Home Theater Subwoofer Ported vs Sealed. Which Is Better?


Home Theater Subwoofer Ported vs Sealed

These two types of subwoofers are the biggest rivals of each other. That’s why newbies get distracted and confused about choosing which one. I have written this guide to make it easier for you. So, which home theater is better ported or sealed?

The sealed subwoofer pushes the sound accurately as it was produced. That’s why they are the best fit for if you watch TV shows, Musical movies, Romcoms, and listening to music but if you want a bigger canvas for the lower-end frequencies, and love to watch action movies then ported is the best.

Keep reading as we will discuss many more aspects of this topic. Don’t forget to know the ratings, pros and cons, and the poll data that I have conducted in an FB group. The final verdict of everything is at the bottom.

Ported Vs Sealed (Data-Driven Comparison)

AreaSealed SubwooferPorted Subwoofer
Music10/107.5/10
Movies7/1010/10
Size10/105/10
Cost10/108/10
Lower End Frequencies7.5/1010/10
Accurate Frequencies10/108.5/10
Power Usage6/1010/10
Loudness5.5/1010/10
Good For Ear sensitivity6/108/10
Neighbors Friendly10/106/10
Port Noise10/107.5/10
Medium To Large Room Filling4/1010/10
Read the following reasoning to know the philosophy behind these numbers.

Music

The music is produced to feel the flow of sound from a lower end to mid and from mid to high. You should feel the aroma of music and the aroma should not be exaggerated on one level or the other.

The sealed sub delivers an accurate music experience because they have a vacuum in the cabinet. This vacuum keeps the subwoofer driver in control. This control gives a quick response to the driver to move quickly with the frequency and not go over the top.

This control keeps the flow of the driver accurate and quick. Hence producing the most accurate sound.

While in the ported sub. The port gives the sub a free hand to go far in the lower end. This will push the music frequencies with little exaggeration which music lovers can sense. I do because I love listening to music.

Movies

Typically music is created not lower than the 30Hz frequency that’s why accurate sub-like sealed ones are good. But movies with huge bangs and action scenes and these scenes need a sub to deliver the sound below the 30Hz to 20Hz.

That’s why a ported is better for you if you want realism to these scenes. The ported can go very low in the frequencies and bring that thumping sound to action scenes. The thumping sound is required for a realistic feel for the scenes on the screen.

Size

The sealed subwoofer will always be smaller as compared to the same budget ported subwoofer. That’s why the sealed can fit in the design of the home theater easily and can give a nice clean look to it.

They can be easily tucked into a cabinet if you are a fan of the idea to hide the subwoofers from plain sight.

The ported subs are big and required more work to fit into the system.

Cost

The sealed subs are cheaper as compared to the same power subwoofer. Because they have smaller cabinet while the ported sub need to be bigger to fit in the port.

The huge size of ported sub contributes to the cost not alone. But the ported sub needs extra work of engineering to make the port work properly and deliver the needs of the sound and sub driver.

Frequency Handling

ported and sealed subwoofer frequencies graph

You can see in the above graph that ported sub has added a little distortion to the actual frequency of the sound while the seal is accurate throughout the flow.

The frequency of the sealed is flat as compared to the ported. That’s why the music can be enjoyed well on the sealed than the ported and the action scenes will be enjoyed well on the ported.

Know about the right frequency response and frequency crossover settingsOpens in a new tab. for each speaker in the surround sound. I have shown the best settings in it.

Power usage

While the sealed is cheaper upfront but it will use more power than the ported sub. Because the sealed sub driver has to fight with the vacuum of it inside.

Loudness

The ported sub is accompanied by the port and better airflow inside the cabin. That’s why the same size sub which has the port will be louder than the sealed.

That’s in the loudness area the ported has the upper hand.

Impact On The Sensitivity Of Ear

The driver of the sealed subwoofer is quick and that’s why it compels the drums in the ear to response quick. If you have never used the sealed subwoofer before in your theater room then your ears will feel the fatigue quite easily.

Also, if your ears are sensitive to the more noisy areas then they will feel fatigued from sealed.

The ported driver is slower compared to the sealed and it gives a little more time to the eardrums to respond accordingly. Hence prevent ear fatigue

Neighbors Friendly

The sealed sub is not loud and it can only shake things in your house but a ported sub can shake things even in your neighbor’s house too if you are living in a detached or flat.

That’s why I gave a higher score to the sealed sub in the neighbors-friendly section.

Port Noise

The sealed don’t have any port noise and the ported do have that. This noise can be heard more on high volume and in poorly engineered subwoofers. This port noise will have its frequencies to deal with.

However, few brands have succeeded in killing this port noise such as Sonos. The water in the glass will have no movements on its surface while placed on that Sonos sub-Gen 3. But it only works with the Sonos ecosystem. See the test in this video below. The video will start with the test.

Read Sonos Sub complete review here on my this blogpost. Best home theater subwoofer reviewOpens in a new tab.. I have reviewed the top 7 under $1000.

Room Filling

Considering that the room acoustics are treated well. Like you have installed the acoustic panelsOpens in a new tab. and soundproofed the theater roomOpens in a new tab.. In that condition, the sealed subwoofer can fill the small room but you will need 2-4 sealed subwoofers to fill a medium to a large room. While you will need 1-2 ported subwoofers to fill the medium to a large room.

Read my this guide on dual vs single subwoofer for home theaterOpens in a new tab.. You will know why talked about 1-2 subs here.

Keep reading the widespread concepts around the subwoofer section and hunt for the pros and cons too in the following part.

