Monthly Archives: October 2012

Q: When will I need to upgrade my electrical system?
A: Most vehicles only have electrical equipment to support  the accessories that are already in the car. Once you pass the 600 watt RMS mark you may want to consider upgrading the battery, the alternator, or the big three power and ground cables underneath the hood. Many work trucks and suburbans will be able to support up to 1000 watts RMS without any issues due to their larger batteries.

Q: I want to upgrade my stock sound system. Where should I start?
A: If a factory look isn’t a concern of yours, start by upgrading the head-unit. Factory receivers will produce a maximum of 10-15 watts, and by upgrading your deck you will be able to deliver more power with less distortion to your door speakers, thus increasing the output significantly.

Q: How can I increase the bass from my subwoofer?
A: You can start by making sure the subs are in an optimal enclosure for their size. If you are using a sealed enclosure, upgrade to a ported enclosure for a 3dB gain. You may also try stuffing lots of polyester fiber (found in stuffed animals, available at fabric stores) into the enclosure to “trick” the subwoofer into thinking it has more air space available.

Q: What should I do about light dimming?
A: The first step is to upgrade the big three power and ground cables underneath the hood of your car. This will decrease resistance on the electrical system and allow more current to pass through at one time. Next you should upgrade your battery to increase the amount of power available to the amplifiers. If you’re still experiencing light dimming, upgrade your alternator to a high output aftermarket alternator.

Q: How can I tell if my sub is blown?
Press on the cone evenly. If it’s stuck in one spot with no movement then it’s probably blown. Another method is to take a multimeter and test the impedance of the voice coils. If it doesn’t read either 2 or 4 ohms per coil and shows no impedance reading then the subwoofer is blown.

Don’t you hate it when you’ve got a nice new set of subs and an amp, and all of a sudden you find your ears have adjusted to the bass? You can’t help but wish for more. There are a few tricks to increasing the bass in your car without taking any extreme measures.

Go Ported or Go Home

If you don’t have one already, try upgrading to a ported enclosure. By doing a simple enclosure swap, which will usually run you $40-50 bucks for a prefabricated one, you can gain up to an additional 6dB of volume. That’s a pretty big increase for those with smaller subwoofer applications.

PolyFill – You’re New Best Friend

Polyester fiber is the same stuff you will find in stuffed animals. Staple some of this to the inside of your enclosure and remount your subwoofer(s). What happens is the polyfill will slow down the frequency waves, thus increasing the amplitude of each note. Its science, folks.

Double the Power, Double the Fun

A general rule of thumb, you can gain an additional 3dB by giving your subwoofer a little extra power. Now let’s not overdo it and clip your sub, but if you have a subwoofer and amplifier that have their power matched (example 300w and 300w RMS), chances are you could have gone with a slightly bigger amp and the sub would have handles the additional power just fine. If it turns out to be too much power, back the gain down a bit and you’ve got yourself some nice headroom, which never hurts.

Don’t Let Air Leaks Get You Down

If you designed and built your own box, that’s fantastic! But be very cautious, as any air leak will completely destroy your SPL. Turn on a 35-40Hz test tone (you can download a tone generator app), and listen to your enclosure at all angles. If notice any air leaks, seal those suckers up with some calking or wood glue.

Enclosure Specifications

Most subwoofer companies will include specifications in the manual as to what the optimal enclosure dimensions are. If you abide by these specs, you’re in the gold. Whether or not your enclosure is well-built will determine how well your subwoofer will perform. The better your sub performs, the louder it gets.

Upgrade Your Amplifiers Ground

I see many cases where people will buy a cheap wiring kit, screw the ground to some metal in the car and call it a day. Bad! The better your wires, the less resistance your electrical system has. The lower the resistance in your cables, the more efficient your equipment will run. Your amp can produce a little more power by simply creating a better ground connection. Brush off any paint in the way, and use either a bolt or multiple screws to secure it tight. Nothing says “I’m a noob” like using crappy power/ground cables.