Sealed Vs. Ported Subwoofer Boxes-Your Choice of Woofer Box Matters

Are you looking for ways of getting full, rich-sounding bass from your home theatre system or your car stereo? Well, one of the most effective ways around this is adding a sub to your entertainment system. A subwoofer allows you to hear crisps bass. Whether your music is rock, classical, or hip hop, the right sub will improve the delivery of low frequencies.

However, the type of bass you get mainly depends on the design of the subwoofer box you choose for your sub. Generally, there are two forms of bass – tight and boomy. Ideally, the design you choose is a matter personal taste, though the style of music frequently played also has an influence on the choice.

If you prefer maximum volume and boomy music, go for a ported box. However, if you want a bass that is focused and tight, then you should definitely go for a sealed subwoofer enclosure. When considering the type of subwoofer box to use, you'll need to consider the advantages and disadvantages of both types and one that will fulfill your specific listening preferences.

What is a sealed subwoofer box?

A sealed box, as the name suggests, is completely sealed. It traps air inside, which acts as a shock absorber. This air enables your sub to reproduce the low frequencies more accurately than their ported counterparts. This also helps to restrict back and forth cone movements ensuring that the sub is not over-exerted, resulting in tight bass and low-level frequency foundation to your particular types of music.

However, sealed enclosures aren't as loud, and they rarely roar or boom. They will still enhance your music experience, especially if you prefer sound quality over SPL. They are also generally compact and somewhat easy to build since you don't need to design the port.

Advantages of sealed enclosures

  • Sealed subwoofer boxes are typically small, enabling them to fit in many vehicles and also to blend any listening environment with minimal impact to the décor.
  • You’ll also be pleased to know that building a sealed enclosure does not require precision when it comes to the size of the box. Also, the output will not be significantly affected even if the box is big than expected.
  • Sealed boxes lead to improved sound quality and better accuracy.
  • Outstanding transient response, especially when it comes to critical music applications. 

Disadvantages of sealed enclosures

  • You’ll need a powered amplifier to boost overall sound output.
  • The trapped air restricts the cone movement, and this may not give you any huge advantage to the overall sound performance. 

What is a ported subwoofer box?

Ported enclosures are generally louder than sealed enclosures, and they can deliver booming bass with more reverberance. A ported enclosure contains one woofer and one or more ports/vents which allow air to escape from the box. The port redirects both the sound coming from the back of the cone and that coming from the front, thereby increasing the bass output significantly. That way, you can run your subwoofer with a small amplifier or without one and still get great results.

Also, this port acts as a pipe organ. It works together with the woofer to generate more bass while also giving the cone more freedom of movement without using any processor or equalizer. Another great benefit of this port is that it helps to prolong the lifespan of your sub by providing adequate airflow that provides a cool environment.

Another critical aspect of ported boxes is that the air makes an audio effect resembling that produced by a whistle while flowing in and out. This helps to strengthen the cone efficiency, thereby making the sub to hit so hard.

These types of enclosures should be built by calculating the correct volume and frequency of the subwoofer. However, the trick in building a ported enclosure is designing the right size enclosure and right size port as well. This can make it hard for you to get a good and balanced sound, as is the case with a sealed enclosure.

Advantages of ported enclosures

  • Ported enclosures ensure reduce sound distortion and cone excursion
  • Also, ported boxes deliver that extra bump required in certain genres of music.
  • Ported enclosures are very effective when it comes to using amplifier power to make your sub perform exemplarily.
  • The air flowing in and out of the box keeps the subwoofer cool, which means a ported sub is a bit reliable and will last longer.

Disadvantages of ported enclosures

  • The sound coming from the port can sometimes do more harm than good to your music.
  • The port is sensitive to climate changes such as temperature and humidity.
  • They are also sensitive to sudden changes such as driver fatigue.
  • Ported boxes are a bit hard to design as they need to be solidly constructed to be able to withstand high internal pressure.
  • They are relatively big, as such, space availability may be a concern. 

Sealed vs. ported subwoofer box - Which is better?

The debate of which type of subwoofer box is best for you basically comes down to taste and preferences in music. When picking a subwoofer and subwoofer box for your audio system, you'll need to consider the sound qualities you want in your music.

If you want to add some depth to your music, a sealed box is the way to go. However, if you want that ground-pounding bass, then a ported box will do a great job. For example, R&B fans would get a more natural bass from a ported sub box, while pop music would sound better from a sealed box. But you can always find a work-around, that is, you can try to make a sealed box louder or optimize a ported box for better sound.

You also need to consider several variables such as subwoofer size, room size, and available floor space, playback level, and other limitations. But in the end, whether sealed or ported, both boxes deliver an outstanding listening experience provided that the selected option meets your specific performance requirements and the particular application.

David M Foster
 

David M Foster is an award-winning sound engineer with over 13 years in the sound industry. He now works as a freelance sound engineer. He uses his insider knowledge and vast experience of the industry to shed more light on sound systems. He is a family man and the head content at Speakerchampion. Learn more about us.

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