Tag: subwoofers

Car Audio 101: Car Subwoofers

Adding an aftermarket stereo and speaker set to your vehicle’s sound system will have you on your way to the perfect setup, but speakers alone won’t be able to reach the deep lows in your music. Without this bass, you will never truly experience your music. Adding a car subwoofer to your system is the perfect remedy to this problem because they are designed specifically to reproduce the low frequencies recorded in your music. When looking for a subwoofer, its important to know that you don’t have to have a subwoofer that makes your entire car shake, you can get subwoofers intended for more subtle bass.

Unlike aftermarket speakers and headunits, a car subwoofer requires a bit more than simply plugging it in and going. Car subwoofers also require an amplifier, an amplifier wiring kit and a subwoofer enclosure that matches up with the subwoofer. With enclosures, you need to know how much space you have available in your car as they can be fairly large and take up quite a bit of space. Subwoofers are traditionally available in sizes from 6″ up to 18″ to fit a variety of needs and preferences. However, 10″, 12″, and 15″ subwoofers are the most popular sizes.

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Competition Grade V.S. Standard Subwoofers


So you want to step it up and bring your a-game to the competition? You wake up at night in a cold sweat having dreamt about the loudest or best sounding system in the world being yours. While there is nothing wrong with having grand dreams, what good does it do if you don’t bite the bullet and take the plunge? So what is the deference between a competition grade subwoofer and a normal subwoofer?

Competition grade is not a “real” classification. It generally refers to high output, high powered woofers that are pretty hefty in weight. There are no distinct guidelines and technically anything that can be used in a competition is competition grade. There are of course woofers that have been designed specifically for use in competition settings, like the HCCA Series and Solo-X woofers. These competition grade woofers have available recone kits that allow you to fix the woofer in case of damage, which is likely in competition settings. Even competition woofers can be used in your commuter car for every day listening. When it comes to competition or normal woofers, the box plays an extremely important role in the sound properties of the woofer. Follow that up with quality gauge wire and the correct amount of power.

Being that there is no classification, if you see a subwoofer with the title of “competition grade” it most likely follows these guidelines for SPL (Sound Pressure Level) competitions:

  • Subs with power handling at or above 1000W RMS
  • Subs with a voice coil larger than 2.5″
  • Subs with an Xmax excursion of 1”( 25.4mm) or more
  • Subs with spiders larger than 7″
  • Subs featuring composite cones or any very strong material

If you find a woofer with a large excursion and high power handling, it tends to fit into all of the other categories automatically. So to wrap it all up, does this mean you could technically get $25 subwoofers and enter in a competition? Yes it does, you most likely won’t succeed but you could do it. Should you try to buy “competition” grade equipment? It does not matter so long as it fits the two most important specifications (power handling and excursion) and you get a great box builder. Oh and one more thing, if your new to competition, go to a few events and talk to the pros before even considering building your system, there is a lot to it!

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CEA-2031 Compliant Loudspeakers

CEA Rated Audio Components are a Sure Thing

All CEA-2031 compliant loudspeakers adopt the same testing and measurement methods so comparing them side by side is easy. Loudspeakers include car speakers and subwoofers. The Consumer Electronics Association created new testing and measurement methods for mobile loudspeaker systems that define test procedures for rating the performance and physical size of speakers. This is important because you can now compare different speakers on the same playing field. Any manufacturers who adopt the CEA-2031 logo product mark can be compared evenly to other speaker manufacturers with the same mark.

CEA-2031 Compliant Standard

CEA-2031 Compliant Standard- Listed Loudspeakers

When CEA-2031 marked speakers are compared in conjunction with CEA-2006 marked amplifiers, you can select speakers that match up appropriately with a particular amplifiers power handling capabilities. Manufacturers who test their loudspeakers to CEA standards are required to report primary power output in watts, the cut-out diameter and mounting depth as well as the speaker’s impedance. Also, the maximum RMS power output is listed in watts and total harmonic distortion (THD) along with the speaker’s signal-to-noise ratio is listed. CEA-2031 standardization changes the way equipment performance information is relayed to consumers for easier comparisons of loudspeakers.


