You’ve recently bought an audio receiver. You haven’t thought of a place to put it on yet, but you figured that since both your subwoofer and receiver serve the same purpose – to enhance your home audio system – you could just stack them together. It should be possible to place your receiver on top of your subwoofer, shouldn’t it?

You can put a receiver on top of a subwoofer, but you shouldn’t. Placing a receiver on top of a subwoofer will lead to vibration fatigue within your receiver. You won’t physically notice it, but your subwoofer’s vibrations can damage your receiver’s sensitive internal components.

This article will explore why you can’t place a receiver on top of a subwoofer. It’ll also explain how vibrations and sounds work, how vibrations damage things, and define vibration fatigue. Likewise, it’ll suggest better places to put your receiver and subwoofer in.

Why Can’t You Put the Receiver on Top of the Subwoofer?

If you have limited space for your home audio system, you may protest over the thought of being unable to place your receiver on top of your subwoofer. Besides the vibrations that may only slightly move the receiver, you likely feel like nothing else should be wrong with placing your receiver above your subwoofer.

However, that’s not the only reason stacking your receiver on your subwoofer is a bad idea. If you place your receiver on top of your subwoofer, you’re exposing your receiver to vibration fatigue. Vibration fatigue will wear out the inside of your receiver.

Moreover, you’re increasing the risk of your subwoofer shaking your receiver enough to loosen the components within it. If your receiver’s components are repeatedly shaken, they’ll eventually fall off or be dislocated. This will result in a malfunctioning receiver, and you’ll need to get it fixed or buy a new one.

Additionally, the chances of having your receiver fall off of your subwoofer if improperly placed increases as well. Every time you use your subwoofer, vibrations come off of it. Those vibrations are strong enough to move your receiver little by little, which could eventually cause your receiver to fall off if it goes unnoticed.

What Is Vibration Fatigue?

What does vibration fatigue actually mean? You’ve garnered it has something to do with vibrations causing damages and you know it’s something undesirable among devices.

Vibration fatigue is material damage caused by vibrations. It happens when constant exposure to vibrations initiates cracks within devices, which eventually cause device failure or malfunction.

Some materials are more resistant to vibration fatigue than others, but it’s best to avoid exposing your receiver to vibration fatigue in the first place. Remember, prevention is easier than repair.

If you’d like to hear a more in-depth explanation of vibration fatigue, check out the first part of this YouTube video about vibration fatigue by Ansys Learning:

YouTube video

Can I Place Other Things on Top of My Subwoofer?

Ideally, you shouldn’t place anything on top of your subwoofer. However, if you feel that you must, you can put other things on top of a subwoofer, such as small trinkets or objects that won’t be damaged by vibrations or from falling due to the said vibrations.

Will My Subwoofer Really Damage My Receiver?

You may think about it this way: your subwoofer is enclosed in a box, and so is your receiver. If they’re both protected by their cases, will your subwoofer really damage your receiver if you place the receiver on top of the subwoofer?

Your subwoofer will damage your receiver if you use both while the receiver is directly on top of your subwoofer. Remember, subwoofers are bought for their power: for the way they can bellow loud and airy bass. This results in powerful vibrations, and those vibrations will wear your receiver down.

How Do Vibrations and Sounds Work?

Sounds come from vibrations, so you can’t avoid vibrations. Sounds are generated from vibrations produced by objects. Meanwhile, vibrations work and are heard by our ears as our brains interpret them. Not all vibrations cause harm to your devices, but if done loud enough and repeatedly, they will.

How Do Vibrations Damage Things?

Vibrations produce different frequencies. If the frequency is potent enough at a constant rate, it’ll damage objects around it. This includes receivers placed on top of subwoofers, buildings next to areas under construction with loud vibrations, and even artwork hit by powerful sound vibrations.

If you browse through home audio enthusiast forums, you’ll find plenty of people attesting that putting a receiver on top of a subwoofer is a bad idea. Some claimed their receivers broke within a month, while others stated facts about why you shouldn’t do it.

Similarly, you’ll find studies of buildings developing cracks when construction that emits loud vibrations are underway. You’ll also see museum art and sculptures suffer eventual wear and tear from exposure to potent vibrations, much like what Terry Drayman-Weisser, former conservation, and technical research director within museums like Walter’s Art Museum in Baltimore, claims.

Where Should I Place My Audio Receiver?

Now, if you’re convinced that you shouldn’t put a receiver on top of a subwoofer, where should you place it instead? Is there an optimal place for an audio receiver within your home? But then, what if you have limited space and can’t afford to set aside a spot for your receiver?

The best spot for an audio receiver is within a well ventilated cabinet since most home audio systems are bound to have one. However, you can also use an entertainment center shelf or build a wall mount to place your receiver if you have limited space within your home.

A wall mount perfectly contains your receiver, keeps it close to the devices it’s supposed to be with, and protects it from vibrational fatigue better than if it were directly on top of your subwoofer.

Alternatively, you can opt for a cabinet to place your receiver in instead. You can buy a premade cabinet or have it made if you have the budget for it or want a more fitting one. If you choose to get a cabinet for your receiver, keep these things in mind:

  • Your cabinet should support proper ventilation. Ventilation is crucial to receivers since as they run, they produce heat that needs to be let out to prevent device overheating.
  • Your cabinet should have space for cables. Of course, your receiver will have plenty of cables wired into it, so you’ll need to look for a cabinet that allows you to move around and connect wires freely. Wires come in different gauges (sizes) and some of the more premium selections exist in a lower gage (bigger).

Can I Put My Subwoofer in a Cabinet With My Receiver?

You may want to place your subwoofer inside the cabinet with your receiver. This could be because you want to save space or keep things organized. However, it’s not wise to place your subwoofer inside a cabinet with your receiver.

This has something to do with how subwoofers are meant to blast audio out. If you keep your subwoofer within an enclosed space, it won’t really give you the best audio. A subwoofer within a cabinet will produce muffled sounds instead of clear and powerful bass.

Furthermore, subwoofers can dole out a bit of pressure.

Final Thoughts

You can place a receiver on top of a subwoofer, but you shouldn’t. Putting a receiver on top of a subwoofer exposes the receiver to vibrational fatigue, which will wear down the receiver’s components.

If you have limited space within your home, there are options where you can lay or mount your receiver. However, the ideal spot for a receiver is within a well-ventilated and spacious cabinet where all its cables, big or small can be organized, and it’s guaranteed to be protected from other external forces that may damage it.