Subwoofers on Floor vs Shelf – Which is the Better Option?

Subwoofers are an integral part of any sound system. The bass and low tones add the oomph and extra buzz that make music or movie sessions as entertaining as they should be. Where’s the right position for your subwoofer?

Subwoofers should be kept on a shelf, provided they are not too heavy. However, larger models or side-firing options are best placed on the floor. The best place to put a subwoofer in terms of sound quality and safety is just off the floor in a cabinet or entertainment center.

Subwoofers on Floor vs Shelf

Deciding where you should set up your subwoofer isn’t always straightforward. In this article, you’ll learn all you need to make the decision easier.

When You Should Keep a Subwoofer on the Floor

Keeping a subwoofer on the floor is not the best choice for sound quality, but the floor is the best place for safety.

For Safety Reasons

In terms of safety, it is best to put the subwoofers on the floor and make sure they are out of walkways. You don’t have to worry about the heavy equipment falling off the shelf or the area they were put on.

A fall from the best height for listening could severely damage a subwoofer, which would be very expensive to replace or repair. It could also damage your home.

Even worse, a fall like that could seriously hurt someone around the vicinity of the fall radius. Home subwoofers can weigh from 100 to 250 pounds (45 to 113 kg), cabinet or container included. Therefore, a fall can cause severe damage to an adult or even kill a child.

Padding Your Subwoofer

However, keeping your subwoofer on the floor will significantly impact its sound quality, which is the whole point of having a sound system.

The subwoofer will vibrate into the floor, affecting the overall quality of the sound generated. On the floor, a subwoofer will most likely channel the sound through the ground instead of up into the air where people can hear it.

This can also cause issues for other things in the room around you, vibrating other stuff off of shelves instead. It can also be a nuisance for neighbors or family members.

If you’re concerned about noise, you can always pad your subwoofer or soundproof your room. You should use a thick foam with air gaps to capture the most vibrations.

If you don’t want to pad the room, you could also add dampeners to your subwoofer’s feet. A good option is this set of four Diversitech Anti-Vibration Pads on Amazon. These pads can be used for any sound systems and can even be repurposed for other devices that may need padding.

When You Should Keep a Subwoofer on a Shelf

If you want better sound quality, you should mount your subwoofer or raise it off the ground. This should eliminate vibrations that would cause issues and give you more floor space.

For Better Sound Quality

If you want the best sound quality possible from your subwoofer, you should set it up on a shelf or other standing unit. This ensures better and more even sound dispersal through the air.

To get a full and consistent sound, you should give the soundwaves the most significant area to expand from. Your subwoofers rely on having space to project sound through and ensuring that the bass connects with the rest of the sound.

Higher distance means that the sound can reach its full potential and fill a whole room. This will give your acoustics a chance to shine.

Securing Your Sound System

As you lift your subwoofer off the ground, you need to ensure that they are secured to the wall and held back by other safety measures.

An anchor-free option you should consider are straps that you can attach to other furniture. They come with stronger accessories that can keep your subwoofer from falling over. Getting a couple of these pieces is usually enough to keep your piece safe.

COCOLi Anti-Tip Furniture Straps on have these in a pack of four. They come in other colors and quantities as well. They are made of high quality plastic material and the straps are adjustable. The white colors make them a good fit for most interior decors.

Subwoofers on Floor vs Shelf?

If you want the best sound quality, you should put your subwoofer on a shelf slightly above ground. It shouldn’t be at ear level, and not behind something. The firing end should face out towards the seating area in a room.

You need to ensure that there is enough space for the sound to disperse properly. This means you shouldn’t put them behind curtains, sofas, or anything that would block the sound.

Subwoofers Need Secure Shelving

Ideally, the shelf surface should be solid and secure enough to ensure that the subwoofer won’t fall off while in use. A rimmed edge can help with that, but it is also good to look into security straps or other preventative measures.

A great choice is to look into anything that qualifies as earthquake prevention, such as this ten pack of 4our Kiddies Furniture Straps from Amazon. They are an affordable choice and are rated for a 5.5 level earthquake. You can use them to hold your shelf to the wall, giving it more protection against the vibrations of your subwoofer.

Another option could be a form of museum putty like this Quakehold! Museum Putty on Amazon. It’s non-toxic and can fit on most surfaces. It probably shouldn’t be your first choice because the putty will stick to the subwoofer and cause issues if you need to move it, but it’s effective in a pinch.

They are designed for people who live in areas with earthquakes and are meant for people who have to worry about things falling off of shelves and breaking. You can also use them to prevent furniture from tipping over on babies.

Both products will help make sure that your subwoofer will not get damaged in a fall. Wood or plastic will crack easily from the force of a fall, or you could dent your floor.

Final Thoughts

If you want the best sound quality, you should position your subwoofers on shelves or a similar position off the floor. However, you have to put measures in place to ensure it stays in position and won’t fall off easily even if a force shakes the shelf.

If you don’t have a shelf that can securely hold the subwoofer without falling apart, you should place it on the floor. You’ll lose some sound quality, but that’s a small price to pay compared to damaging the subwoofer or exposing someone to injury.


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