- 1 Best Subwoofers for Cars Comparison Chart
- 2 Best Subwoofer for Car Reviews (Newest Models!)
- 3 What is a Subwoofer?
- 4 Subwoofer for Car Buying Guide
- 5 Car Subwoofer Sizes: 10-Inch Subwoofers Vs 12-Inch Subwoofers
- 6 Active vs Passive Subwoofers
- 7 What is the Difference Between a Woofer and a Subwoofer?
- 8 Benefits of Using Car Subwoofers
- 9 How do subwoofers work?
- 10 Best Subwoofer Brands
- 11 FAQs and Answers
- 12 Conclusion
Looking to fall in love with your music all over again? Then you need to discover the bass in your favorite songs. From the powerful thump of string instruments to the low bell of a cello, bass is there in all genres, and the only way you can feel it is by adding a subwoofer.
The reason we’re saying that is because built-in car speakers generally have trouble reproducing low-frequency sound. Their small size makes then unable to play those lower frequencies the way a recording artist singer wanted them to sound. This restriction negatively impacts their sound quality.
Luckily, that isn’t the case with the best subwoofers for cars. These products are designed to reproduce frequencies below 80 Hz, a range even high-quality aftermarket speakers cannot reach. They are your entry pass to deep, vibrant music on the go.
Scroll down to know more in our subwoofers for car reviews.
Best Subwoofers for Cars Comparison Chart
Skar Audio Dual 12″ 2400W Loaded SDR Series Vented Subwoofer Enclosure
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Dual Electronics BP1204 12 inch High Performance Studio Enclosed Car Subwoofers
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MTX Audio Terminator Series TNE212D 1,200-Watt Dual 12-Inch Sub Enclosure
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Kenwood KSC-SW11 Compact Powered Enclosed Subwoofer for CAR
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Rockville RW10CA 10″ 800 Watt Slim Low Profile Active Powered Car Subwoofer Sub
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JBL GT-BassPro12 12-Inch (300mm) Car Audio Powered Subwoofer System
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Best Subwoofer for Car Reviews (Newest Models!)
1. Skar Audio Dual 12″ 2400W Loaded SDR Series Vented Subwoofer Enclosure
This custom-loaded subwoofer from Skar Audio packs powerful, deep and tight bass in a budget-friendly price tag. It features two 12-inch SDR series subwoofers that are wired up inside a ported enclosure whose design requires less power and provides more boom than a comparable sealed enclosure.
Skar Audio’s decision to pair the enclosure with Class D amplifier has done wonders for this subwoofer’s performance. All amps belonging to this class are extremely efficient due to their ability to turn on/off the signal that they pass to their transistors. But they are more susceptible to distortion as well.
Yet another feature of this subwoofer that impressed us was its installation. Its manufacturer has included a premium amplifier wiring kit in the package to make its setup hassle-free. That means that you won’t have to fiddle with its wires for hours to get this sub up and running.
2. Dual Electronics BP1204 12 inch High Performance Studio Enclosed Car Subwoofers
Here is another car subwoofer that is making the waves in the market. It is capable of churning out 1100 watts of peak power without any distortion. The 2.5-inch coils of this model allow it to increase its output even further in lower bass settings. You would, therefore, find its thump rattling your windows.
There is one more feature of this model that enables it to deliver a tremendous amount of bass. That is its built-in brushed aluminum injection-molded woofer cones. Their premium construction allows this sub to produce responses up from 30Hz to 200Hz with unrivaled sound quality.
Once you’re done cracking it, you’ll come face to face with the carpet inside its enclosure. Its coarse finish minimizes enclosure movement as your car travels on the road. This enables the sub to produce streamlined and uniform sound quality.
3. MTX Audio Terminator Series TNE212D 1,200-Watt Dual 12-Inch Sub Enclosure
Those of you who are after a subwoofer that won’t only sound good but also lasts longer than its competitors might appreciate this beast from MTX. It comes sealed inside an MDF enclosure and is wrapped in a tear-resistant, durable carpet. Both work in tandem to help this sub withstand abuse.
