Adding bass to OEM stereo systems
“Factory” car audio systems often lack in areas that are immediately obvious by those of us with an ear for high-quality, clear stereo sound. Probably the most identifiable of these areas is that of low-range sound response, also known as bass.
In the spectrum of sound that is within the range of detection by the human ear, bass and sub-bass frequencies range from 20 Hertz to about 300 Hertz. Because we can hear sounds all the way up to 20,000 Hertz in frequency, the bass range may seem like a small component of the overall listening experience. But, because bass and sub-bass signals are much lower in wavelength, they travel farther and they travel through materials that would otherwise stop or muffle higher frequency sound.
Bass speakers for car audio systems are typically referred to as subwoofers, or ‘subs’. A quality subwoofer will be composed of at least a bass speaker, an enclosure for the speaker, and a two-wire terminal for connection to the input signal. This input signal will be bass-specific, and will most likely come from an amplifier that is dedicated solely to the unit providing the bass.
Types of Subwoofers
Generally speaking, there are 4 different styles of subwoofers: bandpass, ported/vented, passive radiator and sealed. Each of these styles has unique pros and cons that are worth researching to make sure you pick the right configuration for your vehicle. For example, a bandpass-style bass unit will provide the most volume, however it will have a narrrow frequency range and will be more complex to build and install.
Conversely, a sealed unit is the easiest, and cheapest to build. It is also the most compact of all designs, however it won’t have the same amount of ‘punch’ that a similarly-sized bandpass box would.
If you’re considering adding a bass component to your factory sound system but you’re driving a leased vehicle that you don’t want to modify too much, you’re in luck! After-market bass systems do not require replacements of factory head units or other existing sound equipment. The most common bass installs only require an amplifier, enclosure box and speaker, and the wiring can be routed such that uninstalling the system will not result in any damage or significant modification to the vehicle.
One last thing to keep in mind when researching options for adding bass to your vehicle is power draw and its effect on gas mileage. With ultra-high-powered bass systems, power draw on your battery can become burdensome for your engine, resulting in lower gas mileage and a shorter battery lifespan. This additional power requirement can sometimes be addressed with the addition of capacitors, which act as secondary battery systems for storing power needed by the stereo system. Contact us with your car audio installation questions and start enjoying better quality sound!