Can Adjusting the Phase of My Subwoofer Fix the Sound

There are quite a few controls on most subwoofers. One that gets the least attention is the phase control. Phase can be adjusted on your subwoofer in usually one of two ways – a simple 0° or 180° switch or some sort of knob. The knob will, again, allow you to adjust from 0° to 180°. But what does all that mean? What does it do? Can adjusting the phase of your subwoofer really fix your sound? Let’s discuss.

What Does Adjusting the Phase Do?

We’ve talked about phase before in relation to your speakers. With speaker phase, we are concerned that your speakers are wired properly. There is no phase control with your speakers. With subwoofers, phase and delay can be thought of as the same thing. By changing the phase of your subwoofer, you are, in essence, delaying the sound from leaving the subwoofer. This delay is not large. Think a few milliseconds.

Why Might You Adjust Your Subwoofer’s Phase

Most of the time, you wouldn’t need to adjust your subwoofer’s phase to fix your sound. Your AV receiver already does this with the distance setting. The distance setting delays the sound leaving your subwoofer in the same way as a phase switch or knob. Controlling them separately usually isn’t necessary.

You may find, after you run your AV receiver’s room correction program that the bass in your seat sounds weird. It is inconsistent. Overly loud at some frequencies and far too soft at others. Normally, we’d tell you to re-run your room correction (make sure to follow our guide), but suppose you’ve already done that. Why might your bass sound this way?

Your room correction is trying to make the bass in your room as even as possible. Depending on your room, that might not be all that even. Based on its programming, it will do the best it can. What is “best” to it, might not sound “best” to you. Adjusting your phase might actually make this uneven bass sound a bit better. It does this primarily by moving the overly loud bass to frequencies that you don’t notice as regularly. Adjusting the phase doesn’t actually change or fix the sound of your subwoofer, it just moves the unevenness around.

What About Dual Subwoofer Systems

All of the above is assuming you have a single subwoofer system. In a dual subwoofer system, adjusting the phase on one of your subwoofers can be an integral part of the calibration experience. When subwoofers are placed in non-rectangular rooms or placed in non-optimal ways, then adjusting the phase on one of the two subwoofers can make a big difference. Follow our dual subwoofer setup guide for specifics.

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