How To Break In A Subwoofer
If you are an audio enthusiast, one of the interesting things you will hear around is the question “how to break in a subwoofer?”
This issue is not surprising as it has popped up a lot of times in audio forums as well. But can you benefit from breaking in a subwoofer or this is just a fad being propagated by manufacturers?
Not everyone is in agreement about breaking in a subwoofer. Even car audio enthusiasts are divided on the idea of trying to warm up a car subwoofer before using it to its full potential.
Some say it is useless while those who are in favor have said that it has real effects. Supporters of breaking-in a sub say that if you do the process properly, you will get more out of your subunit.
Before you dive in and decide if you should break in or not your subwoofer, let us examine and learn more about subwoofers.
What Is A Subwoofer?
As implied by its name, a subwoofer is a complete speaker below the woofer. However, the subwoofer is a dedicated speaker that can be added to any audio system. It is mainly devoted to the production of low pitch sounds.
In music, you can classify the pitch sounds into high, mid, or low. The high-pitched sounds are the treble. The mid-pitched sounds are usually the vocals and the snares.
The low-pitched sounds, on the other hand, are the basses. In essence, subwoofers reproduce the bass sounds in any musical environment.
Subwoofers come in different sizes. There are small subs, which you often find in homes and most cars. There are big subs which are often used by professionals in live concerts.
There are also subwoofers that come in between small and big. Subwoofer sizes are measured in inches. There are 8, 10, 12, 15-inch sizes available for subwoofers.
They also come in different colors, shapes, and designs. Subwoofers are also encased in its individual enclosure. The case preferred by most is wood. But any material that can withstand air pressure and resist sound deformation can be used.
To learn more about subwoofers, you can read this article by essence audio.
What Does A Subwoofer Do?
As mentioned earlier, subwoofers reproduce the low-pitched or low-frequency sound commonly known as bass.
The ranges of frequencies often transmitted by subs are between 20 hertz (Hz) to 50 hertz (Hz) for casual use while professionals tend to use subs that can accommodate 20 Hz to 100 Hz. Sometimes subs also reproduce sounds lower than 20Hz.
Most speakers or woofers (mid woofers included) can also send bass sounds. However, woofers are unable to transmit very low-frequency sounds.
Typically they produce bass sounds that are between 60 Hz to 250 Hz. The bass sounds produced by woofers are also not of good quality and are not at an acceptable power level.
There is a need for to reproduce low-frequency sounds because you will not be able to enjoy your music and movies if the bass sounds are bad.
Your reggae music wouldn’t be as soothing if it weren’t for your bass sounds. Movies will not have a great impact if the explosions aren’t that realistic. Getting a good bass sound is important and a subwoofer makes it possible.
Also, if you rely on your woofer or standard speakers to reproduce the low sounds, there is a possibility that the internal components of the woofer will be damaged. It happens because the internal components are not made to sustain low pitch sound in higher power levels or volumes.
Why Should An Audio Enthusiast Get A Subwoofer?
There are a lot of reasons why you should get a subwoofer, which is if you are a big fan of audio sounds.
Subwoofers can create the realistic audio experience. Subs help to generate excellent sound quality by producing deep bass and other low-frequency tones.
The low-frequency sound made by subwoofers allows you to listen to the music clearly even it played in a loud or soft volume. It is particularly the case in cars which have limited spaces, and this creates a challenge to produce full sounds.
Subwoofers handle sound distortion easily. Distortion happens when you try to put the speakers in high power or high volume, but the speaker does not have the capacity to manage the increase of power.
Typical speakers also produce low tones albeit not in good quality so when you try to increase the power the bass tends to higher instead of low-pitched resulting in muffled or distorted sounds.
Subwoofers can help by regulating the bass or low-pitched sound as you increased the volume and consequently delivering a clearer and vibrant musical experience.
As previously mentioned, you can also prevent unnecessary damage to your speakers by installing subwoofers. When bass sounds do not have an outlet, a subwoofer, and it is introduced in the main speaker system there is a chance that it can damage your speakers.
Typical woofers, especially smaller ones, are not designed to handle bass sounds at higher levels, and when it is subjected to low-pitched sounds in higher volumes, it will result in the tearing of speaker cones. That is why you need a subwoofer to cater the bass and other low-pitched sounds of your music.
