Buying a down firing subwoofer is a good decision. It offers a better experience when used in surround sound systems or home theater systems. However, down firing subs need extra care compared to front firing subs.
This is not to say that one type of subs performs better than the other. However, you should be very careful about where you place them. The location and surface can optimize performance and deliver top-quality sounds. Should you place down firing subwoofer on carpet or hard surface? If you’re having trouble finding a good surface for your sub, read on to learn where to locate it.
What is a Down Firing Subwoofer?
Not all subwoofers are designed for down firing. Though all quality subwoofers will give you maximum bass and sound effect regardless of their design, down-firing subwoofers are designed to produce sound at a more precise presentation of low-end frequencies.
These subs face downwards in the cabinet. They use the floor to redirect the sound and air pressure for better optimized sound.
But remember, not all subs are designed to down fire. For instance, a front firing sub cannot achieve the same effect when faced towards the floor. That’s because it is designed to direct sound waves without any reflection. On the other hand, down firing subs direct the sound towards the bottom to create a vibration and rumbling effect for maximum audio quality. Since these subs face downwards, it would help if you knew exactly where to place it.
Where Can I Place a Down Firing Subwoofer?
Unlike front firing subs that direct low-frequency sound into an open space, sound from down firings subs immediately contacts a surface before dispersing in the room. Therefore, placing them on the wrong surface can affect the sound quality and degrade their lifespan.
1. Placing Down Firing Subwoofer on Carpet
It is okay to place a down firing subwoofer on carpet regardless of how thick it is. Since sound waves from a sub are omnidirectional, you do not have to point it directly on a hard or reflective surface. The carpet can allow sound waves to pass through it before it hits the floor. This means the carpet will not affect or improve sound quality from the subwoofer.
A carpet may also absorb some of the sound waves from your subwoofer. This protects your neighbors from extreme rumbling or vibrations whenever you are listening to music or watching a movie. However, since the bass will still seep through the carpet, the noise can still affect your neighbors.
Subsonic wavelengths that subwoofers produce are so long and cannot be affected by surfaces such as carpets. If the depth of the carpet is less than 16 inches, it can absorb sound at frequencies above 200 Hz and not the low frequencies. This may not affect the quality of bass from the sub.
A thick carpet can also catch any hissing or squealing sounds from the equipment or any high audio frequency signals resulting in better bass performance. If you place your subwoofer on a carpet, you can improve its performance by ensuring that the cabinet has stands or cones on all corners or place it on a hard platform.
2. Placing Down Firing Subwoofer on Concrete
Another option would be to place the sub directly on concrete. Hard and smooth surfaces such as concrete or tiles reflect sound directly and can cause an unpleasant experience. If you have to place your subwoofer on floor or shelf, it would be ideal to place a soft material under the sub to reduce the reflected vibrations.
You can use a towel or any absorbent material and place it under the subwoofer to tighten the sound. Placing a subwoofer directly on a hard surface will also kill unpleasant vibrations from the sub completely.
To ensure that you get the best from your sub, you can also build a floating floor or a wooden subfloor. It raises the subwoofer off the concrete floor. You can also use isolation pads to reduce the vibrations and improve bass performance.
Unlike tweeter or regular stereo speakers that radiate waves along a narrow axis, subwoofers radiate bass in all directions. They cannot be affected by how close they are to a surface. However, to ensure that hard surfaces such as concrete or tiles do not affect the performance, you can place an MDF board as a base plate to separate the sub from the floor.
Though the type of floor or surface where you place your sub is crucial, you should also consider the driver space. This is the space between the floor and the subwoofer driver. If the carpet touches the driver, it will physically restrict its movement and this will affect the sub’s performance.
Where Can I Place a Down Firing Subwoofer?
Down firing subwoofers fit best when installed close to the listening area. You can place it next to your sitting area, behind your couch, in a corner, or anywhere else, depending on the room’s acoustics. Though this will not improve its vibrating effects, it will enhance the bass response.
When placed in a corner, the subwoofer can use the wall to send out the audio signals evenly throughout the room. However, since every room has many obstructions that can affect the output, it may be ideal to try the subwoofer in different locations. This way, you can tell which positions work best for you.
Another critical factor you should consider when buying a down firing subwoofer is its specs. Always ensure that your subwoofer’s spec work well with your amp if you want to get quality music from your system. This will prevent other issues such as power issues.
You can safely place down firing subwoofers on any surface as long as the surface is sealed or does not have cracks that let the air pressure from the cone seep through. So whether you want to place a down firing subwoofer on carpet, wood, concrete, or tile, you should ensure that the surface does not leak sound.