Placing a subwoofer in a corner will result in extra low-end reinforcement, at the extent of uncontrolled bass. Ideal for movies, not really suited to music. However, there is a simple solution: experiment with the placement, and use the set-up you feel satifies you most. You spend your money, you should be enjoying the experience, not following guidelines made up by others....
The guidelines offered by Sumiko are excellent for subwoofer placement and setup. If you follow their recommednation you should be able to get deep, non-boomy bass. Of course it is possible that you room is such that corner placement is not the optimal setup, but it's unlikely. Remember, it can takes weeks of experimentation to properly setup your subwoofer.
Down firing subs, particularly heavy ones do not benefit much from spikes. Spikes benefit speakers when there is latteral excursion (front firing). This is why spikes make such a big difference for standard speakers, they couple the speakers more rigidily to the floor and thus increase their effective mass for lateral movement. The speaker moves less and becomes more efficient at moving air.
As to corner placement, there is a huge debate on this one. It generally does not yield the flattest frequency response and depending on the cross-over point may be unacceptable. However, corner placement does re-inforce the bass as has been stated and thus the woofer does not have to work as hard. Less work generally means less distortion. So the placement becomes a bit of a give and take. We do have a tutorial on speaker placement on our site. If you go to the listening room
and click on speakers there is a link to download a short white paper on speaker placement.
A REL ST series sub is not a conventional subwoofer; it is a "sub bass system". Many that talk against corner placement are speaking in general. I believe the REL/Sumiko instructions start out by saying to forget all you've ever learned about subwoofers before setting up the REL. So they are probably aware of the "conventional wisdom" out there. There will always be a room where the corner does not work, however the instructions even have a couple possible solutions for boomy corners.
A REL ST series subwoofer is not designed for playing mid-bass along with, or in place of the main speakers. It is meant to play below the main speakers playing full range (a true sub bass unit). If you want to use a REL like a "conventional" subwoofer, then buy one of their Q Series models.
I read some Audiogon posts where the person goes against all the REL's and Sumiko's recommendations; and wants to use the sub against its design; and then complains the sub does not work well. We American's don't like to read instructions; we are too much in a hurry.
I own a REL strata3, and corner placement resulted in boomy bloated bass, and lots of it. Mine actually sounds best placed between the main speakers, nearer the right channel. That's not to say that corner placement cannot work, but in my case it sounded awful. I experimented with spikes and without spikes. It sounded better without spikes, much to my surprise.
And FYI my crossover is set at 27Hz ... hardly midbass, so I think Sugarbrie's assertion that low frequency rolloff allows it to work in the corner is not always true.
I think you'll have to experiment as there are no hard and fast rules. However, once it's placed correctly and dialed in it's a great sub, and really adds to the music.
Whatever.....It is not my assertion; it is REL and Sumiko's. I did say there will alway be a room it does not work (and so do they). It is more a case of folks (not Sean) who never even try the corner, because they have already been brainwashed to believe otherwise.
Thanks for all the responses. I do plan on listening and finding what works best in my situation. It was the exact debate I'm seeing here that caused me to ask the question.
Best to start in the corner, since REL recommends it, even if it does not work in the end. If it does work as intended, the corner is also usually good from a standpoint that the sub is out of the way of the system and other things in your room. Put a plant on it :-)
I would like to add my perosonal "Summiko trainning" experience with all interested here, regarding proper speaker/sub placment proceedures....
...Let me just say that I've personally had the expeirce of being instructed by Summiko regarding proper setup proceedures for speaker placment in a room in the past. Unless Summiko's theories and theachings have changed over the years, I really don't see how anyone could accptablly and consintently get good results by following their recommendations!
Without getting too long winded about what I heard and measured from Summiko's set up in our store, I will say that the measureable and audible results of their work didn't pass mustard regarding proper speaker location and fundamentally sound, reasonably flat/even frequency response from their set up! (infact I think none of the speakers in their set up that I measured (again, from their listening possition they established) yieled such acceptable frequency response, and certainly there wasn't adequatly EVEN OR sIMILAR frequency response among ALL THE SPEAKRS!!!...needless to say, I wasn't impressed, nor do I accept their theories. But while they did offer some sound advice regarding speaker "toe-in" and "aim" for proper tonality and immaging from their speakers, and maybe proper soundstage width and scope, and related theories, I don't likely aggree with how they would recommending you approach
PLACING speaker in a room in general.
