Loaded Subwoofer Enclosure vs. Making Your Own Box
There are many different factors to consider when considering an enclosure for your subwoofer. Many consumers take the option to construct their own. Others would rather just purchase a pre-fabricated loaded enclosure and move on to getting it installed as quickly as possible. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the pros and cons of each option. We'll also provide a handy refernece guide for some of our most popular loaded subwoofer enclosures that we carry at Classic Car Stereos.
Making Your Own Box
If you've decided to make your own box, there's a few options for construction materials out there. Each option can carry its own advantages and disadvantages with it. This post won't be a "how-to" on constructing your own subwoofer box from scratch. We'll instead take a look at these advantages and disadvantages of each option so that you as a consumer can make the best selection for yourself.
MDF or medium density fiberboard is by far the most popular construction material for DIY subwoofer enclosures. This is a manufactured wood that is dense and thick, which is ideal for constuction. Mainly because thinner wood can allow your sound to distort and resonate in unpleasant sounding ways.
One potential downside with MDF is that it's a very heavy wood to work with. If your subwoofer enclosure will be mostly stationary, this shouldn't present any major challenges other than being heavy to move around initially. But by adding more weight to your car, you might also want to consider how the extra weight may affect your gas milage.
Additional Wood Types
Because MDF isn't the nicest looking wood, some consumers will opt to use a nicer wood grain (assuming the enclosure is not just going to be covered in carpet). When selecting a different type of wood, you'll want to make sure it's as free from as many imperfections as possible. Small imperfections can allow the sound to distort in unspleasant sounding ways.
Potential warping down the line is also a serious consideration with other types of wood. There are many factors like thickness, quality of wood, staining, and weather conditions (like heat and humidity) that can all affect warping in the long term. Beacuse of this, many people stick with MDF as it can be more reliable than a nicer looking wood.
While less common than either of the above options, Fiberglass is typically seen in custom installs from installation specialists. Fiberglass can be aesthetically pleasing, but does come with multiple challenges related to shaping, size, specialized tools, and a lack of ease of construction. Due to many or all of these challenges, fiberglass installations are almost always left to professional custom installations.
Do-It-Yourself subwoofer boxes composed of MDF are the most popular material by a long shot. MDF typcially provides the best cost/benefit positives while avoiding many of the other disadvantages from other types of wood or from fiberglass.
Beyond just the positives or negatives from whatever type of material chosen, there are still other factors to consider when creating your own subwoofer enclosure. Material costs may be in fluxuation, and could even double or triple in price on short notice. Creating your own box will require precision along with a set of professional or semi professional tools that will carry their own cost (unless you own them already).
Time should also be a consideration. For some people, time is money! Spending the necessary time to create your own subwoofer enclosure should be factored into your calculations as well.
If all of these areas aren't a major deterrant, many consumers will still choose to create and construct their own enclosure. Some people like the creative and customizable side of constructing their own enclosure. There are many people who like working with their hands and valuing sense of accomplishment with their own work. These factors can also play a major role in deciding whether to create your own box, or purchase a pre-fabricated loaded enclosure.
In our next section, we'll take a look at some of the positives and negatives of purchasing a pre-made loaded enclosure, as well as providing a guide with links to some of our most popular enclosures we carry here at Classic Car Stereos.
Loaded Subwoofer Enclosures
When purchasing a pre-fabricated loaded enclosure, there are two main types of enclosures that you see most commonly: sealed, and ported. While filling out the low end in your sound system combines many different details to make it a success, this guide will focus less as a "how-to" guide, and instead as a description of the different types of enclosures, along with their advantages and disadvantages.
There's also a wide range of sizes that the enclosures are typically manufactured in. Our guide will specifically be looking at 8", 10" and 12" loaded enclosures. We'll also be focusing specifically on 3 of our best selling brands: JL Audio, Kicker, and Rockford Fosgate.
In addition to understanding the types of enclosures, with a loaded enclosure, you'll also want to consider what type of subwoofer the enclosure comes with. When building your own DIY enclosure, you may already have a subwoofer that's your favorite make and model, but when purchasing a loaded enclosure, you'll need to be selecting both the type of enclosure, and subwoofer(s) that is/are going to work best with your sound system and vehicle.
