The bone-crushing bass audio experience in cars is produced by a speaker unit known as a car subwoofer. For deep and thumping bass production in a car interior, the car owner needs to install a car subwoofer system. The speaker units vary in types and sizes where the amount of money spent on the unit depends on the prior stated two factors. Large-sized car subwoofer pieces with high RMS wattages are considered to be more powerful, producing the best and accurate audio experience as compared to smaller units.
Subwoofers occupy a large amount of space due to their cabinet enclosures where the subwoofer speaker is normally mounted. Space is a big factor to consider when purchasing a subwoofer unit. The car owner should put into consideration the amount of space available in the car. If the car has a big trunk, this would be considered for big units, but if space is a key issue of concern, then under seat subwoofer can be another option. Under-seat car subwoofers have excellent bass reproduction capabilities with space-saving into consideration.
In the market today, there are very many brands and varieties of car subwoofer systems to choose from. This narrows down to the taste and preferences of the car owner. This article will cover the types and sizes of car subwoofers available in the market today. This can give a car owner tips on which unit to buy for their car in order to match their speakers hence creating the ultimate audio experience.
Types of Car Subwoofer systems
Passive car Subwoofer systems
Passive subwoofers need to be powered from an external source that is an external amplifier. They are similar to traditional speakers where they require more power to produce quality bass. Passive subwoofers need more power to reproduce low sound frequencies accurately without draining the receiver or amplifier’s power supply. The power supply required depends on the size and output of the subwoofer unit.
In addition, space confinement affects the accuracy of bass produced where large open spaces sound better when the car subwoofer is powered as compared to small confined spaces. If a medium-sized subwoofer is installed in an averagely big car the bass experience will sound better as compared to a big subwoofer unit installed in a small car. Some car buyers like bass reproduction that can awaken the whole neighborhood while others prefer the classical type of bass whose volume can only be heard while inside the car.
These subwoofers are technical to install therefore a car owner might require a hired hand to have the unit installed. During sourcing, the unit the owner needs to have knowledge of the various specifications of subwoofers and also the car audio system already installed so that the subwoofer unit can match the rest of the audio speakers, crossovers, and amplifiers. Passive subwoofers are the best since the owner can get the best power out of them if they pair them to the right audio systems.
These are car subwoofer units with a built-in amp where the power supplier or amplifier is enclosed into the unit’s cabinet. They are also referred to as powered subwoofers. The car Subwoofer unit contains a speaker unit and an amplifier configuration. The manufacturer has matched the two to meet optimum bass audio reproduction.
These units normally favor drivers who are less experienced in-car audio systems installation therefore, they want a ready-to-use subwoofer. These units require fewer connections and technical know-how on their installation. The car owner just needs to connect the unit to the power source from the car battery, which is a single cable connection. Having an inbuilt amplifier removes the excess load of the main amplifier where it gets only tasked with the function of supplying power to the mid-range and high-range speakers.
Which is the best choice between active and passive subwoofers?
Most car subwoofers buyers will fall between the two crossroads of which is the best option worth considering. Powered subwoofers are preferred when it comes to cost-effectiveness. Powered units do not require an external amplifier or receiver. External amplifiers are costly to purchase and install hence most car owners would prefer a fully manufactured and assembled unit straight from the box.
Passive subwoofers can reproduce low bass frequencies if they are paired to a powerful amplifier unit. The amplifier unit can separate low, mid, and high frequencies where the crossovers play this part. Passive subwoofers have internal crossovers, which only allow low sound frequencies into the subwoofer while the mid and high frequencies are diverted back to other speaker units in the setup such as mid-range speakers and tweeters.
This can eliminate the need for an external amplifier where the receiver’s amplifier can handle to power the unit. Although this might cause a strain to the receiver due to the demand for low frequencies, it is a workable option.
The term component in car subwoofer refers to the subwoofer speaker itself without the cabinet enclosure. The car owner needs to purchase the car subwoofer kit to be used in the installation of the subwoofer. Component subwoofers can be installed into any type of cabinet enclosure depending on the owner’s preference. These types of subwoofers are best for car owners who would like to build a custom car audio system from scratch to meet their personalized demands.
Once the buyer purchases this unit, they can either use the car head unit to power it up though it will strain it due to the low-frequency demand hence it is advisable to source an external car subwoofer amplifier for the best bass audio experience. A buyer when going for this option should budget for both a car subwoofer and amp. Power ratings for these subwoofers can be high or low depending on the manufacturer and the size of the unit. When a buyer chooses this component subwoofer option, they should consider sourcing a high-quality enclosure box in order to avoid compromising on the bass quality.
