Choosing the best subwoofer cabinet, or enclosure, requires consideration of the type of music that will emanate through the speaker. Sound waves move differently through speaker spaces, depending on whether they are sealed or vented to the outside. Another consideration in choosing a subwoofer cabinet is where it will be located, whether installed in a vehicle, or in a surround sound theater system, for example.
Subwoofers installed within a sealed cabinet have a firm bass output. Sealed cabinets do not have any openings except for the speaker's front cone area, allowing the rear sound waves to bounce within the cabinet for a significant bass boom. When shopping for a sealed subwoofer cabinet, you can visually inspect the cabinet's corner joints for any sloppy construction work, such as obvious gaps. Poor cabinet construction contributes to irritating vibrations during music playback, reducing the impact of the bass.
Although sealed cabinets work well with almost any musical genre, ported or vented cabinets are designed for rock and roll's bass-driven riffs. This cabinet type has an opening or port with a tube to carry sound from the rear of the subwoofer enclosure. The sound waves bounce quickly down the tube to produce a strong bass vibration. You can visually inspect the port's length by gazing into the tube. The port should be relatively narrow and long, extending deep into the subwoofer cabinet.
Some subwoofer cabinet constructions use a bandpass design, using two or more ports strategically placed in front of and to the rear of the internal subwoofer. You can choose this cabinet type for heavy bass music, such as rap. The sound waves have multiple access tubes for reaching the outside, generating a strong beat during music playback.
Subwoofer cabinet location is another factor to consider for the best personal speaker purchase. Vehicle installations can actually use the entire car trunk as a subwoofer cabinet. Subwoofers are positioned on the rear deck, allowing the speaker's rear area to extend down into the trunk. As a result, you will hear the sound waves bounce around the trunk for the added bass effect.
Home theater installations have numerous speaker orientations. Subwoofer cabinets with a ported design can be faced downward into the floor for a subtle bass output. In contrast, you can face the ported tube toward the seating area for a strong bass punch during music or movie viewing. The subwoofer can also be placed far from or close to the seating area, or even hidden behind a couch, depending on the amount of vibration you want to feel and hear during entertaining.