Noob audio build. £500-600

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Hi guys

I’m new to car audio, so please excuse me and my terms etc. I’ve had various subwoofer setups in the past but I’m after a 15” SPL setup, something really loud, hits the lows hard (I do love low bass) with plenty of flex. I already have a Kenwood DDX4016-DAB installed in the car.

As said I have around £500-600 to spend. I was looking at getting a single or possibly two 15” SPL subwoofers. Ported box custom made to the correct spec and obviously an amp to suit too. I will obviously use the correct gauge wiring required etc but I also don’t want to be messing with battery’s alternator wiring etc if I don’t have. The subs will only be used when driving and not with the engine off etc.

Could someone possibly point me in the right direction of what to potentially go for, the box I can get made for £80 from a reputable source. So that leaves £520 on sub(s) and amp. Obviously if it means spending more on 1 sub which will be louder and stronger than x2 than I’m happy to do that. I figured £600 is a decent enough budget to hit what I’m after without going silly?? I want something loud basically.

Sorry for the noob post but everyone starts somewhere.

You might receive recommendations only recommendation for components that aren't sold in your area. Or, if you're too lazy to make an effort, no recommendations.

Could you type a little louder please?

I understand that, most of what I’ll be doing will be online anyway, I work 2 jobs don’t really have chance to get to the stores everything is closed by the time I finish work.

I’m more after what’s been tried and tested etc. I’ve seen a few that I’m keeping my eye on but more wanted to know if there was better alternatives

Earthquake DBXI15
Orion XTR154D
Ground Zero 15XSPL
Hi James, welcome to the forum.

Your question is very open and hence the ribbing from the lads, we tend to be more about repairs, home-brew electronics and advanced fault finding on this particular forum.

However there is enormous experience and knowledge here to be tapped into when you have acquired the basics so please persevere! :)

Personally speaking I’m a bit over the hill and certainly over my SPL phase but did it back in the day and have fond memories so more power to your elbow.

I’m a SQ man these days and my experience is on the main on old school gear anyway.

Having said that i hope I can help you with a starting point for further research.

Having a loud system is about getting your priories right at the buying stage and then tuning the hell out it once you’ve got the bits.

Physics dictates that to make bass you need to move air and to do that you need cone area and cone excursion. On that basis two 15” subs will always be louder than one 15” sub unless the two are very cheap and crappy and the one is very expensive and specialised. On that basis and with your budget in mind I would look to getting your hands on a pair of 15” subs. The custom box is a must and I would go for a ported design tuned to so where between 30-40hz. If you are doing SPL properly you find your cabin’s resonance frequency in the bass (usually somewhere between 45-60hz) and time the box to that but it sounds awful for any kind of critical listening... :D

really and truly the car ought to be a hatchback for maximum SPL. I have a BMW saloon with a JL 13W7 in it and it’s only just enough IMO. The same sub in a hatchback would rattle your fillings loose.

At your budget I would look around for a second hand amplifier, as powerful as possible. You probably won’t be able to find anything from JL Audio, Rockford Fosgate, etc for the money you will be spending but a good JBL gto14001 can be bad for well under 200 quid and is a underrated 1500w at 2 ohms.

In fact an idea might be for you to “modular” and buy one 15” sub of decent quality with one matching amplifier and add another identical sub and amp when finances allow.
Sundown Audio. GO with their 15"woofer. Box plans, plenty of people use them and can help you with questions about boxes you can build etc. Also, Deaf bounce I think is in your side of the pond.

So if you only got a Little bit of money? THen.. Well. Wood is cheap where you are right?
That is where it is going to be at.. If you JUST want SPL, its ALL IN THE BOX. ALL OF IT.

You can do 150 Db on 2 woofers in the right box. Even with say $50 drivers. But again, its all in the tuneing and box build. Of course, 6th order box will be better.

Check out Steve Meads site SMD designs and there are TONS of people who can if you show them Photos of your ride, they can just spec out a SPL system for you. Just like that.

The Junk yard will be your friend here.

Get 0 Gauge from a BMW or AUDI car there. In the USA its just battery cables, so you can get a WHOLE run of it for like $12 bucks..

Also much of your Fuse blocks, you can just grab from there. Ready to go!.

Also, you can make your own fuse blocks with wood too. Easy.

You also Don't need anything fancy for a deck. THe JVC has a DSp built right in. Or use FREE DSP or an android unit that has it.

You got to go cheap.. So.. If you want the Max power from that amp? You need power.
So get any AGM cells from the Junkyard battery that you can. Most Euro#ag cars have AGM bats as stock. Grab a Few.

Again, VOltage is KEY for CHEAP UNREGULATED AMPS. More you give the more you get.

Again, BAREvids will help you out. He works late too and streams late too. SO you are good there. Drop some coin on the chat! :)

Again for AMP choice? Dude, CAB sells a $200 amp that does 2000 Watts easy. But there are others out there. Again remember, YOU WANT EFFICIENT SPEAKERS FOR SPL. If that is your GOAL? Then Pro Woofers will get you there and cheap. Many Pro Subs can hit HARD AS FRACK! but then they are not going to move a TON of Air. But they will HIT HARDER then a SOB.

