Compact vehicles present a serious dilemma when you want to build a car audio system with powerful, thumping bass. To get that rattling bass that shakes windows and mirrors, you need big subwoofers and enough space for the subwoofer box that contains them. But, in smaller vehicles space for bass is at a premium.
That said, if you don’t want to settle for tiny sound just because you have a compact car, then a compact, underseat subwoofer might do the job for you.
A good under seat subwoofer will not turn your vehicle into a rolling thunderstorm of bass, but it’ll add some needed depth to your music, so that everything sounds more life-like. Additionally, a bass system of this type will also save you from the hassle of looking for a good subwoofer, building an enclosure, and matching up your sub with a compatible external amplifier.
Want a peek at some of the best underseat subwoofer options out there today? Check out our roundup of killer compact subwoofers.
Best Underseat Subwoofers – Comparison Chart
|150/75||110||35 - 125 Hz|
|160/50||100||20 - 200 Hz|
|1200/300||93||20 - 200 Hz|
Alpine Electronics PWE-S8
|240/120||N/A||35 - 150 Hz|
Kicker 11HS8 Hideaway
|150 watts RMS||N/A||25 - 120 Hz|
JBL BassPro SL
|200/125||N/A||35 - 120 Hz|
Rockford Fosgate P300-12
|300 watts RMS||N/A||35 - 150 Hz|
|150 watts RMS||90||15 - 125 Hz|
|400/100||N/A||20 - 150 Hz|
|600/150||100||20 - 150 Hz|
|150/50||98||20 - 200 Hz|
Cerwin-vega Mobile VPAS10
|450/200||N/A||75 - 150 Hz|
Best Underseat Subwoofer Review
- Aluminum Die-cast frame with 8-1/4" x 5-1/8" sub
- Built-in amplifier: 75 watts RMS power (150 watts maximum)
- Noise-less sound
- Wired remote (Level/Freq./phase control)
- Line(RCA) + speaker level input
|Size||8-1/4" X 5-1/8" sub|
|Frequency range||35 - 125 Hz|
We’ve reviewed a ton of Kenwood car audio equipment on this site before. Kenwood is among the most established brands in the car audio industry. They’ve been churning out various quality car audio components for decades.
The KSC-SW11 is one of the best selling underseat subwoofer in the market. This reasonably priced little powerhouse features a low mounting profile which allows to fit under a seat in most vehicles, making it a great solution for those who want to reinforce the bass in their system without taking up a lot of space.
Kenwood KSC-SW11 powered sub features an aluminum enclosure that measures 8-1/4″ x 5-1/8″. It’s fitted with an 8 inch subwoofer powered by a built-in amplifier that feeds the speaker 75 watts RMS. With such power-handling, this sub is not going to deliver pounding bass that shakes bones and rattles eardrums, but it’ll add some depth to your music to complement your speakers and fill out the low end.
This system comes with a wired remote control that features volume level knob, variable low-pass crossover (50-125 Hz), and selectable phase control (0°, 180°).
We would recommend the Kenwood KSC-SW11 to people who own small trucks, small SUVs, and hatch back cars. However, this system is not powerful enough to be mounted in a SUV’s trunk as you’ll barely notice any sound improvement.
- 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
|Frequency range||25-120 Hz|
This is what you can get if you’re willing to shell out some serious dough. It’s another great sounding compact powered subwoofer from kicker.
At just over three inches high and nearly 14 inches long, this little subwoofer can fit in the tighest locations thanks to its ultra-compact design which allows for multiple mounting opportunities.
Kicker 11HS8 Hidaway is fitted with an 8″ woofer powered by a built-in 150 watts RMS amplifier. The woofer on this system can hit as low as a claimed 25Hz and as far up as 120Hz. It’s nothing to write home about compared to bigger subwoofer such as 12″ or 15″ subs, but it’s more than enough for most casual basshead who are looking for a compact plug-and-play bass solution.
This system comes with a remote bass control for fine-tuning bass levels, adjustable low-pass crossover(50-120 Hz), bass boost control(0dB to +6dB), variable phase control (0 or 180 degrees) 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 head unit, not to mention Nylon straps with Velcro® fasteners for easy mounting.
If you’re looking for hard thumping bass and bone shaking lows, Kicker 11HS8 Hidaway is not going to do it. However, if your current sound system is lacking that “umphf” and you need a compact solution that can fill out the bass and add to the depth and punch of your music, then this is the ticket.
