Down Firing Subwoofer vs Front Firing Subwoofers: What You Need to Know

Subwoofers are an important component of any music system. The best subwoofers produce high-quality sound or music that enhances a listener’s experience. Subs are built in two main ways; down firing and front firing. Depending on the brand or quality, these subs can both produce high-quality sound. It’s all a matter of preference or lifestyle when it comes to a down firing subwoofer vs front firing one.

Several people tend to focus more on the size or the brand of a subwoofer when shopping for one. While the subwoofer’s size, brand, or quality is essential, it is also important to know if you should buy a front firing or a down firing subwoofer.

Here is what you need to know about these two types of subs.

Down firing Subwoofers Vs Front firing Subwoofers: What is The Difference?

Several stereo speakers have drivers on the front of their cabinets and discharge sound directly towards the listener. This means that you may have to direct the speakers towards you to hear sound from stereo speakers clearly.

Though subs follow a similar principle, you do not have to direct the sound from a subwoofer because the human ears do not easily localize the origin of very low-frequency sounds. This also opens up a lot of possibilities in terms of their design. The subs can be placed while facing any direction in the cabinet, and this will not affect the quality of sound they produce.

Down firing Subwoofers

As the name suggests, the down firing subs direct sound out of the bottom of the cabinet. These subs create a vibration that dives into the ground, and as they push sound waves towards the floor, they create a very rich sound with a strong rumbling effect.

These subs can be placed on any part of the room and also directly alongside a wall. However, you should ensure that you place the subwoofer on top of the suitable surface and avoid placing it on its side.

Since they direct sound waves downwards, you should avoid playing music at a very high volume, especially if there are people living below you. If you live in a condo or an apartment, it would be ideal to get a front firing subwoofer instead of a down firing one.

Front firing Subwoofers

Front firing subwoofers project sound on one side of the cabinet. These subs create vibrations in the air like convectional speakers but produce more bass and better sound quality.

Since the speakers are designed to project sound from the side or front, you cannot place them facing down, the wall, or alongside another surface. Doing this will reflect the sound they produce and affect its quality. Front firing subs require space to disperse sound into a room freely. The sound waves are designed to hit the ear before they are reflected off any surface.

Is There Difference in the Sound Quality?

High-quality subwoofers produce precise and quality sound regardless of their design. In fact, it can be challenging to know where exactly the bass is coming from because bass frequencies omnidirectional. As a result, the difference in sound quality when it comes to a front firing vs down firing subwoofer is almost non-existent.

However, each design has some pros. For example, a down firing subwoofer can use the floor as a resonating surface to project a more intense bass sound. These subs are used in several surround sound or home cinema systems to create that rumbling effect that horror or thriller movies have.

On the other hand, the direct-firing, lightweight, and fast characteristics of front firing subs result in a fast, airy impactful bass that makes the subs ideal for kick drums, pipe organs, and explosive effects in movies.

Note that there is no wrong choice when it comes to down firing subwoofer vs front firing. It is all a matter of your budget, living space, and preference.

Down firing vs Front firing Subs with Bass Reflex Ports

Down firing and front firing subwoofers can have a bass reflex port. The port is a tube-like opening or vent in the sub’s cabinet, and its main task is to reinforce the low end. Thus, as the subwoofer’s membrane moves back and forth, the bass reflects or channels the sound waves that radiate into the back of the cabinet.

This reinforces the sound produced by the sub. Without the port, the air pushed back during the back, and forth movement is generally wasted.

Also Read: AV Receiver vs Soundbar – Which One is More Convenient?

Final Word

As common as it is to consider the brand and size of the subwoofer you want, you should also choose between down firing vs front firing subwoofers. Though a high-quality sub will still give you quality music regardless of its type, learning the difference between the two will help you choose the best subwoofer for you. Check out our website for more information on how to choose and maintain your subwoofers.

Avatar for Jamie K. Martin

Jamie K. Martin holds a degree in Audio engineering from Husson University, Bangor. Martin spends most of his time testing and trying the technology he writes about to ensure that he provides first-hand information to our customers from all walks of life.

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