For people who love audio, there are few things more frustrating than a home audio system with weak sound. In the one place where there should be no restrictions on your audio system, you want to get the fullest, richest sound possible. Fortunately, getting that sound doesn’t have to mean remortgaging the house to buy a completely new setup.
Enter the humble subwoofer.
Subs can give your sound a foundation that just can’t be matched with a typical speaker setup alone; going beyond merely improving the bass. So let’s get into how to connect a home audio subwoofer.
What You Will Need
Installing a home subwoofer is not nearly as complicated as you might think. All the connections should come in the form of standard jacks, and any direct wire connections will almost certainly hook up to twist-on wire connectors.
The only thing you may need is wire. Subwoofers are commonly placed near the audio system itself, but every setup is different. If your installation requires the subwoofer to be placed some distance from the sound system itself, you may need more extended wiring than whatever came in the box.
Hooking Your Subwoofer Up
Once you’re happy with the placement, it’s time to connect it up. Check the back of your amplifier for a connection labelled “Sub Out”, “LFE Out”, or “Line Out”. This needs to be connected to the “Line In” connection on the back of your subwoofer. It’s as simple as that. Switch your sub on and hit play to make sure your sub is receiving audio.
Depending on your system, however, there may not be any bass-management options available to connect your subwoofer to. In these cases, you will need to make use of your subwoofer’s speaker-level—or high-level—inputs.
Using speaker cables, you connect these to the speaker output jacks on your receiver or amp. You will be doubling up the connections there, but this will ensure your speakers and sub will get the full range frequencies from your sound system.
[Video] How to Install a HomeTheatre Subwoofer
Your sub’s crossover feature will determine where to cut off the higher frequencies. The crossover will almost certainly need adjusting to suit your setup, but as a rule of thumb, the larger your speakers, the lower your crossover should be dialled in.
With that done, you can set about tweaking the volume of your sub to get the level of bass support you need. You should turn it up just to the point where you hear the bass from your subwoofer coming through. Once at that level, make minor tweaks to the volume to suit your personal preference. Be aware; it won’t take much to take it from a beefy sound to a window shaking rumble.
[Video] Subwoofer Set Up & Optimization
Placing Your Subwoofer
Assuming you are not limited in where you can place your subwoofer, there is something of an art to exactly where it should sit. For the vast majority of home audio setups, your new subwoofer will be competing for floor space with the other items in your room.
In those cases, don’t panic; you will still get considerable improvement in your audio quality from incorporating the subwoofer. If you are not restricted on where you can place it, however, let’s go over some tricks for finding the best spot.
Start With the Obvious
The obvious placement for a subwoofer is front and centre. This is assuming your entertainment (TV, projection screen, etc.) is front and centre also.
When listening, the bass should not feel like it is coming from a specific location. If you can feel/hear a distinctive localization, move on to the next section.
Go Stand in the Corner
The subwoofer that is, not you. The effect may vary based on rooms, but in theory, in a square room, the corner should be the best spot for your subwoofer.
By reducing the chance of hitting acoustic dead spots, you get the most out of your bass sound. Be sure to try all of the corners in your room before giving up on this one.
So, front and centre didn’t do it, and none of the corners’ working either, it’s time to switch places with your subwoofer. Yes, you read that right. Set your audio system playing something repetitive with a decent bassline. If you have some kind of audio loop, that would be perfect. You’re going to set the subwoofer in the prime “listening” position in your room. If you have a dedicated entertainment room, this could be a specific chair. For most of us, it’s probably one of the seats on a sofa.
Set your audio loop playing and begin to work your way around the room, trying all the realistic positions your subwoofer could be placed and see how the bass sounds. There’s no point in trying areas where you can’t put the subwoofer because you’ll only end up feeling bad if you find the perfect bass in a spot where you can’t put the sub.
Once you’ve tried every spot, be sure to compare the bass at similar parts of your audio loop, choose the one in which the bass sounded the best, and put your sub there.
Other Placement Tips
If you’ve tried all of the above and you simply can’t find the spot that works for you, consider being open to different listening positions. Can your sofa or chair be moved? Perhaps the whole entertainment setup could sit in a different location. You could also try doubling up with an additional subwoofer. It’s all about striking a balance between the perfect sound, and what is practical for your situation.
[Video] Easy Guide to Subwoofer Placement
Now that we’ve covered everything let’s just go over that one more time.
Ensure you have enough wire to reach the optimal location from your sound system.
Find the best place for your subwoofer.
Hook it up and dial in the sound for the perfect bass.
And that’s all there is to it. Sit back, and enjoy those rich, low frequencies.