Why is my Subwoofer Bottoming out?

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Updated October 17, 2022

If you are new to the world of home audio, you may wonder why your subwoofer is bottoming out. Many of the best speakers, after all, are subwoofers, and these speakers can range in quality, with some bottoming out with regard to bass response. So why do some of the best subwoofers bottom out, and what can you do about it? Keep reading to find out.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • When subwoofers bottom out, it just means that the subsonic filter struggles to maintain an adequate bass response to keep up with the required bass sound.
  • Fix this instantly by lowering the volume level on your setup or within the subwoofer itself, as loud levels lead to this issue.
  • Other options include adjusting the EQ to minimize a bass-heavy source or buying a brand-new subwoofer with a higher capacity if your current model has reached its mechanical limits.

Why Do Subwoofers Bottom Out?

It takes a lot of power to create bass frequencies at a high volume, which is why many wonder why their subwoofers are not hitting hard. Sound is essentially vibration, and when you push subwoofers too hard, it causes the cones to extend, no matter where you place the subwoofer. Over time, this leads to decreased performance, otherwise known as bottoming out. This problem impacts all subwoofer types, even if you are learning the definition of a passive radiator subwoofer.

Insider Tip

A quick troubleshooting tip here is to swap out all connection cables and power wires. Sometimes it does the trick.

Tips to Ensure the Best Subwoofer Experience

This is a common issue with many causes. In other words, there is not one universal fix here. There are, however, some common troubleshooting steps to get started.

Adjust the Volume

High volumes create vibrations and increased airflow that can impact the delicate components of a subwoofer. If you are experiencing the dreaded issue of a subwoofer bottoming out, try adjusting the volume to compensate. In other words, lower the volume. You can do this at the subwoofer level, if possible, or via the entire setup. You likely won’t have to decrease the volume too much, as a little goes a long way here. So, yeah, you can still enjoy your favorite songs at a decent volume.

Adjust the EQ

This is basically another way to adjust the volume, but this does the trick without impacting anything else in your setup. Your subwoofers may feature a dedicated EQ section. If so, turn the bass response down a bit. If not, head to any EQ on your signal chain and do the same thing. Be aware that you may have several equalizers in your system, and they may all need adjustments.

STAT: From about 1900 to the 1950s, the “lowest frequency in practical use” in recordings, broadcasting, and music playback was 100 Hz. (source)

Try a New Subwoofer

Your subwoofer could just be ill-equipped to handle a powerful signal, so it will always bottom out when approaching higher-than-average volumes. There is a foolproof fix, though your bank account might not like it. Replace your current subwoofer with a new model that can handle higher volumes and increased bass response.

Bottoming Subwoofer FAQs

How do I fix a sub bottoming out?

Stop a sub from bottoming out by limiting loud levels to ease the strain on the voice coils, filtering out the crossover frequency, and keeping an ear on any funny sounds, as this could indicate a cone excursion.

How do I break in a subwoofer?

Breaking in a subwoofer is the same as any speaker. Play the speaker for around ten to 12 hours by playing music, conducting voice calls, and watching television and movies. Do this at an average volume level, as reference levels here should be in the median.

What is a subsonic filter?

Many subwoofers include a subsonic filter that filters out ultra-low frequencies. This helps ease the strain on your subwoofer's driver excursion without any sacrifice to sound quality, as those crossover frequencies cannot even be heard by human ears.
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