You can survive with just a regular set of speakers. You don’t, strictly speaking, need a subwoofer in your car. But If you like to feel powerful deep bass impact without distortion, a subwoofer is a must have for your ride. You cannot believe the difference having one will make.
Squirrelled away out of sight, this big box of wonders will breathe life into your car sound system. It’s not just the inevitable boost to the low end frequencies that comes from a quality subwoofer; it’s the overall richness of the sound. It’s fantastic for heavy bass tracks.
So, before you go and buy a subwoofer for your vehicle, it’s important to take some things into consideration such as price, size, design, power-handling and connectivity.
To help, we’ve evaluated the best car subwoofers for this year, ranging from around $100 to a few hundred dollars monsters. And we’ve put together a list of the top rated car subwoofers, so keep reading to see which one you should pick up to round out your car stereo system.
How We Choose
We’ve got a lot of experience in evaluating subwoofers, so we know how they stack up. With various models available, we’ve narrowed it down to a set of models that we think are the best bang for the buck. We take into consideration several factors (not just the price) including component materials, wattage, power-handling, driver size…etc.
Subwoofers are a contentious topic. So, please don’t shout at us if you don’t see your favorite model or brand isn’t featured here. As you already know, the market is flooded with hundreds if not thousands of subwoofers of different types. So, in many cases, we’ve had to pick which size of a particular model we felt represented the best value in terms of performance, design and cost. That said, you can always go up and down in size if you disagree.
Most major brands are represented, and all of these models are fantastic. Like with any product, you can get a really great sounding car subwoofer if you’re willing to shell out some serious dough, but there really are great subwoofers in every price range.
Best Car Subwoofer Reviews
- CEA-2031 Compliant
- Flex-fit Mounting pattern
- Anodized aluminum cone with Santoprene surround
- Hybrid StampCast basket provides strength while minimizing weight and resonance
- Vertical Attach Surround Technique (VAST™) increases cone area
- Spider venting/cooling technique
- Sturdy 16 gauge compound bend frame geometry
- Optimized motor magnetics with extended pole and bumped vented backplate
- Dual tear & fatigue resistant poly-cotton spider with woven tinsel leads
|Frequency range||28 – 250 Hz|
|Impedance||2 ohm & 4 ohm|
|Sealed Box||.75-1.25 cubic feet|
|Ported Box||1.79 cubic feet|
Rockford Fosgate is one of the most established brands in the car audio indutry. They’ve been around for decades and have been churning out various quality car audio components including subwoofers, speakers and amplifiers.
Rockford Fosgate offers a wide range of subwoofers. Their subs are no joke and are highly recommended to those looking for powerful but tighter more refined bass at a budget-friendly price.
Rockford Fosgate subwoofers, Punch series subs particularly seem the hit the sweet spot for a lot of guys out there because they perform quite well and are more of a middle-high price range.
The P3D4-12 is one of the best car subwoofers that you can buy. Like most Rockford Fosgate products, it’s very well engineered and offers high levels of build and sound quality.
Speaking of sound quality, this hard-hitting subwoofer (if properly powered) can deliver rich bass that you’ll feel and hear. It packs a hell of a punch and easily handles every bit of power you throw at it. That said, unless you plan on going into competition, this is more than enough for most casual bassheads.
This 12″ subwoofer Dual voice coils (DVC) is designed to handle an outrageous amount of power and stay strong even when the bass is kicking hard. It features a durable heavy gauge black anodized aluminum cone that’s light and responsive. This cone is designed to hold its shape under high stress, and resist deformation from extreme air pressure levels when the sub is mounted in a sealed enclosure.
Additional features include: a fully ventilated motor for consistent bass performance over time, a rigid cast aluminum frame for structural integrity, and an oversized rubber surround that won’t wear down over years of use.
This Punch P3 sub also features an extended pole piece and bumped backplate that allows for heavy excursion, so it’ll hit deeper lows without “bottoming out.” Not to mention the Dual 4-ohm voice coils wich allow for a wide array of wiring options.
