When setting up your home theater, the subwoofer is the final piece to add and give the room the final touch. The deep and thumping bass gives another level of experience while listening to music or watching movies. While the subwoofer is a must-have home theater component, its placement determines overall performance.
The placement of a subwoofer is a crucial consideration since it decides how everything will sound to the ear. Beginners to audio often ask where to place the subwoofer. More specifically, can a subwoofer be placed behind the TV?
Yes, a subwoofer can be placed behind a TV, but it may not be ideal since the bass output won’t be clear and smooth, especially if you have a front-firing subwoofer. However, a down-firing subwoofer might sound OK if you have enough space behind the TV. At the same time, there will be consequences such as subwoofer vibration might affect the TV image quality and cause distortions.
Whether you have enough space behind the TV or not and are on the fence about deciding where to place the subwoofer, this guide is what you need.
Below we have highlighted why placing the subwoofer behind the TV is ideal and the situations where you should avoid placing one.
Why & Why Not Place The Subwoofer Behind The TV?
Many people will tell you it is OK to place the subwoofer behind the TV as it doesn’t cause serious issues. However, the other half (serious audiophiles) say you should avoid placing it behind the TV.
In this section, we’ve highlighted the benefits and disadvantages of placing the subwoofer behind the TV.
Before getting into the negative side, let’s check out the benefits of placing your subwoofer behind the TV;
Convenience And Space-Saving
If you have a small room and want to free up floor space, placing the subwoofer behind the TV is the best way to make your room look cleaner.
We all know that subwoofers are significant, and putting them behind the TV frees up floor space. Another plus point is the one-step installation. All you need to do is install wall mounts to install the subwoofers.
Subwoofers Remain Out of Sight:
We can’t say about you, but most audiophiles don’t like large subwoofers consuming much floor space; they often look for ways to keep them out of sight, like placing them behind the couch or TV. If you want your home theater equipment hidden, put them behind the TV to accomplish the task.
Aesthetics and Cable Management:
Placing the subwoofer behind the TV is not only to keep them out of sight but to manage the cables more efficiently. It is super annoying when the wires are scattered all over the floor. If you are not paying attention, you might trip over.
On the other hand, positioning the subwoofer behind the TV means you don’t have to see power cables running across the floor or walls. Even if you don’t have enough space behind the TV, you can tuck the cords to reduce the clutter of wires. It helps improve the room’s appearance.
The distorted bass output is the major drawback of locating the subwoofer behind the TV. The outcome becomes more visible when the distance between the wall and the subwoofer is too small. Consider the following cons to comprehend why placing the subwoofer behind the TV is a bad idea;
Vibration is why most audiophiles avoid locating the subwoofer behind the TV. If the subwoofer is too close to the TV & the distance between the wall and the subwoofer is tight, the vibration will be higher. You might be comfortable with the placement if the beat is not a problem.
Before you mount the subwoofer behind the TV, think about the chances of sound-waves reflection. Since the TV is at the front of the subwoofer, the passing sound waves will reflect it and bounce off to the roof or over your head. As a result, the overall acoustic quality will be distorted with poor bass response.
Room Acoustics and Interference
Most audiophiles argue over the fact that bass sound waves are omnidirectional and travel in all directions. It means it doesn’t matter where you position the sub. Bass sound waves are omnidirectional; however, the quality your ears will get depends on what happens with the sound waves once they leave the subwoofer.
Room acoustic has a significant part in altering the overall bass quality. Suppose you position a small subwoofer behind a large-screen TV. As a result, most of the bass sound waves will be reflected by the large TV screen.
The reflected bass sound will then combine with the source sound from the TV, resulting in acoustic interference. In a nutshell, the TV’s position interferes with the reflected sound waves and source sound.
If your TV is close to the wall corners, and you are placing a subwoofer behind it, get ready to receive a lot of reflection. Since bass sound waves are omnidirectional, the closed wall corners and TV will suffocate the bass sound waves pathway. As a result, you will receive echo-like bass, making it hard to get accurate audio dialogue.
Adverse Magnetic Effect
Subwoofers are known to have high magnets to produce low-frequency sound waves. Placing subwoofers behind large-back or old-style CRT TVs will adversely affect the TV. The magnetic field will make a rainbow-colored or related effect on the screen.
Nevertheless, you don’t have to be concerned if you have a magnetically shielded subwoofer. Or, to deal with it, ensure to place the subwoofer away from the TV to prevent the effect.
How To Place A Subwoofer Behind A TV?
Due to limited floor space or better room aesthetics, many audiophiles find themselves in a position where they are forced to place the subwoofer behind the TV. Since you decided to position the sub behind the TV, here we will help you do that;
Keep It Away from the Wall Corners
Subwoofer sound waves are omnidirectional; nothing should hinder their pathway. Keep the subwoofer at least 1-2 feet away from the wall corners; the more, the better. Nevertheless, if you have a sealed sub, you can place it near the wall corners.
For ported subwoofers, the ports should never be toward the wall. Many people in public forums recommend plugging up the hole with a sock, cotton balls, or something soft to reduce the vibration. However, we advise you not to block the port. If not, the bass quality will be reduced.
Keep It In Phase With the Front Speaker
More than concerned about the subwoofer’s placement, you should consider its phase adjustment. Subwoofer phase control allows users to add electrical delay to the external signals. The electrical delay helps the subwoofer to mix better with the loudspeaker.
To blend the subwoofer well with the front speaker:
- Flip the phase by 0/180° backward or forward.
- Listen to the bass level.
- Keep maximum control over the bass level for better acoustic quality.
Adjust the Sound Settings
As discussed earlier, placing the subwoofer behind the TV means you won’t get the best sound quality. However, we have some ways to improve the sound quality.
The latest A/V receivers come with efficient room correction settings. This feature automatically detects and point-out placement and speaker distance issues and helps you get the best acoustic quality. You can use crossover settings to redefine the audio switches to sub-output from the speaker.
Generally, it is not recommended to place a subwoofer behind the TV. Not only can the vibration create unwanted resonance, leading to a distorted and muddy bass sound, but the vibration might also affect the screen’s image quality.
The subwoofer placement will depend on your room space, personal preference, and design. However, it is recommended to place the subwoofer at least a few feet away from the TV and experiment with the different positions.
To make things clearer above, I shared the possible drawbacks and benefits of placing the subwoofer behind the TV. In addition, we shared some tips that might help you place the subwoofer behind the TV without compromising the image quality and sound quality. So better check them out and, after proper research, make the decision.