A studio subwoofer can bring wonders whether you’re writing electronic music or recording your instruments.
Even a small room can have an excellent sound quality system with a nice bass mix.
There’s something primal about these low-end frequencies, connecting to the music rawly. Plus, it makes mixing and monitoring much more manageable.
But sub-woofers are pretty complicated in an audio system. So how do you start connecting a subwoofer to studio monitors?
What Is a Subwoofer?
Sub-woofers are speakers that play lower frequencies – i.e., the bass and the sub-bass.
They’re never used alone – instead, they augment the low-frequency content of speakers. Studio monitors are limited in frequency response and can’t bring the bass either.
They require a lot of power, so they need to be wired to an amplifier and a power source.
Subwoofers generally give you many audio jack options – from TRS 1/4″ to XLR to RCA. You can choose between many cords that can also fit your audio interface.
How to Connect Subwoofer to Studio Monitor
First, you need an audio interface for your home studio. It’s like a powerful sound card outside your computer.
An audio interface makes it EASIER to record – plug in anything from microphones or instruments like electric guitars.
You wire it to your computer through a USB cable.
If you didn’t have a subwoofer, you’d plug the audio interface into your studio monitor. But instead,
You’ll also need TWO CABLES so that you can start connecting:
- The audio interface to the subwoofer, and
- The subwoofer to your studio monitors
Choose Your Cables
First, determine the type of cables you prefer for this setup.
Your options will depend on what inputs your devices have. But usually, you can use a pair of RCA cables or TRS 1/4 cables.
Connecting Your Subwoofers With Cables
Afterward, plug in one cable from the audio interface to the INPUT of the subwoofer speaker.
When you plug in the inputs of a subwoofer, you’ll have the option of choosing whether you want the bass on the left side of the audio or the right.
Then, start connecting the OUTPUT of your subwoofer to the studio monitor. Ensure the output matches your subwoofer input’s right or left.
Just like that, it’s done! But subwoofers are still tricky. It’s not just a question of how to plug them in.
Does Your Home Studio Need a Subwoofer?
There are a lot of good reasons to use a subwoofer! But sometimes, you just need to upgrade your existing home system.
How would you know whether to get one?
Here are the main reasons to add a subwoofer to your home studio:
- Accurately Monitor: Sure, headphones can do the trick. But adding a subwoofer can make monitoring the bass a breeze. It’s always good to be able to pick up different frequency ranges.
- The feel of the bass: Headphones can help you listen to how your low-frequency content mixes with the rest of the audio. However, a subwoofer lets you physically feel how the low bass frequencies are in your room.
- Masking issues. You’ll be able to feel whether the resonant vibrations are too strong when you touch them in your chest.
When to Not Get a Subwoofer?
If you’re using small speakers or small monitors and can’t hear the low-end frequencies, you don’t need to get a subwoofer.
Try switching to larger speakers instead, or try quality eight-inch woofers.
Or if you’re using a bookshelf, hi-fi speakers, or low-end speakers, the issue may be with your speakers themselves. Invest in studio-quality monitor speakers first.
Plus, you might just have issues with your room’s acoustic treatment. If you have massive problems, try an SPL meter.
But suppose you’re really trying to accurately monitor your audio and produce frequencies of the low-end. In that case, a subwoofer is worth the cost.
They’re efficient and non-obtrusive.
What Subwoofers Should I Buy?
Search for a subwoofer from your main studio monitors’ brand. You’ll have an easier time with your setup.
If you really want that even quality in your room and already have the budget for your room’s acoustics, buy two subwoofers for your home studio setup!
Having two might not make your frequency response any more accurate, but it’ll make mixing and recording more effortless.
Where to Place Your Subwoofer
Indeed, very low frequencies aren’t directional. That means that theoretically, you can put your sub-woofer anywhere and still won’t be able to find out where it’s coming from.
But your audio system isn’t in a vacuum – it’s in a room. Your room’s acoustics – like the walls and furniture – color the music. That goes especially for low frequencies.
