Help with 2.1 sub-woofer setup on PC

I recently bought Polk Audio PSW505 12-Inch Powered Subwoofer to go with my M-Audio Studiophile AV 40 Powered Speakers.

The sub works when I go to the sound configuration settings and click the "Test" 5.1 Speaker Configuration giving out a rich loud bass. But when playing games, movies, or playing audio files from my iTunes or MediaMoneky library it sounds flat and muffled.

Both are connected to the onboard soundcard of my mother board Asus P5Q Pro using a Male Y Cable. Both are using a Dual RCA to 3.5 cable.

I've already upgraded the audio drivers and changed my speaker settings from 'Stereo' to '5.1' and don't know what else to do as I know nothing about setting speakers up.

The speakers are working fine btw!

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  1. setting the speakers to 5.1 while using 2.1 will not produce much result. There are many goofy things about Asus motherboards, one of which is the audio. Also there have been many reports of defective chipsets on these boards.
    My personal recommendation is to purchase a different motherboard, preferably from Intel or Gigabyte. I think installing a better made board would give you much better audio.
  2. I'm only using 5.1 because there isn't a 2.1 setting on the Realtek HD Audio Manager. (Stereo, Quadraphonic, 5.1, 7.1 are the only settings).

    Should I invest in a sound card instead? Not really looking into replacing the mobo anytime soon.

    Is my problem more hardware related than software? I was looking up my problem on various forums and people claim its just my drivers and/or settings.

    If it is hardware, can you recommend any good soundcards?

  3. its cos of the .1, in-game u probably set teh output to stereo which does not use .1 and is just 2.0, u may have to use some sort of speaker fills.

    infact tell me how've connected them up.
  4. all modern games support surround sound. your speakers and sub should all work equally well in game or out of game. the reason for muffled sound might be because you set your system to 5.1 instead of 2.1.

    do you get any subwoofer action when you try the other settings?

    if you are interested in a sound card...anything from soundblaster has been fantastic for me in the past. even the cheap ones. the drivers included should be better than realtech (yeah i feel your pain on realtech..) you can get cheap ones under $50
  5. you said your subwoofer is connected to the front stereo jack with a Y-adapter.
    that means you should leave the soundcard on stereo.
    if the main speakers are working fine and the subwoofer isnt working right... try flipping the Y-adapter around and see if the main speakers sound worse and the sub sounds fine.
    maybe it is the adapter.

    its obviously a hardware problem.. because there is nothing a soundcard driver can do for you if you are using a Y-adapter with the front main speakers.

    if the soundcard supports 5.1 audio.. are there rear speaker outputs and center channel outputs?
    because the subwoofer channel is hidden with the center channel.. and you should use a stereo plug and put the subwoofer on either the left or right channel of the adapter.
    one channel is for the center channel and the other channel is for the subwoofer.

    anyways.. i find it hard to believe that the subwoofer works okay when you do the test, but doesnt work right when playing music or video games.
    that means the subwoofer amplifier and speaker are okay.
    maybe you need to remove the subwoofer from the box and see if there is something inside the box that is making it sound bad.

    have you tried hooking up the subwoofer directly to the soundcard to see if it performs correctly?
  6. I took the adapter out and connected the sub into the center channel (The orange one?). It still sounds the same, muffled.

    I connected it to the the front stereo jack (the sub) and it sounded as it would if hooked up to a receiver.

    I bought replacement dual rca - 3.5 wires, the dynex brand. But while at the store I saw there are dedicated sub wires? should I get these?

    As of right now, I'm using the soundcard's equalizer "bass" setting to make the sub at least sound like a sub :(
  7. m0us3 said:
    I took the adapter out and connected the sub into the center channel (The orange one?). It still sounds the same, muffled.

    I connected it to the the front stereo jack (the sub) and it sounded as it would if hooked up to a receiver.

    I bought replacement dual rca - 3.5 wires, the dynex brand. But while at the store I saw there are dedicated sub wires? should I get these?

