What’s the best location for a subwoofer in my room?

Where's the best location for a subwoofer in your room

Adding two or more subwoofers to your setup will give you better and smoother bass response.
Adding two or more subwoofers to your setup will give you better and smoother bass response.
Today’s questions are a follow-up from our friend Nalin, an Anthem AVM 60 user. We previously answered Nalin’s question about the proper way to set volume and phase with ARC with his two SVS subs.  Nalin asks:
ARC comes with quick measure tool software. I believe that tool can be used to measure each sub’s phase and volume measure accurately rather using a SPL meter? Am i correct? …the quick measure graff is based on dB vs Hz… I could be wrong?
Also if you are to determine the phase and the volume level of each sub by yourself, then you can connect anthem supplied mic/stand with the long usb cable and a laptop to measure each item. You can leave the mic where you sit , run the long cable to your laptop which can be on top of the sub. Then adjust phase and volume knobs while checking the db on the screen? 
Also please help me with the subwoofer location if you don’t mind. Currently they are placed in between my main speakers (energy ex:l 26) and centre (ex:l c). Pretty much 1/4 and 3/4 from the front wall. Cannot locate them in the middle of the front and back walls unfortunately. Is it a good place to locate the subs in the middle of side walls…? 
My room size is 5m x 5.5m x 2.7m = 74 cubic meters volume. I believe sb-2000 is the suitability to that size room? 
Wow, lots of great questions here and thanks again for writing in. Let’s tackle your questions one at a time here and I’ll summarize each one:

Can I use Anthem ARC’s QuickMeasure to find a subwoofer’s phase and volume?

The first part of your question can be rephrased as, “Can I use ARC’s QuickMeasure in place of an SPL to find a subwoofer’s phase?” I’ve never thought of that before, but I suppose you could.  For most users, downloading a free SPL program on their smart device.  Remember that an SPL meter will show you the total/average SPL whereas QuickMeasure will show you a graph of dB vs. Hz.

What’s the best way to perform subwoofer measurements?

The second part of your question deals with the practical best way to get the measurements done.  Anthem ARC 1.x users (AVM 50v/D2v) have to run an RS-232 from the Anthem to their computer and then run an additional USB cable to the ARC microphone.  Anthem ARC 2.x users (AVM 60, MRX) can connect your computer with ARC software to the AVM 60 over Wi-Fi.
As an AVM 60 user, you have much more flexibility to use ARC and QuickMeasure. As you suggested, the easiest way to make adjustments and see them in real time is to place the ARC USB microphone at the primary listening position and then have your laptop near your sub or subwoofers as you make phase and volume adjustments. As you make volume adjustments, you’ll see those changes in real-time. Unless your room is incredibly large, the included USB cable should be sufficient to reach most installations. Let me state the obvious. Here, you are doing measurements at a single point.  ARC performs a calculated average across five measurement positions for a final calibration.

What’s the best location for a single subwoofer in a room?

While you didn’t specifically ask about a single subwoofer setup, let’s answer that question. If you don’t have measurement tools but do have room correction, then putting a single subwoofer in a corner is generally a safe bet since room EQ works best at low frequencies and can generally eliminate any subwoofer peaks. The benefit of putting a sub in a corner is that you can get as much as a +3dB boost in your sub’s low-end response. That potential sometimes outweighs some other placement options.
If you want to find the best overall location, however, you’ll want to use ARC’s QuickMeasure to see which location in your room gives you the flattest overall frequency response. If you don’t want to use QuickMeasure, you can use the subwoofer crawl method, described here.

What’s the best location for a subwoofer or multiple subs in a room?

Your third question asks, “Where’s the best place to locate my sub.” If only there was a magic bullet for that! Unfortunately, every room is different and you can’t say with certainty what the best location for your sub is in your room. However, thanks to the great acoustic research team at Harman International we have some guidelines that will help. Todd Welti, who is the Senior Principal Engineer for Acoustics at Harman has arguably done the most ground-breaking research for subwoofer placement over the past two decades.  Todd performed much of the research under Dr. Floyd Toole when he headed up this division at Harman. Dr. Sean Olive succeeded Dr. Toole after his retirement.
Todd’s research has been the basis of what we consider best practice today. Todd authored a great article that you can read over at Audioholics here.  As a general rule, four subwoofers give you the optimal bass response in a rectangular room. The optimal placement for four subs is either:
  1. The four corners.
  2. The midpoint of the four walls.
  3. The 1/4 and 3/4 point of the front and rear walls 1/4 and 3/4 point of the side walls.
Optimal placement for multiple subwoofers in a room. Graphic courtesy of www.audioholics.com
Optimal placement for multiple subwoofers in a room. Graphic courtesy of www.audioholics.com

What about dual subs like your situation? Well, there’s a rule for that too. You can choose one of the following placement options:

  1. Place both subs in the front corners of your room or both subs in the rear corners of your room.
  2. Place one sub at the 1/4 point and the second sub at the 3/4 point of the front wall (or the rear wall).
  3. Place one sub at the midpoint of the front wall and the midpoint of the rear wall; or place one sub at the midpoint of the left side wall and the other sub at the midpoint of the right side wall.

These general rules with multi-sub placement are backed up by Harman’s research and real-world applications. If you want to read up more about sub placement, you can see this additional article at Audioholics.  SVS, the maker of your subs, also has an article on subwoofer placement here.

Since you’ve placed your subwoofers at the 1/4 and 3/4 point of your front wall, you should be getting a good result. The only other position you might want to try is the front corners. Typically, you can get as much as a +3dB boost with each subwoofer when you place it in a corner. That’s a huge potential benefit that is worth trying and measuring with QuickMeasure.

Is the SVS-SB2000 a good fit for a large room?

The final part of your question asks if your SVS-SB2000 subs are a good fit for your large room. Once again, I’ll point us to our colleagues at Audioholics, who summarized Brent Butterworth’s extensive measurements on the SB-2000 subwoofer. As you can see, the SB-2000, which is a ported model received their certification for medium rooms (less than 3,000 cubic feet or about 85 cubic meters). The PB-2000, which is the ported version, had higher SPL output and garnered their certification for large rooms (more than 3,000 cubic feet or about 85 cubic meters). Therefore, the PB-2000 is a perfect fit for your sized room and because you have two PB-2000 subs, you should have no problems filling up that room with bass.

Hopefully those answers helped

Well Nalin, those were some great questions and hopefully we were able to provide you with some helpful answers. You certainly have a great setup and great equipment. One final reminder for all our readers. Your room is as much a part of your setup as your equipment.  “Playing the room” as it’s called, is the process by which you set up your equipment so that it sounds best in your room with optimal performance. That takes time and patience and the results are well worth the effort.  Good luck!