Car Subwoofers

How To Break In A Subwoofer? Do You Need It?

Mike Cross
Updated Aug 9, 2021
How To Break In A Subwoofer

If you are into car audio systems or starting to get into in, then during your research you have probably seen more then once about if you need to break in your subwoofer or not.

Well, in this article we are going to answer the questions or do you need to break in your subwoofer? After answering this question, we are also going to explain how to break in a subwoofer.

That way if you choose to break your subwoofer in, then you will do it correctly. Subwoofers can be expensive, so it is important to break them in the right way, so as not to damage them. Read on to learn if you need to break in your sub and if so how to best break in your new sub.

How To Break In A Subwoofer
How To Break In A Subwoofer

Do you need too Break In A Subwoofer

So, before getting into how to break in a subwoofer, we are first going to talk about do you need to break in a new sub. This question is asked often and debated by many. In our opinion, it is a good idea to break in your subwoofer. The reason why we side on the side of breaking in your subwoofer is that breaking in the subwoofer isn’t going to hurt it in any way. Some brands say it is not necessary to break it in, and that you can start playing loud bass out of the sub right out of the box, but we don’t recommend that.

Instead, we feel it is a good idea to break in all subwoofers no matter what the brand says. This is because breaking in the sub can give the spider, the cone, the woofer, and the rubber surrounded time to loosen up. By allowing it time to loosen up the sub will sound better in the long run, and also will last longer. Now that you know our opinion on if you need to break in your subwoofer we can go into some more scientific detail on why we side on the side of breaking in your sub.

Why Break-In

The main reason we side on the side of breaking in your subwoofer is because of how it is made and the performance increase you will see. Most car subwoofers are made with ‘low compliance’ suspensions (elastic deformation). This means that it requires a time of breaking in to reach full flexibility. When the sub has full flexibility the bass will hit harder, making a deeper sound. The ‘low compliance’ suspension is important because subs made with this will last longer than ones that are made with a looser suspension. They will maintain peak performance better. Breaking in your subwoofer can be compared to breaking in your car’s engine. Vehicles see increased fuel milage after the first oil change because the parts are working more efficiently. The same can be said about a sub once it is broken in.

What does the breaking in do?

You may be wondering what breaking in your subwoofer does to the subwoofer. Well, we will talk about that now before going over how to break in the subwoofer. Breaking in the subwoofer allows the spiders to loosen. In turn, this leads to a higher excursion and the ability to play lower frequencies. Also, the coils of the sub will move more freely in the gap. This is very important because it will allow for better dissipation of heat. This means that you will be less likely to damage the coils and the subwoofer. That is why we say you can’t go wrong with breaking in a sub, but you might cause damage to a sub if you don’t break it in.

What can happen if you don’t break-in

We know that you want to get to listening to your new subwoofer as soon as possible, but it is important to understand what can happen to your subwoofer if not broken in properly. All kinds of damage can occur to the sub and its parts. The main damage can occur to the coils. The coils can end up burned or unwound. This happens from them getting too hot. They can get too hot from a distorted signal or from the spiders not being loose enough allowing heat dissipation. This can happen because like we have mentioned the coil won’t have enough room to move in the gap.

The other main damage that can occur to a sub that is not broken in is a ripped or torn suspension. The suspension is what holds the parts in place and if you don’t break it in, then it can get a lot of strain put on it causing it to rip. You risk tearing the suspension from the triple joint or basket landing. If this happens, then mechanical failure has occurred and the sub will be useless. 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. Like we have said this distortion can lead to heat in the coils.

How to Break-in

So, now we are finally at the part of how to break in a subwoofer properly. It isn’t that hard to break in a woofer. There is a fast method of the break-in or the slow method. Most people will probably choose the slow method because with that method you can start enjoying your music right away with your new sub.

Slow Method

For the slow method break in you install your subwoofer into your car like normal. Then you play the music you normally listen to at low to medium volume with the gains set at one half. You need to make sure to play songs with a constant basis, as sporadic bass won’t do anything. You play the music at this setting for two to three weeks. After that amount of time, you will begin to hear a difference. As the Fs drops, and the suspension becomes more flexible, you’ll notice that you can play lower frequencies, louder, and with less power. Once you start noticing this difference and two to three weeks have passed, then you can set your gains to normal and start listening to the normal settings you would like.

Fast Method

The faster method breaks the sub in more quickly, but you can’t listen to it in your car. With this method, you break in the subwoofer by playing it free air, or out of an enclosure. You will also need a few tools. You will need a tone generator which you can install on a phone, a 3.5mm jack to RCA so you can hook your phone to the sub. You will also need to mount the sub so it won’t move, but don’t mount the back because it can’t breathe. 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. If you mount it this way, make sure you weigh the sides of the mount down so the subwoofer doesn’t walk off. Lastly, you will need an amplifier and about 24 hours.

Once you have all your tools and the subwoofer mounted you can begin the break-in process. To do this you play a sine sweep of 30 Hz-60 Hz. Depending on which sound generator app you went with, it might not be able to do this. If it can’t, then you can play a 40 Hz tone for the break-in period. The break-in period should be 20-24 hours. It is important to make sure the sub is staying cool during the break-in time. That is why you might not be able to do the full amount of time straight. If you notice the sub get hot, stop playing the sound. When you stop playing the sound you can push on it gently and see if it feels softer. After you have reached the amount of time needed you can mount the sub into the vehicle you want it in.


So, as you can see there are a couple of ways to break in a subwoofer. Also, now you know the answer on should you break in a subwoofer. You know why we recommend it and the two best ways to do it properly. You also know the damage that can come to your subwoofer if you don’t break it in right. The next time you get a new woofer you can break it incorrectly, and it will last longer and sound better than your last one

Mike Cross
Life is too short to drive with stock audio

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