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Matching Subs & Amps

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When you're ready to put a sub into your vehicle, there are a lot of options to choose from. Once you get past the basic question of the size and number of subs you want in your system, you need to decide on the type of sub(s) and the type of amplifier(s) you'll use.

When picking subs, you've got a choice between single voice coil (one set of terminals) and dual voice coil (DVC) models (two sets of terminals). Dual voice coil subs give you more wiring options than single voice coil models. Usually, but certainly not always, dual voice coil models are built for higher power handling and performance.

When choosing an amplifier, the most important thing is to pick one with the right amount of power for your subs (you can read more about that here.) Once you've decided how much power you need, you'll need to decide which type of amp to use. For most sub systems, you'll want to choose either a mono amp or a two-channel amp.

To get you on the fast track to big bass, let's look at four common combinations of subwoofers. We'll check out the advantages of each, the best wiring configuration, then discuss the type of amp to choose. We'll even show you how to hook 'em up!

One single 4-ohm voice coil sub

Advantages
Simplicity, price, and compactness are the big advantages of a single sub system. A single sub is pretty easy to hook up, there are a lot of reasonably priced models to choose from, and it won't take up too much room (although a 15" sub isn't exactly small!) You may not knock over small buildings with one sub, but you can still get a lot of solid bass.

The right type of amp to use
This is a perfect place for a two-channel amp. By bridging the output of the amp, you'll get lots of power for a relatively low cost. Avoid using a mono amp here — they work best at a lower impedance than 4 ohms.

SVC sub

A single 4-ohm SVC sub, connected to a bridged two-channel amp.

One 4-ohm dual voice coil sub

Advantages
Don't be confused about dual voice coil (DVC) subs — having two voice coils simply gives you more ways to hook them up. In addition to wiring flexibility, the advantages of using one dual voice coil sub are power handling (most dual voice coil subs are built for heavy-duty use) and compactness.

The right type of amp to use
This is a perfect situation for a mono sub amp. Why? Mono amps are built to provide the most power at lower impedances, typically around 2 ohms. By wiring the voice coils in parallel, we can present a 2-ohm impedance to the amp and get maximum power output. Check the diagram below for how to hook it up.

DVC sub

A single 4-ohm DVC sub — best when connected to a mono amp.

Two 4-ohm single voice coil subs

Advantages
When you're looking for big bass, having two subs makes a lot of sense. After all, sound is just the movement of air, and with two subs you can move lots of air! As before, price can be an advantage when selecting 4-ohm single voice coil subs. Sure, two subs will take up more room, but what do you want — trunk space or bass?

The right type of amp to use
This setup is perfect for a mono sub amp. By wiring the two subs in parallel (see the diagram) you'll show a 2-ohm impedance to the amp. Mono amps are built for just this kind of situation, so you'll get maximum power output from your amp investment. Check the diagram below for how to hook it up.

SVC subs

Two 4-ohm SVC subs — a great place to use a mono amp.

Two 4-ohm dual voice coil subs

Advantages
Wiring flexibility is the key here. You've got lots of different ways to hook up this combination. With two subs, this is a great way to get the pounding bass you're looking for. Hook 'em up and hold on tight!

The right type of amp to use
This is a great place to use a two-channel amp. When you wire the subs as shown in the diagram below, the total impedance will be four ohms. A bridged two-channel amp can provide plenty of power at a reasonable price. Get some good subs and a good amp and let it rip!

DVC subs

Wire two 4-ohm DVC subs this way, add a two-channel amp, and your car will be the "Temple of Boom!"

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