Widespread Concepts around Ported Sub.

Here are the most widespread concepts about the ported and sealed sub to be answered, and the confusion should be cleared once and for all.

Does a ported box make subs louder?

Yes, they make the subwoofer louder because the cabinet is well ventilated, and the driver has a free hand to flex its muscles.

The ported sub is not bound by the vacuum behind it, that’s why its driver can move freely and contribute to a louder sound.

Which way should the subwoofer port face?

If you find a subwoofer that has ports facing you, then it is the best one for you. It will push the port energy at you.

The subs that have ports in the front will give you a better sound experience. Because it can deliver all the port energy to you.

If the port is at the back, then place the subwoofer a foot away from the wall to avoid port noise colliding with the wall and its reflection.

Why is the ported called an all-rounder sub?

This concept is right when you are considering the room size from medium to large because a ported sub can fill the room with movie action scene bangs and also music.

While the sealed is best for music but when it comes to filling a medium to a large room where it will fail to deliver the same magic. 

Here a ported will be best for a medium to a large room for both movies and music because it can fill it well. That’s why the ported is called an all-rounder sub.

Ported Sub Pros

  1. The ported can go very low in the frequencies that can contribute to very deep bass
  2. The ported can fill a room better. You can fill a medium room with a single ported sub, while in that same room you will need at least 2 sealed subs to fill it up.
  3. In small the sealed sub is budget-friendly but in medium, to large rooms, the ported sub is budget-friendly. Because in a medium room, you don’t need to install dual subs while you have a single ported sub.

Ported Sub Cons

  1. The ported can’t produce the same frequency which the input sound has. There will be wider curves in the frequency. These changes can’t be sensed by normal ears, but if you have listened to both ported and sealed subs, then you can sense it. But companies are trying to solve this transient response issue in the ported subs.
  2. The ported sub has no control over the driver and the driver can be pushed off its limits, which can shorten its lifespan.
  3. The cabinet of a ported sub is always huge as compared to a sealed one. This will require more effort when installing it.

Widespread Concepts around Sealed Sub

Here are some of the concepts around sealed subs.

Do subwoofer boxes need to be airtight?

The box needs to be airtight to keep the driver’s movement in control and produce clean frequencies without distortion.

The vacuum behind the driver will help in killing the distortion, but if you want deeper bass, then install a port. The port will contribute to deeper bass, but that deeper bass is a distortion technically. Because the driver will move more than the incoming sound signals are demanding. 

Can a sealed subwoofer box be too big?

It should not be bigger than what is required, and the brands’ engineers know how much space to leave for the driver to have comfortable movement.

You should not worry about the sealed sub-cabinet size as the brands are looking after it. A reputable brand will not make a sub’s cabinet larger than what is needed.

Sealed Sub Pros

  1. The sealed can produce a clean sound
  2. Its frequency response to the sound incoming signal will be accurate without over-the-top exaggeration as in ported.
  3. The driver can’t go beyond what it is rated for. This will prolong its lifespan.
  4. The sealed sub is comparatively small and adds up to the design of your home theater.

Sealed Sub Cons

  1. The sealed sub can’t go deeper in the lower-end frequencies. That’s why it can’t deliver that level of realism to the action scene which ported can bring.
  2. The sealed will need more power to deliver the output because its driver has to fight with the vacuum in the cabinet.
  3. The sealed can’t fill the medium to large rooms single-handedly. You will need 2-4 sealed subs.

Which Sound The Best, And Which One is Right For You? (Final Verdict)

  1. If you love to play video games in your theater room and love sci-fiction, action movies, electronic music and rap music, and TV series then the ported is the best option for you. If you have a medium to a large room, then the ported is the one to go with.
  2. If you love soulful music and love to watch TV talk shows, sports, romcom, and musical movies and have a small room then the sealed is the best for you. If you fall in this movie genre and have medium room, then install dual-sealed subs.

Which will you choose? Ported or sealed Home Theater Sub? (FB Poll)

Poll OptionsPoll Stats
I choose the ported subwoofer76.35%
I choose the sealed subwoofer23.65%
There were 148 participants in the poll

FAQs

What gives more bass ported or sealed?

The ported sub can give more bass and can fill the medium room quite well with its bass.

There is no bound on its driver’s movement, and it can move deeper in the cabinet. This will produce more bass. But if you want accurate bass then a sealed sub is better. The sealed sub gives accurate bass without exaggerations.

Are ported subs louder than sealed?

The ported sub is louder than the sealed one because they are very well ventilated and have air to breathe well.

This breathing will result in a louder sound.

Do sealed subs sound better?

They sound better because they produce accurate frequencies from incoming signals. This will result in better sound, and you can enjoy the sound and music that producers have produced without distortion.

This was my opinion, read more about it from the Avsforum discussionOpens in a new tab..

Are ported subs good for music?

They are good for music only in medium and large rooms. In the small room, it will contribute to more boomy bass than an accurate one.

If you want an accurate bass even in the medium to a large room. Then install dual-sealed subs in the medium and four subs in the large room.

Know more from this youtube video

OR watch it on YoutubeOpens in a new tab.

What hits harder sealed or ported?

The ported subwoofer hit the hardest because it has more power to hit the bass and throw it at you.

This sub can breathe well due to the built-in port and due to this breathing system. It can feel its cabinet more by energy and as result, it can fill the room with bass better and hit harder.

Ayaan Khan

Hi, it's Ayaan khan a freelancer and a computer science degree holder from P.E.S. College. I write articles on Homelytainment.com. The facts and research is provided by Daniel and the writing job is mine.

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