwoofer Crawl
Place your subwoofer where the main listening chair normally goes. Play something bass-heavy. Then crawl around the room with your head at subwoofer level until you find the spot where it sounds best – you’ll be surprised at how much the quality and volume of the bass changes as you move around your room.
Once you’ve located the best sounding spot (bass is even, precise, clear) you’ve found the best home for your subwoofer setup. Simply place the subwoofer in that spot and put your chair back where it belongs. If you find that the best spot is in the middle of the floor, you may have to compromise with somewhere less obtrusive.
Hardwood or Carpet? Optmising Your Subwoofer Setup
The material around your subwoofer setup plays a bigger role than you may think. Hardwood floors can cause more noise to travel over to your neighbours’, as this material tends to let energy travel further before fading. Carpets are helpful, and properly placed absorptive material is generally even better – bass is often improved by placing traps and other energy absorbers throughout the space.
While it may be somewhat helpful to place isolation or absorption directly under your subwoofer, only a certain amount of energy is actually directly transferred from the subwoofer cabinet to the floor. The larger culprit is a room that has been pressurised with a large amount of bass energy. Obviously, the closer you or an object is to the subwoofer itself the more energy you (or the wall) will experience.
A subwoofer setup that's at an angle to your common wall may help cut the energy transferred through the wall by a dB or maybe two – which may sometimes be all you need. Placing your subwoofer on an outside wall (and at an angle) can help a lot, too. Try to place your subwoofer as far away from the wall as possible, especially if it's ported.
Know where the structural columns in your room are? Place your subwoofer setup near one and let the column absorb the bulk of the energy before transferring it to your neighbour. A tip to remember: corners are never a good idea, unless you want boomy, uncontrolled bass that sounds better next door or in the apartment below than in your own room.
Reducing Vibration to Improve Subwoofer Listening
Though there are a number of products specifically designed to isolate your subwoofer from the floor, these won’t help much for preventing vibration from leaking into common walls or floors. It may reduce sound energy by a dB or less, but nothing more.
But what it can do is improve the perceived performance of your subwoofer setup by reducing comb filters and reflections. While this may be somewhat of a ‘placebo effect’, if it sounds better to you, why not give it a go?
An Unintuitive Subwoofer Setup Solution
Two subwoofers. It may be unintuitive, but adding a second subwoofer to your setup can help reduce the amount of bass energy your neighbours are hearing.
Of course, you’ll need to set them up properly and play at a balanced volume, but a second subwoofer will eliminate standing waves – something that may be crushing bass volume where you’re sitting, while raising it to obtrusive levels elsewhere. A two-subwoofer setup may also help pressurise your room to a decent listening level without forcing your single subwoofer to work so hard.
Get your system running at a level that is slightly higher than what you normally listen at, and ask your neighbour if you can listen for your KUBE 12 subwoofer yourself at their place. This will give you an idea of where the usual volume is, and it may go a long way in letting your neighbour know you’re trying to be considerate.
Movies generally contain short bursts of bass energy and may be less annoying for your neighbour than a steady beat from music. With that in mind, you could play movies at a pretty strong volume and back off on the music volume a little more. If you want to listen to a lot of music loudly, set your system’s crossover very low so the subwoofer is only getting the very bottom end of the program, while your speakers take care of the rest of the workload.
A more obvious tip would be to use the night setting on your receiver after a certain time. Of course, it’s all up to you. Try adopting some or all of these tips to create the ideal subwoofer setup for you, your space and your neighbours.
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