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How to Tune and Adjust Amplifier Gains and Bass Boost


You might want to force this into your head because tuning your equipment is one of the most important things you can do. Car amplifiers have lots of knobs and buttons that, when adjusted the right way, will make your subwoofers or speakers perform at their best. Improper tuning can create distortion, which can sound like buzzing, crackling, hissing, whomping, and various other noises that intrude on the instruments of your music. This is a ballpark method for setting up an amplifier, always refer to the owner’s manual first for more detailed and specific instructions. Most of us do not have an oscilloscope to properly tune a system, but the method outlined below will work well enough. Now let’s get down to tuning!

Kicker IX500.4

4-Channel Class D Amplifier- Kicker IX500.4
Step 1: Setting Volume and Gain Control

With your sound system off, disconnect the RCA cables that run to your amplifiers. Next, turn your system back on and turn the volume on your radio up to max, make sure no music is playing in the system. Disconnecting the RCAs makes sure nothing is playing through the amplifiers which would risk blowing your amplifier, speakers, subwoofers and eardrums. If your speakers run off of your radio and you have a subwoofer amplifier that your trying to set, disconnect all your speakers for safety, then reconnect them after you find the 75% volume level highlighted below. You can leave the speakers connected only if you are 100% sure no music is playing through your system. Most radios have a numerical association, for example the max volume could be denoted as “60” on the dial. The numbers for each radio differ; some might be at 10 max while others could be at 30 or even 100 max. Now that you have the max volume number, multiply it by .75, this will get you 75% of your max volume. For example, if our max volume is 60, then 0.75 x 60 = 45. Now that we have that figured out, turn your volume to zero and plug in your RCA cables or speakers if your running off the headunit. Now, turn the volume down to the 75% point (45 in this case) and turn the gain on your amplifier to zero. Set all bass boost and crossover filters to off, and make sure your headunits built-in EQ is set to “Flat”.

We recommend you use a 1-kHz sine wave tone from a test disc for this next step. If you cannot get a test disk purchase a store bought CD with your favorite music and use it instead. With your sound system off, plug in your speakers if you disconnected them and RCA cables and then turn your system back on. Now start playing the tone, slowly turn the gain up on the amplifier until you hear distortion, also known as clipping. Back off the gain about 1/8th a turn or until it becomes clear again. Remember to mark the gain level and the volume level should you need to reset them at a later date. This is the maximum volume your system will play before it might start clipping the signal. If you have multiple amplifiers, use this method for each amplifier separately. So, hook up only one amplifier at a time, unhook it and move on to the next one.

AutoSound 2000 CD-104

Amplifier Level Setting CD- AutoSound 2000 CD-104
Step 2: Tuning Frequencies

Time to adjust the built-in crossovers on the amplifiers in your system. Most subwoofer amplifiers have a Low-Pass Filter which prevents higher frequencies from reaching your subs. Subwoofers are designed to reproduce low frequency bass tones, so a low-pass filter is very important. A great starting point is around 80 to 100Hz on the low-pass crossover. Disconnect all other amplifiers and play your favorite music type from a CD at 75% volume. While listening to what the subwoofer is playing, slowly adjust the low pass filter from high to low until the mid-frequencies and high-frequencies disappear. You need to filter out cymbals, vocals, guitars, strings, and any other instruments that are not bass or low drum type. If you experience any popping or muddy sounding music from the subwoofer, turn the filter down lower.

For your speaker amplifier, you will have a Low-Pass and a High-Pass filter set on a switch so you can choose which to use. The High-Pass filter lets all frequencies above the setting to go through to your speakers while preventing the lower bass notes from getting through. Disconnect all other amplifiers and start playing your favorite music from a store bought CD. Your subwoofer will handle the lower notes, so a great place to start on the high-pass filter is where you set your low-pass filter on your subwoofer amplifier if you are using one. If not, a good starting place is between 60 and 80Hz. Listen to your speakers as you adjust the high-pass filter slowly. Get rid of any bass or low drum kicks that might cause distortion in your speakers.

