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Car Audio Subwoofers – The Basics

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Car Audio Subwoofers – The Basics

Typical car audio systems have small speakers with limited ability to reproduce low-frequency sounds. Car audio subwoofers can add more depth to a car audio system by reproducing frequencies below 150 hertz. A subwoofer can add strong and powerful basses to your car audio.

Most car audio subwoofers are installed in the trunk due to space limitations in the cabin of the car. Subwoofers are usually 10 inches or 12 inches in diameter although they can be as big as 34 inches and as small as 4 inches.

Wider subwoofers allow for more efficient air displacement which is critical for low frequencies.

The amplifier for car audio subwoofers can be integrated into the cabinet or installed as a separate unit. The amplifier should have an electronic crossover to filter out high-frequency sounds before the signal is passed to the subwoofer.

Although car audio subwoofers are usually round in shape, recently manufactures have been introducing subwoofers in new shapes. Square subwoofers have been released by Stillwater Designs and other companies have introduced triangular and hexagonal subwoofers. These innovative designs may be easier to install in cars with limited space, but there is no acoustical advantage to nonround shapes.

The type of enclosure for car audio subwoofers influences the kind of sound that is produced.

There are five basic types of subwoofer enclosures -

  • sealed,
  • ported,
  • bandpass,
  • passive radiator and
  • transmission line systems.

For car use, the most practical type of enclosure is the sealed enclosure because it requires the minimum space and matches the audio requirements of a typical car interior.

There are many premade enclosures for car audio subwoofers on the market. Alternatively, you can have one custom-made or build one yourself. When you buy a subwoofer driver, you will usually receive a spec sheet which gives you guidelines for enclosure requirements. Also check out the spec sheets for power requirements and linear response - a flat response will give the truest sound.

Many people are tempted to crank up the sound when they have car audio subwoofers installed. Although it sounds great, take care - prolonged exposure to loud sounds can permanently affect your hearing.

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