When selecting the perfect sound equipment for your home theater, there can be many different options to choose from. If you decide to go with a front firing subwoofer, you will want to ensure proper placement to embrace the natural acoustics of your particular space.
A few front firing subwoofer placement tips include placing in alignment with your other speakers, adjusting so the bass does not overpower the other frequencies, using a carpet or boundary to provide a steady sound flow, and pointing the driver towards the wall or another surface.
Of course, turning the driver towards the wall kind of defeats the purpose of a front firing subwoofer considering the design is intended for the driver to be seen by the viewer.
However, using creative boundaries or hard surfaces that can help to reflect the audio signals sent their way can help to perpetuate a robust audio experience that you might be looking for. Let’s keep in mind, though, that the dynamics of your space are unique to you, so be sure to test them out.
Also read: Are Subwoofers Supposed To Be Placed On The Floor?
What is a Front Firing Subwoofer?
Before we take a closer look at how to place your front firing subwoofer in your home theater room, it is important to note how a front firing subwoofer differs from other types of subwoofers.
Understanding these dynamics, you can begin to test out various positions that could be the perfect solution for your front firing sub placement in your home.
A front firing subwoofer sends the low-frequency audio signals out of the driver that is in the front of the subwoofer (as opposed to the back or bottom). In this way, the audio signals are not sent directly towards a wall or another surface but are sent into the open air within your home theater room.
In some ways, front firing subwoofers have disadvantages acoustically because they are not geared towards sending the audio signals to be reflected off of a hard surface.
In this way, it becomes important to take note of the way that you position the sub so that the audio signals sent out are still encapsulated and are given a chance to produce the resounding bass throughout your home theater room.
In this way, it is important that you recognize that your front firing subwoofer might be at a slight disadvantage compared to down firing or side firing subwoofers, but you can still make them work.
Plus, if you are looking for an aesthetically pleasing subwoofer solution, front firing subs have the look of a highly impactful piece of sound equipment, so your friends and family are sure to be impressed.
Front Firing Subwoofer Placement Tips
Where do you put your front firing subwoofer in comparison with the rest of your speakers? Should you turn it towards the wall or away from the wall? Does it matter what type of surface it is on? Can I put it in the front or the back of the room?
All of these questions can seem rather daunting when trying to take a look at the perfect placement for your front firing subwoofer.
Still, they are valid in that they will directly affect the audio experience that is produced by the low-frequency audio signal emission of your subs- especially those that are front firing and might not be sending the audio signals directly towards a wall or another surface to bounce off of.
In this way, there are a few key tips that you will want to follow for where to place your front firing subwoofer. But, keep in mind that it is important to test out the placement of your sub in a few different spots within your home theater room. Just because one specific type of placement works for someone does not mean that this placement will be ideal for you and your home.
With varying natural acoustics as well as the incorporation of other pieces of equipment, you will need to test out a few different locations to find the spot that is perfect for an acoustic and aesthetic appeal within your own space.
With that said, here are a few key tips to follow when trying to place your front firing subwoofer in a well-supported position that will optimize the audio performance.
1. Consider the other speakers in your sound system.
As you determine where you would like to place your front firing subwoofers, you will need to consider the rest of your sound system setup. For example, if you are using one subwoofer as compared to using two, this will make a difference in how you will evenly distribute the sound for decreased speaker localization.
Along with that, if you are using tower speakers that have a considerable bass with the woofers, this will affect the overall sound quality compared to using in-wall speakers or bookshelf speakers that will more heavily rely on the subwoofer to carry out all bass tones.
Regardless of your situation, you need to think about a way that you can decrease sound localization by increasing the clarity of the sound quality. You should not be able to tell where the sound is coming from as soon as you turn on the bass- this would be a highly localizable subwoofer which is distracting from the rest of the audio (much less the viewing) setup.
2. Take a look at the natural acoustics in your room.
Along with considering the other speakers that you will be including in your entire sound system, you need to consider the natural acoustics in your room.
For example, working in a large home theater room that has vaulted ceilings will dramatically affect the physics behind the audio emission from your sub compared to the natural acoustics in a low-ceiling basement.
Additionally, if you have windows, carpeting, cement, wood, and lots of furniture, this will obviously affect the way that the sound is carried out throughout the entire home theater room as well.
While bass can travel a bit more easily throughout your room compared to high-frequency audio sent out by other speakers, it is still important that you consider the way that the various audio signals will crawl over the distinguishable surfaces in your home theater space.
Then, once you take a look at the natural acoustics in your room, you can consider if you need to add or remove any surfaces before placing your down firing subs.
Hopefully, this will simply mean that you take a look at the furniture and can find an easy spot that the front firing subwoofer will fit as well as emit a great sound quality within your home.
3. Adjust the power.
Along with the placement, you will need to adjust the power of your front firing subwoofers so that they are not localizable and so that they can sound well with the other speakers in your sound system. Consider the crossover that you will use to allow a more consistent rating within your media room.
This can be affected by the setup in that the various cables you will need to run will have to reach certain points of the room, or the subwoofer might sound louder in one spot than the other. Again, this goes back to testing out the various spots in the room and seeing which spot the front firing sub sounds best in.
4. Use a boundary.
While it might seem contrary to the natural flow of audio that comes from using front firing subwoofers, it is suggested that you find a boundary to point the driver towards. This means that you will want to use a wall, couch, or another surface to help to capture and reflect the audio signals that are sent their way.
Of course, with the design of the front firing subwoofer, you will not see this happening when you point your front firing speakers towards the audience (like you would with your other speakers), but it can be helpful to add some type of boundary within 12 inches of the front firing subwoofer’s driver.
5. Change the floor surface.
If you are not fully satisfied with the placement of your front firing subwoofer, then you might consider placing it on a different type of flooring surface, or you can add a different type of platform for the sub to rest on.
Unlike down firing subs that send the audio signals directly to the floor, front firing subs will rely on what is in front of the driver to help carry out the signals.
In this way, it can be helpful to have carpeting down if you want to have a more controlled bass (considering carpeting will be more absorptive of disrupting high-frequency audio signals coming from the sub like squealing or unwanted vibration). Or, you can use a hard surface like wood, plexiglass, or cement if you would prefer for a more “alive” feel of the bass.
6. Point the driver towards a hard surface.
Finally, as mentioned above, you can consider pointing the driver towards a hard surface like the wall or corner. While this is not a natural setup for a front firing sub, it will help to utilize the boundaries to give more room modes that can embrace a more robust-sounding bass coming from your sub.
Of course, you might still find success by placing the front firing subs along with the rest of your speakers- with the driver facing the back like you will see in the pictures of this type of sub.
With this, again we are reminded that it is most important to test out a few different positions to see what sounds the best in your specific home theater room.
Check out my recommended subwoofers for home theater.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.