Subwoofer Enclosure Buying Guide
Buying a Subwoofer Enclosure
Building your perfect car audio setup requires more than just the components; you also are going to need the right mounting hardware to have your system meet its potential. Your subwoofer is no exception when it comes to a subwoofer enclosure. A subwoofer without an enclosure isn’t capable of functioning to it’s full potential. If you want to really make your subwoofer bump, this means finding the right enclosure not only to meet the requirements of your sub, but also the space limitations for your car. You can also build an enclosure yourself to meet your subwoofers requirements, however it is not recommended unless you are an experienced craftsman and have a complete understanding of the various specifications.
What Size Subwoofer Do You Have?
Your first step in purchasing a subwoofer box should be obvious, what size is your subwoofer? You can’t buy a box designed for an 8” subwoofer and use it with a 12” sub, it simply won’t fit. The cut out dimensions need to match your subwoofer exactly for the box to function properly. It is also imperative for you to know the mounting depth of your subwoofer, if you purchase a box that is too shallow for your woofer, you’re also going to be in trouble. You also need to know how many subs you plan on installing. If you’re only going to be putting one subwoofer in your car, you’ll need to get a single sub enclosure. However, if you plan on installing 2 subwoofers, dual sub boxes are also available (however they can take up a significant amount of space).
What are Your Subwoofers Airspace Requirements?
Once you have determined what size enclosure you need for your subwoofer, it’s time to get into some of the finer details to get your bass to really hit hard. Matching your subwoofer to the proper enclosure is no simple task as you need to know the precise Thiele/Small (T/S) Electromechanical Parameters as well as the air space requirements of your specific sub. The T/S parameters as well as the air space requirements of your subwoofer should be provided by the manufacturer.
What Kind of Box Do You Need?
There are 3 types of subwoofer enclosures: sealed boxes, ported boxes and bandpass boxes. Subwoofer enclosures are most commonly (but not exclusively) constructed from medium density fiberboard (MDF). Each box type has its own merits and features, but not every subwoofer is designed to work with any box type.
Sealed Boxes are airtight enclosures to house your subwoofer. A sealed box provides deep, precise bass and is ideal for any music that demands tight and accurate bass. Sealed enclosures are not overly boomy, provide outstanding power handling as well as incredibly deep bass extension. Sealed enclosures also typically more compact and can fit in more places in your car easier. As a general rule, sealed enclosures require more power than a ported box and use of an amplifier is usually recommended.
Ported enclosures (or vented enclosures) feature an additional port for air flow in and out of the box. The added air flow of ported boxesallows the box to play louder with less power required. Ported boxes are best used for rock, heavy metal or any other genre of bass heavy music.
Bandpass enclosures are more specialized enclosures which place the sub between a sealed and ported box. These enclosures are designed to provide the hardest hitting bass performance. They produce much more bass than their sealed and ported counterparts, however it is over a much more narrow frequency range. These enclosures are ideal for rap, R&B, hard rock, metal and other bass heavy music. Bandpass boxes are often the largest enclosure type.
What Else Do You Need to Know?
Among other considerations you need to make when purchasing a subwoofer enclosure is the amount of space you have in your car. Subwoofer enclosures can take up a large amount of space and depending on what kind of car you have, any type of enclosure may not work. Not all vehicles have the room of an SUV, van or even a hatchback to accommodate the larger sub enclosures and you’ll need to know how much open space you have (and are willing to sacrifice) to add an enclosure.
Trucks are often the most difficult vehicle to install a sub enclosure in simply because there is very little free space in the cab. Enclosures in pickup trucks can generally only be installed behind the driver and passenger seats. These types of enclosures feature an angled design to fit snuggly up against the seatback. Another potential location for the installation of your subwoofer enclosure is under the seats in your car. These enclosures are perfect if you’re trying to keep your sound system inconspicuous as they will be hidden from view. The most common type of enclosure is the trunk mount enclosure. These ‘big box’ enclosures fit in the trunks of sedans and in the cargo area of hatchbacks, vans and SUVs. Trunk mount enclosures can vary quite a bit in size and take up a significant chunk of your storage space.
Vehicle specific enclosures are also available for select vehicles. These enclosures are designed to fit precisely into specific vehicles and will often fit in out of the way places. These types of enclosures can be constructed out of MDF like most common enclosures as well as fiberglass. Fiberglass is an ideal material for vehicle specific enclosures because it can be molded to fit in virtually any space.
Preloaded enclosures are also available to purchase; these enclosures eliminate the guesswork of selecting a box to match your subwoofer as they come with the subwoofer built-in. A preloaded enclosure can also include an amplifier, making your installation process even simpler.
Once you have your enclosure installed in your vehicle and subwoofer mounted in it, you’re ready to enjoy your new sound. At Sonic Electronix, we have everything you need to get your bass up to par.