Near Field Subwoofer Revelation - From Ask Paul Video

@Paul I am very intrigued about Near Field Subwoofer placement. For one, I can get those monsters out of site and also I wouldn’t be partially blocking a door.

So If I was to place my pair of JL Audio f113 subs behind my sofa which way would the front of the subwoofers face? Towards the rear wall or towards the side walls? I’ll assume they wouldn’t face each other or the back of the sofa.

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I am no expert at this having only experienced it twice now but in the first case where the subs were behind the sofa they pointed right at the main speakers. In the second instance where they were on the sides of the sofa they each pointed directly at my ears.

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Nah, Paul. You too are just getting old(er) and can’t quite hear those low notes like we used to, unless they are blasting directly into our ears :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Thanks Paul, I’ll try them both ways in the next few days and report back.

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Consider that Darren probably uses EQ’able subs, if you don’t.

Darren has said that he is using a mini DSP on the system / subs.

This has me intrigued with being used with the Raal Requisite headphones (or possibly other open backed headphones). On another forum members have talked about using these headphones with standard subwoofer configurations (corner position) with good results. Near field subs could be a game changer.

Can’t wait to hear more on this . Of course Home theater bass freaks (and I mean that in a good way) put subs everywhere. In the front, sides, behind and underneath all seating positions.

I wanted to try this as soon as I saw the video, but quickly realized that I didn’t have power cables long enough to move my subs out near my chair…so I finally built some long cables today, and tried the near-field sub setup. It was a revelation…

I’ve got Martin Logan Prodigy main speakers, and a pair of ML Depth i subs. With the subs in the corners, I always got lots of bass, but never really great quality bass. With the subs on either side of my chair, just forward of my seated position, the bass is perfect…super deep, with no booming, bloating, or overhang. Finally getting the bass right in my room allows the Prodigy’s to do their thing, which is pretty cool. As far as setup, I reduced the crossover frequency from 45 to 35, and increased level from ~6 to about 9’ish (out of 11). Didn’t mess with phase settings or 25 Hz level, both of which I always keep on “0”.

The only downside…it’s kind of clunky having the subs sit right there by my chair, and of course, there’s the cables running across the floor, which doesn’t look great. I’m thinking I’ll keep it set up like this for awhile, and see how much of a hassle it is getting in & out of my chair, and stepping around the cables.

If you have the ability to at least try this type of setup, I highly encourage it, even if you know you will have to move the subs back. If nothing else, it gives a reference of what proper bass CAN sound like in a given room.


I also tried it, just for giggles. Like you I found it revelatory!

I’m living in rental accommodation and chosen not to do any room treatment. Placing the subs (B&W DB1s) on either side of my listening chair seems to have tamed at least some of the room modes and, unless I’m just imagining things, provided better time alignment of low frequencies with those coming from my full-range main speakers (B&W 800 Diamonds). I’m running at the B&W-recommended 80Hz crossover point. The subs have back and front firing drivers and I’ve oriented them to fire towards front and back walls (the long dimension).

Like you, I have issues with cables and convenient access to my listening chair. I’ve tried to minimise that by running the power cables away from the usual path to my chair. For the signal cables, fortunately they’re long enough to run to my DS DAC. So at least there’s only one cable to not trip over! :smirk:

Bottom line is that this placement is certainly worth keeping. :relaxed:

Oh! Forgot to add probably the most important point. Sonically, both subs have ‘disappeared’, even using the same output levels that I was using in the previous ‘traditional’ sub positions.

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Just for curiosity: did you put your subs on the floor? My sweetspot is on the center of a couch without enough room floor on the right and the left side. The only way would be to put the subs on some shelves to the right/left side of the couch (or just close to it behind my head) as high as my shoulders. I’m also afraid about vibrations of the furniture due to my RELs fire spots woofers down/front.

Paul, I’m thinking of your long-stated recommendation that two subwoofers in a stereo system are better than one. If you instead have a nearfield subwoofer configuration, how does that impact the two-vs-one recommendation? Two side-by-side subwoofers seem functionally identical (to me) to a single bigger subwoofer.

Is the use of two subwoofers (whether in the nearfield or the farfield) ultimately recommended simply because the model of subwoofer chosen is not quite up to the job, and having two of them just compensates for that?

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That’s a great question Richard. I too would be interested in Paul’s thoughts, particularly in view of the addition of a single(!) subwoofer to the back of Music Room 3 (MR3) (behind the listening position). He mentioned in the ‘Ask Paul’ video that the placement for MR3 was best somewhere along the central ‘north-south’ corridor but didn’t go into any detail about using only a single subwoofer.

A near field subwoofer can be a great way to run it quieter, thus disturbing your loved ones less! Running quieter also mean less distortion and better dynamics, so…go for it.

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My experience has shown the most critical concern with aiming subwoofers is to point them away from the direction of where the wife sleeps.

Everything else is a distant second.


This is a great question and one I haven’t yet fully formed an opinion on but perhaps I can share some thoughts.

First, the two most recent nearfield woofer setups I have enjoyed were both stereo and they were amazing experiences. But, logically, they may have been stereo more because that’s the way it is always done rather than representing careful thought.

Second, in MR3, this is the first time in my nearly 50 years of playing with stereo equipment of placing a woofer in the middle of the wall (as opposed to one on each side). Just about every other time I’ve built systems it made sense to place a left and right woofer behind and to the proper sides of the listening room.

MR3’s placement was a combination of having the luxury of sophisticated measurement equipment and a world class speaker designer’s knowledge available to set things up. That coupled with a bunch of listening tests worked wonders.

I will have to ruminate on the impacts of all this.


That could be partially argued, if indeed they are side by side. So their utility as stereo subs would be reduced or cancelled. However, they would still be two times a single sub in other respects.

I would recommend separating them though. I have mine (which are identical to what Paul first heard at Darren’s) 2-3 feet away to either side of my chair, a couple of feet behind directly L/R. I also have JL f112’s in front.

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anyone tried building a sub into their chair/sofa yet?
this is a serious inquiry :slight_smile:

i often thought of building a coffee table sub, and playing chicken with mugs of tea!

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My latest audio chair.

There looks like there may be room for small subs and a bidet attachment.


i know it’s wipe clean material, but there are rather too many crevices on that thing for my liking…


Wasn’t the two subwoofer recommendation always just an argument of symmetry, which one in the middle also fulfills if that’s the favorite point of stimulating the room?

I think rules made out of incomplete experiments can be a quite limiting factor for recipients anyway, but those who want to be fast without own experiments crave for rules of others.