Subwoofer Cones: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

Here’s the most essential question that you should know as a music lover;

What is a cone in a subwoofer?

A cone is among the moving components of a subwoofer and speaker and is equally responsible for producing sound. The sound that we hear is actually produced due to the movement of several parts in a subwoofer and speaker including the cone.

Key Takeaways

  • Cones are essential components of subwoofers and speakers, without which the production of proper sound or bass isn’t possible.
  • These components are made using a blend of different types of materials and additives by the Cone manufacturers and designers.
  • Cones are designed to handle the range of frequencies as per the type of applications they are designed for.
  • To know its importance in any given sound system can be a good to know information for music lovers.

Let us understand the importance of cones in subs and speakers in the simplest way below.

Additionally, to understand in a better way or in the form of questions that may have come into your mind too.

What does a cone do in a subwoofer?

The cone vibrates to create pressure waves using the surrounding air during motion which further results in sound. Hence it is usually centered in a linear position by the surround where it moves back and forth. This particular movement of the cone displaces the air and sound is created.

What is a subwoofer cone made of?

A subwoofer or a speaker cone is typically made of paper, polypropylene (or plastic fibers), and other various aramid fibers.

The most common materials used in the making of a subwoofer and speaker cone are as follows.

Paper cones for subwoofers

Paper cones are typically made from selective trees (pulps) that can be found in different parts of the world.

These special types of pulps include eucalyptus, kapok seed fibers, Dai-Ichi (similar to banana leaves), bamboo, and other synthetic fibers.

There are other additives and aramid fibers added to the pulp including salt. Here, salt is added as an additive to the blend to hold the dyes (usually black color dyes are added).

Additionally, carbon fibers, Kevlar, Conex, and other aramid fibers are also included to retain the cone’s strength and reduce the weight to some extent.

Paper cones hold a lot of benefits when used in applications such as subwoofer, speaker, etc,.

Let us look into some of the benefits below.

  • Cost-effective: The production cost of paper cones is lower than other materials; hence, a finished paper cone costs less.
  • Excellent properties: Paper cones are lightweight and hold great damping qualities due to which there is a reduced distortion in the sound.
  • Ease of Availability: Paper cones are easily available in the market whether you opt for local shopping or use online platforms.

Finally, the only drawback to using a paper cone is it has poor moisture resistance.

To know the typical process of making subwoofer paper cones you can refer to the link below.

Polypropylene or Plastic material

Polypropylene or plastic cones are the most popular due to their water resistance ability, low-cost manufacturing, and rigidity compared to other materials.

Additionally, the manufacturers of polypropylene cones also use a variety of fillers and additives such as glass, carbon-black, mica, and talc.

The blend or the combination of these materials results in rigid and durable cone production that can be used in subs, speakers, and similar applications.

Kevlar cones

Kevlar is another common type of material and is a preferred alternative to polypropylene and paper for making woofer cones.

This is because the tensile strength of Kevlar is said to be more promising compared to propylene and paper materials.

Additionally, what makes it more appealing for the manufacturers to use Kevlar is its low mass, increased rigidity, low absorbency, and intense heat resistance qualities.

Although the manufacturing cost of Kevlar is higher than polypropylene and paper, the cones made using Kevlar can help prevent distortion better than other materials due to its high tensile strength.

Carbon Fiber

Carbon fibers are usually used as an additive to the pulp which enhances the cone’s overall performance.

  • Using carbon fiber ensures a tough and flexible cone.
  • It also ensures that the cone attains high output levels during function in any given application.
  • It is ideal for subs and mid-bass range.
  • Finally, it prevents the cones from being easily damaged.

The carbon fibers are blended with pulp and woven together to minimize the cone’s weight and maximize its strength. To create an air-tight seal the woven fibers are covered with resin.

How does the cone move in a subwoofer?

In a Subwoofer, the cone moves back and forth due to a motion generated by an electromagnetic coil attached to the cone, which interacts with a magnetic field.

In other words, the cone of the subwoofer moves with the help of the voice coil that is attached to the apex of the subwoofer cone. The other end or the edges of the cone are held by a surround or an airtight suspension.

As the voice coil interacts with electrical energy along with the magnetic field (created by the magnets) it converts them into mechanical energy.

This particular act creates force which results in the vibration of the voice coil and the cone in a back-and-forth motion.

