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What Is a Tube Subwoofer?

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  • Written By: Christian Petersen
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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A tube subwoofer speaker is an audio component designed for very low frequency output, or bass. These low frequency sounds are at the lowest end of the range of human hearing and are important for the rich, full sound that they give to music. Subwoofers can be mounted in a number of different enclosure types, and a tube subwoofer is a subwoofer that is mounted in a long, cylindrical enclosure with a diameter that is close to the diameter of the subwoofer itself. They are generally considered to have inferior sound quality when compared to most other enclosure types but are favored by some audiophiles as they are easily mounted and are self-contained, requiring no additional enclosure for installation.

Speakers are designed to emit sounds within a certain range of frequencies. A complete speaker system will be able to emit all the frequencies that are present in the recording and that are within the range of human hearing. Four basic types of speaker are common to almost any speaker system and are called tweeters, mid-range, woofers, and subwoofers. Tweeters emit the highest frequency sounds, and subwoofers the lowest. Many subwoofers are designed to emit sounds only within a narrow range at the very lowest limit of frequencies detectable by the human ear. They give music its bass sounds.

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Subwoofers must be enclosed in order to operate properly, and the size and shape of the enclosure is usually designed specifically to match the characteristics of the particular subwoofer. Subwoofer enclosures can be of several types, each with its advantages and disadvantages. A typical tube subwoofer is a ported or vented enclosure, although other types are possible, such as bandpass and sealed enclosures. A ported subwoofer has an opening with a specific size and shape that improves the efficiency of the subwoofer, enhancing sound when properly tuned.

The long cylinder shape of the enclosure is what distinguishes a tube subwoofer rather than the enclosure type. They are favored by some consumers because they are self-contained and may be mounted in a vehicle or placed in a home easily. Some other enclosures require modifying the vehicle or complicated installation procedures. A tube subwoofer may have its own amplifier or may be powered by an external amplifier. It is a good choice for someone who is willing to compromise the very highest of sound quality for ease of use and installation, and many of these units provide a very good value and listening experience.

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