Many music and home theater enthusiasts have begun using multiple subwoofers in their systems, rather than using just one subwoofer. A home entertainment system that has weak, distorted bass sounds less than thrilling! Getting great bass in consumer-sized living rooms is a challenging topic, and a single sub may not fill the room evenly with great bass. Let's investigate the reasons why multiple subs make sense.
Many consumers know that a large listening area may require a second sub. What is sometimes missed is that every listening room, large or small, suffers from standing wave issues. When excited by deep bass, the room itself resonates, storing and re-releasing bass energy, somewhat like a water glass hit by a fork. The slowly-decaying bass notes can lead to muddy-sounding bass, even from a quality subwoofer.
The subwoofer and the room work together, creating the bass sounds that we hear.
Bass wavelengths are long (over 50 feet in the deepest bass), and most home listening rooms are smaller in comparison. The deep bass wavelengths are reflected off walls, ceilings and floors, colliding with each other. This sets up areas in the room where bass energy is too prominent, which sounds boomy to listeners in those areas. It also creates cancellation points, or "nulls", where bass energy is lacking. In single-sub systems, depending on where you are seated, the bass sounds may be satisfying or far from it.
Twin subs, strategically placed, can help balance these room resonances. Twin subs are far more capable than one at filling in the null spots where bass cancellations occur, and smoothing out overloaded, boomy areas. The whole family is more apt to get clear, rich bass. Much research suggests that four subs is the optimum number, but two sub systems are nearly as effective as four subs (and far better than a single sub). Twin subs are also more practical, cost-effective, and easier to position in the room than four. Here are three reasons why multiple subwoofer systems make sense:
1. Decreased distortion and greater bass headroom: Even a solo listener will enjoy lower-distortion bass. Twin subs offer greater headroom and minimize compression, so neither sub works as hard to fill the space with bass. The climactic scenes in movie soundtracks, and big passages in musical pieces (such as the 1812 Overture), are more easily handled by double the power and twice the subwoofer radiating surface. Clean beats "overloaded" every time!
2. A wider "sweet spot": Well-placed twin subwoofers recreate bass that is more evenly distributed throughout the room, minimizing areas where bass seems either weak or boomy. Multiple listeners can have a great Home Theater and music experience.
3. Longevity: Heat is the enemy of electronic longevity. As neither sub is working as hard as one sub would, heat build-up is minimized, prolonging subwoofer life.
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