Subwoofers--though usually considered an extra feature--are an essential part of a car's audio system. The presence of a subwoofer not only improves the overall sound, but also allows listeners to hear low sound frequencies that are otherwise absent. This adds a whole new dimension to the musical quality and to the talent of the artists.
Features to Consider
- The basket is the metal frame that holds all the components of a subwoofer together. Its firmness and resistance to resonance help determine the subwoofer's sound quality.
- The box volume allows the purchaser to know what size car gets the best output from a specific subwoofer; this way, you can be able to purchase the right subwoofer for your space.
- The higher the damping factor, the more accurate the system. It measures the control of amplifier over subwoofer.
- When subwoofers have dual voice coils, it means they get maximum amplifier output--basic speakers usually have one voice coil.
- The frequency range is the range of sounds from lowest to highest that the subwoofer is capable of reproducing.
- The polarity (i.e. the way the speakers are connected) must be in sync to achieve the correct sound--this means connecting the '+' to the '-' and the '+' to the '-' poles, or the '+' to the '+' and the '-' to the '-' poles. The general consensus is that the two wires must be set up in the same way--whichever pattern you chose for the first must be used for the second.
- The amount of power that a subwoofer can handle during a musical climax is called the peak power.
SQ and SPL
Good sound quality (SQ) subwoofers provide a very controlled one dimensional response that have vastly fewer bass vibrations. An SQ System generally uses a smaller woofer and requires a sealed enclosure to work best. A sound pressure (SPL) system provides a tangible bass effect that works best with a ported enclosure--it is the one that most people think about when they hear subwoofer: the one that made subwoofers a popular mainstream stereo component.
- Important Installation Note: In a car, the sound quality is about 80% dependent on installation and 20% on the actual subwoofer. This is why it’s so important to spend the time and money on how it’s put together. Make sure you calculate the correct volume for your enclosure and use good quality materials like MDF or fibreglass.
- Important Safety Note: Mounting your subwoofer enclosure is extremely important even though--unfortunately--many people do not do it. Having an unbolted enclosure lying about can do some really unnecessary damage in an accident, so be sure to screw those bolts in tightly.