Both the speakers of this sub are 12-inches each, house a polypropylene cone and pack 1200-watt peak power. They are also protected by a rubber surround, contain a massive 48-ounce magnet and have 2-inch aluminum voice coils. Put together, they deliver super low bass.
It won’t take long once you start listening to this model before you’d notice its ‘boomy’ bass. This is an awe-inspiring feat to achieve for a sub that operates out of a sealed box unit. As there are models who use their packed construction as an excuse for their muddy bass.
4. Kenwood KSC-SW11 Compact Powered Enclosed Subwoofer for CAR
Kenwood shows with the KSC-SW11 that you don’t have to be a market-leading audio equipment brand to produce high-quality subs. You can gauge the veracity of this claim by looking at this model’s aluminum casing. Apart from looking great, it also adds to the appeal of the overall unit.
Some of you might take exception to the fact that this model’s remote control is wired. We can understand such sentiments but also like to point out the benefits of the remote. It lets you adjust the volume of the subwoofer and gives you full control over the variable low-pass crossover.
Its low-profile and compact design means that you can easily add this system under your car seat, in tight spaces or in the cargo. Also, since the entire unit is powered, there is no need for you to wire it with an external amplifier.
5. Rockville RW10CA 10″ 800 Watt Slim Low Profile Active Powered Car Subwoofer Sub
The Rockville RW10CA 10” subwoofer doesn’t let its slim profile to keep it from delivering immense bass impact. It comes with a 2-7-inch thick sub enclosure that delivers an astounding sound for the compact dimensions of this sub. And that too while saving a ton of space by fitting under your backseat.
Another worth-noting feature of this model is its immense peak power. It regularly packs out 800 watts of power along with 200 watts Peak power. Also on offer is auto turn-on technology which switches on this unit the moment you tune in the audio. There won’t be any waiting time.
Its variable low pass filter attenuates the high frequencies that lead to signal noise and keeps the low frequencies that are needed for excellent sound quality. The overload, thermal and short protection circuits keep this model safe and sound in the face of unwanted scenarios.
6. JBL GT-BassPro12 12-Inch (300mm) Car Audio Powered Subwoofer System
The amazing features and mesmerizing sound quality of the GT-BassPro12 show why users trust all JBL products to be up to the mark. It comes with a slipstream port that provides distortion-free bass by eliminating port noise. Hence the reason why you can expect signal-free sound at high output levels.
JBL has gone the extra mile in making this unit a must-have for audiophiles. The American company has done this by precisely matching the included amp with the woofer, slipstream port and enclosure. It has, therefore, ensured that you get the best performance and value out of this product.
Also on offer is a signal-sensor. It automatically turns the unit on the moment it receives an audio signal from the head unit. You might also appreciate the fact that it has onboard input level, bass boost and phase controls. All three of them make it easy for you to get the desired audio output.
What is a Subwoofer?
Subwoofers are loudspeakers that are designed to handle bass or the lower frequencies. They are crucial to the performance of your car’s audio system because most car speakers aren’t able to reproduce the low frequencies the source sends to them.
This means that without a subwoofer reproducing and cranking out bass and low-bass, you’ll miss out on most of the low frequencies. And since these frequencies are responsible for adding depth and richness to the music that we listen, their absence will make the music less pleasing to the ears.
Subwoofer for Car Buying Guide
Whether you’re investing in a car subwoofer to enjoy every bump and thump in your favorite tunes or you’re simply looking to blast your music at window-shattering levels, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself before making the purchase. Scroll down to see them.
Once you’re done answering all those questions, you’d better understand the need for features that we have listed as a must-have for a high-quality sub.
5 Considerations When Buying a Car Subwoofer
Here are some of the essential questions you need to ask yourself before you start searching for a car subwoofer:
How much power does my subwoofer system need to have?
The answer to this question depends on the sound system you’re currently using. Factory speakers or built-in dash stereos can easily blend with less powerful subwoofers. Aftermarket receivers and amplified receivers will need a subwoofer with more juice.
- If you have a factory radio: Your subwoofer needs to provide only 50 to 200 watts RMS of power to ensure adequate bass.
- If you have an aftermarket speaker: You should be looking at a subwoofer with 200 to 300 watts RMS of power.
