Where's the best place to put the sub-woofer?

I tried to search for a thread on this, but couldn’t find anything - though I’m sure it will have been covered before.

I’m a non-audiophile who nevertheless would like to know how to position the sub so that I get at least within spitting distance of ‘the best’ out of the sound system.

I currently have a 6-7 year old system which will be replaced later this year. I’m not after super technical details specific to a certain machine, just some general guidelines so that I don’t inadvertantly cancel out the benefits of having a proper sound system.

Just along the lines of ‘don’t put it in a corner’ (Which I have been told - true?).

I know there are many Dopers knowledgeable in this area - I summon them.

Thanks (in advance)!

I worked for the Bose company in the early 1990s around the time that they were developing one of the first the first of the small-satellite-speakers-with-hidden-subwoofer configurations, the Acoustimass speakers. The prevailing understanding then was that the bulk of directional cues about where in the stereo panorama a sound is originating from comes from the tweeters. The bass box could be pretty much anywhere. I could see how putting it in a corner could skew the stereo “picture” due to reflection of the sound, but other than that, it shouldn’t matter where it goes.

The usual place is in the corner. It gives the strongest output, and it lets the sub excite all the resonances of the room instead of just some of them. One way to pick a different place is to put the subwoofer in your listening chair and crawl around the room listening for the best bass. Then you switch places with the subwoofer and it should sound the same.

If it’s a good subwoofer with a crossover around 80 hertz you shouldn’t be able hear where it is. If you’re using tiny satellites that can’t reach that low, the subwoofer might have higher frequencies that you can locate. Also if the subwoofer has a lot of distortion or other noises you might hear it. If the the sub is good and quiet another place to put it is right near where you listen. The receiver should have a distance adjustment for all the speakers to keep them in phase with each other and the subwoofer.

Harman International has a bunch of papers about placement and other audio topics on their website. If you have two subs they say to give them both the same signal and put them on midpoints of opposite walls.

The correct answer is, “It depends.” The sub may excite certain room modes in some locations and not in others. So it really depends on the geometry of the room and the location of the seating position. I’d say start with the sub on the front wall, about 1/3 of the way from the side wall to the other side of the room. Play some heavy bass (preferably a test tone if you have one), and walk around the room listening for the bass to get louder or softer. When it’s louder, you’ve found a standing wave in the room that amplifying the bass. If it gets quieter, you’ve found a null where the reflected waves cancel out the source.

If your seating position happens to be in a peak or a null, you won’t get smooth bass response. So if it is, move the sub a foot or two in one direction, and try again.

You generally don’t WANT to excite room modes, so you generally don’t want your sub in the corner. You want to hear bass as produced by the sub, not bass as amplified or cancelled by wave interference patterns within the room.

If you’re my old apartment neighbors, you want to place your subwoofer right over my bed.