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Affects of Driver Placement on Subwoofer Choice

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  • Affects of Driver Placement on Subwoofer Choice

    I've been trying to decide on a new subwoofer for a few weeks now. At first I thought this would be a relatively easy choice, but after reading forums such as this one, ranking threads and talking to manufacturers I have come down with a strange affliction that’s is making difficult to come up with a final decision. However I have set a goal that by Monday morning I'm going to order something, or I may just need to by three brands and start ranking subs :-)

    For me what seems to be complicating my choice at the moment is the placement of the driver. I've been looking at the HSU VTF 3 MKIII (side firing), PB12-NSD front firing, and Outlaws (down firing). I've read responses (and been told) that LFW are omnidirectional so it really doesn't matter which way the driver points, but then I've also read many things that seem contradictory. For instance...

    Point the driver into the room.... Point the driver into the couch... Don’t point the driver at the couch you’ll here whooshing sounds, Front Firing/down firing doesn't matter.... there are advantages and disadvantages to both... Down firing isn't as good for music... front firing is better for music... point the driver into the corners this will enhance the base... don't point the driver into the corners it the base will be too boomy... put the driver near a main and point to the listening area... I even read one of the responses to Illka (different forum) indicating that for testing the VTF3 should be measured at an angle (my simplified summary)...

    Now I realize one could say that it doesn't matter, point the driver where it sounds best. But for instance if you get a front firing sub and you need to fire it at a wall this may mean your control panel points into the room (not good ascetically)... Of course this may also mean that the best compromise will be a downward firing unit (hence my inclusion of the Outlaw).

    I also realize that the standard answer related to the above is that room interactions with a sub are complex and that no one can predict how a sub will sound in a given room and that you'll need to determine the best placement for instance by placing the sub in the listening position and walk around the room. Great... but if ascetics are a factor (no control panel pointing into the room) you need to have at least some idea of what might work before purchasing the sub.

    For my situation I'll provide a room diagram...

    |S------------ COUCH----S-------|
    | B--------------TV-----L--------|

    The room is 17'L x 14' W x 9'H with wood floors

    S - Preferred subwoofer placement, at 25" depth will be even with opening
    L – Alternate sub location, but subwoofer will protrude into room so I’d rather not put it here
    B - Giant Bird, will eat subwoofer, no subwoofer here, but the bird does like music (Craig, have you ever thought of making a birdcage subwoofer?)
    O - Opening into other rooms

    What I'm really looking for are some general guidelines that would help indicate where the driver should point for a given subwoofer placement. For instance if I purchased a VTF3 and placed it in the upper left corner, the driver would fire into the couch; upper right, it would fire into the wall (and partially opening); lower right it would fire across the room. The PB12-NSD would always fire at the opposite wall. I envisioned that the downward firing Outlaws would spread the sound out in all directions more evenly (just a guess). If the placement really didn't matter, I would think you could take PB12-NSD put it in the upper left corner and angle it towards the opening, but I'm reasonably sure this would be a bad idea. So I think there should be some optimal configurations for the different sub types which will allow for planning and purchase of the appropriate type.

    I'm also hoping that in the future someone else will cross this path and be helped by the responses.

    Any thoughts regarding this topic?