What Is a Free Air Subwoofer?

Hey there, music lovers!

Are you tired of feeling like something is missing from your audio system? Do you want to take your listening experience to the next level? If so, then you might be interested in learning about free-air subwoofers.

As someone who has been studying and researching car audio for years, I understand how overwhelming it can be to choose the right subwoofer. That’s why I’m here to help guide you through this process and explain everything you need to know about free-air subs.

In this ultimate guide, we’ll dive into what makes a free-air subwoofer unique and whether or not it’s the right choice for your specific needs. So sit back, relax, and let’s explore the world of free-air subs together!

Warning: Once you hear that deep bass rumble from a quality free-air subwoofer, there’s no going back!

What Is an Open-Air Subwoofer?

Free-air subs are speakers that do not need an enclosure to improve their bass performance. Traditional subwoofers use an enclosure. This is because they produce sound from both the front and back of the speaker. These sounds can cancel each other out without the enclosure. 

The type of enclosure you use can also affect the type of bass you get. Sealed boxes produce “tight” and focused bass, and ported boxes produce more boomy and louder bass. A sealed box is a way to go if you like “tight” and well-defined bass.

The free-air subwoofer setup can take your car audio and sound system game to the next level. 

How Does an Open-Air Subwoofer Work?

Air subwoofer has the most straightforward subwoofer mounting structure, but it still requires careful planning. Free-air subwoofers use a speaker and amplifier to convert electrical signals into sound waves, just like traditional subwoofers. 

Traditional subwoofers have an enclosure that amplifies and enhances the bass produced by the speaker. On the other hand, free-air subwoofers do not have an enclosure and instead use the trunk or any other place.

Some Common Issues With Open-Air Subwoofers

  • Distorted Sound

Some common issues with open-air subwoofers include distorted sound. This can happen when the amplifier is over driven, the subwoofer is damaged, or the subwoofer is not properly matched to the amplifier.

The amplifier may not provide enough power for the subwoofer to function at higher volumes, resulting in a distorted sound. This can be frustrating for anyone who wants to enjoy high-quality sound from their subwoofer.

Additionally, it can also cause damage to the subwoofer itself if not addressed. Furthermore, regular maintenance and inspections of the subwoofer can also help to ensure that it is functioning properly and producing the best possible sound.

  • Noise 

A subwoofer can produce noise for various reasons, including electrical interference, a damaged speaker, or a faulty amplifier. Electrical interference can cause a subwoofer to produce a humming or buzzing noise, which is often caused by a ground loop or other issues with the electrical wiring. A damaged speaker may produce noise due to physical damage to the speaker cone or a failure in the subwoofer’s electrical components. 

  • Lack of Power

Various issues, including a weak amplifier, a damaged subwoofer, or improper installation, can cause this. A weak amplifier may not be able to provide sufficient power to the subwoofer, resulting in a lack of volume and bass. 

A damaged subwoofer may also be unable to produce sufficient power due to physical damage to the speaker cone or a failure in the subwoofer’s electrical components. 

  • Limited Frequency Range 

This can be caused by a subwoofer not designed to reproduce a wide range of frequencies or by an amplifier that cannot drive the subwoofer at lower frequencies. 

Benefits of Free Air Subwoofer System

A free-air subwoofer is generally much better than a local subwoofer box. Free-air subwoofers offer several advantages over traditional subwoofers.

Here are some more details on these advantages:

  • Compact Size

One of the main benefits of free-air subwoofers is their compact size. In addition, the smaller size of free-air subwoofers can make them easier to transport and store when not in use.

Furthermore, due to its compact size, its power input is very low too. This low-power input helps your car’s generator to rest up a bit.

  • Greater Flexibility

The best part about free-air subwoofers is their greater flexibility. Moreover, this flexibility enables quick and easy installation. Since they do not require a specific enclosure, free-air subwoofers can be mounted in various locations, such as under a seat, in the rear deck or in the trunk of a vehicle. 

With flexibility, you can choose the best place for these subwoofers in your car. Moreover, this also means that you can aesthetically place this subwoofer anywhere.

