While, on the surface, subwoofer shape might appear to be a purely aesthetic decision (and that is certainly part of it), there must be more to it that that. Just what are the differences between square and round subwoofers and is one variety better than the other?
Square subwoofers, available from fewer manufacturers than their round equivalent, follow the same rules as round subs and come in the same sizes, e.g. 10″, 12″, 15″. On the surface, they can seem like the same product, except for the visible differences, but there are significant differences when it comes to performance.
A square sub of the same size as its round counter-part can produce a greater volume and spl (sound pressure level). If you are trying to make the most of limited space then a square sub will allow you to crank up the volume much more easily with smaller subs.
On the other hand, there are question marks over the sound quality produced by square subwoofers. Some reviews, experts and enthusiasts complain that, although the square subs hit harder and louder, especially in the enclosed environment of a car, the sound quality may suffer from it.
The square subwoofers have the advantage when it comes to volume because the shape of the cone has a larger surface area, meaning a larger volume of air can be used to expel the sound. At the same time the corners mean that the sound waves produced can be distorted slightly. A round sub, on the other hand, as it lacks the corners, has greater fidelity to the original sound.
In the end, the decision comes down to what your requirements are from your subwoofers. If you are looking for the best volume for the space you have available, then a square subwoofer would be a better choice. On the other hand, if you want the subwoofers to add an extra dimension to your sound system and you are more concerned with obtaining the best sound quality possible, a round subwoofer might be your perfect choice. To have both good volume and very high quality sound, you may need to sacrifice a little more space.