Top Reasons to Splurge on Your Subwoofer
The Benefits of Adding a Quality Subwoofer to Your Car Audio System
Subwoofers add bass and clarity to your stereo’s sound. And they can also add to a system’s performance in a variety of ways.
A quality subwoofer will add depth and realism to your music that you would otherwise miss out on with a factory car stereo system.
When installed properly and paired with a good amp and head unit, a quality subwoofer will bring your music-listening experience to a whole new level. Here’s how.
Why Subwoofers Are Used
Bass is the most difficult range of the frequency spectrum for a speaker to reproduce. Speakers move air to reproduce sound. And a lot of air must be moved to reproduce the powerful and extended bass sounds in music.
Speakers that are powerful enough to move this large amount of air for bass frequencies are usually larger and more expensive to manufacture. So, to save on costs and space, many speakers that come with car stereo systems are too small and are not equipped to handle bass effectively.
Instead, the speakers limit the depth and realism of the music and create distortion when trying to reproduce the bass frequency, especially at higher volumes.
This is where subwoofers come in.
What is a Subwoofer?
A subwoofer is an often large speaker specifically designed only to reproduce the low-frequency range of bass sounds. To have an optimal low bass response, most car stereo systems require a professionally-installed quality subwoofer system paired with a high-power amplifier and head unit.
When choosing car subs, you’ll need to consider:
The Subwoofer Size
Large subs can go loud and low—the bigger the sub, the better the bass. But you’ll also have to keep space in mind. Take measurements of your vehicle before shopping so you can find a sub that will fit in your car—such as in your trunk or under a seat.
The Type of Enclosure
Subwoofer enclosures are boxes that contain the subwoofer. A sealed enclosure will create deeper bass than an open enclosure, even if the sub is small. Sealed enclosures are recommended for music genres focused on all frequencies.
Ported enclosures produce a more powerful (louder) bass line and are recommended for music focused on bass, like rap, trap, house, and dubstep.
The RMS power level refers to the power handling of a subwoofer, with higher RMS values meaning more bass.
To match a sub to an amp and head unit, you must consider the RMS power rating. At the very least, the head unit and amp’s power should match the sub’s power handling. And preferably, the RMS of the amp and the head unit will exceed the RMS of the sub.
The sensitivity of a subwoofer is how much power the sub needs to produce a given volume. And this sensitivity is expressed as a sound pressure level (SPL) number. Subs with high SPL ratings are more sensitive, so they don’t require as much power to produce high volumes compared to subs with low SPL ratings.
If you have an underpowered amp or head unit, you’ll want a sub with high sensitivity.
You’ll also need to match the impedance on your amp and sub. The impedance refers to the electrical resistance of the sub and is represented in ohms.
Subwoofer Advantages and Benefits
When matched with a good amp and head unit, a quality subwoofer will provide the following benefits for your car audio system:
Better Bass Response
Subwoofers expand the bass response to reveal sounds in your music that your speakers alone cannot reproduce. The majority of car stereo speakers start dropping off at around 50Hz. But a quality subwoofer will reproduce low frequencies down to 20Hz or lower.
The result is the full depth and clarity of bass, so you’ll never miss the lowest notes and you’ll get to enjoy a more immersive experience with your music in your car stereo system
Greater Clarity in All Sound
Quality subwoofers have the speed and transient response to reproduce bass clearly, so even the fastest bass lines are clear and precise.
Lower-quality subwoofers may not be able to handle the rapid starts and stops in vocals and instrumentals that are found in many genres of music. And, as a result, these lesser subs will have unclear acoustic sound.
Reduction in Distortion
Subwoofers lower distortion by reducing the acoustic demands on your other speakers. When a full-range speaker reproduces low-frequency bass, the large cone and diaphragm in the speaker can create distortion.
And when you play music at high volumes, the woofers in your speakers may not be able to keep up with the tweeters and mid drivers. But quality subwoofers allow you to play your music loud without distortion, even if your music is demanding and filled with bass.
Takes Load off of Smaller Speakers
Subwoofers relieve smaller speakers from having to reproduce extremely low frequencies. As a result, smaller speakers can reproduce sound in a more comfortable frequency range.
Subwoofers essentially lighten the load for full-range speakers, improving their overall performance so they can reproduce quality sound without distortion.
Full Spectrum Response
A quality subwoofer will sound like an extension of your full-spectrum speakers without overpowering them. Quality sound systems with subwoofers help speakers perform at their best across the frequency spectrum, so even high and mid frequencies will have optimal clarity.
With a car subwoofer, low-frequency amplifier, proper bass management, and a connected AV receiver or amplifier to drive smaller speakers in the mid and high frequencies above the crossover point, your car stereo speakers can perform at their full potential with all types of music.
On their own, your car’s factory speakers are not equipped to handle the bass and range of many genres of music. So without a quality subwoofer, you’re missing out on the notes and experiences that musicians intended for you to hear with their music.
Subwoofers can enhance your music-listening experience, adding depth and clarity that you would not be able to hear with your speakers alone.