Subwoofer enclosures are an essential part of any music lover's car sound system because they are affordable and easy-to-install accessories that instantly add bass to your system. But choosing a set is trickier than you think, in fact, there are literally hundreds of 'low-frequency reinforcement' subwoofer enclosures to choose from.
A tightly constructed, strong enclosure protects your subwoofers and provides optimum performance by greatly enhancing the sound quality. Full bass fails to deliver in the absence of a proper enclosure and sound from the speaker’s back can weigh out low frequencies emerging from the front.
Generally speaking, unless you are purchasing a readymade enclosed subwoofer, you will need to pair your subwoofer with an appropriate enclosure. You can also purchase the enclosure separately if you already have subs, but just make sure it is compatible. All you need to know is how to choose from five different types: tube, free-air, ported, sealed and bandpass.
Types of Subwoofer Enclosures
Sealed Box Subwoofers
These are airtight and suitable for any music that needs tight and accurate bass. There will be a flat response, deep bass extension, and superior power handling. They provide a precise, clean sound and can fit in most places. Sealed enclosures require extra power, so an amplifier with plentiful wattage will generate optimal performance. Sealed enclosures deliver highly accurate, 'hard-hitting' bass. So, if you do not like a 'boom' sound quality, this type of subwoofer enclosure is perfect for you. It produces a crisp and clean sound for any type of music.
Ported Box Subwoofers
These enclosures utilize a vent to bolster low bass feedback. More output is generated than from a sealed box at any amplifier wattage. Ported boxes are preferred for the sound of heavy metal, rock or any other type of hard driving music. Less power is needed and boom is created, yet it is hard to tune. A subsonic filter on the amp will generate cleaner tones. A deeper bass is delivered over sealed boxes but they are required to be much bigger in order to accomplish this sound.
Bandpass Box Subwoofers
These enclosures deliver 'thick' bass and provide the maximum amount of slam in subwoofers, perfect if you want to listen to loud music. They are an exclusive kind of ported box where the woofer is scaled inwards a double-chambered box. One chamber is ported and the other is sealed. Sound waves emerge from the ported side. Sound that comes from the port is much louder with a limited frequency range.
These boxes work really well with certain types of beat, such as hip-hop, rap, hard rock and reggae. But, if you tend to listen to different music genres, perhaps something a bit more generic is best like the ported subwoofer enclosure. Experts agree this type is the most versatile, making any kind of music sound good. Ported subwoofer covers also amplify sound, and so work best if you have limited power but want to play loud music. Not all subwoofers work best in bandpass boxes. Specifications for both the subwoofer and the bandpass box need to be compared.
These types are the 'basic' choice, the one you should get if you can't decide from among the three previously mentioned. Tube subwoofer covers are compact and complement any type of music beautifully.
These subwoofer systems consist of subwoofers lifted to a board connected with the rearward deck. They can also be installed against the rear seat in the trunk. The trunk acts as an enclosure to house the isolate and subwoofer sound coming from the speaker’s back, solving sound cancellation problems in subwoofers without an enclosure that takes up extra room.
Free-air systems occupy less space in the car and have a flat frequency feedback. However, the subwoofer must be particularly devised for free-air use. Absence of the box makes them easier to install. Power handling levels are lower than boxed counterparts.
Other things to consider when choosing the right subwoofer enclosure
A good bass sound makes or breaks the stereo experience. Audio will have depth and realism when a subwoofer and proper enclosure are installed. The factory installed subwoofers are usually too small to optimally handle low frequency sounds. Subwoofers come in a variety of sizes, from eight inches to fifteen inches.
Component subwoofers come as speakers only. An enclosure and amplifier must be chosen separately. Some of the above enclosures work well with any subwoofer, but some enclosures also need to be custom-made. Component subwoofers are perfect for drivers who want to build a highly customizes stereo system for their car.
Powered subwoofers include the speaker and the amp in one compact enclosure. These are ideal for installing in small spaces. Vehicle specific subwoofers are designed to fit in spaces that are out of the way in order to save space. A good example is a subwoofer located in the door. It is perfect for a discreet install. Neither powered nor specific subwoofers have a big bass sound.
People can construct their own boxes. However, a solid understanding of enclosure volumes and technical sound engineering is needed. Most people who are upgrading their car audio system are better off getting a pre-made subwoofer enclosure.