Many stereo systems underdeliver when it comes to bass. Installing subwoofers is the best way to up your vehicle's low-end power and quality, but how should you arrange them? We've researched this question, and here's what you need to know:
Facing the subwoofer in different directions will achieve different results. Most bass enthusiasts face their subwoofers to the back, pointing at the back of the cab in a truck or the tailgate in an SUV for a heavy bass sound and feel.
Other configurations are also possible but will affect the sensation and sound of the bass.
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In this article, we'll take an in-depth look at how subwoofer angle affects your listening experience. We'll also see what kind of gear and setup suit different music lovers and how to deal with space limitations when choosing your subwoofers. Read on to get the whole story.
Does it matter which way you face a subwoofer?
Where you face a subwoofer can have strong effects on the sound quality. Some configurations will result in harder hitting bass, some with clearer sound, and some fall somewhere in the middle. We'll look at different configurations in detail.
The most common setup for custom jobs, back-firing subwoofers, can deliver more powerful bass. This configuration has the subwoofer mount against the rear seats firing at the back of the vehicle.
Because the sound waves bounce off the back of the vehicle before reaching the listener, they travel the furthest in this setup. This creates a more immersive sound and lets the bass reverberate through the whole vehicle.
This kind of setup is ideal for music that features heavy bass prominently, especially when combined with large subwoofers, like the 15" subs from Massive Audio below. You may want to consider this setup if you're a fan of genres like hip hop, rap, dubstep, or others like them.
Pointing the subwoofers toward the front is less common but can still produce great sound. You will likely find that you can hear the actual notes in the bass better, though you will probably feel it less.
Because of this, front-facing subwoofers work well will smaller subs and genres where the bass plays an important role in the harmony, orchestration, or soloing.
If you're a fan of chamber music or jazz, consider a setup with smaller subwoofers, like the 10" subs from Rockford Fosgate below, pointing toward the front. This setup may allow you to appreciate bass solos and low-end orchestral textures more than back-firing subs.
Up-firing and Side-Firing Subwoofers
If pointing your subs to the back increases the power of hard-hitting base and pointing them forward preserves more tonal quality, up and side-firing is a technique to find a middle way.
Most of these setups aren't purely up or side-firing. Many subwoofer boxes are built with an angle instead.
This subwoofer box, another offering from Rockford Fosgate, is angled so you can get an upward direction while also pointing it either to the front or back. It is also small enough to fit under the seat in many pickups.
Down-firing is another option for angle, but also among the least popular. It is challenging to get the sound right when down-firing, either directly or at an angle. Because of this, downward-facing subwoofers are typically only used as a space-saving measure.
Where to put a subwoofer in an extended cab truck?
Extended cab trucks often have seats that go all the way to the back of the cab. Because of this, there typically isn't room to mount subwoofers behind the seats. However, you can still improve your bass sound by mounting subwoofers under the rear seats.
These subwoofers are typically down-firing, although some also fire upwards, into the bottom of the seat, like the Rockford Fosgate model mentioned earlier. Because of the size restraints, it is generally not possible to fit 15" subs in an extended cab pickup.
On account of these factors, you won't get the heaviest hits or the highest quality sound, but your subs can still improve the lower end and your listening experience.
Make sure your subwoofer mount fits your specific vehicle and model year. The model below, from Attend Bbox, fits extended cabs for the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra for 2014-2018, but they make mounts for other manufacturers and model years.
Best subwoofer setup for SUV
We've seen that different subwoofer setups can result in different experiences for this listener. Because of this, there isn't a single best SUV setup.
Besides the listening experience, other considerations should also be mentioned. The best setup for you will also depend on how much money and space you are willing to sacrifice.
Having multiple, high-quality, back-facing 15" subwoofers in your cargo area might get you the exact sound you want, but it also means sacrificing space. Many drivers buy SUVs for the ample cargo space and aren't ready to sacrifice it. It's also going to cost you a pretty penny.
While there is no single best setup, we'll outline some potential setups for different priorities.
Hard-Hitting Bass Enthusiast
If you're the kind of person who doesn't just want to hear the bass but feel it, it can be worth it to invest in multiple subwoofers and face them toward the back.
You will want to consider larger subs, such as 12" or 15" subs, for the best results. Q Power makes a durable subwoofer box that can fit two 12" subwoofers. It measures 32" x 14" x 13.5" and can easily fit in the cargo area of most SUVs but will require sacrificing some space.
Consider pairing it with a powerful subwoofer, like this 12" 2500 watt from Skar Audio.
This setup will have you feeling your music, but it can also exacerbate any rattling your SUV might already have. Check out our article "Rattling Noise from Rear of Car - What Could Be Wrong?" to learn how to diagnose and fix any rattles in your vehicle.
The Hi-Fi Aficionado
Consider a different setup if you want more bass to hear the timbre and nuance of every note played by, well, bass instruments. In this situation, try loading 8" or 10" subwoofers and facing them toward the front.
The box below can fit an SUV as well as many standard cabs. It has spots for two 10" subwoofers for the best sound quality.
A high-quality 10" subwoofer will set you back less than the larger sizes too. This one, another subwoofer from Skar Audio, is an excellent choice that won't break the bank.
The right gear and arrangement will ensure you can savor every note in the lower register, from the bassoon textures in Shostakovich symphonies to Paul Chambers bass soloes.
For this kind of listening, clarity is king. Even the best setup will suffer from a noisy vehicle. Check out our article "How to Reduce Exhaust Noise Inside Car" to learn how to get your vehicle silent so you can listen in peace.
The Space Saver
If you're not ready to give up the cargo space in your SUV, that doesn't mean you can't up the power of your lower register.
In this case, you may want to opt for under-seat subwoofers, like those we saw for extended-cab trucks. These won't deliver the same resonance or sound quality as the previous setups, but they will keep your cargo space intact.
This 10" subwoofer from Rockville is premounted in a box that is just 2.7" tall, meaning it can easily fit under almost any seat. Buying a premounted subwoofer also saves you money in purchasing a separate box.
From techno to jazz, hip hop to classical, great music might not just be all about that bass, but it's always essential. Regardless of what kind of audiophile you are, adding subwoofers to your vehicle can enhance your listening experience.
Now you know more about how different subwoofer setups can affect how the bass comes through your vehicle's stereo. You'll be ready to make the best choices for your own wants and needs so you can enjoy whatever soundtrack accompanies your drive.