It’s quite common for car owners to replace their factory speakers with an upgrade that is a lot better than the speakers the car comes with. But there are quite a few problems that tend to arise when you replace your factory car speakers with new ones.
One of the common issues is the absence of bass from the speakers. So, what’s the reason that there is no bass coming from my car speakers?
The most common reason why no bass is coming out of your car speakers is that you inversed your speakers’ polarity by setting up the positive wire from the amplifier or receiver with the speaker’s negative terminal.
If for example, the left speaker is connected the right way and the right one is inversed, the bass will be “canceled.”
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Setting up your new car speakers might seem a bit easy, but you have to make sure that you are doing it the right way, especially when it comes to polarity.
Those who aren’t audiophiles or tech experts probably won’t understand how important this is, but we are here to explain to you why you need to set your speakers up the right way to maximize the bass.
Why there is no bass coming from car speakers? And what to do about it.
One of the many reasons why many people tend to replace their factory car speakers with new ones is to add more power and life to the music they play whenever they are driving.
Of course, aside from the speakers’ sound volume and overall quality, one of the most important aspects that improve your music’s dynamic is the bass. Factory speakers that come with your car don’t usually come with bass that’s powerful enough for your needs.
That’s why you may want to replace the factory speakers with new ones that have a powerful bass.
The bass adds power to the music and extra kicks and beat that would get your heart and body moving to the music. The bass also helps you give more of that immersed feeling whenever you listen to your music while driving.
Without the bass, your music seems flat and just doesn’t have that power and oomph you are looking for from your speakers.
But the problem that people often face when they replace their factory speakers all by themselves with newer and better ones is that they may not hear any bass coming from their new speakers. Many people try to adjust the speakers’ volume to hear any semblance of bass coming out of them, but this just doesn’t work in their favor because the speakers’ volume isn’t the main reason why there is no bass.
That said, we are here to find out why your car speakers don’t have any bass at any volume and how you can fix this problem.
Understanding speaker polarity
The main culprit of why your newly installed car speakers don’t have bass has something to do with the speakers’ polarity. But for you to understand this, let me explain a few things.
When your speakers are making sounds, they move according to the signals coming from the amplifier or receiver. If you try to open up a speaker’s case and observe the cone, it will move forward and backward, depending on the signals that it is receiving.
The speakers’ movement will also affect the quality of sound it is making because it affects the airwaves around it.
Think of it this way. When you are striking a drum, the drum stick will push the drum inwards, thus creating negative pressure in the airwaves around it. That very same pressure affects the sound that you are hearing. And as soon as the drum pops right back up, it creates a positive force in the airwaves, thus affecting the sound in the surrounding area.
The same way applies to a speaker because the cone movements directly affect the sound you are hearing.
Whenever it receives a positive signal coming from the amplifier or receiver, the speaker should naturally move forward, affecting the airwaves to create a positive pressure that goes well with the recorded music that the speaker is playing.
The same with negative signals as the speaker should be moving inward whenever it receives such signals.
Let us go back to the drum example. If the recorded music that the speakers are playing involves drum sounds, the speaker should be moving inward whenever the sound is playing the sound of a drum getting struck.
Meanwhile, it should be moving forward when the speaker plays the sound that the drum makes when it pops right back up.
So, when you are installing your speakers, you must connect the positive wire from the amplifier or receiver to the speakers’ positive terminal. The same way you should be dealing with the negative wire.
Doing so will allow the speaker to move forward when it should be moving forward and move inward when it should be moving inward, depending on the sounds coming from the amplifier or receiver.
But what happens if you get the wires mixed? This is when the speaker will be out of phase.
Out of phase speaker = No bass
As mentioned, the usual reason why there is no bass coming from newly installed car speakers is that the speakers might be out of phase, or maybe one of them is not wired correctly to the point that you got their polarities mixed up.
That happens when you connect the positive wire with the negative terminal and the negative wire with the positive terminal.
To visualize what happens when your speakers are out of phase, let us go back to the movement that the speakers make. We mentioned that the speakers should be moving forward when the recorded sound it is playing created a positive pressure in the air so that the speakers will also be making a positive pressure in the air. The same is similar to negative air pressure.
But, when the speakers are out of phase, the speakers will be moving forward even though the recorded music it is playing created a negative pressure because of how you connected the wire transmitting negative signals to the positive terminal.
So, when the car speaker plays the sound of a drum getting struck, which should create a negative pressure in the airwaves, your out-of-phase speaker will now be moving forward instead of backward. As such, the pressure that the speaker is creating does not match with the sound that it is playing.
If this is what happens when the speakers are out of phase, why is there no bass coming from your car speakers?
How speaker polarity affects bass
The reason why bass is usually the most affected when your speakers are out of phase is that bass depends a lot on air pressure.
So, if you noticed in home theater setups compared to car speakers, they always come with a large subwoofer that handles most bass-related sounds.
And when you get close to the subwoofer, you can actually feel the changes in the air pressure made by the movements they make, especially during the parts of the music or the movie that are heavy on the bass.
