Not feeling those hip-hop beats in your mom’s Camry?
Spent a ton of money on a subwoofer only for the setup to sound worse than stock?
Fret not, budding ride-pimper! If the sound you get from your subwoofer isn’t up to the mark, then all you need to do is a bit of fiddling with it to get it sounding right.
However, subwoofers can be complex to the uninitiated and attacking it with your screwdriver will most probably end in an ear bleed, which is why we provide you the guide to setting your subwoofer up.
You can also see our list of top 15 inch subs by clicking the link.
1. Distortion, the arch nemesis of aural pleasure:
Distortion, that irritating cracking/hissing/[insert annoying noise here] is the primary obstruction to those perfect notes’ journey to your ears, hence, the first step to get rid of it.
For setups without an amplifier:
Simply find the maximum volume level that your setup can go to without distortion creeping in.
For setups with an amplifier:
Set the gain to a low level, play some music and gradually increase the volume on your receiver till you hear distortion. Lower the volume slightly till the music is clean again. This level is your maximum volume.
Increase the gain slightly till you hear distortion. Back off the gain till the music is clean again. The amplifier’s gain is now set.
2. Get the signal as flat as the Earth:
What do you mean, the Earth isn’t flat? Anyway, our next step to achieving car-contained musical nirvana is to flatten the signal and adjust the low-pass filter.
Follow these steps to flatten the signal and adjust the low-pass filter:
- Set the subwoofer amplifier’s gain to its lowest position possible
- Turn the low-pass filter and turn it to its highest setting
- Switch the bass boost off (if available)
On the receiver:
- Set the receiver’s bass tone control to its “middle” setting (it may also be called neutral, flat or zero)
- Adjust the subwoofer level control (if available) to the same “middle” setting
- If your receiver has a subwoofer-level low-pass filter, crossover or bass boost, turn those off
3. Tune the low-pass filter and the subwoofer gain:
It’s time to tune the signals which we flattened in Step 2.
Set the receiver to play music at about 25% volume. Increase the subwoofer amplifier’s gain till the subwoofer’s sound drowns the sound of the speakers out (though there must be no distortion).
Now, adjust the low-pass filter on the subwoofer amplifier. Lower the frequency of the filter till all the high- and mid-frequency notes become inaudible.
The reason for drowning these notes out is because we want the subwoofer to play as little music as possible which is not bass. Since the bass resides in the low-frequency notes, that is where the subwoofer amplifier should operate. The low-pass filter also acts as a trap for smoothening out the rough edges of the bass.
4. Tune the bass boost and use a subsonic filter where necessary:
If you’ve equipped your bass-rocket with a bass boost, now is the time to tune it.
Turn the boost up gradually to see what the bass sounds like. Keep in mind that turning the boost up by a slight degree is highly probable to introduce distortion. If there is distortion, turn the subwoofer amplifier’s gain down till the distortion subsides.
In case your subwoofer is ported, use a subsonic filter. Fine tune the levels to suit your personal taste and the “looseness” of the bass. This is the final step before the whole system is tuned to match.
5. Synchronize the subwoofer and receiver:
The final step to getting a ride Xzibit would be jealous of is to synchronize the subwoofer and receiver. Compared to the rest of the steps, this is the easiest.
Turn your receiver’s volume as high as possible before distortion sets in. Now, gradually increase the subwoofer amplifier’s gain till the bass sounds proportionate to the rest of the levels and the music as a whole.
If you have a remote bass-control, fiddle with it a little to see if the system sounds better.
Congratulations! You have officially tuned your subwoofer setup successfully and your car is the most pimped on the block.
- If you hear distortion, lower the amplifier’s gain. If the bass drops to an unacceptable level, you will need a sub-amp setup of a higher capacity.
- If the bass doesn’t have the “kick” you want, reversing the subwoofer’s speaker leads might help.
Well, that concludes our guide on finding the perfect tuning for bass for your car. Hope you enjoyed reading it!