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The Subwoofer Buying Guide

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by: Gary Brikowski


Buying a Subwoofer

Add Bass to Your System with a New Subwoofer

To add some extra bump to your vehicle's sound system, all you need to do is add a subwoofer to your system. Car subwoofers provide depth to the sound of your music by supplying accurate bass beats to supplement the high frequency musical tunes. We carry car subs in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit your specific needs. However, buying a subwoofer is a more complex process than picking one at random, throwing it in your car and wiring it up. Some research is highly recommended so that you can choose the perfect subwoofer for your system. When choosing car subwoofers, you also need keep in mind things like the amount of space in your vehicle's cab or trunk and what kind music you listen to. Most car audio enthusiasts take particular pride in their woofers. When buying a subwoofer thereís a couple things you may want to consider before pulling that ďCheckoutĒ trigger.


What Does a Subwoofer Do?

Subwoofers Displace Air to Create Sound Waves

Letís start by talking a bit about how subwoofers create bass. This will help you make a better decision when picking out how many subwoofers you want, and what sizes you want the drivers to be. Simply put, subwoofers create bass by moving air. Each time the subwoofer moves back and forth, itís creating displacement. The size of the driver and how much power is running through the woofers motor determines how much overall bass output youíll get. Two 250W 10" subwoofers will be louder than one 12" subwoofer handling 500W because the two 10" subwoofers are displacing more air.


Buying multiple subwoofers is a great way to double the surface area thatís being moved, but itís not the only factor that determines how much bass youíll be getting. The power handling of the subwoofer is very important in this process as well.

What Size Subwoofer?

NVX NSW124 Subwoofer

When looking for your ideal subwoofer, it is also important to note the physical size of the subwoofer you want. As with everything in car audio, space is not always readily available, and subwoofer sizes can vary from slim fit subs to 18" behemoths. The size of your subwoofer (the diameter) is important to know for installation processes and if you are planning to purchase or build an enclosure. The most popular subwoofer sizes are 10" and 12". Other common subwoofer sizes are 6.5", 8", 13", 15" and 18".

It is also critical for you to be aware of the mounting depth space you have to work with and what the mounting depth of the subwoofer is that you are planning on purchasing. If you buy a subwoofer that has a mounting depth greater than you have to work with, you'll either have to get a different subwoofer or do some serious modifications.

Bigger is Better?

In the case of car subwoofers, bigger is not necessarily better. The best subwoofers have high sensitivity ratings. These measure how effectively a speaker converts power into sound. Subs with a higher sensitivity rating will play louder, given a set amount of input power.

To demonstrate, consider the following example. If "SUBWOOFER A" has a relatively lower power rating than "Subwoofer B", but "SUBWOOFER A" has a relatively higher sensitivity rating, then "SUBWOOFER A" will play louder (assuming the sensitivity differences are substantial). Therefore, a smaller subwoofer with higher sensitivity ratings can boom louder than a larger subwoofer with lower sensitivity.

What Kind of Power Do You Need?

The RMS power handling rating refers to the amount of power a car subwoofer can handle on a continuous basis. Ignore the peak power ratings, these ratings are merely a marketing scheme used to grab your attention. They are totally insignificant when trying to match up an amplifier with subs and speakers.

We recommend slightly over-powering your subwoofer based on its recommended RMS power rating. This will help prevent accidentally over-powering or blowing your sub. You should select a subwoofer based on the amount of power output generated by your amplifier, the sub's impedance and the voice coil specifications.

What Else Do You Need to Know?

Impedance

The impedance measures the load value (in ohms) that the speakers present to the amplifier, or the amount of resistance to the current flow. Car subwoofer impedance can be rated at a 2 ohm, 4 ohm, or an 8 ohm load. When you are trying to match up a subwoofer’s power rating with an amplifier, be sure the power ratings are estimated at the same ohm load.

Voice Coils Provides the Push to Move the ConeVoice Coils

A voice coil is the coil of wire attached to the cone. Driving a current through the voice coil produces a magnetic field, which in turn moves the cone. The number of voice coils allow for different wiring configurations. The type of voice coil setups includes single, dual, or quad voice coil. Dual voice coil subs have more wiring flexibility than single voice coils subs; however, single voice coil subwoofers provide easier hookup options for wiring multiple subwoofers in parallel or series. You may run a dual voice coil (DVC) sub in parallel, series, or combination. A quad voice coil has four voice coils and is equal to two dual voice coil subwoofers (in terms of wiring capabilities).

Cone Material

Paper cones natural sounding bass. Some of the best sounding bass, but the least durable cone material. This is why you commonly see materials such as polypropylene being used for cones. Polypropylene tends to be more durable than paper, but also retains some natural sound. Finally, youíll find titanium cones and other materials in some premium woofers. This is all used for specific reasons depending on the manufacturer, and can provide different sounding bass.

Do I need an Enclosure?

Component subwoofers should be mounted in an enclosure for optimal performance. We advise you to choose a sealed, ported or bandpass box based on your subwoofer specifications and available vehicle space. We also offer premade package deals under Subwoofers with Enclosures. These Enclosed Subwoofer Systems include subwoofers prebuilt into a box.


If space is at a premium, we offer powered subs, which are essentially enclosures loaded with an amplifier and a woofer. We also offer vehicle specific subs that are specially designed to save space and match the interior of your vehicle. For the ultimate luxury, check out our BassForms fiberglass enclosures featuring a lifetime warranty.

Price


Make sure you plan your budget ahead of time. To power your car subwoofer, you will need an amplifier, speaker wire, wiring kits and other install accessories. If you need help along the way, give us a call at 1-877-289-7664.


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