- Built-in 150 watts MOSFET amplifier
- Wired remote to control gain, phase, and LPF
|Size||8" x 5-1/4"|
|Frequency range||30-160 Hz|
Slim, light, powerful and majestic, Pioneer’s TS-WX120A subwoofer system is one of the most compact underseat subwoofers that you can buy. At less than 3 inches high and around 11 inches long, this bass system can fit almost anywhere.
Thanks to its built-in MOSFET amplifier, and its 8 inch woofer, which can hit as low as a claimed 30Hz and as far up as 160Hz, the Pioneer TS-WX120A really stands out from its competition.
The cone on this woofer is made of aluminum which makes it suitable for any genre of music. It also allows for consistent bass response.
Pioneer TS-WX120A offers relatively great performance from a small package. As with most, if not all underseat subwoofers, Pioneer TS-WX120A won’t rattle your windows, but it’ll add awesome low end sound to your sound system. If you’re a basshead and you think that you can get this subwoofer instead of a traditional box/sub/amp, then don’t because you will be disappointed.
The TS-WX120A comes with a wired remote control that you can use to fine-tune the sounds to your likings. With the press of a finger you can adjust gain control, frequency response, and phase.
- PWM MOSFET Power Supply
- Low Level RCA Input
- High Level Inputs with Auto Turn-On Technology
- Adjustable Input Sensitivity
- Soft Delayed Remote Turn-On
- Thermal Protection Circuit, Short Protection Circuit
- Overload Protection Circuit
- Phase Switch: 0° or 180°
- Low Pass Filter: 50Hz - 150Hz
- Bass Boost: 0 - 18dB @ 45Hz
- Subwoofer Level Remote Control
- Built in Subsonic Filter @ 29Hz
|Size||8" x 5-1/4"|
|Frequency range||20-150 Hz|
If you’re after an all in one solution to give you great sounding bass in your vehicle without taking up a ton of space, but you don’t have the kind of money that you need for the underseat subwoofers we listed above, the Rockville-RW10CA is your best option. This low profile underseat active powered subwoofer comes in at well under half the price and offers absolutely fantastic value for money.
Rockville-RW10CA is one of the best underseat subwoofers under $100. It’s a great entry-level subwoofer system if you want to test the waters before upgrading to something a little more sophisticated.
The Rockville-RW10CA is slim, really slim. At just 2.7″ thick, this sub can easily fit under your seat. It’s fitted a built-in amp and a 10″ woofer which can handle 200 Watts of power RMS.
This subwoofer system is featured with high level inputs with auto turn-on technology. It’s also featured with various controls that you can use to tweak the sound to your liking. It has a level control for the volume, a subsonic filter to filter out the really low frequencies, not to mention a low pass crossover filter, phase control, and bass boost.
All in all, the Rockville RW10CA is a pretty good deal for the price.
Pros and Cons of Under Seat Subwoofers
There are undoubtedly pros and cons to the discussion regarding the usefulness of small, compact subwoofers. However, one thing seems clear, namely, that having a subwoofer no matter how small it is, is to some extent better than not having one.
Understanding and weighing the pros and cons of underseat subwoofers is a great way to decide if this type of subwoofers is right for you.
- Convenience: powered subwoofers generally will save you from the hassle of looking for a good subwoofer, building or buying the right enclosure, and matching up your sub with a compatible outboard amp , which is a serious dilemma. In a powered subwoofer, however, the amp and the sub are optimized for each other, so there is no worry about matching an external amplifier.
- Cost-Effective: underseat subwoofers are one of the most cost-effective ways to add bass to your car audio system. They are less expensive than passive subwoofers.
- Easy to Install: These bass systems are the right choice for you if you’re looking for a plug and play bass solution. As opposed to passive subwoofers, which require a ton of work running cables from the receiver to the amplifier to the subwoofer, a powered subwoofer is designed to be hooked up directly to the receiver, plus there is no need to install an amplifier.
- Space-Saving: Powered subwoofers are more compact than passive subwoofers. They can fit almost anywhere. This makes them particularly ideal for compact vehicles or when there is not a lot of extra room.
- Weak bass output: One of the major drawbacks to underseat subwoofers is that they’re fitted with weak drivers. Therefore, their sound may not be powerful enough for those who like maximum bass boom.
- No flexibility: If you decide to opt for a powered sub, you’ll be limited to one brand for both the subwoofer and the amplifier. For this reason, powered subwoofers may not be the right choice for you if you like maximum flexibility when it comes to choosing components for your car stereo system.