If you’ve ever thought of placing your subwoofers on a shelf, well, you’re not alone. This is something that usually pops up from people who just acquired a home theater system.
Whatever your reason, can you place subwoofers on a shelf? Is it safe? Will the subwoofer sound great on a shelf? After some research and consultations, here are the answers to all your questions on subwoofers and shelf placement.
A subwoofer can be placed on a shelf, provided the shelf is strong enough to accommodate the subwoofer’s weight. It must also be sturdy enough to withstand the vibrations and rattling of the subwoofer.
Things to Consider When Placing a Sub on a Shelf
Before deciding to place a subwoofer on a shelf, one important criterion to consider is its weight. Ideally, you shouldn’t place big and heavy subwoofers on a shelf, especially shelves with thin boards.
This is because the shelf might not be able to support the weight of the subwoofer, causing it to break in the long run. In plain terms, a heavy subwoofer is more likely to break a shelf.
Another thing to consider when placing a subwoofer on a shelf is the strength of the shelf itself. No matter how heavy a subwoofer is, its weight is always relative to the strength of the shelf it will be placed on.
This means a heavy shelf made out of a thick board can support relatively heavier subwoofers than shelves made from thin boards.
Also, as you may already know, when a subwoofer is playing, it vibrates and rattles. These vibrations can weaken a shelf. It can also cause the subwoofer itself to fall off the shelf it has been placed on.
Thus, the shelf a subwoofer is placed on must be robust and heavy enough to support the subwoofer and withstand the vibrations and rattling it produces.
Is a Subwoofer Better On a Shelf or on the Floor?
I’m sure you may have observed that most people place their subwoofers on the floor. However, is the floor the best place to place subwoofers? Should you rather place subwoofers on shelves?
Ideally, subwoofers should be placed at an elevation from the ground. This is because it helps reduce the subwoofer vibrations that get transmitted into the floor. This means placing it on a shelf is a better option than on the floor.
Subwoofers are designed to handle the low frequencies in the sound. These low-frequency sounds require more power to transmit. This leads to the creation of many vibrations in the enclosure of subwoofers that can be transmitted to other surfaces.
Therefore, when a subwoofer is placed on the floor, these vibrations are transmitted to the floor and other parts of the building. These vibrations can cause the rattling of surfaces, especially on wooden floors.
Unfortunately, placing subwoofers at an elevation is easier said than done.
Depending on the type of subwoofer, placing subwoofers at an elevation may prove impractical to achieve. This is because most subwoofers, especially better ones, are heavy and big. Hence, they leave you with little or no choice but to place them on the floor.
Therefore, though ideally, it’s better to place a subwoofer on a shelf, placing subwoofers on the floor is the safest and most convenient way.
However, when placing a subwoofer on the floor, it needs to be decoupled from the floor. What this means is a subwoofer must not be placed directly on the floor. I will speak more on the decoupling of subwoofers later in this article, so read on.
Can I Put a Subwoofer on a Table?
A subwoofer can be placed on a table. This can be done in order to elevate the subwoofer. Placing a subwoofer on a table is similar to placing it on a shelf.
So just like shelves, the table must be solid enough to support the subwoofer. It must be heavy as well. This will ensure that the table does not move when the subwoofer vibrates.
Most subwoofers do not have a stylish design. Unlike surround speakers, subwoofers have a huge size. Thus, a subwoofer placed on a table in a room is visible to all who enter.
Unfortunately, due to their poor design, most subwoofers do not look so good that they should be displayed around. Thus, placing them on a table affects the aesthetics of your room negatively. However, if placing your subwoofer on a table helps you achieve an overall better sound output, you are at liberty to do so.
Is It OK to Put a Subwoofer in a Cabinet?
You can put a subwoofer in a cabinet, provided it is strong and sturdy enough to support the subwoofer without breaking. Also, you need to put measures in place to avoid resonances and rattles while ensuring proper airflow in and out of the cabinet.
Since subwoofers generate large bass waves, you need to ensure that the airflow of these waves is not restricted. To achieve this, the cabinet needs to be spacious, with its door having large clear openings for airflow.
Doing this will ensure that all the bass tones of the subwoofer are properly circulated in the room.
However, the subwoofer placed in a cabinet must be a front-firing subwoofer and not a downward-firing subwoofer. This is because front-firing subwoofers will send the low sound waves through the door openings directly out of the cabinet.
On the other hand, downward-firing subs will send the sound waves into the floor of the cabinet first, before some of it moves out through the door openings. This will increase the possibility of rattles and resonances occurring.
Also, placing a powerful subwoofer inside a cabinet will generate resonances and rattles. Therefore, you need to pay much attention to the type of cabinet you place your subwoofer into.
This means you can’t use any random cabinet for your subwoofer. Most cabinets have thin back panels which are flimsy. These also contribute to resonances and rattles.
Thus, to reduce these vibrations, it’s best you custom-make cabinets with thick wood for your subwoofer. This will ensure that the vibrations from the subwoofer produce little to no resonances and rattling.
What Do You Put Under a Subwoofer?
No matter where you place your subwoofer, you need to put something beneath it to absorb the vibrations it produces. This is because subwoofers produce vibrations.
These vibrations can be harmful hence need to be isolated.
To isolate these vibrations they produce, you need to place vibration isolation products or pads under subwoofers.
Thus, before you place subwoofers on the floor, shelf, or in a cabinet, you need to place vibration products beneath them. These vibration products will help isolate and minimize the amount of vibration that gets transmitted to surrounding surfaces.
I have talked extensively about subwoofer isolation products in my previous article. You need to read this article to learn more about subwoofer isolations and how they work.
How you place your subwoofer determines the quality of sound you get out of it. Elevating it to a height near ear level will enable you to hear the sound better than when placed on the floor.
This means you can place subwoofers on shelves and tables as well. However, this cannot be applied to all subwoofers, particularly large and heavy ones.
Therefore, in most cases, you may have no choice but to place your subwoofer on the floor. When doing so, the best way to place the subwoofer is by decoupling it from the floor.
This can be done by placing it on a material that will dampen the vibrations of the subwoofer. Check out some of the best subwoofer isolation products you can use to minimize vibrations from in this article.
A subwoofer can be placed on a shelf or at any elevation. However, the shelf must be solid and strong enough to support the subwoofer’s weight. This will help prevent the subwoofer from breaking the shelf.
Also, the shelf must be thick enough to withstand vibrations and rattling, which can cause the subwoofer to fall off the shelf.