Have you ever turned up the music in your car to really feel the music, but it left you wanting a little more? Though there can be a variety of reasons for this, the problem may be that the bass response isn't what it needs to be to make your seats vibrate. The truth is that most car sound systems aren't up to the task, but there are ways to make it better.
How to increase bass response in your car's audio system: To increase the amount of bass in a car's audio system, install a subwoofer, purchase a new sound system, or change the equalizer settings of the car's audio system. Changing the equalizer settings is the cheapest and easiest way to increase the amount of bass in a car's audio system.
In this article, we'll discuss the basics of bass response and the ways by which you can enhance the bass in your car audio system.
Sound & Frequency
When talking about your car's sound system, you will hear words like “frequency” thrown around often. For those that aren't sound experts, here's a brief rundown.
Frequency is the way that sound is categorized. It is measured in Hertz (Hz). The audible range for human hearing is from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. These frequencies are often categorized into three levels: treble, mid, and bass.
Roughly speaking, a frequency is categorized as “treble” if it is above 5,000 Hz. Mid frequencies are anywhere from 250 Hz to 5,000 Hz. The bass frequencies are below 250 Hz. These ranges are certainly arguable, but they'll do for our discussion.
Humans do not hear all frequencies equally. We're actually rather unresponsive to low-end bass frequencies. We tend to feel these frequencies more than we hear them. To hear the low-end of the bass response (sub-bass is often regarded as below 80 Hz), we need more power in the low-end.
Furthermore, low frequencies require slower but greater movement from their speakers. This is why subwoofers are larger than other speakers. The amplifiers that drive these larger subwoofers to produce low-end frequencies require more power to produce adequate sound levels.
So with power in mind, we can understand how most factory/stock builds can have lacklustre bass. A factory audio system will have a low power draw and will be easy on the car battery. Bass-heavy systems with multiple subwoofers and subwoofer amps will demand much more power and potentially stronger alternators or larger or multiple batteries.
Related article: Do Car Audio Systems Drain Batteries? Stereo, Amps, Speakers
Check & Adjust Equalizer Settings
All sound systems in cars have an equalizer (EQ), which is used to equalize the frequency levels in the sound coming through the speakers. The equalizer also allows you to adjust the different frequency levels to a balance that you prefer. Sometimes, the problem with your car's audio system is simply that someone accidentally changed the equalizer settings.
Standard car stereo EQs will have bass, mid and treble control, though equalizers can get much more precise than that. Regardless, an EQ will allow us to boost (increase volume), or cut (decrease volume) are defined frequency ranges.
Usually, the equalizer's default setting will have each frequency band levelled, where no band is boosted or cut.
We can increase the bass response of the car by boosting the bass within the car stereo's equalizer.
For those that want the smallest of adjustments or can't afford a whole new sound system, the equalizer is the first place to enhance the bass response. It could be the case that the bass frequencies were cut and that boosting it will give you all the bass response you need!
Invest In A Subwoofer
There's only so much you can do with the equalizer on your car's audio system, and that's where subwoofers come in. Subwoofers are useful if you're trying to improve the bass response in your audio system because they are designed to produce lower audio frequencies, and bass is the lowest level of sound frequency humans hear.
Subwoofers are often fed frequencies below 80 Hz, though higher crossover points can be set as well.
There are two types of subwoofers: passive and powered. A passive subwoofer is powered externally with an amplifier. A powered subwoofer houses both the subwoofer and amplifier in the same cabinet. Either way, these amplifiers will demand additional power from the car battery.
Within these types of subwoofers, there are many different subwoofer designs.
- Ported Subwoofers: These subwoofers have a port that allows air to escape. They are typically a tube shape, improving the sound quality remarkably.
- Sealed Cabinets: These subwoofers are a standard speaker enclosed in a box. The box doesn't have holes or tubes for the base to escape, which leads to the subwoofer having more control over the sound.
- Front-firing: This term refers to the internal speakers' placement inside the cabinet. Most have speakers placed at the front, so they are front-firing.
- Down-firing: This term refers to the internal speakers' placement inside the cabinet. These are placed on legs so the sound can still project from the speaker.
