While driving in your car, especially if you have a long commute alone, nothing can make the journey seem shorter than some good music and a system that elevates the quality of the music.
A good subwoofer does just that!
When you can feel the low notes of the music boom, that’s when you know the subwoofers are doing their job well.
You should be able to experience a deep bass, so much so that your ears begin to hurt! Of course, that is not the effect you are looking for — but a good sub has the ability to do even that! Trust us, a true audiophile regards this as a mark of good quality in a subwoofer.
Since it is difficult to pick only one car sub as the best, the following reviews and buying guide attempts to categorize these subwoofers according to budget and need, take a look at a quick list of what is to come…
Quick List: Best Car Subwoofers in 2020
- Best Overall: Rockville RW10CA
- Best Powered: JBL GT-BASSPRO12
- Best for Deep Bass: MTX Audio Terminator Series TNE212D
- Best Compact: Sound Storm LOPRO10
- Best for the Money: Belva 1000 Watt Complete Car Subwoofer Package
- Best Under $500: Kicker S15L7 4-Ohm 15″
- Best Under $300: Alpine Electronics Pwe-s8 Restyle
- Best Under $200: Kenwood KSC-SW11
- Best Under $100: Rockville SS8p 400W
The Best Car Subwoofer Reviews
The following are some of the best car subwoofers that have been picked out in their respective categories. The selections are also in a varied price range so there is something for everyone in the following list.
1. Best Overall: Rockville RW10CA
- Rockville RW10CA 800 Watt 10" Slim Car Subwoofer.
- 800 Watts Peak / 200 Watts RMS. PWM MOSFET Power Supply.
- Low Level RCA Input. High Level Inputs with Auto Turn-On Technology.
The Rockville 10CA is a 10-inch, 800-watt active powered car subwoofer that packs in a punch even in its low profile. This is a sleek looking subwoofer that is sure to amp up your car and give it style. It comes with an overload protection circuit and a phase switch for 0° or 180°.
The sub also takes minimal space and gives a clear, deep bass despite its size. It has been selected as the best overall car subwoofer because it offers all the things that a good subwoofer should offer and is also extremely high on the style quotient. We think the Rockville is so good it has also featured in our best underseat subwoofer line-up.
The following are the features that the Rockville has to offer:
- This is an 800-watt, 10-inch car subwoofer.
- It offers 800-watts of peak power and 200-watts RMS.
- It has a PWM MOSFET power supply.
- It has high-level inputs, a low-level RCA input and comes with auto turn-on technology.
- You can enjoy soft delayed remote turn-on with this sub, along with adjustable input sensitivity.
- It comes with an overload protection circuit and a phase switch that makes it easy to control.
- The model is CEA-2006 compliant. In other words, it has been approved by a third-party rating standard which is a greater guarantee of its quality.
- It is one of the only slim under seat subs that is also compliant with CEA.
- It provides a great sounding bass without taking up too much space.
- This slim, sleek and stylish subwoofer is sure to jazz up your car and give it more character.
- The unit is extremely easy to install, thanks to the high-level inputs.
- Some customers complained that the amp overheats easily and can be a fire hazard.
- A handful of customers complained about durability and said the sub burnt out after two years of light use.
- Some customers reported that the sound was softer than they expected.
- Some customers complained of a rattling sound.
- Some customers reported they were happy with the subwoofer, but that it turned off randomly when it got hot.
2. Best Powered: JBL GT-BASSPRO12
- 12-Inch (305mm) woofer with die-cast aluminium basket for solid sounds under all conditions
- Slipstream port eliminates port noise and provides distortion-free bass at high output levels
The JBL GT-BASSPRO12 is a 12-inch car audio powered subwoofer system that amps up your music listening experience while driving like never before. It creates minimal port noise and is able to provide a distortion-free bass even at high output levels.
With input levels, bass boost, low-pass and phase controls, you are able to adjust the system and navigate it to give you the sound you are looking for. This product has been chosen as the best powered subwoofer because it provides an incredible sound that traditional car subs may fail to provide.
The following are the features that the JBL has to offer:
- This 12-inch woofer has a die-cast aluminum basket that provides you with a solid sound, no matter what the conditions.