As opposed to Ported, sealed enclosures are not designed with a port for air to escape from the subwoofer box. This typically makes a sealed enclousre the easiest to design and build if you were doing it on your own. There are still loaded enclosures for purchase that are manufactured as sealed enclosures.
If you're looking to purchase a sealed enclosure, you'll need a more powerful amplifiier to achieve the same loudness you'd achieve from the same subwoofer in a ported enclosure. Factoring in a likely more expensive and powerful amplifier to power a sealed design should be considered when planning and budgeting for your subwoofer enclosure. The sound of the low end from these enclosures is usually described as cleaner, fatter, and more accurate when compared to a ported enclosure.
Ported enclosures are exactly what they sound like. They feature a port to allow air to flow in and out of the enclosure to achieve a louder sound, all with less power to the subwoofer. Because of this, these enclosures are incredibly efficent in design, while also being easier on your wallet. You'll be able to get more 'bang for your buck' from an amplifier with less power.
When you're shopping for ported enclosures, they will also be interchangably referred to as "vented" enclosures.
Not every car audio enthusiast prefers the sound of a ported enclosure, but many do! If you're looking for the most bass possible in the most affordable package, you're likely a prime consumer for the ported enclosure design.
While there are a lot of factors that go into creating great low end for your vehicle's sound system, the better informed you are to make the best decisions for your vehicle and sound system remains what matters most.
If you've gotten to this point and think that purchasing a loaded enclosure will be the best decision for you, we've created a easy to reference guide of 8", 10", and 12" enclosures from JL Audio, Kicker, and Rockford Fosgate with links to the product pages below.Click on any of the below product names to be immediately taken to that product's page on Classic Car Stereos.
***While there are many additional loaded enclosures on our webstite, we tried to include only products that were in-stock at the time of posting of this article (June, 2021)***
JL Audio 8 Inch Enclosures
Below you'll find our featured collection of 8" Loaded Enclosures from JL Audio
In this category, we currently have two featured models.
The first contains a W3v3 8" subwoofer and is self powered by an internal amp.
JL Audio ACP108LG-W3v3 8" W3v3 Micro Sub+ Powered Subwoofer Enclosure
The second is also a 8" W3v3 4-ohm subwoofer and is encased in a ported enclosure.
JL Audio One 8W3v3-4 slot-ported low-profile enclosure,4 ohm
JL Audio 10 Inch Enclosures
Below you'll find our featured collection of 10" Loaded Enclosures from JL Audio
In this 10" category, we currently have 6 enclosures featured.
The first model is a 10" 2-ohm TW1 subwoofer encased in a ported enclosure.
JL Audio CP110LG-TW1-2 10 Inch TW1 Loaded Subwoofer Enclosure 2 Ohm Ported
The second model is a dual 8-Ohm 10" TW3 model witha sealed enclosure.
JL Audio 10TW3 10 Inch Subwoofer Dual 4 Ohm Subwoofer Enclosure
The third model here is a 10" TW1 subwoofer in a ported enclosure.
JL Audio ACP110LG-TW1 10 Inch TW1 Powered Subwoofer Enclosure Ported
The fourth model is a 3-Ohm 10" W7 Annicersary Edition subwoofer in a sealed enclosure.
JL Audio 10TW3 PowerWedge Enclosure
The fifth model is a 3-Ohm 10" W7 Anniversary Edition subwoofer in a sealed enclosure.
JL Audio One 10W7AE-3 Loaded Subwoofer Enclosure rear-firing 3 ohm
The sixth and final model is a 2-Ohm 10" W3v3 model subwoofer and features JL Audio's patented, chamber-coupled port design.
JL Audio One 10W3v3-2 high-output Subwoofer Enclosure 2 Ohm
JL Audio 12 Inch Enclosures
Below you'll find our featured collection of 12" Loaded Enclosures from JL Audio
In the 12" category, we have 3 models featured from JL Audio.
The first is a 2-Ohm 12" TW3 model subwoofer in a sealed enclosure.
