Do you want to upgrade your car’s sound system, but can’t decide between round and square subwoofers?
Both types have their own characteristics and advantages that could make them your go to choice. So whether you’re an audiophile or just enjoy listening to music in your car, you may struggle with deciding between round and square subwoofers.
In this blog post, we share the pros and cons of rounds vs square subwoofers, and help you choose the best subwoofer for your needs.
Understanding Subwoofers: Why They Are Important
The word “subwoofer” is derived from the term “sub-bass.” The term was coined in the 1960s to describe speakers capable of reproducing low-frequency bass sounds that did not need a large cabinet to produce them.
The subwoofer is the speaker that brings the deep bass to your movies, music, and video games. The more powerful your subwoofer, the more bass you can get out of it.
Subwoofers are often used for commercial and industrial purposes, such as sound reinforcement in theaters, discotheques, and concert venues. Club sound in nightclubs, bars, and house parties; low-frequency bass sounds on mobile phones and computers. And some home theater applications.
In a car sound setting, a subwoofer is a speaker that produces low-frequency sound waves. Subwoofers are typically installed in cars, and they produce sound waves that can be felt by people sitting inside the vehicle.
A subwoofer is a crucial component of your automobile’s audio sound system. It is the part that provides low-frequency sounds that are not audible to human ears.
The sound waves from a subwoofer are felt more than heard, enhancing the feeling of immersion in the music you are listening to. This bass response from a good subwoofer can be felt and heard, and it can create an intense sensation in your chest cavity, also known as ‘chest-thumping.’
Want to learn more? Read our in-depth article on what is a car subwoofer.
Check out this video of upgrading the circle 1990s style subwoofers to the square Kicker L7S.
If you want to upgrade and install subwoofers, get in touch with one of Santa Clarita Autosound experts.
How to Choose the Right Subwoofers?
The decision isn’t just a matter of shape, so choosing the right subwoofer is not just about round vs square. It’s all about understanding the specs that suit your specific audio needs, the amount of space you have, and your personal preferences.
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a subwoofer. We will go through them individually and give you a good overview of what to look for in each category.
Factor 1: Sound Quality
It’s essential to find a subwoofer that produces a high-quality sound so you can enjoy it without increasing the volume.
To ensure the sound quality is good, check if any distortion or buzzing sounds come out of it when playing a different genre of music at high volumes. Make sure there is no hissing noise.
Factor 2: Compatibility
Some people might have stereo receivers and not want to purchase a new one. In this case, ensure the subwoofer you are considering buying is compatible with your current setup. If it’s not, you might have to purchase a separate stereo receiver to use the subwoofer.
Factor 3: Price
To find a reasonable price for your desired subwoofer, look at its ratings. Determine if you can find one with 4-5 stars, check the reviews before making your purchase, or get in touch with one of Santa Clarita Autosound experts.
Comparison of Round Subwoofers vs Square Subwoofers
While there are many types of subwoofers, the two most common types are round and square. But, which one to choose? Here’s a detailed comparison of round vs square subwoofers and which one to choose depending on your needs.
Round Subwoofers: Pros & Cons
Round subwoofers are the traditional subwoofer shape that most people are familiar with, and they’re often chosen for conventional setups. They are circular in shape and give off a more natural sound due to this structure.
Pros of Round Subwoofers
There are various advantages to choosing round subwoofers, including:
- Great Performance: Round subwoofers can deliver excellent bass quality. Their design allows for balanced frequency response.
- Enhanced Durability: Their circular design puts less stress on the structural parts. This leads to a longer lifespan.
- Wider Selection: Given their popularity and traditional use, there are typically more models and designs available in round shape. So there’s more variety of options for buyers.
Cons of Round Subwoofers
While round have many advantages, they also come with some drawbacks:
- Size Limitation: Larger sizes of round subwoofers can be difficult to fit within the limited space of some car layouts.
- Lack of Versatility: Unlike square subwoofers, round subwoofers can’t leverage the box’s shape to produce extra pressure. This could limit the maximum bass impact one might be hoping for in certain scenarios.
- Potentially Higher Costs: Given their wide range and demand, high-quality models of round subwoofers might lean a bit towards the higher price bracket.