You’ll, of course, want to consider investing in acoustic treatment, but outside of that, where should you put your sub-woofer?
Finding the Sweet Spot
Turn on your sub-woofer as well as audio with lots of low frequencies. Then, walk around and even crawl around your room to listen to the sweet spot.
You want a flat response at the sub-level. You’re looking for a place where the bass is even and defined, with rich timber and texture.
Still can’t give your ample space a smooth, encompassing bass? It might be because you’re expecting too much from one speaker for that room size!
Try investing in a pair of subwoofers instead.
Using a Real-Time Analyzer
Maybe you don’t want to crawl around your room listening for the perfect sound like a predator. Instead, you can always use a real-time analyzer (RTA).
While it’s not as accurate, it’s still an option.
Play pink noise on your studio system. Then use an RTA to find the best place to put your speaker.
You can check your SPL meter to see if it has this calibration option.
Corners and Walls
Putting your sub-woofer in the corner or close to the wall might make a louder response, but it won’t be rich in sound. It’ll be harsh and rumbling instead.
Let the bass waves bounce around the room.
You might prefer your subwoofer placed a third of the way into your room. You’ll reduce issues from standing waves, nulls, and all other suck-out.
Where Not to Place Your Speakers
Putting your sub-woofer inside another cabinet actually defeats the purpose of a subwoofer. You need it to BREATHE.
There are options for being able to fix your cabinet in such a way that it will sound well, but we recommend doing this as one of your last resorts.
The logistics of your cords aren’t to be ignored. You’ll want to ensure you won’t trip on your subwoofer’s wires.
How to Set the Level of Your Sub-Woofer
Your monitoring setup will be useless if the response is not accurate. Follow these steps for a great setup.
Adjusting the Crossover Frequency
First, search for the right crossover point – the frequency where your subwoofer starts playing low-frequency sounds.
Choose the sublevel or crossover frequency at the point where the studio monitors can’t pick up.
So if your studio monitors can’t sound a low-frequency response of 80Hz, but can at 90Hz, then you want the crossover at 80Hz.
Your studio monitor might have a manual that says its frequency range. Go just a bit lower than that.
If your studio monitors and subwoofers play the same sound, then your crossover is probably TOO HIGH.
Trying to achieve an excellent monitoring system takes some time, but we have some answers to your burning questions.
What Does the “Phase” Switch Do?
The phase switch helps synchronize your subwoofer with your other woofers and the rest of your audio system.
This switch ensures that when the subwoofer cone pushes air out, the other woofer diaphragms do the same.
This is especially useful to avoid phase cancellation.
How Do I Adjust the Sub-woofer Amp Panel?
Set the volume to zero on your stereo monitors and your amplifier. While everything is mute, turn on a music mix with bass content.
Turn your studio monitor’s volume up to 2/3 of the maximum volume.
NOW you can adjust your amp panel correctly. Turn the gain dial on your amplifier clockwise until you pick a rumble you like.
But lower it when you hear distortion.
How Do I Hook Up Non-Powered Speakers to My Computer?
To start connecting passive speakers to your PC, you need an amplifier that can plug directly into your computer (through USB or a 3.5 audio cable) and RCA connections for your speakers.
Just plug it in, turn on your external amplifier, and then fix your PC’s audio settings. Hence, your audio output goes to your new speakers.
How to Attach Studio Monitors to an Audio Interface
Here are the steps to plug in your studio monitors to an audio interface:
- Mute everything first – or it WILL be noisy!
- Plug in the audio interface to your computer.
- Plug the studio monitors into the amplifier.
- Fix the volume and EQ settings to get an accurate response.
That’s it! Your monitoring setup is ready.
Adding a subwoofer might be easy for you.
But if it’s complex, or room treatment takes too much effort for our home studio system, then trust us – adding a subwoofer is WORTH IT.
You shouldn’t limit yourself to high frequencies. Other systems might do well without it, but your monitoring system will be much better.