Let’s talk Subwoofers

When most people today consider car subwoofers, they think about bone-shaking bass.  There is a lot more to a subwoofer than just shaking the windows at almost any car that pulls up alongside you at a stoplight. Low-frequency sounds really are a huge portion of every type of music, so the precision of any sound system actually hinges on its ability to reach the low notes as far as the high ones.

Some kinds of music will profit from a fantastic subwoofer more than others, but adding in some quality bass can enhance any automobile stereo.

Whether you’re thinking about adding a subwoofer into an existing automobile speaker setup or looking at building something from the ground up, then there are a number of crucial factors that you’ll have to think about. A number of the most important items to consider include:

  • Magnitude
  • Enclosure
  • Electricity
  • Sensitivity
  • Impedance

Subwoofer Size Does Matter

The size of the subwoofer is just one of the main factors that determine how loud and low it can go. As a general guideline, bigger subs produce better bass, so keep this in mind while searching for the perfect unit. Space is also a concern in automotive sound systems, however, so it’s vital to take dimensions before you start shopping. If you’re looking for the boldest bass you can purchase, then you’ll want to go for the biggest sub that’ll fit in the available space.

Trapping the Audio in A Sub Enclosure

While the size of this sub is vital, the sort of enclosure you pick may have a much bigger effect. The enclosure, which is usually known as a box, is exactly that: a box which includes the subwoofer. The 3 main types of enclosures are:

  • sealed
  • ported
  • bandpass

If you’d like bass that’s incredibly deep and doesn’t sound like your own sub is farting, then you should go to get a sealed enclosure. Sometimes, a bigger sub in a great, sealed enclosure can produce deeper bass than a larger sub in an open enclosure. This type of enclosure is excellent for tight, accurate bass that won’t necessarily shake your fillings loose.

Ported and bandpass enclosures typically offer bass which isn’t as heavy. If you hear music which demands really loud bass, and you also don’t care that much about precision, then you are going to want to look at one of these enclosures.

The other solution is to pick a subwoofer that is specifically designed to work without an enclosure. These subs are generally mounted to a board that is installed inside a trunk. The back itself has to be somewhat sterile because it functions as the enclosure.

The Issues of Power, Sensitivity, Frequency and Impedance

While the size of the subwoofer and type of enclosure are significant, the stats that you really need to pay attention to are the RMS value, SPL, frequency range, and ohms. The power level refers to the power handling characteristics of the sub, therefore a higher RMS value means bass.

A top RMS value is futile without anything to power it, however, so it is essential to have a head unit or amplifier that matches (or rather surpasses) that the RMS of the sub.

Sensitivity, which can be expressed as a sound pressure level (SPL) number, describes how much electricity the sub needs to create a specified volume. Subs who have high SPL ratings do not need as much capacity to create high volumes as subs which have reduced SPL ratings. This means you are going to want a sub with a high sensitivity if your amp or head unit is underpowered.

Frequency refers to the range of sounds that the sub can create, so you will want to search for a unit on the low end of this scale.

However, the actual sound you escape your sub will depend a lot on the kind of enclosure you decide on. Considering that the enclosure can modulate the noises which actually reach your ears, the frequency numbers of the sub might not accurately reflect its real-world performance.

In order to get the most from your amp and sub, it’s also very important to match impedance. This figure is expressed in ohms, and it pertains to the electrical resistance of this sub. Impedance is pretty straightforward, but it can get complicated depending on the way the sub is wired, or when it’s multiple voice coils.

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