JL Audio One 12TW3-D4 Loaded Subwoofer Enclosure black carpet finish,2 ohm
The second model is also a 2-Ohm 12" TW3 subwoofer but featured in a slightly smaller sealed enclosure optimized for a truck (or other tight area).
JL Audio One 12TW3-D4 Loaded Subwoofer Enclosure truck enclosure2 ohm
The third and final model is two 12" TW3 subwoofers facing back to back in a sealed, carpeted, and branded MDF enclosure.
JL Audio Two 12TW3-D4 Loaded Subwoofer Enclosure opposed driver alignment 4 Ohm
Kicker 8 Inch Enclosures
Below you'll find our featured collection of 8" Loaded Enclosures from Kicker
Our collection of 8" Loaded Enclosures from Kicker features just two enclosures.
The first is an enclosure that featurees a 8" kicker subwoofer with an internal amp, all in a compact sealed enclosure.
Kicker 11HS8 Hideaway 8 Inch Powered Subwoofer
The second is a 2-Ohm 8" Kicker CompRT enclosure that features a passive radiator that emulates a ported enclosure without the ported noise and extra space needed to install one.
Kicker 8" CompRT Low Profile Down Firing Loaded Subwoofer Enclosure 2 Ohm
Kicker 10 Inch Enclosures
Below you'll find our featured collection of 10" Loaded Enclosures from Kicker
We feature a large range of Kicker 10" loaded enclosures in our inventory.
The first is a 2-Ohm 10" CompRT subwoofer enclosure that features a passive radiator that emulates a ported enclosure without the ported noise and extra space needed to install one.
Kicker 10" CompRT Low Profile Down Firing Loaded Subwoofer Enclosure 2 Ohm
The second is a 2-Ohm 10" CompC in a ported enclosure.
Kicker 10" CompC Loaded Enclosure 2 Ohm
The third model is a 2-Ohm 10" CompRT subwoofer in a hideaway enclosure that features a space saving reflex subwoofer incorperated into the design.
Kicker Comp RT Single 10" Low Profile Subwoofer Enclosure
The fourth model features two 2-Ohm 10" CompR subwoofers in a front facinging ported enclosure.
Kicker CompR Dual 10 Inch Subwoofers in Vented Enclosure 2-Ohm 800W RMS
The fifth model features two 2-Ohm 10" CompC subwoofers in a ported enclosure.
Kicker Dual CompC 10 Inch Subwoofers in Vented Enclosure 2-Ohm
The sixth model is a 4-Ohm 10" CompC subwoofer in a space saving ported enclosure.
Kicker CompC 10 Inch Subwoofer in Thin Profile Enclosure 4-Ohm
The seventh model is a 2-ohm 10" L7T subwoofer in a space saving sealed enclosure.
Kicker L7T 10" Solo Baric Loaded Subwoofer Enclosure 2 Ohm 500W
The eighth and final model features a 4-Ohm 10" Comp subwoofer in a space saving vented enclosure.
Kicker Comp 10 Inch Subwoofer in Thin Profile Enclosure 4-Ohm
Rockford Fosgate 10 Inch Enclosures
Below you'll find our featured collection of 10" Loaded Enclosures from Rockford Fosgate
We only currently have one 10" model featured from Rockford Fosgate.
It's a 2-Ohm 10" R2S model set in a space saving sealed enclosure ideal for trucks.
Rockford Fosgate R2S-1X10 R2 Shallow 10" Loaded Enclosure
Rockford Fosgate 12 Inch Enclosures
Below you'll find our featured collection of 12" Loaded Enclosures from Rockford Fosgate
We do feature a good selection of 12" Rockford Fosgate Enclosures.
The first features two 1-Ohm 12" P3 model subwoofers in a vented enclosure.
Rockford Fosgate P3-2X12 Dual P3 12" Loaded Enclosure
The second features two 1-Ohm 12" P2 model subwoofers also in a vented enclosure.
Rockford Fosgate P2-2X12 Dual P2 12" Loaded Enclosure
The third features a 1-Ohm 12" P3S subwoofer in a space saving sealed enclosure.
Rockford Fosgate P3S-1X12 P3 Shallow 12" Loaded Enclosure
The fourth and final model features a 2-Ohm 12" R2S subwoofer in a space saving sealed enclosure.