A subwoofer is a specialised speaker designed to reproduce low-frequency sounds (typically under 120 Hz). These large-diameter speaker drivers are enclosed in an oversized cabinet constructed from medium-density fiberboard, fibreglass or plywood. Subwoofer enclosures can be designed as sealed, ported, passive radiator or transmission line systems. A sealed system is a compact, airtight enclosure design often used for car audio installations. Ported and passive radiator enclosures incorporate a baffle, or vent, to increase low frequency output. Transmission line systems tend to be larger and more complex than other systems, using an acoustic waveguide to extend low-end frequency response.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Speaker drivers
- Medium density fiberboard, plywood or fibreglass
- Wood screws
- Wood glue
- Fibreglass resin, plastic adhesive or silicon
- Terminal cup
- Jigsaw, router or other cutting tool
Choose the appropriate speaker drivers for the intended application, and design the enclosure from the total displacement. Use a subwoofer enclosure calculator to find the precise internal dimensions (see Resources).
Choose a material for the enclosure. Three-quarter inch medium density fiberboard (MDF) is often chosen over plywood due to its increased weight and rigidity. Fibreglass enclosures are common in car audio installations, but may require extra bracing to prevent flexing.
Measure and cut each side of the enclosure to the precise dimensions. Smooth out any rough edges with sandpaper and test-fit the assembly. Pre-drill all screw holes.
Secure each MDF/plywood joint with coarse-pitched drywall screws and a bead of wood glue. Fibreglass enclosures should be bonded with a plastic adhesive or resin. Screw and clamp each piece together.
Reinforce the box as necessary. Triangular wedges and thin strips of wood can brace the side panels against flexing and vibration.
Seal all interior seams with silicon or fibreglass resin.
Trace the outlines for each speaker driver, connection terminal and any ventilation ports. Carefully cut out each hole and sand until smooth. Pre-drill the screw holes necessary for mounting.
Place a rubber gasket between the drivers and terminals to ensure an airtight seal. Connect the terminals to the speaker drivers, and secure all hardware.
Design and Construction
Tips and warnings
- Silicon fumes can damage the foam and plastic found in speaker drivers. Let any sealant cure before mounting speakers.
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