Subwoofer?

Hi all,

What is your opinion on having a subwoofer for mixing?

/Lukas

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I tend to use one, but not during the entire mix process. Mostly I just fire it up to make sure I’m not out of line with the low end, but most of the time I have it off. I mix at lower levels lately and I find that having the sub on at low levels can heavily (and falsely) influence my decision making.

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I don’t use one when mixing, but two of the four output options I use to listen to mixes before stamping them (car stereo, home theatre rig) have a sub. So like Bryan, it comes into play only as a late-stage check but not as part of the main mixing process. Works for me.

I never listen with a subwoofer. I am not sure if it matters when no one is really listening to your mixes. (edit: i should clarify that by “your mixes” i was really saying my mixes. As i read it this morning i got thinking that could be coming across really bad and i did not intend that all. @ProudMusicStudios )

Hi @ProudMusicStudios,

Short answer: For music and broadcast is a luxury. For cinematic and gaming sound design its an absolute non-negotiable necessity.

To elaborate - when mixing music, dead accurate low end detail is immensely important. However, this does not automatically equal ‘must have subwoofer’. There are many instance where a poorly tuned sub in an already bad room will hurt you more than it helps.

I’m reminded that Dave Pensado mentioning one of the biggest problems he sees in rough mixes that were done in home studios is a lack of understanding on how to balance low end.

I don’t use a sub at the moment, but I have incredibly detailed full range monitors and thousands of dollars in bass trapping and room treatment in my house. I haven’t had mixes sent back yet because a client felt the balances were off. I’m holding off on the film design projects for now because I don’t fully trust the room, especially when the final delivery format is 5.1 surround. In film there’s a lot of information happening in the subwoofer territory, so I’m being careful not to bite off more than I can chew until I have my new commercial room built.

Hope this helps.

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Ok then, no subwoofer!

Thank you for your help guys.

/Lukas

Do you have a subwoofer on your home stereo? If so, I’d still run it through to make certain your sub lows aren’t out of line with everything else. :wink:

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I have one, but since I’m mixing at low volume most of the time, it’s hardly even working… so I guess I could do without and not even notice it.

i love having mine, i have a Presonus trembler 10 and it comes with a footswitch so you can bypass this is where it shines for me, i mix low but from time to time i jack up the volume and put the sub on to check ,this keeps my mix in perspective
then i bypass it . when I’m the print stage during master i leave it on all the time because everything is subtle adjustments and i want to make sure i don’t have anything that pops out during the song. i mixed for a few years with just 8 inch krk’s but i prefer the 2.1 setup it suites my room. I also use to listen to music and watch movies so it serves 2 purposes for me.

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I love/hate having a subwoofer. My issue is that having a nice deep kick sounds good, but it’s easy to overdo if you have clean lows in your reproduction. It’s sort of a “more bass sounds better” issue.

That said, it’s also easy to overdo if you don’t have anything that will reproduce sound down there.

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You said it brother. That was probably my biggest failing when I got started: waaaaaaaay too much bass because I didn’t have any kind of decent reproduction at low freqs. Even though I still don’t have a sub on the music rig, I did get a MUCH better set of nearfields and some good cans, so I don’t have that issue anymore.

For me, I have a nice set of monitors but they actually had a defect that turned out to be a feature for me. It’s just a loose piece of something in the box(es) that rattles if there is too much low end… even at low volume. However, I almost never experience that rattle when playing back albums. So it works as a great indicator of whether or not I’m getting carried away with the lows.

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Lukas, for the sake of conversation (and keeping things alive on this new forum endeavor), tell us a little bit about your current setup. None of are here to criticize your tools (this ain’t gearslutz!). All good conversation, and we can learn a lot from each other!

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I have a sub - wouldn’t be without it - I like to know what’s happening in the low, low end.

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I use a sub, it helps me a lot, but it was difficullt to properly integrate it with the main speakers (a lot of reading first, then bass traps, acoustic foam, SPL measurements and room response measurements with calibrated mic and software). The sub has an on/off footswitch which I use a lot as well to check the mix.

I do not use a sub. I have speakers that supposedly go down to 40hz without skipping a beat though. In my new control room I took Ethan’s advise and put my speakers upside down so that my ears are at tweeder level. This helped a lot! I use 3 sets of monitors and reference material when mixing. Using phones to check low end can be useful as well.

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Very interesting… when you say it helped a lot @Paul999, in what way do you mean? Just generally better sounding/more accurate, or …?

I’m looking at my monitors and if I were to flip them over, the tweeter would be below my ear level by the same amount as they are currently above. That is, the face of the monitor is symmetric about the center of the woofer. The only way I could get the tweeters at ear level would be to lay them down on their sides.

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Ethan very much recommended against putting them on their sides. I think it throws the low end/high phase relationship. If you raise your speaker stands so that they will put the tweeter at ear level and then put your speakers upside down it makes it so you hear the panning of high end much better. Low frequencies are much more omni directional so the woofers being up high doesn’t matter. I did notice the low end tightened up though because it is not so close to the floor which in my case is a hard surface.

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Ah, I see… I think I will try that then, because I need all the help I can get at high freqs, with my deteriorated ears. Thanks Paul!

Which is exactly why you’ll frequently see monitors set horizontally rather than vertical. It’s all about monitor/ear position. :wink: