The three major types of mufflers all build horsepower, torque and control excessive noise – but they use different methods to do so.
In this breakdown of the most popular muffler styles, we detail their construction, operation, performance and sound, with the goal of making it easier to find your ride’s ideal muffler.
What is a Glasspack Muffler?
Also known as a “straight-through muffler,” glasspack exhaust options are the simplest style of muffler used on performance rides. At the heart of a glasspack muffler, is a single, perforated exhaust tube. This runs from inlet to outlet, with quieter mufflers using an angled tube and louder mufflers using a straight tube. Fiberglass or steel wool packing is wound around the tube and enclosed in a steel or aluminum shell.
A place where you’ll instantly notice the difference between glasspack mufflers vs. regular mufflers is the sound. Glasspack mufflers only use that layer of glass and the packing we mentioned to absorb some of the pressure pulses and reduce the sound of your vehicle.
Glasspack exhaust sounds can range in volume from noticeably louder-than-stock, to ear-splitting. So, keep in mind that, if waking your neighbors is a concern, a turbo muffler is probably a better choice. But, if you don’t have any neighbors – or aren’t on good terms with them to begin with – you might as well get the loudest glasspack exhaust money can buy, right?
How Do Chambered Mufflers Work?
Want a classic muscle car tone burbling from the back of your ride? If your knee-jerk reaction was a resounding, “yes”, a chambered muffler is right up your alley. Depending on their design, chambered mufflers are either slightly louder than stock mufflers, ear-splitting like race mufflers, or anywhere in between. This is due to the finely-tuned baffles and chambers within the muffler. Let us explain.
Here’s how chambered mufflers work: exhaust is routed through multiple chambers and around any number of angled, sound-cancelling plates, known as “baffles.” With few restrictions along the way, exhaust flow is boosted, increasing horsepower, torque and fuel economy.
If you do a quick chambered muffler vs. straight through muffler comparison, you’ll see that the biggest differences lie whether the airflow is restricted or flows freely and if there are packing materials used in its construction.
With a chambered exhaust, your ride gains a rumbling, slightly metallic exhaust note that’s sure to turn heads. Plus, the packing materials that are used on other exhaust systems – and that can blow out – aren’t used in chambered mufflers. So, tones always sound great.
Despite the name, turbo mufflers can be used on any ride – turbocharged or not. That’s because their “turbo” moniker has nothing to do with fitment or performance — it just sounds awesome. And the top two benefits of tossing your stock muffler and bolting on a turbo tube muffler are the added horsepower and attitude.
How do turbo mufflers do this? Simple – they give engine exhaust an easier path to follow.
Stock mufflers direct exhaust flow in an S-shaped pattern through and to five, perforated tubes. Turbo mufflers on the other hand, use three or fewer tubes, so exhaust flow changes direction less. This means engine exhaust leaves the muffler faster, increasing horsepower and leaving you with that wonderful turbo muffler sound. We may be biased, but it’s just a better exhaust tone.
Turbo mufflers occasionally use additional fiberglass packing around the tubes for more sound control. For this reason, a turbo muffler sound can vary widely in volume and tone. But they work great as a “step-up” from a stock muffler and tend to be quieter than a glasspack exhaust or chambered mufflers.
So, Which Muffler is The Best?
This is a commonly asked question. And it’s one with a simple answer: the best muffler is one that keeps noise where you want it, sounds great and adds horsepower.
For some drivers, only a race-oriented muffler will do the trick, regardless of the intense volume, interior drone, and extra attention from the law. But, while race mufflers are great for living life ¼ mile at a time, they make it hard to order a cheeseburger at the drive-through.
While there is no one muffler that works for everyone, starting with your sound and HP goals will be a solid place to start. The good news is, whether you opt for glasspack, chambered or turbo muffler, you can get a better sounding ride.