I was doing some research and i came across a very detailed article on subwoofers. Newbies, experienced and oldies on this forum may enjoy this article.
This article is VERY
Article and Figures by Jim Irace, unless otherwise noted.
This article is a bit tough because in many cases, especially if youâ€™re building your first system, your subwoofer and subwoofer amplifier will probably be bought at the same time, and your selection of them is really pretty dependant on each otherâ€¦ more so than with other components of the stereo. So, if youâ€™re in a situation where youâ€™re looking for both, make sure to read this and my amplifier article that I didnâ€™t write yet.
This article basically picks up where the "How to buy Speakers" article left off. If you haven't read that yet, at least skim through it and read the section that explains how a speaker works so that you'll have a better understanding of what is discussed here.
So anyway, on with the subwoofers.
Buying a subwoofer is probably the most popular and most rewarding car audio purchase. Nothing transforms your stereo quite like the addition of prodigious amounts of bass. What many people fail to realize, however, is that making your system boom is not the only reason to consider adding a subwoofer. When I used to sell car audio, over and over Iâ€™d hear people give me all kinds of reasons why they didnâ€™t want a sub, and it almost always revolved around not wanting that booming bass-heavy drone. What they didnâ€™t know is that I secretly switched their coffee for Folgers Crystalsâ€¦ oh, wait. What they didnâ€™t know was that quite often Iâ€™d have a subwoofer playing when they walked into the sound room, and as soon as theyâ€™d say something about the boomy bass, Iâ€™d shut the subwoofer off and suddenly theyâ€™d realize that the music is missing its entire foundation without it. They never noticed that the sub was playing because what they didnâ€™t realize is that bass doesnâ€™t have to be boomy and overwhelming unless thatâ€™s how you want it. Properly integrated bass just becomes part of the music, not an addition to it.
The actual data provided to a buyer can vary wildly from brand to brand, and even model to model. Most companies will give you somewhat basic data such as power handling, impedance, and perhaps a suggested enclosure size. Others will give you considerably more information in the form of Thiele Small (T/S) parameters. These are the mathematical parameters that represent the subwooferâ€™s mechanical and electrical properties, and are used to determine many things, but are primarily used to determine proper enclosure specifications.
This spec, like most, can mean a lot of different things, but generally you want to find the speakerâ€™s RMS power rating. A peak power rating is worthless on a subwoofer just like on everything else. Power handling on a speaker is a very dynamic specification thatâ€™s hard to sum up into just one number. Like I mentioned in the â€œHow to buy speakersâ€