- There is a Slipstream port that has been put in place to prevent port noise.
- The system has been optimized for the amplified to match the woofer, enclosure and the Slipstream port.
- When the head unit sends an audio signal, the subwoofer can turn on and off automatically, thanks to the signal-sensing turn-on feature.
- You can customize the kind of sound you want with the input level, phase controls, bass-boost and low-pass features.
- There is minimal port noise and the Slipstream port is able to give you a zero distortion sound.
- The system optimization carried out by the manufacturer ensures that you get the best performance.
- The signal-sensing turn-on feature is an intelligent addition that most traditional car subwoofers lack.
- You can get the sound you are looking for by tinkering around with the input levels, bass-boost, low-pass, phase controls, etc.
- Built with medium-density fiberboard, this is an extremely durable product.
- Some customers and dedicated audiophiles were disappointed with the sound.
- Some customers found the amplifier to be under-powered.
- A few customers complained about JBL’s customer service.
- The RCA port is not as durable as advertised.
- Some customers reported that when the unit is set low, it tends to make a rattling noise.
3. Best for Deep Bass: MTX Audio Terminator Series TNE212D
- 5/8" MDF Construction
- Frequency response: 10Hz - 150Hz. Aviation Grade Carpet
- Embroidered Terminator Logo; Impedance: 2Ω
The MTX Audio Terminator is an incredibly powerful 1,200-watt subwoofer with a dual, 12-inch sub enclosure. The power of two 12-inch Terminator subwoofers allows you to get an incredibly deep bass.
This is the perfect product to install in your vehicle if you want to rock out to some heavy metal music and need to get a deep bass sound. For this reason, it has been selected as the best option for deep bass.
The following are the features that the Terminator has to offer:
- There are two 12-inch Terminator subwoofers in the vented enclosure.
- It has been constructed ruggedly with 5/8” MDF and also an aviation-grade black carpet.
- It offers power handling with 1200 watts total, 800 watts peak and 400 watts RMS in total.
- The recommended power range is 200-400 watts RMS at 2 ohms.
- It comes with a rubber surround for a better sound and greater durability.
- The unit comes with a polypropylene cone.
- With 1200-watts total power, 800 watts peak and 400 watts RMS in total, this is an extremely powerful subwoofer.
- The polypropylene cone and the rubber surround helps to create incredible sound.
- With two 12-inch subwoofers included in the enclosure, the bass is bound to be incredible.
- The 5/8” MDF construction and the aviation-grade black carpet make for a durable body.
- Some customers found that the sound was muffled even at a low volume.
- The amplifier was not very durable in a few cases.
4. Best Compact: Sound Storm LOPRO10
- Built-in amplifier: with a MOSFET power supply you get improved switching speeds, better performance with less power from the driver, lower gate-to-drain feedback capacitance, lower thermal impedance...
- Variable Low-Pass Filter - A low-pass filter is an electronic circuit that removes all the notes above the filter's frequency setting. You will use the Low-pass filter to primarily keep high notes out...
The Sound Storm LOPRO10 is an amplified car subwoofer that takes little space but provides a lot in terms of sound. It has both high and low-level inputs, a variable low-pass filter and a variable bass-boost. The built-in amplifier has a MOSFET power supply, which provides improved performance and lowers thermal impedance for the higher switching speeds or frequencies.
Given its compact size and how little space it occupies in the vehicle, this has been selected as the best compact subwoofer for your car.
The following are the features that the Sound Storm has to offer:
- The built-in amplifier has a MOSFET power supply, which gives you improved switching speeds and better performance.
- It has a variable low-pass filter that is able to remove the notes that are below the filter’s frequency setting.
- The sub also comes equipped with high-level or speaker-level inputs.
- The unit is 15.2 inches in depth, 11.2 inches in width and 2.8 inches in height.
- The combination of amplifier and subwoofer packed into one makes it a great option when you are short of space.
- The MOSFET power supply offers improved switching speeds, lowers thermal impedance for when you are looking for a higher switching frequency, lower gate-to-drain feedback, and more.
