Can A Subwoofer Damage Your House?
So you’ve finally found that one subwoofer you needed to make your home theater setup perfect. Now you can enjoy your favorite movies immersed like never before. The highs are perfect, the mids are crisp, and the subwoofer provides that much-needed depth to the soundscape.
What’s more, thanks to the sub, you can blast bass to your friends when having a party. But what’s that - suddenly, your neighbors are launching noise complaints against you. That wasn’t a problem when you didn’t have a sub.
Moreover, you’ve noticed the floor, walls, and windows shake a bit too much when you crank up the volume. This probably has you wondering, “can a subwoofer damage your house?”
In this post, I will discuss how low frequencies are felt rather than heard. I’ll also cover some cases where low-frequency sound waves cause trembling vibrations.
Lastly, I’ll teach you how you can dampen your subwoofers to avoid annoying your neighbors and causing structural damage.
How Low-Frequency Soundwaves Work
When you first think about subs, the first thing that comes to mind is that thumping feeling you get in your chest. You see, subwoofer soundwaves have the same effect on your house.
A subwoofer with a powerful motor and just as big of a driver can move a lot of air. A large, powerful subwoofer will generate massive soundwaves, and the vibrations they cause will get transferred to your home’s walls and windows. Whenever you crank up your sub, you basically turn your house into a giant diaphragm whose vibrations can cause it to crack due to resonance.
To better understand how subwoofer sound is felt, you need a basic understanding of low-frequency sound waves. These sound waves come in three types:
Deep frequency sound waves - sound waves that range between 10 and 30 hertz.
Mid-bass - sound waves that range between 31 and 80 hertz
- Upper Bass - sound waves ranging from 100 to 200 hertz
Unless you have a hearing impairment, the upper bass is easiest to hear since it's the one responsible for the chest-thumping bass.
However, things get a bit more mechanical as you reach mid-bass. Frequencies below 100 Hz are responsible for the vibrations you feel in your body and on the floors - and are commonly referred to as mechanical vibrations. You can’t hear these vibrations very well, but you can certainly feel them, and your house too. Low frequencies are the ones shaking your floor and windows.
Lastly, there's deep bass. Deep bass soundwaves are commonly referred to as infrasound. These frequencies can cause structural damage to your house.
And how can infrasound damage your house? Well, it can cause your house to resonate. If your sub matches your house's natural (resonant) frequency, your home will start to resonate, which will result in some structural damage.
A subwoofer isn’t capable of bringing your house down, but it can damage your house's facade and your windows. Even though the damage is minor, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t avoid it.
In the next section, I’ll give you a few pointers on how you can reduce subwoofer vibrations.
How Can I Dampen My Subwoofer’s Vibrations?
Low frequencies from your sub can transform into mechanical vibrations, which can lead to structural damage. Thankfully, there are a couple of things you can do to prevent these frequencies from transferring to your house’s floors, walls, and windows.
Decouple Your Subwoofer
Decoupling your subwoofer is nothing more than just raising it from the ground a couple of inches. This will minimize the amount of vibrations transferred to the floor.
To raise your subwoofer, you can use anything from rubber feet, speaker stands, or decoupling pegs. In the worst case, you can DIY a solution.
Use Isolation Pads
Another way you can insulate your floor from harmful bass vibrations is by using isolation pads. Isolation pads come in many shapes and sizes and are made of a wide range of materials. The best isolation pads for a sub are made of rubber and have air gaps that trap low frequencies. Place the pads under your subwoofer, and your home should be vibration-free.
You can also try using bass traps. These are specially designed to prevent bass frequencies from transferring to the walls. They’re usually mounted in the corners of the room and are just as inexpensive as isolation pads.
While bass vibrations can get pretty uncomfortable, they can’t cause expensive damage to your home. The reason for that is that they simply aren’t powerful enough. With that said, subwoofers produce infrasound vibrations that can cause minor damage to your floors and windows.
So, if you’re sporting particularly powerful subs, I recommend you isolate your room with isolation pads and bass traps to minimize potentially harmful vibrations.
About the author:
I grew up to be a self-proclaimed stuck-up audiophile, and I – partially – blame Pinnacle Speakers for it.
The whole point of me starting this website was to keep the tradition going. Although the means have changed, the mission remains the same: Bringing „sterling sound“ as they once put it into home theaters and sound systems worldwide!