The subwoofer is a stereo loudspeaker that is dedicated to the reproduction of low frequency sounds. Many people associate the subwoofer with booming bass sounds that emanate loudly from cars, but high quality subwoofers are designed to augment the low frequency base of recorded music and sounds, not just play extremely loud bass notes. Stereo subwoofers were developed in the 1960s to increase the bass tones of home stereo systems, but it was not long before the technology was applied to the automobile and car subwoofers began to revolutionise the automotive stereo industry. Subwoofers gave car audio systems the ability to reproduce precise bass notes that dramatically improved the overall listening experience of automotive sound systems.
Subwoofers have become a key component in car stereo systems for several different reasons. The savvy stereo enthusiast is able to benefit from understanding the various qualities an automotive subwoofer adds to their car's stereo system, which can help them make an informed decision when it comes to purchasing their next subwoofer.
1. Subwoofers Create a Realistic Sound Experience
Unlike home stereo systems, automotive audio systems are specialised to operate within the limited space constraints of a vehicle. Home stereo systems can have large speakers and powerful amps that produce rich sounds without distortion. Car stereos face the challenge of having to produce full sounds without having the benefit of large speakers and woofers powered by full sized amplifiers. Car audio systems must have smaller components that are easy to fit inside door panels and dashboards, so they are at a disadvantage when it comes to producing larger and more realistic sounds. Automotive systems solve this problem with the use of subwoofers.
Car subwoofers generate deep and rich bass and other low frequency tones that are crucial to the overall sound reproduction quality of the system. Since car speakers are smaller and less powerful than full size units, they do not have the ability to replicate low frequency sound in the way a subwoofer does. Low frequency creates the sense of fullness within the music regardless of how loud or soft it is played. For this reason, a subwoofer is vital is creating a realistic music experience within the limited spaces of a vehicle.
2. Subwoofers Allow Specialisation of the Bass Range
Since most car speakers are not capable of handling lower frequency sounds, subwoofers are ideal for filtering off bass tones in place of mid-range speakers that fall short of the task. Bass sounds require larger speaker capacities in order to perform at the proper range. A stand alone subwoofer that is specifically assigned to the task of filtering only the bass range of the music ensures proper enhancement of the bass sounds while reducing the demands of the other speakers in the car. The subwoofer effectively takes over all the low frequency tasks of the system and enables the smaller speakers to handle the higher range frequency sounds that they are designed to play.
The bass range of any stereo system is unlike any other range of sound produced by the system. The bass range can vary from barely perceptible sounds to extremely loud and heavy vibrations that can shake an entire vehicle. Utilising a dedicated subwoofer is the only proper method of integrating these low frequency ranges into the mid and high range sounds produced by the other speakers in the system.
3. Subwoofers Can be Placed for Optimum Performance
Subwoofers are commonly found in a circular shape because it is the most effective at assisting in the prevention of distortion. Circular subwoofers are usually installed in the boot of a vehicle or in the back seat. There are non-circular shaped subwoofers available from various manufacturers that are capable of being mounted in vehicles with limited space, and their narrower and elongated shapes allow for a larger cone area, which can help to increase low frequency output. These different types of subwoofers can be strategically placed within the vehicle to produce an optimum sound experience for the listener.
4. Subwoofers Help to Prevent Distortion
One of the main problems an automotive audio system encounters when the bass range is handled by normal speakers is distortion. Distortion occurs when the speaker's cone is vibrated beyond its capacity and is no longer capable of producing clear sounds. Distortion is most often caused by introducing more power and louder volumes to a speaker than it is capable of handling, and this phenomenon is most often associated with the bass range because it generally requires more power and greater output to produce proper low frequency sounds.
The solution to preventing distortion is to install a subwoofer that is capable of handling the various low frequency sounds and the higher volumes of bass that are necessary for a rich musical experience. Subwoofers are generally constructed to handle higher volumes of bass that would cause distortion in smaller speakers. Subwoofers are also usually mounted in the boot of a vehicle or somewhere on the floor to help provide stability against vibration. Door and dash mounted speakers do not have the same stable base as subwoofers, so when bass ranges are introduced through them, they tend to have a greater propensity to vibrate and distort.
5. Subwoofers Help to Prevent Damage to Speakers
When higher volumes of bass are introduced to a sound system, there is the potential for damage to smaller speakers because they are not designed to handle the higher levels associated with the bass sound register. Playing high volume low frequency sounds through the cones of smaller speakers can cause them to crack or tear because they are usually constructed of cardboard or plastic and are not designed to move deep enough to absorb the vibrations necessary to recreate bass frequencies. This limited cone movement of smaller speakers is better adapted to higher range music that requires quicker vibrations with shorter movements of the cone, which is the opposite of bass frequencies.
Subwoofers are specifically designed to allow the deeper cone fluctuations required for precise low frequency replication. When a subwoofer is introduced into the system, the bass ranges are directed through it, which removes the possibility of damage occurring to the main system speakers that are ill equipped to handle it. In lower powered systems, when there is insufficient power for the main speakers to play to the bass range, a speaker buzz can develop that eventually results in damage to the speaker. Subwoofers have the capacity to handle this lower power range as well as the higher levels, making them a must have element in an automotive stereo system.
6. Bass is Non-Directional
The most unique aspect of bass is that it is non-directional to the human ear, which means that regardless of where the subwoofer is placed in the vehicle, the bass sound is heard as coming from all around the car. This is why so many subwoofers are placed in the boot of a vehicle where they seemingly would have their sound distorted by the rear seats of the car. The direction of the bass range cannot be determined by the human ear, so the sounds coming from the boot have the same impact as if they were emanating from in front of or on the sides of the listener. This allows people to install large subwoofer units in the boot where they do not take up valuable interior space yet still provide the benefits of richer and fuller overall sound.
How to Buy a Subwoofer for Your Car on eBay
Once you have decided to introduce a subwoofer into your car audio system, the first step is to utilise that advanced shopping tools available through eBay. Start by navigating to the eBay home page and entering a keyword like "subwoofer" into the search box. A list of products are displayed that contain that keyword and you can browse through each page until you find the subwoofer that fits your needs, or you can refine your search by selecting various categories that further narrows the number of pages returned according to those specific categories. If you already know the brand and type of subwoofer you are interested in, you can enter that specific information into the search box and eBay returns a list of products with only those words in the title.
Once you have found the ideal subwoofer, the next step is to verify the feedback rating of the seller prior to completing the purchase. The eBay community utilises feedback left by buyers as a way to rate the honesty and professionalism of the seller on each transaction they complete. These feedback ratings are posted so that other potential buyers can review how the seller has conducted their business
Since its development in the 1960s, the subwoofer has added a critical element to automotive audio systems that allows them to play much more life-like music. The subwoofer enables car stereos to deliver the low frequencies that are so vital to true musical representation without subjecting the user to the distortion that usually accompanies the playing of heavy bass tones through mid-range speaker systems. Subwoofers help to prevent not only distortion but damage to the speakers that can occur when bass volume reaches a level that can crack or tear the speaker's cone. Subwoofers are specifically designed to prevent this damage because they are constructed to handle these higher levels of bass.
When a buyer is ready to purchase their next subwoofer, they should take the time to do their research and discover the best type of subwoofer and brand name to suit their individual needs. There are many different resources available to the consumer that can help them make that determination, however, utilising the online search resources and products available on websites such as eBay can go a long way in helping them find what they need quickly and safely.