Where Should Subwoofers Be Placed?
Bass sound is said to be non-directional. This opinion means the sound waves of bass sound when they reach your ears you will not be able to identify where the sound is coming.
In cars, usually, it placed in the car trunk. In homes, it will be a bit tricky. Although you can put it anywhere, there are certain factors and angles needed so that you can get most out of your subs.
For more information about where you place your subs, you can check sound on sound.
Is There A Need To Break In Subwoofers?
This is the million dollar question that most audiophile and even casual audio fans can’t agree upon. Do you break in or not to break in a sub?
Like any other equipment or machine, the subwoofer should be conditioned or undergo a break in process.
You don’t break it but prepare it so that it will perform well and deliver better bass sounds to your ears. You will need only to loosen some of the parts, particularly the hard parts of your subwoofers.
Most of the time, a brand new subwoofer that is taken out of its box is stiff. The part that is stiff is the spider.
The spider of a subwoofer, or any speaker for that matter, is a corrugated coil attached to the speaker’s cone and voice coil, which is located at the base of the cone. When there are a sound wave, the voice coil and the cone move to expand and stretch the spider.
The function of the spider is to hold the moving components of a speaker. If there is no spider, the elements of the speaker will move uncontrollably as sound waves are emitted. Once this happens, the speaker will destroy itself as it continually transmits sound waves.
You need to break in a subwoofer to loosen the spider. If you do not run in a brand new subwoofer, then it will not be able to perform at its best.
If you want to know more about the parts of a speaker or subwoofer stereo clarity can help explain it to you.
Time To Break In Your Subwoofer
Now that you have learned more about subwoofers and have decided to break them in, it is now time to do the actual breaking in process. Similar to other machines or equipment, there are certain steps on how to properly break in a subwoofer.
Take note that the break in process will take some time so try to be patient. After all, the satisfaction of your music and movies is waiting for you after the process. A couple of days or a few weeks are more than enough actual break-in your sub.
In this time frame, you will be able to measure or gauge the difference between a new sub and well-conditioned subwoofer.
First, you need to make sure that your unit is fully mounted in its enclosure. Make sure that the case is the right size for the unit that you have bought.
There are different types of compounds available. You can either choose sealed boxes, ported boxes, bandpass boxes, or simply a free-air subwoofer. Each of these enclosures affects the delivery of the bass.
Next, you need to do is to ensure that the subwoofer is fully powered. You can use an amplifier to provide enough power to your sub as you are doing the break-in process.
At the beginning of the procedure, try to play heavy-continuous bass music. Music with low bass outputs or sporadic bass frequency will not help in the process.
If you want, you can search for music or record movie explosion and let it pay in repeat. Put the volume in low as you play the music. Do this for several hours a day. After a few days, try to raise the volume to mid-level. Do this thing again for a couple of hours a day.
As you are doing this, check that your subwoofers are supplied with a steady load of power. As the day passes, slowly raise the volume of the woofer. Allow your unit to get accustomed to the volume you have set for a few days.
Repeat the steps that have been mentioned until you have cranked to the highest volume possible. As you are cranking the volume, try to feel the stiffness of the cone and the rubber surround. Check for any changes.
Also, listen to the sound being transmitted by the speaker, notice any change. Is the sound stable and undistorted as you cranked up the volume?
When you have noted all the changes above then, your subwoofer would have loosened well. The breaking-in process is done, and you can now fully appreciate the heavy bass of your favorite music.
You should enjoy explosions and crashes in the movies you love to see. Patience is needed when you break in a subwoofer. You shouldn’t raise the volume immediately as you are in the course of conditioning the sub. Doing so will not be beneficial so take extra care and protect your subunit from unnecessary damage.
Some people do not believe in the effects of a proper break-in. However, there is also a group who fully support and can attest that a good sub break in is crucial.
A subwoofer is only as good as its individual parts. If its parts and components are damaged or are not in good condition, then the subwoofer will not be able to function optimally. You are not going to lose anything if you do break-in your subwoofer.
However, the risk of not warming up and loosening a sub is possible. In any case, a breaking-in your subwoofer will be the best choice for you.