Buying Guide: 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 consistant sound and quality.  

Subwoofers come in a wide range of designs and options.  Its imporant 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 hairtrick 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. 

By wiring your subs to a high impedence,  it will reduce the amount of output from the amplifier to adjust to your subwoofers rated capabilites. How to wire up and down is a very exact process that should be done with the consulation of a professional.  For the purposes of making a purchase decision a basic knowledge of D2 versus D4 is required.  Subwoofers are made in D2 or D4 providing a few wiring options in regards to impedence.

  For more on wiring and impedence click here

Understanding RMS versus Peak power of a subwoofer is critical to powering a subwoofer properly which will not only manifest opitimal performance but longevitiy as well. 

For more on subwoofer and amplifier matching check out this video from Sonic Electronics:


Pro Tip:
RMS stands for Root Mean Square, the amount of power a subwoofer can handle consistantly, such as while playing music daily.  Peak power is what the sub has been rated to take during short burst such as a burp.


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. 


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.

***PLEASE NOTE*** All information on this site is for educational and informational processes.  Any guidelines, tips or recommendations are considered general knowledge and we strongly encourage you to consult with a professional before installing, adjusting, or altering a car audio system.