No car audio system is complete without a subwoofer to fulfill your bass needs. Subwoofers produce low frequency sounds ranging from 20-200 hz. This will compensate for the absent bass notes in your speaker set. The result is a full listening experience that emulates the original recording quality straight from the studio. However, subwoofers are just air pumps at the most basic level, tasked with the job of moving air to produce low frequency sound. To achieve this, subs use subwoofer drivers, cones that use magnets to compress air within the box which result in a pulsating motion. The downside of subwoofers and their drivers is that these components are absolutely non-electric by default. As such, they require an adequate source of power in the form of an amplifier to enable the flow of air producing sound.
The real challenge however comes in matching your subwoofer with an appropriate amplifier. It’s a well known fact that not every amp is capable of powering each and every sub. This is because subwoofers vary greatly in dimensions as well as capability. Each type of sub will need a specific amplifier with a power output that matches the power requirements of the subwoofer. This is the sole reason why matching amplifiers and subwoofers can be perplexing. You can’t pick any old amp off the shelf and expect it to be a match made in heaven. Getting the ideal mate for your subwoofer entails more complexity than that. Fortunately, we have broken down everything you need to know about how to match subwoofers and amplifiers. Here are three key attributes to consider:
This could very well be the most important factor to consider when matching an amplifier to a subwoofer. Impedance is the measure of precise electrical resistance. In simple terms, matching impedance with an amplifier is a lot like fitting your sink faucet with a water pipe. Get it even a bit wrong and the water may leak or lose pressure. As far as subs and amps, getting the impedance wrong will result in overheating and horrible audio production. The most common subs in car audio are Dual 2 or Dual 4. If you get two Dual 4 subs you’ll want a 1 ohm stable amp. If you get two Dual 2 subs then you’ll want a 2 ohm stable amp. Ensuring you pair amplifier impedance with the right subwoofer coil configuration should see you get the most sound out of your subwoofer.
Since you are already in the market for an amplifier, it’s worth noting that single-channel or mono amplifiers are typically the best. This is because they process single audio signals that use one wired channel to the woofer to generate a powerful, dominant bass. Some people choose to wire a couple of great subwoofers to a mono channel. However, each sub will receive the same single frequency. It is also worth mentioning that low frequency sounds tend to avoid the creation of impact stereophonically, like their higher frequency counterparts. Therefore, all you require to get the job done is one channel.
Generally, subwoofers incorporate two power handling specs. Also referred to as continuous power handling, peak watts or peak power, and RMS simply stands for the Root Mean Square wattage. The RMS wattage of your Subwoofer represents the amount or level of power that it can handle on a regular basis. The peak wattage specifically states the maximum power levels that the subwoofer can take for a brief period but will result in the unit being damaged. And we must advise you that peak is not the appropriate watts to base your decision off of. Your sub will never last and you will be replacing this product frequently; adhering to RMS will ensure a long product life. If you are looking to match an amplifier with a subwoofer and want the best sound quality, make sure you match the RMS wattage on both. Currently, many of the amplifiers in the market mention a range of RMS watts that specifies the maximum and minimum power range. Once you know the range your intended amp can produce, you’ll need to make sure that the amp is able to conduct 75 to 150 percent of the subs RMS rating.
Always ensure that you combine an amplifier and a subwoofer to get the most out of your car’s audio system. However, matching all the above elements will guarantee superb sound with unmatched quality on all spectrums. If you are new to this, you can buy complete subwoofer and amplifier sets already pre-matched. However, more experienced music enthusiasts prefer to choose their own components to get a customized and personalized sound. Overall the process sounds a lot more difficult than it is. Both the sub and the amp will give you the impedance, channels and RMS wattage on the box; all you have to do is appropriately pair the two!