Sub bass in the car – Is any better than none?

Sub bass in the car – Is any better than none?


With many brands vying for your subwoofer budget, it would be easy to be overwhelmed and end up buying based on price alone. This would be a huge error as not all sub bass is good and in fact some is just dreadful. Here we explore the attributes of a good subwoofer/enclosure.

We get to listen to lots of vehicles. Many of these feature a subwoofer or multiple subwoofers mounted in a variety of ways including custom enclosures integrated into a specific vehicle or boot boxes. There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches however, the recent trend is for off-the-shelf loaded enclosures and this is where we focus this piece.

A subwoofer enclosure can make or break a subwoofer. The volume of the box and any associate porting should be based on exact parameters and not be randomly chosen. Amplification is also extremely important. Sub bass requires a lot more power than full range audio and amplifiers need to output clean, distortion free power at all times. Subwoofers themselves will need to be resonance free and be able to respond to quick transient bass impulses without cone distortion therefore, cone excursion is vital as is cone damping and coil efficiency amongst other things. But life is full of compromise and many music lovers are most heavily compromised in product selection by budget.

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While it is important to establish a sound stage with width and depth, it is the drama that bass adds to music that can make the difference between the mundane and the exceptional. In many systems, it is easy to tell that sub bass has been added to a system almost because there is a feeling it has to be. We often hear subwoofers huffing and puffing due to a lack of power being delivered to them. The opposite here is too much power without much thought given to the more subtle requirements of good sub bass.

Many drivers will get a huge buzz from very loud sub bass and in fact many will make bass their first purchase and then think about the rest of the frequencies. In cars with beautifully blended bass, the subwoofer should not be heard as a stand alone unit. Instead your system should deliver as full a range of frequencies as possible with none taking precedence over another. We recently sat in a car with a pretty high end system. The customer at the final hour decided to purchase a standalone loaded subwoofer box. This had a 10″ sub fitted to it and was supplied with plenty of power. The customer expressed a preference for dominant bass however, this is not always the best idea. Whilst in standard factory audio, bass deficiency is one of the major complaints, you can easily swing too far in the opposite direction. Getting back to the car mentioned above, yes there was plenty of sub bass available and we would have chosen to turn the level down somewhat but what was really striking was the poor articulation. If you fire three bass notes at a sub woofer you should be able to identify them as three separate musical notes but all too often, it is impossible to identify any musicality in the three notes. instead you are struck by the buzzing sensation in the back of your neck rather than any enhancement to the overall reproduction of a piece of music.

Our friends over at Driving Sounds are extremely hot on this as they are musicians first, audio enthusiasts second and car lovers last. This is a fine match for our products as we know that the equipment we supply is very capable musically, unlike many other products on the market that flatter to deceive with fancy, colourful marketing and unbelievably low prices.


One such product we have just received is the Audison Prima range of boxed subwoofers. and in particular the APBX 10 DS. The box is surprisingly compact due to Audison’s decision to go with a sealed enclosure. it is the actual driver design that has enabled them to do that and still achieve an credible subwoofer/box combination that is capable of delivering very powerful, low bass without the need to fire 20,000watts at it. Audison Prima subs are matched perfectly to the relatively conservative power figures quoted – Be sure to ask far reaching questions when being quoted power figures by anyone! This can be an absolute bear trap! see Driving Sounds Issue  IV, What’s Watt for a better understanding.

The solid construction of the enclosure is one of the key reasons so much musical output can be achieved from the APBX 10 DS. Audison never do anything half-heartedly and this enclosure as been cleverly designed to mount with the subwoofer firing down on to the floor of the mounting location or firing up. When firing down, particularly on to a firm surface, more bass can be achieved although in this orientation the installer is in part at the mercy of whatever surface the box sits on. A set of feet raise it a little above the surface and are fitted with Velcro so that they grip a carpeted surface. Install the box with the driver pointing upwards for a slightly different feel and perhaps an even more musical experience. We are certain that Driving Sounds Magazine will get to provide its own synopsis of the performance of this excellent innovation and we look forward to their expert opinion.

The APBX 10 DS is fitted with traditional binding posts but also a connector which is very handy for those looking to temporarily remove the box when additional luggage space is required.

You can view full product details of Audison Prima APBX 10 DS here: or visit your local FOUR MASTER:

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