How to set up a subwoofer
Find the optimal position for your sub
Exactly where in your room you plop down the sub can make or break your bass. We can't stress this strongly enough: the best subwoofer in the world, poorly placed, will be at a huge disadvantage.
Room acoustics are notoriously unpredictable, so hard-and-fast rules are pretty scarce. That said, the classic corner position is a good starting point, as long as said corner is in the general vicinity of your main speakers. The corner will likely yield the most bass, but the sound may not be the best, most smoothly integrated with your satellites. Or the corner spot may sound overly boomy or heavy. Another simple setup option involves placing the sub directly behind or to the side of either the left or right front speaker.
The goal is to have deepest, most powerful bass, without overpowering your main speakers. Ideally, you shouldn't be aware of the sub as a source of sound.
Want to play? You could try putting your sub in every possible position in the room to find the magic zone where the bass is both deep and
tight, but we have a better idea. Move your comfy chair or sofa out of the way and temporarily put the sub in your prime listening position. Play music with lots of bass and set your disc player to repeat a 10- to 20-second section with a variety of bass notes--we use Holly Cole's Temptation
CD. Now take a little stroll around your room, slowly walk, or better still, crawl on your hands and knees (really!) around the perimeter, then out in the middle of the room. Chances are, you're going to hear a wide variation of the quantity and quality of the bass. It may nearly disappear in some spots, and in other places, the bass will be oppressively heavy. Keep moving, and you'll probably come across a point or two where the bass is nicely balanced; all the notes should be equally loud. Assuming at least one of those spots is domestically and aesthetically acceptable, move the subwoofer to that point. (Now you'll be glad you invested in that extralong cable.) Next try a few different bass-heavy CDs and DVDs to confirm the position. Once you're sure, place the sub in the spot that sounds best to you.
Most subwoofers aren't magnetically shielded, so they may distort the picture tube of a CRT (tube) TV or PC monitor, which could result in permanent damage. Place the sub a few feet away from any tube set; if you see any picture distortion, turn off the TV and move the sub farther away from the TV.
If the sound is still boomy, try getting closer to the sub. Check out the coffee table and end table positions. Most likely these won't be the best locations for achieving the deepest, baddest bass, but they minimize the negative effects of problem rooms.
Now that you have the perfect location for the sub, reconfirm the level, phase, and crossover settings we covered in steps 4, 5, and 6.