Also look into something called a BASS TUBA. WOrks with cheap drivers for MAX output. Its like a Horn Loaded subwoofer.

Also, There are a LOT of guys that just use SONOTUBES. THese things if done right can make GREAT TL subs that put out a LOT of SPL and sound. VERY EFFICIENT!

Again, if you Do not care about sound quality and just want to hit the SPL numbers, You can do it with 18 Inch Pro sound subs. They are Cheap and everywhere. Many times they Box gets damaged, and they just sell the cabs with speakers for cheap.

Also, You now those dudes that Blew their subwoofers?

PSI sells recone kits and they can make a crap woofer with a good motor a great woofer with a great motor.

Doing a Wall build is about the best way to go if you really want SPL. Again, its all in the box. Get 4 Pro sound woofers, and you can get in the door for less then $200 bucks on subs. And $200 bucks on an amp. It can be done.

If you need extra cash.. Well. Get out your web cam and Model for a bit. :)

Any of those subs will do. But they are about the same as a Blaupunkt Sub that use to be on sale here in the USA for $20 bucks.

Check out Wilston Audio Labs for the $150 SPL challenge.

Again, folks back in the day paid top dollar for subs as good as the Blaupunkt. TOday? If you got those guys and gave them $20 woofers, and they got 8 of them? They would make a system to make your ears bleed.

Look up the OLD skool SPL builds, and see what has been done with just simple FIberglass and some other stuff.

If you need cheap wood or free wood> GO to the shipping docks. THey ship things in Plywood all the time. Load up your car and go to town.

Make sure to put BOSS stickers all over your car for theft deterrent. Or ROCKWOOD if they make stickers.

If you can tune to 60Hz? You can use a 12 to 240 VOlt Inverter, and do killer 50Hz Bass burps. Just see if you can tune your cabin for that. If you do? Dude... You can get one for maybe $50 bucks, and Cheat your way to the top?

OR.... You can use one and hook it up to a Pro Amp that does 5,000 watts.. You can get those all day long for about $100 or less if broken. Just find a way to fix it and you will have a system that reaches the $600 dollar or Pound price point that will BLOW YOUR SOCKS OFF! May electrocute you.. But hell. Life is short PLAY HARD!

IF you are REALLY BROKE? You can just use a Motor, and make something like the Phonic GOld Cyclone! THey have motors all around in the U.K. Just make Membrane and a flat plate, and you can get KILLER SPL.

If you got the skills to use Arduino? You can make a Hydraulic subwoofer. I'm sure they have something like Mexicans in the U.K. :) Just get some Hydraulic pumps. You can also use your Power steering pump, but then you won't get the output pressure you need.

But get a solenoid and cycle it with the arduino with a Hydraulic cylinder made of FIberglass, Reinforce it with some Steel from a ball joint or suspension parts from a Land rover, and make the surround out of Some Yoga pants from America or Texas. THat way you get the material for cheap. Just use some Carpet glue on it to seal it, OR if you are really broke... You can use Henry's roofing compound on it, and it should seal pretty well.

You will be able to do 5 maybe up to 35 Hz Burps! Just make sure you put a safety cage around the subwoofer so you don't kill anyone.

You can do the same with an Air cylinder as well. You can get up to 80 Hz easy. Just have to program the Arduino to do it.

You can get an Air pump out of a Semi, that way it can use the 12V rail you got. Or just use a Hazard Faright or Tesco Air tank. Just keep it less then 250 PSI or the tank may blow.

GOOD LUCK BRO! I'm expecting great things from your Budget spl build!

(The moderator is going to shoot me soon)
I have a few cars, track car which sees the tarmac a few times a year and a bmw for drifting, but I’ve also got an astra VXR which is my daily which I’m after the subwoofer setup in, it’s the only car that still had full interior so for that reason I want to go along this route.

Thankyou for the post I appreciate it, yes that’s my issue, either buy one good sub or two not so good but run 2 obviously in a proper box as that makes all the difference. Years ago I had a corsa with two Mutant Conquest 15” (they’re old SPL range) with a JBL Crown amp, they were seriously loud, dropped seriously low and shook the hell out of every part of the car. This is what I want again, the lows to me are important, I hate when a song drops really low and subs can’t match it. I know that probably sounds really cliche but that’s the sort of thing I’m after. What I don’t understand is this more because of the box or the sub itself? Hence joining the forum to get more information before buying anything
I see that does help clarify things.

I myself prefer that sort of low end extension, but from the perspective of liking church organ music. 14Hz shakes the car quite nicely.... :D

This is in fact why I ended up with a JL audio 13W7 in a sealed box as although it’s not as loud as, say the two 10w3s in a ported box that preceded it in the bmw, it shakes the car with the low stuff.

I think that whilst you say you want SPL primarily, I think without decent sound quality you would be disappointed.