Square Subwoofers: Pros & Cons
From their name it’s easy to guess that these subwoofers have a square shape. Square subwoofers work in a similar way as the round subwoofers. They produce sound through the vibration of a cone called a woofer, which responds to signals.
However the key difference is in their design. Square models offer surface area for the cone to vibrate against resulting in displacement. This increased cone displacement adds a kick to your experience by delivering louder and more powerful bass notes.
Pros of Square Subwoofers
- More surface area: Square subwoofers offer up to 27% more surface area compared to a round subwoofer of the same size, this provides more room for the cone to move, giving you that heavy bass impact you desire.
- High power handling: Due to the larger cone, square subwoofers can handle more power without causing distortion, providing clean and clear bass notes.
- Versatile placement: Unlike round subwoofers, square ones excel in flexible placement. Because of their shape, they can be installed in a wider variety of locations, giving you more creative control over your audio setup.
- Louder sound: The square subwoofers are louder because they have a wider surface area. This means they have more cone area and can push more air than round subwoofers. This is why they are louder.
Cons of Square Subwoofers
Despite a list of advantages, square subwoofers also have some drawbacks.
- Sound Quality: The additional surface area might lead to a loss in sound clarity, particularly at higher frequencies.
- Bulkier Build: They are generally larger than round models, posing a challenge to fit into specific car models or home audio setups.
- Higher Price Tag: The unique design and construction of square subs may result in a higher price compared to their round counterparts.
Differences & Benefits of Square vs Round Subwoofer
Round subs are more efficient in terms of space and cost. They also offer better sound quality. However, they are not as durable as square speakers.
Square speakers offer better sound dispersion, meaning the sound will be more evenly distributed in a car and can fill up a larger space than round speakers.
Square subwoofers are louder than round subwoofers because of their cone area, which is wider than round subwoofers. This is because of the way that the sound waves travel through the square subwoofer. The sound waves travel in a straight line, so they are not lost in all of the corners and curves in the round subwoofer.
So which one to choose?
The best option for you would depend on your needs and preferences. If you need something more durable or want to fill up a large area with the same sound quality, then square subs may be the better option. Round speakers will be the best option if you need something more efficient and cost-effective.
Why to Choose Square Subwoofers?
Most speakers you encounter are round. So why did Kicker make subwoofers that are square? The answer is very simple…more cone area. The advantage of having more cone area means you will get more air movement and that equals more bass output.
Round speakers have been the most common shape because they are relatively simple to construct. At low frequencies, the shape of the speaker cone does not affect the sound quality (as long as the cone is strong enough to resist flexing under pressure).
Having more cone area will move more air than a smaller cone with less area. That is why large woofers are necessary if you want a lot of bass in your vehicle. The only way to get more cone area for the same size of woofer is to make it square.
A round speaker is essentially a square speaker with the corners rounded off. This will decrease the cone area and produce less bass output. If you leave more of the cone area intact, you will have more bass from that speaker. This is why Kicker has engineered square subwoofers.
They required a lot of research and development but they deliver all the bass hardcore bass enthusiasts require. Kicker did not invent the square speaker.
Square speakers have been around for decades. Kicker did pioneer the deep dish, long travel, square subwoofer that is dedicated to producing maximum bass from a given area. This was made possible with the patented ribbed corners.
The ribbed corners allow the surround to compress and expand as the cone travels in and out without deformation, distortion or unnecessary stress on the surround’s corners.
A 12″ subwoofer square polypropylene cone stays rigid to fight distortion. At the same time, the Santoprene rubber surround and solid steel basket keep the cone on track at high volume and offers up to 20% more surface area than a similar-sized round cone for extra impact. A square subwoofer is louder and less distortive.
Final Thoughts on Round vs Square Subwoofers
The loud and powerful base of square subwoofers? Or the balanced tones of traditional round subwoofer? The answer really depends on your preferences and the style of music you typically listen to.
If you’re looking for a long-lasting option or want to cover a larger space with consistent sound quality, square subs are the way to go. However, if you need something more efficient and budget-friendly, then round speakers are your optimal choice.
So read reviews, test some models, and choose what suits your ears – and your heart – the best! Or get in touch with one of Santa Clarita Autosound experts and we’ll help you make an informed decision.
Originally published on July 6, 2022. Last updated on January 11, 2024