IP Ratings In Subwoofers and Speakers (Explained)

IP stands for Ingress Protection also known as “certified ruggedness levels”.

It is an internationally recognized standard to understand the durability of a product against dust, dirt, and water.

It helps the consumers to determine the subwoofer’s protection level and quality offered by the manufacturers. 

Let us understand the concept of Ingress Protection (IP) ratings in subwoofers and speakers.

What does the IP rating mean for Subwoofers and Speakers?

IP stands for Ingress Protection and is defined by the international standard IEC 60529. IP is a standard rating for subwoofers and speakers that pass water, other object contacts, and dust ingress tests. It consists of 2 numbers after IP (IPXX) that define the unit’s protection level from objects, dust, and water.

Simply put, it is the rating of sealing effectiveness in Subwoofers and Speakers against intrusion of water, dust, and accidental contacts.

IP Ratings Subwoofers and Speakers

The numbers determine the ratings that are placed after the initials IP (Ingress Protection).

The first number in the tens place ‘IPXX’ ranging from ‘0 to 6’ is the rating for protection against accidental contact with objects and dust.

(0 stands for no protection and 6 for the maximum protection level).

Likewise, the second number in the one’s or unit’s place ‘IPXX’ determines the protection rating against water or liquid and it ranges from 0 to 8.

(0 stands for no protection and 8 for the maximum protection level)

For Example; If a subwoofer has a rating of IP65, it indicates that the dust protection level is rated 6 which is the highest protection level rating in the category (100% dustproof).

Similarly, the protection level ‘5’ against water is at a moderate level (protects from water jets from all directions with limited ingress permitted).

To understand and identify the level of IP rating we have prepared a table in the form of the image below:

GUIDE to Ingress Protection Rating

How are speakers and subwoofers tested for IP rating?

The subwoofers and speakers that are designed to pass the Ingression Protection (IP) tests are sent to authorized testing labs.

The subwoofers and speakers then go through dust and water resistance tests and accordingly are qualified and tagged with the resulting IP ratings.

However, most subwoofer manufacturers have their own authorized labs for testing.

The tests include solid or dust proofing and water resistance abilities.

Dust (resistance/proofing) Test

To rate the subwoofer and speaker as per IP rating standards for dustproofing the speakers are put into testing devices.

The testing devices contain fine dust particles that are around 75 μm in diameter. 

The speakers and subwoofers put for testing should pass the test after stirring for longer hours which can range around for up to 8 hours or more.

If the units are able to continuously block dust under such circumstances then they will be rated accordingly.

Water (Resistance/Proofing) Test

To test the speakers and subwoofers for waterproofing they need to maintain their functionality when gently submerged in water.

To test them for waterproofing the units are submersed into the water for up to 30 mins and in a depth of up to 1 m (3.2 ft).

The units that pass the waterproofing test are then rated as per IP standards.

Similarly, the water-resistance test includes spraying water from different angles on the speakers and subwoofers. The water resistance level rating is done based on the amount and force of water the unit can sustain.

Cutting

Most testing process also includes cutting the speaker and subwoofer to inspect for any internal damage after the tests.

Finally, the speakers and subwoofers are rated as per IP standards considering their sustainability under different conditions.

Do all subwoofers have an IP rating?

No, it depends on the manufacturers and designers to get their speakers and subwoofers tested by authorized centers to receive an IP rating.

Some sound systems will not have any IP rating, this can be due to the high costs involved in the process.

Can I use my subwoofer outdoors with no IP rating?

Yes, you can use your subwoofer and speaker outdoors without an IP rating. However, you will need to be careful and prevent them from water and excess dusty conditions.

There are many speakers and subwoofers designed to be used outdoors and don’t have an IP rating.

Even some manufacturers claim their subwoofers and speakers to be water resistant but without any official IP rating.

This means you can use them outdoors but make sure to prevent them from extreme weather conditions, especially from major jets of water.

Can a waterproof subwoofer be exposed to any liquid?

Let me make it very clear that an IP rating doesn’t account for exposure to different types of liquid or water such as ionized water, salt water, soapy water, or chemicalized water.

No doubt subwoofers with higher IP ratings can withstand exposure to liquids that aren’t freshwater.

However, it can be prone to being damaged by harmful elements or chemicals present in the liquid over time.

Most manufacturers that get their subwoofers for dust and water resistance, the manufacturer warn against exposing the speaker to soapy water, salt water, and ionized water.

What is the highest waterproof rating for a Subwoofer?

The highest IP rating for subwoofers and subwoofers is ideally IP67. With this rating, the unit has passed the dustproof tests including the waterproofing test.

The IP67 rating also defines that the subwoofer offers full protection against water even if you submerse it in water for up to 30 minutes and at depths of up to 1 meter.

These ratings are typically applicable to outdoor or marine speakers and subwoofers.

Can I take my subwoofer in the shower?

Most people prefer listening to some sort of music while being in the shower. You can choose speakers and subwoofers with specific IP ratings that are both waterproof and dustproof.

However, it is always better to be aware of the level of protection of the unit before making your choice.

Final Thoughts

Manufacturers and designers of Speakers and Subwoofers often advertise their products by displaying their IP ratings.

For speakers and subwoofers, their IP rating becomes essential if you want to position them outdoors or in any other place where they could get moist or prone to excessive dirt or dust.

The subwoofers and speakers go through various tests to qualify for a specific Ingress Protection (IP) rating.

Subwoofers with better or higher IP ratings can be costlier than the units with moderate and low IP ratings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a dustproof subwoofer?

A dustproof subwoofer and speaker will have an enclosure that will completely prevent the tiniest dust from entering inside them.

What is a dust-resistant subwoofer?

A dust-resistant subwoofer will prevent dust particles to some extent (not entirely) from entering the unit and the protection level is closer to dustproof units. Additionally, the resistance level also depends on the IP rating of the unit.

What do you mean by Waterproof subwoofers?

Waterproof subwoofers can be fully submersed in water, however, underwater depths and duration vary depending on their types.

What do mean by Water-resistant subwoofers?

Water-resistant subwoofers can handle water drops and light rain, moreover, even direct sprays of water can be handled by water-resistant units in most cases. However, it may not be able to handle complete submersion in water, and the resistance levels also vary depending on the type of unit and their IP ratings.

Armed with a Diploma in electrical engineering and a remarkable 12 years of expertise, he excels in rejuvenating music systems, washing machines, dryers, and laundry-related appliances. Manish's profound insights and practical know-how establish him as a credible authority in appliance and music system repairs. Contact: manish.singh (at) subwooferblog.com. He's always ready to lend a helping hand!