Enclosed Car Subwoofer units
These are typically component speakers, which are installed into a cabinet enclosure straight from the assembly line. Enclosed car subwoofers are good for car owners who do not feel like sourcing individual subwoofer components or they have less knowledge on how to build a full subwoofer unit from scratch. Enclosure unit manufacturers ensure optimum quality is achieved but that is to a general view. Manufacturers consider a wide range of listeners, unlike an individual who visits an enclosure builder and gets the right cabinet built that suits their needs and car specifications.
Enclosure subwoofers also require the car owner to purchase a car subwoofer amplifier, which will be used to power the subwoofer unit. Enclosure subwoofers have limitations when it comes to space allocation. The buyer must know the right dimensions of the car and the unit itself before sourcing it. Many online shops and sites have car subwoofers for sale. Discounts are available depending on the season and market supply and demand. The main limitation of enclosed subwoofers is that they cannot match the power output of component car subwoofers.
Variations of Types of Car Subwoofer units
Passive radiator subwoofer
Passive radiator design car subwoofers have a similar built concept as compared to a ported subwoofer. The difference is that the port is replaced with two radiators that are not wired to the amp. While the subwoofer is in operation, the two radiators move in accordance with the sound waves produced. The movement allows amplification of the bass sound waves much better than a port with much greater sound frequencies.
This makes a much smaller subwoofer unit have a greater low-frequency range hence well suited to car owners who want a wide range of low sound frequencies. Car subwoofer Bluetooth speakers are the most popular speaker units with this type of design. Car audio systems can generate an awesome bass reproduction while saving on space normally occupied by cabinet enclosures. Small subwoofer units also get a huge boost of bass quality.
Passive radiator subwoofers are the best choice for confined and small spaces where ported subwoofers would be limited.
For car subwoofers owners who prefer to hear loud and booming bass sounds, this is the best subwoofer unit of choice. They have more punch and reverberation as compared to sealed-type boxes. Ported subwoofers do not require any additional sound equalizer or digital processor. Ported subwoofers allow for more cone movement as compared to sealed-type units. The key factor of consideration is the cabinet enclosure size, the size of the port, and its location.
The escaping air from the port also carries with it bass frequencies hence commonly referred to as, “bass reflex”. The main purpose of the port vent is to redirect sound from the back of the cone and adding it to the sound coming from the front which significantly enriches the bass quality of the subwoofer. This makes it easier to use an ordinary external amplifier to power the car subwoofer unit. Another advantage of venting the subwoofer is that the unit does not heat up where it is cooled effectively by the escaping heat. This adds to their longevity as compared to sealed-type subwoofer units.
Sealed enclosure subwoofers
A sealed car subwoofer is a unit that does not have a port or a passive radiator to allow air escape from the cabinet enclosure. They appear in compact sizes hence they are smaller physically as compared to ported subwoofers. Car owners prefer them due to their size hence they can fit into any car space available. A car owner can prefer them if space is an issue of consideration.
These units have air trapped in them, which acts as a shock absorber against the cone of the subwoofer. This makes the subwoofer cone restricted in terms of motion where it cannot over-exert itself in terms of cone motion. All bass frequency notes get produced evenly which results in accurate and tight bass. This subwoofer unit suffers from the efficiency of sound reproduction. This loss needs to be compensated with a highly powered amplifier unit, which does not come at a cheap price.
Front and down-firing subwoofers
Car subwoofer units have drivers on the front of their cabinets and emit the sound directly towards the listener. Many subwoofers follow this principle where they push the sound into the room. However, unlike stereo speakers, this sound does not actually have to be directed at the listener. This is because the source of very low-frequency sounds is difficult for our ears to localize. The upshot of this is that subwoofers can be placed nearly anywhere for a similar effect in a car but the limitation is space. Most car owners install them at the rear of the car.
This opens up the possibilities in terms of subwoofer design since there is no need for the subwoofer’s large woofer to directly face the listener, it does not have to be positioned as a normal speaker on a cabinet’s front. Therefore, we have down-firing subwoofers which can be placed at the bottom of the unit. There are even some advantages to a down-firing design. The car’s floor can be used as a resonating surface for a more intense bass sound. A down-firing subwoofer achieves that effect very well. Another advantage is that standing waves are less likely to form.
For mobile DJs who use their vehicles as studios for outdoor events and entertainment, this might be the best type of subwoofer choice. These horn-loaded car subwoofers are suitable for large events where the car is used as a music source such as at beach parties. They produce high, clear, and quality bass. This is achieved by directing and focusing sound that would otherwise leak and spread out to various directions to the longhorn speaker. This produces louder bass than other types of subwoofers.
