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Video: How to choose a subwoofer enclosure

Sealed, ported, or bandpass — what's right for you?

Heads up!

Welcome to this article from the Crutchfield archives. Have fun reading it, but be aware that the information may be outdated and links may be broken.

The first step to choosing a subwoofer actually begins with the enclosure and how you want the sub to perform. In this video we'll tell you about the different types of subwoofer enclosures available, and find out which one best fits your vehicle and your needs.

Read video transcript

Our advisors get a lot of questions about subwoofers:

"Do I need a sub?"
"What kind of sub fits my car?"
"What sub hits hardest?"

It's easy to get confused. There are a lot of different sizes and styles of subwoofers and different types of sub boxes. It's hard to know where to start. Let's simplify things for you. There are two key things to think about when buying a sub: sound and space.

Sound depends on the kind of enclosure, or box, that you're subwoofer is mounted in. There are three kinds of enclosure designs you'll commonly find in car audio: sealed, ported, and bandpass. Sealed boxes are simple, sealed enclosures that the sub is mounted into. They're best if you want tight and accurate bass, great for all-around use. Ported boxes add a port or vent that improves the efficiency of the system. They'll play louder with less power input but might sound a little more boomy. When volume is king, it's a smart choice. Bandpass boxes combine a sealed box with a ported enclosure with the sub sealed inside the box. With their plexiglass windows, they're dramatic and they can give big bass output — the perfect call when you want to make a statement.

If you're short on space you may not be able to fit a large box into your car or truck but there are some good solutions for tight spots. Truck boxes like this one are built with a slim profile to let you slide them behind the seat of your truck. Special custom enclosures like these stealth boxes let you add a custom fit box to your truck. Some even come with subs and amps already built in.

One other solution when space is tight is choosing a compact powered sub like this one. Since the amp is built in, you'll save space twice. It'll fit in a lot of tight spaces where you can't put a normal sub. When space isn't an issue you can go with a larger box like this trunk-style box. Just make sure you measure the space you have available before you buy the box.

We've talked about sound and space, but let's face it, that still leaves a lot of different options. What's the best sub for you? The answer is simple. The best system is the one that matches your budget and your taste. Over the years our advisors have helped thousands of people buy subwoofers for their cars, whether the system is simple or whether you're going to the extreme. We've got the experience and expertise to kick around all the options with you and help you find the right gear.

So if you want bass don't hesitate and get in touch with us on the phone or via chat or email. We'll get you the gear you need and the support you want after the sale.

  • Anthony Sanchez from Bakersfield

    Posted on 12/17/2020

    I want to make a custom box for two 12 shallow mount comp rts

  • Jeff Riederer from Phoenix

    Posted on 12/13/2020

    I have an install that will require a thin, sealed box. I have a Rockford Fosgate T1S2-10 sub. Because I have plenty of length and width, my install will allow me to build the box to the recommended volume of .80 cuft, but my interior box depth would be restricted to a tight 3-1/2". Will this tight depth affect sound quality or will it not matter since I can provide the recommended .80 cuft volume? Second question along the same lines, I have the length and width space and can also build a ported box to the recommended ported volume but the port tube would be tight with the 3-1/2" depth. Would this matter and would the placement and outlet direction of the port affect anything? This install is for an open air UTV vehicle. Given the above and I have plenty of amp power, 600 watts RMS, am I better sealed or ported?

    Commenter image

    Robert Ferency-Viars from Crutchfield

    on 1/7/2021

    Jeff, the geometry ensures that everything will work. If you decide to port the box, you should check the sub's owner's manual for minimum port tube sizes. As for the UTV aspect, porting will make the sub louder, so that might be better. But if you're looking for tight, less boomy bass, then sealed will be better. Since you have plenty of power, either should work.
  • Angel Pimentel from Orlando, FL

    Posted on 11/23/2020

    Hi. I have an Alpine X-12" and two Alpine X-10". I would like to incorporate them into a Custom built sub enclusure. what would be the best comination. a) three chamber compartments, ported type b) three chamber compartments, sealed type c) two chamber compartments, sealed type (10") and one chamber compartment, ported type (12") or d) two chamber compartments, ported type (10") and one chamber compartment, sealed type (12")

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 11/29/2020

    Angel, this will come down to the type of bass you prefer. We can only speculate on how the combinations will sound based on what we know about about ported (loud and hard-hitting) and sealed (tight and focused). So, maybe porting the 12" will make it nice and loud while sealing the 10s will allow for some tightness. But that's still 3 subs firing at once, so it's hard to know if you'll be able to hear that nuance. I'd say research what others have actually done with their systems and see if your bass preferences match up.
  • Eric Davidson from Beresford

    Posted on 3/23/2019

    I see in this video u have a custom box for a Chevy S10.... exactly what I'm looking for but I don't seem to see it anywhere for sale on your site....I want

  • Darren from Kamloops

    Posted on 6/2/2018

    Hi I've got a Alpine type r 15" how big of a vented enclosure should it be mounted to? I also have a 12" Rockford Fosgate P3D4 and would like to incorporate it into a coustom built sub enclosure with the 15" Alpine. Should they be built with separate chamber compartments? And should I be using separate amplifiers to power each subwoofer? Thank you.

    Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    on 6/5/2018

    Hi Darren, I've passed your question along to our Advisor team for the best answer. Someone will contact you soon to help.
  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/14/2017

    Daniel, the age-old question... if you're comparing apples to apples, in this case the same MTX Series of sub, the 12" will "hit harder" because it's moving more air with a larger cone, but that's not taking into consideration power, enclosure, placement, and other variables. As a result, it can be difficult to define "hit harder." Check out this article all about subwoofers for more info, or give us a call for recommendations on the right sub for you.

  • Daniel from Bristol

    Posted on 7/13/2017

    Does the mtx 10 hit harder bthan a 12

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/24/2016

    Tommy, you can use the steps in this article to find the right diagram for your system.

  • tommy sisombat from memphis

    Posted on 10/23/2016

    hi, I have a question. I have two 10" L5 kicker 2 ohm dvc. And a 1000w hifonicz mono amp. Which wiring setup should I use to get the best boom. Thanks


    Posted on 9/10/2016

    I recently bought a 2016 Nissan Murano SV but it has no subwoofer, I am interested to know which is the best powered subwoofer that i can get for it, I will be keeping the factory stereo and speakers

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