Sonos Subwoofers offer fantastic performance for the money, but the key to getting the most out of your Sonos Sub is to place it correctly in your room.
Optimal placement is the most important factor in ensuring not only full functionality from your Sonos Sub, but also the best sound – deep, impactful bass that fills the room and blends seamlessly with the rest of the music.
So let’s go over this important subject in more detail, in this complete guide to how to place your Sonos Subwoofer.
Sonos Subwoofer Placement for Wifi
When considering the best position for a Sonos Subwoofer in your room, it is critical that the sub is in range of your wifi network, and so let’s take care of this first.
Sonos Subs are not Bluetooth devices, but instead work over your wireless network, and will join with and sync with your existing Sonos speakers (or other speakers, if you are using a Sonos Amp) through wifi and the excellent Sonos S2 app.
A lot of guides say this means you can place your Sonos Sub anywhere, but I know that some homes may have a few wifi dead spots, so you should definitely make sure your sub and wireless network can see each other to ensure proper functionality.
So yeah, 99 percent of the time this is a non-issue, but when you’ve placed your Sonos Sub you should then open up your Sonos app and make sure the sub appears – which is as simple as 1 2 3!
- Download Sonos S2 App for Windows or Apple computers, Android or Apple phones
- Install the App on your device
- Add new device, and make sure your Sub is showing up and selectable
Now you’re ready to get full functionality from your Sonos Subwoofer, including integration with your current Sonos speakers and system and using streaming services.
Next let’s get into what is – for many of us, at least – a much more important subject – sound quality!
Placing a Sonos Subwoofer for Best Sound Quality
I have noticed that most placement guides – including Sonos’ own manual – are extremely simplistic, and don’t cover some of the most important factors.
But while you can pretty much toss a subwoofer anywhere (no, please don’t “toss” it!), there are a few guidelines which can greatly improve the sound of your Sub and the whole system, and really increase your listening enjoyment.
Placing a Sonos Sub for Best Stereo or Surround Imaging
The idea that a Sub, or any subwoofer, can be placed pretty much anywhere is at least partially true – the basic fact is that deep bass notes are omnidirectional, meaning they go in all directions, where higher midrange and (especially) high frequency notes tend to go in a single direction.
So correctly placing your main stereo or surround speakers is pretty crucial, and can make a big difference in imaging and soundstage, with both stereo imaging and surround sound. But you can pretty much put the subwoofer anywhere and it will fill the room and integrate well enough with the rest of the system.
Still, I would be careful to not move the sub too far away from everything else – omnidirectional though it may be, having a sub too far away from the main speakers can mess with the stereo or surround sound image, and can unnaturally call attention to the position and presence of the sub.
Whenever practical, I like to have my subwoofer up front and somewhat in line with the front channel speakers, or at least in that area, and I would not want to have the sub behind the listening area or too far away from the other speakers.
Placing a Sonos Sub for Best Bass and Best Balance
Even more than with imaging, correct placement of a Sonos Sub can make a huge difference in how much bass you hear, how well it integrates and balances with the main speakers and even how low it will go.
The Sonos user guide isn’t enormously helpful in this regard, though they do at least warn us against blocking both sides of Sub’s vent – if you lay it down horizontally, don’t place anything on top of it, and if you have one side of the sub, and so one side of the vent, pressed against a wall, leave the other side open so bass waves can radiate out relatively unimpeded.
But there’s a lot more you can do to improve the sound and balance of your Sonos Sub – or any subwoofer, for that matter.
For example, how close your Sonos Sub is to a wall can dramatically change how much bass there will be. Moved right next to a wall – or even more so tucked into a corner – and the Sonos Sub’s bass waves will reflect back and provide much more bass than if the sub were pulled out from the wall even a few more inches.
If the sub is placed well away from the wall, even in the center of the room, bass output will be much lower still.
It is said that you can hide a subwoofer under furniture and it won’t affect the sound quality, but this is not entirely true. Tucked under a shelf, especially a solid wood shelf, the sub can exhibit the same acoustic effect as when you place it next to a wall – strongly reflected sound waves, leading to thicker, boomier and much stronger bass.
On the other hand, if you place your Sonos subwoofer under a heavily upholstered sofa, a great deal of the sound energy will be absorbed, leading to probably much lower levels of bass, and even perhaps a kind of slow, dark sound which will rob the low end of a lot of speed, detail and definition.
Carpet, tile and hardwood floor will have different effects on the sound – hard surfaces will, like walls, reflect more of the bass waves and lead to stronger bass, while carpet will absorb low end and reduce the level of bass. If you have hardwood or tile floors, especially stone or ceramic tiles, and find that you have too much bass, you can always place a small rug underneath your Sub to tame the low end.
