Audio Express Subwoofer Buying Guide

Subwoofer Buying Guide

Is your car audio system not giving you the bass your music deserves? Maybe it’s time to add a subwoofer or two in order to get the thump you desire! With a professionally installed subwoofer, your stereo will be able to produce sound with quality and depth beyond what your door speakers alone are capable of.

So Many Choices!

There are a variety of subwoofers available these days, and it can be overwhelming to try to figure out what you need for your system. This guide, along with assistance from our car audio professionals at Audio Express, will help you pick the perfect subwoofer for your car and musical tastes. You will want to consider what type of subwoofer you want, and then you’ll need to decide what size, power and other features you want.

Subwoofer types

Audio Express Subwoofer Buying Guide

Component subwoofers are the most popular type of subwoofer for audiophiles because they allow you to build a system to your specifications. Component subwoofers are sold as just the speaker and will require an enclosure and amplifier for power, which can add to the cost. The advantage to this is that you get to choose the enclosure and amplifier that are right for you. Enclosures can be purchased to hold one or more speakers. The right powered amplifier can improve the quality of your subwoofer’s sound.

Loaded subwoofer enclosures, also known as enclosed subwoofers, come pre-installed in an enclosure, saving time and money on installation, and will still require a separate amplifier to power. The advantage to enclosed subwoofers is that they are quick and easy to install; however, if you want to add more subs, they will take up more space in your vehicle. They are most commonly sold in sealed enclosures that produce a crisp, powerful bass, or ported enclosures that give you extra output and volume, and play lower than a typical sealed enclosure. Another major advantage is you know the air space of the box is exactly correct for the best performance from your new woofer.

Amplified subwoofer enclosures, or powered subwoofers, are the all in one of the subwoofer world. Sealed in an enclosure with its own built-in amplifier, they are simple to install, and often smaller than component or enclosed subwoofers, allowing for under-the-seat and other space-saving installation. These also tend to be perfectly matched in power and air space, as it is an all in one solution right form the manufacturer.


Audio Express Subwoofer Buying Guide

Most subs are available in 8-, 10-, 12- and 15-inch diameters. While larger speakers can produce louder and lower sounds, they also usually take up more space. Additionally, smaller speakers with the right power and enclosure can push out tighter, cleaner sound, but will never play as low as the larger speakers.

If you drive a pickup with limited space, you’ll want to go for a subwoofer that makes the most sense, but if you’ve got a nice big trunk, or SUV, that the larger speakers will fit in, then you can enjoy the extra volume of the larger subs. Many of today’s leading manufacturers like JL Audio and Kicker off great solutions for trucks with woofers as large as 12 inches, so you can get the sound you want, no matter what you drive!


Audio Express Subwoofer Buying Guide

To get the best sound you need quality power. So pay attention to RMS power ratings as you shop for your subwoofers. The RMS 500-watt power of the Kicker 43CWR122 sub will play much louder than the RMS 150-watt power of Kicker’s 11HS8 Compact Amp and Sub Enclosure, due to the extra cone space and air movement of a 12” woofer versus 8”, and the additional power pushing the speaker. That’s not to say that the 11HS8 won’t give you the sound you’re looking for; it is a compact powered sub that will fit in many places other won’t, like under a seat, and still produce amazing low frequency sounds.

Great sound in your subwoofer doesn’t only rely on its power rating; it also needs an amplifier that can push the power from the receiver to the speaker. If you want to run a pair of Kicker 43CWR122’s then you’ll want to find an amplifier that can match the RMS power, like the Kicker 43CXA1200.1 Mono Amplifier, which can push 1,200 watts at 2 ohms, matching the impedance and power rating of the subwoofers.

Other Considerations

Audio Express Subwoofer Buying Guide

Other things to consider when shopping for subwoofers are sensitivity, impedance, frequency range and number of voice coils. Sensitivity is just as important as power to the sub. The higher the decibel (dB) frequency, the less power is required to produce sound, meaning it’s a more efficient woofer. Impedance, measured in ohms, affects how much signal can run from your amplifier to your subwoofer. Matching your amplifier and subwoofer in impedance can lead to a massive improvement in sound quality.

Frequency tells you how low of a frequency the sub can play. The lower the minimum hertz (Hz) the lower the sound the sub is capable of producing. The typical subwoofer only has one voice coil; however, dual voice coil (DVC) subs are becoming more popular and more widely available, and DVC subwoofers allow for a variety of wiring options for optimization of sound, and give you more flexibility on amplifier choices.

Audio Express

Audio Express logo

If you have questions about your car or a specific product, Ask Lui online and while you’re there, don’t forget to check out our regular specials. At Audio Express, we want you to drive home happy with the car audio system you want, so if you don’t have the cash and don’t want to wait, we offer special financing.

For more information, stop by one of our convenient Audio Express or Quality Auto Sound locations, where one of our trained car audio professionals will help you pick out the perfect subwoofer set up for your car and schedule an installation with the lowest installation rates available.

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