When was the last time you heard high-quality sounds coming from a subwoofer? If the speaker was correctly installed within an appropriate enclosure, you likely enjoyed the buzzing and low frequencies that tickled your ears.
When the subs aren’t installed correctly, the enclosure can become a problem. Although it isn’t impossible to build an appropriate cabinet for subwoofers without aero ports available, life gets much easier when you have one.
An aero port provides the framework needed to enclose your subs within the cabinet. Instead of allowing them to float free from the connection, you’ll get the necessary supports for the punch and attack you want in any car audio system.
Here’s the best part: you can typically purchase a high-quality molded enclosure port for 10-inch to 18-inch sub enclosures for under $50.
About Tuning and PVC Aero Ports – Subwoofers and Enclosures
When you use aero ports with your sub enclosure, you can avoid the issue with the slot ports instead. Although aeros don’t offer structural bracing automatically, you can get a louder sound with this investment. That means you can create more areas for reverb or reduce your installation footprint.
If you’re thinking about using aeros for your next sub enclosure, it’s important to remember that some advantages and disadvantages are there to consider. Although you’ll find passionate people who prefer slot ports over aero ports and vice-versa, the ultimate decision for your setup lies with you.
Here are the key points to review as you work toward getting your sound system set up for your vehicle.
■ What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Aero Ports?
|List of the Advantages of Using Aero Ports||List of the Disadvantages of Using Aero Ports|
|When you create boxes using aeros, you’ll find them to be a lot easier to make at home than when you use slots. All you need to do is build the sealed box, make a hole for the aero, and finish the job.||It typically costs more to install aero ports than it does to roll with slots. Most products in the six-inch range retail for at least $30.|
|Aero ports let you retune your enclosure without needing to develop an entirely different box to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have different lengths, you can swap out the tuning on-demand.||You won’t receive the same structural bracing in the enclosure with aeros as you would for a slot port. It’s possible to add them to the design, but that outcome requires a second step to achieve.|
|An aero port works more efficiently with your sound system than slots. That means it can be smaller while achieving the same result, allowing for fewer spatial requirements in the vehicle.||Some people don’t like how the bass comes through when the subs are installed with aeros.|
|It is possible for aero ports in some systems to be slightly louder than their counterparts.||There is no guarantee that your box will experience a louder sound. Depending on the aero ports used, the subs could potentially sound worse.|
You can find aero ports online, at precision sound retailers, and at most locations that provide access to audio and audiophile parts.
Why Do Some Builders Use PVC Pipe for Their Aeros?
When you start shopping for aero ports, you’ll discover that they come in standard sizes. The most common options available today are somewhere in the 3-inch to 6-inch range. Since that’s the same size you can find with PVC pipe at the average hardware store, some builders decide to use that material for their sub enclosure.
The advantage of using PVC pipe for this need is that it is much cheaper. That option comes with the disadvantage of not having flared ends.
If you don’t install a PVC-style aero with absolute precision, you can end up with decreased efficiencies for your sound system and unwanted port noise.
You’ll need to use a heat gun to mold the PVC into a flare using a bowl or something similar to correct the issues.
When you select a manufactured aero port for your enclosure, you don’t need to take any additional steps. Once the box is complete, you can drill your hole and finish the installation. The cost might be more with this option, but you’ll also get the job done a lot faster.
That means how you value your time becomes a critical component of this process. If it takes you two hours to flare the PVC to create the results you want, it becomes more expensive to use that option over aeros when you feel your value is $20 per hour.
How Does an Enclosure with Aero Ports Get Designed?
When designing an enclosure for your subwoofers that includes aeros, you’ll need to first think about the port size. You can typically manage an area about 50% of the size of a standard slot.
That means you’ll only need around six or eight inches of port per cubic foot within the enclosure instead of the 12 to 16 inches that are necessary with slots.
The goal should be to use the least amount of ports necessary to achieve your desired area. That means a single six-inch port is better than setting up two that are four inches even though the size constraints are relatively similar.
If you’re not sure how to measure for your ports, this online calculator provides a useful tool to help you get the results you want.
Please remember to figure out the correct speaker and port placement before cutting your hole. Once you’ve started the modification, there’s no going back on what you’re doing.