- With the variable low-pass filter, you can remove the notes that are too low for the filter’s setting.
- The high-level inputs allow you to connect to most aftermarket radios.
- Some customers complained that the subwoofer does not produce the really low lows.
- Some customers found the product to be a tad expensive for the performance it offered.
5. Best Value for Money: Belva 1000 Watt Complete Car Subwoofer Package
- Can handle a peak power 1000 watts total and RMS power 500 watts total
- Polypropylene cone that is lightweight yet strong provides accurate mid and low notes for better sound quality
- All-in-one complete subwoofer package compatible with any vehicle
The Belva 1000-watt car subwoofer comes with a complete package that is compatible with any vehicle. You get two-channel twisted-pair RCA cables, all the wires and cables, and basically everything you will require to add bass to your vehicle.
It has been selected as the best value for money subwoofer as it provides a whole package.
The following are the features this product has to offer:
- The unit offers peak power of 1000-watts in total and 500-watts of total RMS power.
- A lightweight polypropylene cone allows the subwoofer to give you the accurate mid and low notes.
- It comes with a 10-inch ported enclosure which gives your more bass output per watt.
- This is a complete package and contains a complete eight-gauge Amp Kit along with a two-channel RCA cable.
- The system is extremely easy to install.
- This is a complete subwoofer system which allows you to enjoy music in your car without sourcing multiple parts to install the system.
- The polypropylene cone is lightweight yet sturdy and strong.
- The dual-ported subwoofer enclosure gives you greater bass output per watt.
- Some customers found the amp to be underwhelming.
- The unit tends to heat up easily.
6. Best Under $500: Kicker S15L7 4-Ohm
- The newest square masterpiece is relentless, delivering more decibels with the patented extra cone area
- As a Solo-Baric subwoofer, it uses KICKER's most innovative concepts and technology
- One-piece SoloKon with full back bracing for toughness and zero distortion
The Kicker S15L7 4-Ohm is a 15-inch car audio subwoofer that delivers more decibels than its competitors, thanks to the patented extra cone area the subwoofer provides. There is a reliable stitched surround that helps to minimize the cone flex and helps reduce distortion.
The high-temperature coil wire is able to extend the life of the woofer and makes it highly durable. The device uses the manufacturer’s most tried, tested and successful technologies and concepts.
The Kicker S15L7 has been selected for this line-up as it ticks all the boxes a good car subwoofer should – and is also well under $500.
The following are the features that the Kicker has to offer:
- The patented extra cone area of the Kicker S15L7 allows it to deliver more decibels than before, and as compared to other competitors.
- The subwoofer utilizes a one-piece SoloKon that has a full-back bracing, allowing the unit to be tough, durable and to give a zero distortion performance.
- The solid pole piece is heat dissipating and is accompanied by a high-temperature coil wire that gives the woofer a longer life.
- This is one of Kicker’s Solo-Baric subwoofers, which means it incorporates the most innovative concepts and technology the manufacturer has to offer.
- This is a unique square woofer that has occupied the market and has repeatedly provided great results.
- At 35 pounds, the woofer is not very heavy and can be installed and shifted around with ease.
- The chest thumping deep bass of this car subwoofer will change the nature of your road trips.
- The patented extra cone area is able to give the sub more decibels and a better sound.
- The solid pole-piece and the high-temperature coil wire make it an extremely durable product.
- Some users felt that with a little more money, you could get a better sounding product.
- A square car subwoofer is not as common as a round one, and you may have to look around for the appropriate woofer enclosure.
- The inner cone tends to rip when the woofer is played at maximum volume.
7. Best Under $300: Alpine Electronics PWE-S8
- 8-inch subwoofer and 120W amplifier, housed together in a cast aluminum enclosure
- The compact size measures just 13.5” L x 9” W x 3” D so it can be installed under or behind a seat in a truck, in a sedan’s trunk or in an SUV’s hatch
The Alpine Electronics PWE-S8 is an eight-inch powered car audio subwoofer with a 120-watt amplifier. The sub and the amplifier both are housed in a cast aluminum enclosure.
