A Complete Car Subwoofer Buying Guide
Subwoofers are dedicated speakers in a car audio system that are responsible for reproducing low frequency sound. A subwoofer improves the music listening experience irrespective of the kind of music, or the volume at which music is being listened. Car speakers are not able to produce low frequency sound effectively because they are small in size, so a subwoofer is essential to bring realism and depth to the music. Adding a subwoofer can improve the car music system from good to great and bring the best out of a car music system.
Before buying a subwoofer to your car and adding a subwoofer, you should consider your musical appetite, space inside your car and the budget you wish to spend on buying a new car subwoofer. Keep in mind the following things before buying a car subwoofer:
- If you want to build a personalized system with custom components
If you are a person who likes to customize everything you buy and use, you should consider component subwoofers. A component subwoofer is a speaker which is mounted in a subwoofer box and is powered using an external amplifier. Component subwoofers come in various sizes ranging from 8 inch to 15 inch and are designed to operate on high or low power. Also, these subwoofers can be set up on different type of boxes. One can choose among various box models according to a car music system design as the impedance and voice coil setups differ in every single one of them. In case you are designing a car music system from scratch, getting hold of a great subwoofer is the best you can do to start.
- If you want a boxed/ pre-packed/ off-the-shelf enclosed subwoofer combo
If you do not want to put in much efforts in configuring a subwoofer for yourself, you can choose the enclosed subwoofer package. They are easy to install and come pre-mounted in a box that is designed in such a way that a sub can be easily accommodated. This makes it easier to install as you don’t have to choose an enclosure and work on the design and installation. But these enclosure systems come in a limited number of speaker and box choices and are needed to be powered by an external amplifier for power.
- If you are looking for a simple system for enhancing bass and saving space
If you just want to enhance the bass effect of your car music system, you can choose a powered sub that is a combination of an amplifier and woofer in an enclosure. As the setup includes a built-in amplifier, you just have to make space for the enclosed box. This saves space owing to compactness and is also easy to install. Because of its small driver and amplifier, powered subwoofers are not good enough if you are looking for really great and big bass effect. One can still be assured about powered subwoofer being an effective bass producer and a great top-up to the default factory stereo system in a car.
- If you are looking for a subwoofer to complement your car’s interior
Consider a vehicle-specific powered or unpowered subwoofer as they are designed to fit perfectly in various locations inside a vehicle. They are also color-matched to blend in the existing interiors of a car, but they do not offer high-quality bass like high-powered subwoofers. However, they can satisfy you if you are an average music listener and would also not take much space inside a vehicle.
- If you want a great bass system without entering into much hassle of configuring yourself
If you do not want much hassle related to configuring subwoofer system, you should buy a subwoofer bass package. The special packages contain everything from a subwoofer system to speaker wire.
Once you identify your need for a subwoofer, you should consider the following key specifications before purchasing a subwoofer:
- Power: To ensure that a car speaker system booms perfectly, you should consider a subwoofer with adequate power. Just look onto the RMS power ratings instead of peak power rating which depicts the continuous power handling or output rate. This is a more realistic measure than peak power but ensure that you match the power handling of subwoofer with your amplifier’s power output.
- Sensitivity: Sensitivity goes along with the power to achieve high output. An ideal balance between power and sensitivity should be maintained as a sub with high sensitivity rating require less power to produce similar sound output as a model with lower sensitivity rating.
- Frequency Range: Frequency range of a subwoofer is an ideal measure that gives an estimate of how low a subwoofer can play. But in reality, along with the frequency range a number of variable factors like box type in which a subwoofer is mounted also impact the actual performance of a subwoofer.
- Enclosure Type: Enclosure in which a sub is mounted impacts the type of sound a subwoofer produce. Sealed enclosure boxes give deep, accurate sound whereas ported and bandpass enclosures are sure to give more volume.
- Number of voice coils: If you are looking for more flexibility in the wiring of a car music system, then you should go for dual voice coil subwoofers. Dual voice coil (DVC) subwoofers make use of separate voice coils with own connections which are mounted on one cylinder and are connected to a single common cone. These types of subwoofers are more popular among car music aficionados.
- Size: Most individuals think that size is the only factor that is responsible for producing the loudest and deepest sound quality. But in reality sensitivity, enclosure type, power and other factors are equally responsible in ensuring better sound. If you are looking for a sound system that produces loud and low sound and you do not consider it occupying large space, you should buy bigger subwoofers. But one can also achieve a great sound quality with smaller subwoofers if they are adequately powered and are in a suited enclosure.
- Impedance: Mostly, subwoofers come with 4 ohms impedance rating, but of late one can find subwoofers with 2 ohm, 8 ohm ratings along with dual voice coil subwoofers (DVC). Just make sure that the subwoofer you choose matches to the power rating and impedance of your amplifier for the best results.