Finally, the movement of the cone pushes and pulls the surrounding air to create pressure waves which results in the actual sound we hear.

How fast does the subwoofer cone move?

There are many factors involved in the movement of a subwoofer cone. The pace will typically depend on the type of cone, the drivers, voice coils, the type of music, the set frequency, the type and size of the music system, etc,.

In most cases, the movement of a subwoofer cone depends on the set frequency which is calculated in Hz (Hertz). For example, if you lower the frequency of the subwoofer then it will increase the movement of the cone and vice-versa.

Another fact is due to the back-and-forth movement of the subwoofer cone, it is the surrounding air that actually moves more fast.

This movement offers a pumping effect which creates pressure waves resulting in the production of sound waves.

Can you touch a subwoofer cone?

If your intention is to clean the subwoofer for maintenance purposes, then you can definitely use a soft brush or a duster to gently clean its surface.

However, as a precaution, one should avoid applying too much pressure in any attempt to touch to feel its movement.

Why do speakers have two cones?

If your music system has two or more cones then one of the cones will be meant to handle lower frequencies (the bass effect) in most cases.

Most music systems such as JBL’s party box, a boombox, and similar home theatre or car music systems include two or more cones.

In such systems, typically the driver pushes the sound through both cones and the larger cone handles the lower and or mid-frequencies while the other handles the higher frequencies to balance the music.

What type of subwoofer cone is best?

The best type of subwoofer cone depends on your specific needs and preferences. Common options include paper, polypropylene, and aluminum cones. Each has its own characteristics, with paper offering a warm sound, polypropylene providing durability, and aluminum offering lightweight rigidity.

That being said, polypropylene cones are more popular for home audio, auto-sound, and similar applications.

Cones made of propylene (plastic) along with a blend of required additives are best as they are good at handling moisture resulting in low distortion in the sound.

How do you maintain subwoofer cones?

If you are on the verge of cleaning the cone’s surface for maintenance purposes then you will have to be very careful.

  • Unplug your system from the power and start wiping the cone’s reachable surface with a soft cloth or you can use a duster.
  • Additionally, you can slightly damp a microfiber cloth and gently wipe the dust and dirt over the cone’s surface.
  • Lastly, using a vacuum cleaner with low pressure is another ideal way to get rid of dust from your sound system.

What size are the subwoofer cones?

The size of the subwoofer’s cone depends on the size of the drivers and the circumference or the diameter of the surround (suspension system), hence different applications will need cones of different sizes.

However, subwoofer cones are typically large and heavy compared to speakers and tweeters with a similar range of specifications.

Does subwoofer cone depth matter?

The depth or the size of the cone depends on the wavelength that needs to be transmitted. For lower frequencies, typically cones need to be deeper and on the other hand, a shallow cone can handle higher frequencies.

What happens when a subwoofer cone vibrates?

When a subwoofer cone vibrates, it generates sound waves by displacing air molecules rapidly. The cone’s motion creates pressure variations, producing low-frequency audio waves that we perceive as bass or sub-bass sounds, enhancing the overall audio experience.

Can a subwoofer work without a cone?

No, a subwoofer cannot work without a cone. The cone is an essential component that displaces air to produce sound waves. Without it, there would be no way to generate the low-frequency vibrations needed for bass sound reproduction in a subwoofer.

What happens if the subwoofer cone is torn?

If the subwoofer cone is torn, it can lead to distorted sound quality or complete loss of functionality. The tear disrupts the controlled movement of air, affecting the subwoofer’s ability to produce accurate and clear bass frequencies, requiring repair or replacement for optimal performance.

Can you repair the cone of a subwoofer?

Yes, you can repair the cone of a subwoofer, depending on the extent of damage. Minor tears or punctures can often be fixed with repair kits or adhesives designed for this purpose. However, extensive damage may require professional repair or cone replacement for optimal performance.

With a little know-how and using the right materials and tools, the replacement can be done at home.

Final Thoughts

Both Subwoofers and speakers include cones and are equally important components responsible for producing sound according to the set range of frequencies.

Choosing the type of cone such as the materials used to make them is another factor to consider when it comes to performance and durability.

Cones come in various sizes and dimensions depending on the type and size of the applications they are going to be used for.

Make sure to place your music system securely and away from children and pets to prevent any damage to its components, especially the cone.

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!