How to Adjust Subwoofers

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Updated December 5, 2022

Even if you own premium speakers, you should learn how to adjust subwoofer settings for immersive sound. Top-tier subwoofer output should offer impactful low-frequency sounds and smooth bass notes from your favorite music. That said, explosions in action movies and bass frequencies won’t sound right without the correct settings. So, stick around to learn how to adjust subwoofers for the best audio output.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Ensure your subwoofer and AV receiver are fully connected, and the RCA cable is in good condition.
  • Set your crossover frequency to the low end of the rest of your speaker system to ensure your subwoofer takes over at the correct frequencies.
  • The phase switch delivers an electric delay to balance your audio system. That said, you shouldn’t need to change the phase in most situations.

How to Configure Subwoofers

Your dedicated subwoofer should deliver strong bass tones and low-end frequencies for a proper home theater experience or music setup. While your subwoofer output might sound good, you can improve the signal with a few simple system adjustments.

Insider Tip

Ensure the most accurate bass settings by sitting in your primary listening position during your sound system listening tests.

Skipping your subwoofer calibration is one of the most common home theater mistakes, even for audio enthusiasts. Luckily, you can learn how to get deep bass from subwoofers with a few subwoofer-level controls like the phase, volume, and crossover settings.

Learning how to break in a subwoofer if your theater system is new or in a cold area of your home is critically important. Additionally, most of how long subwoofers last relies on fixing electrical issues, understanding how to clean a subwoofer, and avoiding unsafe bass volumes.

Whether you’re using traditional stereo equipment or a theater receiver, understanding what ohms mean in speakers can simplify your speaker wire setup. Your dream home theater can still benefit from subwoofer level adjustments even if you know how a wireless subwoofer works.

Check Your Subwoofer Cables

Ensure your subwoofer is fully plugged into the AV theater receiver. If you think your subwoofer’s performance isn’t good enough, a loose speaker wire input is the easiest solution. Each side of the RCA cable connection should be securely in the input and output ports.

Warning

Never crank your subwoofer volume controls above the recommended level because you can blow them out.

Adjust the Crossover Frequency

The subwoofer crossover frequency is the tone at which the subwoofer takes over for the other speakers in the sound system. Ideally, your subwoofer should take over exactly where your speaker’s frequency range ends. Check the frequency range of your normal speakers, and set the subwoofer’s crossover to the bottom range of the speakers.

Check the Phase Control

The phase switch controls the delay between the subwoofers and the rest of the speaker system. In most cases, you should leave this knob on a 0-degree delay, but you have up to 180 degrees to find the sweet spot.

STAT: A Noise Health journal survey found that men preferred a 6% higher volume level than women while using headphones. (source)

How to Adjust Subwoofers FAQs

Can I place a subwoofer in a corner?

As any article on subwoofer placement will tell you, putting your powered subwoofer in the corner is great for powerful bass tones. That said, you only want a corner placement if you use larger speakers. Since corner-placed subwoofers deliver such a strong signal, small bookshelf speakers can get lost in the tonal balance.

Can I connect a wireless subwoofer to an old AV receiver?

You can use a wireless subwoofer with a traditional stereo system, but you will need a wireless transmitter. Plug the wireless adapter into the RCA cable port, and pair the wireless subwoofer as normal.

What does a blown subwoofer sound like?

If you've overwhelmed your subwoofer with unsafe volume levels or electrical signals, you can blow it out. A blown subwoofer produces a scratching noise or an annoying hum while playing music. If the speaker has extreme damage, you may hear a loud buzzing even when there's no input signal.
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