What is Room Pressurization?

Learn how it affects system performance & what subwoofer will work best in your space


Let’s address the issue of room pressurization. We get customers who don’t know what that means at all, and we get people who are extremely knowledgeable and extremely sensitive to it and worried. It comes at us in a bunch of different ways. If I get subwoofer X of yours, am I going to be over subwoofering my system or my room?


So let’s first of all define the room pressurization issue and it’s a really important one and it really relates to your main system and what a great subwoofer can do to help that issue. So, most of the time, whether conscious or not and a lot of times, it’s unconscious on our part. We have a tendency to turn a song up or a system up to the point when we love this thing.

Oh, I want to hear this. You turn it up to the point, whether you know it or not, to the point that the room actually pressurizes.  


Most of us stop there. There there’s that last 2 to 3% who, you know, if a little bit’s good, a whole bunch more has gotta be better. And there’s no help for them. But when you talk about room pressurization, in natural events, when you hear natural music occurring in a real space, there is a natural pressurization that occurs, and the interesting thing is it can be at very low volume.

Why? I’m going to take a symphonic orchestra just to give you an ultimate example.


You can have something like a very quiet peace and the timpani just barely taps it with his mallet and you get this pretty explosive sound relative. Why? Because the contrast is massive. And also, it’s a pretty large physical structure that’s being excited.

A concert bass drum, gosh, those things are three and a half feet in diameter. They got two skins. It’s the equivalent of about, you know, three 18 inch drivers happening at the same time.


So, it doesn’t take a lot, and they have concert halls that are designed to project this out into the audience.

At home some of the things you have to worry about and deal with every day. Open floor plan houses. You know, the kitchen gives on to the, the dining room, the dining room bleeds into the living room. Suddenly you’re trying to excite 8 to 10,000 cubic feet of airspace. So that takes larger subwoofers.

Second thing, stereo pairs matter, just generically.


They are intrinsically better and sort of more pistonic. We can really get the three-dimensional stage popping alive, easier and more smoothly through the room when done properly. Stereo pairs help pressurize. Now I’m going to talk about the other end of the curve.

And this is something that people almost never talk about. There’s a tendency in subwoofers, there’s this dialogue about how loud it can play and how hard it hits and how much room pressure you get out of it.


That’s great and we do that pretty well, but the part that nobody really understands is especially late at night or with soft pieces of music, how quietly you can listen when you have a great sub.

Especially when connected up high level, that really blends seamlessly with your main speaker, because you can hear room pressurization even at relatively low volumes when the system is adapted properly. It allows you to listen to a much broader variety of music at the levels that they would be listened to, and it allows you to listen at times when perhaps you wouldn’t be able to.


For, for many young families, you know, by 8:30 over and out, you can’t play the system because to have it be fun, you have to turn it up so loud. All of a sudden you don’t, you can be playing at a moderate volume or even a very low volume, and you’ll still get that body that richness, that warmth, which is the result of great room pressurization.

March 11, 2021 - Posted in: Q & A With John Hunter