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The Subwoofer Buying Guide

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by: Gary Brikowski



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. When choosing car subwoofers, keep in mind the amount of space in your vehicle's cab or trunk, as well as your preferred style of music.


Buying a subwoofer or subwoofers is a fun experience! Most car audio enthusiasts take particular pride in their woofers, and we can totally relate. When you buy your next subwoofer there’s a couple things you may want to consider before pulling that “Checkout” trigger. Check out our checklist of things to consider before ordering.


How Do Subwoofers Work?


Let’s 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, it’s creating displacement. The size of the driver (8”, 10”, 12”, 15”) and how much power is running through the woofers motor determines how much overall bass output you’ll get. Two 250W 10” subwoofers will be louder than one 12” subwoofer handling 500W. This is because the two 10” subwoofers are displacing more air.


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



Wattage


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 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.


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


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).



Bigger is Better?


In the case of car subwoofers, bigger is not necessarily "better." Besides power handling capability, the best subwoofers have high sensitivity ratings. A sensitivity rating measures how effectively a speaker converts power into sound. Subs with a higher sensitivity rating will play louder, given a set amount of input power. A sub with a high sensitivity basically maximizes the available 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 terrible sensitivity.


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, you’ll 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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