Did you know that more subwoofers are blown each year because of poorly designed enclosures rather than faulty wiring? Most retailers will make it seem like it’s all about the speaker quality but that is only half the battle. Most people do not realize that it won’t matter if you buy the best brand subwoofer in the market; the enclosure needs to be of comparable quality to house your unit.
Like most shoppers, you have spent some long, agonizing hours perusing through the different types of subwoofer the market has to offer. And believe me once you find the perfect subwoofer to fit your needs it makes the entire process worth while. But building the ideal car audio setup requires all the right components coming together creating something beautiful. Skimping out on the largest and most ignored component (enclosure) could cost you dearly. Without the proper subwoofer enclosure, your sub will not be capable of reaching its full potential. So, how do you know which cabinet will fit both your subwoofer and car perfectly? Here are a few insider tips on how to match a subwoofer and an enclosure:
Custom vs Factory Enclosures
This is our first step which divides buyers into two categories. On one side, you have rookies who are new to the world of car audio willing to pay for builds and install. On the other hand, you have diligent music lovers and audiophiles who live, breath and eat bass. Knowing where you fall will play a great role in matching you with your ideal subwoofer/enclosure set.
A. Custom Built Enclosures
Let’s get one thing straight – just because they are custom built does not mean that you have to do the building yourself. And unless you fall into the second group of professional audio cabinet makers, you should just buy one or hire a pro to build your custom enclosure. On the up side, custom built enclosures fit your vehicle and the assigned space no matter what make or model. Additionally, the enclosure can also be built to match the interior of your car. Custom-built enclosures are known for producing a louder sound.
B. Factory Enclosures
Factory manufactured enclosures are a great option for anyone who wants to avoid the hustle involved in building their own boxes. Since these enclosures are designed to fit particular makes and car models, all you have to do is find a complete set for your vehicle and have it installed. These generic enclosures come with instructions and can be fitted in trunks, hatches and even behind seats. While these cabinets are convenient and cost a little, they may compromise the quality of your sound a notch. However if you are going to buy a factory enclosure be sure to buy a notable brand that consistently satisfies their customers. NVX and Belva are two of my personal favorites when it comes to factory enclosures.
Consider The Size And Space Available
After deciding whether you want to go with a custom enclosure or a factory speaker box, the next thing to do is match the size with space available. For example, you can’t buy an enclosure designed for an 8-inch sub and expect it to fit a 12-inch subwoofer. The cut out dimensions should fit your subs like a LEGO piece. Knowing the required mounting depth is crucial to properly install your sub. Similarly, trying to cram a long subwoofer in a shallow box won’t work. You should work with the limited space you have in the trunk or behind the seats. Buying or making a custom subwoofer box allows you to utilize as much or as little space; you decide.
Choose A Subwoofer Enclosure Type
Once you decide on the size of the enclosure, the next step involves determining the acoustic design. Typically, this has a lot to do with your desired placement of the speakers in your car as well as the type of sound you want to emphasize for your music. There are three basic enclosure types:
A. Sealed Enclosures
This is the oldest and simplest type of sub enclosure. Since these enclosures are sealed and relatively airtight, the air inside acts as a spring that dampens movement of the speaker cone. The result is clear crisp bass that is flat across the entire frequency response. It also creates one of the lowest volume levels out of any enclosure type. Ensure you match your specific sub size with the appropriate enclosure. Otherwise, you may end up muffling the sound because the cabinet is too small.
B. Ported Enclosures
Also referred to as Bass reflex, ported enclosures are designed in such a way that the acoustics enable the sub to be more bassy. The hole at the side of ported enclosures is calculated to match a particular frequency. Ported enclosures provide more volume than sealed enclosures, but they tend to muddy the overall sound quality.
C. Bandpass Boxes
This simply refers to a combination of both ported and sealed mechanisms in one enclosure. With this combination, users get the maximum possible bass without losing any flat frequency response.
Selecting the right enclosure for your sub will make a huge difference to the overall sound produced by your car’s audio system. While most people have been misled to think that big is always better, this is not always the case. There are plenty of factors to be considered when selecting enclosures such as style, materials and type. Investigate carefully before buying an enclosure off the shelf. If you’re going to build an enclosure, determine space available, sub size and materials that are going to be used before the project is started.