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Video: How to choose a subwoofer enclosure

Sealed, ported, or bandpass — what's right for you?

The first step to choosing a subwoofer actually begins with the enclosure and how you want the sub to perform. In this video we'll tell you about the different types of subwoofer enclosures available, and find out which one best fits your vehicle and your needs.

Read video transcript

Our advisors get a lot of questions about subwoofers:

"Do I need a sub?"
"What kind of sub fits my car?"
"What sub hits hardest?"

It's easy to get confused. There are a lot of different sizes and styles of subwoofers and different types of sub boxes. It's hard to know where to start. Let's simplify things for you. There are two key things to think about when buying a sub: sound and space.

Sound depends on the kind of enclosure, or box, that you're subwoofer is mounted in. There are three kinds of enclosure designs you'll commonly find in car audio: sealed, ported, and bandpass. Sealed boxes are simple, sealed enclosures that the sub is mounted into. They're best if you want tight and accurate bass, great for all-around use. Ported boxes add a port or vent that improves the efficiency of the system. They'll play louder with less power input but might sound a little more boomy. When volume is king, it's a smart choice. Bandpass boxes combine a sealed box with a ported enclosure with the sub sealed inside the box. With their plexiglass windows, they're dramatic and they can give big bass output — the perfect call when you want to make a statement.

If you're short on space you may not be able to fit a large box into your car or truck but there are some good solutions for tight spots. Truck boxes like this one are built with a slim profile to let you slide them behind the seat of your truck. Special custom enclosures like these stealth boxes let you add a custom fit box to your truck. Some even come with subs and amps already built in.

One other solution when space is tight is choosing a compact powered sub like this one. Since the amp is built in, you'll save space twice. It'll fit in a lot of tight spaces where you can't put a normal sub. When space isn't an issue you can go with a larger box like this trunk-style box. Just make sure you measure the space you have available before you buy the box.

We've talked about sound and space, but let's face it, that still leaves a lot of different options. What's the best sub for you? The answer is simple. The best system is the one that matches your budget and your taste. Over the years our advisors have helped thousands of people buy subwoofers for their cars, whether the system is simple or whether you're going to the extreme. We've got the experience and expertise to kick around all the options with you and help you find the right gear.

So if you want bass don't hesitate and get in touch with us on the phone or via chat or email. We'll get you the gear you need and the support you want after the sale.

  • Anthony Sanchez from Bakersfield

    Posted on 12/17/2020

    I want to make a custom box for two 12 shallow mount comp rts

  • Jeff Riederer from Phoenix

    Posted on 12/13/2020

    I have an install that will require a thin, sealed box. I have a Rockford Fosgate T1S2-10 sub. Because I have plenty of length and width, my install will allow me to build the box to the recommended volume of .80 cuft, but my interior box depth would be restricted to a tight 3-1/2". Will this tight depth affect sound quality or will it not matter since I can provide the recommended .80 cuft volume? Second question along the same lines, I have the length and width space and can also build a ported box to the recommended ported volume but the port tube would be tight with the 3-1/2" depth. Would this matter and would the placement and outlet direction of the port affect anything? This install is for an open air UTV vehicle. Given the above and I have plenty of amp power, 600 watts RMS, am I better sealed or ported?

    Commenter image

    Robert Ferency-Viars from Crutchfield

    on 1/7/2021

    Jeff, the geometry ensures that everything will work. If you decide to port the box, you should check the sub's owner's manual for minimum port tube sizes. As for the UTV aspect, porting will make the sub louder, so that might be better. But if you're looking for tight, less boomy bass, then sealed will be better. Since you have plenty of power, either should work.
  • Angel Pimentel from Orlando, FL

    Posted on 11/23/2020

    Hi. I have an Alpine X-12" and two Alpine X-10". I would like to incorporate them into a Custom built sub enclusure. what would be the best comination. a) three chamber compartments, ported type b) three chamber compartments, sealed type c) two chamber compartments, sealed type (10") and one chamber compartment, ported type (12") or d) two chamber compartments, ported type (10") and one chamber compartment, sealed type (12")