Step 3: Bass Boost

If your subwoofer has a death wish, this is often the way to grant that wish. Bass boost can be very effective but it is rarely ever set correctly. The objective of the bass boost, should you want to use it, is to get more kick out of your subwoofer. For most, the bass boost is best left untouched, but you’re not most are you? Ok, so set your gain to zero, and toggle your bass boost button, switch, or turn dial. Play your favorite music and slowly turn the gain up until you get distortion. Back off the gain setting until the woofer is clear again, then start adjusting the low-pass filter. You will need to mess with the low pass and gain until you feel your woofer sounds just right. Bottom line; if you’re going to turn the bass boost up, make sure to turn the gain down. Bass Boost is not a toy and must be used responsibly.

Step 4: Mix it All Together

Kicker IX500.4

Speaker Polarity Checker- PAC TLPTG2
Phew, final step! Let’s connect all amplifiers in the system, turn the radio down to zero and start playing that CD. Slowly turn the radio up until you hear distortion or you reach that 75% limit, do not ever go past that limit. If everything was done correctly, all speakers and subwoofers should be distortion free until that point. If the bass is overpowering the speakers at the 75% volume point, lower the gain on your subwoofer amplifier until it blends well with your speakers. Do not adjust the full-range speaker amplifier to match the subwoofer(s). If your bass is not sufficient enough for your needs, you will need to upgrade to a bigger subwoofer and a more powerful amplifier.

If you can’t seem to get your system to sound just right, we highly recommend you take it to a professional. It is possible your components could be damaged, connected improperly, or simply not efficient or of enough quality to produce the sound you need. Simple things such as replacing power, ground, and speaker wire with higher quality cable could help improve the sound of your system. It is also possible that the polarity on your speakers could be switched, resulting in awkward sound reproduction. A polarity checker can fix that issue quickly. If you listen to a wide range of music, try readjusting your gain controls using different CDs with different music types to get the most even sound. Tuning is all about hearing the difference.


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Differences In Subwoofer Sizes

Cars come in all different shapes, sizes, flavors and variants. So do subwoofers, speakers and amplifiers.  It is this fact alone that allows everyone to get exactly what they want, but what good does it do if you don’t know what you want because you have no idea what it all means? This kind of confusion is common place in the world and turns even the most knowledgeable of humans into babbling messes. I am particularly eager to inform you about the different subwoofer sizes as this seems to be a common confusion among many. The four most common subwoofer sizes are 8, 10, 12, and 15 inches. Size is important ladies and gentlemen, so let’s get to it!

8 inch Sub – Kicker L7 08S8L72

8 Inch Subwoofers: These subwoofers are the standard small woofer and can normally be found in stock sound systems in cars. They have been deemed the smallest woofer that will still get you nice bass. 8″ subwoofers add a bit of rumble, or flavor, to your cars music without sacrificing space. Because of the small cone area and weight, it is easy for the magnet to move the assembly resulting in punchy, accurate bass reproduction.

10 Inch Subwoofers: These subwoofers are common in smaller cars and are noted for their responsiveness and compact size. They cannot hit the lower frequencies as well as a 12″ woofer but they are much quicker to the punch. 10″ woofers are usually selected for those who listen to a lot of rock, country and metal. It is not uncommon to see two 10″ woofers to get punchy yet loud and crystal clear bass.

12 inch Subs – Kicker CVR122

12 Inch Subwoofers:  By far the most common subwoofer is the 12 inch subwoofer; it’s a great mix of accuracy and loudness. They hit the lower notes without using all that much power. A 12″ woofer can be both punchy and boomy, this is where your box comes in to tune your woofer exactly how you want it. If you are torn between punch and boom, go with a 12″ woofer, it is a safe bet.

15 Inch Subwoofers: These monstrous subwoofers produce lower frequencies better then the latter woofers due to their large cone area. 15″ subwoofers easily tackle long resonant bass notes and are a top choice for bass heads. However, because of the cone size and weight, it is difficult for the magnet to slow the cone down, so sound quality lacks but boomy bass shines through. These woofers are ideal for rap, r&b, and techno.

