Ported vs. Sealed Subwoofer for Home Theater

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Home theaters are really cool; you can get a nice screen, some good speakers, and hook up a couple of devices, like a Blu-Ray player and your favorite video game consoles. Of course, you are probably looking to get the best experience possible from your home theater, and this means having not only great visuals, but great audio too.

Sure, basic speakers are fine, but if you want to pump up the volume, the sound quality, and especially the bass, you will want a good subwoofer.

If you are looking to get a subwoofer for your home theater system, it is important to know that there two main types of subwoofers: ported and sealed subwoofers. So, which is better for a home theater? 

Are you going to choose a ported or a sealed subwoofer? Let’s take a closer look at each to see what they are all about.

Ported Subwoofers

A ported subwoofer, in layman’s terms, is one which features a woofer and one or more ports. These ports let the air escape from the box. Generally speaking, this allows you to get a bigger and better sound out of a single box.

The reason for this is because there are two different components which move the air, these being the woofer and the port. Ported subwoofers therefore tend to be ideal for large rooms. For the most part, if the ported subwoofer is high quality and has been properly tuned and calibrated, the resulting sound should be louder than sealed subwoofers.

One thing to keep in mind is that ported subwoofers tend to be fairly large, or in other words, they might not be ideal for very small rooms where real estate is tight.

Something that is important to note is that ported subwoofers, when tuned right, tend to do a great job at recreating very low and bass-heavy music and sound. Many people will choose these kinds of subwoofers to blast bass beats and rap music.

What is also important to know is that if a ported subwoofer is not tuned properly, it won’t perform well, it won’t sound right, and it may even cause damage to the subwoofer. There are some audio subwoofers that come with built-in protection to prevent this from occurring, but even then, performance may still be limited with improper tuning.

The other factor that is important to note with ported subwoofers is that they generally require less power to create the same volume and quality of sound as sealed subwoofers. In other words, if you do not have a subwoofer with a built-in amplifier, when it comes to ported subwoofers, you won’t need quite as powerful an amplifier.

The biggest advantage of these subwoofers is that they are loud, they boom, and they will make the room shake with a heavy bass sound.

Sealed Subwoofers

Now, what you need to know here is the difference between the ported subwoofers we discussed above and these sealed subwoofers. Sealed subwoofers do not feature ports which let the air out of the box, which is why they are called sealed subwoofers. On a side note, just for comparison, this is why ported subwoofers are also known as vented subwoofers.

Sealed subwoofers allow the air on the inside to move around without escaping, and this allows for more accurate sound reproduction and a wider range of frequencies. The reason for this is because sealed subwoofers feature shock absorption, which is created by the air itself.

Ported vs. Sealed Subwoofer

The bottom line is that sealed subwoofers are generally better for producing and reproducing a wide range of sounds and frequencies. For instance, this might mean being able to hear the difference between bass drums and other deep drums, instead of it all just sounding like one heavy bass sound.

Now, the disadvantage with sealed subwoofers is that they are not as loud as ported subwoofers. Although they technically sound better, they are not as loud and they don’t produce that same booming base sound that you can feel in your chest.

Moreover, when compared to a ported subwoofer, the sealed variety requires a more powerful amplifier. However, on the other hand, sealed subwoofers tend to be much smaller and more efficient when it comes to taking up space.


As you can see, both ported subwoofers and sealed subwoofers have advantages and disadvantages. If you are going for maximum volume and you want the bass to literally move you, then the ported variety is the way to go.

However, if you are looking for a bit of a gentler bass sound and more accurate sound reproduction, plus you don’t want as much space being taken up, then the sealed subwoofer is the way to go.

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