Most car audio systems are mediocre at best, frequently favoring higher frequencies in order to accommodate the average radio pitch at the expense of richness and depth.
If you’re looking for a way to amplify the bass in your car’s sound system without having to install an extremely space-consuming, box-style car subwoofer, then you’ve come to the right place.
Underseat subwoofers are a practical, cost-effective solution that can help give you that punchy bass sound without breaking the bank or weighing your car down.
We’ve rounded up some of the best underseat subwoofers that will help radically transform your listening experience.
Quick List: Best Underseat Subwoofers in 2020
- Rockville RW10CA – Best Budget Option
- Kenwood KSC-SW11
- Kicker 11HS8 Hideaway – Best for Easy Installation
- Alpine Electronics PWE-S8 Restyle Compact Powered
- Rockford Fosgate P300-12 Punch Powered – Most powerful
- Pioneer TSSWX2502 10-inch Shallow Mount Pre-loaded
- Cerwin-Vega Mobile VPAS10 – Best Overall
Underseat Subwoofer Reviews
Underseat subwoofers come in a variety of price ranges and build qualities. In putting together this list, I wanted to find the car subwoofers with the best audio-quality, while also keeping in mind that most people strongly value affordability when shopping for car speakers. I also paid attention to compact size and reliable, sturdy construction. The last thing you want is a heavy subwoofer that adds so much weight it spikes up your gas bill, or a cheaply made speaker that’s going to fall apart with every-day use.
The products in this line-up represent the highest construction and sound quality available. Additionally, some products made the list because they incorporated further design considerations like ease of installation, simple audio controls, and built in amplifiers without compromising overall sound and build quality.
The Best Underseat Subwoofer
1. Rockville RW10CA – Best Budget Option
- Rockville RW10CA 800 Watt 10" Slim Car Subwoofer.
- 800 Watts Peak / 200 Watts RMS. PWM MOSFET Power Supply.
Rockville is a well-respected brand name in the world of car audio. The manufacturer is known for producing professional quality audio equipment that is built to last and includes circuit protections for added longevity. The thermal and overload protection circuits on the Rockville RW10CA will give you the confidence to play your music as loud as you like on long road trips and extended drives, without worrying about damaging your speakers.
- Very affordable
- Extremely slim design and able to fit under most car seats
- Easy installation with minimal cable hook ups
- Doesn’t have the deepest bass
- Build quality is not the best
The Rockville RW10CA wins our award for best budget option because it manages to produce a crisp, distortion-free sound at around half the cost of other underseat subwoofers. It includes a built-in power amplifier to help achieve that punchy, booming sound you’ll really appreciate the next time you’re head-banging to Motley Crue before a big sales pitch.
Weighing only 5.6 pounds and measuring 2.7 inches in height, the RW10CA is incredibly slim and can fit under nearly any seat, from sports cars to hybrid vehicles.
It is also very easy to install. The RW10CA comes with an installation kit that includes all the necessary audio cables and equipment, so even if you’re not the most tech-savvy, you’ll be able to easily hook this car subwoofer up to your speaker system and even customize the audio to match how you like your music to sound.
With auto-turn on technology, the RW10CA is a great subwoofer for anyone who values convenience at a budget-friendly price. After the initial installation, you can forget about this subwoofer entirely and just enjoy listening to your music as loud and dynamic as you like.
2. Kenwood KSC-SW11
- New Kenwood KSC SW11 8 1/4" x 5 1/8" 150 Watt Powered Car Subwoofer Enclosure
The Kenwood KSC-SW11 is another compact powered, budget-friendly option coming from an established car audio brand.
- Affordable price
- Strong build-quality
- Convenient wireless remote control
- Not suitable for trucks or SUVs
- Limited capability for bass tuning and customization
The KSC-SW11 features a built-in amplifier and high tonal quality, meaning you’ll notice a marked improvement in your vehicle’s listening experience with the help of some deep, crisp bass. Unfortunately, this Kenwood model doesn’t pack the same amount of power handling as most underseat subwoofers. Even though it is highly efficient, this subwoofer maxes out at a relatively low 150 watts, meaning it’ll never be capable of producing a pounding, ear-shaking bass.
