Getting the most bass out of a subwoofer is a challenge a lot of people have after getting a sub and amplifier installed. Over the years I’ve learned a few methods that have helped me with a lot of my customers car audio set ups.
You don’t want to under power the subwoofer and you do not want to severely over power them either.
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5 Ways To Improve Bass
- Pick The correct Amp & Subwoofer bundle
- Verify installation was done properly
- Pick The correct Wiring to amp and sub
- Pick The right subwoofer box for the sub
- Check settings at stereo and amplifier
Pick The Correct Amplifier For your Subwoofer
I cant tell you how many set ups I fix that could have been better if the salesmen sold the proper amp to the customer to match the subwoofer they have. Here’s a couple of general rules when your are matching subwoofers to amplifiers.
Match the RMS
RMS (root mean square) is the actual power your amplifier and subwoofer can produce for a long period of time. This is the power rating you should use when looking for a subwoofer and amplifier.
Match Impedance (resistance)
Impedance Is measured in ohms and is represented on the amp and the subwoofers you’ve purchased. The key is to pick a subwoofer and amplifier that put out enough bass for you at that Resistance. If your subwoofer has a 4 ohm load, your amplifier should be 4 ohm stable. Meaning, The amp should be able to produce its power properly at 4 ohms.
For example: If you have a single channel (mono) amplifier that produces 400 watt RMS @ 4ohm your subwoofers power handling should be 400 watts RMS and the final Impedance (RMS) should be 4 Ohms at the subwoofer.
For our examples we use pretty basic set ups and scenarios but There are a ton of different sub and amp builds. The good folks down at the 12 volt have a cool tool we like to use to plan builds. You can find it here!
2 Channel or Mono Block?
The differences between a 2 channel and a single channel (mono block amp) are pretty important for your set up and your ability to get the loudest bass you can get out of your system.
2 Channel Amplifiers
The big downside with 2 channel amps are that both channels have to be used to utilize the amps full power, this is called bridging.
The most annoying thing is that not all amps are bridgeable.
Also, as if that was not enough. Most 2 channel amps on the market wont produce anything over around 400 watts RMS.
Mono Block Amplifiers
Mono Block Amps offer a lot of flexibility when installing a subwoofer! You can add as much subwoofers as you’d like to the amplifier as long as the RMS and final impedance match.
Most Mono amplifiers are a Class D rating which as of now are some of the most efficient amplifiers on the market today.
Verify installation was done properly
Whether you performed the installation or not, there is a small chance that your current set up has some lost bass you can recover. Check and verify the installation was performed properly yourself if you performed the installation. If you did not, take it to the installer and ask them if everything seems right to them and if there is any head room available for more bass.
Generally there is a small amount of head room, especially if another person installed the system for you. They often assume that you (the owner) will blow out your sub or fry your amp.
Pick The Correct Wiring For The Job
Remember your amplifier needs the right amount of power in order to properly produce the bass you want out of your system. Think about it like this:
When your water hose has a bend on the line it sort of slows down how fast you can wash your car because less water is coming out of the hose. With less water you have to take more time in certain spots to properly rinse. This is the case with amplifiers, without the proper amount of power it can only do so much.
- You need the proper diameter wire to carry the right amount of power to your amplifier. Here is link to a list of power wire sizes that work with different amounts of power from your amp.
- Please try not to use CCA wire for your audio needs, that stuff will destroy over time causing issues with sound. Instead we recommend OFC wiring for your amplifier.
Pick The Right Subwoofer Box (Enclosure)
Picking the right subwoofer enclosure seems a bit extra for most people. They tend to over look this step and it generally comes back to bite them. You do your subwoofer a big disservice by not having it mounted into the proper box.
We always recommend that you have a subwoofer enclosure built specifically for your vehicle and subwoofer specifications, but we realize it gets a bit expensive.
Here are the difference between the 2 most popular styles of subwoofer enclosures:
Ported enclosures are great for deep bass, in fact they allow the sub to utilize more air to created the deep bass sounds we all love soo much. The downside with these is that if you listen to Rock, Metal or anything that doesn’t have real low bass you probably wont get what you want out of it.
Sealed enclosures allow the sub to be more quick and snappy with its response. This is phenomenal for metal, rock and country listeners because they do not tend to have any bass that to low for a sealed enclosure to create. The reason sealed enclosures do not provide those deep low frequencies is due to the limited amount of air to push, this is the trade off.
More Helpful Resources:
- What Kind of Subwoofer Enclosure Should I Use? – Home Theatre
- Why Does My Subwoofer Pop
- How to Stop Subwoofer From Rattling House – Muffling Subwoofer
- How Much Bass is Too Much?
- Amplifier Installation, Troubleshoot and Bypass Resource page
Verify the proper settings are used at the Amplifier and Stereo
Your stereo is the beginning of all things sound in your vehicle, your amplifier is processing that sound. Its important that you make sure your stereo settings and capabilities match your bass needs.
For starters, there are very few factory stereos on the market that create the type of signal you need for a bass set up. This is why most people buy after market stereos, they just sound better.
Not to mention the options and editing capabilities you have at your fingertips. If your are using your factory stereo, id urge you to pickup an after market stereo.
So, lets start with your stereo, here are some things to check:
- Equalizer settings – Check your EQ settings on your aftermarket stereo and make sure that you don’t have your low pass filter up to high. If its up to high it means that your stereo might not be sending the lower frequencies you love to your amplifier to play from the sub. There are also settings on Factory stereos like (Bass, Mid, Treble). Verify the bass is set to the center or middle position. You can increase that bass setting higher as long as you are not putting a distorted signal into the amp.
- HI/Lo Converter – Usually if you have a subwoofer installed on a factory stereo you’ve done so by using a Line output converter (HI Lo Converter). This unit will take HI level speaker outputs and turn them into Lo level Signal inputs for the amplifier. This is okay, but not all converters are created equal and they often dirty up the sound. Try using a HI/LO that has the ability to re-create the bass that your factory stereo doesn’t have. We love this unit and use it for our HI Lo needs.
Now, lets Finnish off with your amplifier
- Low pass filter – The low pass filter as described above also lives in your amplifier, the same rules apply. Make sure that you do not have it set to frequencies that are too high. This will often leave out lower frequencies and in return amplify high frequencies that will destroy your amp and sound bad.
- Gain level – Make sure that you have properly set your gains, they are often too low or too high. If they are to low you should take this time to slowly turn them up while listening for distortion. If they are too high you should turn them down to a level where minimal or no distortion is present.
- Phase check – There is generally a phase button on sub amps. This is made to help fix phase issues where bass frequencies do no sit out of the audio mix properly. Press this button for a quick phase check and let your audio play for a bit and listen. If your phase was out of spec before you pressed this button youll notice it. The bass will sit out of the mix and hit your chest the way god intended.