Are you a car driver frustrated with your subwoofer not hitting hard enough? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Many drivers find themselves in the same situation, asking why their bass isn’t as loud or powerful as they would like. The good news is there are some simple steps you can take to get that bumping sound from your subwoofers, but why is this happening in the first place? Let’s find out.
There are several reasons why a car subwoofer may not be hitting as hard as desired:
#1. Not enough power sent to the subwoofer
#2. Blown speaker
#3. Wiring issue
#4. Amplifier problem
#5. Poor signal to the subwoofer
#6. Incorrect installation or configuration in the car’s audio system.
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Tip: If you want to have your subwoofer playing at its full potential, there is one thing you have to remember, and this is the power. To make sure it receives enough wattage, connect it to a solid D-class amplifier capable of delivering at least the same RMS as the subwoofer demands.
My favorite amplifiers that can run even the strongest subs are from the Skar SKv2 series (link to Amazon).
In this article, I will provide an overview of what could be causing low bass levels and tips for troubleshooting and solving the issue so that you can enjoy better bass from your vehicle’s audio system.
Why Is Car Subwoofer Not Hitting Hard?
When you face a situation like this, several steps could cause the issue:
#1. Not Enough Power is Sent to the Subwoofer
The subwoofer requires a certain amount of power to produce strong, deep bass.
If it is not receiving enough power, the bass may be weak or distorted.
The amplifier is responsible for sending enough power to the subwoofer.
If you have an amp that is weak, works at a higher impedance, or has a low power output, it may not be able to provide the subwoofer with enough power to produce strong bass.
Electrical system limitation
This is often an issue when you have installed a strong amplifier, and the car’s electrical system may not be able to provide the subwoofer with enough power.
This could be due to a weak alternator, a faulty battery, or other electrical issues.
For example, if you have a subwoofer with a power handling capability of 500 watts RMS and a 500-watt amplifier. Everything matches perfectly, but your car’s electrical system is overloaded and can only provide a maximum of 300 watts of power to the amplifier.
In this case, the subwoofer cannot receive enough power to hit as hard as possible because the amplifier is limited by the energy provided by the car’s electrical system.
#2. Blown Speaker
If the speaker is damaged or blown, it may not be able to produce a strong, clear sound, and a few things can cause this:
Playing the subwoofer at too high of a volume.
If you consistently play the subwoofer at high volumes, the driver may eventually become damaged or blown. This can be caused by overexerting the speaker over time, which can cause it to fail.
In some cases, the speaker may be defective from the factory and fail after a relatively short period of use. This could be due to a problem with the materials used in the speaker or the manufacturing process.
This can happen when for example, you have a 400W RMS subwoofer powered by an 800-watt amplifier with the gain set too high, and you consistently play the subwoofer at high volumes.
Over time, and in many cases sooner rather than later, the speaker may become damaged or blown due to the excessive power sent to it. As a result, the subwoofer may produce weak or distorted sound.
#3. Wiring Issue
The wiring connecting the subwoofer to the amplifier and the car’s electrical system is a critical part of the audio system. When overlooked, it can quickly become a bottleneck in the audio system.
If there is a problem with the wiring, it can affect the subwoofer’s performance, and there are a few common issues:
Loose or damaged connections
If the connections between the subwoofer, amplifier, and car’s electrical system are loose or damaged, it can result in weak or distorted sound.
This could be due to physical damage, such as from water or debris, or wear and tear over time.
It can also happen that the amplifier’s ground connection is wrong, and the connector does not touch the bare chassis but the paint.
If the wiring between the audio system components is not done correctly, it can also cause problems with the subwoofer’s performance.
Noteworthy is the quality of the wires and their size (gauge). For the best subwoofer performance, not only speaker wires from the amplifier should be thicker than normal ones for speakers, but more importantly, you should use proper power and ground wires for the amplifier.
When choosing the wires, make sure that both the power and the ground have the same gauge without exception.
For example, let’s say you have a subwoofer and amplifier that are correctly matched in terms of power handling.
However, there is a problem with the wiring between the amplifier and the subwoofer because you have used standard speaker wires that are incapable to transfer demanded by the subwoofer current.
This causes the subwoofer to produce weak or distorted sound, and there is an additional risk of overheating overloaded wires.
In this case, the issue is not the subwoofer or amplifier but the wiring connecting them.
#4. Amplifier Problem
The amplifier is responsible for sending power to the subwoofer and can significantly affect the subwoofer’s performance.
If the amplifier is faulty or not functioning correctly, it can result in weak or distorted bass caused by the following:
If one or more components within the amplifier are faulty or damaged, it can affect the performance of the amplifier.