Speaking of wiring options, the subs’ dual 4-ohm voice coils allow you to wire the sub for 2-ohm impedance for maximum power output, or for 8-ohm impedance if you’re using multiple subs.
Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12 subwoofer has a frequency range of 28 – 250Hz. It can handle up to 600 watts of power on continuous basis and it’s rated for just 85 dB which is a bit weak. It can be mounted in a sealed or ported enclosure, so you can choose the kind of bass you want for your system.
All in all, this is one of the best car subwoofers in this price range.
- 2" Aluminum voice coil
- Rubber Surround
- Polypropylene Cone
- MTX Audio Logo on Dustcap
- 48oz. Magnet
- 5/8" MDF Solid Contruction
- Durable Black Carpeting
- Terminator Logo Embroidered into Carpet Front
- Sealed enclosure with two 12" Terminator subwoofers
- Medium-density fiberboard construction covered with carpet
|Frequency range||37-150 Hz|
|Dimensions||14"H x 29-11/16"W x 13-1/2"D1 x 11-1/8"D2|
If you’re a serious hasshead and you don’t mind forfeiting your boot space for a dual loaded subwoofer enclosure, then say Hi to the MTX-Terminator-TNE212D which houses two 12 Inch subwoofers. At 14″ height and 29.63″ in width, this is not a piece of equipment you stash away unnoticed.
But oh, what a monster. This is, without question, the best dual 12 inch subwoofer box available right now. Exquisitely-built and well put-together. And the sound. Dear gods, the sound. It’s not just it’s loud, although at top volume, it shakes mirrors and rattles windows. It’s that the bass is clear, refined, distinct, with a level of depth and detail that’s just impressive to say the least.
The MTX Terminator TNE212D is a cost-effective solution for anyone looking to add thumping bass to their vehicle’s system without breaking their bank. The TNE212D is the perfect combination of unmatched performance and value. It combines two hard-hitting 12 inch subwoofers each of which is rated at 200 watts – say 400 watts RMS (Root Mean Square) for the entire enclosure.
With 400 watts of power (continuous – peak is an ear-shattering 1,200), driven by an absolutely stunning set of internal electronics, this is a bass system for the ages – although it’s definitely not for compact vehicles, or those looking for little bass. Compared to the other models we listed below, this is probably the one that is the most accessible, and offers the most value-for-money.
The 12″ inch subs housed into this enclosure use Spider Plateau Venting technique, which is a mechanical process that targets cool air at the voice coil for improved thermal performance.
The MTX TNE212D features a simple, yet modern design. It’s made of 5/8″ MDF (aka medium density fiberboard) which is the preferred material for subwoofer enclosures as it offers great acoustic properties.
The enclosure is wrapped in black aircraft grade carpet which is resilient to tearing and wearing and blends easily with any interior design.
- Built-in 150 watt RMS amplifier (450 watts peak)
- Wired 16-1/2' remote bass level control included
- Nickel-plated RCA level inputs
- Variable low-pass crossover (40-200 Hz, 12 dB/octave)
- Variable Bass Boost (0 to +12 dB bass boost at 45 Hz)
- 12" Single Ported Subwoofer Enclosure
- Subsonic filter (24 dB at 15 Hz)
- Round Slipstream port
|Frequency range||35-120 Hz|
|Dimensions||22-1/2"W x 14-5/8"H x 12"D1 x 9-1/8"D2|
There are a lot of cheap powered subwoofer systems to choose from. However, most of the time, what you save in money comes back to bite you in terms of poor sound quality. On the other hand, if you are looking for a budget-friendly powered subwoofer system that sounds good to complement your speakers, check out the stylish, compact, and affordable, JBL GT-BassPro12 System.
JBL is one of the most authoritative brands in the loudspeaker industry. They’ve always been a trusted brand when it comes to blasting out quality sounds in wide-open spaces, from soundbars to bookshelf speakers to the underlying system of a car stereo.