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 11/29/2020

    Angel, this will come down to the type of bass you prefer. We can only speculate on how the combinations will sound based on what we know about about ported (loud and hard-hitting) and sealed (tight and focused). So, maybe porting the 12" will make it nice and loud while sealing the 10s will allow for some tightness. But that's still 3 subs firing at once, so it's hard to know if you'll be able to hear that nuance. I'd say research what others have actually done with their systems and see if your bass preferences match up.
  • Eric Davidson from Beresford

    Posted on 3/23/2019

    I see in this video u have a custom box for a Chevy S10.... exactly what I'm looking for but I don't seem to see it anywhere for sale on your site....I want

  • Darren from Kamloops

    Posted on 6/2/2018

    Hi I've got a Alpine type r 15" how big of a vented enclosure should it be mounted to? I also have a 12" Rockford Fosgate P3D4 and would like to incorporate it into a coustom built sub enclosure with the 15" Alpine. Should they be built with separate chamber compartments? And should I be using separate amplifiers to power each subwoofer? Thank you.

    Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    on 6/5/2018

    Hi Darren, I've passed your question along to our Advisor team for the best answer. Someone will contact you soon to help.
  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/14/2017

    Daniel, the age-old question... if you're comparing apples to apples, in this case the same MTX Series of sub, the 12" will "hit harder" because it's moving more air with a larger cone, but that's not taking into consideration power, enclosure, placement, and other variables. As a result, it can be difficult to define "hit harder." Check out this article all about subwoofers for more info, or give us a call for recommendations on the right sub for you.

  • Daniel from Bristol

    Posted on 7/13/2017

    Does the mtx 10 hit harder bthan a 12

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/24/2016

    Tommy, you can use the steps in this article to find the right diagram for your system.

  • tommy sisombat from memphis

    Posted on 10/23/2016

    hi, I have a question. I have two 10" L5 kicker 2 ohm dvc. And a 1000w hifonicz mono amp. Which wiring setup should I use to get the best boom. Thanks


    Posted on 9/10/2016

    I recently bought a 2016 Nissan Murano SV but it has no subwoofer, I am interested to know which is the best powered subwoofer that i can get for it, I will be keeping the factory stereo and speakers

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/29/2016

    Legion, thanks for your comment. I've passed your question along to our team of advisors for the best recommendation. Someone will contact you soon to find the right option for your vehicle.

  • Legion from Sheboygan Falls

    Posted on 8/28/2016

    All of this talk about "tighter/more accurate" bass vs "more boomy" vs "louder/more dramatic" has me even more confused. I listen mostly to EDM/Dubstep type of music now, and it's been at least 2 decades since my last customized sound system, but I preferred my bass to sound and feel more vibrato rather than boomy (commonly heard with Rap music) or tight/punchy (commonly heard with Rock music). For an example and better understanding of vibrato, listen to Dirty Diana by Michael Jackson or Mama I'm Coming Home by Ozzy Osborne, both of which won me numerous sound competitions time and time again because of the frequencies within these songs that the right system setup can push out. Granted, nothing was "ported" per say due to removing the rear seats to fill and use the entire rear passenger area as a chamber with several different sized subs throughout to support various Hz spectrums. I'm not looking to go anywhere near that big. I have a Ford Explorer with plenty of room, but I hate the idea of having a gawdy-looking sub-box as an eyesore just sitting there in the middle of my cargo area. Eventhough I'd prefer to keep the #'s even, I'm open to the idea of using just a single sub. I don't want to use a lot of space, nor shallow-mounted subs in any regard, nor want the obvious appearance of having subs that standard dual-sub boxes give. Hence my dilemma. So... what would you recommend and which enclosure-style???

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/10/2016

    Reece, check the manual for the ideal dimensions for your subwoofer or you may even want to consult the manufacturer's tech support before beginning. Be sure to take accurate measurements of the space you'd like to use in your pick-up, then follow the steps outlined in this article. Good luck!