Note: These are generalizations based on average subwoofer sizes if all of the mentioned woofers are equal in material and craftsmanship. An 8″ speaker can be designed to play low notes and a 15” can play higher notes. Cone size is no longer a completely accurate way to determine what a subwoofer can do. Mid range frequencies are best produced using light weight cones, and low frequencies are best produced with heavier cones. Enclosures play a huge part in the performance of a subwoofer as well. This is a general guideline to get you on the right track!
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How to Match a Subwoofer and an Amplifier

As you scavenge deeper into the realm of car audio, you begin to realize that figuring out the proper amplifier/subwoofer setup is a lot harder than just matching power ratings. As you sift through all of the different manufacturers, you might notice that the word “ohms” appears often.  Have you found yourself wondering, “Well the subwoofer is 2 ohms, so I should probably get an amplifier at 2 ohms?” In most cases you would be incorrect, for various reasons. To avoid confusion, we’ll let scientists deal with Ohm’s Law and instead focus on the actual matching process. In this article I will explain to you how to match a subwoofer and amplifier so you do not end up blowing any fuses, mentally or physically.

There are a few criteria we have to look at first. For example, the distinction between a monoblock amplifier and a 2-channel amplifier, as well as the difference of a single voice coil subwoofer versus a dual voice coil subwoofer. I will discuss these categorically and explain each one, so when it is all said and done, you just have to match up your equipment in a chart to find the answer! Let’s start with some terminology:


This does not refer to the channels that you switch between on your TV while trying to find the Lakers game, and it does not refer to a channel that is filled with water. In the audio world, the word “channel” refers to the stream of data on one line, or in the case of amplifiers, one cable of power. A single channel amplifier has one terminal that distributes power to a speaker, while a two channel amplifier has two terminals that distribute power. Likewise with 4 and 5 channels amplifiers, it’s the number of routes available for information or power to flow.

If you have ever heard the terms “mono” and “stereo” you most likely link that to a sound system. If music is recorded in “stereo,” it means that it has a left and right side, so the left side might output the sound of the guitar while the right side pumps out the vocals. Stereo is effectively 2-channels, so the recording engineers can choose to have certain music play on one side or the other at any given time.


When you bridge two channels together, they create one channel. This is used most often in 2 or 4 channel amplifiers. If you have two channels but only want to run one speaker, the channels can be bridged, or wired together, to create one single channel. It’s exactly like a wooden bridge in that it connects two paths together as one (Learn more about amplifier bridging).

Monoblock and Class D Amplifiers

Monoblock and Class D amplifiers have only one channel that is typically used for powering one subwoofer at lower frequencies. I find this type of amp to be the best choice for running one or two subwoofers. How do you run two subwoofers off of an amplifier that has only one channel? This can be a headache for those who do not know the difference between series and parallel wiring. If you have two subwoofers, you can wire the subwoofers together in series or parallel and then wire them to the amplifier.

Two Channel Amplifiers

A two channel amplifier can be wired in a few different ways because it has two channels which you can bridge together to create one channel. You can run one channel to each subwoofer, which acts as though each sub has its own monoblock amplifier hooked up to it. You can bridge the channels together into one channel and run one subwoofer or more, but this option forces you to run the amplifier at a 4 ohm load. While two-channel amps are a good option, I prefer to run a monoblock amplifier system.

Four Channel Amplifiers

A four channel amplifier has, well, four channels. This type of amplifier is mostly used to power speakers, not subwoofers. The average car has four speakers, two in the front and two in the back. Each channel connects to one speaker. Simple enough, right? But we can make this somewhat complicated by using subwoofers instead and bridging the channels together. If you have four channels (1,2,3,4), you can bridge channels 1 and 2 together, and then bridge channel 3 and 4 together. So you end up with two channels total. You cannot bridge those two channels into one channel; it will end up destroying your amplifier. The majority of the time, when a channel has been bridged, it turns into a four ohm channel. So if you have two channels, each at 2 ohms, and then bridge them together, it turns into four ohms (I will address ohms soon, so don’t worry!).

Single/Dual Voice Coil Subwoofers

Now I have to introduce the two major types of voice coils, Single Voice Coil (SCV) and the Dual Voice Coil (DVC). You will see this a lot as you look through different subwoofers. A SVC subwoofer has one voice coil and one set of terminals, one positive (+) and one negative (-). A DVC subwoofer has two voice coils, each with its own set of terminals. Because of this, DVC subwoofers offer more wiring options than SVC speakers. You will see that most DVC subwoofers can be wired at two different ohm levels, unlike a SVC which can be wired at only one ohm level. There is little to no difference in sound quality between the two types of subwoofers.


