Subwoofers

Fixing Boomy Bass – Causes and Solutions


You’ve followed all the advice, bought all the right gear, and set it up according to all the guides. You are pretty sure you’ve got everything correctly hooked up and have run your room correction. You put in a movie to test your system and you immediately notice a problem. The bass is boomy. It seems to be louder than anything else! It’s shaking the walls! This can’t be right! So, how do you fix this boomy bass? Let’s get to the bottom of this.

Double-Check Everything

Before we begin fixing your boomy bass, we need to make sure that nothing else is wrong. You’ll want to double-check all your settings. My first experience with boomy bass happened because I took Internet advice to put my subwoofer volume at half. That was much too high for my room. So let’s do a couple of checks:

  • What is the trim level on your subwoofer (in the receiver settings)? If it is at -10 or -12, the volume level on your subwoofer is too high. Reduce and rerun your automatic setup until the trim is closer to zero or in positive numbers.
  • Are your speakers all set to small? If not, change that in the receiver settings
  • Change inputs. Is the boomy bass present on all your different sources? If not, check the settings of the boomy source.
  • Disable any DSP modes that might be augmenting the bass

Problem – The Speaker

For a moment, we are going to step away from home theater-specific problems and solutions. Some speakers, specifically headphones, are boomy. They are designed with a bass boost. This has been a common design for quite some time and one that we don’t like. In the case of some speakers and most headphones, the bass might have extra output by design.

For home theater, some subwoofers may sound like they have a lot more bass than they do. These are often poorly designed subwoofers that are put in rooms far too large for them. You may expect that a small sub in a large room would sound softer than a properly sized subwoofer. What too often happens is the small subwoofer tries to “keep up” with the rest of the speakers. When it can’t, the sub starts to bottom out, distort, and add port noise.

Edifier S90HD sub

That last one is a real problem. The fix for your boomy bass might actually be getting a capable subwoofer. That small subwoofer is adding a lot of noise rather than bass. And that noise is what you are hearing as “boomy” bass.

The solution of course is to buy an appropriately sized subwoofer for your space. How do you do this? Well, it is actually pretty easy. You need to know the cubic feet of your space (not just where your TV is, but the entire, enclosed space). Nearly any subwoofer manufacturer will tell you which of their subs will work in that space. And once you’ve put one in your cart, add a second.

Problem – The Room

If you are sure that you have everything connected correctly and the right subwoofer for your space, it is time to take a walk. Stroll around your room and listen carefully. If the “boominess” continues no matter where you are, there is something else going on. You may notice that the problem is louder on one side than another. There may be multiple places around the room.

What’s probably happening here is that the subwoofer is rattling your room. This is the home theater version of a first-world problem. That said, it still needs to be fixed. The first step is to decouple your subwoofer from the floor. This just means that you put something soft between the bottom of your subwoofer and the floor. This will prevent sound waves from traveling directly into the structure of your home. And no, it won’t make your subwoofer quieter.

If you are still hearing things in your room rattle or vibrate, you’ll need to either decouple them (similar to what you are doing to your subwoofer) or dampen them. We like using museum putty and rubber insulation tape. These will stop most of the rattles in your theater.

Problem – Placement

Most of the time, as you move around the room, the boomy bass seems to ebb and flow. In one spot it will be excessive, in another, it almost completely goes away. This is exceedingly normal and common and it is due to room acoustics. As the bass waves bounce around the room, they are interacting with each other. These interactions can make the bass louder or softer.

Acoustics panels in living room

The true solution is to add room treatments to your room. The more the better (to a certain point). This will cut down on many of the reflections. But for the lowest bass, these sound absorbers aren’t very effective. The best solution is to buy a second subwoofer and place them properly.

This seems counterintuitive. If you have boomy bass, the fix shouldn’t be MORE bass? But it is. That boomy bass is there because of how the sound waves are interacting with each other. When you add the second subwoofer and place it properly, you’ll find that you have more EVEN bass (not even MORE bass). That means bass that is the same volume everywhere in your room. If you don’t have even bass, you end up having to turn the subwoofer volume down (because of the boomy parts) and you get overall less bass.

Now, if you can’t add treatments, and you can’t add a second subwoofer, you have some other options. You can move your current subwoofer. While you will still have boomy bass in parts of your room, moving the subwoofer can fix the boomy bass at your seat. If you can’t move the subwoofer, try moving your seat. Even six inches can make a difference. Can’t do any of that? Well…turn it down? We hate that solution so try to do one of the others.

Have you experienced boomy bass? How did you fix it? Let us know in the comments or on our Facebook page.


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