Enclosed Vs. Free Air Subwoofer: Which Is Better? 2023

Exploring the Differences: Free Air Subwoofers vs. Enclosed Subwoofers

What is a Free Air Subwoofer?

What is a Free Air Subwoofer?

A free air subwoofer is a type of subwoofer that operates without a box enclosure. It acts as a passive speaker and requires an external amplifier for power. Designed specifically for this purpose, free air subwoofers do not need the confinement of an enclosure for optimal performance.

Advantages of Free Air Subwoofers

Space-saving Solution

Free air subwoofers are perfect for applications where space is limited, such as smaller cars or vehicles with limited interior space. They can be easily installed on car doors, allowing for multiple subs to be added to create a complete speaker system.

Cost-effective Option

Compared to enclosed subwoofers, free air subs are more affordable. They do not include a subwoofer enclosure or an amplifier, making them a budget-friendly choice, especially if you already have an amplifier at hand.

Efficient Power Consumption

Free air subwoofers are more efficient in moving air, requiring less power from your car’s amplifier compared to enclosed subs with the same size and power rating.

Drawbacks of Free Air Subwoofers

Less Tight Bass

Due to their open-air design, free air subs do not produce as tight bass as enclosed subs. They may not be the best choice for those seeking precise and tight bass reproduction.

Lacking in Earthshaking Bass

Free air subwoofers may not deliver the deep, earthshaking bass required for serious car music competitions. They are not ideal for bass enthusiasts seeking powerful and booming bass.

What is an Enclosed Subwoofer?

What Is An Enclosed Subwoofer

An enclosed subwoofer refers to a subwoofer that is housed in a box enclosure. The enclosure can be sealed or ported. A sealed enclosure is completely sealed to prevent air from entering or leaving the box, while a ported enclosure has a hole that allows air to move in and out. Enclosed subwoofers can be either powered or passive, with powered subs incorporating an amplifier within the subwoofer box.

Advantages of Enclosed Subwoofers

Tighter and More Precise Bass

Enclosed subwoofers, especially those in sealed sub boxes, provide tighter bass reproduction compared to free air subs. The airtight nature of the sealed box minimizes air movement inside, resulting in more precise bass output.

Booming Bass Performance

If you’re looking to win a car music contest or desire powerful bass, enclosed subs are your best bet. They are specifically designed to deliver booming bass that can win competitions.

Drawbacks of Enclosed Subwoofers

Space Requirements

Enclosed subwoofers come with an additional sub box, which can take up a significant amount of space inside your car. Larger subwoofers require larger boxes, potentially compromising trunk space. Multiple enclosed subs may further limit available trunk space.

Higher Cost

Enclosed subwoofers generally cost more than free air subs of the same size and power. The additional cost is primarily due to the inclusion of a subwoofer enclosure, with even higher prices for enclosed subs that come with built-in amplifiers.

Power Consumption

Due to the airtightness of the sub box, enclosed subs require more power from the amplifier to move the cone and produce sound compared to free air subs.

Understanding the Differences Between the Two

What are The Differences Between The Two

Subwoofers in free air systems are typically mounted on the rear deck or a board between the backseats and trunk, while enclosed subs are mounted within an enclosure. Enclosed subs offer superior sound quality compared to free air subs, thanks to the well-designed enclosure. Our comprehensive evaluations indicate noticeable differences between the two, with the enclosure box producing more powerful bass and the free air setup offering louder but more distant sounds. Specific music genres may favor one option over the other, such as free air subs providing better bass for “Electro/Dance” mode and a more natural sound for “Classical” mode. Enclosed subs excel in delivering precise bass and maintaining the original rhythm of the song.

Making the Choice: Enclosed or Free Air Subwoofer, or Both?

Ultimately, your personal preferences will determine which option is best for you. Both enclosed and free air subwoofers have their advantages, catering to specific needs. If you crave tight and booming bass, an enclosed subwoofer is the ideal choice. However, if space is limited or you have a tight budget, a free air subwoofer will serve you well.

The Intricacies of Infinite Baffle Setups

What about Infinite Baffle Setups

The term “infinite baffle system” often leads to confusion, mistakenly associating it with free air subs or believing that it operates without a box. To clarify, free air subwoofers operate without a box, while baffle systems employ a large, sealed space, such as the trunk of a car. To ensure that rear waves do not interfere with front waves, an infinite baffle system requires extensive modifications, involving the use of a baffle board. This method works effectively when the air volume required by the speaker is at least ten times that of the baffle board. It is crucial to match subwoofers to the available trunk space to achieve optimal bass reproduction.

Deciding Between Traditional Boxed, Infinite Baffle, or Free Air Setups

The choice of which system to utilize depends on your boat or vehicle and its available space. Subwoofers of a certain size often necessitate sacrificing interior space, particularly when larger than 10 inches. While sub boxes consume trunk space, even an infinite baffle system may require compromises in terms of space and functionality. High-quality free air subwoofers, combined with powerful amplifiers, can provide impressive bass response, making them easy to install with minimal modifications. However, speaker size and output may need to be compromised in smaller cars, requiring the use of baffles in most installations. If the correct enclosure size is used, sealed or ported enclosures offer the best bass frequencies. Remember to allocate additional space for the speaker, as a box measuring 2″-3″ larger than the speaker’s dimensions is necessary. For instance, a 10-inch subwoofer requires a box measuring approximately 13″x13″x15″. Consider the space requirements when incorporating an amp.

Read more:

  • Best Surface Mount Car Speakers
  • Best Budget Subwoofer Car

In Conclusion

Ultimately, your preferences will dictate the best choice for you. Both enclosed and free air subwoofers have their unique advantages, catering to specific sonic preferences. The type of music you listen to will be the primary factor in determining which bass type and subwoofer box configuration suit you best.

Last update on 2023-09-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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