This may not be a major issue for the average listener who just wants to add some depth to their music, but if you’re someone who wants to blast their music and really feel the bass pumping, then this isn’t the car subwoofer for you. The limited power also means that this subwoofer is really only suitable for small car owners, as truck drivers won’t be able to experience a noticeable difference in sound quality with the larger cab space.
Still, what the KSC-SW11 lacks in punchiness, it more than makes up for in build quality. The entire subwoofer is made out of aluminum, which contributes an added element of longevity and protection you’ll appreciate if you’re someone with a long commute. The subwoofer also includes a front metal grille that will help protect all the internal components.
Finally, the wireless remote with volume levels and selectable phase control is a great addition when you need to adjust your music without taking your eyes off the road. Overall, this is a great option for anyone who wants to improve their existing car audio system without breaking the bank.
3. Kicker 11HS8 Hideaway – Best for Easy Installation
- RMS Power: 150 Watts
- Ultra-compact powered subwoofer system designed for tight locations
The major draw of the Kicker 11HS8 compact subwoofer is just how incredibly foolproof it is to install. Not only does it come with an intuitive quick-connect power plug that literally enables you to plug it in and immediately begin listening, but it can be installed without any additional tools using heavy-duty nylon Velcro straps.
- Extremely easy to install
- Reaches low frequencies well
- Offers fine bass tuning
- Higher price range
- Some reports of rattling at higher volumes
Even if you have no prior knowledge of speaker systems or audio equipment, you can easily secure this subwoofer under your car seat and instantly transform your listening experience. The Velcro straps also lend to easy unplugging and removal, so you can bring this compact device with you even if you’re riding along in someone else’s vehicle.
Another thing I love about this subwoofer is the frequency range it offers. With a lower end of 25 Hz, the Kicker 11HS8 offers some of the lowest, ground-shaking bass out there. You’ll be able to hear nuances and depth in your music that you never could before. It also comes with a built-in amplifier to help boost those really low notes so you can really feel the music.
The Kicker 11HS8 also comes with a remote control for bass tuning and easy turn-on, including a variable bass boost and phase-cancelling switch. The combination of easy installation and fine-tuning customization tools make this a good option for both amateurs and audio-junkies alike.
The only downside is the price. At almost double the cost of the some of the other subwoofers on this list, the Kicker 11HS8 is definitely not for everyone.
4. Alpine Electronics PWE-S8 Restyle Compact Powered Subwoofer
- 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
If you’re looking for an extremely compact subwoofer with a sturdy construction that can withstand any bumps or hazards the road might throw at you, then the PWE-S8 from Alpine Electronics might be just the option for you.
- Very compact
- Rugged construction and sturdy build
- Not suitable for larger trucks or SUVs
- Installation may be difficult for beginners
- Audio quality is not the greatest for the price
At only three inches deep, it is one of the more compact models on this list. It is so small, you can fit it under the passenger front seat, which is a great option if you’re someone who likes a really fine-tuned audio experience. You’ll be able to easily reach the controls and tinker with the gain, crossover, and sub levels to really hone in on that perfect sound.
For such a compact model, this subwoofer offers decent audio quality, with clean bass, a built-in amplifier, and great frequency response that helps naturally bring out the bright spots as well as the low tones in your music.
Another reason I like this model is that, unlike a lot of subwoofers that strive to be small and light weight, the PWE-S8 doesn’t compromise on build quality. It’s made with a rugged aluminum enclosure that can withstand any road condition. So, if you’re someone who does a lot of adventure travel or off-roading, this is a remarkably durable subwoofer you will always be able to take in the car with you.
That said, the installation process is definitely not beginner friendly. Motorists with some basic experience installing speakers, troubleshooting audio equipment, and tinker with car sound systems should have no trouble. However, amateurs who are new to the world of aftermarket audio devices may struggle a little.