- If you have amplified speakers: Subwoofers providing 250 to 500 watts RMS of power are a good starting point
- If your system has 100 watts RMS per channel: You shouldn’t settle for any subwoofer with less than 1,000 watts RMS of power.
What kind of enclosure should I get?
It isn’t only the sub’s inner components that affect its sound quality and volume of bass. The style of the enclosure the sub is mounted in also plays a crucial role in the richness of the bass that the subwoofer will be churning out. Here’s why we’re saying that.
To protect the bass, the enclosure’s design must ensure the separation of sound waves produced at the front of the speaker from the ones produced at the back. If the enclosure’s design is faulty, it will fail to do its job and both the sound waves will cancel each other.
Subsequently, both of them will go ‘out of phase’ and your system’s bass response will be weak, if not outright poor. That is why you need to pay attention to the style of the enclosure the subwoofer is mounted in.
With these facts in mind, let’s look at the various styles of enclosures:
These enclosures are airtight from all sides and provide deeper, precise bass and more accurate sound. However, since their driver is continuously putting pressure on the diaphragm due to its movement, they require more power for high volume.
They are louder than sealed enclosures, require less power and produce more boom. Listeners of hip-hop, rap and R&B music will find them as a better option. On the flip side, they are harder to tune and require you to use a subsonic filter on the amp to get bright tunes.
Their dual-chambered design (one chamber sealed, other ported) allows bandpass enclosures to produce extra loud sound. Audiophiles who want nothing but the maximum slam as well as listeners of hard rock, rap and reggae will find them extremely useful.
What is the material of construction of the subwoofer’s cone?
Also known as subwoofer diaphragm, the cones are critical to the overall performance of the sub. Experts tell us that the main requirements for cones are that they should be rigid, but low mass. They should also be self-damping to minimize the effects of self-resonance.
Like their counterparts used in speakers, subwoofer cones are also made of various materials, including treated paper, composites (like injection-molded quartz) or synthetics. Paper is lightweight in construction and less durable, but its responsiveness is rapid.
Synthetic cones are more rigid than paper cones and are exceptionally damped. They boast a controlled breakup and provide a smoother high-end roll-off. Remember, all these materials work great, so you need to play different genres to determine the cone that’s right for you.
What kind of subwoofer should I get?
If you intend to build a truly personalized system, you’d be better off with component subwoofers. These subs consist of only the speaker and range in size between 8’’ and 15’’. They require you to mount them in a dedicated subwoofer box or else they won’t operate properly.
Provided you are looking for a system that comes pre-mounted in a box, check out enclosed subs. They don’t require you to do much work designing your system. However, the number of speakers that they provide is limited and like the component sub, you’d have to power them with an external amp.
Lastly, if all you want is a simple, space-saving bass system, you might want to go with powered subs. These models have a built-in amplifier, don’t take much space and are a cinch to install. Having said that, they may not be the right option for you if you’re a fan of massive bass.
What is the material of the surround?
Every subwoofer has a cone that moves back and forth to produce the sound. The suspension that holds the cone in place while also letting it move freely is called the surround. The material of the surround must be durable. Otherwise, it won’t stand up to the extremes of bass.
Surrounds that are made of foam withstand massive excursion and don’t warp over time. They are also super lightweight and are often blended with other materials to improve their overall strength. Those that are made of rubber might warp over time if they aren’t mixed with other synthetic materials.
What should be the size of my subwoofer?
If space isn’t an issue and you are looking for a sub that plays extremely loud, go for the biggest model. But that isn’t to say that smaller subs are inferior. They can also churn out plenty of sound if they are mounted in the right enclosure and are correctly wired.
A List of the Most Important Car Subwoofer Features and Specs
Following are the features and specs which almost all top-rated car subwoofers possess:
- Adequate Power:
You need to make sure that the power of the system you’re looking at is equal to your amp’s RMS power. Only then you can count on the sub to be able to handle your system’s output power.
- High sensitivity:
Assuming your sub has a higher sensitivity rating, it will require less power to produce the same amount of sound as another sub with a lower sensitivity rating. That’s why you should always go for a model that has a higher sensitivity rating.