The GT-BassPro12 is one of the best-sounding powered subwoofer systems that JBL has to offer, all things considered. It consists of a 12″ subwoofer powered by a built-in 150 watts RMS amplifier that’s matched up perfectly to the sub, so that the latter won’t wimp out when it’s time to rock.
The GT-BassPro12 features JBL’s unique Slipstream port, which eliminates port noise and provides distortion-free bass whether listening at low or high volume levels, allowing the subwoofer to provide deep, tight bass response that blends well with a variety of speakers.
The MDF (medium-density fiberboard) that the enclosure is made of offers better absorption of resonance and reverberations, while the carpet covering and stylish metal grille help protect your enclosure.
For its design and price point, the JBL GT-BassPro12 provides a good listening experience, and it can fill your vehicle with heart pounding bass. However, this system may not be the right choice if you’re a serious basshead who’s into SPL competition.
- 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
|Size||8-1/4" x 5-1/8"|
|Frequency range||35-125 Hz|
|Dimensions||11"W x 2-3/4"H x 7-1/2"D|
You probably think we’re crazy. What’s this little guy doing on the list of the best car subwoofers? It’s here because, pound for pound, it offers the best value on the list. Kenwood KSC-SW11 is a great compact powered subwoofer. It can deliver superb quality, and unless you’re desperate for absolutely enormous bass, you should really check this one out.
Kenwood KSC-SW11 could be an ideal solution for you if you’re looking for an affordable and easy way to add some bass to your vehicle sound system without taking up a lot of space. This powered enclosed subwoofer is compact enough to fit under car seat, in tight spaces or just in your trunk.
The Kenwood KSC-SW11 isn’t going to turn your ride into a rolling thunderstorm of bass. However, despite its small size, it can delivers decent bass performance. However don’t expect booming bass out of this compact powered subwoofer.
This system features 8-1/4″ x 5-1/8″ woofer powered by durable built-in amplifier feeds the speaker( 75 watts RMS). It can get as low as a claimed 35Hz and as far up as 125Hz. It will fill in enough bass to balance the music for most people.
Bear in mind that this isn’t a subwoofer to opt for if big bass is high on your list.However, if you’re looking for a simple affordable bass solution that takes up little to no space – this is it.
- High quality competition grade paper cone
- Stitched High Roll Foam Surround
- 2.5" High Temperature Copper Voice Coil
- Single 3-layer conex spider
- 4 spoke gloss black aluminum basket
- Double stack Y30 motor slugs
- Advanced Air Flow Cooling System
|Frequency range||30-300 Hz|
|Impedance||Dual 2 ohm|
|Voice Coil Size||3"|
Founded in early 2012, Skar Audio is an upcoming brand that offers a wide range of car audio components including speakers, amplifiers, and subwoofers. Despite being new to the industry, the brand is growing in popularity and no wonder — they provide high quality car audio products and they’re constantly raising the bar and defining new limits.
Skar Audio offers some of the best car subwoofers in the market. Their subs seem to be well-liked. They are some of the best-selling car subwoofers, and that’s no coincidence. They are very well-engineered, and most importantly, they are reasonably priced.
Skar audio emphasizes on designing competition grade subwoofers priced for the normal consumer, but without sacrificing build quality, allowing casual bassheads to use the same subs as those competing in the lanes.
The 12″ sub at hand is one of the best car subwoofers that Skar Audio has to offer. It was designed to be an SPL grade woofer that could also be used in daily system applications.
The Skar Audio EVL-12 D4 12″ subwoofer is utilizing an array of design features and materials that allow it to rock and kick really hard. It’s featured with competition grade paper cone bonded to a high-roll foam surround which allow the subwoofer to produce riveting low end bass response.
As is the case with all the subs in the EVL lineup, this subwoofer is driven by a high flux double stack ferrite motor, which, when combined with the 3-inch, high temperature, 4-layer, black aluminum ccaw voice coil – allow for high power handling for extended periods of time.
