The 12-inch subs seem to be the best option for those who have limited space in their car to occupy a 15-inch unit. Recently, I was asked what I considered to be the best 12-inch subwoofer on the market right now.
As with any listening component, there are a few things to consider when buying a subwoofer to set up your car. And yes, that includes technology information as well. Features such as power-handling, frequency response, hearing, and impedance can help you determine if a subwoofer is compatible with your set. In addition, the subwoofer cone material gives you a strong idea of the quality of the unit type.
The technical specifications
When you raise the volume knob on your stereo or amplifier, you are sending more power to your subwoofers. This increase in power allows the woofer cone to move faster and more powerfully, resulting in increased volume. However, there is a limit to how much power the subwoofer or any speaker, in general, can handle. Cross this limit and excess power will be converted to heat, which can cause heat damage to the inner parts of the subwoofer.
On the other hand, when the power supply is low, the noise emanating from the floor can be quite unstable and uncertain.
Touch-power indicates how much power (in watts) the subwoofer can handle. There are two statements you need to look at: rms and peak power. The first one tells you how much power you can give to that sub each time the last one puts the perfect amount you should not exceed. I personally see the rms as a very useful metric as it covers the daily use of the subwoofer.
Your amplifier will also have power-grabbing specs but this indicates its power output not power-grip. So, if you are buying a small one, make sure that the rms is larger than or equal to that of your amplifier. This ensures that the subwoofer will not be disturbed if you push the volume of your amplifier to full.
Sensitivity tells you that noise (in decibels) will be generated by the 12inch subwoofer when given a single power supply. For example, suppose you have a sub with a sensitivity rating of 85db. 85db can be considered moderately loud volume, and so if you give it one watt, you get a good one out of that sub. For every watt you send to the sub, 3db is added to the volume.
Sensitivity is a useful feature if you have a low-output amplifier. In that case, you will need to get a very high-sounding (about 85db) bit as that way you will not have to give a ton of power to make noise. The lower the sensitivity of the subwoofer, the more power you will need to feed it.
Impedance tells you how many resistors (in ohms) the subwoofer will display to the current supplied to it by the amp. The lower the impedance, the greater the current that it pulls from the amplifier. Thus, low impedance is not a good thing if your sub has a low rms. Moreover, as the current is drawn, the amp will have to work continuously which can lead to overheating in some cases.
High impedance ratings can be a problem as well. It can mean that a small amount of current is pulled, making the output noise seem weak. Generally, you can expect most subwoofer impedance ratings to be 2 or 4 ohms. You will also encounter some with 8-ohm impedances.
A sub’s frequency response is the maximum frequency he can handle. Full-frequency speakers have a frequency response of 20 hz to 20,000 hz which covers all the frequencies that can be heard by humans. In contrast, subwoofers can only capture frequencies between 20 hz to 250 hz, blocking the bass spectrum. Some subwoofers may have cutoffs higher than 20 hz, which means they will not be good at producing sub-bass frequencies (low-end).
The cone material
The strength of the cone that makes up the cone depends on its strength and sound quality. Below are some of the most popular cone items in use today:
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Polypropylene is both lightweight and durable. It therefore allows the speaker cone to move more easily but also enables it to maintain its shape during faster movement. This means you will not feel the error in the bottom-end when you tap the volume. Polypropylene is also very strong and resistant to heat, moisture, and mold. So you can expect subwoofer cones made from them to last longer.
Captured paper is the most common subwoofer material. It is lighter than polypropylene, which means that the cone will be able to move faster. The treated paper is coated with materials such as carbon fiber, kevlar and poly glass. This increases its ability to withstand extreme humidity and temperature compared to regular paper.
A cone made from this material will no doubt be very hard and durable. Kevlar is also flexible and lightweight, meaning that the movement of the cone will not be heavy.
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