    As of right now, I'm using the soundcard's equalizer "bass" setting to make the sub at least sound like a sub :(

    okay, you said you plugged the subwoofer into the center channel and the problem remains.
    that means you probably connected the subwoofer to a full-range output.
    i say this because, generally, the subwoofer wont plug into the correct channel for the dedicated subwoofer output.
    the only way to do this correctly is to have an adapter with a stereo plug that plugs into the soundcard, and at the other end there needs to be two mono plugs to allow you the choice of left or right.. which would actually be center or subwoofer for that specific jack.

    i am coming to the conclusion that you havent turned on the subwoofers low-pass crossover.. and if you did, it is set too high and causing the subwoofer to distort (or possibly play sounds you didnt expect to hear).
    i would request that you look on the back of the subwoofer and take notice to the crossover settings and input jacks.
    there are pictures of the subwoofer at and i am looking at the amplifier section.
    i see there is no option to turn the crossover on/off
    what frequency did you adjust the crossover dial to?
    you can test the frequency that the subwoofer is outputting by using this program:

    there is a frequency generator on the left side.
    all you gotta do is input the desired frequency in the box
    select 'sine' under the wave options
    then press the on/off button.

    i am looking at the owners manual here:
    it says the jack you should be using with your Y-adapter is the red and white rca jacks.
    i'm guessing you used the yellow rca jack and that caused all of the muffling.
    because the yellow rca jack doesnt have a crossover.
    no crossover means bass/midrange/treble will be sent to the sub and played back by the subwoofer.

    you shouldnt be using the speaker input knobs because that is for connecting the subwoofer to an amplifier with many volts coming out of the speaker outputs.
    100 watts = 45 volts (which explains why i get zapped by my speaker wires with the radio turned way up)
    your soundcard is only putting out about 2 volts
    therefore you should be using the red and white rca jacks.

    you had it right the first time, when you had a Y-adapter with one set of left/right going to the m-audio's .. and the other set of left/right going to the subwoofer.

    IF you use the red and white rca jacks and the sound is still muffled.. first try rotating the crossover dial counter-clockwise and see if the bad sound stops.
    otherwise, if it doesnt go away, you probably have a broken subwoofer/amp.

    i think the subwoofer is said to be designed so that it can play all the way down to 25hz
    and that is low enough to have some fun.
    it would suck to hear that the unit is broken.

    but i am confused.. you said you plugged the subwoofer into the front jack and it sounded better?
    that doesnt make any sense with the rest of what you posted.
    maybe you connected the cable into the correct subwoofer input and didnt realize it..?

    i am thinking you are using the wrong subwoofer input jack.
    are you certain that you are sending a stereo signal to the m-audio speakers AND the subwoofer?
    because most Y-adapters take a two channel plug and send the left channel one way and the right channel the other way.

    i dont think its absolutely necessary to have a special subwoofer cable.
    but it really depends on the quality of the cable you are replacing.
    there are two key factors with subwoofer cables:
    1. the metal inside the cable might be optimized for high voltage transfer .. and/or long runs of the cable (+10ft)
    2. the subwoofer cable might/should be optimized for low frequency transfer.. disregarding midrange and treble.

    a cable can change the sound being sent across the cable.
    but usually the only difference that can be noticed is the very very subtle details.
    most people dont have speakers that are capable of producing those subtle details.. therefore the difference isnt heard.
    one easy way to notice a difference would be the treble.
    the tweeters would stop slurring and mumbling with the better cable.. but again, there are lots of people with tweeters that cant produce the subtle details to begin with.
    although, the tweeter might play higher with a better cable.

    its quite the same thing with a subwoofer.
    if the cable is optimized and the subwoofer is capable of playing the extra details.. having a cable that transfers the extra details will feed the subwoofer with those details.
    the difference may be too small to justify the high price tag of the premium cable.

    i have bought speaker wire from all sorts of places.
    radio shack
    ebay (china/hong kong/korea)
    none of them have made any difference that i noticed.