First let’s check the dictionary’s definition of an ohm. “A unit of electrical resistance equal to that of a conductor in which a current of one ampere is produced by a potential of one volt across its terminals.” Confusing right? Don’t worry, sometimes I have trouble understanding it too! Basically, it’s the resistance to the flow of energy. The higher the ohm, the more resistance. So, 2 ohms has less resistance than 4 ohms. Amplifiers often give their power ratings at 2 ohms and 4 ohms. You will notice that the power rating at 4 ohms is less than the power rating at 2 ohms, or even 1 ohm on some amplifiers. The goal is to buy an amplifier and subwoofers that will give you the most power when you wire them together.

Parallel Wiring

If you have two parallel lines, it usually means they run next to each other but never touch. Parallel wiring is similar to it. If you wire in parallel, you would hook all of the positive speaker terminals together on one line, and all of the negative speaker terminals on the other.

Series Wiring

Series wiring can become a bit confusing. You take a single current path and arrange it among all of the components. It effectively makes a chain, so everything is hooked together as one. The parallel wiring, you would hook together similar terminals only, instead of wiring everything together.

Series/Parallel Wiring Charts

Single Subwoofer Wiring

OHMS Voice Coil Parallel Series
1 Ohm DVC 0.5 Ohms 2 Ohms
2 Ohm DVC 1 Ohm 4 Ohms
4 Ohm DVC 2 Ohms 8 Ohms
6 Ohm DVC 3 Ohms 12 Ohms
4 Ohm SVC N/A 4 Ohms
8 Ohm SVC N/A 8 Ohms

Dual Subwoofer Wiring

OHMS Voice Coil Parallel Series
1 Ohm DVC 1 Ohm 4 Ohm
2 Ohm DVC 0.5 Ohm 2 Ohm
4 Ohm DVC 1 Ohm 4 Ohm
6 Ohm DVC 1.5 Ohm 6 Ohm
4 Ohm SVC 2 Ohm 8 Ohm
8 Ohm SVC 4 Ohm N/A

Combining Subs and Amps

Hopefully you have a greater understanding after reading the terminology section. This next section is aimed at helping you find the perfect amplifier and subwoofer combination. If you did not understand any of the terminology, the subwoofer wiring chart will help you out. The chart is based on a one channel amplifier wiring setup. If you have two subwoofers, it assumes you are wiring them to a single channel. If you have two subwoofers and two channels, you would look at the “1 Sub” section, because each sub gets its own channel. In the end, the power of the amplifier needs to equal the power of the subwoofers. For example, and amplifier that has 400 watts should be paired with one subwoofer that runs at 400 watts, or two subwoofers that run at 200 watts each. Regardless of the combination, the main goal is to equal out the power while running the products at their respective continuous power ratings.

Alright, so let’s say you buy two Kicker 10CVR124 subwoofers. Each sub has an RMS power rating of 400 watts, and each subwoofer is a 4 ohms, Dual voice coil sub. Scan the chart for 2 subwoofers, then find the matching ohm level and voice coil type. So, we look for the DVC (Dual Voice Coil) and then the 4 Ohms right next to it. From here we see that It lists the ohm levels that wiring these subwoofers together in series or parallel will produce. So looking at the chart it says these two subwoofers can be wired in parallel at 1 ohm or series at 4 ohms. Remember what I said about the ohms? The lower ohm level has less resistance. So let’s choose a 1 ohm stable amplifier to give these subwoofers the most power! Because each subwoofer runs at 400 watts RMS, we need to find an amplifier that runs at around 800 watts RMS.

Let’s look at a Monoblock, or single channel amplifier. The Rockford Fosgate R750-1D monoblock amplifier puts out 750 watts at 1 ohm at one channel. While it is not exactly 800 watts, we do not have to be perfect. Just don’t go too much over or under. As it is, this would be a near perfect match. If you decided to wire the subs at 4 ohms, you would have to find an amplifier that puts out 800 watts of power at 4 ohms, which can be very expensive.

