Sealed vs Ported Subwoofers: Which Is Right For You?

If you are a true music enthusiast, and you want to enjoy music when driving or riding your car to the fullest, you should surely be considering investing in a subwoofer. Subwoofers are an excellent addition to any car’s music system. They boost the sound and ensure that the users can enjoy amazing sound quality without any compromise on the delivery, range and crispness of the sound.

Woofers come in a range of variations and varieties. The two most common types are none other than a sealed subwoofer and a portable subwoofer. There has always been a debate about which one is better. It all comes down to the preference of bass that you have in mind. You need to ask yourself whether you prefer a tight and focused bass or you are someone who would like the boom and loud club like experience.

Whatever the case maybe, before you actually go ahead and buy a subwoofer, you should know the difference and characteristics of both a sealed as well as a portable subwoofer. Only then will you be able to pick a woofer that is right for you and will be able to meet your needs and expectations.

To help you in this regard, we have penned down and dedicated this entire article to explaining what a sealed and a portable subwoofer is and which one would be the best choice for you, given your requirements.

What is a Subwoofer?

The first thing that might come to your mind when you hear the word subwoofers is most likely going to be bass. And you are absolutely correct. Sound, especially music and sound effects created for movies are developed using an array of sound sources. Many of these sources produce high pitched, powerful sounds that are deep and diverse. Normal speakers are unable to do justice to the quality of these sounds.

This is where a subwoofer comes into the picture. Thanks to the bass boosting feature, a subwoofer can recreate these sounds in an impressive manner. The subwoofer delivers bass boosted sound so that the users can have an immersive and all rounded sound experience. When using a subwoofer, you will be able to experience sound as if you are literally sitting right next to the source in real life.

Perks of Using a Subwoofer

There are several benefits that you will reap when you invest in a subwoofer and start using it. Before diving into the difference between a sealed and a portable subwoofer, we will get into some of the advantages of using a subwoofer in the first place.

1. Elevated Listening Experience:

The use of a subwoofer will take your listening experience to the next level. Even if you are using a powerful set of speakers, you will notice that the sound seems to be a lot more clear and crisp when you add a subwoofer to the mix. The sound will seem to be realistic and you will be able to hear sound elements that you didn’t even realize were there in the first place.

2. Sound Extension:

Woofers are also excellent sound extenders. A subwoofer produces a low sound frequency. This crossover of frequency with the frequency of the sound will further amplify the listening experience. The sound will be more natural and in depth. You will especially notice a considerable difference when you use a subwoofer while watching an action movie or listening to high bass music.

3. Uniform Sound Distribution:

Another perk of using a subwoofer is the uniform sound distribution. At times, when listening to music, you might have noticed that the sound seems to be a lot more powerful if you sit close to the speaker and it weakens as you move farther away from the sound source. But when you use a subwoofer, the sound is amplified and thus boosted. You will be able to enjoy the same type of experience irrespective of where you are sitting and listening to the music.

What are Sealed Subwoofers?

Sealed subwoofers are the comparatively simpler type of subwoofers that you will find in the market. They consist of nothing but a driver, an amplifier and both of these components are placed inside an enclosure. The driver is the major component of the speaker that is truly responsible for its output and sound delivery.

The biggest perk of using a sealed subwoofer is variety and variation. It allows users to experience and enjoy a range of response profiles. They are also quite compact and small in size so you will not have to worry that the subwoofer may end up taking a lot of space in your car or house.

This also makes them an excellent choice for people who are looking for a sound source that is compact, but surely does not compromise on the sound quality. Moreover, since the driver is secured inside the enclosure, therefore, the risk of it getting damaged is also considerably lower. And you will not have to worry about any type of potential damage to the subwoofer. In this way, the maintenance of a sealed subwoofer is quite easier and does not require much effort.

What are Portable Subwoofers?

If you are looking for subwoofers that will not fail to impress and are also willing to invest in a subwoofer that is a bit more complicated in terms of structure, you can surely opt for a portable subwoofer. They come with an added port which sort of complicates their structure.

But this added complexity comes with its own perk. This port helps by augmenting the sound output at the system’s end and boosts the frequency of the sound and thus allows the subwoofer to deliver sound that is comparatively more powerful than that of any other subwoofer or speaker system.

Another difference between a portable and a sealed subwoofer, which is also a characteristic feature of the portable subwoofer is the placement of the driver. Rather than being captured inside the enclosure, it is left in the middle and appears as if it is hanging in free air.

Due to this, the users have to be careful when using a portable subwoofer as it can easily get damaged and needs to be monitored carefully. The use of some filters is highly recommended in this regard as it ensures that the driver and the other components of the subwoofer remain safe and free from damage. The users have to tune a subwoofer properly as if the frequency set goes below the tuning frequency, the woofer may go under over excursion, especially if no filter is being used.

Which is Better, a Sealed Subwoofer or a Portable Speaker?

Now coming to the main point of this article and answering the major question, which subwoofer is an ideal choice for you, a sealed subwoofer or a portable one. To be able to help you make this decision, we will draw a side by side comparison between the two types of the subwoofer.

Sound Quality:

Obviously the main determining factor that will help you pick a sealed or a portable subwoofer is the sound quality. You might have heard terms like ‘tighter sound’ or ‘articulate sound’. This is made possible when you are making use of a sealed subwoofer.

Let’s elaborate a bit further. Sound travels in the form of waves and air is the medium that allows the transmission of the sound waves and helps them reach our ears. In reality, there is a slight bit of gap between sound waves as they travel and reach our ears.

