Subwoofers are speakers designed to reproduce low-frequency bass sounds, which car stereo systems often struggle with.
While some think that cramming two (or more) subwoofers into the trunk will deliver a richer audio experience, a single subwoofer can often get the job done. So, should you get one or two subwoofers for the car?
As a general rule, if you have enough space, two subwoofers can provide an enhanced stereo effect, reduce resonances and provide less localized bass. But a quality subwoofer in a matching enclosure can hit as hard as two subs, and it may be the best choice when space in the car is limited.
Tip: When you buy a subwoofer, there are some critical factors to consider. These include deep bass sound with minimal distortion, compact size for easy placement in the room or car (if it’s an option), and of course, within your price range.
If you are looking for a real kick, try Skar Audio Dual 12″ 2,400W package with an RP-1200.1D amplifier and complete wiring. This beast will vibrate several cars next to yours, so be careful with a volume level.
For softer and more “neighbor-friendly” bass, I’d choose a single Skar Audio Single 10″ 1,200W also packed with a matching amplifier and complete wiring.
Looking to add a subwoofer to your car’s audio system for an improved audio experience? In the article below, I compare the pros and cons of installing one versus two subwoofers in any vehicle.
Should I Install a Subwoofer in My Car?
Although not mandatory, subwoofers help to improve your car’s sound system by reproducing low-frequency sounds to replicate a well-balanced, studio-like feel.
And while subwoofers are frequently installed to bring out the bass, they also help add much-needed depth and realness to music.
Car speaker systems produce mid to high-range frequencies, limiting audiophiles in search of a rich audio experience inside their cars.
Below are some benefits of having subwoofers installed in a car:
Subwoofers Improve Your Car’s Audio Quality
Stock car speakers are designed to produce mid to high-frequency sounds and often struggle to make low-frequency sounds.
If you force your mid and high-range speakers to produce low-frequency audio, your audio will likely get distorted.
However, with a subwoofer on board, your car’s audio system will sound complete as the small speakers will focus on the high and mid frequencies while the subwoofer handles the low-frequency sounds.
A blend of a subwoofer, amplifier, and mid-frequency speakers ensures you achieve a perfect, studio-like balance.
When full-range speakers reproduce low-frequency bass audio, the diaphragms and large cones in the speakers lead to distortion. Therefore, even if you increase the music volume, the woofers in your car’s built-in speakers will struggle to keep up with the mid drivers and tweeters.
However, by installing quality subwoofers, you’ll be able to play both low and high-volume music without distortion, even if your audio is bass-intensive.
Subwoofers Reduce the Load of Smaller Speakers
Adding a subwoofer to your car audio system not only improves your car’s audio quality but also reduces the overall load of smaller speakers, ensuring they perform optimally for longer.
A subwoofer will control the lower frequencies, allowing the smaller speakers to reproduce sound in mid to high-frequency ranges.
Subwoofers Allow For a Full Spectrum Audio Response
A top-drawer subwoofer will sound like a welcome extension to your audio system as it won’t overpower your car’s full-range speakers.
Put it simply, subwoofers allow your other speakers to perform optimally, ensuring that mid and high frequencies are reproduced as they were intended to during production.
Without a subwoofer and an amplifier, stock speakers will struggle to handle the bass range of several genres. Unfortunately, it means that you’re likely to miss out on the notes and other musical experiences that come as part of the music.
But with a subwoofer, you’ll get to feel the depth and clarity of the sound, ensuring you hear exactly what the production team was working on in the studio.
Benefits of Installing Two Subwoofers in Your Car
Installing two subwoofers in your car stereo systems comes with a host of advantages, as indicated below.
Enhanced Stereo Effect
Having more than one subwoofer allows you to utilize a two-channel sound system, making it possible to preserve your system’s overall bass.
If your car lacks the space to accommodate one large subwoofer, installing two smaller subs can help achieve a well-balanced stereo effect, unlike when using a single source of bass in your car stereo system.
Two Subwoofers Will Help Reduce Localized Bass
The chances of localized bass become increasingly high when using one subwoofer, especially when dealing with low-budget and medium-priced subs.
When using poor-quality subs, you’re likely to feel that the sound is coming from the installation location.
However, with two subwoofers, you’ll get to feel a more balanced, unidirectional sound, especially if your subs were strategically positioned in your car during installation.
Two Small Subs Can Fit Anywhere
While one large subwoofer can pack a punch and bring your stereo system to life, chances are you won’t have enough space to install it, especially when dealing with smaller car models.
Two small subwoofers will give you more flexibility during setup, as you can install them beneath your car seats or in the trunk, depending on your car’s size.
Bigger subwoofers occupy more space and increase the chances of localized bass (especially if poor quality), which can negatively impact your listening experience.
Therefore, if you want to conserve space, then it’s better to go for two small woofers as they can fit anywhere and make the bass sound evenly distributed.
Two high-quality woofers will naturally outperform a single woofer of a similar type.
Two small subwoofers will work together to reproduce a smoother, well-balanced bass without overworking other components of your car’s audio system.
With two subwoofers, you’ll reduce overall compression while enhancing your system’s dynamic range, which improves the quality of audio reproduced.
Having two woofers in your car’s audio setup means they’ll work together to reproduce the lower frequencies, thus reducing the overall workload of the drivers.
You’ll also get an increased surface area for displacing air, meaning your subs won’t work as hard to reproduce bass sounds like a single unit would.
Resonance is a significant factor to consider when installing a subwoofer to your car’s stereo system.
