When setting up a home theater or sound system the placement of the subwoofers and speakers is one of the most important aspects we have to look at very carefully. A subwoofer is key to producing low frequencies/bass but it should be placed in the right position to get the most out of it.
When it comes to placing the subwoofer some recommend placing it in a corner, some talks about the place in the front of the room, and so on. However, the best position will depend on the room and your personal preference. Experiment with different positions to find where it will perform the best.
However, some also recommend placing the subwoofer on its side which leads many of us to think can a subwoofer be placed on its side?
Yes, a subwoofer can be placed on its side, but it may affect the sound profile and performance of the subwoofer. The first thing that you should do before considering placing your subwoofer on its side is to understand its design.
Some subwoofers are designed specifically to be placed vertically and when you place them on their side the sound waves it produces will be directed horizontally instead of vertically. This may result in a different sound profile, with a potential loss of bass response or a change in the direction of sound propagation.
There are also subwoofers that can be placed vertically as well as horizontally without compromising sound quality.
So find out the subwoofer design and then move forward. In this article, we will talk about subwoofer placement in detail, including possible benefits and drawbacks of placing a subwoofer on its sides. We’ll also provide some tips on how to optimize the sound quality of your subwoofer, regardless of its orientation.
Factors To Consider When Placing A Subwoofer On Its Side
When placing a subwoofer on its side, there are several factors to consider to ensure optimal performance and sound quality. Here are the top considerations when placing a subwoofer on its side;
Front Firing Vs. Down Firing:
If you are familiar with the subwoofers, you must be aware that they come in two types; front-firing and down-firing. The sound comes out from the sides in a front-firing subwoofer while in a down-firing subwoofer from the bottom.
You can’t use a down-firing subwoofer as a front-firing or vice versa. The working mechanism of a down-firing subwoofer is to vibrate the floor, while a front-firing subwoofer pushes the air.
You can place a subwoofer on its side if it’s a front-firing sub. On the other hand, placing a down-firing subwoofer on its side will end up vibrating the floor.
Usually, front-firing subwoofers are placed in line with the front speakers to perform in sync and deliver bass sound waves by vibrating the air. That’s why placing them on their sides doesn’t affect the sound output.
Consider The Shape
Have a close examination of the subwoofer, and you will notice there are some extended parts on the surface called nodes.
The nodes aren’t just for aesthetic appeal but also to improve the stability and performance of the subwoofer. When placing a subwoofer on its side, the nodes’ position changes from the surface to the side.
When you play music, the nodes shake, transferring the vibration to other subwoofer parts. It, as a result, affects performance stability.
So when manufacturers suggest placing the subwoofer on its side, it is to ensure that the surface is vibration-free and sturdy. A shaky platform won’t only affect the sound quality but will also damage the subwoofer.
Moreover, a cubic subwoofer is effortless to adjust on its side as its center remains the same. Simply put, the position won’t affect the acoustic quality whether you position a perfect cube sub to stand upright or on its side.
In contrast, an imperfect cube or rectangular sub only fits in some places if you try doing so. A rectangular subwoofer is tricky to adjust since the weight distribution changes on moving the subwoofer. However, positioning an imperfect cube subwoofer on its side might help improve sound performance.
Consider The Design
A subwoofer is a must-have piece of equipment to get the most out of your stereo system or home theater. Most of the time, when we buy a subwoofer, it comes with an instruction guide. The guide highlights how to optimize a sub and decides its best position.
If your subwoofer comes with the instructions, it must include mounting hardware. The mounting points help decide the subwoofer’s placement and whether you can place it on its side.
Another thing that helps determine the subwoofer’s placement is the slot for speaker wires. If the connectivity slot is on the front or back, then you place to position a subwoofer on its side. However, if the slot is on the side, the side placement will give an awkward cable adjustment.
Why & Why NOT to Place A Subwoofer On Its Side
Every audiophile has a unique taste; some find the subwoofer on its sides the best placement, while others don’t recommend this placement. Everything has its pros and cons. Here we have highlighted the benefits and drawbacks of placing a subwoofer on its side;
- Placing the sub on its side is the best option for tight spaces.
- It helps improve the room’s aesthetic and make it look more appealing. Placing the subwoofer in unique ways improves aesthetic values.
- Side placement is best for speakers with awkward cable management.
- Almost every subwoofer comes with standing feet and is attached via inserted thread. Placing the sub on its side, the first thing you will do is remove the feet. As a result, there will be multiple small ports. It adds a whistling sound whenever you operate the subwoofer. You can leave the feet on; however, it will affect the room’s aesthetic.
- Placing the subwoofer on its side affects the bass quality.
- Only perfect cubic subwoofers work well on their sides, while the rectangular ones affect the sound quality.
- The side placement of the subwoofer is prone to introduce more vibration.
Best Practices For Placing A Subwoofer On Its Side
Before wrapping up this article, here are highlights of the best practices when placing a subwoofer on its side;
- If you experience excessive vibration, place feet or a non-slip pad under the subwoofer. Or you can also place socks to suppress the vibration.
- Don’t cover the subwoofer with any material. If so, you will experience muffing or buzzing sounds.
- Don’t stick around one position. Experiment with different placement settings to find the best sound quality.
- Keep the subwoofer close to the wall corners for extra bassy response and to hear all frequencies equally.
- Keep the subwoofer at a distance from the wall corners for better sound quality.
- Consider having perfect cubic subwoofers instead of rectangular or other shapes since rectangular subs weight distribution is tricky.
- Ensure not to place anything near the subwoofer that reflects the bass sound waves and alters the sound quality.
Placing a subwoofer on its side can have both advantages and disadvantages. Placing the subwoofer on its side offers a number of advantages including saving space, fitting better in some setups, the horizontally oriented driver that produces a better bass response, can improve the room’s aesthetic, can help to reduce vibrations or rattling, and more.
However, placing a subwoofer on its side can also have negative impacts including the omnidirectional sounding subwoofer sound waves may become directional, which can affect the overall sound quality and clarity. In addition, heat dissipation and distortion can be possible drawbacks.
Considering the benefits and drawbacks your personal preference and experiment come into play. Above I shared a few of the factors that you should consider as they will help whether or not placing the subwoofer on its side are the ideal spot.