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- Always leave at least one side of the bass vent open
- If a Sonos Sub is placed closer to walls or in corners, the bass will increase, and to pull it out even a small amount will significantly decrease low end energy
- Carpet will absorb bass waves, as will placement under heavily upholstered furniture, leading to less bass, while hard floors will reflect waves, much like walls do, and increase the low end
- You can always place a rug under the Sonos Sub to dampen and decrease bass output
Now I can’t tell you how to proceed with this. You may like the low end as big and boomy as possible, and are already shoving your Sonos into the corner, or you might want a tasteful and subtle foundation, and are eager to attenuate the low end a bit.
So please experiment and play around with placement. Listen, move, adjust and listen some more – from several different positions in the room – and see what bass level and what balance sounds best to you.
(What I can tell you is that subwoofers tend to be heavy – I think the Sonos Sub is close to 40 pounds – so be careful lifting and moving it. Bend at the knees when lifting it, and get help if you need it. Also, related to weight, dragging it can cause damage to the Sub as well as the floor or carpet.)
My own process, when playing around with a brand new gen 3 Sonos sub that I was reviewing, was to place it in a smart and practical position, using some of the guidelines above, and listen, from my main listening position and then in spots where other people might be sitting.
I then made some small adjustments and allowed the Sonos calibration program – Trueplay – to do its thing, finally making my own fine adjustments based on what sounds best to me.
Because yeah, Trueplay can help you place and calibrate your sub, and theoretically at least should lead to ideal bass levels and balance, and you can also use the manual sub levels in the Sonos Play 2 app to optimize and integrate. But it is my experience that tweaking the physical position and placement of the sub is a better way to achieve this and – especially when used in combination with the automatic calibration and manual adjustments in the Sonos app – can lead to a much more integrated, and more enjoyable, listening experience.
Placing a Sonos Sub so it Plays Well with Others
We’ve already covered the most important aspects of placement of a Sonos Sub in relation to the rest of the system, in talking about making sure it’s in range of your wifi network and that it is not too far away from the other speakers, and ideally somewhere in front of the listening position
But there are a few other basic considerations we should cover in closing, because flubbing or ignoring these can have a very strong negative impact on sound.
Positioning a Sonos Sub to Avoid Magnetic Interference
Subwoofers have big, strong magnets, and the Sonos Sub is no exception. No matter how well magnetically shielded a subwoofer is, there still may be significant magnetic energy emanating from it, and so it is smart to keep it away from sensitive equipment.
This can include phono cartridges, power and signal wires, all digital equipment, cables and hubs, televisions and monitors and more.
Keeping your Sonos Sub at least a few feet away from any such equipment, cords or connectors can greatly decrease noise, hum and distortion, while having your Sub too close can lead to noise, a muddying of sound and loss of detail, clarity and musical energy.
Positioning a Sonos Sub to Avoid Acoustic interference
This is a biggie with any subwoofer. The intensely strong low frequency waves that come from a sub can make any equipment vibrate.
We most famously hear this in acoustic feedback from turntables, where too loud of volumes lead to an unbearable howling sound, and you have to turn the volume down immediately. This happens because the subwoofer is too close to the turntable (or touching or sitting on the same shelf or rack as the turntable) and the sub’s low frequencies make the needle vibrate in the record’s groove, which is amplified through the stereo gear and reproduced – even louder now – through the same subwoofer, which makes the needle shake even more, which makes the low frequencies from the subwoofer even stronger, and so on and so forth until your spouse, children and dogs all sart howling.
But just like magnetic interference, it is usually a simple matter of putting at least a few feet between your turntable and your Sonos Sub.
And keep in mind that a much more subtle form of acoustic interference can happen with your amplifier, your digital streamer, even your cables – it may not lead to painful howling through the speakers, but can rob sound of energy, definition and clarity in much the same way magnetic interference can.
Positioning a Sonos Sub to Avoid Painful Accidents
Simply put, don’t leave wires strewn about or stretching across places where people will walk, dogs will run or kids will play.
I know, your spiffy new Sonos Sub is all wireless and whatnot, but you still have a power cord, and while it will probably be off to the side anyway, make sure even that cord isn’t in anybody’s way, so as to avoid accidents and equipment damage.
And please, keep this in mind for all of your cables, not just your sub’s power cable – I only say this because I am so deeply concerned about the health, safety and wellbeing of your gear… Uhm, I mean, of course, the health, safety and wellbeing of you and your loved ones!