  • Improved Sound Quality

Some believe that free-air subwoofers produce a more natural and accurate sound than traditional subwoofers. This is because they are not constrained by the resonances and reflections of an enclosing box, which can sometimes alter the subwoofer’s sound. As a result, free-air subwoofers produce a more authentic and pure bass sound.

  • Easier Installation

Another advantage of free-air subwoofers is their ease of installation. Since they do not require a specific enclosure, free-air subwoofers are generally easier to install than traditional subwoofers. 

This can be particularly useful if you install your subwoofer in a tight or awkward space or if you are not particularly handy with tools.

  • Cost Savings

In addition to their other benefits, free-air subwoofers may also be more affordable than traditional subwoofers. 

This is because they do not require an enclosing box, which can be an expensive component of traditional subwoofers. As a result, free-air subwoofers can be a cost-effective way to add high-quality bass to your audio system.

Disadvantages of Open Air Subwoofer

Despite the many advantages, open-air subwoofers, also known as free-air subwoofers, have several drawbacks compared to traditional subwoofers in enclosures. One of the main cons of open-air subwoofers is that they may not produce as much bass as traditional subwoofers, which could disappoint some users. 

Another disadvantage of open-air subwoofers is that they are more susceptible to the elements. Rain, dust, or other environmental factors may damage the subwoofer.

Infinite Baffles Setup vs Free Air Subwoofer

There is often confusion regarding the difference between the infinite baffle and free-air subwoofers. Some people believe that they are the same thing because both types do not require enclosures, but this is not entirely accurate. 

While infinite baffle systems do not use enclosures in the traditional sense, they utilize large, enclosed spaces. They require more complex design and construction work to prevent sound waves from interfering with each other. 

On the other hand, the free-air sub does not require enclosures or complex design work, making them a simpler option for achieving strong bass. Both types of subwoofers have the same type of mounts. However, infinite baffle systems require more effort to set up and maintain.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I mount a subwoofer using the free-air method?

For free air mounting, you will need to select a location with enough space and proper ventilation. Moreover, you can choose any place you want to fix the subwoofers.

You will also need to choose a subwoofer specifically designed for free air installation. To install the subwoofer, you need to attach it to a solid surface using screws or bolts and connect it to an amplifier using speaker wires. 

We suggest you ask a professional if you want to install this free-air subwoofer setup without hassle. After you are done with the installation, adjust the amplifier settings if necessary to get the desired sound quality.

  • Does a free-air subwoofer sound good?

Free-air subwoofers can produce less bass compared to traditional subwoofers. However, it is important to keep in mind that the sound quality of a free-air subwoofer can be influenced by the location of the subwoofer and the amplifier settings.

When choosing between a free-air or infinite baffle system, it is important to consider the modifications that will be required for each option. Additionally, it is recommended to consult with a professional to ensure that the subwoofer is installed properly and that the sound quality is up to your standards.

  • What is free air resonance?

Free air resonance is the natural frequency of a subwoofer when it is in a free air setup (not in a sub-box or sealed enclosure). The mass of the speaker cone, suspension stiffness, and surrounding air resistance affect the free air resonance. 

Air resonance can impact a subwoofer’s performance, and you should consider it when selecting one for free air installation.


Free-air subwoofers provide an original and compact method of enhancing booming in a vehicle sound system. Rather than having a conventional enclosure, these subwoofers use the car’s cargo bay or luggage as their enclosure. 

This makes installation more flexible and can free up room in smaller cars. Due to the absence of a specific enclosure, free-air subwoofers might not create as much booming as a conventional, enclosed subwoofer. 

They could also use more energy and be less effective in producing the same sound levels. Ultimately, free-air subwoofers can be a nice choice for individuals wishing to add bass to their car music system without eating up a lot of room.

Last Updated on October 6, 2023 by Brian Beasley

Written by Danny Reid

Hey, I'm Danny, and I know how hard it can be to find the perfect audio gear. Need a new stereo, amp, speakers, or subs? Don't worry – my blog is here to help you cut through the noise! My mission is to give you the best reviews, so you can make the right decision for your audio needs. And if you ever get stuck thinking, "Where does this blue wire go?" don't worry – I've got tons of cool tips to help you out of any jam. So come along with me on this fun, sound-filled adventure, and let's find the perfect audio setup to make your tunes really sing!