For example, a defective power supply or output stage could cause the amplifier to produce weak or distorted sound.
Amplifiers generate heat as they work, which can affect their performance if they become too hot.
If the amplifier is not properly cooled or ventilated, it may become overheated and may produce weak or distorted sound.
If your subwoofer and amplifier are correctly matched in terms of power handling and the wiring between them is correct, but the amplifier has a faulty power supply and is producing weak or distorted sound as a result.
In this case, the issue is with the amplifier rather than the subwoofer or the wiring.
#5. Poor Signal to the Subwoofer
The signal sent to the subwoofer from the head unit or other audio source is an important factor in the subwoofer’s performance.
If the signal is weak or distorted, it can result in poor sound quality caused by the following:
Problem with the head unit or audio source
If the head unit or other audio source is not functioning correctly, it can result in a weak or distorted signal being sent to the subwoofer.
This could be due to a problem with the head unit itself or the audio source (such as a CD or MP3 player with highly compressed files).
Interference in the signal
Various factors can cause interference in the signal sent to the subwoofer, such as electrical interference from other devices or physical obstacles that block the signal.
Signal interference is notable primarily when listening to AM/FM radio.
#6. Incorrect Installation or Setup
The placement and configuration of the subwoofer in the car’s audio system is another crucial factor that can significantly affect its performance.
If the subwoofer is not installed correctly or properly configured, it can result in weak or distorted sound. If this is happening, there are two critical points you need to look at:
Incorrect placement of the subwoofer
You should place the subwoofer in a location that allows it to produce the best sound.
If it is installed in the wrong location, such as in a trunk with a lot of clutter or against a solid surface, it may not perform as well as it could.
Incorrect crossover settings
The crossover is a component that separates the audio signal into different frequency ranges, with the subwoofer handling the lowest frequencies.
If the crossover is set to the incorrect frequency, the subwoofer will cut the low bass tones and will not perform perfectly.
Incorrect balance of the audio system
If the balance of the audio system is not set correctly, with the subwoofer receiving too much or too little of the audio signal, this can also badly affect the sub’s performance.
Properly balancing the audio system is important to get the subwoofer’s best performance.
For example, if you have correctly matched the subwoofer with the amplifier, the amplifier receives a strong signal, but the subwoofer sounds muffled for some reason.
It can happen when you have it in the wrong location or wrong orientation in the trunk, for example, when the cone is facing the rear seat or the ass reflex port is too close to the side wall in the trunk, what causes the sound waves to be reflected and muffled.
In this case, the issue is with the installation or setup of the subwoofer rather than the subwoofer itself or the wiring between it and the amplifier.
How to Investigate Subwoofer Not Hitting Hard?
If you’re experiencing issues with your subwoofer not hitting hard, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can try before seeking professional help:
#1. Check the subwoofer for any visible damage or issues
As mentioned above, a blown speaker or damaged wiring can cause a subwoofer to underperform.
Carefully inspect the subwoofer for any visible signs of damage or issues, and replace any damaged components as needed.
#2. Check the amplifier for any problems or error messages
If there’s an issue with the amplifier, it can affect the subwoofer’s performance.
Check the amplifier for any errors or issues with the power supply, and make sure the connections between the amplifier and subwoofer are secure.
#3. Make sure the subwoofer is correctly connected to the amplifier and the car’s audio system
If the subwoofer is not receiving a sufficient amount of power or signal, it may not be able to perform at its full potential.
Check the connections between the subwoofer, amplifier, and car’s audio system to make sure they are all properly connected.
#4. Try adjusting the settings on the amplifier or head unit
If the issue is with the signal being sent to the subwoofer, you may be able to fix the problem by adjusting the settings on the amplifier or head unit.
Try turning the bass boost up or adjusting the crossover frequency to see if that makes a difference.
#5. Consult a professional car audio technician
If you’ve tried the above troubleshooting steps and the issue persists, it may be time to consult a professional car audio technician.
They can diagnose the problem and help you fix it, whether it’s a blown speaker, a wiring issue, an amplifier problem, or something else.
There are several possible causes of a car subwoofer not hitting hard, including a blown speaker, a wiring issue, an amplifier problem, a poor signal to the subwoofer, or an issue with the installation or configuration of the subwoofer in the car’s audio system.
To troubleshoot the issue, it’s crucial to perform some basic checks, such as inspecting the subwoofer and amplifier for any visible damage and ensuring the subwoofer is correctly connected to the amplifier and car’s audio system.
You may also need to adjust the amplifier or head unit settings, and you may even need to consult a professional car audio technician if the issue persists.
These steps should help you identify and fix the issue with your subwoofer not hitting hard.