If you are a new bee, deciding between subwoofer phase 0 or 180 may be confusing for you. This term has to do with speaker installation and setup.
Although you can adjust the volume and bass of your subwoofer you do not know what the perfect phase is. You need to get some basic knowledge of phase control to comprehend it fully.
So, this article will provide you with all the essential knowledge about the subwoofer phase. Further, we will guide you on whether you should choose phase 0 or 180.
This choice actually depends on some important factors that will be elaborated on in this guide.
What is Phase Control in a Subwoofer?
Phase control is also called phase setting and refers to the signal delay. This is a form of electrical instruction and varies from 0 to 180 degrees.
Setting the right phase is necessary. Because it ensures that the subwoofer synchronizes properly with other speakers.
However, setting the phase depends on the position of the subwoofer and the settings of the room. The phase is adjusted through the phase switch.
If your subwoofer is out of phase, you will notice no bass from the sub. If the speakers are out of phase, the bass will be heavier from one speaker as compared to the other.
Difference Between Phase 0 and Phase 180
Phase 0 is also termed the normal phase. When you set your subwoofer at this phase, no delay occurs between incoming signal transmission.
It means the speakers and the subwoofer are in the same phase. Phase 0 is ideal if your speakers and subwoofer are placed in the same area and identical direction.
Together they form a constructive interference. In simple words, the sound waves from the speaker and the subwoofer add together to make a new whole. Hence, the sound becomes great.
Phase 180 is also known as the reverse phase. The polarity of the subwoofer is reversed if you set it at 180 degrees. The polarity of the subwoofer goes against the polarity of the speakers.
The driver of the subwoofer moves inward while that of the speakers moves outward. The reverse phase is ideal when your subwoofer is placed on a wall opposite to the speakers.
In this situation, the sound waves from the speakers and the subwoofer do not interfere with each other.
As a result, the destructive interference is reduced. But, this setting has a drawback as it reduces the total output bass.
Variable Phase: Some subwoofers have a variable phase that varies between 0 to 180 degrees. So, you can make small increments in the phase.
In this case, the overall output signal faces some cancellation. However, the variable subwoofer features more accurate and perfect phase adjustments with the speakers.
The loss is reduced and the total output is better. So, the combined efficiency and performance of the sound system is great.
What is the Best Phase for a Subwoofer?
The best phase of the subwoofer is decided according to two factors; positioning and sound quality. So, let us discuss these factors and then decide accordingly.
Factor 1: Subwoofer vs Speaker Positioning
The phase can be set to 0 if your subwoofer and speaker are placed on the same side of the room. Say, you have placed both with the west wall.
Moreover, their drivers are pointing in the same direction. It means there is harmony between both devices.
The ideal phase is 180 if the subwoofer and speakers are in opposite directions or on different sides of the room.
For example, you may have placed the sub along the west wall and the speaker against the east wall. In this case, they will be pointing towards each other.
Factor 2: Sound Quality
This is the most important factor to consider. You should adjust the phase to get the best sound quality and put all other things aside.
For example, at a high decibel output, the sound may not feel better. But, it is excellent at the low decibel output. So, you should go for the one that sounds perfect.
Similarly, setting the phase relevant to the subwoofer position may not give better audio quality. Because other factors can also influence such as articles in the room or outside environment.
Related: Best Soundbars without Subwoofers
How to Set Subwoofer Phase?
You need a digital switch to adjust and set the subwoofer phase. It is not a tricky thing at all. You can do it yourself without calling a professional.
Just set the volume level according to your preference. Do not increase the volume at the high end because it will not give you a clearer idea.
Increase the volume gradually and listen to the sound at each level. It is better to play bass-heavy music. Sit in the regular listening position in your room.
Ask someone to do slight increments while you are hearing at your position. If you do not notice any remarkable difference then adjust it to phase 0.
Setting too high a volume on the sub will cancel out the speakers. While too low will allow the speakers to overcome the sub.
So, it’s all about balance and harmony. You need to do experiments with the sound level. If the phasing is incorrect, you will not get a reasonable bass.
However, the setup process is not so complicated and does not require expert ears.
Cross Over Frequency
A cross-over frequency, the subwoofer overwhelms the speaker sound which in turn fades out. You notice heavy bass and LFEs. Sometimes, the sound may become muddy at 180 degrees.
You should set the cross-over frequency at 80 Hz to solve this issue. However, modern AV receivers solve this issue automatically.
Because they have preset EQ and are designed to synchronize each item of the sound system perfectly.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the brief answers to your possible questions. Read for more information.
What is the best phase setting for my subwoofer?
What is an SPL meter and what is its purpose?
SPL meter is a built-in device in some speakers. It tells the exact phase setting to prevent the issue of crossover frequency for the incoming sound signals. The SPL app can be downloaded from the Play Store on your phone if your speaker lacks it.
What is a subwoofer crossover frequency?
The crossover frequency is the maximum limit or high-cut filter. The subwoofer cannot play frequencies higher than a determined threshold. Most subs let you adjust the crossover frequency through a dedicated button.
So, deciding between phase 0 or 180 depends upon the sound quality and positioning of the devices. We have explained in detail how should you position your sound system.
Further, we have also told you what should be the phase relevant to the position. However, you must take into account the sound quality.
In fact, you need to spend some time experimenting and then choosing the perfect phase. In this way, you can understand whether the subwoofer phase 0 or 180 is perfect for you.