When it comes to putting together a great car audio system, a subwoofer is a necessary purchase. The subwoofer is a specialized speaker dedicated to reproduce extreme low frequencies. No matter what kind of music you love, adding bass makes it sound better.
Subwoofers comes in two general categories, passive and powered. A passive subwoofer is just the speaker itself; passive subs are called “passive” because they need to be powered by an outboard amplifier.
A powered sub on the other hand (also known as “active” or “amplified”) is an all-in-one bass solution. It is a self-contained speaker/amplifier configuration in which the characteristics of the amplifier and subwoofer are optimally matched and are both mounted in one convenient enclosure.
Each one of these types of subs has its own pros and cons (more on that down below). Deciding between them is a matter of budget, space, and convenience.
Unlike conventional passive subwoofers, powered subs tend to be compact and small; some powered subs feature a low mounting profile which allows them to fit into the tighest locations such as under the seat. This makes them a great choice for people with very limited space in their vehicles.
The best thing about powered subwoofers is that they’ll save you from the hassle of looking for a good subwoofer, building a mounting box, and matching up your sub with a compatible external amplifier.
Before we delve into the reviews of the best car powered subwoofers of 2018, let’s first take a look at the pros and cons of these subs.
Understanding and weighing the pros and cons of powered subwoofers is a great way to decide if this type of subwoofers is right for you.
Advantages of Powered Subwoofers
- Convenience : Matching up your sub with a compatible outboard amp can be a challenge. A mismatch can result in poor performance or a sub fatality. In a powered subwoofer system, the amplifier and the subwoofer are optimally matched and are both mounted in one convenient enclosure.
- Cost-Effective : Adding a powered subwoofer to your car sound system is one of the most cost-effective ways to add bass to your system.
- Easy to Install : As opposed to passive subwoofers, which require running cables from the receiver to the amplifier and from the amp to the subwoofer, adding a powered sub to your sound system is just a matter of plug and play. All that’s required is to run the power cable and connect the sub to your receiver via a direct line.
- Space-Saving : Most powered subs out there are fitted with small drivers , usually an 8″ or 10″ subwoofer powered by a relatively small built-in amp. This allows them to be more compact and lightweight than conventional passive subs.
Potential Disadvantages of Powered Subwoofers
All good things have a down side and powered subwoofers are no exception. Most car powered subs are fitted with relatively weak drivers which you might find a bit weak in terms of performance when compared to conventional subs and external amps.
Additionally, while they do not need to be the same make as the other speakers in the system, powered subwoofers limit buyers to one brand for subwoofer and amplifier. For this reason, powered subwoofers may not be the right choice for people who like maximum flexibility when it comes to choosing components for their car stereo system.
Powered Subs Enclosure Type
Sealed boxes: For deep, precise bass
A sealed box is an airtight enclosure housing a subwoofer. If you’re more into sound quality than volume and loudness, a sealed box is right for you. A sealed enclosure is best for any music that demands tight, accurate bass.
Ported boxes: For forceful bass
Unlike sealed enclosures, ported boxes are best-suited for people who are more into volume and loudness. They use a vent (called a port) to enhance low bass reponse. You get more sound output than you would from a sealed box at any given amplifier wattage (Assuming all other things being equal). Ported boxes are usually larger than sealed ones.
Bandpass boxes: Maximum slam
A bandpass box is a special type of ported box in which the subwoofer is mounted inside a dual-chambered box (one sealed chamber, and one ported chamber), with the sound waves emerging from the ported side. Allowing for a significant output through a small opening is one of the main advantages of bandpass enclosures.
Best Powered Subwoofers Reviews
- Class D amplifier (300 watts RMS)
- Remote bass-level control included
- Variable low-pass crossover (50-200 Hz, 12 dB/octave)
- Phase switch (0°, 180°)
- Variable bass boost
- Separate low level and speaker level inputs
- Built-in adjustable bass boost EQ
- Intelligent auto turn on/off function
- Thermal and over voltage protection
- High-efficiency, low current design
- Constructed with 5/8" MDF
- Proprietary high output woofer
- Large AWG input terminals
- Covered with industrial heat activated vinyl
|Frequency range||35-150 Hz|
|Dimensions||19-13/16"W x 15"H x 11"D1 x 7"D2|
Rockford Fosgate is one of the most recognized brands in the car audio industry. They were founded in 1973 and they’ve been churning out various quality car audio components ever since.
The P300-12 is one of the best 12 inch powered subwoofer that Rockford Fosgate has to offer. It’s fitted with 12″ woofer paired up to a built-in 300-watt amplifier.
Because this is a sealed enclosure, It’ll make a night and day difference in terms of sound quality. It’s designed to deliver loud pounding bass that you can easily adjust to match your taste thanks to a variety of controls, including low-pass crossover, phase switch, and bass boost.
The subwoofer also features a remote control knob that you can use to adjust bass intensity on the fly. No to mention High- and low-level inputs for integration with any car audio system.
Additionally, this system also features a thermal overload, over voltage, and short circuit protection.
The sealed enclosure is very well put together. It’s made of 5/8″ MDF and it’s covered with rugged industrial vinyl coating that is resilient to tearing and wearing and blends perfectly with any interior design.
That said, if you’re looking for an easy to install, yet reasonably priced powered subwoofer, Rockford Fosgate P300-12 is a great option to consider. It’s one of the best powered car subwoofer in the market, all things considered.
