How to Test a Used Subwoofer Before Buying

Buying a used subwoofer can be a cost-effective way to upgrade your audio system or replace a faulty subwoofer. However, it is important to ensure that the used subwoofer is in good working condition before making a purchase.

When buying a used subwoofer, it is essential to test it before making the purchase. Testing the subwoofer will help you identify any potential issues, such as distortion or rattling, and ensure that the subwoofer is functioning correctly.

Importance of Testing a Used Subwoofer

Ensures proper functionality

A used subwoofer may have been exposed to physical damage or wear and tear, which can affect its performance. By testing it, you can inspect its physical condition and determine if it has any visible defects that may impact its performance. In addition, testing the sub helps you avoid buying a unit that has any issues with its internal components, such as a blown voice coil or a damaged cone.


A subwoofer, whether new or old, may not be compatible with your existing sound system, or it may not be powerful enough to meet your specific needs. By testing it, you can ensure that it works with your setup and provides the necessary power for your listening preferences.

Checks for sound quality

Testing a subwoofer allows you to check the sound quality and performance of the subwoofer, including its frequency response, clarity, and volume levels. It will also help you determine whether the subwoofer is suitable for your needs and will provide the desired sound quality.

Helps identify potential issues

Testing a used subwoofer can help you identify any potential issues that may not be apparent at first glances, such as distortion, rattling, or other unwanted noises. This can help you make an informed decision about whether to purchase the subwoofer or not.

Provides negotiating power

If you identify any issues during testing, you can use this information to negotiate a lower price with the seller. Alternatively, if the subwoofer performs well, you can have confidence in your purchase and feel more comfortable paying the asking price.

Test a Used Subwoofer Before Buying

How to Test a Used Subwoofer Before Buying

Inspect the physical condition

The first thing you’ll need to do before you buy a used subwoofer is to inspect the physical state of the subwoofer. If the subwoofer appears damaged, it may affect its performance. Carefully examine the subwoofer’s exterior for any signs of damage or wear and tear, such as scratches, dents, or cracks.

Look for any loose or missing parts and ensure that all the components are properly aligned. In addition, gently press on the subwoofer’s cone to make sure it moves freely and is not stiff or stuck. A stiff or stuck cone can indicate that the subwoofer has been damaged.

Test the sound quality

Connect the subwoofer to a receiver or amplifier and play music with bass-heavy tracks at different volume levels. Make sure to use music that you are familiar with, so you can detect any changes in the sound quality. While doing so, make sure to use the appropriate cables and connectors to avoid damaging the equipment.

Play music with a range of frequencies

Play music with a range of frequencies to test the subwoofer’s response to different types of sounds. Ensure that the subwoofer produces a smooth and even response across the entire frequency range. You can begin with a low-frequency tone, such as 20 Hz, and gradually increase the frequency and listen for any variance or gap in the audio frequency range.

Listen for distortion

Listen for any distortion or unwanted noise in the sound. If the subwoofer produces a crackling or popping sound, it may indicate that the voice coil is damaged. In addition, listen carefully for any distortion or clipping sounds when the volume is turned up. Generally, distortion can be an indication of a huge problem with the subwoofer.

Check the bass response

Check the subwoofer’s bass response by playing music with heavy bass. The bass should be clear and punchy, without any distortion or rattling. Ensure that the subwoofer is capable of reproducing a clean and tight bass response. A clean and tight bass response is an indication that the subwoofer is properly functioning and capable of producing high-quality sound.

Test the volume level

Test the subwoofer’s volume level by increasing the volume gradually. Make sure that the subwoofer can handle high volumes without distortion. You can also use a sound level meter to measure the volume level of the subwoofer.

To achieve this, you can place the meter at your preferred listening position and measure the sound pressure level (SPL) of the subwoofer at different volume levels. A good subwoofer should be capable of producing acceptable SPL levels without distortion or rattling sounds.

Gradually increase the volume level and listen for any changes in the sound quality. Ensure that the subwoofer produces an even response at different volume levels. If you notice any distortion or unusual sounds during volume testing, it may be a sign that the subwoofer is damaged and not worth purchasing.

Test the sensitivity

Apart from testing the volume, you’ll need to test the sensitivity level of the subwoofer to ensure compatibility with your audio system. If the sensitivity level is too low, the subwoofer may not be able to keep up with the other speakers in your system, resulting in a weaker bass sound.

On the other hand, if the sensitivity level is too high, the subwoofer may overpower the other speakers in your system. You can test the sensitivity of the subwoofer by adjusting the volume on your amplifier. The subwoofer should produce a noticeable increase in volume as you turn up the amplifier. If it doesn’t, it could be an indication that the subwoofer is not sensitive enough.

In addition, if the subwoofer requires a higher volume level to produce sound than a standard subwoofer, then it may be a sign that the subwoofer is not up to the task.

Test the phase

Test the subwoofer’s phase by playing a test tone and adjusting the phase control on the amplifier or receiver. The phase should be set to the point where the subwoofer produces the fullest and most natural sound. If the subwoofer’s phase is not aligned properly, it can lead to a reduction in sound quality and accuracy.

Parting Shot!

Testing a used subwoofer before buying is essential to ensure that you are getting a high-quality product that meets your needs and performs as expected. It can also help you avoid potential issues and make a more informed purchasing decision. Without testing the subwoofer, you may end up with a faulty or incompatible device, which can lead to disappointment and extra expenses down the line.

Avatar for Jamie K. Martin

Jamie K. Martin holds a degree in Audio engineering from Husson University, Bangor. Martin spends most of his time testing and trying the technology he writes about to ensure that he provides first-hand information to our customers from all walks of life.

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