There’s a new movie showing on Netflix, but you can’t seem to enjoy the movie because it lacks that perfect sound. The bass does not boom in your compact speakers as you imagine. Time to finally integrate your subwoofer into the hi-fi system.
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Subwoofer – what is it and what do you need it for?
The subwoofer is also called a bass box because it amplifies the tones at low frequencies. Normal compact speakers are not able to cover the entire frequency range – under certain circumstances, you may not notice the bass line of a song without a subwoofer. If you have large, high-quality floor standing speakers, you can do without subwoofers in most cases, as the large speakers generally map all frequencies from 40 Hz to 20 kHz linearly. However, a subwoofer is often the better choice for particularly bass-heavy electronic music or the acoustic enjoyment of an action film in the home cinema.
Subwoofers are conceivable in various hi-fi systems: whether in a comprehensive 5.1 Heim home cinema system or in the reduced version with only two normal speakers and just the subwoofer. When connected and set up correctly, a subwoofer enriches the sound experience.
Connect the subwoofer to AV receiver or stereo system
Usually, you only need a so-called cinch cable to integrate your subwoofer into the hi-fi system. However, this only applies to active subwoofers that do not require a separate amplifier. With passive bass speakers, it is also necessary to connect the external amplifier. How this works in individual cases can be found in the operating instructions for your subwoofer.
Consider the following:
- Most AV receivers have a connector labeled “Subwoofer”, “Sub” or “Sub Out”. Put the cinch cable in there. The other side comes directly into the appropriate connection on your subwoofer.
- If your AV receiver also has two subwoofer outputs, it doesn’t matter which one you use. The second is only intended for a second bass box.
- If you do not have a separate AV receiver, but for example only a one-piece compact system including speakers, you can also connect your subwoofer via a cinch cable, if such an output is available. Otherwise, a normal speaker cable (jack plug) can be used to connect the subwoofer and the normal speaker output.
- And last but not least, there are of course now wireless subwoofers that do not require a cable connection. The configuration is usually done via special apps, which are available for most models for both iOS and Android.
Set up the subwoofer correctly
Acoustically, the subwoofer is not tied to the other speakers, which is why it can theoretically be placed anywhere in the room but it could be better placed strategically so that it radiates the sound in all three directions. Nevertheless, where you put your subwoofer does matter because not every location is equally suitable. Ideally, it should sound like the bass is also coming from the speakers. Always follow the following when positioning your subwoofer in the listening room or home theater:
- Do not place the subwoofer equally far from two parallel walls, otherwise, a so-called flutter echo may occur.
- Do not place the subwoofer in the corner of the room and not too close to a wall, as reflections can otherwise impair listening pleasure.
- In a home theater system, do not place the subwoofer too close to the center speaker, as the bass could otherwise overlay the speech output.
- Do not place the subwoofer on the floor, but raise it slightly and it is best to place it opposite the position where you usually enjoy the music or the film. This ensures more direct sound from the subwoofer and fewer reflections from the room.
Regardless if you are working with a mono RCA cable or with an RCA Y cable with two connections at one end, even if your subwoofer has two inputs (usually a red and a white), it is enough to plug your mono cinch cable into one of the sockets – often one is labeled “Mono”. The Y cables only have low volume advantages, which you can easily compensate for in practice by simply turning your system a little louder.
Most speaker set-ups can benefit from using a subwoofer – provided that you have connected it correctly and placed it sensibly in the room. Then it ensures a crisp bass when playing music or sound at home theater.
Connecting the subwoofer is a child’s play and can be done quickly using a suitable cable. Only the best possible placement of the bass box requires a little time because the optimal location cannot be determined overall. Trying is about studying here – just rely on your hearing to find out where the bass comes across optimally.