What Should You Consider Before Buying a Subwoofer?

by | Last updated Sep 9, 2020 | How To

A quality subwoofer is your first step towards a quality car audio setup. However, choosing the best car subwoofer isn’t easy. It is not as simple as choosing the first subwoofer that fits your car, or the one that has the most bass.   

When it comes to setting up your car’s audio system, knowing what kind of subwoofer it is that you need is paramount.   

To do that, you’ll need to know what a subwoofer is first, what different kinds of subwoofers there are out there, and what factors go into choosing a car subwoofer, as well as other things worth considering.   

Confused? That’s okay. That’s exactly what we’re here to help you with.   

Below, you’ll learn everything there is to know about buying a car subwoofer. 

What is a Subwoofer? How Does It Work?

You see, sound has what we’d like to call as “range”, which is often listed in hertz. The typical speaker captures only the middle to high range. This leaves you deprived of the full depth and clarity of whatever it is you are listening to, especially its bass tones.   

That is where subwoofers come in.   

Subwoofers are designed to handle the lower ranges of sound.  

Whereas most speakers tend to taper off at around 50Hz, subwoofers can handle even lower than that. As a result, a great subwoofer significantly improves the audio output. The musical content becomes more exactly like how the artist intended it to be listened to, instead of feeling incomplete or lacking.  

What Are The Different Kinds of Subwoofers?

There are generally two different kinds of subwoofers: active subwoofers and passive subwoofers.   

The main difference between the two is what kind of amplifier they use. An active subwoofer uses an internal amplifier. They are also sometimes referred to as powered subwoofers. On the other hand, a passive subwoofer uses an external amplifier and are also known as component subwoofers.  

What Should You Consider When Buying a Subwoofer?

  1. Power – Power is power. In car subwoofers, the more realistic measure of power is the RMS power ratings. Although the peak power ratings are also important, they’re not as reliable. The RMS ratings are a measure of how much power or output the subwoofer can continuously handle. As a bare minimum, your car subwoofer should be able to handle the amplifier’s output power.  
  2. Sensitivity – If you want your bass to be loud and with no distortion, a good sensitivity rating is a definite must. One thing to remember is that subs with higher sensitivity ratings don’t require as much power to produce the same amount of sound compared to subs with lower sensitivity ratings.  
  3. Frequency range – The lower the frequency range of the sub, the better. Or, at least, in most cases. Other factors such as the type of enclosure also plays a key role.  
  4. Enclosure type – It’s also important to consider the kind of enclosure where the sub is mounted in. Sealed boxes are best for deep, accurate sounds. However, ported and bandpass enclosures are better if you want more volume.  
  5. Voice coils – The typical car subwoofer comes with a single voice coil. They’re okay, but they don’t offer as many wiring options are dual voice coil subwoofers. For better flexibility, go for dual voice coil subwoofers.  
  6. Size – Just how loud and low the car subwoofer can go depends on how large (or small) it is. Although bigger subs almost always equal bigger bass, you can’t exactly just put the largest subwoofer you can find and be done with it. The available space inside your car also matters. You’ll want to take a couple of measurements and make sure that the subwoofer that you’re looking at fits. But, as a general rule of thumb, 12-inch subwoofers are the safest bet. They’re not too large, nor too small, making installation relatively easy. It can also handle a wide variety of music, making it perfect for audiophiles.  
  7. Impedance – The main reason why impedance is a major factor in buying a car subwoofer is you want to make sure that your speakers and amplifier match. If you’re not careful, you could easily burn out your speakers if the amplifier is too powerful. However, if the impedance is lower, the amplifier will try to make up for it and end up shutting down to protect itself from burning out. Either way, it’s a potential fire hazard in the making to not consider impedance properly.  

Subwoofers

Who Makes the Best Subwoofers?

  1. MTX Audio 

MTX Audio is an American company that offers a wide selection of subwoofers, as well as amplifiers. They’re well-reputed among car audio enthusiasts, especially their line of subwoofers. They also have a sub-brand, Kicker, which are known for creating subwoofers with legendary bass performance. 

MTX Audio
2. Infinity 

Having been in the scene since the late 1960’s, this American company enjoys a strong following. Audiophiles who will settle for nothing less than the best, in particular, swear by the quality and performance of Infinity speakers, specifically, their subwoofers. 

3. JL Audio 

JL Audio has been around since 1975 but it’s only in recent years that they really started gaining traction within the scene. A bit underrated, JL Audio car speakers are well worth taking a close look at.

4. Rockford Fosgate 

Manufacturers of elite car audio components, including subwoofers, you will never go wrong if you buy any one of the products made and sold by Rockford Fosgate.

5. Alpine 

Makes of rich, clear, and ground-shaking audio components, Alpine is one of the more premiere manufacturers on the market. 

Other Essential Items When Looking for a Car Subwoofer

When shopping for a car subwoofer, the subwoofer itself isn’t the only piece of car audio component that you should look for.   

You’ll also need to consider other pieces of equipment first, such as: 

  • An amplifier 
  • A proper enclosure 
  • A Dynamat kit for louder, richer bass and minimal rattling 
  • Polyester fiber to use as box stuffing to make the subwoofer louder and more efficient  

You may also need the necessary tools if you plan on building your own car subwoofer enclosure. 

An amp wiring kit and speaker wire might also be necessary if you’re using a pre-loaded sub box, or a subwoofer-amp combo.  

Buy a Car Subwoofer Today

As you probably know by now, there’s a lot that goes into choosing the right car subwoofer.   

Don’t worry. If you still haven’t been able to make full sense of it all, that’s okay. It takes a while for everything to sink in. What’s important is that now, you have a reference or a guide so you don’t end up wasting your money.   

Also, just a reminder, you don’t always have to have “more” when shopping for car audio components. “More” is nice with subwoofers, but it’s not always necessary nor great. Audio quality can suffer tremendously if you go about just buying the loudest audio equipment that you can find.    

Don’t forget about taking your time choosing the right enclosure as well, otherwise, you might end up buying an expensive speaker in the wrong enclosure, which can negatively impact the quality of the audio.   

With that said, we’re hoping that we have provided you with enough information to know how to choose a car subwoofer properly.   

Check out the following articles:  

  • Best 10 Inch Subwoofer 
  • Best 12 Inch Subwoofer 
  • Best Shallow Mount Subwoofers
  • Best 8 Inch Subwoofers

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