- Dual voice coil:
Subwoofers that have a dual voice coil (DVC) are incredibly flexible as far as their wiring is concerned. Their parallel wiring arrangement lets you connect multiple amps to the same output without much impedance loss. It also ensures maximum amplifier output.
- Wide frequency range:
The more comprehensive the frequency range of a subwoofer, the better will be its ability to play both lows and highs of the bass sequence. That’s why we recommend that you go for a sub with a wide frequency range.
Car Subwoofer Sizes: 10-Inch Subwoofers Vs 12-Inch Subwoofers
Although subwoofers are available in multiple sizes, the most popular sizes among the car owners are the 10-inch subs and 12-inch subs. Let’s have a brief look at both:
- 10-Inch Subwoofers
Users who want a little extra power but not at the cost of sound quality might prefer these subs. They have the ability to inject life to your music whether you frequently listen to metal, pop, jazz and even blues.
You can also count on them to draw in additional air to provide a quick response to heavy drums that are found in these types of music genres. They are also a bit punchier than 12-inch subs.
- 12-Inch Subwoofers
Those of you who have a voracious bass appetite might praise what the 12-inch subs have to offer. They are capable of generating extra bass and work excellently with a lot of frequencies.
At the same time, their relatively large size makes them less responsive, and due to this reason, 12-inch subs are best suited for low-lying music such as Rhythm and RnB.
Active vs Passive Subwoofers
Subwoofers can be categorized into two types: active and passive. An active subwoofer is one that has an internal amplifier. It is also known as a powered sub and requires only one wire connection for it to connect to your car’s receiver.
A passive subwoofer, meanwhile, must be powered by an external amplifier. The limitations of the amplifier project themselves onto that of the sub – which is why you need to select a high-quality amp to work with your passive sub if you want better sound quality.
Having got their definitions out of the way, let’s look at the differences between both:
- Design and construction: Active subwoofers have their amplifier and speaker housed in the same enclosure. That isn’t the case with passive subs. Their enclosure only has a speaker, with the amp residing outside.
- Ease of installation: Passive subwoofers are more challenging to install than active subs. That’s because apart from connecting their components with the speaker, you also have to connect an external amp to the subwoofer. This means that you’d be dealing with more wiring.
- Power consumption: Experts tell us that active subwoofers consume more power (watts) than their passive counterparts. They put a massive power load on the receiver to get the required power for their tweeter speakers and the mid-range.
- Cost: Most of us juxtapose the price tags of both subs before announcing that the passive ones cost less. That is not true. You need to purchase an extra amp with passive subs whose price, when added to the price of the sub, makes it an expensive option.
What is the Difference Between a Woofer and a Subwoofer?
A woofer is basically a loud speaker with a frequency range between 40 and 2,500 Hz. It is capable of playing both low as well as mid-range frequencies. It is ideal for use in a setup like home theater where you have a more extensive range of sounds that could fully exploit the woofer’s dynamic range.
Subwoofers, meanwhile, are meant to reproduce low-pitched sound frequencies. Their focus on the lower frequencies – between 20 and 200 Hz – allows the subwoofers to crank a constant bass for most tunes. It also allows them to make the bass of your music easier to notice.
Even though the frequencies of both of them can overlap in some cases, the application of each will be different. While the subwoofers add a more consistent and wider range when used in conjunction with tweeter and drivers, woofers provide a dynamic range alongside a home theater system.
Putting everything that we said in the previous three paragraphs in perspective, one can say that woofer is a ‘specialized speaker’ and the subwoofer is a ‘specialized woofer’. Both of them cover a narrow frequency range of the model they are specialized from.
Benefits of Using Car Subwoofers
Whether it is classical music, hip-hop, jazz or rock that you listen to, a good quality sub can make all the difference. Know why? For starters, your car’s built-in, as well as aftermarket speakers, lack the power that is required to emphasize those low-end frequencies (20Hz to 200Hz) that are a part-and-parcel of most soundtracks and make listening to music more fun.
