When improving your car stereo system, you’ll want to choose an enclosure to maximize the woofers performance. There are three main subwoofer enclosure types: Sealed, Ported/Vented and Bandpass. Each has advantages and disadvantages in efficiency, size, distortion, cost, and power handling. Sonic Electronix carries a wide variety of enclosures but specifically I am going to tell you a little bit about sealed enclosures.
While sealed enclosures are usually smaller than other types of sub boxes, they don’t allow any air to escape from the box. Woofers installed in sealed enclosures increase the power requirements and make it more difficult for the sub to bottom out. When the subs movement is restricted, it provides tighter bass and better sound accuracy, giving you less boom and more punch.
Just a couple cons about the sealed enclosure is the decrease in efficiency (loudness) and sound reproduction due to the airwaves being unable to escape as it would in ported or bandpass enclosures. Also, the tightly sealed design doesn’t allow the motor structure to cool down as quickly, causing possible damage to your subwoofer more quickly.
Keep in mind, if the enclosure you have is smaller than the recommended size, the sound will be tighter but more amplifier power will be required to push it. If the sub box is too large, the sound will be distorted and sound horrible.
When choosing the correct subwoofer enclosure you’ll want think about what design and size you want. The design you desire whether it be sealed, ported or a bandpass, should be based on your music styles choices. For more information and tips on choosing the correct subwoofer, see our Knowledge Base articles on Subwoofer Box Types, Car Specific Subwoofer Enclosures and Selecting a Subwoofer Enclosures.
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It’s a shame and almost heart breaking when your brand new subwoofer isn’t performing the way it should be. Many of us are quick to say that the subwoofer is defective or that we just got tricked into purchasing an inferior product. While this might be true sometimes it is not true all of the time. Often times our bad sounding subwoofer is due to other factors that many of us don’t even realize. Below we will tackle three of the most common oversights in subwoofer installation. By attending to these oversights you will be able to increase the overall power, sound quality, and tuning of your subwoofer. It’s important to remember that other factors could be the cause of your problems, such has kinks in your wiring, incorrect gauge, loose connections and even faulty RCA input connections.
The Right Enclosure
Enclosures are the number one reason most subwoofers sound horrible. Every subwoofer has a specific range of minimum and maximum volume of air space needed in a sealed or loaded enclosure for the subwoofer to perform at its best. Selecting between Sealed and ported makes a world of difference in the final outcome of the performance of your subwoofer. Sealed enclosures produce a higher transient response and provide good low frequency control and extension due to the limited amount of space. While ported enclosures are able to convert electrical energy into acoustic output, making them more efficient. Loaded enclosures also provide lower distortion at higher power levels around port tuning. Some subwoofers are specifically designed for either a sealed or ported enclosure. For example the Kicker S12C4 Solo Classic is specifically designed for a sealed enclosure and would not perform well in a loaded enclosure. So check your manual and make sure that the correct enclosure has been selected for your subwoofer.
Power is everything when dealing with a subwoofer. If you do not supply the subwoofer with the correct amount of power then it will not perform at its optimum level. Class D Amplifiers are always preferred because they will produce the cleanest signal and reduce most interference that causes distortion. More importantly is the power output; most subwoofers will function safely with 70% of the required power rating, but if you want to get the best performance out of your sub you want to be able to provide as much as the recommended power as possible. So if your sub is asking for 600W RMS then why not give it 600W RMS. Having the correct amplifier also reduces the amount of work the amplifier has to do. If your sub requires 500W RMS and your amplifier only pushes 350, not only is the subwoofer underperforming but now you are causing more stress on the amp and having it work at full capacity all the time. This usually causes amps to overheat at a much faster rate and with more heat comes more distortion. So the first step is to match the power rating on your amplifier to the required power on your sub, it’s important to not over do it as well since that can potentially cause the subwoofer to blow. With the correct amount of power your subwoofer can now perform at its optimum level and give you that loud bass you have been waiting for.
Most amplifiers have crossover filters that are meant to help you fine tune your subwoofer to the correct frequencies. The most common crossovers are Low-pass, High-pass and Subsonic. The high-pass crossover filter is generally used with devices that reach higher frequencies and thus is not commonly used with subwoofers. Your low-pass filter should be set between 70-80Hz. Subwoofers are really not built to take in high frequencies like speakers do, so by setting the low-pass crossover at the right setting you make sure that the subwoofer only hits the desired frequencies. The subsonic filter is generally used when dealing with a ported enclosure. This should be set around 25Hz, what the filter does is protect the subwoofer from hitting too low a frequency which could potentially cause damage to your subwoofer. Having the frequencies set right can make all the difference in the sound reproduction of your subwoofer.
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