What is a Car Stereo Subwoofer & How Does it Work?

Whether or not you’re familiar with the word “subwoofer,” you’re undoubtedly familiar with at least some of what a subwoofer can do. Car subwoofers have acquired a reputation for creating a bass so heavy that it sets off sensitive car alarms and annoys the heck out of passengers in nearby cars. But a subwoofer is and does much more than that. It’s actually an integral part of any car stereo system, boosting the overall sound quality of any type of music. So whether you prefer to blast Beyoncé or Beethoven during your morning commute, a subwoofer is a worthy addition to your car audio setup. Here’s why:

What is a subwoofer?

A subwoofer is a special kind of speaker. It’s designed to reproduce the low range of frequencies, resulting in cleaner and better sounding bass than a standard speaker. Subwoofers work with the other speakers in a car stereo system to provide a full range of sound frequencies—without one, you might hear vocal melodies and guitar solos just fine, but deep bass licks and drum beats will sound muddled and detract from your listening experience.

How does a subwoofer make sound?

Like other speakers, a subwoofer makes sound by moving air. But unlike other speakers, subwoofers are specifically engineered to generate the massive cone movement required for low bass frequencies. The reason bass sounds so distorted on regular speakers is because the power necessary to produce deep bass is too taxing for a typical speaker driver—especially when you try to compensate by cranking up the bass level on your car stereo receiver. When speakers are taxed to their limit, the high- and mid-range sounds suffer as well.

What’s the difference between powered and passive subwoofers?

For any type of speaker, sound quality depends on an ample power supply, and many subwoofers have built-in amplifiers to power the sound signal. Powered subwoofers also allow you to adjust the volume of the bass specifically and filter out unwanted frequencies. Passive subwoofers, on the other hand, don’t have their own power supply and must be plugged into a separate amplifier, which can give you much more power flexibility depending on the type of amplifier you choose.

What type of subwoofer enclosure is right for me?

One of the decisions you’ll need to make when choosing a subwoofer is the type of enclosure that will best work for your needs. Sealed enclosures (or boxes) are airtight and work best for music that demands tight, fast, accurate bass, such as jazz, classical, and pop. If you’re into rock, heavy metal, or hip-hop, you’ll want a ported box, which features a hole to deliver deeper, bigger bass than sealed boxes can provide.

Ready for the most comprehensive sound experience possible?

Adding a subwoofer to your stereo system provides much more than a bass booster for your car—it allows you to enjoy your favorite music with all the details and nuances the artists originally intended. At Stereo Depot, we carry the best brands at the most affordable prices, and our trained experts can help you choose the right equipment for your needs and budget, whether it’s an added sub or a complete car audio overhaul.  Give Stereo Depot a call at our San Diego location at (619) 736-9964 or our El Cajon location at (619) 873-4641.