This article is from the Car Audio FAQ, by Ian D. Bjorhovde (ianbjor@mobileaudio.com) with numerous contributions by others.

The specific dimensions of a subwoofer enclosure aren't really

important. Once you know the appropriate volume of the box, and you

know where in your car you want to install it, you will have some idea

of the restrictions in the dimensions. For example, if the distance

between the floor of your trunk and the bottom of the rear deck is 16",

then you probably shouldn't make your box any taller than 16".

Likewise, if width of the trunk (between the wheel wells is 38", then

you've got that much space to work with.

You can also infer some other information about your box, from the

speaker specifications (for a PPI PC10):

Mounting Depth: 4.5625" Speaker Displacement: .032 ft^3

Here is an ASCII drawing of a subwoofer enclosure to help illustrate a

few things:

|--- L ---| __________ ___ / /| | / + / | | + = Center of speaker / x / | D x = center of port /_________/ | | | | | _|_ W = Width of box | | / / L = Length of box | | / W D = Depth of box |_________|/ _/_

Because of the speaker's mounting depth, you know that the box MUST be

at 5.5" deep (it's always good to leave at least 1" of space behind the

speaker, but leave more if you can). If you use a straight port (3"

diameter PVC) then the box will need to be at least 13" deep (leaving 2

inches between the end of the port and the back of other side of the

enclosure), assuming that your port will reside completely within the

enclosure. If you use Flex-Port or choose to have a portion of the

port extending outside of the enclosure, you can make the box less deep.

We also know that with a 10" woofer, the length and width should both

be a minimum of 12" (leave 1" on either side of the woofer). Obviously

both dimensions can't be 12" otherwise we can't put the port on the

same face as the speaker.

With volume, remember a couple of things. Recommended volume is the Net

Internal volume. Both the speaker and the port will displace volume

from the box - this means that you MUST account for these (i.e., make

the interior volume of the box larger than the recommended value). In

this case, you know the following:

Required Volume: 1.25 ft^3 Speaker Displacement: 0.032 ft^3 Port Displacement: ??

3" (interior diameter) PVC will usually have an exterior diameter of

3.5" (0.25" wall thickness). Volume of a cylinder = pi*r^2*h, where r

= 1.75" and h=12.25" (13" port length - 0.75" for the thickness of the

MDF). Therefore the port displacement is: 117.9 in^3 or 0.068 ft^3

(1728 in^3 = 1 ft^3).

Required Volume: 1.25 ft^3 Speaker Displacement: 0.032 ft^3 Port Displacement: 0.068 ft^3 TOTAL INTERIOR VOLUME: 1.35 ft^3 or 2332.8 in^3

Now, to calculate the dimensions of the box: For a rectangular box, L

x W x D = Volume.

If we know that the minimum interior depth is 15" (because the port is

13" and you should leave 2" between the port and the wall of the

enclosure), we can say,

L x W x 15" = 2332.8 in^3 or L x W = 155.52 in^2

Since we know that L must be at least 12" (since the speaker is 10" in

diameter), we can continue:

12" x W = 155.52 in^2 W = 12.96"

So, we have determined that the interior dimensions of the box must be

12" x 12.96" x 15". Obviously this can't work, since there is nowhere

to put the port! You will either have to have the port extend outside

of the enclosure, or use flex-port. Keep in mind that if you have part

of the port "sticking out" of the enclosure, the Port Displacement will

also change!!.

For simplicity, (in this example) let's use flex-port. This will let

you decrease the thickness of your box to about 6". So,

L x W x 6" = 2332.8 in^3 L x W = 388.8 in^2 12" x W = 388.8 in^2 W = 32.4"

This is a little more reasonable. This will be a flat, wide box.

Again, keep in mind that these are internal dimensions. If you use

3/4" MDF (and you should) to build the enclosure, this will add 1.5" to

each of these figures for the external dimensions. e.g.:

13.5" x 33.9" x 7.5"

Remember, the 6" depth and 12" length are just the minimum values, you

can alter them if, for example, you don't have enough space between your

wheel wells for a 34" box. If you only have, say, 28", then:

maximum external width = 28" maximum internal width = 26.5" L x W x D = 2332.8 in^3 L x 26.5" x 6" = 2332.8 in^3 L = 14.7" (internal)

Got it? It can be a pain, but that's part of the fun in building a

speaker enclosure.

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