Can A Subwoofer Be Placed On A Shelf? (Explained)

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Can A Subwoofer Be Placed On A Shelf? (Explained)

Can A Subwoofer Be Placed On A Shelf? - Easy Home Theater

Let’s say you’re trying to save space in your home theater and you get the idea of placing your subwoofer on a shelf.

But then you start to wonder if there’s actually any drawbacks in doing so.

Well it’s an interesting thought and one I figured would be worth exploring so lets find out!

Can A Subwoofer Be Placed On Shelf?

No a subwoofer shouldn’t be placed on a shelf for a few reasons. While doing so may technically save space, the downsides are the bass quality may not be as optimal, nearby objects may rattle more, and the sub may fall if the shelf is weak.


Reasons Why Someone Would Place A Subwoofer On A Shelf

It Saves Space

The first reason why someone might want to suspend a subwoofer off the floor in this fashion is it saves space.

Being that home theater equipment is sometimes large, having enough space to move around without worry of knocking something over can be an issue.

Basically, by placing it off the floor, it opens up more space for other things in the room like different seating configurations for example.

So the notion of being able to save a little space in this way may initially seem like an attractive solution.


It May Blend In Better With The Room

Like I mentioned previously, home theater equipment can sometimes border on the larger side.

Though there’s ways you can hide some of the equipment, it’s still not always feasible to do so.

Things like tower speakers and subwoofers especially stand out because of how much space they take up.

So there is a line of thinking that by placing a subwoofer on a shelf, it can make it less noticeable.

Having the subwoofer recessed might help in maintaining the default look of the room so I do understand the sentiment in doing so.


Should You Place A Subwoofer On A Shelf?

So with that said, should you place your subwoofer on a shelf?

While a subwoofer can technically be placed on a shelf, there’s a few caveats that immediately spring to mind that gives me pause in completely recommending doing so.

This is for a few reasons, which I’ll go into.


Reasons Why Someone Wouldn’t Place A Subwoofer On A Shelf

The Quality Of The Bass May Be Limited

Placing the subwoofer on a shelf might limit the potential sound quality from it.

That’s because getting the best out of a subwoofer’s bass often involves the subwoofer crawl to find the optimal spot for it.

This is where you basically play a test clip, mark the spot in the room where it sounds best to your ears, then place it there.

But by simply placing it wherever without doing so, there’s a real chance that it might not be the spot where it’ll actually sound best.

This could result in bass that seems lackluster or underwhelming when in fact it’s simply its positioning that’s off.

Having dealt with subwoofers for many years now, I can tell you that the sub’s position in a room can have a big effect on its overall sound.

This also goes for its output as well.

The issue with placing the subwoofer up and away is you potentially miss the reinforcement of bass that happens when placing it close to a corner or wall.

Plus the more tactile feeling of bass might be lost since it’s often recommended that a subwoofer be placed on the floor.

This way its output is more impactful, and it can be placed in more locations around the room.


There Might Be More Rattling From Nearby Objects

Something else to consider with setting your sub on a shelf is it may rattle the objects it’s closer to.

By being in closer proximity, there’s the distinct possibility that whatever its next too might rattle louder when the volume is up.

Because bass waves are omnidirectional, that means they travel in every direction and are slower.

The closer you happen to be to the source of that wave, the stronger it’ll be.

So by being closer to any nearby objects, even ones on a wall, it can cause them to rattle more.

This can be distracting and detract away from the experience.


The Shelf Itself Could Break Or Fall

In addition to all of this, the biggest caveat is the shelf or platform it’s on has the potential of falling or breaking — especially if the sub is heavy.

This could significantly damage it if it’s somehow knocked off.

Of course a shelf made of thicker or stronger materials greatly mitigates this issue, but the possibility of the subwoofer falling personally gives me pause with doing this — even if the possibility is remote.

So while you can technically place one on a shelf, it’s important to keep those things in mind.


Alternative To Placing The Sub On A Shelf – Decoupling It

It being on a shelf could theoretically help round off the bass though if it’s too overbearing in its audio delivery.

That’s due to it being physically off the floor.

But a great alternative to achieve the same thing is by decoupling it.

Decoupling the sub basically involves separating it to a slight degree from the floor, so the bass waves aren’t as amplified when they travel.

This can be done through some kind of specialized platform specifically made for that purpose, or even rubber feet that attach to the bottom of the enclosure.

Decoupling can be helpful for both isolating the sound so it isn’t as audible through walls, and improving the accuracy of the bass itself.

Plus you wouldn’t have to worry about it falling off since it’s already on the floor.

These are good options for that in my opinion.


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Final Thoughts

That about does it does it for this one.

Long story short, floor placement for the sub is typically better as you can better optimize bass output through proper positioning, and there’s less risk for the it falling.

But it’s also understandable why one would want to put it up to save space too.

Until next time, make it easy, keep it simple.


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