Last Updated on: October 7, 2022
The factory speakers of your car aren’t up to snuff. They’re too flat for your audiophile taste. You’d like to experience more richness, realism, and depth in your music… feel the chest-thumping bass resonate through your car…revel in the excitement of having your doors and windows tremble as you feel every beat of the music you are listening to…
You’ve decided to get a subwoofer.
As you already know, subwoofers are made to emit low-frequency sounds. Usually between the 50Hz to 1000Hz range. But what’s giving you the “head scratches”…is what exactly is the difference between bass tubes and subwoofers?
In this article, we’ll conduct a head-to-head contest between the two and help you determine which is best for you.
We begin by discussing enclosures.
Importance Of Enclosures
If you install subwoofers as they are, the vibrations and bumps will damage your speakers over time. An enclosure helps balance the back and front sound frequencies that a speaker emits. This can be a bass box type or a tube.
This prevents critical damage by containing the vibrations from the subwoofer.
So if you want your subwoofer to function properly (and avoid damage to your speaker) you’ll want to enclose your sub. Now, before we get into the bazooka tube vs subwoofer match-up, let’s talk about the box.
These are subwoofers that boost sound quality and power. They’re expensive because they use a separate amp.
These are airtight, sealed enclosures that house your subwoofer. Because it’s airtight, it keeps sound frequencies in place. Within the box. There’s also an echo inside the box. The signals (frequencies) moving forward from the woofer add up with these echoes and complement them.
If you listen to music that sounds best with tighter bass, this is your best bet. An example would be classical or jazz music.
This type of box enclosure doesn’t displace or muffle the sound. So you’ll hear every note. And your car audio music won’t sound too “boomy”.
A Deeper Dive Into How It Works
You’ll hear the bass but it won’t be thunderous. Instead, your bass will be tight, crisp, accurate, and with no reverb afterward. How is it able to do this? These enclosures only have openings for the speakers. The subwoofer experiences a lot of pressure because the air is sealed inside.
This pressure comes from one particular movement — the subwoofer’s cone goes back and forth to produce sound.
This sealed air acts like a shock absorber for the cone. It fluidly modulates the cone’s to and fro motion so the sub produces all the notes evenly. To create an accurate, tight bass sound, the subwoofer needs a lot of power to overcome the pressure build-up. That’s a lot more power to produce the same volume from a comparable ported box.
This means that if you want optimum performance, then you need an amplifier with enough wattage.
Should you get a sealed box? That depends on your preference. Some consider this a great choice for audiophiles who prefer the accuracy of bass sounds and they’re very compact. So they fit snug in vehicles.
Ported boxes have vents. These vents are usually located at the sides or bottom of the enclosure. And they reinforce low bass response. This means you get more output (boom) than you would from a sealed box.
The sound these boxes produce is less accurate but they bring the thunder!
How It Works
The box’s vents (or ports) allow air to move in and out of the enclosure. As the subwoofer operates–it produces low-frequency sound signals. But the box doesn’t keep that deep bass in. Instead, it escapes through the ports.
Now. Because of this–the sub’s cone has more freedom to move. And the port redirects sound from the rear of the cone. Then adds that to the sound coming from the front. Leading to louder, boomy bass.
Additionally, the airflow creates a whistle effect that strengthens every note the cone plays.
The best part about this entire process is–it’s efficient. The pressure inside and outside the box are equal. And the sub needs less power to produce pounding bass. So you can use a smaller amp than a sealed box will need.
If you like house, hip-hop, rock, or any other hard-hitting music that sounds good with loud bass, then the ported box is your best bet!
These are a special type of ported box. And they boom the hardest. It combines the design of sealed and ported boxes. Meaning they’re dual-chamber boxes. One sealed. Another ported.
The sub’s location is the sealed chamber and blasts sounds from there into the ported chamber. This chamber then acts as a filter–allowing only specific frequencies out.
A sub box produces bone-jarring, thunderous bass and it’s very efficient at it. If you listen to rap, reggae, techno, metal, or hard rock, then this is perfect for you.
Advantages Of Subwoofer Boxes
- Bass will sound loud and tight
- Crystal clarity of sound
- Protects subwoofer from damage
Disadvantages Of Subwoofer Boxes
- They are more expensive than bass tubes.
- They demand a lot of power to maintain their sound quality
- They’re bulky. And require a lot of space
A subwoofer tube is just a bass tube that houses a sub and an amp.
Longer story? You have a subwoofer inside a long, cylindrical enclosure. And the diameter of the enclosure is close to the diameter of the sub. And in some cases, they’re the same.
The driver (or woofer) faces one of the flat sides of the bass tubes. And the rest of the space is there to enhance the bass sound. They’re usually sealed–like sealed sub boxes. So they don’t allow the bass to escape from the bass tube.
But in terms of functionality–they’re closer to a ported box than a sealed one. So you’ll get a “boomy” bass. And it’ll be loud (they boost sound pressure level). But the catch is…most audiophiles consider them to have inferior sound quality.
Some like them because they’re easy to mount and they fit right in with your car.
Advantages Of Subwoofer Tubes
- They give you boomy bass.
- They’re a low-cost alternative to subwoofer boxes.
- They’re compact. So they fit in perfectly inside your car
Disadvantages Of Subwoofer Tubes
The only real disadvantage of a bass tube is the sound quality. Especially relative to subwoofer boxes. Their design leads to a sound that may leave much to be desired. If you’ve already experienced a subwoofer box.
Now for our bazooka tube vs subwoofer matchup!
Subwoofer Tube Vs Box: Which Comes Out On Top?
You can get decent sound from a bass tube and a bass box. But it depends on the scenario, music style, and loudness level. Let’s put them in the ring and let them go head to head.
Bass Tube Vs Bass Box (Sound Quality)
Boxes provide tighter bass–sort of like a heavy punch. They are accurate. And they add to the quality of your car audio.
On the other hand–a bass tube produces boomy bass that sounds low. The accuracy suffers. And sometimes, so does quality.
Bass Tubes Vs Boxes (Space)
If you’re looking for a compact design that will fit your car’s limited space, go for a subwoofer tube. You can place them between your rear seat. Or at the back end of your boot.
Bass boxes are generally larger. And you only want to get them if you have enough space in your car.
A bass tube or bazooka tube is cheaper than a box. If your budget is strained and you’re not a big stickler for sound quality then tubes are your best bet.
If you have a bit more to spend and care for sound quality, go for a sub-box.
Pro Auto Thought: If you feel flustered by the preceding article and would only want to know a specific type of speaker unit, then you might be interested in reading this instead — Best Bass Tubes For Car.
Enclosures are important to protect your speaker and sub from damage. Bass boxes offer tight, accurate, and thunderous bass. While tubes give you a more boomy and earthshaking sound, they are poor at reproducing bass.
Before deciding, think about what kind of sound you like, your budget, and the space you have available.