5. Rockford Fosgate P300-12 Punch Powered Subwoofer – Most Powerful
- The Punch P300-12 is a self-contained all-in-one solution featuring a Punch 12” subwoofer in a custom sealed enclosure and is powered by a mighty 300 Watt amplifier
- The system is all-inclusive, so you only need to run power, ground and a signal from the source to get this baby moving – Dimensions (Wedge H x W x D1 x D2): 15” x 19.8” x 11” x 7”
If you’re familiar with the world of professional-grade car audio, then it will come as no surprise that our pick for the most powerful underseat subwoofer goes to Rockford Fosgate. Truly a leader in audio equipment designed for drivers, boaters, and motorcyclists, Rockford Fosgate’s P300-12 Punch Powered subwoofer model is really a beast of a bass-driver.
- Powerful bass and great built-in amplifier
- Thermal and overvoltage protection circuits
- Advanced controls for sound balance and fine-tuning
- Price is quite high
- Large, thick design may be difficult to accommodate in smaller cars
With a 12-inch subwoofer, the P300-12 Punch has the deepest sound of any of the models on this list. It responds incredibly well to changes in pitch and can really drive home the low notes in your music. If you want to be able to feel the bass in your bones, then this is the perfect option for you. With a 300-watt built-in amplifier, the P300-12 Punch can accommodate both volume and depth, so you never need to choose between the two.
This subwoofer also contains thermal and overvoltage protection circuits, so you will feel protected even when you’re really boosting the bass as far as it can go. Plus, with equilibrium controls for sound balance and an easy-access remote control, you can fully customize your own sound, even if that means lowering the bass just a little whenever you’re giving other people rides or taking your nephew to school.
6. Pioneer TSSWX2502 10-inch Shallow Mount Pre-loaded
- Music Power (Nominal): 1,200 W (400 W) Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 125 Hz, Sensitivity (1 W/1 m): 93 dB, Impedance: Single 4Ω Tight bass from a shallow compact design, Reinforced MICA...
If you’re looking for something powerful on a smaller budget, then the TSSWX2502 is a great alternative to the Rockford Fosgate P300-12 Punch. At only 6” thick, the Pioneer TSSWX2502 is a lot shallower and more understated than the P300-12 Punch but manages to deliver a similar sound.
- Rich, responsive bass
- Fits under most backseats
- Great value for price
- No amplifier
- Cone doesn’t have a protective grille
Despite its relatively small size, this shallow mount subwoofer really excels at producing a crisp, powerful, and rich bass. The bass is remarkably responsive and accurate, meaning you’ll really be able to hear the subtleties in every song. And with an oversized subwoofer cone made from mica-injected molded resin, the TSSWX2502 really utilizes advanced technology to improve air flow and really transform the way you experience those deeper notes.
However, this subwoofer is not without its downsides. Like a lot of the more professional-grade units, the installation process is slightly more complicated. You’ll be fine if you already have some knowledge of wiring speakers or other audio electronics, but beginners should definitely exercise caution.
Another major downside to the TSSWX2502 is that is does not contain a built-in amp. You’ll have to invest in an external amp just to connect it to your car’s sound system, which means you’ll lose a lot of the cost savings associated with this particular subwoofer. Still, this is something of a blessing in disguise. Rather than compromise between richness and volume, you can find a specialized, external amp that will allow you to achieve both. If you really want control over your entire audio experience, then this is definitely the route to go.
Plus, the exterior of this subwoofer is carpeted, which basically just earns the TSSWX2502 a few extra points for being stylish and making you look cool.
7. Cerwin-Vega Mobile VPAS10 – Best Overall
- Power Handling: Peak: 550 watts RMS: 200 watts
- PWM MOSFET Power Supply/Thermal Protection Circuit Remote Subwoofer Control Included RCA and High-Level Inputs
Another great, power forward subwoofer is the Cerwin-Vega Mobile VPAS10. This subwoofer earns our distinction for best overall because it truly exceeds expectations in all of the qualities and categories that make up a good underseat subwoofer.
- Powerful bass with high-watt amplifier
- Incredibly compact
- Extremely easy to install
- Great value for price
- Must be tuned to accommodate different musical styles
- Range only goes as low as 35Hz
Of all of the models on this list, the VPAS10 is arguably the most compact at only 2.6 inches thick, making it small enough to fit underneath even the smallest seats in the sleekest sports cars. It is also made from a durable aluminum casing, so even though it is quite thin, it can still hold up against any bumps you might encounter in the road.