It is a compact subwoofer that takes up little space but offers a great sound. It has been chosen as the best subwoofer in the $200-$300 price category because it is well within the budget and offers a lot of features that its competitors in lower price brackets do not.
The following are some of the features worth mentioning:
- The eight-inch subwoofer comes with a 120-watt amplifier, and they are both set in a cast aluminum enclosure.
- It is compact and measures 13.5” x 9” x 3” (LxWxD).
- It has a frequency response range of 32Hz – 150Hz and a power rating of 120-watt RMS.
- There are controls for RCA and Auto-sensing Speaker-Level Inputs, for Phase, Gain, Remote Sub-Level and LP Crossover.
- Its compact size ensures it can easily be installed behind a seat or in the trunk or hatch.
- The controls are conveniently located on the side panel.
- The sub and amplifier-combine are housed in a durable cast aluminum enclosure.
- It has a flexible frequency response range of 32Hz – 150Hz.
- The unit can only be used in a small vehicle and can get drowned out in a larger truck.
- A few customers complained that the subwoofer did not last long.
8. Best Under $200: Kenwood KSC-SW11
- New Kenwood KSC SW11 8 1/4" x 5 1/8" 150 Watt Powered Car Subwoofer Enclosure
- Maximum output power: 150W
- Size: "8 1/4 x"5 1/8"
The Kenwood KSC-SW11 is the perfect subwoofer to install in your car if you have limited space and are looking to add some bass to your car audio. It comes installed in an aluminum enclosure and is a powered variety. It also comes along with a wired remote control so you have better control over the volume level and variable low-pass crossover.
This sub has been selected as the top pick in the under $200 category because it is well within the price range but also does not hand you a raw deal for the price you pay.
The following are some of the features you can look forward to using:
- This is a compact, low-profile powered subwoofer that is suitable for installing under the car seat.
- It does not require an external amplifier as it is powered.
- It comes with a remote bass control and a power and ground wire harness.
- It offers 75 watts RMS power and 150 watts maximum power.
- This is a compact system that can easily be installed underneath your car seat or in a cramped space.
- You need not install an external amplifier as the system is already powered.
- The wired remote makes it extremely easy to control the bass, the volume level and the variable low-pass crossover.
- The system is incredibly easy to install — you just need to wire the sub to your battery, ground it and then finally connect it to the head unit with the help of RCA cables.
- The sub has a muddy bass, some customers complained.
- Some customers found that it was good for a small car or a sedan, but not for frequent roadsters.
9. Best Under $100: Rockville SS8P
- Rockville SS8P 8" 400w Slim Under-Seat Active Powered Car/Truck Subwoofer Sub.
- Enclosure is made out of cast aluminum which stays cool at all times.
- Peak Power Handling: 400 Watts. RMS Power Handling: 100 Watts. Heavy Duty Mounting Feet.
The Rockville SS8P is an eight-inch, 400W subwoofer system that is set in an enclosure made of cast aluminum, allowing it to stay cool at all times. It offers adjustable input sensitivity, a soft delayed remote turn-on, and thermal and short protection circuits.
Powered with a PWM MOSFET supply, this sub packs a lot into its small body. It is also extremely efficient for a product that is under $100, which is why it was selected to represent this price category.
The following are the features that the Rockville has to offer:
- The subwoofer is an eight-inch sub with a 400-watt power limit. It offers 100 watts of RMS power handling.
- It has PWM MOSFET Power Supply, which means improved switching speeds.
- It has adjustable input sensitivity and soft delayed remote turn-on, along with thermal and short protection circuits.
- It has a low pass filter with a range of 50Hz – 150Hz, and a bass boost of 0-12 decibels at 45Hz.
- The compact sub can be installed under the seat with ease.
- The PWM MOSFET power supply makes it efficient in many ways.
- The cast aluminum enclosure ensures the unit does not overheat and remains cool even after prolonged use.
- It offers overload protection circuit, thermal protection circuit and short protection circuit, making it extremely safe.
- Some customers complained of hearing distortion when the gain adjustment was turned up.
- It does not have a lot of bass output, some customers complained.
