Subwoofers deliver the lower frequencies, typically between 20 to 200 Hz, that a surround sound or two-channel setup can’t produce alone.
Those low frequencies come from various instruments, including the bass guitar and the kick drum.
Using subs with a home theater system can bring out the film’s sound effects, creating a more immersive environment.
Instead of only hearing the sounds, subs let you feel it. Action movies, EDM, and other bass-heavy audio sources leave a lot to be desired without a subwoofer in the setup.
By taking the heavy lifting away from the other speakers, you can improve your overall system. You’ll experience a wider soundstage, better stereo imaging, and more accurate audio representation.
Do all those benefits still happen if you put things on top of a subwoofer?
Can You Put Things on Top of a Subwoofer?
Subwoofers produce lower audio frequencies that supply bass tones to music and sound. The production process generates vibrations that transfer to the cabinet and the area around its placement. Anything placed on top of subs could fall off or be damaged by the movement.
If you’re using balanced subwoofers, the safest place to place something is on the sub itself since everything else eventually resonates.
That means your receiver should go somewhere else in your setup, even with limited space.
The extreme vibrations that subs produce can generate vibration fatigue, causing damage to other electronics even when anchored to the unit.
The appeal of using a subwoofer as a table can be strong when you don’t have much room for your installation.
Whether for a home theater system, your instruments, or an audiophile setup, separate spaces are needed for your electronics. Allow the subs to experience why one is the loneliest number.
5 Reasons Why Putting Stuff on Top of Subs Is Not Good
We all use subwoofers as a temporary shelf occasionally. If I were to check my setup right now, there are probably a couple of movies and a video game sitting on top of it.
I’ve seen everything from a cup of coffee to a receiver placed on subs over the years. Although a flat, open surface is tempting for clutter, here are the reasons why you should fight to keep that subwoofer clear.
1. Electronics Damage
The primary issue involves how sub vibrations can damage other electrical components. Placing an amplifier or a receiver on top of this speaker cabinet can cause those items to fail relatively quickly.
Vibration fatigue is a type of mechanical fatigue that often gets ignored. It occurs when the component receives these repetitive tiny impacts from an external source.
When you place items on top of the subwoofer, it causes physical strain to every component. You might see any or all of the following issues.
- Adhesives that suddenly fail within the amp or receiver.
- Bolts or screws loosening from the frame.
- Circuit boards can detach within the item set on top of the subwoofer.
- Broken solder joints that impact general functionality.
The truth is that if you want to put an amp or a receiver on top of your subwoofer, you might as well just soak it in the bathtub. Even if it works right away, it won’t stay that way for long.
2. Shaking and Falling
Vibrations create enough energy to produce movement. That causes the items placed on top of a subwoofer to fall off unless they’re anchored.
You can get around this issue a little by placing an anti-slip mat on top of your sub. Although you’ll still deal with vibration fatigue, the items shouldn’t fall.
It’s common to put plants or decorations on top of subwoofers because of how much space they use.
Even though those items are still safer than electronics, you can still cause damage to the sub or the item in question.
Plants don’t always respond well to vibrations, especially if they are excessive or frequent. They also need water, which means you’re putting fluids near your speaker.
One spill could ruin everything.
3. The Beverage Problem
Liquid components should never be around a subwoofer. Even if you’ve got tea in a closed bottle, you never know what might happen.
Besides the issue of a spill damaging your shelves, floors, or other items, you can also ruin your subwoofer with this technique.
If you have the speaker in a wooden cabinet, the liquid could cause unsightly stain that won’t come out easily.
Your sub is not a coaster.
4. Audio Changes
The entire subwoofer construction process works hard to create a specific tone for the lower register. That includes how the vibrations interact with the cabinet.
If you place something on top of the sub, you are altering how those interactions occur. That means the audio coming from the speaker changes.
You’ll notice flat, dull tones coming from the subwoofer when something is on top of it. The only way to restore the audio is to remove the item.
This issue is also why it isn’t always a good idea to mount subwoofers to the floor or the wall.
The vibrations transfer to those elements through the bolt point, altering how your ears perceive the experience.
5. The Shelving Problem
If you decide that a wall-mounted sub is right for you (and the cabinet is designed for it), you might think about using the flat surface as a shelf. That’s a terrible idea for all the reasons listed in this section.
Placing a sub on a wall also limits the acoustics that your room offers. Bass is non-directional, but you don’t want vibrational loss or sound wave blocking to occur in the room.
It might be better to place the subwoofer in the corner than to mount it to the wall unless spatial constraints are severe.
Best Subwoofer to Use for Multiple Purposes
The subwoofer I use at home is the Klipsch R-820F Floorstanding model. It provides dual eight-inch woofers in a standard tower design, reducing how much space it takes up while creating a nice lovely aesthetic.