You’ll want to place your aeros at least one port diameter from the inside walls whenever possible.
Once you have the placement issue figured out, it helps to use a cut diagram to complete the work. Some manufacturers include them with their products, but it isn’t guaranteed that you’ll receive one.
How to Finish the Aero Port Installation
Once you have the hole cut in your enclosure, you can use screws to attach the port to the chamber using the positioning or guide marks located along with the outside flare.
Some products have multiple holes on the flare, marked with either a “3” or a “4.” Those numbers indicate how many screws you’ll use based on your setup.
Once you have the length achieved for your enclosure, you can glue together the assembly using the adhesive meant for the materials of the aero port. If you’ve purchased a ready-made item, it’s likely made from ABS plastic.
When you use PVC for your design, you’ll need a different adhesive. Since epoxy and other stronger glues can weaken some plastics, you won’t want to use substitutions for this step.
After you have the pieces assembled for your port, they cannot be taken apart. You can use the aeros to slip into the enclosure for changing the tuning based on the connections, but the box must remain secure to avoid buzz and distortion.
You’ll want to attach the connecting rings to the flared ends first. Once you have that step accomplished, slide the ends over the tube section. That’s when you can finish the port with your screws or adhesive.
Most warranties won’t cover installation errors, so you’ll want to be careful with your subwoofer enclosure design. If you’re unfamiliar with this process, it might help to hire a professional installer to manage this step on your behalf.
Product warranties for aero ports range from 90 days up to one year, with outliers from some brands on both sides of that spectrum.
What Are the Best Ported Enclosures to Use Today?
If you want to use aero ports for your subwoofer setup, it is possible to save some time on the building by purchasing the enclosure to install. It costs a little more since you’re buying something pre-made, but the time savings is enormous.
You could potentially show up to your preferred car audio specialist with the enclosure, subs, and ports to have the install done in no time at all.
Are you interested in having a universal fit option for your subs? If so, here are the best choices to consider for your vehicle.
1. Skar Audio SK2X12V Dual 12-Inch Ported Enclosure
When you select this Skar Audio ported enclosure, you’re getting a dual-chamber design with a universal fit. It delivers a competition-grade performance for your subs with its unique engineering design.
The mounting depth is 13 inches, while the cut-out diameter is 11.125 inches. You’ll even get the premium push terminals with the internal speaker leads ready for the install.
This sub enclosure provides a sleek look for any ride. It’s finished with premium black carpet, uses polyfill for wall lining, and deep sounds that stay heavy. It’s a box that can handle almost anything.
2. PowerBass Single-Vented Enclosure
If you only need to mount one sub for your vehicle, you’ll find that most pre-made enclosures don’t do a great job with the aero ports. That’s because the goal is to keep everything as compact as possible.
You’ll find that the PowerBass design is heavy-duty, vented appropriately, and offers the right amount of reflex for the job.
The computer-optimized acoustic chamber is what turns this beast into one of the best enclosures that money can buy.
You’ll get enough vibration to make your mirrors shake, and the sub comes with the box already. That means you’re getting two for the price of one.
3. Skar Audio SK2X8V Dual 8-Inch Ported Enclosure
With the kerf port design, you’ll find that this expressive enclosure does an excellent job of creating an accurate bass that hits the deep notes with perfection.
It’s tuned at 39 Hz, so you won’t have all of the extra distortion that happens with other boxes, while the polyfill deadens the extra stuff you don’t want to hear.
As with other Skar Audio designs, the premier push terminals have internal speaker wires that are ready for mounting.
Is It Time to Upgrade Your Audio Experience?
When you need to tune your audio system to the lower frequencies, aero ports deliver a beneficial result.
Although PVC is an option if you’re willing to put in the time to flare the ends, a ready-made ABS product could be a better solution.
For me, I prefer the new AI-infused all-in-one units that incorporate aeros. The cost is reasonable, while the computer optimization delivers a better tone consistently.
That’s not to say that other products won’t provide similar results, but that’s the style that I like to hear when bumping down the road.
Everyone has a different preference for their audio experience. When you opt for aeros over slots, I think you’ll find that extra touch of authenticity that’s been missing.