Chambered Muffler vs Free Flow Muffler: Making the Right Choice

Chambered Muffler vs Free Flow Muffler: Making the Right Choice

While beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, the same holds true for picking a performance exhaust sound. For one thing, what one person hears can be very different from another. With performance exhausts, the best sounding system can be linked to not only the vehicle being used, but the generation of the listener who links the sound quite closely to the vehicle. It becomes an emotional attachment, and thus, the grounds for a common debate between free flow and chambered mufflers.

While each kind of muffler offers its own set of pros and cons, finding a performance exhaust note that “sounds good to all” can be quite challenging. So let's review both free flow and chambered mufflers to help you make the best decision.

Knowing the Basics

Before comparing both free flow and chambered mufflers, let's quickly review the primary function of what a muffler does. 

With an exhaust system, the sound exiting the engine through the exhaust manifolds is raw and brash. While some folks love the sound of a car with open exhaust, it is not acceptable for street driving so some form of muffler is required.

Mufflers are used to reduce these raw and brash noises generated by the exhaust exiting the engine. Additionally, certain types of mufflers can help to better control back pressure, which can improve the engine’s performance.

How Free Flow Mufflers Work

Free flow mufflers, or straight-through mufflers, are made to maximize exhaust flow. They have a simple design that allows exhaust gasses to flow freely. This design works by reducing back pressure to the engine and creates a deep, aggressive exhaust note.

Benefits of Free Flow Mufflers:

  1. Improved Performance: Less restriction can sometimes mean better airflow, which can lead to increased performance in some engines.
  2. Aggressive Sound: Free flow mufflers produce an aggressive, throaty sound that some enthusiasts prefer.
  3. Lighter Weight: Compared to chambered mufflers, free flow mufflers are sometimes lighter, which can help with handling and fuel efficiency.

Cons of Free Flow Mufflers:

  1. Increased Noise Levels: While some car enthusiasts enjoy the aggressive sound, others may find it to be too raw and loud.
  2. Less Back Pressure: Minimal back pressure can negatively impact low-end torque, especially in vehicles with naturally aspirated engines.

How Chambered Mufflers Work

The chambered muffler is an ingenious invention that allows the brackish, raw exhaust noise to bounce off internal baffles in the muffler effectively canceling the worst of the noise. These mufflers are made to create the smooth, tuned exhaust sounds to flow through improving the sound over stock mufflers. Best of all, the back pressure created within a chambered muffler can actually improve vehicle mileage and horsepower. 

Chambered mufflers come in a variety of configurations - single chamber, dual chamber and three chamber - just to hit the highlights. The higher the number and internal volume of the chambers, the more noise cancellation you achieve.

Benefits of Chambered Mufflers:

  1. Balanced Sound: Chambered mufflers produce a tuned, smoother exhaust sound.
  2. More Back Pressure: The internal chambers optimize back pressure, which can improve low-end torque and throttle response.
  3. Versatility: Chambered mufflers are great for both daily drivers and performance cars, adding the tuned sound and performance benefits to both.

Disadvantages of Chambered Mufflers:

  1. Moderate Restriction: While chambered mufflers are better than stock, they may not provide the level of airflow wanted as free flow mufflers could.
  2. Increased Weight: Chambered mufflers typically contain more components, which can add some weight to the vehicle.

Making the Choice: Which is Best for You?

Ultimately, the decision between free flow and chambered mufflers comes down to personal preference and driving needs. However, we at Legato Performance believe that the chambered muffler design is the best possible choice for those looking for an emissions legal exhaust solution that delivers high performance and amazing sound.

Our High Performance Exhaust Systems

All of our Legato Performance exhaust systems are cat-back design meaning the original factory catalytic converters are left in their original position to retain all emissions standards. With the Legato Performance cat back system installed, the exhaust sound is definitely louder than stock but not to the point where locals and law enforcement will be hassling you for excessive sound.

A huge benefit to installing Legato Performance chambered mufflers is that they don’t wear out - our chambered mufflers do not contain any packing materials like other performance exhausts that can be stuffed with fiberglass or other materials that will burn out over time.

In dyno testing with the Legato Performance chambered muffler design, we noted no loss of power over open exhaust. While that may seem to be hard to believe, dyno testing is the truest test of driveline power rather than a flow bench that does not take into account the high temperatures of the airflow exiting the mufflers.

Check out our high performance exhaust systems that work for your vehicle!



By understanding the differences between the two different muffler designs of free flow and chambered, you can make an informed decision that fits you and your vehicle's style and sound. Those two things are truly in the ear of the beholder.

Back to blog