As you set up your subwoofer and the other components of your home or car’s sound system, you might be wondering what the appropriate level of power that you should supply to your sub is. Not just referring to turning the volume up, but can you add too much power?
Overpowering of a subwoofer can take place when the voltage ratings are exceeded and the sub receives a signal outside of its capacity range. Appropriately, setting subwoofer amp gains can manage the correct levels of power which will prevent damage to your equipment.
Of course, there is the age-old debate of overpowering or underpowering a subwoofer and which one of these is better.
Truly, overpowering a subwoofer comes with fewer risks than underpowering and sending a clipped audio signal. However, overpowering a subwoofer can cause damage- especially when it is taking place in the consistent use of this type of equipment. Let’s take a closer look.
Also read: Will Underpowering a Subwoofer Damage it?
Will Overpowering a Subwoofer Damage It?
As you read through forums and attempt to make the best decision for your sound system, it is important to note whether or not you are providing the appropriate range of power for your subwoofer.
After all, sound equipment is not inexpensive, and even if you have found a good deal, the odds are high that you would like to keep this piece of equipment working functionally for years to come.
Overpowering a subwoofer is considered to have fewer risks than underpowering a sub and sending a clipped audio signal through it. However, there are still risks present including the potential damage that can occur when the subwoofer receives a signal outside of its voltage range.
Thus, it is incredibly important that you follow the ratings that come with the subwoofer as well as the amp that you are attempting to connect it with.
Choosing an amp to match your sub can be a bit difficult if you are new to the game, but it should not become something that entirely prevents the overall function and capability of using your sound equipment.
Instead of searching for hours and hours reading through online forums that attempt to settle the debate on the best pieces of sound equipment for your home or car, you can consult an audio professional for his or her guidance.
Then, you can choose a subwoofer that was designed to blend cohesively with the rest of your sound system (or a new sound system if that is the route that you are going).
How Does Overpowering a Subwoofer Damage it?
Now that you know that overpowering a subwoofer can cause damage to it you are likely following the standard line of logic and wondering how this happens.
As you take a closer look at the inner workings of a subwoofer, it can become rather apparent. However, this can require an understanding of the physical makeup of the sub and how it was designed to work.
When the subwoofer’s ratings are exceeded, this means that a signal is sent that is out of the subwoofer’s range to receive it. Thus, when the audio signal received sends the coil too far forward or backward, this can damage the equipment inside of the sub.
When your subwoofer receives a signal that is too high, the signal will tell the coil to send the cone too far forward. This will damage the equipment that it is pulling behind it as if it is attempting to stretch the spider, cone, and subwoofer beyond the capacity that it is capable of reaching.
Contrarily, when the subwoofer receives a signal that is too low and out of range, the signal will tell the coil to send the cone too far backward potentially crushing the voice coil and the backing. In this way, the subwoofer slams into itself backward and causes damage as a result of being overpowered.
So, as you can see, the subwoofer receiving too high of voltage that exceeds the range it is designed to manage can result in damaged equipment.
While it is not always the case, it happens more often than not. This is especially true if you forget to or do not know how to set the gains on the subwoofer amp.
How to Avoid Overpowering a Subwoofer
Now that you know that you can overpower a subwoofer and that this can cause damage to your piece of sound equipment, you are likely looking for solutions to prevent this from happening.
Of course, this will come down to how you consistently use this piece of equipment, but when handled with care, the subwoofer should last for a very long time.
One of the best ways to avoid overpowering a subwoofer is to set the gains on a subwoofer amp. This helps you to avoid distorted audio while maintaining a capacity of power that is within your subwoofer’s ratings. You can also set the crossover frequency to a higher range.
Many times, manufacturers claim that the subwoofer will attempt to sell you a low bass by claiming that it can be played in a lower range than it truly can.
By setting the crossover frequency to a little bit higher of a range, you can avoid overpowering your subwoofer in this capacity.
On another note, you can also just avoid playing the subwoofer at its maximum volume for a prolonged period. After you set the subwoofer amp gains, you should know how to control the sound equipment to produce the optimal clarity and overall sound experience.
Instead of distorting the audio by blasting a distorted bass, you can enjoy the low-frequency signal emission at a lower volume and a much clearer bass tone.
But, going back to the gains, this is going to be one of the best ways to avoid overpowering a subwoofer. This manual control is not too difficult to set up, and it is something that will help you with the overall sound experience as well as the functionality of your subwoofer as a part of your sound system.
How Do You Set the Gain on a Subwoofer Amp?
Since setting the gains on a subwoofer amp is one of the best ways to avoid overpowering it, you will likely want to know how to make this happen. Of course, there are many great instructional guides that will go into more detail. However, following the basic concepts should get you started out on the right foot.
To set the gain on a subwoofer amp, consider the following steps:
- Set the volume on low (but on). You will want to be able to hear the audio coming from your subwoofer, but you will not want for this to be incredibly high. After all, you will want to be able to test for distortion and clarity as you continue to set your gains on your subwoofer amp.
- Play music. Now that you have made sure the volume control is turned to low, but on, you can begin playing your music. This will now help you to be able to hear what you will be testing as you set the gains on your subwoofer amp by ear.
- Gradually and slowly turn the gains up on the subwoofer amp. Listening closely to the audio, begin turning the gains up on the subwoofer amp. You should begin to hear a more clear, deep bass tone coming from your subwoofer. This indicates that your device is working and you are headed in the right direction.
- Once the subwoofer sound is louder than the other speakers, continue turning the gains up until you notice any sound distortion. After you reach a point that the bass tone of the subwoofer is taking over the rest of the speakers, you can continue turning the gains up, but be sure to do this slowly. You will want to listen precisely to notice when audio distortion begins.
- When you notice any sound distortion, turn the gains back down until you find the right adjustment with loudness and clarity. Once you begin to notice audio distortion, you will begin reversing the direction of your gains by turning them slightly down. Follow this step until you find a balance and you have achieved setting your gains achieving proper power for your sub. Then, you can enjoy proper volume, clarity, and richness of the bass tones you are attempting to achieve.
Thanks for reading! Check out my top picks for subwoofers.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.