Now I'm sure Summiko knows their product, and it's abilities/limitations, and perhaps Rel's sub does best in terms of acceptable bass output while placed in a corner...I don't know. In fact corner placment might be the way to go in a lot of cases where the sub hasn't enough output for the room/system it's in...this is often the case with a lot of systems, where the room requires more sub(s) to balance the sound out properly, and provice enough weight. What happens in a lot of cases is people don't have enough sub for the room/system it's in, and the sub needs to be place in a corner to reinforce and help boost the bass output in the room..basically "under-subing" if you will. IN that case, I can wholeheartedly recommend that for alot of subwoofer applications. It would probably be much better, without having to heavily "EQ" the sub out, to place one ore more subs in other locations in the room, where you're getting more "even" response from your sub/system, and also having "enough" sub to handle the job. And if you do have enough sub(s) for the room/system it's in, I believe other placment considerations are going to get you more even, balanced, and smoother results sonically.
IN the end, it's all balance, and the only thing that matters is results!
I might ad however, that corner placment is the most likely candidate for NECESSARY "EQ'ing"! The corner spot is going to excite ALL the bass modes in a given room, more than likely anhwere else! The sound is going to have the propensity for being peaky and boomy, and will lack definition and overall accuracy of sound...giving an unatural and/or "small-room-boom" kind of sound. In this case, I STRONLY RECOMMEND the incorporation of a good parmetric EQ into the subs path to take down the peaks in the room(from the woofer that is). The results this way can end up being very satisfying overall if done effectively.
Never-the-less, any sub setup where you are going to end up with the reasonably acceptable flat and even frequency response from your sub(s) in a speaker system in terms of location in a room, achieve adequate and accptable output and volume, and still maintain proper phase in relation to the other speakers in the system, is going to be a good one!
Results are everything!...theory is just theory in the end...
I had my Strata III in the corner and now it is between my Maggie 3.6's. Much better. The dealer set it up in the corner and it sounded pretty good, but I moved it, he came back to drop off some cable and he agreed that the sound was better with the sub where I had it. Bottom line is that you've GOT to move it around and adjust until the sub fits your room/speakers/taste.
Generally speaking, I find it interesting when people say the subwoofer "sounds better" here or there. A properly integrated subwoofer for 2 channel audio is sonically invisible. It should not call attention to itself.
The specific recommendation is in the corner behind one of the main speakers. I suppose if your speakers are out in the room, or part way along the longer wall, then the sub placement may change also.
A lot of REL's market is outside the US, and mostly only us American have these large dedicated media / listening rooms. The III series REL's are very adjustable. You should be able to adjust the sub to the chosen placement in most cases, instead of adjusting the sub by moving the placement.
Many folks have only one place for the sub in a multi-purpose room, or those with WAF placement issues.
My experience was that the sub sounded terrible in the corner, no matter how it was adjusted. Since I have a 8x10 listening room (spare bedroom) I really would have liked it to be in the corner, but now I choose to step around it ... it's really in the way, but it sounds fabulous. If I had to run it in the corner I would have sold it ... it was really that bad. I would buy with an option to return if I was not sure that I could get away with placing in the middle of the room.
There's no one right place for a sub, but I have found that subs are even more finicky than the mains in terms of placement, to the point that if they're not placed correctly you're better off without one. Bear in mind when deciding to buy one, especially an expensive one.
Once I get a subwoofer properly integrated for 2 channel audio it will actually sound good placed almost anywhere in the room, simply because I can't listen to the just the subwoofer. It is blended perfectly into the music. It does not call attention to itself one single bit.
I can only "hear it" when I forget to turn it on, and start to wonder why the music sounds a little flat today.
This was Richard E. Lord's (aka REL) goal in designing the ST series. If you like to listen to bass, I agree, save your money and get a cheaper REL Q Series sub, which is a more typical subwoofer design, but still very musical in its own right. Or choose another brand.
I have a REL sub and it did not work in the corner of my room- boomy wobbly bass. Ultimately, the sub worked best when it was placed on the same plane as the speakers.
I agree with the above post on not having enough sub for the room and using corner placement as a substitute is not a good solution.
Once you have enough output, though, you will most likely get better bass using two good subs versus one really good sub. Most people do not understand that it is not always about output, but rather equalized sound pressure in the room. Yes, I've heard all the theories about bass not being directional, but to my ears stereo subs work better.