How important is the subwoofer? Consider this: the single most noticeable difference between a car audio system and a premium car audio system is the bass. Low notes round out the full potential of recorded audio, delivering the best sonic experience available short of live performance. You know it when you hear it, and we know that subs offer better bass, but why? These are the benefits you may expect by adding a subwoofer.
STEREO SPEAKERS DON’T HAVE ROOM FOR BASS
Car stereo woofers and tweeters have to fit inside compact spaces, such as car doors and dashboards. That’s because our ears are designed to detect the position of an audio source in space, so when we don’t hear discrete left and right speakers, car audio sounds out of balance.
While a modern, door-mounted, car stereo speaker may pristinely reproduce higher frequencies, the smaller the speaker, the less bass comes out of it, and the more distortion. There’s simply not enough space behind car door speakers to successfully reproduce anything below around 80 Hertz, on average. And that’s exactly where all the best bass lives.
A SUBWOOFER GOES WHERE YOU NEED IT
A car stereo subwoofer doesn’t have the same constraints, because the sound waves that produce bass notes are too long for our ears to detect a source, spatially. That’s a good thing because the length of those notes are the same reason a speaker needs extra size and space to go low.
A high quality subwoofers provides a larger speaker enclosure for those bass notes to resonate, but at too large a volume to fit in the narrow confines of a car door. But since a sub exclusively provides non-directional audio, it can be placed in the trunk, or under a seat — the only places contemporary auto engineers have left enough space for some bass.
IT IMPROVES PERFORMANCE AT HIGHER FREQUENCIES TOO
Even if you could fit all your bass reproduction inside standard car stereo speakers, you wouldn’t want to. Those long sound waves that make bass notes take a lot more power for a speaker to generate, so when a single speaker set tries to reproduce a full range of frequencies, the bass notes suck up most of the power, effectively weakening the car audio system as a whole.
But subwoofers typically receive power from an independent amplifier. That means, when you install a car stereo subwoofer, you may adjust the crossover frequency of your car stereo. That means, your car audio source will send all the low bass notes to the sub, and only send woofers and tweeters the higher frequencies they were designed to handle, thus dedicating all their power to improved performance of midrange and treble frequencies.
SMOOTHER ALL AROUND SOUND, AND NO DISTORTION
A properly attuned car stereo with a subwoofer creates the opportunity for audio perfection. All your speakers will be living up their full potential, giving you bigger and cleaner sound. You’ll easily notice the difference in quality with the volume low, just as much as you’ll hear the difference in power when you turn that volume knob up!