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All Subbed Out

Many readers will consider this sacrilege, but I have decided to do something extreme. Im going to unplug my subwoofer and put it in storage. I dont need it anymore, and its taking up too much space.

Before you fire off angry missives telling me how important low-frequency effects are to the home theater experience, or how my life will never be the same without the proper bass in my system, let me explain myself.

In an attempt to baby-proof the apartment, I recently acquired a very elegant AV enclosure with frosted-glass doors from the Resi Award-winning folks at OmniMount. The idea, of course, was to put the knobs and buttons of my modest home theater system out of sight, and hopefully out of mind, from my 10-month-old daughter.

Because my wife and I have chosen the New York lifestyle over, say, comfort, we are still renting an apartment at the age of 36. If we owned a home in the suburbs instead, Id be sure to talk to the pros at Middle Atlantic to get just the right AV rack installed in a closet somewhere. For now, however, our real estate is limited, and the gear resides in the living room with us and all of our daughters toys.

Fortunately, OmniMounts Moda Glide 60 did the trick for getting almost all of our electronics out of harms way. The plasma was already on the wall, with its cables properly covered. The five surround speakers were pretty safe, having been either mounted on the wall or on stands and out of reach. Even our power management products have been jammed in the new AV enclosure, eliminating those tempting wires and outlet holes. But it was that pesky subwoofer that couldnt find a home anywhere.

Granted, the subwoofer is probably the hardiest piece of equipment in a system, but it takes up valuable space, and my daughter likes to (Im sure, harmlessly) push the ON button whenever she can. More than anything else, Ive realized that, at least for now, I really can live without the big box of bass.

Volume has become such an issue in my life (Dont wake up the baby!…Dont annoy the neighbors!) that in one of my rare nights out to the movies I instinctively reached for the non-existent volume knob in the theater every time a loud noise occurred in the movie. Over and over I thought we were going to either wake up a baby or annoy the neighbors. Man, have I been trained well!

The truth is that Ive never really enjoyed those trade show demos featuring the Fast and the Furious car chases or the Saving Private Ryan storming-the-beaches-as-bombs-explode scenes. I always leave those demos with my nerves even more frayed than when I walked in from the hectic trade-show floor. Note to manufacturers: You want editors to feel comfortable when they spend time with you. If they do, then they may even write good things about your products when they get back to the office. I would much rather watch a scene with a strong narrative that really pulls me into a story, than the loud crashes and explosions that most audio vendors prefer.

But speaker manufacturers need not worry. Im happy to sit and listen to your demos, smiling politely as the track hits my eardrum like a slug to the chest. Ill be tempted to pop in some earplugs, but I wont, and I may even recommend your products to my bass-loving friends. Then, one day, I may even remove my subwoofer from storage and let it rejoin its five speaker friends, in a home where they can all live together happily ever after.