However, when you use a sealed subwoofer, the movement of air for the transmission of the sound waves is slightly faster. This means that the distance between the waves is decreased which surely boosts the overall sound quality and allows the users to experience sound that is a lot more coherent and coordinated. The sound is a lot more integrated and thus the overall experience is much better in comparison with if you are using a portable subwoofer.

Loudness And Thump:

With this being said, other than coherence, another aspect of sound quality that has to be taken into consideration is the loudness of the sound. A portable subwoofer surely takes the lead when it comes to sound loudness. Due to the wider volume range, a portable subwoofer can surely give the users the ground pumping sound experience that you often require especially if you want to enjoy music.

Therefore, speaking in terms of sound quality and coherence, a sealed subwoofer will deliver better results as compared to a portable subwoofer. But the portable subwoofer would be a better choice if you are someone who wants to enjoy loud music.

Playback Level:

A ported subwoofer should be the go to choice of people who want to enjoy a cinematic level sound experience. With the latest sound formats, the sound demands a lot more attention and volume. Although an extensive volume range can be achieved when using a sealed subwoofer, the comparison drawn surely favors the use of a ported subwoofer in this case.

The bass effects and ability to manage fidelity sound tracks is surely better in ported subwoofers than it is in case of the use of a sealed subwoofer.

Sound Accuracy:

A ported subwoofer is undoubtedly a great companion for powerful sounds. But if you are someone who prefers classical music or sounds that are gentle and humble, you should surely be opting for a sealed subwoofer. The accuracy of the sealed subwoofer does justice to the demands of slower sounds.

You can easily compare the performance of the two woofers by playing some instrumental music. To your amazement, the sealed subwoofer will deliver a much better sound quality and accuracy when you listen to softer sounds.

Space And Area of Coverage:

The choice of whether you should go for a sealed or a ported subwoofer also depends on the room or area that you wish to cover. Some people have a smaller area while other spaces are vast and the users wish to find a subwoofer that can help throw and spread the sound across all the corners of the room in a uniform manner.

Although you can always pair two or more subwoofers together to amplify and extend the sound throw, in general, a sealed subwoofer can cover a larger area and is highly recommended for larger spaces. But for people who have a small to midsize area to cover, a ported subwoofer should be able to do just fine as well.


When picking a subwoofer, you also have to be vigilant about the size of the subwoofer itself. If you compare a ported and a sealed subwoofer of the same driver size, you will be able to realize that a sealed subwoofer will be more compact and smaller in size. The ported subwoofers of the same driver size, on the other hand, will be a lot more bulky and large.

This is not a factor that directly impacts the sound quality or throw of the subwoofers. But in some cases, the customers and users need to take into account the size of the subwoofer and ensure that it can sit perfectly in the room that they have. So if you need a compact and small subwoofer, a sealed subwoofer would be a better choice. But if you have more space, you can surely go for a ported one.

Bottom Line

By now, you must have clearly understood the difference between a ported and a sealed subwoofer. As already established throughout the article, both a ported as well as a sealed subwoofer have their own perks and characteristics. Therefore, it will not be right to claim that one of them is better than the other.

The choice of which one should you be investing in totally depends on your needs and preferences. If you are still confused about which one should you be buying, you can always consult an expert. Or even better, you can visit any store that sells both types of woofers and test them for yourself. The one that you find to be better would be the ideal choice for you.


After having read the main differences between a ported and a sealed subwoofer, you still might have some queries and questions in your mind. This section of the article is dedicated to answering such questions and elaborating the specifications and features of the two types of subwoofers even further:

Is a ported or sealed sub box better?
This totally depends on your needs and preferences. Both a ported as well as sealed sub box have their own features, strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, they can be used for different purposes and it is hard to pronounce one better over the other. Before you go ahead and make a purchase, make sure that you realize the major differences between the two and then pick one that best suits your requirements.
Is ported louder than sealed?
Yes it is. This is because of the construction and the style of the ported subwoofer. In case of a ported subwoofer, the driver of the speaker is not enclosed, rather it is open. This does not restrict the throw of the sound and surely amplifies the loudness of the sound that is delivered by the subwoofer. In the case of the sealed subwoofer, the driver is enclosed which tends to limit the level of throw of the sound.
Does a sealed or ported box hit harder?
The ported subwoofer box surely hits harder. The sound throw and loudness of the sound of the ported box is a lot louder and higher than that of a sealed box. If you want to experience loud sounds without having to invest in or set up a balancer or a digital equalizer externally, you should surely be investing in a ported subwoofer box rather than a sealed one.
How do I make my subs hit the hardest?
You can surely amplify the performance of your subs even further if you want to. This will require the use of an external equalizer and amplifier. The amplifier can be connected with the subwoofer and you will be able to customize the sound settings and kick them up a notch even further. If you do not want to make use of an equalizer or amplifier, you can also try and pair a handful of woofers together. Doing so will also boost the sound quality and the loudness of the subwoofers.
Will a bigger box make subs louder?
No. In reality, if you want to make your subs louder, you should be looking for a smaller box. When subwoofers are placed inside a smaller box, the sound waves hit the walls of the box and then end up being amplified. Therefore, it creates an illusion of additional bass boost and further amplifies the volume of the speakers and subwoofers.The use of a bigger box has the opposite impact as it ends up diminishing the sound and thus rather than increasing, decreases the loudness of the sound that is produced by the sub woofers.

Leave a Comment