Can Ported Subwoofers Sound Good With Music?
Q I’ve heard that sealed subwoofers sound better than ported ones with music, but that ported subs handle LFE in movie soundtracks better. I want a sub that will sound good in my large, open living room with both music and movies. Do people only use sealed subs in smaller rooms? How will a ported model sound different when playing music?—Matt Carlton
A Sealed subwoofers are a good match for small rooms for two reasons. First, they generally have a smaller-size cabinet than ported models, and for that reason fit better into a smaller-size space. Second, in small rooms the limited bass output in the sub-40 Hz frequency range that’s typical of sealed subwoofers is compensated for to a degree by room gain—something that doesn’t happen when they’re placed in large, open spaces.
With a large ported subwoofer, on the other hand, the greater interior volume and port create efficiencies that allow for higher output at the lowest frequencies compared with a sealed model. In a small room, the match could prove overwhelming, but in a larger space where room gain isn’t an issue—and you’re more likely to crank the volume loud—large, ported subs make for a good option.
Also, yes, a well-designed ported sub sound should sound perfectly good with music. (The design gets a bad rap due to the many cheap subs out there that use ports to maximize bass quantity at the expense of bass quality.) More important, a ported design will be the best match for your large room and deliver the bass impact you'd want with movies.