- 5/8" particle-board construction with aviation-grade carpet
- Two Magnum 10" 8-ohm subwoofers wired for 4-ohm impedance
- Poly cone with large-roll foam surround
- Mono amplifier (250 watts x 1 at 4 ohms)
- Variable high- and low-pass filters (50-250 Hz, 12 dB/octave)
- Variable bass boost (0-18 dB boost at 40 Hz)
- Preamp- and speaker-level inputs
- Preamp-level outputs
- Thermal, overload, and short protection
|Frequency range||20-300 Hz|
|Dimensions||28-1/8"W x 12-15/16"H x 13-1/8"D1 x 9-3/4"D2|
|Impedance||8-ohm subwoofers wired for 4-ohm impedance|
If you’re on a tight-budget and looking for a decent bass setup at a decent price, then the MTX Magnum Audio MB210SP Magna Bass Package is another great powered subwoofer to consider.
The MTX Magnum Audio MB210SP Magna Bass is an all-in-one bass solution featuring a two Magnum 10″ woofers powered by a built-in mono amplifier in a ported enclosure. This enclosure is made of rugged 5/8″ particle board construction and it’s wrapped in aviation grade carpet.
These two Magnum 10″ 8-ohm woofers feature durable polypropylene cones bonded to large-roll foam surround. They’re wired in parallel to one pair of spring post terminals for 4-ohm total impedance.
These 10″ subs can hit as low as a claimed 20Hz and as far up as 300Hz. They can handle up to 200 watts of power on continuous basis. So, as long as you’re not looking for record breaking SPL, this bass system would be more than enough for most casual bassheads.
The amp that these woofers are paired up to is a mono amplifier rated at 250 Watts RMS at 4-ohms. It features variable high- and low-pass filters (50-250 Hz, 12 dB/octave), adjustable bass boost (0-18 dB boost at 40 Hz), preamp- and speaker-level inputs as well as preamp-level outputs.
The amp is also featured with thermal, overload, and short protection circuitry to protect it and to protect the connected woofers.
As for cons, it’s really difficult to think of any. If anything, I’d say that despite this powered bass system being fitted with two 10 inch subwoofers, it’s not going to turn your ride into a rolling thunderstorm of bass. Furthermore, it can be a bit bulky for smaller cars.
- Aluminum enclosure with 8-1/4" x 5-1/8" sub
- Built-in amplifier: 75 watts RMS power (150 watts maximum)
- Wired remote for control over:
- Volume level
- Variable low-pass crossover (50-125 Hz)
- Selectable phase control (0°, 180°)
- Power/ground wiring harness
- Line(RCA) + speaker level input
|Frequency range||35-125 Hz|
|Dimensions||11"W x 2-3/4"H x 7-1/2"D|
Compact cars and trucks present a challenge when you want to build a powerful audio system with refined, thumping bass. To get that pounding bass that shakes mirrors and license plates, you need big, powerful subs and enough space for the sub enclosure. But in smaller vehicles space for bass is at a premium.
That said, If you want to add some bass to your system but you have a smaller car with limited cargo space, a compact underseat powered subwoofer will do the job for you.
Kenwood KSC-SW11 is one of the best underseat powered subwoofers out there. This little bass machine was designed to be slim and and lightweight. At just around 2-3/4 inches tall and 11 inches long, the KSC-SW11 by Kenwood will easily fit under a seat or in storage areas where many powered and regular subwoofers don’t usually fit.
The Kenwood KSC-SW11 features a 8-1/4″ x 5-1/8″ woofer paired up to a built-in 150-watts amplifier in a rigid aluminum enclosure. It comes with a wired remote control that features volume level knob, variable low-pass crossover (50-125 Hz), and selectable phase control (0°, 180°). It also features preamp- (RCA) and speaker-level inputs.
This compact powered sub won’t shake mirrors or blow the windows out but it’ll add some depth to your music to complement your speakers and fill out the low end. There’s no way a unit of this size can produce sound at the same level of a 12″ or 15″ inch subwoofer. Additionally, you can’t also crank it up all the way and expect it to not distort at full volume.
This little powerhouse was designed for tight spaces and small cabins, specifically single cab trucks and small cars. If you mount it in the trunk of an SUV or larger truck, you’ll barely notice any difference.
- Sealed design
- 8" woofer
- Built-in 150 watts RMS amplifier
- Variable low-pass crossover (50-120 Hz)
- Variable phase control (0 or 180 degrees)
- Bass boost control (0dB to +6dB)
- Speaker-level inputs
- Auto turn-on switch
- Wired remote control
- Harness/plug for simple set up or removal
- Quick-connect Molex power
- Nylon straps with Velcro help secure enclosure in place
|Frequency range||25-120 Hz|
|Dimensions||14-1/4"W x 3-1/4"H x 9-3/8"D|
This is what you can get if you’re willing to spend some extra money. It’s another great sounding compact powered subwoofer from Kicker.
This Plug-and-Play Bass system is featured with an 8″ subwoofer powered by a relatively powerful built-in 150-watt RMS amplifier. The 8″ woofer can hit as low as a claimed 25Hz and as far up as 120Hz.
The Kicker 11HS8 Hideaway comes with a wired remote bass control for fine-tuning bass levels, variable low-pass crossover (50-120 Hz), bass boost control (0dB to +6dB), phase-cancelling switch for max output and two automatic turn-on options. It also features high- and low-level inputs for integration with nearly any factory or aftermarket car stereo out there.
On top of everything else, Kicker Hideaway also comes with a quick-connect power plug and Velcro®-fastened nylon straps for secure installation and simple but fast removal.
As is the case with most compact powered subwoofers out there, this setup isn’t going to deliver hard thumping bass and bone shaking lows, However, It’ll add a nice solid bass boost to your system without taking up a ton of room.