Let’s keep the same subwoofers but choose a two channel amplifier. Assume we will not bridge the channels. This changes things a bit, because you need to act as though you have one subwoofer instead of two given that each subwoofer has its own channel. So in this case, we look at the chart for 1 subwoofer, with a dual voice coil, at 4 ohms. It says in Parallel it wires to 2 ohms, and in series it wires at 8 ohms. Lets choose the 2 ohm stable amp to get the most power. I found an RE Audio CTX-1600.2 amplifier which has 700 watts of power bridged at 4 ohms (each channel has 350 watts of power at 2 ohms). Each subwoofer gets one channel, so each subwoofer gets 350 watts to it. This is just about right since each subwoofer has an RMS power rating of 400 watts.

If you took the same amplifier and bridged the channels together, once bridged they stay at 4 ohms. So while these subwoofers would still work, you would have to look back at the 2 subwoofer chart. It has to be wired in series, because this amplifier is not 1 ohm stable.

I would not recommend a 4-Channel amplifier for subwoofers, but if you have to have one, just know that you will not be able to find an amplifier that puts out 400 watts each channel. However, you could bridge each of the channels together, making it a 2 channel amplifier. In this case you would need to bridge a 4-Channel amp with power levels at 200 watts per channel. Once bridged it turns into 400 watts at 2 channels. Does this work with our subs? According to the chart, a bridged four channel amp is classified as a two channel amp. Since each sub gets a channel, you will also look at the 1 Sub section on the chart. The chart tells us that a 4 ohm dual voice coil wires to 2 ohms or 8 ohms, not 4 ohms. Since the subwoofers we choose can only be wired at 4 ohms, you would need to find a different set of subwoofers that are suitable for 2 or 8 ohm loads.

Now you should be ready to start building your own system. Besides an amplifier and subwoofers, you will need to purchase speaker wire, wiring kits among other install accessories. Call us at 1-877-BUY-SONIC if you have any questions along the way.

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Subwoofer Surrounds

A subwoofer surround protects the cone and prevents it from being displaced as it flexes

A subwoofers surround is part of the sub’s suspension system. The surround protects the cone and prevents it from being displaced as it flexes out from the basket. It is usually made of a durable material like treated foam or rubber in order to withstand the strenuous job of producing bass frequencies.  If the cone rocks and is not perfectly linear, it will put a lot of stress on the voice coil. The two main surround types are foam and rubber, which are combined with other substances to enhance their flex and strength properties. With so many subwoofers, and so many different surround types, it can be difficult to find out which one is the best for you. Here is some information on the two main types of surrounds.

Foam Surround – MTX T4512-44

Foam: Back in the 70’s foam surrounds tended to deteriorate very quickly, but due to recent advancements, the average life span of standard foam surrounds is about 8-16 years. New foam formulas last much longer and are a superior product for speaker drivers that need a large excursion. Foam keeps the cone centered and yields a high excursion. Foam is self damping and reduces its own standing waves. It is also very light and has a minimal effect on the motion of the cone. Foam can be mixed with other substances to produce different flex and strength properties.

Rubber Surround – Alpine SPR-13C

Rubber: Back in the day rubber surrounds suffered from what is called “suck-back,” where a vacuum inside the box acts on the surround and causes it to invert at higher excursion levels. Scientists have since learned from this and it is now an uncommon occurrence. Modern rubber generally lasts longer, but is less compliant then foam. Rubber can be made more rigid and durable than foam. Most rubber formulas become stiff at higher frequencies and will dampen cone resonances.

There are various forms of rubber surrounds mixed with other materials to change the property of the rubber. Here are brief explanations of the most popular rubber derivatives.

Urethane: A plastic compound that is weather resistant and more flexible than standard rubber.

Santoprene Surround – Kicker CVR124

Santoprene: A thermoplastic compound that is unique in that it possesses the same flexibility and durability as most rubbers. It has a longer life span than rubber in both hot and cold environments.

Butyl: Also known as polyisobutylene, butyl is a synthetic rubber that structurally resembles polypropylene and has excellent impermeability and good flex properties. Butyl is also found in chewing gum and tire inner tubes.

