Can You Stack Home Theater Subwoofers?
Can You Stack Home Theater Subwoofers?
Can you stack home theater subwoofers?
This might be a question you’ve wondered to yourself; especially if you’ve ever been to a movie theater or concert and happened to see this.
But what’s the reason this is done, and could you see any benefit in doing this with your own setup?
Let’s find out!
Can You Stack Home Theater Subwoofers?
Yes you can stack home theater subwoofers as it offers a 6 decibel increase in output. However doing is isn’t a remedy for an inadequate sub, since it can’t lower the frequency of the bass. You also lose out on smoother & more even bass response when stacked, as opposed to the typical opposite corners dual configuration.
Why Someone Might Want To Stack Their Subwoofers
To Save Space In The Room
One reason why you might be tempted to stack your subwoofers is it simply saves space.
Let’s face it, subwoofers can be pretty large, and when you use 2 that only adds to the problem.
In a smaller room this can be especially inconvenient as it means you have less room for everything else and to simply move about.
That’s not even accounting for the fact that because every room, and every subwoofer, is different, the ideal place where that subwoofer sounds best might be in a location where it’s simply in the way.
I remember when I was calibrating one of my subs, the ideal location for it was in a place where it just wouldn’t work.
From there I had to compromise by placing it somewhere else.
So for some, placing one sub on top of the other might just be more convenient in terms of saving space.
An anti slip mat cut to size and placed atop the bottom subwoofer can be helpful to secure the top subwoofer in place.
They Think It’ll Give Them More Output
Another reason you might try stacking them is you feel that doing so might give you increased bass output over using them individually in separate locations.
This line of thinking is certainly true to an extent, but due to the way bass works, it’s also not that simple either.
This can vary widely depending on many factors which we’ll get into shortly.
What’s The Benefit In Stacking Home Theater Subwoofers?
As you probably guessed, there is actually some benefit in stacking your subwoofers.
6dB Gain In Output
The first major benefit you gain when stacking 2 subwoofers comes in the form of increased bass output.
In fact, when stacked, it can equate to a about a 6 decibel increase in the amount of bass you get.
This can be a very noticeable jump in the amount of force and depth the bass might seem to gain.
For example if you have a subwoofer that can go down to 20 Hz, which is the lowest notes a human can hear, stacking 2 subs can help with increasing the bass output of that particular frequency in much larger rooms.
It could also help bring out those infrasonic ranges (the bass you can feel) in the subwoofers that can output below 20 Hz.
It’s important to remember that when it comes to these larger areas, how low in extension the subwoofer can go only amounts for so much.
What really makes the difference is how loud the subwoofer can actually get without distortion.
Of course you could always just opt for a bigger sub with a higher RMS, but the simpler option is to just stack them.
If you notice that your subwoofer sounds great but doesn’t get loud enough, getting a second one and placing it on top could be an option to fix it.
Can Offer More Head Room With Less Distortion
Briefly mentioned this, but another benefit to using 2 vertically stacked is you get more headroom in your output.
When using 2 subwoofers, and especially when stacked, there’s less strain on the amplifier at the same volume.
That means it doesn’t have to work as hard, allowing you to get a louder and cleaner bass volume with less effort.
This is not only good for the longevity of your equipment in general, but for the quality of your audio as a whole.
Additional headroom is definitely a good way ensure things don’t become distorted at those higher volumes and ensures your bass drivers last for a long time.
Can Indirectly Help With Port Noise
Another upside to stacking your subs has to do with the noise they produce.
I’m not talking about the bass, but of any unwanted sound that the physical cabinet or internal components might make.
Whether it be from playing the volume too loud or the sub not being up to par, certain subwoofers can make external noise when they’re pushed too hard.
This is especially apparent if it’s a subwoofer that tries to play below the advertised frequency range at extreme volumes.
By using 2, they basically don’t have to work as hard individually which can potentially alleviate this issue.
When Should You Stack Your Subwoofer?
It’s all preference really, but if you have a smaller room, then stacking subwoofers might be a viable option to save on space.
Though that being said, there are some caveats to doing so.
Are There Downsides To Stacking Subwoofers?
You Lose Out On Smoother Bass Response
What’s really important to mention is that stacking subwoofers means you lose out on the benefits that dual subwoofers give you.
Now I’ve talked about it before and even did an entire guide on it, but basically when you use 2 subwoofers, it helps to smooth out the frequency response at multiple listening positions in the room.
That means if there are any nulls or zones where it seems like there’s a lack of bass, using a second one in that position can get rid of that.
You can’t do that with stacked.
While them being placed within 1/4 of a wavelength won’t introduce any nulls, it won’t help to get rid of the ones that already exist in the room either.
It Could Make Things Sound Boomy
Another thing that could happen is while it could offer a volume boost in your room, depending on where they’re placed, it could potentially increase your volume by too much.
Whether it being reinforcement from corners, or an overlap in sound waves, it’s always possible that stacking your subs actually gives you a worse bass quality.
Plus, if placed properly, you can still get the volume boost that 2 subs on top of each other would give you, separately.
Is There Anything Stacking Subwoofers Won’t Do?
Already mentioned this, but stacking them won’t improve any holes present in your soundstage.
The bass might sound stronger this way, but if there’s any deadzones, it won’t get rid of them.
This can result an inconsistent experience for listeners in the room.
Simply put, subwoofers tend to sound better when they’re spaced out.
I will caveat this though by saying one of the few times this isn’t true is when you use multiple stacks of subwoofers.
In that case, you’d be getting more output and improved bass response.
That would then technically offer the benefits of both.
Subwoofers Stacked Or Side By Side?
Now should you use them stacked or side by side?
Again this is going to depend on the room as well as where the subwoofer crawl dictates you place them, but generally it’s not going to matter too much in this case.
Given that they’d be in such close proximity to each other, it would make too much of a difference either way.
Both ways would sound similar.
So that about wraps it up for this one.
In short, yes you can stack subs, but it’s generally better to just place them in their ideal spots and enjoy the improved bass quality that dual subs gives that way.
Plus, there’s even the chance that it has just as much of a volume increase that stacked would give while sounding better overall.
You’ll just have to experiment to see what works best for your listening conditions at the end of the day.
But that’s really all I have for now.
Leave a comment below letting me know what you think, or even if you have any questions that you’d want to know.
Until next time, make it easy, keep it simple. 😁
Hey everyone it’s nice to meet you. I’m Jasmere, the founder of Easy Home Theater. I’ve been with this hobby for many years now, and decided to create this site to share everything that I’ve learned from personal experience with you. I also happen to be a huge gamer, lover of all things tech related, and a major fitness buff. Feel free to say hey!