Using Subwoofers in Small Spaces

When Being a Good Neighbor can Mean Owning a REL

REL Acoustics T/5x Subwoofer

People living in modest accommodations frequently give up on owning a subwoofer. Afraid of being a bad neighbor, of being seen as “that guy” who plays their music too loud and becomes a nuisance to the neighborhood, they put off the purchase until some future time when they move to the suburbs. But did you know adding the correct sub, scaled to the needs of an apartment, row house or townhouse can actually help reduce the average listening levels while creating a richer, firmer overall sound?

This won’t take long for you to get. Most people are thoughtful, nowhere is this more evident than people living in apartment buildings where the collaborative needs of the whole often override the desires of the individual. Being a thoughtful type, you look occasionally and wistfully at REL’s subs, maybe dreaming of a day when you can purchase a pair of our large ones, say a pair of 212/SX’s. That oughta do it for most folks. And then reality intrudes on your pipe dream and you look around a city flat that, at 650 square feet (65 M), pretty much quashes that notion. But the dream just needs to modify itself to accommodate the space (be honest, where you going to put two large subs?).

Turns out the reason folks often turn the music up is to create more energy, more drive to the music. More fun. But what folks often don’t understand is that the level where fun kicks in is determined by what audiophiles now refer to as room pressurization, a term REL coined back in the late ‘90’s. There’s a natural pressurization that takes place in natural life, in recordings and in live venues. We know it when we hear it, and we mostly don’t hear it from hifi systems. So we turn up the volume, often well past where most – and your neighbor in apartment 3B, for sure – find acceptable. But there exists a solution in the form of modestly-sized subs from UK-based REL who make these very fast, powerful compactly elegant designs like the T/5x or the Tzero MKIII. Small doesn’t mean they can’t play loud, but it does mean they can help solve a room pressurization issue in small spaces.

REL Acoustics T/5x Subwoofer

Rel Tip: If your little REL is on hardwood or tile floors, buy BluTac (available at hardware stores or over the internet). At $1-6 per pack, it’s useful for all sorts of things. Pull off 4 chunks about 1” long, roll them into balls. Once you have your REL positioned where it sounds best, mark the feet locations carefully, gently tilt the sub without moving it and place one ball under each foot. Gently push down till the blutac is about half its original height. Your sub won’t move around and it eliminates the rattling caused by a hard, uneven floor.

Customers share with us all the time that they found they were able to turn down the volume and still enjoy their music or television programming. Smaller RELs are a Godsend for those living in these smaller spaces who, perhaps due to their work schedule can only get an hour late at night to finally relax. Not a millennial working for Alphabet or that big fruit company that makes iPhones? No problem, how about being young parents finally able to sit down at 11 pm and watch their favorite release on Netflix? Or retirees downsizing and moving into the city so they can take in the arts and have access to great restaurants?

Everyone living in small spaces should borrow or buy a smaller REL and try it out. It’s nothing short of amazing how dramatic the transformation. Owners report a huge increase in their enjoyment of their entertainment systems. And then, wait for it, turn down the volume a bit and enjoy as you realize that the richness and naturalness of having bass gently moving around the room remains intact.

July 22, 2021 - Posted in: Principles of Sound