Subwoofers are designed for use within an enclosure for better reproduction of low-frequency sounds. However, you can either have your subs installed in a tube (subwoofer tube) or box enclosure (bass box). Whichever option you consider, the quality of output sound depends on factors such as size and power. In this article, we compare subwoofer tubes and boxes.
Bass boxes are passive subwoofers and are generally better with higher sound quality and power, but they are more expensive because they have a separate amp. On the other hand, bass tubes are active subwoofers, they are cheaper, include an integrated amp, don’t sound as great, and often take up less space.
Let’s get into more details about bass tubes and box subwoofers.
Subwoofer Bass Tube Vs Bass Box Comparison Table
|Feature||Subwoofer Bass Tube||Bass Box|
|Amplifier||Integrated amp||Requires a separate amp|
|Type of Subwoofer||Active||Passive|
There are typically two types of subwoofer boxes – sealed and ported.
Why Use Sealed Subwoofer Boxes?
The sealed subwoofer box is basically suitable for listeners who prefer say classical or jazz music. They do not displace or muffle sound and you will be in a position to hear every note clearly. Keep in mind that sealed subwoofer boxes are great for deep, accurate bass.
This is because the box is airtight and as the subwoofer moves backward, the sound frequencies are kept in place. Besides, the forward-moving signals complement the echoing effect occurring in the box. If you are interested, you can learn more about how to seal a subwoofer box.
Why Use Ported Subwoofer Boxes?
On the other hand, ported boxes are made with vents usually located at the back of the enclosure. The air holes are designed to allow air to move through them.
As the sub moves forward and backward, low-frequency sound signals are emitted. However, because the box has holes, the bass is not contained in the box. This makes it sound louder as some of the sent through the vents into the air.
Ported subwoofer boxes are therefore a good design for listening to rap, rock, or other music that does not need clear bass that is distinguishable from another to be enjoyed.
Sealed Subwoofer Boxes Produce Tighter Bass
Therefore, sealed boxes produce tighter and more accurate bass, require smaller boxes, and will take in more power to make the bass louder.
Ported Subwoofer Boxes Produce Boomy Bass
On the other hand, ported boxes produce louder, boomy, but less accurate bass, require larger boxes, and are more efficient in terms of power consumption.
Advantages Of Subwoofer Boxes
1. Tight Bass
Enclosed subs are built in a way such that they move more air by the cone on the outer surface than the inner. They, therefore, give more assurance of tighter and louder bass that comes with more clarity of audio than those from their free air counterparts.
You, therefore, get much tighter bass when the subwoofer box is completely sealed and airtight such that there is no movement of air into or out of the sub box. Many people use polyfill to get bigger bass sound out of their subwoofer box.
Disadvantages Of Subwoofer Boxes
1. More Expensive
Enclosed subwoofers are generally much more expensive than sub tubes. Powered sealed subwoofer boxes cost even more. Remember, they also require an external amplifier. If you are operating on a tight budget, therefore, you may need to choose between ported subwoofers or subwoofer tubes.
2. Power Hungry
Sealed subwoofers produce much tighter bass. As a result, they demand a lot of power to be able to sustain the sound quality.
This is because the airtight box requires more power to move the voice coil and cone and reproduce sound. This makes them more power-hungry than ported counterparts and even tubes.
3. Require More Space
The size of the tube increases with the size of the sub itself. If you need a larger sub, you will have to sacrifice some space. Moreover, subwoofer boxes need an external power amplifier. Some subwoofer boxes can also be quite complete, for example, a T-Line subwoofer box is not simple to build.
Like sealed subwoofer boxes, subwoofer tubes are generally enclosed and sealed. As a result, they will not allow bass frequencies to escape from the tube. If you are looking for a subwoofer that can deliver tighter bass, subwoofer tubes will do the job.
However, you will not be able to achieve clear and accurate bass from a subwoofer tube. You can get a good tube from JBL, Pioneer, Alpine, and many more depending on your budget.
Advantages Of Subwoofer Tubes
1. Boomy Bass
If you are interested in taking part in a sound or bass competition for instance with your car, you may not care much about boomy bass. In fact, it’s great for outdoor events like that. It all depends really, boomy bass can sound low quality with refined music, but if you are pumping hard rock, it’s great. In this case, a subwoofer tube is a good choice as it is specifically designed to produce earthshaking bass.
Subwoofer tubes are generally made of different materials, like plastic and prefab, not wood, and are low-cost alternatives to the sub box. If you are operating on a tight budget, therefore, tubes are cheaper alternatives.
Disadvantages Of Subwoofer Tubes
1. Underpar Sound Quality
In most cases, subwoofer tubes simply won’t sound as good as actual subwoofer boxes because of the way they are designed.
Subwoofer Tube Vs Box
As we have mentioned, subwoofer tubes respond to low-frequency sound in a similar way as a sealed subwoofer box. However, you cannot easily achieve accurate bass from a subwoofer tube, while it is easier to achieve from a sub box.
Also, while comparing the same power subs, a sealed sub box will require lesser space compared to a tube with a similar power rating. As a result, the sound you get will depend on your budget and the kind of bass you are looking for – whether tight or boomy.
Generally, tubes offer much boomy bass which sounds so low initially. On the other hand, sealed and ported boxes deliver tighter bass which comes like a heavy punch. Therefore, whether you like a booming bass or tighter bass, it depends on your taste and the kind of music you intend to listen to.
So, Which Is Better?
Both tubes and boxes produce decent sound quality. This however depends on the scenarios of use, style of music, and level of loudness.
For instance, if you want tight bass with enhanced accuracy and you have enough space in your car, a sealed sub box will be better. However, if you want a booming bass, have a strained budget and the car space is limited, you can go with a tube.
Therefore, before deciding which is better, it is good to analyze your sound requirements, budget, space, and even the power options available. The choice will therefore be purely based on the preferences of the listener.
Why Use Enclosed Subwoofers?
Sealed subwoofer boxes are made in such a way that they are completely closed and are made airtight to block air movement either in or out of the sub. On the other hand, ported subwoofer boxes have holes that permit air movement in or out of the sub.
Enclosed subwoofers can either be passive or powered. Powered subwoofers that are enclosed come with inbuilt amplifier systems to boost the sound. They will therefore operate without requiring connection to an external amplifier. However, the sub has to be connected to a power source to power the amplifier.
On the other hand, passive enclosed subs do not have amplifiers built in them. They will therefore require an external amplifier connection.
It is not recommended that a subwoofer be used without an enclosure. Enclosures are required to balance the back and front sound frequencies that the speaker emits. Using a subwoofer without an enclosure will therefore negatively affect the quality of sound.
Ported and sealed enclosures, therefore, offer different ranges of performance depending on size and placement. Ported enclosures have small vents designed to allow the flow of air. When the subwoofer vibrates backward, the air flows out to create a louder booming effect.
Both bass boxes and bass tubes have their advantages and disadvantages. Select the one that best suits your specific needs as it all depends on what you’re looking for. Want something simple and cheap, knowing it will sacrifice some sound quality, go with a subwoofer tube. Want something that is powerful, sound great and you have some money to spend, go with a subwoofer box.