Secondly, subwoofers improve the quality of audio by helping reduce disturbances. The end result, therefore, is audio whose quality is much better than if you had listened to it without a sub – even if you had previously listened to the track a hundred times.
How do subwoofers work?
Subwoofers are basically speakers that are designed to reproduce low-frequency sound. The last part of the previous sentence is important as it’s what differentiates subwoofers (that have a frequency range of 20 to 200 Hz) from your average speakers (that have a frequency range of 200 Hz t 20 KHz).
They are therefore designed to reproduce low-pitched audio frequencies. These frequencies are what we routinely refer to as ‘bass’ and ‘sub-bass’. Both these terms depict sounds that give a powerful audio punch to the listener, such as crashes and explosions.
Their range is so low that your average speaker or amplifier or woofer might never be able to emphasize bass and sub-bass without the aid of a subwoofer. The subwoofer, in turn, has a built-in amplifier as well as a larger woofer that allows it to churn out deeper, cleaner bass.
All subwoofers that you see on the market are made up of two sub-systems: the motor system and the suspension system. The working of both these parts needs to be understood if you really want to know how subwoofers work.
The suspension system of a subwoofer is responsible for producing the bass you hear. It is an air-moving system that moves back and forth to churn out low frequencies. Let’s take a look at its essential parts to understand the suspension system fully.
The basket performs three functions that are crucial for the optimal working of a subwoofer. It suspends the moving parts of a subwoofer in the center, has venting to allow ambient air to cool the inner parts, and has screw holes using which you can securely fix the basket to the subwoofer box.
The surround connects the basket to the cone and keeps the latter centered. That is crucial as a poorly-centered cone can place stress on the coil. This will disturb the audio output of the whole subwoofer. Another critical function that the surround performs is restoring the coil to its neutral position.
Also known as a diaphragm in technical parlance, a subwoofer’s cone creates sound by vibrating air. It is therefore extremely important to the overall sound quality of the system. The cone must be of low-mass yet extremely rigid to produce the quality of bass that listeners like to hear.
As the name implies, the dust cap is designed to prevent the ingress of dust into the voice coil. Some dust caps extend outwards in front of the surround. Others are designed in such a way that they curve inwards, like the cone.
Located at the bottom of the cone, the spider is connected with the voice coil on one end and attached to the basket on the other. Its primary purpose is to keep the coil centered and control the movement of the cone assembly. The spider is also responsible for protecting the inner coil from dust particles.
Tinsel wires deliver the signal from the voice coil to the speaker lead ports. They are far more resistant to any damage caused by bending or metal fatigue than your standard wire. Provided your subwoofer has two spiders, you can see the tinsel wires positioned between both.
The heart of the subwoofer is its motor system. It provides all the power exploiting which the components in the suspension system move and produce sound. Here are the parts that constitute the subwoofer’s motor system:
The voice coil, as the name implies, is a coil of wire connected to the speaker. It receives electric current from the amplifier, converts it into an audio signal and delivers it to the speaker. The coil moves consistently (due to the changing magnetic field of the current that it is transmitting) to vibrate the speaker’s cone and force it to produce sound.
You need to understand the concept of ‘Xmax’ to know why the magnet is crucial to the subwoofer’s performance. Xmax is the distance a voice coil can cover in one direction (in inches) without it going out of the magnetic zone. The greater the distance the coil can safely cover, the better will be the subwoofer’s sound quality. The magnetic field that moves the coil back and forth is produced by the magnet.
The metal piece on top of the magnet is known as top plate. It helps in the transmission of magnetic flux from the magnet to the voice coil. The top plate also causes the coil to move whenever an alternating current is running through it.
Its name tells you all you need to know about the positioning of the black plate. It is located beneath the subwoofer and helps in the transmission of the magnetic flux to the voice coil. That means that the back plate serves the same purpose as the top plate.
Best Subwoofer Brands
Following are the best subwoofer brands on the market:
- Rockford Fosgate:
Available in Prime, Punch and Power series, Rockford Fosgate subwoofers provide the best of both worlds. They deliver strong bass while also allowing the amplifier and speaker to work effortlessly in tandem with each other.
