Whether you’re planning to add a media room in your home or you’re simply looking to set up your home theater subwoofer in a way that it won’t cause a nuisance to your neighbors, there are several questions you’ll need to ask yourself. One of those key questions is whether the subwoofer can be placed on the carpet.
Now, whether you own a 2.1, 5.1, or 7.1 home theater system, the subwoofer is usually the main focus as it’s the one that physically sits on the floor. But when it comes to whether the sub should sit on a carpet, there’s usually no correct answer as there are other variables that need to be considered.
So, in this short guide, we will discuss both hard floor and carpet subwoofer placements and why the carpet is the perfect option.
Subwoofer on Hard Flooring
Just as we’ve mentioned earlier, when it comes to correct subwoofer placement, there’s no right or wrong way to set up your sub. About the flooring, any wall will work out just fine. However, certain floors such as hard or laminate floorings can cause some complications since the flat surfaces can reflect sound just like how walls do.
You see, hard flooring is considered a perfect medium where a subwoofer’s deep bass tones can resonate through. This bouncing of sound causes reverberation (an echo that remains in a room after a sound stops) which makes your subwoofer lose its audio clarity making the reproduced sound appear cluttered and noisy.
Other than making the sound feel cluttered, something you might notice when placing your subwoofer on the floor is a sound imbalance where your subwoofer’s channel can overpower the high-frequency sound produced by your surround sound speakers.
Another major issue you might notice when placing your subwoofer on a hard floor is increased vibrations. Now, your subwoofer is the workhorse of your home entertainment system. For it to handle the substantial power demanded by low-frequencies, it must have a large driver as compared to the rest of the speakers.
While it handles the low-frequencies perfectly well, the downside is that it creates a lot of vibrations that are transferred to the rest of the adjacent rooms. At a soundproofing and acoustic point of view, these vibrations can cause rattling which will end up disturbing you and your neighbors alike. So, due to these reasons, placing your subwoofer directly on the floor isn’t the best idea.
Subwoofer on Carpet
On the other hand, carpeted floors are considered the best when it comes to handling vibrations. Now, sound is transmitted by vibrations in air molecules. Therefore, if a subwoofer is surrounded by hard surfaces such as the floor, walls, and the ceiling, then the sound is expected to bounce back causing excess reverberation.
But, if your subwoofer is resting on a carpet, most typically a woolen carpet, then the wool fibers will be extremely effective in absorbing the sound over a wide range of frequencies. The best thing about subwoofer manufacturers is that they’re aware of all these. Therefore, they usually design their subs in such a way that they will stay balanced when placed on a carpet.
Since the subwoofer will vibrate a lot to reproduce the punchy bass we all crave for, some of the vibrations will be absorbed by the carpet. This will lead to even sound distribution throughout the room without suffering any loss of clarity.
Benefits of Placing Subwoofer on the Carpet
Now that we’ve mentioned some of the notable differences of placing your subwoofer both on the floor and on the carpet, this guide will now focus on some manifold benefits of placing your subwoofer on a carpeted floor.
1) Reduced Reflection of Sound Waves
Now, if you happen to clap or listen to music while in a gymnasium, you’ll likely hear a lot of echo and reverberation. Since this will have a tremendous effect on the sound clarity reproduced by your subwoofer, decreasing this reflection means that you’ll have to add a carpet on your floor.
The best thing about woolen carpets in particular is that they can reduce vibrations by about 35%. Since low-frequencies are omnidirectional, the carpet will only absorb the vibrations but not the bass frequencies generated by your subwoofer. The result is balanced music without any reverberation.
2) Improved Acoustics
Another benefit of placing your subwoofer on a woolen carpet is to improve the room’s acoustics. This is usually accomplished by reducing sound reflections in a room as much as possible. As we mentioned earlier, sound reflection causes reverberation which in return causes your subwoofer’s bass to sound cluttered and noisy.
So, to prevent this, you need to put your sub on a carpet or you can install bass traps if you need to deaden the reverberations completely. You can also improve your acoustics by having drywalls in your room as they’re less reflective as compared to concrete walls.
3) Even Sound Distribution
In most cases, matters to do with even sound distribution are caused by the subwoofer’s placement. Now, when a subwoofer is placed on the floor, there are chances that there will be increased uneven sound distribution because one, there will be too much sound reflection, and two, there will be uneven pressure distribution between the upper and the lower sections of the room.
So, by having a carpeted floor and decoupling your subwoofer, there will be zero sound reflection and even distribution of sound waves throughout the room.
The topic of whether to place your subwoofer on hard flooring or a carpeted floor is usually confusing to most people. The truth of the matter, however, is that hard floors cause sound vibrations commonly known as reverberation. In most cases, reverberation causes negative effects on the quality of sound which mostly appear to be cluttered and noisy.
Besides, placing your subwoofer on hard flooring causes vibrations which can be a nuisance especially if you’re living in a condo unit, a duplex, or an apartment. Thankfully, these issues can easily be handled by placing your subwoofer on a woolen carpet. The best thing about woolen carpets is that they have millions of woolen fibers that allow them to absorb sound waves over a wide range of frequencies.