How To Properly Set Your Subwoofer’s Volume (Without Shaking The Roof)

How To Properly Set Your Subwoofer’s Volume (Without Shaking The Roof)

If you have a subwoofer in your home theatre, stereo or car, you know how tough it is to get the bass levels just right. Here’s a trick to setting it up in just a few seconds.

Fast forward to 2:53 in the video above to follow along — the rest is a showcase of a specific subwoofer.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to someone’s house and the subwoofer was so loud that it made everything sound boomy and awful. Of course, sometimes this is personal preference — maybe they just like big bass — but even as a basshead myself, I’ve learned that more is not always better, and the optimal level is probably lower than most people think.

The above video from Parts Express breaks it down really nicely, and shows you how to get it done in no time. Here are the important parts:

  1. First, set the crossover. This is the frequency at which your subwoofer starts playing bass notes. You generally want your crossover set to where your speakers start to roll off — for example, my speakers can’t go much lower than 80Hz, so my subwoofer’s crossover is set to about 80. You can find this in your speaker’s specs, or just slowly turn it up until it “rounds out” the sound on your speakers (so that your speakers and subwoofer aren’t both playing the same notes). Note that if you have a home theatre with surround sound, this can get more complicated; we have detailed instructions here for that scenario.
  2. Next, adjust the gain. This is the important part, and the part that I’ve done incorrectly oh-so-many times — but it’s also the easiest. Start playing a song, and turn the subwoofer down until you can’t hear the subwoofer anymore. Then, turn the gain up just enough so you can start to hear it start to fill in the bass. That’s all it takes.
  3. Lastly, if you have a phase switch, switch it between 0 and 180 degrees and see if you hear a difference. One may sound better than the other depending on your room and gear. You can read more about what phase is here, but in practice, it’s pretty simple: pick whichever one sounds better.

That’s it. The whole process shouldn’t take you more than a minute. I’ve tried this on a number of different stereos and it has worked like a charm. If you want to do some extra tests, you can have a friend try and adjust it for you while you sit on your couch (or wherever your listening position is), but this should get you 90% of the way there with almost no effort.

Check out the video to see Joe from Parts Express demonstrate the process and you’ll see how easy it is. Fast forward to 2:53 — the rest is a showcase of a specific subwoofer model.

See the New Dayton Audio Subwoofers in Action [YouTube via Parts Express]

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