Kept in the right condition, subwoofers can compliment a quality sound system for years. However, less than ideal conditions and aging can quickly lead to deterioration of particular components of your sub. Foolishly many consumers prefer to replace their entire units rather than repairing them which is in fact less expensive. For those of you looking to revamp your sub, be ready this is a daunting task first few times around, but it gets easier with practice. To do this, car owners and music lovers must know the inner working of a subwoofer and learn how each individual element contributes to the creation of sound.

The Anatomy of a Subwoofer

Subwoofers deal with low frequency sounds between 20 Hz and 200 Hz. At around 100 Hz, subwoofers crossover and pass off the higher frequency sounds to the connected speaker. Tweeters and mid range speakers handle the rest of the tonal frequencies. Generally, the smaller the speaker, the higher the frequency it produces. This is why subwoofers are larger since their job entails producing a low dominant sound. The anatomy of a subwoofer is generally the same for all units, except a few unusual and fancy add on features that enhance sound. Here’s a comprehensive look at the anatomy of a subwoofer:

The Cone

Otherwise referred to as a diaphragm, the cone is a metal, paper or plastic element that is located at the center of a subwoofer and literally shaped like a cone. Next you have a surround piece that keeps the cone centered. The cone is attached to another part called the spider, which the coil and the cone surround. The most important function of the spider is that it provides the cone with a restoring force enabling it to accurately return to its point of rest. Vibrating sound waves are created as air flows in unison in relation with the magnet and coil.

Marked anatomy of a sub

Voice Coil

The voice coil in your subwoofer is made of a hollow metal or most often aluminum collar. This aluminum coil has a flattened copper wire wound around it and joined to the cone and the spider. This coil is powered by two separate wires that turn it into an electromagnet current. The coil can then be alternated between negative and positive poles by alternating currents through the copper wire.
Subwoofer Voice Coils


Attached to the bottom of the basket, the magnet is a round fixed component that either attracts or resists the coil. Depending on where these electromagnetic poles around the coil are, the magnet can be repelled away or brought closer. The strength of a magnet is dependent on its make-up. Neodymium magnets are stronger than the standard ceramic magnets.

Speaker Wire

This wire connects to the voice coil in two different places. The wire provides a reliable means of getting alternative current to the coil. The wires are very crucial so attention to detail is necessary, any mistake and your sound can be greatly hindered.


The spider is a round, flexible disk that is typically made of fabric that is corrugated. The fabric is treated with a resin to stiffen it and is then attached to the coil and the bottom of the cone. The spider acts as a shock absorber and a damper that controls the movement of the cone and keeps the voice coil centered as it vibrates.

Subwoofer Spider

Cone Edge

Popularly referred to as the cone surround, the cone edge consists of rubber, polyester, or foam material. It is then attached to the top of the cone and the top edge of the basket. A cone edge is intended to let the cone move about while holding it firmly within the frame. The frame is usually made of sheet metal or aluminum, holding everything in place. Higher quality subs typically use cast aluminum to ensure durability.


To top it off, the subwoofer requires an enclosure that not only keeps the sub safe, but also adds an extra level of boom to the audio. The speakers alone are very prone to damage if not put in some sort of enclosure. Additionally, you will notice that the acoustics and overall sound is enhanced by using a high quality enclosure.


After countless hours and dollars spent, you finally have your car audio system set up. Over the years your love for the system grows and you are content with the sound quality. Inevitably a part breaks and you have no idea what to do. Fortunately, you just read this blog and know that even if your favorite subwoofer appears damaged or broken, parts are replaceable. Problems relating to subs are usually caused by the conditions they are kept in. Maybe the paper cone got wet and disintegrated. Or perhaps the speaker wire was exposed to different temperature extremes on a regular basis and became too brittle. More so subs are damaged because the user is playing music at peak power. Whatever the problem is, knowing about the anatomy of your subwoofer will help you make the necessary repairs so you do not have to discard your favorite system.

Subwoofer anatomy