Honestly, Subwoofer Enclosures are one of the more misunderstood parts of a Home and Car audio systems. Its important that you consider the types of subwoofer enclosures and how they will effect your sound.
Most subwoofer manufacturers will recommend what kind of enclosure you should use and you should know what kind of sound you will get with the different types of enclosures. If you don’t have the correct type of enclosure, you risk having a sound system that doesn’t sound very good and/or sub par performance.
Types Of Subwoofers
There are three main types of enclosures that I will talk about in this article:
Sealed, ported, and bandpass. Each of these produce different sounding bass and they will produce different results depending on the specifications of your subwoofer. I learned a lot of what I’m going to tell you about in the article on the Crutchfield website, so be sure to take a look there for more information.
The first type of enclosure we are going to talk about is the easiest to design and construct, and that’s the sealed enclosure. This kind of enclosure or box has a subwoofer on one wall facing outward.
The inside of the box is sealed so the air that’s inside the box is separate from the air on the outside of the box. The advantage of a sealed box is that the bass frequencies will stay on a similar level throughout the entire frequency range the subwoofer operates on.
A sealed box also give a clean and tight sound reproduction. The only problem with this kind of box is that they don’t produce low bass very loudly unless you have a large box and subwoofer that can move a lot of air.
The size of the enclosure should be matched to the suggested specifications recommended by the subwoofer manufacturer. I prefer sealed boxes for rock or country music because there isn’t too much low, continuous bass in that type of music.
The second type of subwoofer box you can consider is the ported box. This type of enclosure is similar to the sealed, the only difference is there’s a port which allows air to be pushed out of the box and through the port. The port will increase the bass response at different frequencies depending on what frequencies the port is tuned to.
A ported box will allow you to get greater volume levels from your subwoofers compared to a sealed box. However, the downside is that the bass won’t sound as clean, meaning it will be less precise than the sealed box type.
I find that ported boxes are best for people who enjoy listening to rap/hip hop, rnb, or electronic music because they have more low, continuous bass.
The third type of enclosure is a bandpass enclosure. Bandpass subwoofer boxes will have at least two or more chambers. Your subwoofer will be placed between the chambers on the inside of the box. One of the chambers will be ported which causes the waveforms (sounds) to travel out of the box.
Usually, bandpass boxes will have multiple ports to maximize the frequencies that you will hear with your ears. These ports will usually be different sizes, because different size ports produce different frequencies.
Bandpass enclosures will give you lots of bass over a large range of frequencies, but it still won’t be as precise as a sealed enclosure. Once again, bandpass enclosures are best for rap/hip hop, rnb, or electronic music because they are great at producing the long and low bass frequencies.
So as you can see, a sealed enclosure will produce the cleanest and most precise sound. However, it takes a large subwoofer and box to produce low bass frequency at loud levels with a sealed box. So if you’re looking for low, deep bass you should consider a ported or bandpass box. But, if you have lots of trunk space you can also consider a large sealed box paired with a large subwoofer.
The Size Of Your Subwoofer
The size of your subwoofer is something important to think about when picking an enclosure. You have to think about how strong the subwoofer is first.
Materials and build quality
A powerful subwoofer calls for a powerful box. We recommend using an MDF enclosure. We like this material because of the harmonics and durability in audio systems (car & home). You can find home theatre systems built with a bunch of different materials that handle audio differently, but for strong bass (from subwoofer) its important you use a strong material.
The easiest thing to consider when picking an enclosure is the actual quality of the build. A good rule of thumb is to pick a subwoofer enclosure from a well-known brand. We recommend:
Hopefully this information helps you choose the right enclosure for your system. One thing to note would be that home theatre subwoofer enclosures always come with a subwoofer pre installed. For example, a surround sound system.
Car audio enclosures offer more of a choice. You can purchase an enclosure by itself or one with a subwoofer mounted inside. Some even have an amplifier installed in them allowing you to save a lot of space in your vehicle. (see example here)