It comes with bass reflex from its rear-firing Tractrix ports to hit that beautiful thump you love.
Although the speaker is designed more for home theater systems, I’ve found it to be a highly versatile design. They’re individually sold – I recommend getting a pair to get the best possible listening experience.
If you plan to use floor placement, the R-820F design uses small platform legs to help the audio energy have an authentic omnidirectional presence. The acoustics are lifelike, with incredible clarity and detail.
The design isn’t powered. You’ll need to wire them to a receiver or amp for functionality and power. There are no other options. Klipsch recommends using an amp with at least 120W per channel for the best results.
High-quality audio works the best. Avoid Bluetooth® and most streaming services unless you have Hi-Fi quality. The sound tends to be more dynamic when routing through AUX.
Should I Have More Than One Subwoofer?
If you have a large subwoofer, your home theater setup goes to the next level. You’ll also notice significantly more power in your other audio needs.
As your system starts growing, it might be necessary to add a second subwoofer.
The bass should receive even distribution throughout the entire room. When you have dual R-820Fs, your output capability increases significantly. That ensures everyone can enjoy the power sounds delivered by the subs.
When you have a pair of subwoofers, the seat-to-seat variance of the bass response also gets minimized. You have more balance with the lower frequency patterns across the entire space.
Some rooms are large enough where a single sub makes it challenging to deliver an accurate bass response. That’s because individual subwoofers tend to produce peaks and nulls.
A “peak” is how a bass note gets exaggerated, while the “null” is an absence of the sound.
When two subwoofers get paired together, they tend to smooth each other out for a more accurate frequency response.
Where Is the Safest Place to Put My Subwoofer?
If you have a sub that you want to place at ground level, there aren’t any hard or fast rules to follow for your installation. The primary issues to review involve placing the speaker where it’s audible and won’t cost a lot of square footage.
You’d want to follow any specific instructions offered by the sub manufacturer to maximize your overall experience.
Many people believe the optimal spot for a subwoofer is at the front of the room. That placement allows the sound waves to travel toward you for a deep, thrilling experience.
You can place it on a shelf or mount it with this option, although your hearing might detect some of the omnidirectional changes that happen.
If you place subs in a corner, you can sometimes benefit from wave reflection for an enhanced listening experience. This option avoids a cluttered look while removing the temptation to use the cabinet for shelving or storage.
Placing subwoofers far away from other speakers can cause a sound imbalance.
How to Dial in Your Subwoofer
Subwoofers work better when they aren’t trying to draw attention to themselves. You want it and the loudspeaker to work together as a single unit. When that happens, you’ll experience a seamless blend of audio bliss.
On the back of today’s best subwoofers, including the Klipsch R-820F, you’ll find a low-pass crossover knob control.
“Crossover” refers to the frequency where the speakers start rolling off so that the sub begins to produce bass tones.
It helps to set the crossover point to approximately 10 Hz over your speaker’s lowest frequency range.
If you have a product that offers a 30 Hz low, set the crossover to about 40 Hz to generate a seamless experience.
What Size Subwoofer Should I Get?
When you have a bigger subwoofer, it’s more tempting to put something on top of it. After all, it can hold… so… much!
Although subs tend to look like huge boxes with massive drivers, each has numerous nuances that go into its design. The size and numbers matter when shopping for one.
Here’s the information to consider when reviewing the best subwoofers today.
|Numbers||When you see numbers associated with a subwoofer (8, 10, 12), it typically denotes the woofer size to expect with the product. The Klipsch R-820F Floorstanding model comes with an eight-inch speaker.|
|Bass Extension||Although a bigger cabinet is ideal for many speakers, it’s not the only way to produce a better sound. Some manufacturers use dual passive radiators with digital hybrid apps to achieve an excellent extensive in the lower register. This design lets the manufacturer tune the cabinet to the bass frequencies to reduce box volume.|
|Space||It’s nice to have a massive woofer to show off to everyone, but sometimes it’s better to go with what fits. What are your goals with this investment? By understanding how much room you have for a cabinet, it’s much easier to design better audio results.|
In Conclusion: Consider the Cord or Wire Placement
Nothing should be on top of a subwoofer. When placing subs, consider how it gets powered before looking at different spaces. Putting it in a corner can increase its power, while having it next to a wall can improve projection.
I run with two subwoofers for my system because our primary entertainment space is part of an open concept.
When I was only running one, the sound felt hollow and tinny, even when we were close to the speakers, because of all the openness.
With two Klipsch R-820F Floorstanding models in the setup, the audio sounds pure and authentic from any place in that area.
We can cook in the kitchen, play games at the dining table, or relax on the sectional without experiencing significant audio variations.
If you take into account the size of your space, including if you share a floor or wall with someone, you’ll get better results. Just remember not to put anything on top of the subwoofer!