Going back to your car speakers. The bass is affected when the speakers are out of phase primarily because they cannot create bass.
Because bass is mainly dependent on the air pressurization made by the positive and negative pressure caused by the speakers’ movements, you won’t be able to get any bass at all if you inversed the polarization of your car speakers.
The car speakers will be moving forward when they should be moving backward, and vice versa. As such, the bass will be inaudible at best.
When you have one pair of speakers in the car, and you were able to get the right polarization in one speaker, but you inversed the polarization in the other one, there is a good chance that you won’t be able to hear any bass. And this is because the speakers will effectively “cancel” each other out.
What happens is, the speaker that is out of phase will try to compete with the speaker that is in phase.
When the in-phase car speaker moves forward following the sound signals it is receiving from the amplifier or the receiver, the speaker that is out of phase will be moving inward instead.
The positive air pressure that the speaker that is in phase makes is basically getting canceled by the negative air pressure that the speaker that is out of phase is creating.
Cancellation happens more often in smaller cars because of how the speakers are usually close to each other. However, it can still occur in larger cars, but the bass may not be as audible as you might have wanted it to be.
All in all, the biggest culprit as to why you do not hear any bass from your newly installed car speakers is that you may have inversed their polarity, and one of the speakers is out of phase.
How to fix the missing bass issue?
Test speakers polarity
Suppose your wires are mixed up, and you accidentally placed the positive wires of your amplifier or receiver with your speakers’ negative terminals and vice versa. In that case, you might think that the fix is relatively easy because all you have to do is to re-wire everything again and make sure that you did things right this time.
Well, to some extent, that is true because the best way for you to fix the polarity of your car speakers is to make sure that you connected the right wires with the correct terminals. However, there are still reasons why it might not always be as easy as we may think.
There are some cases wherein the wires and terminals on the car speakers are not labeled properly to the point that it will be difficult for even the most experienced user to get the wiring right.
Usually, the red wires denote positive wires while the black ones are the negative wires. However, again, there are times when neither the wires nor the terminals are correctly colored or labeled. That’s when the confusion tends to happen.
So, the first thing you need to do to know if your speakers are wired correctly is to test the polarity. Here are some of the ways you can do:
Use a speaker tester
The easiest way for you to test your speakers’ polarity when the wires are not labeled is to make use of a speaker tester. They are relatively affordable and quite easy to use, depending on the speaker tester you purchased.
Speaker testers are not only useful for testing your car speakers’ polarity, but they can also be used for other reasons because they generate their own signal.
As such, a speaker tester can be a good investment for you, especially if you are an audiophile.
The tester I often use and I am happy with is the PAC TL-PTG2. It does not only test the speakers, but it also checks if they work properly in general, and can be used with all sort of speakers thanks to the ability to create tones from 13Hz, up to 10,000Hz.
You can find PAC TL-PTG2 tester on Amazon, and if you want to test your speakers with a product of really good quality, click this link and check the latest price.
Use a 9V battery
A relatively cheaper way to test your speaker polarity out is by using a 9V battery that you may have lying around in your home. If you do not have one, click this link and check the latest price on Amazon.
Using a battery is a relatively easy method and will not hurt your budget, especially if you had just spent a lot on your new car speakers.
Here is how you use a 9V battery to test your car speakers’ polarity:
- Open one of your car speakers so that their wires are revealed.
- Place one of the wires of a speaker to the positive terminal of the battery. Do the same with the other wire and connect it to the negative terminal of the battery.
- Observe how the speaker reacts and moves after you had made the connection to the battery. If the speaker moves outward, then it only follows that the wire you connected to the positive terminal is the positive one and the wire you connected to the negative terminal is the negative one. But if the speaker moves inward, it only means that you inversed the polarity, and you connected the wrong wires with the wrong terminals on the battery.
- Find a way to label the wires on the car speakers so that it will be easier for you to remember which is which.
- Do the same with your other car speakers if you are unsure which wires are positive or negative.
After you had tested your car speakers’ polarity and it came out that all or some of them were actually out of phase, the logical step to do next is to fix the wires. During fixing wires, make sure that the positive wires are connected with the positive terminals, and the negative wires are connected to the negative terminals.
Additional reasons for missing bass and fixes
If your car speakers’ polarity were correct all along and you still encounter bass problems, the reason might not be a problem with the wiring.
- Instead, it could be because you installed new speakers that are much stronger than your factory speakers. This can happen if you, for example, left the factory speakers in front but only replaced these in the rear of the car.
You won’t be able to hear any bass from the front because the new speakers will be canceling the bass coming from the factory speakers.
In this case, an easy solution is to remove the factory speakers so that you’ll only be hearing the sound from the new speakers or to replace the factory speakers with the same aftermarket as already installed.
- There are also cases wherein the wires may have been correct, but the speakers are not getting enough power. That is where external amplifiers come into play to provide the speakers with the energy they need to run well enough to produce the bass you wanted.
The bottom line is that your car speakers need something that could give them more watts so that they would be able to work efficiently and at their full capacity.