Subwoofers rule: finally, I get it
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 Have fun reading it, but be aware that the information may be outdated and links may be broken.
Before I started working at Crutchfield, I associated car subwoofers with punk kids that roll up on you at traffic lights, sporting that low-frequency rattle that reminds you of the Space Shuttle taking off.
But after a tall glass of Crutchfield Kool-Aid, I started learning more about them and realized that car subwoofers aren't just for scaring everyone over 30 - they're vital to well-balanced sound. Inherently I knew this, since I appreciate the low tones - I'm a bass guitar player, after all. I also appreciate what my "home theater in a box" subwoofer does for movie sound. But for some reason, my mind never made the connection that a subwoofer in my car could be a good thing.
I replaced the stereo and all four speakers in my 1996 Honda Accord about six months ago, and while it sounded great, the low end was obviously lacking. And I like to hear what the bass player's doing when I listen to music. But I was still hesitant to add a sub, because (a) I didn't want to become a public nuisance, and (b) I have a bit of a phobia when it comes to wiring.
Well, I finally took the plunge and put a powered sub in my trunk. My goodness, what a difference. I could feel the kick drum hits, just like when you see a band play at a club. The bass was prominent, but not irritating. I was going for a realistic balance, not just bass for the sake of it, and once I got there by fiddling with the crossover/gain, etc., I had a big smile on my face (still do!) All the songs on my thumb drive that I had grown tired of were given new life. In fact, I started adding music that I knew would sound good with the sub.
This powered sub fit nicely in the trunk of my '96 Honda Accord.
The powered sub turned out to be just what I wanted. It puts out tight, clean bass that enhances pretty much any piece of music I listen to. My receiver doesn't have a dedicated subwoofer output or a low-pass filter, but the sub has a wired gain knob that I mounted within reach for any needed adjustments. If I had been thinking ahead, I'd have looked for some subwoofer-friendly features when I was shopping for receivers, but thinking ahead isn't a strength of mine.
Installation was pretty easy. I printed out a Crutchfield's Amplifier Installation Guide, got an 8-gauge amp wiring kit, and went to work. The process was pretty straightforward, even for a beginner like me. I got it all hooked up, finally, and...it wouldn't turn on. I called Crutchfield Product Support, and within three minutes the rep identified my shaky ground connection and recommended a better spot. Problem solved. Those guys really are good.
I may be over my fear of wiring now. This wasn't too tough.
Now I see the light - a subwoofer makes pretty much every piece of music sound better. They're not just for loud music. Anything with bass and drums will do, or even an orchestra - think of the increase in presence a cello would have. Old country tunes with a stand-up bass sound incredible, too. Add a sub to your car stereo rig, and you'll find yourself listening to more music than ever before.
I apologize to all the bass junkies I used to think were crazy. I know you were just trying to get me to understand how much more fun it is to listen to music in the car when there's a sub kicking out the low notes. Now I'm the guy with the subwoofer in the trunk. Public nuisance? No. Public service.