These are complexly built car subwoofers that are engineered for the best audio quality. This allows natural and clean audio quality out of the speakers within given sound frequencies. These types of subwoofers allow the user to get the best bass levels reproduction out of them with great precision. They have two separate chambers where usually will have one port to facilitate in releasing radiations from the front cone. This design is popular for professional bass sound reproduction hence suitable for car audio enthusiasts and professionals in the music industry who have a much deeper taste when it comes to music quality.
Sizes of Car Subwoofer units
Car subwoofers are measured in inches and the size of the diameter is used to identify the size of the subwoofer and hence categorize them. There are several sizes of car subwoofers that range from 8 inches to 15 inches.
These are the most common sizes of car subwoofers and can be found in stock car audio systems. They produce good bass quality and therefore it is the most regarded size of the subwoofer by car audio manufacturers. The cone of the subwoofer is movable hence the capacity to produce accurate, deep, and enhanced bass. They are also easy to install in virtually any car space since they are compact in design.
They are cheap to purchase and install in car interiors. Aftermarket upgrades are easy to install and easily available in the car subwoofer audio market. These 8-inch car subwoofers can be installed in the previous locations of the factory systems or under seats and hence act as under-seat car subwoofers. This is a good subwoofer choice for those who are not looking for more bass in their car audio systems. This subwoofer is a good choice for fast-paced music such as classic rock.
This is a subwoofer choice if you want a much deeper and accurate bass in your car audio system without overwhelming the music bass. These subwoofers are preferred because they are much louder than the 8-inch subwoofer units are. They offer extra power without compromising on car interior space. They are easy to install and source from various car audio shops either online or at physical shops.
These subwoofers are a good choice for those who listen to rock, country, and metal music. It has the capacity of drawing in much air that is required to keep a perfect quick response to the heavy drums used in the above-stated music. They do suffer from low bass frequencies reproduction unlike the 12-inch car subwoofers but their bass is crisp and clear enough.
This is an average car subwoofer 12-inch in diameter. It is the most versatile car subwoofer available in the market where it can be used in all types of music genres without any compromises. This is one of the most common aftermarket subwoofers for car audio enthusiasts out there. It is good for car audiophiles with a great appetite for punchy bass music. This subwoofer sounds great even to the outside of a car.
These big subwoofers are sometimes unresponsive to most music varieties hence best suited for slow-paced music such as hip-hop, RnB, and rap. They also require enough power to get the best out of them. The car owner needs to pair them up with a high power output amplifier or a receiver for best performance. They are therefore suitable for punchy and boom bass production where they can achieve low-frequency notes without the use of much power.
These are the biggest car subwoofers available in the market today. They have a large cone area that produces low-frequency bass notes without any problem. These subwoofers are monstrous in size hence heavier and occupy large spaces of the car interior hence most suited for big cars such as vans and SUVs. These types of car subwoofers need the car owner to do an upgrade of their whole car audio systems since the bass produced is quite high where music might seem to be bass intense.
The large cone can displace a large amount of air, which is best suited for hip-hop and rap music enthusiasts. The bass produced is heavily synthesized although it lacks the tight responsiveness required in some other music genres. The cone size and weight make the magnet have difficulties in slowing down so sound quality is compromised but the bass is of superb quality.
Other factors to consider in car subwoofers
Most car owners prefer the choice of purchasing car subwoofers with DVC (Dual Voice Coils) subwoofers to single voice coils. DVC subwoofers support flexibility when it comes to wiring compared to SVC (Single Voice Coils). Many high-end, 15-inch subwoofers come with dual voice coils. Dual voice coil subwoofers have two separate cones each with its own connections mounted on one cylinder mounted to a cone. The DVC can be wired either in parallel, series, or independent.
The power of a subwoofer is measured in wattage where the more RMS output numbers, the more powerful the subwoofer. Peak power rating (PMPO) is also important to consider alongside the RMS rating.
Car subwoofers have a 4-ohm impedance. However, 2-ohm, 8-ohm, and dual voice coil subwoofers have become popular. A good subwoofer choice when considering buying one, the car buyer should get one that matches up to the amplifier in terms of impedance and power rating. If the amplifier is too powerful, this will lead to burning out of the speakers and subwoofer but if it is the opposite happens where the amplifier will keep on shutting down so as to protect itself from burning out too. It is a potential fire hazard not to consider impedance in speakers and subwoofer choice.
Car subwoofers in general need to have a low-frequency range in order to produce accurate bass. Car buyers need to inquire or check the box specifications in order to know the frequency range of the subwoofer.
Car subwoofers with high sensitivity require less power to get the bass out of them as compared to low-sensitivity subwoofers. Although highly sensitive subwoofers have sound distortion as compared to low sensitivity subwoofers which produce deep bass but might skip some fast-paced music bass frequencies.