Bass Tube vs Subwoofer

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Updated October 17, 2022

Selecting the best speakers is a process chock-full of decisions. And some speaker types are more complex to decide on than others. For example, many of the best subwoofers now come in various enclosures, which have different implications on sound. To help you understand this geometric decision, we’ll explain the differences between a subwoofer in a bass tube vs a subwoofer in a box.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Box subwoofers and bass tubes use different shape enclosures to help produce lower-range frequencies.
  • Bass tubes are valued for their compact, affordable design, although it comes at a cost to sound quality.
  • Box subwoofers produce better sound but are more challenging to manage and require more setup.

And don’t worry; we have resources explaining other tricky sound decisions. For more, you can read up on passive vs active subwoofers.

Insider Tip

Many car amplifiers come with a bass boost setting that enhances the overall bass sound.

Differences Between Bass Tube vs Box Subwoofer

Bass speakers rely on enclosures to trap airwaves and help produce low frequencies. And for a long time, these enclosures were mainly box-shaped. However, subwoofer tubes — literal tube-shaped cases that hold sub speakers — have recently grown in popularity as an alternate enclosure method. So how are subwoofer tubes different, and are they the better option for creating bass frequencies?

Other than the shape, the main difference between these two is that bass tubes almost always have an amplifier integrated into the system. This means owners don’t have to connect the subwoofer to external amplifiers. As you might imagine, this impacts a speaker’s performance.

Another element affecting subwoofer sound quality is the impedance rating. Understanding this spec is vital when choosing any speaker, which is why you should know the difference between 4-Ohm vs 8-Ohm subwoofers.

Volume Output

The main factor determining a speaker’s volume is its amplifier’s power. Generally, a built-in amplifier won’t yield as much power as an external amplifier. Of course, this isn’t always the case, but when comparing bass tubes to passive box subwoofers, the tube won’t go as loud.

Another crucial thing to understand when choosing speakers to fill a space is the benefits of 4-way speakers vs 2-way speakers.

Warning

When connecting a subwoofer to an amp, always ensure the two devices have compatible electric resistance.

Sound Quality

It’s rare to find a bass tube with a speaker larger than 12 inches. So if you’re looking for the most riveting bass response, you should consider going with a box subwoofer. Also, box-shaped enclosures produce a more precise overall sound because they’re more successful at trapping the airwaves necessary to produce bass.

When evaluating sound quality, there are so many factors that need to be considered. For more on this, we have some great articles, like high-level input vs low-level input subwoofers.

Convenience

Especially with car audio systems, bass tubes are wonderful from a convenience standpoint. Their compactness easily fits into trunk space, and you don’t have to set up any wiring. On the other hand, box speakers require a wired connection and take up more valuable space due to their shape.

STAT: Subwoofers generally come in four sizes: 8, 10, 12, and 15. (source)

Affordability

If you’re on a tight budget, consider buying a powered bass tube. Cheaper options cost around $100, and you get the amp included. You can find box subwoofers, but you’ll also have to find a compatible amplifier, which costs around $200.

Bass Tube vs Subwoofer FAQs

Is a dual voice coil better than a single one?

If you want to produce stereo audio with only one speaker, investing in a dual voice coil speaker is wise. However, you won't need the dual coil if you run a setup with two subs.

What is the average frequency range for a subwoofer?

The typical subwoofer range is considered to be 20-200Hz. However, many subs create frequencies up to 500hz.

Why is it important to enclose a subwoofer?

Bass sound is created by trapping pressure from the airwaves that emerge from the back of the speaker cone. This concept is called back-wave cancellation.
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