What to Look for in a Reliable Car Subwoofer

subwooferImagine driving on a long highway or in bumper-to-bumper traffic without good music to listen to. It will probably drive you crazy.

Whether you like listening to Vivaldi’s ‘Summer Movement 3: Presto’ or Dr. Dre’s ‘Let Me Ride’, the music will be lifeless if you can’t appreciate the thumping bass lines. Low-frequency sounds or bass is best heard with a quality car subwoofer.

And while factory-installed speakers already have subwoofers, these are usually small and inadequate. To have a complete audio experience, you need to add a superior subwoofer to your existing car audio setup.

Here are some tips on how to shop for a quality subwoofer for your listening pleasure.

The Delicate Balance Between Convenience and Customization

Adding a subwoofer to your car is like building a desktop computer. You can choose the components yourself or you can buy a prebuilt one.

It is a lot simpler than a PC rig because there are only three major pieces: the subwoofer itself, the enclosure or speaker box, and the amplifier. These come in different packages and your choice will depend on the degree of customization you prefer.

If you’re a do-it-yourself guy or gal, you probably dig being able to select the individual parts yourself. Component subwoofers are speaker only and you have to buy the enclosure and amplifier separately. This will give you the highest degree of customization but is also the most challenging to put together.

Enclosed subwoofers are for the middle of the pack types. These subwoofers come pre-mounted in a speaker box. You still have to choose an external amplifier for this setup.

For some, the simplest is the most elegant. Powered subs are already a complete package of a speaker, enclosure, and amplifier. These are compact and easy to install. Powered subwoofers are effective bass speakers but may not be as powerful as a more customized rig.

If you want a car subwoofer that blends in perfectly with your car’s interior, vehicle-specific subwoofers are a perfect choice. These can fit in out-of-the-way spaces like the car door. Like powered subwoofers, these type of speakers can’t produce a really big bass sound.

The Technical Stuff

A review of the different specs to look for in a quality speaker will come in handy if you are looking to buy your car a subwoofer.

  • RMS (root mean square) ratings apply to both the amplifier and the speaker. For amplifiers, it is a measure of the continuous power it can produce. For subwoofers, it is a measure of how much of that power the speaker can handle. It is important that both ratings match.
  • SPL (sound pressure level) is the unit for sensitivity, which refers to the amount of power you need to supply to a speaker to produce a given volume. A high SPL rating means that the subwoofer is more efficient.
  • If you want to appreciate really low-frequency sounds, look for subwoofers with a high-frequency range.
  • Impedance, like RMS ratings, is another spec that you need both values of your amplifier and speaker to match. This ranges from 2 to 8 ohms.

Audiophile or Not, a Car Subwoofer Is Essential to Enjoy Good Music While Driving

It’s all about the bass. A quality subwoofer brings realism and depth to your overall listening experience.

Do you have the perfect car stereo setup? Describe yours in the comments below. You can also check out our other shopping guides.

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