Down firing and front firing: Anyone perusing subwoofer descriptions will eventually encounter this distinction. The difference comes down to driver direction: If the subwoofer’s driver faces down towards the floor, it’s called a down-firing subwoofer. If the driver dispersing its sound through the front of the cabinet, it’s front-firing. Read on to learn which advantages each construction brings with it and what’s better for you.
Down-firing subwoofers push sound down
Most speakers have drivers on the front of their cabinets and emit the sound directly towards the listener. Many subwoofers follow a similar principle with the woofer pushing sound into the room. However, unlike stereo speakers, this sound does not actually have to be directed at the listener. This is because the source of very low frequency sounds are difficult for our ears to localise. The upshot of this is that subwoofers can be placed nearly anywhere in the room for a similar effect.
This opens up the possibilities in terms of subwoofer design. Since there is no need for the subwoofer’s large woofer to directly face the listener, it does not have to be positioned as a normal speaker on a cabinet’s front. It can even be placed on the bottom. There are even some advantages to a down-firing design. The floor can be used as a resonating surface for a more intense bass sound. That rumble you feel in your chest when a something explodes in a thriller? A down-firing subwoofer achieves that effect very well, one reason why it is so popular for use in home cinema systems. Another advantage is that standing waves are less likely to form.
Front-firing subwoofers disperse sound like conventional speakers
Since front-firing speakers were designed to radiate sound directly from the front or side, they cannot be placed directly against a wall. The unreflected sound as it reaches the ear results in a punchier, more accurate sound.
Front- and down-firing subwoofers with bass reflex ports
Both front- and down-firing subwoofer can have what is known a bass reflex ports. This is a tube-like opening in the speaker cabinet which serves to reinforce the low end. It works as follows: A loudspeaker membrane moves back and forth. The air pushed back is generally wasted, that is to say, it is not used to produce a sound. In fact, the whole point of a closed cabinet is to prevent the waves of oscillating pressure produced by this back swing from interfering the sound waves produced by the front. A bass reflex enclosure, however, channels these sound waves that radiate into the back of the cabinet through a port. Also known as a “vent,” this port is specially designed to reinforce the sound produce by the forward push of the membrane. Down-firing subwoofers tend to have bass reflex openings on the bottom or side of their cabinets.
Front-firing subwoofers and down-firing subwoofers from Teufel
Teufel offers subwoofers as part of its home cinema, stereo and multimedia sound systems as well as individual audio components. Many use Teufel’s proprietary Air Stream Bass technology, a special bass reflex port design that reduces wind noise. This along with an exception depth and a realistic, punchy response have made Teufel subwoofer legendary in the audio world. The following is an overview of Teufel’s most popular models:
• US 2110/1: A large woofer measuring 250 mm across pushes the bass it produces against the floor from where it reflects and spreads into the room. This subwoofer is perfect for surround sound and stereo systems in medium-sized rooms.
• CB 11 SW: The active down-firing subwoofer that comes with the Cinebar 11 can be operated wirelessly. In spite of the subwoofer’s compact dimensions, its high-performance woofer ensures a thrilling home cinema experience.
• T 4000: This innovative design uses three down-firing woofers. The lack of a single large woofer allows for a flatter construction, making it possible to slide the T 4000 under a sofa or low board.
• US 8112/1 SW: This subwoofer contains an impressive 300 mm woofer and is capable of a 28 Hz low end. Air Stream Bass technology enhances the deep, rich sound without any ensuing wind noise. This subwoofer is suitable for larger rooms or smaller cinemas.
Coda: Downfire subwoofers for room-filling bass
• Subwoofers can be either front firing or down firing
• Down-firing subwoofers push the soundwaves they produce towards the floor where they are reflected and given a richer sound for a stronger “rumble” effect with movies and games. This type of subwoofer can also be placed directly alongside a wall.
• Front-firing subwoofers disperse sound like conventional loudspeakers: directly from the front or side. These soundwaves hit the ear before being reflected off of a surface which can lead to an especially precise and punchy sound. This type of subwoofer cannot be placed directly alongside another surface as its membrane requires space to freely disperse the sound into the room.