    i think there are premium cables that are using excessive amounts of shielding to keep any electronic interference out of the signal.
    but i have never had a problem with interference between cords.. at least none that i have heard.

    i wont buy a premium cable and close my eyes to listen deep & hard for a difference.
    because if i have to listen that hard to hear a difference, there is no point in paying extra.
    especially since my system isnt extremely hi-fi

    there are supposed to be differences in resistence of the material used.
    a lower resistance will increase the signal to noise ratio and should also decrease the distortion.
    yet another characteristic is the ability for a cable to transfer audio without adding any 'coloring' effect.
    coloring can be described as the cooling or warming sound.
    warm would be red or brown
    cold would be green or blue
    most of the hi-fi technology of today is trying to be clear, but will have a blue or purple tint.
    i think sometimes it is best to have all sorts of colors mixed together to aim for a colorful fruit punch.
    but if that fruit punch isnt controlled and managed, you will have warm sounds in places that should be cool (and cool sounds in places that should be warm).

    i think you need to worry about getting a stereo signal to the m-audio's
    and then a stereo signal to the subwoofer.
    then make sure you dont turn your soundcard up too much so that it distorts the audio before it is sent to the speakers.

    let us know if you were using the right input on the subwoofer.
    did you buy it new or used?
  8. diffrent cables sound diffrent because they have impedence, thats one main contributing factor.

    i also think its better if u aim for neutral rather then a colouful punch. many audio companies are aiming for a neutral frequency response. headphones have already a near flat frequency response.

    i think theres an article/manual on m-audios website, for properly connecting an active subwoofer to a source.
  9. the 1980's trend of loud music doesnt help the industry.
    there was a lot of excitement in the 70's and 80's revolving around the audio industry.
    now we have been taught to see 'human evolution'
    and we expect products to get better.. and we refuse to purchase things until they do get better.
    but that kind of refusal usually only comes with quite some time of being in the hobby and learning the problems that need to be addressed.
    the companies market an improvement, but the improvement is only very very little.. so we decide to stop wasting money and wait a while until the products get better.

    but yes.. cables can be manipulated to alter the sound just like an equalizer.
    impedance is the key factor of change.
    if you resist amplitude, the volume will be less.

    i think we are in an 'all in all' economy where everything has been designed and all things are ultimatums.
    the industry feeds us what they do.
  10. Thank you for the very informative post anwaypasible ( now I know why I get zapped lol).

    Also sorry for the long delay in my response as midterm week started.

    The program you linked to me, I don't really understand how it works...
    I used a Freq. of 1000 and ran it and gave me these notes.

    .1. Project Filename: Untitled Project Data acquired: 29Jan2011, 11:10 AM
    .2. Mic Cal File: Mic Correction was OFF Input f(s) = 44.1 kHz Output f(s) = 44.1 kHz
    .3. House Curve File: House Curve was OFF FFT Size = 4 k
    .4. Data was acquired manually Input Selection: L No. of Averages = 1
    .5. Sound System Correction: OFF Relative Mode: OFF Peak Hold: OFF

    The RCA wires I'm using don't have a yellow connector on them, only RED and WHITE.

    For the "CrossOver Dial" is it the same as the "Low Pass Dial" behind the unit?

    As for the unit being broken, I believe it works fine when it is connected to a DVD player/Receiver (I can hear it producing loud bass).

    I bought the sub woofer brand new from Amazon.

    I'm using the Y-Adapter again and it seems to be working for all the videos/games/music

    I'm guessing it was a bad RCA cable!

    Thanks for all the help!
  11. 'low pass' is a type of crossover.. therefore the dial should be what i was referring to.

    a bad RCA cable is weird.
    i've never had one.
    but if there was anything that could affect the sound of the amplifier/subwoofer.. a bad cable would do it.
    i mean, i've had shorts in a cable.. but never something that was so bad that it made the sound change drastically.

    as long as the subwoofer isnt producing any sound when you play 1000hz
    the crossover is working and any sound problems are probably the quality of the amplifier/subwoofer combination.

    if the sound is muffled so bad that it seems weird anybody would call the results 'quality'
    i'd send it back, stating that the product is underperforming or possibly broken.

    did you use the correct input on the subwoofer?
  12. Yes, I tried connecting the bad RCA cable from an iTouch to a dvd player and only half the sound was coming out which sounded muffled...