  • reece from haiku

    Posted on 8/6/2016

    hi i,ve been trying to hook up my sub for close to a year but i and would like to make a custom box and i have the measurements for a alpine type R sub is 14.5 by 14.5 by 10.5 and i cant pull up any blueprints online can u help me

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/21/2015

    Dartagnan, those aren't amps or subs that we carry, and we'd need more information. If you'd like advice on how to pair amps and subs, check out this article. Or give us a call and an advisor can help you find a system that's right for you.

  • Dartagnan from Huntsville

    Posted on 9/20/2015

    Will a planet audio bb4000 push 4 15" db drive k5 series speakers

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/20/2015

    Alberto, you can check your subwoofer owner's manual for suggestions on dimensions, but searching the internet for "subwoofer box calculator" might point you to a tool that will help you figure it out.

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/20/2015

    Roberto, it's a matter of preference. Your choice of enclosure comes down to what you're looking for in you bass. As this article points out, a sealed enclosure will give you tighter, more accurate bass, while a ported or bandpass box will put more boom in your bass.

  • Roberto H Westenfeld from Steger

    Posted on 8/20/2015

    Hello I have two infinity 1252w refrence series subs in a sealed box in my 96 Chevrolet blazer would a ported or a band pass be better for sound also it's hooked up too a r750_1d Fosgate amp at 1 ohm .

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 8/11/2015

    Kerry, when selecting a box (or building one), be sure to check the manual for the ideal dimensions for optimum performance from your subwoofers. You may even want to consult the manufacturer's tech support before ordering a box or beginning to build one. Once you know how big your enclosure(s) will need to be, you'll be able to see if your top will fit too. Worse comes to worse, you may only have room for two subs back there, not three.

  • Kerry from Kelso

    Posted on 8/11/2015

    I got a 1988 Toyota supra,my stereo is 3 12" sony explodes,1000watt amp. how do i fit that in my car and still have room for my removable top.

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 7/8/2015

    Koh, if the subs are already powered, you do not need an additional amplifier. As far as new speakers go, replacing them isn't "necessary" but aftermarket speakers (especially component speakers) are bound to sound better than your factory speakers. If you're unsure, see how the new bass improves your system, and if you're not happy with your sound, try upgrading the speakers when you're up for it.

  • Koh Poh Ann from Singapore

    Posted on 7/8/2015

    I was recommended to install Pioneer D8604 amp with active subs due to space constraints. Question is; the subs already got a built in amp, do I need additional amp? is it necessary to replace my original speaker set that comes with the new car? I am advised to change it to 6" morel Maximo component set. Please help as I am a novice in car audio but keen to learn more. Thank you!

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/28/2015

    Shawn, each manufacturer has their own recommendations for ideal enclosure dimensions that factor in the Thiele parameters of a particular sub. In your case, Memphis provides a PDF entitled "Enclosure Recommendations" that you'll find on their Support site. If you don't see your specific sub there, give them a call and ask them what they recommend. As far as which style enclosure you'd like, this article may be of help. And don't hesitate to call us if you need any help choosing one.

  • Shawn from Ga

    Posted on 5/28/2015

    I have a 10" Memphis sub in a standard cab p/u, how do I know if the enclosure is the right size ? is that determined

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 5/13/2015

    Charlie, nice choice with the solo-baric L7's. They're some of Kicker's best subs. Unfortunately, we don't sell boxes that fit their unique, square design. However, what you have in mind could certainly work. A bandpass box will be very loud and boomy over a narrow frequency range but not as strong in other frequencies (which is what bandpass boxes are designed to do). With your 15" in there, you'll gain extra volume that could help fill any gaps left by the 8". If you end up building a custom enclosure, give us a call. We can certainly help you with the gear to make it top-notch.

  • Charlie from Medford, Oregon

    Posted on 5/13/2015

    I have 1 15" Kicker solo-baric L7 and 2 8" Kicker solo-baric L7s. I was wandering how I should go about boxing them when im looking for something extra poppy but with the lows really coming through. maybe bandpass the 2 8s on the side with the ported 15 in the middle? please let me know if that is possible. thank you for your time.