- JL Subwoofer:
Provided you’re looking for a subwoofer in your budget, you’ll be best served by JL Subwoofer. This US-based audio-system manufacturer has the systems that complement the user’s budget, the installation space of their vehicle and their audio-quality preference.
- Alpine Subwoofer:
As you might already know, Alpine is the industry giant when it comes to audio systems. Their subwoofers are available in multiple types (Type-X, Type-R, Type-S, SWT, W and Re-loaded). Among them, the SWR-12 DR Type R-12’’ is one of the best-selling models.
Kicker offers subwoofers for every type of user. Their CompQ and L7 subwoofers are astronomically priced and justify their price tag with their premium output. Solo-Baric L7s, CompVX and CompVT are their mid-range subs whereas CompVR, CompRT and other models of the Comp series are primary range subwoofers.
At the time of writing, MTX is producing a wide range of subwoofers. They include Thunder Series, 95, 75, 55 and 33 series, S65 series, Terminator, JackHammer and Flat Piston Shallow Mount subwoofers. The Thunder Series models are the latest of the lot.
Pioneer churns out subwoofers in six different categories including Champion Series, Champion Series Pro, Shallow Mount, Powered subwoofer, Subwoofer by size, and Enclosures & Grilles.
- Polk Audio:
Over the past 40 years, Polk Audio have produced three subwoofers’ series to satiate the appetite of their users. They have churned out Premium Subwoofers with Pro Technology, DSW Pro Series Subwoofers and PSW Pro Series Subwoofers.
FAQs and Answers
- Q: Why has my subwoofer blown out?
A: There are two reasons why your sub might have blown out. The first is that you may have over-blown it. That means that you regularly played music at a level that was above and beyond its voice coil’s limit. Eventually, it burned out.
The second reason involves the subwoofer receiving too much of a distorted signal. That hissing, gritty or crackling sound that you hear coming out from the speaker can burn out the subwoofer no matter what the volume.
- Q: How to position your subwoofer for loud bass?
A: Here are two common positions where you can mount your sub in your car:
- Facing the boot in the rear of the car: By placing your model behind the last row of seats, facing towards the boot, you’re allowing the subwoofer to offer bass that is evenly distributed across your car and is more pronounced as a result.
- Facing upwards in the trunk hatch: Looking to save some space in your boot? Then mount your sub upward. This position will allow the subwoofer to offer big bass without consuming a lot of space. It will also prevent it from rattling loose parts in your car.
- Q: Should I install my subwoofer myself or pay for professional installation
A: Most subwoofers that you see in this review are a cinch to install. They come with all the instructions you’ll ever need to mount them using a few tools, such as screws, clamps etc. However, if you have never installed an audio-equipment before, it’s probably a good idea to hire a professional.
- Q: Does the positioning of the vent (middle, top, bottom, or off to the side) affect sound quality?
A: Experts tell us that as long as the vent can freely move the air in and out of the subwoofer, it won’t have any effect on the sound quality.
- Q: Should I use mono amplifier or multi-channel amplifier to power my subwoofer?
A: To answer this question, let’s have a brief look at both the types of amps:
- Mono Amp: These amps are compatible with almost all subwoofer configurations. Their design is such that it enables them to process low frequencies with ease. Aside from that, they boast excellent efficiency and have a high power-to-heat ratio.
- Multi-channel amps: While the mono amps are designed to work with 2-ohms loads, multi-channel amplifiers are designed to run at 4 ohms. You must keep this difference in mind as it rules out the possibility of bridging multiple sub-2-ohm woofers with a multichannel amp.
Although subwoofers aren’t treated as a vital part of a car’s audio system, you should treat them as such if you want to enjoy mind-blowing music. They emphasize and reproduce the low-end frequencies whose presence in the music injects more life and vibrancy into it.
In addition to that, the best subwoofers for cars allow you to fully exploit all the plus points of your vehicle’s built-in audio system. Their components like low-pass filter and phase controls give you full control over the music you’re hearing.
That means that while most potential users view subwoofers as audio equipment that won’t do much more than rattling your windows, there’s more to this audio equipment than what meets the eye. You can go through the subwoofer for car reviews to make sure of that.