Speaking of power handling, the Skar Audio EVL-12 D4 12″ subwoofer can handle an outrageous amount of power on continuous basis (1,250 Watts RMS). It can get as low as a claimed 30Hz and as far up as 300Hz.
To keep the subwoofer performing under such extreme conditions, Skar Audio went ahead and incorporated an advanced air flow cooling design into the motor structure which helps in dissipating heat and cooling down the sub’s internal component.
- 10" Single 4 ohm TS Series Shallow Mount Subwoofer
- Reinforced MICA injection molded resin cone
- Elastic polymer surround
- 36 oz. ferrite magnet motor structure
- 5/8" MDF enclosure
|Frequency range||20-125 Hz|
|Dimensions||13-7/8"D x 18-5/8"W x 6"H|
If you’re on tight-budget and looking to add some bass to your ride without all the headaches of matching up a sub with a compatible amp and enclosure, then Pioneer TS-SWX2502 pre-Loaded enclosure might be a good option for you.
This compact option packs in a shallow-mount 10 inch Pioneer TS-SW2502S4 subwoofer which features an oversized cone structure that provides greater cone and gasket surface without changing sub’s standard external dimension. This oversized cone is made of highly rigid MICA injection-molded resin which allows it to move more air for enhanced, accurate bass response. Its dual-spider design on the other hand helps to stabilize the excursion of the cone and support the linear movement needed to pump out big volume.
At only 6″ deep, Pioneer TS-SWX2502 shallow-mount enclosure can fit almost anywhere including in a variety of trucks- standard-cab, extended-cab, or crew-cab. To save space and make installation process a lot more easier, this enclosure is featured with angled push terminals which allow the connection wires to remain straight rather than being bent to fit horizontal or vertical terminals.
Thanks to its innovative enclosure made of 5/8″ medium density fiberboard construction covered with black carpet, the TS-SWX2502 bass system will blend easily with any interior design.
Despite its compact size, Pioneer TS-SWX2502 can handle up to 300 watts of power on continuous basis. It’s rated for 89dB and can hit as low as a claimed 20Hz and as far up as 200Hz. It will fill in clean, and neat bass to balance the music for most people.
Pioneer-TS-SWX2502 is one of the best car subwoofers in its class, all things considered. I mean, less than $100? That is a major bargain.
What kind of sub should you get?
Car subwoofers come in various types and designs. There are component subs, enclosed subs, powered subs and vehicle-specific subwoofers. As we already stated, subwoofers are a contentious topic. that’s why we are not going into debate about which types of these subs is better as each of them has its own pros and cons. So, what kind of subwoofer matches up best to your needs?, let’s find out.
If you’re a DIY guy or gal and you want to pick and choose components to build a truly personalized sound system for your car, then component subwoofers are for you.
A component subwoofer is just the speaker itself, nothing less, nothing more — it’ll need to be mounted in a subwoofer box or enclosure to operate properly. Plus, you’ll need an external amp to power the sub.
Component subwoofers are popular with individuals designing their own sound systems because they allow them to place the speaker in a custom enclosure for performance, aesthetic or space-saving reasons.
Component subwoofers come in sizes ranging from 8 to 18 inches and are designed for a wide range of applications (car vs. truck) and enclosure sizes such as square boxes or long cylindrical tubes.
These subwoofers can be purchased with extremely high power-handling capability, much higher than the subwoofer/box combinations available off the shelf. This makes them popular with individuals bassheads who compete in car audio loudness competitions.
Because component subwoofers must be carefully matched to the correct enclosure type and size, many non-enthusiasts choose to purchase an all-in-one subwoofer enclosure combination.
Enclosed subs come pre-mounted into a box designed specifically to accomodate the sub. This will save you from the hassle of choosing the right enclosure for your sub, and matching the subwoofer to the right amp. One of the major drawbacks to this type of subs is that you’ll be limited on the number of speaker and box-type choices you have.
