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How to set up a subwoofer

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A subwoofer basically consists of a coil and a magnet forming an electric motor. When electric current travels through the coil, the coil moves in relation to the frame, and creates sound waves which you can feel as well as hear. A subwoofer is used to complement your speakers. At low frequencies where the speakers become ‘uncomfortable’, the subwoofers come into their own.

The best sound is produced when the speaker and the sub are in phase with each other. Hence the phase control dial. The sub and the speakers are in phase when you can’t differentiate between the sounds produced by each.

Difficulty level: Moderately easy

Time required: 20 minutes

Resources required:

1. Subwoofer

2. Subwoofer cable

3. A/V receiver


1. Set the subwoofer a few inches from the wall, but not against it as the wall might absorb some waves and dampen the sound. Place the subwoofer in different locations and check where it produces the best sounding bass.

2. Remove the power cable of the subwoofer from the electrical source so as to prevent a power surge.

3. Connect one end of the subwoofer cable to the ‘Sub In’ jack of the subwoofer.

4. Connect the other end of the cable to the ‘Sub Out’ jack of the A/V receiver.

5. Connect the subwoofer to the electrical source and power on the subwoofer.

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6. Adjust the crossover frequency setting as per your subwoofer manual, or you can playback audio with heavy bass and fine tune it yourself. A 100Hz crossover frequency is standard.

7. Adjust the phase setting till the speaker and the subwoofer sound best in sync.

8. Adjust the subwoofer volume as to your preference.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a subwoofer?

A subwoofer is a device which reproduces the low frequency sound waves typically between 20Hz – 200Hz. For more information refer to the “How It Works” section.

What should be my crossover frequency?

Dolby Laboratories advices a value of 100Hz. Experimenting can be done to figure out the best value. Refer to the “How It Works” section for more information.

Quick Tips:

1. Placing the sub in a corner almost always produces the best sound, though experimenting should be done.

2. For locating the best position of the sub do the following exercise: Place the sub in the place where you would normally sit and take a stroll around the room. As you move about you will notice how the bass definition changes. Place the sub in the position where you feel you get the best sound.

Things To Watch Out For:

1. Make sure your sub is not plugged on to a power source before connecting it to the A/V receiver.

2. Don’t place it very far away from the main speakers or it will be identified as a point source.

3. Make sure the crossover frequency is not lower than the lowest frequency which is clearly emitted by the speaker.

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