- Bandpass Subwoofers: True to their name, bandpass subwoofers are used in professional settings, for concerts and similar events. This design involves two separate chambers that allow you to specify bass levels and give more autonomy to the user.
- Horn-loaded Subwoofers: Following the trend of being like they sound, horn-loaded subwoofers have angled, horn-shaped compartments that focus the sound on extending in a specific direction, instead of releasing the sound in multiple directions.
The size of a subwoofer can vary depending on the enclosure and your needs. Though they can come in many different sizes, the most typical sizes are 8-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch, or 15-inch.
After choosing and installing a subwoofer, you may have to tune it to help it to better pair with the existing sound system in your car. Even though this process can be long and slightly tedious, but it'll be worth it the next time you really want to feel the music.
Where To Install A Subwoofer In Your Car
Installing a subwoofer into your car is a great idea if you want to improve bass response, as long as you're okay with sacrificing the space. The large size of a typical subwoofer requires it to take up space in the trunk or the floor. For some, the lack of space may not be worth it, but it might not be a difficult choice for others.
Subwoofers are traditionally placed in the trunk or on the floor of your vehicle. If you have a front-firing subwoofer, you will want it placed in an upright position not to muffle the sound. Another way to avoid muffling the sound is to ensure that the subwoofer isn't pressed against any walls.
If you want your subwoofers in the trunk, there are several ways to go about the installation process, depending on where exactly you want them. Some bass enthusiasts prefer the subwoofers in the corners of the trunk; a term referred to as “corner loading.” Another way to install them is to put them just behind the rear seats.
Those not wanting to sacrifice their cargo space for bass response may prefer the idea of installing their subwoofers on the floor of the vehicle. While this does conserve space, this process tends to be much more expensive because of all the wiring routed through the floor of the car that allows it to function properly.
In general, the process of installing a subwoofer into your vehicle is a tedious and expensive one. For most vendors, the cost to install a subwoofer will be around $100 but could range up to $300 or more for more complicated projects (either in placement or just general installation).
For the most premium setup, installers charge up to $1,000, so it's easy to see why some opt to do it themselves, but one wrong wire can keep the subwoofer from working at all. While installing it yourself may save you money, it might be worth it to go to a professional to ensure that it's put in right the first time and that you don't damage anything else.
Notable Car Speakers For Bass
There are so many great car speaker systems out there, but some of them are severely lacking in bass, which is arguably the most important part of the music. If you're looking to swap some speakers without having to switch out the battery and/or alternator, consider the following four non-subwoofer speakers with notable bass for car audio.
Boss Audio Ch6530
The Boss Audio Ch6530 (link to check the price on Amazon) is a great pair of speakers for increasing your car's bass response. The 3-way class speakers are powerful and give an amazing value for the money. They are well designed, low priced, and they can handle high outputs of up to 400 watts without an issue.
Boss Audio Systems is featured in top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
The JBL GTO629 (link to check the price on Amazon) is a pair of premium, 2-way co-axial speakers with phenomenal bass response. They are 6.5 inches, and perhaps the greatest part about them is the Plus One tech that helps to enlarge the surface area of the cone, thus creating a larger bass response.
It has a Uni-Pivot tweeter, which assists in pointing the sound at the listening position.
These speakers bring out the bass with a great low end, free of distortion. And, best of all, these speakers come at a reasonable price.
JBL is featured in many top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
The Pioneer TS-M800PRO (link to check the price on Amazon) is another great speaker pair for those looking for the best bass response. With high output and optimized bass, there's not much these speakers can do wrong.
They are intensely loud, for starters, and they are the classic size of a speaker, the drivers measuring 8 inches. This speaker offers well-balanced, full-range stereo audio for a tempting price.
Pioneer is featured in top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!
Rockford Fosgate R165X3
The Rockford Fosgate R165X3 (link to check the price on Amazon) is another fantastic pair, giving you great value for every dollar spent. The 3-way class speakers come in a 6.5-inch standard size that requires no modifications to be able to fit into most cars, and they offer a lower power consumption than a lot of the speakers out there.
All in all, the awesome quality of their audio paired with the low price makes these speakers tough to beat.
Rockford Fosgate is also featured in top brand articles at My New Microphone. Check out these articles here!