Basics of Subwoofers

When you think of car audio, for most people the first thing that comes to mind is a subwoofer.  Subwoofers have various parts such as the cone, motor, voice coil and basket.

Each make and model has various design thus various strengths and weaknesses within that design.  No one sub is the best, the best for you is based on your goals for your system. There are a wide range of frequencies in music, thus having a proper overall system can produce a consistent sound and quality.  

Subwoofers come in a wide range of designs and options.  Its important to do your research before committing to a purchase. Determining your goals and budget is just the beginning.  For a daily driven vehicle, there are certain things to consider such as the following:

What genre/range of music do you listen to most?

This is where the basket size of the subwoofer matters.  Rock and pop music can be a more punchy bass and can sound better with a smaller sub such as an 8  or 10 inch.  Whereas rebassed music plays lots of low frequencies and sometimes a constant bass note.  If you play rebassed music and have goals of a killer hair trick you may consider a 15 or 18 inch subwoofer to move more air and have a deeper sound when those notes hit.  

How much power (amplifier output) are you playing to use? What impedence are you planning on wiring to? 

Doing research at this stage is vital.  Once youve decided how much power you play to have it is imperative your subwoofers are rated to take that much power. 

How much room do you have for your enclosure?

A small vehicle or a trunk build may only have room for so many subwoofers to be enclosed properly.  Displacement and recommended specs may vary, so it’s best to consult a professional. 

A prefabricated box can be a simple solution when working on a budget yet still wanting to ensure the enclosure will function properly.  However, if you are planning to compete at a higher level and maximum SPL is your endgoal, a custom built enclosure is absolutely necessary. 

A subwoofer (or sub) is a loudspeaker designed to reproduce low-pitched audio frequencies known as bass and sub-bass, lower in frequency than those which can be (optimally) generated by a woofer. The typical frequency range for a subwoofer is about 20–200 Hz for consumer products, below 100 Hz for professional live sound, and below 80 Hz in THX-approved systems. Subwoofers are never used alone, as they are intended to augment the low frequency range of loudspeakers that cover the higher frequency bands. While the term “subwoofer” technically only refers to the speaker driver, in common parlance, the term often refers to a subwoofer driver mounted in a speaker enclosure (cabinet), often with a built-in amplifier.

Find the right balance between quality and budget.  Buying products that are cheap and not quality could result in replacement and expenses in the future.  Best Practice is to start right and not have to do anything twice.

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Subwoofer. which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (view authors).