Which Way to Face Subwoofers In A Trunk

As I have discussed separately, there are many ways to upgrade your car’s sound system. But one common question I get is, which was should my subwoofers face? It is most common to face subwoofers away towards the rear of the car, but there are valid reasons why you might want to face them a different way. I’ll explain why below.

Investing in the Right Sound System

You can upgrade almost every component of a car’s sound system from the factory-built and installed version. Start with the stereo and speakers – you can buy better models. Next, you can invest in a good amp, receiver, tuner, equalizers, and even sound dampening.

Among these choices, two things could stand out:

  • Whether you are satisfied with coaxial speakers that have the tweeter and subwoofer together (called a 2-way) or do you invest in a component system where the midrange speakers, tweeter, and subwoofers are separated out.
  • The placement of the speakers – besides a choice between the typical factory options (e.g. midrange speakers in doors, tweeter in dashboard etc.), the subwoofer being split out means that you have to find a good location for it. In sedans, it is often the trunk. In trucks, it may be the back of the rear floor bed.

If the two conditions above are met, and you are going with the subwoofer in the trunk, the next decision is which way to face subwoofers in the trunk.

Why Place Subwoofers in Trunk, and Which Way Should They Face?

Placing aftermarket (that is, custom bought) speaker units in the same slots that factory installers may have provided is possibly simpler, and has some advantages – for example, they are easy to get at, repair, or replace.

However, due to the fact that factory installations often make for an unbalanced audio experience since door speakers by definition will be at different distances from your two ears, it makes sense to choose locations that produce a high fidelity audio experience.

If you invest in a sound system where the subwoofers are split from the midrange speakers and the tweeter, it makes sense to avoid slipping them onto the rear panel behind the passenger (the preferred factory install option) and instead place them inside the trunk of your car. The deep bass reverbs from the back are how we are used to experiencing those sounds.

Optimal Direction that Subwoofers in Trunk Can Face

The answer to the question about how the subwoofer should be positioned in the trunk is a bit complex – since even after many decades of experiments and pontificating by experts, there is no “one size fits all” answer. That’s why I will discuss which direction your subwoofers can face, as opposed to the direction they should definitively face.

The optimum location can vary based on the make and model of your car, whether or not the trunk is open (as in an SUV) or enclosed (as in most sedans, except hatchbacks), the type of subwoofers you install, the other features of your custom-built and installed sound system, the type of music (or other media) you prefer, even whether or not you are trying to optimize the experience for the driver or the passenger.

As you can see, that’s a pretty long list of factors. Instead of angsting about a single correct answer, let’s review the three main schools of thought in this regard with some pros and cons of each. You can then decide which solution fits your situation the best.

Position 1: On the Floor, Facing Up towards the Trunk Hatch

This position is preferred by many car owners who are interested in saving trunk space and avoiding clutter. Embedding on the trunk floor may also minimize risk if your vehicle’s trunk is a busy location with things constantly being loaded and unloaded. Just like your spare tire is out of the way, so might your subwoofer be.

One other advantage reported by car owners is that the big bass sounds seem to work well even with high frequencies and treble and will definitely cause other objects to rattle or otherwise distract from a great audio experience.

Adjusting the position of the subwoofer is important in this instant. A left-side floor installation will bring the bass closer to the driver, and the opposite will happen for right-side installations. A center of the floor installation, should the make and model allow, would serve both driver and passenger well. However, if you have a spare tire in the center, you likely do not want a subwoofer rattling next to it.

Position 2: Facing the Rear of the Car (aka the Boot)

This position is also extremely common among custom-installed subwoofers. The subwoofer is placed inside the trunk against the back row of seats but faces away from the driver. The popularity of this installation arises from the fact that the bass notes are more evenly distributed along the various surfaces within the car and consequently become more pronounced. Pound for pound, heavy bass enthusiasts may prefer this solution – it can give a whole different dimension to your favorite songs.

Position 3: Facing the Rear Seat

This is perhaps the least used option, but you could have the subwoofers protruding out from an enclosed trunk space behind the rear seats, facing forward towards the driver and passengers. The reason this is not used as often is simple – it will rattle most things inside the main areas of the car if you prefer listening to pieces with overwhelming bass.

If, however, your preferred choices are towards milder bass notes, this position may be one that you like. For example, for the sung or uttered word, the clarity may be appreciated.

The Final Verdict

As the discussion above illustrates, there are different ways to place the subwoofers in the trunk of your car. The choice is yours based on what you listen to and a host of other factors. Many seem to prefer Position 1 (Facing Upwards) or Position 2 (Facing the Hatch). Consult with a sound system expert for advice if you must, keeping in mind that the make and model of your vehicle may play a large role in your final decision.