Unlike spacious rooms, cars are usually enclosed, which means soundwaves produced by subwoofers will be reflected inside the car.
The reflected sound waves tend to bounce, thereby leading to inconsistencies in bass reproduction.
Fortunately, increasing bass sources can help balance the sound by reducing frequency and sound wave interference, thereby resulting in smoother frequencies in both the front and back seats of your car.
Benefits of Using One Subwoofer in Car
Can Help Save on Space
Placing two subwoofers in your car’s trunk might not be the best idea, especially if the trunk isn’t large enough.
For people whose cars have small trunks, installing one high-performance subwoofer instead of two similar-sized subs can help to save a lot of space.
If you install two high-quality subwoofers in a small trunk, chances are they won’t operate at maximum power and efficiency.
This explains the importance of factoring in the size of your car’s trunk (or your preferred installation area) before adding a subwoofer to your car’s audio system.
It makes more sense to have one high-quality subwoofer performing optimally than installing two or several woofers that won’t perform anywhere near their optimal levels.
Quality Over Quantity
It’s better to invest in one high-quality subwoofer that’ll bring your car’s audio system to life than installing two low or average-quality subs. Going all out on a top-notch subwoofer will ensure you get the desired audio quality without using too much space.
It also allows you to save money. You’ll need to spend double the cash to get two subwoofers of the same quality that won’t perform at their peak levels in small trunks.
What Should I Look For When Buying a Subwoofer?
What should you look for when buying a subwoofer? Well, that depends on how much space is available in your vehicle and what kind of sound you want.
For example, if you have plenty of room to spare and prefer booming bass sounds, then a 15-inch woofer will suffice. On the other hand, if you’re looking for more clarity without so much boominess and are short on space, then a 10-inch sub is the way to go.
Let’s check the most critical factors to make sure you will be happy with the choice of your subwoofer.
Total Power Output
When looking to buy a good subwoofer for your car’s stereo system, it’s highly important to consider your preferred product’s root mean square (RMS) power ratings. RMS ratings allow you to know the total amount of continuous power the subwoofer can handle.
For instance, if your subwoofer has a 200W RMS rating, it can smoothly run with 200 watts of continuous power. The trick therefore is, to ensure that your subwoofer’s overall power output is high but still corresponds with the power output of your car’s speaker system.
Subwoofer’s Frequency Range
As a rule, you should always check a subwoofer’s frequency range before making any purchase.
Most car subwoofers can handle the 20-200Hz frequency, and if you want deep bass, the lower it starts, the better.
If you don’t know much about frequency ranges and their interpretation, you should ask an expert for assistance before making any purchases.
Enclosure Type and Used Materials
The type of enclosure used in a subwoofer is vital in determining the frequency range and the overall sound quality.
You’ll find that sealed sub boxes (enclosures) are the best art producing deep, frequency-accurate sounds. This explains why some small subwoofers placed in sealed enclosures can reproduce deeper bass than larger woofers placed in open sub boxes.
Your trunk can also act as an enclosure if you don’t plan to use it. But if deep bass is what you’re after, then it’s best to consider sealed subwoofer boxes.
Type of Subwoofer
Car stereo systems usually need unique types of subs that can reproduce bass in tight spaces. Below are some of the common types of subwoofers you can install in your car.
Component subwoofers are ideal if you’ve decided to custom design your car’s stereo system.
These types of subs come as speakers only (without enclosure) and will therefore need to be strategically installed in a box (of your preferred style) to produce top-notch sound. You can get component subs in a variety of sizes from 8-15 inches.
Enclosed subs come already mounted in an enclosure and require external amplifiers.
They’re great for first-timers who aren’t keen on customizing their car stereos system. Either way, you’ll still need to choose the right type of enclosure depending on your unique audio needs.
These types of subwoofers are great for tiny car models with small trunk space.
Powered subs are unique as they combine an amplifier and the subwoofer in one enclosure, allowing you to conserve space. Although they are not the strongest, they are ideal for small cars and softer bass.
And although powered subs are compact and fairly easy to install, they don’t have as much power as larger subwoofers. However, don’t judge these compact subs by their small sizes, as they can still produce massive bass.
The sensitivity rating of a subwoofer refers to the amount of power a unit needs to produce sound at a given volume.
The sensitivity rating is often expressed as sound pressure level (SPL). A subwoofer with a high SPL rating won’t require much power from a head unit to reproduce sounds at high volumes.
But if your head unit or amplifier has low power ratings, then it’s best to match it with a sub with a high SPL rating.
Your subwoofer’s impedance refers to its electrical resistance. Most car subwoofers come with a 4- ohms impedance rating, but you can also find 2-ohm and 1-ohm subwoofers.
When buying a subwoofer for your car stereo system, be sure to confirm its impedance matches the power output of your amplifier.
As can be seen, the size and type of subwoofer you install determines the sound produced by your car stereo system. While size matters, you should also consider factors such as your stereo system’s total power output and impedance.
Ideally, the subwoofer you purchase should be compatible with your car’s head unit.
Wrapping Up: Should You Get One or Two Subwoofers for the Car?
If you have a large enough space in your car, installing two subwoofers appears to be advantageous, especially since they’ll reduce the overall workload on other speakers.
Two subwoofers will also reduce resonance and improve the distribution of bass inside the car, which is usually an issue when dealing with single subwoofers.
However, a single subwoofer will also work well, provided you invest in a high-quality unit that’s powerful enough to reproduce low frequencies without distortion.