So, if you are reading this post and following this blog, then you must be a basshead, or you are thinking about becoming one, but you may not know where to start. I’m about to change some of that for you. If you are new to car audio, you may be thinking about adding some bass to your car and need some advice or a little bit of knowledge about the general aspects of car audio system design and building. If you fall into this category, then you are in luck.
In this post, we are going to talk about subwoofer enclosures and which may be the right choice for you and your listening style. In a previous post, I explained the basics of the bandpass enclosure, but since you may be new to the car audio world, let’s keep it simple. Today we are going to talk about the tried and true sealed and ported subwoofer enclosures that everyone knows, and loves by the way.
Now we all know, or don’t know, that the true secret to having your bass sound loud and amazing (and loud), is the enclosure, or subwoofer box. Having the right enclosure for your subwoofer type and size will greatly affect how it will sound and perform and can even prevent you from damaging your precious subwoofers. Choose the wrong type for your listening taste, and your system can end up sounding like, well you know… But, choose wisely, and you’ll be the king of the block.
As we dive into more information about these two subwoofer enclosure types, take a close look at what the differences are and how they may benefit, or hinder, your ultimate listening experience goal. Now that we have all of the boring stuff out of the way, let’s dive in, shall we?
Sealed Subwoofer Enclosure
So, why choose a sealed enclosure? Well, if you are looking for a tight, accurate bass response, a sealed enclosure is for you. A sealed enclosure is perfect for the individual that enjoys listening to a variety of music genres, but more specifically, rock, metal, and country music.
The sealed subwoofer enclosure is the simplest subwoofer enclosure by design. As its name states, it is an enclosure where the chamber that the subwoofer is installed in is sealed. This means that no air can move in or out of this chamber. The air within this chamber does perform a task, though. It functions somewhat like a shock absorber, aiding the subwoofer’s cone movement by helping it return to its resting position.
If trunk space is a concern for you, then the sealed subwoofer enclosure might the right choice. The exact size and volume of the sealed enclosure will be determined by the subwoofer you decide to use. Usually, the subwoofer’s manual will give you the recommended box volume for your specific subwoofer. Keep in mind, these figures can sometimes be cheated if needed. I have a post about how, and why, to do this, here.
A clear negative aspect of sealed enclosures is their efficiency. To be honest, it can be horrible. Your subwoofer will require more power to produce the higher volume bass than any other subwoofer enclosure design. But, even this shouldn’t push you away from the sealed enclosure if you feel it would be the best choice for you.
Ported Subwoofer Enclosure
Want that loud, boomy bass that you see constantly on social media? Then the ported enclosure is for you. Now I’m not saying you’ll be able to do hair tricks right away, but if you want loud, this is it.
The ported enclosure’s design is similar to the sealed enclosure, but they tend to run much larger than their sealed counterparts because there is room inside the enclosure that is needed for the port or ports. What is a port? Well, the port is an opening from which air can escape the internal chamber of the enclosure. The port allows the sound waves from the rear of the subwoofer to exit the enclosure and mix with the sound waves coming from the front of the subwoofer. This is what gives the ported enclosure its loud, boomy bass sound.
The ported enclosure is also more efficient than the sealed enclosure. Because the subwoofer isn’t fighting against the air within the enclosure, less power is needed to produce loud volume bass.
If you are less concerned with the accuracy of the bass response of your system, the ported enclosure will fit the bill. By design, the ported box, as stated previously, is great at producing boomy bass. This means that if you listen to hip-hop, R & B, or something like dubstep, go ported. It’s also good to note that though ported boxes can produce bass no matter the music style, music that has contains kicks that are punchy will sound muddled a bit.
Whether you want accurate, punchy bass, or loud booming bass that rattles the neighbor’s windows, the subwoofer enclosure you choose will make all the difference when listening to your favorite music. Keep in mind, when it comes to adding bass to your car, it’s not always about the subwoofers you use, it’s all in the enclosure you choose.