So, if you’re looking for an easy “off-the-shelf” sub/enclosure combo, then an enclosed subwoofer is for you.
If you’re looking for a hands-off bass package, then a powered sub is a great way to go.
To solve the problem of power mismatch or other related characteristics of matching the sub to the amp, Powered Subwoofers (also known as Active Subwoofers) are utilized.
This type of subwoofer is a self-contained speaker/amplifier configuration in which the characteristics of the amplifier and subwoofer are optimally matched and are both encased in the same enclosure. And since the amp is built-in, there’s only one piece of equipment to find a place for and install.
Most powered subwoofers in the market are compact and won’t take up a lot of room in your vehicle, making them good space-savers. However, while these subs can be very effective bass producers, their relatively small drivers may not be up to your standards especially if you’re a basshead looking for really big thumping bass. That is not to say that powered subs are useless, quite honestly, their relatively simple installation process and small size make them a great add-on to factory stereo systems.
Vehilce specific subs are designed to fit in out-of-the-way locations in many cars, trucks, and SUVs. They’re most often color-matched to the vehicle’s interior. They’re either powered or unpowered.
Like the powered subs we just talked about, vehicle-specific subs may not be the best choice if you’re looking for really big bass, but they’ll more than suffice for most listening needs without taking up a lot of space.
Some key specs to consider
In addition to the subwoofer type, there several other key specs that you should take into account in order to buy the best subwoofer for car. Comparing these specs can be helpful in making your decision.
1- Power (RMS vs Peak)
It goes without saying that if you’re looking for a system that really booms, there’s no substitute for plenty of power.
Power handling is one of the most crucial factors to consider when you’re looking for a subwoofer for your car. It lets you know how much power (measured in watts) a subwoofer can handle.
Bear in mind that the key spec in power-handling is the maximum RMS, not the peak. RMS (Root Mean Square) is the most accurate measure of a subwoofer power handling capability. It realistically measures the amount of power the subwoofer can handle on a continuous basis, not just for a short period of time.
Sensitivity goes hand-in-hand with power-handling to achieve high output. It measures how much sound a subwoofer yields from the power applied to it. A subwoofer with higher sensitivity rating requires less power to produce the same amount of sound as a model with a lower sensitivity rating.
3- Frequency range
Frequency range gives you an idea of how low a sub can play. Many things could affect the actual performance of the sub including the enclosure it’s mounted in.
4- Enclosure type
The type of enclosure a subwoofer is mounted in plays a major role in how a subwoofer sounds. As a general rule of thumb, sealed boxes give you the deepest, more precise sound, but – on the downside they are not loud. Ported and bandpass enclosures on the other hand produce more volume.
5- Number of voice coils
Most car subwoofers out there come with dual voice coils, which means that they have two separate voice coils, each with its own connections on the same cone. Because these subs offer mutliple wiring configurations, they’re quite popular among car audio enthusiasts who want more flexibility in wiring their sound systems.
6- Size of the woofer
Subwoofer size is a contentious topic. We’re always asked what size subwoofers play loudest and lowest? Well, this is not an easy question to answer. It’s actually a question with many facets and tons of possible answers. Several things should be taken into consideration including the enclosure type, sub’s sensitivity rating and power handling capability…etc.
Generally speaking, the larger the woofer, the more air it can move. So, if your goal is to build a system that play loud and hit deep, and space isn’t an issue, opt for the biggest subwoofer. However, don’t underestimate smaller subs. A well-powered small subwoofer mounted in the right enclosure can put out plenty of bass.
Impedance — measured in ohms — is a measure of the resistance of a subwoofer’s voice coil to the audio current supplied by the amplifier. A subwoofer rated at 2-ohm impedance will produce more sound output than a 4-ohm subwoofer, given similar input wattage, because the resistance is higher.
Most car subwoofers out there are rated at 4 ohms impedance, but 2-ohm, 8-ohm, and dual voice coil subwoofers are getting popular