Some people say foam surrounds are ideal for sound quality and high excursion while rubber surrounds are slightly stiffer but they last longer. The cost difference between rubber and foam is pretty insignificant. No one material type has the market pinned down, so the best thing to do is to let your ears decide. There are so many other factors involved with choosing a car subwoofer than just its surround type, for example magnet size and cone material, that the surround alone is not going to seal the deal. Both material types serve their purposes well, so do not fret if the subwoofer you like does not have your ideal surround preference type, just take a listen.

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Subwoofer Box Types

Sealed Enclosure

Subwoofer enclosures do more than just give you somewhere to mount your subs; they also play a huge role in the bass produced by your subwoofers. Choosing the right enclosure can be tricky, but we are here to help relieve some of that confusion and get your foot planted firmly through that car door. There are three main subwoofer enclosures types to consider: Sealed, Ported/Vented, and Bandpass enclosures. Each has advantages and disadvantages in efficiency, size, distortion, cost, and power handling. The different enclosure types produce a unique sound and choosing an enclosure should be based upon the music style you listen to. Here is the rundown on the various enclosure types:

Sealed Subwoofer Box
Sealed Sub Box

Sealed Enclosure:
The sealed subwoofer enclosure is characterized by excellent transient response(less boom, more punch), superb low frequency power handling, and a smaller box size. When a speaker is mounted in a closed box, the air in the box acts to some extent as a spring. However, sealed enclosure systems tend to suffer from higher cutoff points and lower sensitivity than the other low frequency systems. They are usually the subwoofer system of choice for audiophiles because of their excellent transient response. The box internal volume should be as close as possible to what is recommended by the manufacturer. If a box is smaller than what it is recommended, the sound will be tighter, but more amplifier power will be required to push it.
If the sub box is too big, then the sound will be filthy and distorted.
Overall it produces a crisp and clean sound for any type of music. If you did not understand what any of that meant, here is a basic run down:
– Less Boom, More Punch
– Top Choice for Audiophiles
– Smaller Box Size Required
– More Amplifier Power Required

Ported/Vented Enclosure:
A ported enclosure system consists of a driver mounted on one side of a box that has an open tunnel or port which allows the passage of air in and out of the box. The function of the port is to “tune” the enclosure so that the rear wave of the speaker enhances the front wave of the speaker. This typically results in a woofer system with a higher efficiency (it plays louder with less power). At low frequencies, the vent contributes substantially to the output of the system. The box design acts as a filter, cutting off lower frequencies.

Ported/Vented Sub Box
Vented Sub Box

The ported enclosure system is characterized by lower distortion and higher power handling in the system’s operating range, and lower cutoff frequency than a sealed enclosure system using the same driver.
Distortion rapidly increases below the cutoff frequency as the sub loses load. The transient response of a ported enclosure system is usually inferior to that of a sealed enclosure system using the same sub. Let’s rehash the main points of a ported/vented enclosure:
– Equal Boom, Equal Punch
– Strengthens Bass
– Amplifies Sound
– Bigger Box Size Required

Bandpass Enclosure:
Enclosures consist of a woofer between a sealed and ported box. Bandpass boxes will yield more bass than sealed and ported boxes (especially at lower frequencies), but over a narrower frequency range.
Since the box acts as a filter, mechanically blocking lower and upper frequencies, a crossover is not needed in most cases.  These enclosures are usually big and very unforgiving when precise volumes and port sizes are not followed.  Bandpass boxes also tend to mask distortion which could lead to damaged subs. Bandpass enclosures are extremely efficient in the band of frequencies that they are tuned to or “pass” (hence the term bandpass). Disadvantages of this design are a limited frequency range, huge enclosure size and limited power handling. We don’t recommend any more than 500 watts RMS power to a bandpass enclosure.
Let us take another look at the main points:
– Lower Bass Frequencies
– Should Be Tuned
– Low Power Handling
– Biggest Box Size Required

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The Subwoofer Buying Guide

Add a Subwoofer to Your System for Deep Lows

 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 there’s a couple things you may want to consider before pulling that “Checkout” trigger.

What Does a Subwoofer Do?

Subwoofers Displace Air to Create Sound Waves

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 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 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.

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?


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, 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 underSubwoofers 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.


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.

Buy Car Subwoofer