Subwoofer Break In: What, Why, and How?
“Do I really need to break in my subwoofer?”
Some woofers such as PA and studio may not require break in due to having high compliance suspension. These speakers do not see an appreciative difference in performance pre- and post-break in. Many car audio subwoofers incorporate ‘low compliance’ suspensions (elastic deformation) that require a break-in period to ensure full flexibility. In the long term, this will maintain peak performance long beyond the life cycle of a woofer made with a looser suspension. Think of it as a freshly built motor. Once you get through your first oil change, gas mileage and performance increase. It’s the same concept with our woofers and many others on the market.
Why do we suggest breaking in SoundQubed subwoofers?
Properly breaking in your new SoundQubed subwoofer loosens the spiders, allowing for higher excursion and the ability to play lower frequencies. Your T/S parameters will change once the woofer is fully broken in. You will also be less likely to damage the coils as they will move more freely in the gap allowing for better dissipation of heat.
What can happen if you do not properly break in your subwoofer?
If you don’t allow for a break in period you could run into one of the issues below.
- Burned or unwound coil: Burned or unwound coils can be caused by the buildup of excess heat and a distorted signal. Stiff spiders leave you with less suspension travel or excursion. This coupled with excessive power causes the coil to heat up in the gap as it cannot move enough to allow heat to escape. You can also run into a distorted signal a lot faster due to the woofers suspension resisting at higher head unit volume settings. This will also cause your coil to heat up very quickly.
- Ripped or torn suspension: You can put a lot of strain on your new parts if you do not break them in. You risk tearing the suspension from the triple joint or basket landing causing mechanical failure. You will also notice that you run into distortion a lot faster on a new stiff woofer than one that is broken in as the suspension fights back.
How can you properly break in a subwoofer?
You have two options to break in a subwoofer. Either option will help loosen up the suspension. However, the woofers will keep loosening over the course of their lifetime. We recommend a steady power load on your subwoofer during the break-in period. Keep in mind that music tracks with sporadic or intermittent bass won’t do the trick.
Option I: The most common and easiest method is to first install your woofer as you normally would. Next, play your favorite music at low to medium volume and 1/2 gain for 2-3 weeks. You will begin to hear a difference in sound as the woofer starts to break in. As the Fs drops, and the suspension becomes more flexible, you’ll notice that you can play lower frequencies, louder, and with less power. After 2-3 weeks you can set your gains accordingly and listen at normal levels.
Option II: This option is a little more in depth and requires some nifty tools, but yields a much faster break in. We do this by playing the woofer outside an enclosure (free air) before installing it.
- Tone Generator, your phone will work for this; download a tone generator app from your app store.
- 3.5mm jack to RCA so you can plug your phone directly into your amplifier.
- A solid mounting surface for your woofer. Do NOT free air your woofer with the back-plate against a surface as the woofer can’t breath. – We suggest mounting your woofer in a piece of wood with enough area on either side so you can suspend it between to chairs or tables. Make sure you weigh the sides down so it can’t walk off.
- An amplifier.
- A clean signal. You can mount your SoundQubed amplifier and use the remote knob to see this signal.
- 8-16 hrs of free time.
Now that you have gathered your tools, you can begin the break in process. Play a sine sweep of 30 Hz-60 Hz. If your app cannot do this, play a 40 Hz tone for the duration of the break in. We suggest 8-16 hours for a solid break in time. You can set it with a good clean signal overnight. Once this is done you are ready to install and be on your way.
NOTE: During Option II Please check frequently to make sure your woofer is staying cool.
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