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Everyone's car audio goals are different, but there's no denying that subwoofers are the centerpiece of many audio systems. A good subwoofer paired with the right equipment can put out enough bass to wake the dead—but is bigger always better? When it comes to selecting a subwoofer, choosing the largest size you can find isn't always the best option.
When it comes to getting the best bass performance from your subwoofer, there's one important term you'll need to remember: matching. Upsizing your subwoofer won't provide better performance if you can't match it to its enclosure and the rest of your gear. This guide will help you get the bass you're looking for without blindly throwing bigger and more expensive components at your system.
Keep It Simple: Match Those Power Ratings
Matching your subwoofer to your amplifier means looking at the power rating for both components. Car audio ratings usually come in two flavors: peak (or max) power and RMS (root mean square) power. If you want to size your system accurately, you can completely disregard the former value. Manufacturers may overrate their peak power values, so focus on the continuous or RMS power instead.
Aside from this, you don't need to overcomplicate the power matching process. If you want the best performance from your subs, you want an amp with a matching RMS power rating. In other words, a subwoofer that can handle 1000W RMS power needs an amp that can supply at least 1000W RMS. You can use an amp that's slightly over or undersized, but avoid straying too far in either direction.
It's also essential to look at the RMS power output of your amplifier at your subwoofer's specific impedance level. When using a subwoofer with a 2ohm impedance, pay attention to the 2ohm power output of the amplifier. You'll need to calculate the overall impedance of your subwoofers together when wiring multiple subwoofers in series or parallel.
Don't Forget the Breathing Room!
You'll also need to match your subwoofer to its enclosure, and this is where upsizing can often lead to poor sound quality or disappointing results. Your subwoofer needs "breathing room" for maximum performance, and you can find this information in the manufacturer specs. In many cases, you'll see two different values for ported or sealed boxes.
You probably won't be surprised to learn that larger subwoofers require more air volume. Likewise, multiple subwoofers will each need their own breathing space. If you can't accommodate the necessary air volume for your subwoofer, you're wasting the larger size and will be better off spending that money elsewhere in your system.
Remember that subwoofers are as much a part of your system's design as any other component. Adding more subwoofers or larger subwoofers won't mean more performance if you can't match them with the rest of your gear. By understanding how to pair your subwoofers to the rest of your system, you'll get the bass you're after without breaking the bank on unnecessary upgrades.
For more information, contact a car audio service.