    I bought a Monster RCA cable with only RED and WHITE inputs for the subwoofer.

    Both the speakers and the sub are using the Y-Connecter connected to the Front Speaker Out (Green) and seem to be working perfectly now. I set my soundcard to use 'stereo'.

    Is it bad to set the low pass to max settings?
  13. no.. its not supposed to be bad in practice.
    but there are some things that can happen if you do.
    - the subwoofer might have a hard time playing all of the frequencies requested.
    - the amplifier might be cheaply made and 'rigged' to break from struggling to play all of the frequencies.

    if the subwoofer was struggling to play all of the frequencies, you would hear it as distortion.
    that distortion might be in the upper frequency range or the lower frequency range.
    a simple back-to-back test would answer the question.

    the amplifier being 'rigged' is another story entirely.
    it might be struggling to play all of the frequencies .. or it might be struggling to play only a small portion of frequencies.
    i'd say its a design choice and would reflect the desire of wanting something to break so that you buy some more.
    nothing an average consumer can do except listen for a problem and let it go if no problem is heard.
    (sueing the manufacturer for making things break on purpose is a different matter)

    i'd say LISTENING to the sound for problems is an honest way of determining whether or not having the low pass set on max is a bad thing.
    one might tell you to check for extra heat from the amplifier.. but just because the amplifier is producing more heat, that doesnt mean the amplifier is going to fail any sooner.
    some might even say that the amplifier is predicted to get hot, and if it doesnt get hot enough it will fail sooner.

    i am a little bit curious to know if you are getting seperate left and right audio from the midranges / tweeters
  14. Quote:
    i am a little bit curious to know if you are getting seperate left and right audio from the midranges / tweeters

    Hmm, I don't fully understand this question. Are you talking about receiving different sounds from my speakers to make it seem like a 5.1 system or something similar? I'm not very familiar with audio/ home theater stuff...

    I asked if it would be bad to turn the subs' Volume and Low Pass settings to max because I would be using it as our main sub for our house parties and wanted to know if there was an acceptable setting they should be set at in order to prevent damaging them.

    Thanks you!
  15. seperate left and right audio.
    stereo means the left speaker plays audio from the left audio channel .. and the right speaker plays audio from the right audio channel.

    mono means the left and right speaker play exactly the same thing and there is zero difference of output.

    sometimes there is audio that comes from only one speaker.
    if you are sending the left or right channel to the subwoofer, you are only feeding the sub with half of the audio data.
    and furthermore, you are only sending half of the voltage.
    you might get a better signal to noise ratio if you have both left and right audio channels connected to the subwoofer.
    the sub would be able to play louder (and possibly cleaner) with the extra voltage.
    same thing can be said about the main speakers.

    there are two ways to prevent damage:
    1. listen for distortion
    2. learn the affects of heat on the amplifier components
    maybe the capacitors die with too much heat.. maybe the resistors die with too much heat.. maybe the power supply windings have a coating that melts or burns from too much heat.
    maybe the amplifier transistors are getting too hot and will die from too much heat.

    you really gotta look at each piece on the circuit board individually and lookup the heat tolerance.. then make sure they dont go over the heat tolerance.

    it can be a very frustrating thing to do.. because lots of times there is no brand name printed on the piece so you dont know who to ask for the heat tolerance.
    you could try asking the manufacturer directly.. but they dont have to give you an answer. (which i think really hurts the company's reputation)

    the subwoofer amp might have a safety feature to turn the amp off if it gets too hot.
    but the safety switch might not kick in until after the parts inside have been subjected to dangerous amounts of heat.

    so.. you either research the parts inside or you use it until it breaks and take note to how much abuse it has gone through.
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