How to Choose the Best Subwoofer for Your Car
There are a few different factors you may have to consider before investing in a subwoofer for your car. This is not a decision you can come to without at least some deliberation, especially for those of you who are big on road trips and enjoying good music while on the road.
With a good subwoofer, the music listening experience while you are on the road is elevated to another level. Once you find that sweet spot, it will be hard for you to go back. So to avoid disappointments and hits and trials, consider at least the following factors when looking for a subwoofer for your car:
Mounting a Subwoofer in Your Vehicle
How is the subwoofer mounted? Depending on the kind of space you have in your car or in your truck, the mounting will have to be adjusted accordingly.
For example, if you have a spatial constraint, which is likely with a sedan or with a smaller car, you may prefer an under seat mounting. This occupies as little space as possible while also lending your car bass. This is a neat way of taking care of the installation. A compact subwoofer can also be installed in the hatch or the trunk of your car.
Another way of mounting the sub is to shallow mount it. A shallow-mount subwoofer is also a relatively compact variety of sub. It is lightweight and easily portable. It can be installed in the trunk and the rear speaker deck. It is different from a larger speaker as the quality of sound is bound to differ, but if space constraint is your problem, an under seat mounting or shallow mounting is the best option.
Larger speakers have regular mounting, but this is ideal only for a larger vehicle and may perhaps not be feasible for a smaller car or sedan.
Size – 10 Inch VS 12 Inch Car Subwoofers
The size of the subwoofer makes a world of a difference. There are two main sizes that you may come across in the market — 10-inch and 12-inch car subwoofers. The list above has also included eight-inch subs which tend to be the compact variety for those who are especially strapped for space.
If you only want to install a subwoofer in your car to enjoy some music while you are on the road, either of the two main varieties should suffice, depending on your budget and the kind of space you have. But for audiophiles, the difference in the sound quality might be too stark.
In a 12-inch sub, since there is more cone area, more sound can resonate off the cone and create a deeper bass. The larger the cone area, the greater the chance that the unit can play the lower frequencies better. But while on paper it seems like the 12-inch sub provides better sound, a lot depends on the quality of the manufacturing and the frequency range.
The 10-inch subwoofers do seem to be more responsive as well. But in the end, the decision you make about the size also depends on the kind of space you have and the budget you are willing to set. For example, if you drive a small hatchback or even a coupé like the Volkswagen Beetle, a larger subwoofer would be of no help to you. You would be better off with a smaller size, perhaps even a compact eight-inch sub.
So pick the size of your subwoofer accordingly, based on how much space you have and what kind of bass you are looking for.
Installation of Car Subs
Any car subwoofer should be easy to install, either as a DIY or by a paid professional if you are unsure of the process. Most require an amplifier wiring kit. If you invest in a car subwoofer package, chances are you will get the whole kit along with the main subwoofer. Often, these are better deals as you can get these packages at a discount.
Most also come along with an enclosure, often made of cast aluminum, which is meant to keep the amplifier cool and prevent it from overheating. If the subwoofer does not come with an enclosure, you will need to purchase one separately in order to install it in your car.
All in all, the steps involved in installing a subwoofer can be complex for a novice so if you are unsure, it is best to pay a professional to complete the installation for you. If you want to try and DIY your sub installation, here is a handy guide to installing the subwoofers in your car.
Enhance Your Musical Journey
If you have a long journey ahead, the road is made only more fun with the right kind of music. Often certain albums or songs become iconic in your memory simply because you enjoyed listening to it on an open road.
But you will be unable to make these memories if you do not have a good sound system, and no sound system is complete without a good subwoofer.
Hitting the low notes is important in any good musical composition and if your woofer cannot emanate the low frequencies correctly, it can diminish the fun of a good road trip and of a good piece of music. So choose wisely and enjoy the tunes!
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- Best Subwoofers for Music – 7 Great Subs To Enhance Your Listening Experience in 2021
- Best 12 Inch Subwoofer: 6 Great Subwoofers for Home or Car Audio (All Budgets)
Simon is a music lover, musical instrument player and passionate audio afficionado. When he is not playing the guitar or listening to music he is either eating tacos or snoring too loudly.