A wise man named Will. I. Am once said “boom boom boom, gotta get-get boom boom boom” about 18 times in a row. Prima facie it seems he and his jolly group called Black Eyed Peas were stating their inherent love for the low frequencies in human audible spectrum lovingly known as bass. Bass is the only section of the audio frequency curve that has its own fanclub, its own cult of sorts. Most of these bassheads have few similar traits, one of them being pounding speakers in their car. Why? so they can really enjoy the music. Music in the car always has to do with great thumping bass, thus today we will touch upon the basics of understanding how great bass is achieved in a car audio set up.
The car audio system is not too different from regular audio ones in that we have a source player, which connects to an amplifier, which in turn powers speakers. The similarity ends here though, as the shape and positioning of the speakers, the acoustics etc are all different. Except for very high end cars, stock systems available ex showroom are pretty ordinary, so is their sound. Thus we need to invest in subwoofer(s).
The first point to touch upon is the fact that there are 2 main camps in the cult: one that cares about sound quality, and the other that cares about sound level. For the former, it matters more whether the sound is accurate, tight and refined. Whilst for the SPL lovers, they only care about banging loud bass levels. Both states of bass reproduction are achievable by taking slightly different routes, and answering some basic questions as follows.
How many subwoofers?
The first point is : how many do you need? This is easy to answer. Basically you need to see how much you’re planning to spend, as more subwoofers will obviously multiply cost. One thing also to consider is your favorite kind of music, generally country music, classical and oldies etc do not require so much bass juice as the music itself does not produce so much bass. But if modern pop, Hip Hop, House etc is your poison, then consider getting two units, it will make a HUGE difference.
What exact size of subwoofer?
This is a very important point in selection, as the larger the size of the driver, the deeper the bass (theoretically). Thus techno lovers might want to get a nice huge woofer. We have 8-inch, 12-inch and also huge 15-inch woofers, but then the question is the size of your car. Where to place the subs is the next question we will dive into, but be sure that once you go for a 15-inch sub, you need to either have a huge boot, or carve out your existing one.
What type of enclosure?
The subwoofer driver has to sit in a resonant chamber to achieve its full thump, thus the enclosure of the sub is very vital. Some all in one subwoofer models( we will describe these next) come pre-fitted with tubes to allow for extended bass power, while some will need you to get enclosure specially made by the garage. Here there are three main types: sealed, vented and bandpass, each of which has a slightly different sound. Methinks “sealed” has the tightest bass sound, while ported enclosures have higher levels.