How flexible is your budget?
Budget is flexible. I work a couple of jobs, so my second job is paying for this setup, it’s just a rough number I put to one side. It’s what I currently have sitting there for a setup but it can be flexible if needed. I didn’t realise it was all in the box, so for example if you bought say a £100 sub from the internet, but it in a proper ported box it would be a completely different setup? Not that I’m going to do that but people are saying it’s all in the box.
A cheap sub may be able to produce good bass but cheap woofers typically can't handle a lot of power or abuse.

If you don't have time to shop, you should use a sealed enclosure using the manufacturers recommended enclosure because tuned enclosures can require some testing and adjusting to maximize performance. Just because a ported enclosure works well in one vehicle doesn't mean it will perform the same in other vehicles.

High-order enclosures are much more of a headache and require very high quality woofers. Cheap woofers are likely to get shredded in short order because you can't hear when the woofer is stressed. It lulls you into a sense that all is well when the woofer is being destroyed. Higher-order enclosures (6th order) compound all problems. High-order enclosures are known to produce higher SPL because they move all of the energy to one narrow range of frequencies. They make systems that are 'one note wonders'. If they are tuned to produce a wide range of frequencies, their increased complexity doesn't make them worth the trouble (narrow band, strong peak, wide band, little to no boost in output).
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Joined 2018
I suppose everybody's different...

In my Lincoln's trunk I've added a simple 2X 8 inch sealed woofer setup driven by a sensible 300W amp designed to augment the already decent factory "JBL Premium" system.
The result is a fine sounding system.
I don't feel the need to "feel" the bass, nor annoy anyone outside the car, or in their homes as I drive by, that's childish.
As for actual brand recommendations, when I was stationed in the EU I put a system into my Volvo that really impressed me for around $350 US. I went to an audio store and picked up a 600 watt Magnat amp (German) and the matching 12" subwoofer and built my own ported box. It was a small vehicle, but that single 12 was more than enough for me and the amp never ran out of power or ever got hot on me. Not sure if Magnat is carried where you're at, but it's definitely a brand I'd buy again.
Budget is flexible. I work a couple of jobs, so my second job is paying for this setup, it’s just a rough number I put to one side. It’s what I currently have sitting there for a setup but it can be flexible if needed. I didn’t realise it was all in the box, so for example if you bought say a £100 sub from the internet, but it in a proper ported box it would be a completely different setup? Not that I’m going to do that but people are saying it’s all in the box.

Again, fair enough.

The issue is that you asked for SPL, which to an extent is true and the answers so far seem to be on the assumption this is SPL for competition rather for personal enjoyment. On that basis all other considerations, such as practicality and musicality are held to be secondary and in that case the box ( and the vehicle itself) is indeed all important.

It reads to me that this sort of advice is barking up the wrong tree as you want a system that plays low and loud but are not aiming to squeeze every last fraction of a decibel out of it.

If this is the case then my advice is slightly different in detail but in the main the same as above.

Your Astra is a great choice for sound, I remember old school Calibras back in the say did very well due to the shape of the cabin and I think the Astras aren't too far off.

This is a good start as the same sub, in the same box with the same amp sounds much, much louder in a hatch back than in a luxury type saloon.

To give you an idea a good sealed 10" in a hatchback sounds as loud in the cabin as a ported 12" of the same type in the boot of a BMW 3 series, for something like the 7 series, s class or big Jags then you need even more.

With that in mind I think you may be able to start "small" with your existing budget and get something that you can easily add to should the need arise and the funds be available.

The matter of boxes have been covered by Perry above, the gist of it is that the "louder" the box enables the subwoofer in question to play, the narrower the range of frequencies it will play. This is useful for the SPL competition boys as they only care about making as much noise as possible at the frequency at which their cabin resonates the most. Your avowed aim being to play low and not "bottom out" means that I would stay away from high order ( bandpass etc) enclosures as to make them such that they would play as low as you want would make them too bog to fit in the car anyway.

This leaves sealed or ported boxes as your choice in my opinion, the former playing lower and the latter playing louder.

The situation is a little more complex than this, mainly because of cabin gain. You've noticed that in some systems, the bass seems louder when the windows are open?

In short however in your shoes I would go ported, tuned to around 30-35 Hz ( depending on the exact sub you go for) and rely on cabin gain to help with the stuff below the sub's tuning frequency.

I haven't any experience of the subs you mention below, I looked into them briefly however.

The Earthquake looks over priced for what it is, they claim an Xmax of 88mm whereas in reality it is around 13mm... Earthquake Sound DBXI-15 | Page 2 | Home Theater Forum and Systems. The Orion will be about as loud from the specs but probably sound better and the Ground Zero looks like it would play louder than both of them 'though I personally don't like the sound of GZ stuff.

You could start with one of the GZ subs in a ported enclosure and add a second if you need, especially if you get a dual 4 ohm sub and a one ohm capable amp. In that case you could just add the second sub without the need for another amp as well.

Much, much better value can be found by buying second hand.
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