As for the audio quality, the VPAS10 is difficult to beat. With a 10-inch woofer and a 450-watt built-in amplifier, this model produces some of the best depth and punchiest sound we’ve seen, so you’ll always feel totally immersed in your music.
This underseat subwoofer has a bass boost of 0-12dB, subsonic filter of 35Hz and low pass filter speaker level of 75-150Hz.
And if that wasn’t enough, the VPAS10 also excels at all the little things. It includes a thermal protection circuit so you can jam out for hours on end without worrying. Its auto-turn on mechanism incorporates a unique, soft-delay feature to help prevent ear shock, so you’ll never be surprised when the bass suddenly drops as you turn on your car’s audio system. And my personal favorite, the VPAS10 is installed via heavy-duty Velcro strips.
If you’re anything like me, mounting, and god-forbid, unmounting, a piece of electronic equipment is by far the hardest part of setting it up. The VPAS10 is specifically designed so that even people like us, who struggle to remember what a Phillips head screwdriver looks like, can easily install it.
Underseat Subwoofer Buying Guide
Should I Get an Underseat Subwoofer or a Box-style Subwoofer?
When most people think about transforming a car’s audio system, they immediately picture large, box-style subwoofers that get mounted in the trunk of the car and produce the kind of mind-altering bass that can actually cause a vehicle to bounce up and down.
The downside to these subwoofers is that they are extremely heavy and often quite costly. For the average motorist who simply wants to upgrade their vehicle’s built-in sound system, an underseat subwoofer is more than enough. As the title suggests, these models can fit underneath the passenger or back seat, and thus don’t take up any extra space. They’re also significantly lighter, cheaper, and easier to install. A lot of underseat subwoofers also come with built-in amps, whereas almost all box-style woofers will require a separate amp to work.
That said, the sound quality of a full-sized box-style subwoofer is truly unparalleled. If you imagine yourself cruising through the neighborhood, playing your music on full blast, and feeling the bass resonate throughout your body, then a box-style model is your best bet.
When choosing between the two styles, consider how much space you have, how much you’re willing to spend, and how important it is for you to have the absolute best in sound quality. If you have a particularly compact car, or are on a tight budget, then the decision to choose an underseat subwoofer over a box-style has already been made for you.
Are Underseat Subwoofers Any Good?
The short answer is yes. Underseat subwoofers may not have the same raw power that comes from a 15 to 18-inch driver disc, but they are remarkably powerful and can make a noticeable difference in your listening experience.
Underseat subwoofers boast large frequency ranges with levels as low as 20Hz. This means that they are responsive to even the lowest pitches. They also come with woofers as large as 12 inches, enabling them to achieve louder, deeper sounds. For context, box-style subwoofers begin at around 12-13 inches and usually have frequency ranges of about 20-200 Hz.
The area where this type of subwoofer typically fall behind is power. All drivers come with peak power-handling ratings and root mean square power ratings that give an indication of how loud the speaker can play either for short bursts or for continuous periods. Full-sized subwoofers often have capabilities greater than 1,000 watts while underseat subwoofers max out at 400-800 watts for short bursts, with much lower capacities from long periods of listening.
While this may seem like a drawback, it’s important to consider audio power in the context of a vehicle environment. 1,000 watts, projected into close quarters, is roughly the equivalent of standing directly beside a military jet aircraft as it takes off. Chances are, you won’t need, or want, this kind of power when you’re driving. In that sense, a good underseat subwoofer likely offers more than enough wattage for all your listening needs.
Choosing the Best Under Seat Subwoofer for Your Car
The underseat subwoofers in this list are some of the best models on the market. They all combine solid construction and build quality with a superior audio experience.
When choosing which option is best for you, first consider the type of vehicle you have. If you’ve got a sports car, then you’ll really want to consider a compact model. You’ll have more options if you’re driving and SUV or small truck.
After that, it’s all about deciding which design considerations appeal to you most. Regardless of what you choose, an underseat subwoofer is sure to transform your car listening experience.
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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.