Subwoofers are large box speakers that reproduce the low frequencies we call bass. They make the whole car shake when you turn them up. But why are subwoofers placed in the trunk?
Subwoofers are placed in the trunk because they take up a lot of space, as they are usually installed in a large wooden cabinet. Since a subwoofer is non-directional, it doesn’t matter where you put it, and in most cars, the only space that is large enough for a subwoofer is the trunk.
In this article, I’ll explain how to place a subwoofer in your car and help you decide whether you need one in the first place.
Is the Trunk the Best Place To Put a Subwoofer?
Generally, the trunk is the best place to put a subwoofer because that’s where it takes up the least space in your car.
Low-frequency waves have good penetration, so even if your subwoofer is in the trunk, you will be able to hear the bass in the whole car.
That said, you don’t have to follow this as a rule. For most people, the reason for putting the subwoofer in the trunk is that if it is on the backseat, it will take up passenger space.
Some people, however, don’t use the backseats or may need as much trunk space as possible. For example, if you have a cabriolet, you probably have very little trunk space, and it makes sense to mount the subwoofer elsewhere.
You can mount the subwoofer in the back passenger footwell if you don’t care about passenger space.
Alternatively, you can just put it in the back seat and tighten it with a seat belt.
That said, this isn’t a course of action I recommend because the subwoofer could still slide around, and an unstable subwoofer rattles like there’s no tomorrow.
If your subwoofer is small enough, it may not take up much cabin space. Under-seat subwoofers are a thing, and they don’t sound bad either.
Mounting a subwoofer under a seat is much better than on a back passenger seat as it won’t slide around or rattle.
If putting it in a trunk isn’t feasible, below the seat is the next best place.
The JBL BassPro SL from Amazon.com is one of the best compact subwoofers for cars. JBL makes some of the best audio gear out there, and this powerful subwoofer is no exception.
It’s very easy to mount wherever you want, and you can put it under a front or back seat or in the trunk.
Furthermore, the bass it produces is punchy, not overwhelming.
Which Direction Should I Point My Subwoofer?
You should point your subwoofer away from the cabin if the subwoofer is in the trunk, or you can direct it toward the back of the car or upwards. If you’re using an under-seat subwoofer, point it up for best results.
I understand why you would want to point your subwoofer toward the cabin. After all, that’s where you sit, and it makes sense, given that that’s how every other speaker is mounted. However, low-frequency bass is non-directional.
That means you can point it wherever you want, and it’ll sound more or less the same.
To be more precise, pointing a bass away from you may sound even better because low-pitch sounds have wavelengths of around 55.7’ (17 m). So, if you point your subwoofer away from the cabin, the wavelength travels less efficiently.
The longer the bass travels, the better it sounds. I can confirm this because I’ve experienced it myself.
My cousin had a compact Audi A3, which is a pretty small car. When I sat in the back, his subwoofer “massaged” me. It was obnoxiously loud, so it didn’t sound good.
However, when I sat in the front passenger seat, the bass was significantly more mellow and punchy.
If your back passengers are complaining about the bass, now you know why.
Crutchfield on YouTube has tested subwoofer positioning in this video:
They found that the subwoofer was 5-6 dB louder when pointed away from the passengers.
Do I Need a Subwoofer for My Car?
You need a subwoofer for your car if you want to have a powerful bass. Some newer car models have decent woofers with good bass quality.
However, a subwoofer is a dedicated bass speaker, and it can produce a clear and punchy bass that brings music to life.
I believe that a subwoofer is the single best upgrade you can do for sound quality.
Stock woofers, especially those in new car models, are already decent, as they can reproduce clear vocals, a rich treble, and a half-decent bass.
However, regular woofers can’t go below 50 Hz. Your car woofer doesn’t have a bass reflex either.
Your ears can hear from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. This means you won’t be able to hear the lowest frequencies in a song without a subwoofer.
Some subwoofers can even reproduce infrasound, which you can’t hear. But you can feel it, and it’s a good feature to look for in a subwoofer.
If you want to make your car audio system sound fantastic, get a subwoofer.
The Skar Audio Single D2 from Amazon.com is one of the best subwoofers on the market. You can get anything from 8″ (20.32 cm) to 18″ (45.72 cm) to make sure it fits in your trunk.
It’ll make your hip-hop, metal, and rock music sound crystal clear, and it has a peak power output of 1,200 watts so that it can get plenty loud.
You might have second thoughts about a subwoofer. Perhaps you don’t want to sound obnoxious to a passer-by, or you don’t want to wake up your whole neighborhood.
While it’s true that you can hear bass outside the car, you shouldn’t worry too much.
Every subwoofer worth its salt lets you configure how much bass you want. You can turn the knob only a quarter of the way up. You’ll still get the benefits without being too loud.
Do I Need an Amplifier for My Subwoofer?
You do need an amplifier for your subwoofer to power it. The signal from your stereo alone isn’t strong enough to power your subwoofer.
However, you don’t need a separate amplifier if you have a powered subwoofer because active powered subwoofers have built-in amplifiers.
There are two common scenarios that you face when upgrading car sound:
- You want to upgrade the whole sound system.
- You want to add a subwoofer.
If you want to do the former, I strongly recommend a high-quality amplifier, because you’ll need something to power all speakers, not just your subwoofer.
Boss Audio Systems R1100M from Amazon.com is the perfect amplifier. It’s rated at 1100 Watts, allowing you to power all your speakers through it. It also has a remote subwoofer control.
Many passive subwoofers don’t let you turn it up or down, and this control knob fixes this issue.
But many cars already have decent sound. Maybe there’s no need to spend a thousand dollars on new speakers.
In that case, a powered subwoofer is perfect. You don’t need to spend money on a separate amp, as all you need to do is hook it up to your car battery to power it. Additionally, make sure that the active subwoofer has a fuse.
Running a powerful subwoofer without a fuse is extremely dangerous and is a fire hazard.
The best active subwoofer is the Pioneer TS-WX1210A 12″ from Amazon.com. Pioneer is a well-known car speaker manufacturer for a very good reason.
This subwoofer has a built-in amplifier, and it comes with a remote knob. The enclosure has a carpet finish, so it’ll fit into your trunk perfectly.
Subwoofers are placed in the trunk because it is the only space large enough to hold them without taking up space that passengers can use.
That said, you can place a subwoofer anywhere you want in your car, including inside the cabin.
If you want to mount a subwoofer inside the cabin, it’s best to go with a slim under-seat model.
At the same time, you need to be careful of positioning. Make sure that you point your subwoofer away from the passengers if it’s in the trunk, and if you mount it below your seat, orient it upwards.