My friend (and occasional HDLiving.com contributor, not to mention tradeshow roomate) Darryl Wilkinson recently wrote a story for Sound & Vision magazine that anyone interested in the intersection of audio performance and aesthetics should read, ASAP. The piece is called “The Cabinet & the Subwoofer,” and as you may have guessed from the title, it covers the ups and downs, ins and outs, and “what have you”s of hiding a subwoofer inside a cabinet, if you (or your significant other) just can’t stand looking at those big, black boxes.
The first bit of advice? Don’t. The second bit of advice? If you’re going to anyway, make sure to do it right. That means, first and foremost, providing sufficient airflow and avoiding resonances and rattles. Subwoofers move a lot of air, after all, and the last thing you want is all of that vibrating are to translate into annoying cabinetry noise instead of pants-flapping bass. One way to do that, the story says, is to have custom cabinets built out of thick, sturdy wood, with secure doors and lots of glue used in the construction.
What if you can’t (or don’t want to) shell out the dough for custom cabinetry, though? Fear not: Darryl delves deep into the market for pre-made cabinets designed to house subwoofers, and comes up with some interesting results. Two in particular stand out: the Novia 8426 and the Corridor 8170, both from BDI. The former has a cavity around back that actually allows a hidden subwoofer to sit on the floor, and the latter, while not specifically designed for subwoofer secreting, provides ample internal space to hide one anyway.
I won’t spoil all of Darryl’s findings, but you should definitely take a few moments to read through the story to discover the various tips and tricks he learned to make two different subwoofers perform at their best in these less-than-ideal conditions. (The one that tickled me the most was when he took a front-firing sub and stood it on its face so that it fired downward and out the bottom of the cabinet.)
Once you’re done with that, make sure you don’t overlook the third page of the story, which functions as a review of the BDI cabinets in and of themselves. It turns out that both cabinets sort of worked contrary to Darryl’s original goals for the story—because they’re too well-constructed:
“As it turns out, when it comes to installing subs and speakers in A/V furniture, BDI’s cabinets were awesome—too awesome, if you like to muck around with dampening materials.”
For example, both cabinets use shelf pins that screw into metal grommets inserted in the side panels. While that keeps the pins from rattling, each pin has two rubber O-rings on the half of the pin that fits snugly into cutouts on the bottom of the cabinet’s half-inch-thick shelves. Disappointingly, where I was looking forward to using plenty of sound-deadening material and acoustic caulk, the task of shelf resonance control had already been taken care of, and in a much simpler manner.