Best Car Subwoofer
Subwoofers are specially-designed speakers built to handle extra-low frequencies that make up the ’bass' in music. While not strictly necessary for basic bass reproduction, a good subwoofer goes a long way towards adding that extra low-end punch which is lacking in most factory audio systems.
Subwoofers are normally installed in 'sealed' or 'ported' enclosures, with each enclosure type offering distinctive playback characteristics. Sealed enclosures generally deliver tight, accurate bass hits while ported enclosures specialize in loudness and low frequency response. If you’d like to learn more about the different considerations that go into picking a new car subwoofer, check out our buyer’s guide below.
Best Car Subwoofer Overall:
A good all-around subwoofer needs to be able to produce accurate bass without needing tons of power from an expensive amplifier. The following five subwoofers deliver excellent performance while keeping prices in check, making them a great option for anyone looking for more bass.
JL Audio's midrange 12W3v3-4 is one of the best subwoofers available for everyday use. This subwoofer offers fantastic sound quality paired with excellent bass output - the best of both worlds. The 12W3v3-4 can be used in sealed or ported enclosures, in conjunction with an amplifier that can put out up to 500 watts RMS. Read Full Review
Rockford Fosgate's top-performing Punch subwoofer is a great balance between performance and price. While this certainly isn't the loudest subwoofer out there, the P3D4-12 can vibrate mirrors and panels without distorting or sounding 'boomy'. At a rated 600W RMS of power handling, this is a power-hungry subwoofer that requires a high-output amplifier. Read Full Review
Alpine's Type-R subwoofers already have a reputation for delivering excellent performance even at high volumes, a reputation which the SWR-12D2 lives up to. Able to take up to 1000 watts RMS, this subwoofer offers lots of bass output. Read Full Review
Focal's entry-level Access 30 A1 DB performs on par with high-end offerings from other brands, proving that the company produces nothing but the best when it comes to audio. This subwoofer offers power handling ranging from 50-250 watts RMS, and the sturdy cone provides outstanding bass output all-around. Read Full Review
Pioneer's TS-W3002D2 combines heavy-duty performance, flexibility with installations, and a relatively affordable price tag to bring everything together. While it may not compete with high-end competition subwoofers, the TS-W3002D2 provides plenty of usable performance that justifies its reasonable price tag. Read Full Review
Best High End Car Subwoofer:
High-end subwoofers can be divided into two general types - those that are designed for competition-grade output, and those that are optimized for sound quality. Either way, these subwoofers can put out enough bass to tickle your nose hairs and cause eventual hearing loss. The following picks were chosen for their extremely hard hitting bass and high-quality sound, which is usually accompanied by a high price tag.
Many enthusiasts turn to the JL Audio W7 series when looking for maximum performance in a relatively reasonable package. This competition-grade subwoofer is capable of delivering copious amounts of bass, thanks to its cone surface area and eye-opening excursion levels. The 12W7AE can handle up to 1000 watts RMS, so a powerful amplifier is a must. Read Full Review
The sheer size of the Rockford Fosgate Power T2D412 suggests incredible performance, and this subwoofer doesn't disappoint. The oversized magnet, dual 4-ohm voice coils, and 1200 watt RMS power handling contribute to outstanding bass output, whether used in a sealed or ported box. Read Full Review
It should come as no surprise to see JL Audio appear more than once on a list of top subwoofers. The 12-inch 12W6v3-D4 handles up to 600 watts, requiring a powerful amplifier just as any higher-powered subwoofer would. Bass is deep and clear, with plenty of punch. Even given the high performance, this subwoofer provides substantial savings over its bigger sibling on this list, the 12W7AE-3. Read Full Review
If you're looking for pounding bass, Kicker's Solo-Baric L7 can easily deliver. Though still pricey, this subwoofer is relatively affordable compared to the other picks on this list. While bass output is deep and powerful, the amount of sound detail depends on how you choose to set it up. Read Full Review
At a price that is quite budget-friendly compared to what you'd expect in a top-performing subwoofer, the Pioneer TS0W3002D4 uses its 1,000 watts RMS of power to put out substantial bass. As to be expected, a high-powered amplifier is required to run this subwoofer. Read Full Review
Best Budget Car Subwoofer:
Even when shopping on a smaller budget, it's important to not sacrifice quality for a lower price. The subwoofers identified here offer excellent performance for the price, with sturdy build quality that should provide years of enjoyment.
The JL Audio 12W0v3-4 combines accurate bass response and punch at a price that can't be beat. Though slim designs such as this one aren't always the most confidence-inspiring, the 12W0v3-4 delivers performance that can compete with subwoofers costing much more. Read Full Review
If you're looking to add extra punch to your sound system without knocking out your bank account, the Rockford Fosgate Punch P1S4-12 delivers extra bass at a very reasonable price. Though the Kevlar reinforced paper cone means that this subwoofer will have a tendency to distort at higher volumes, for casual listening, this budget-friendly choice offers plenty of bass. Read Full Review
Alpine is already a go-to brand when it comes to car audio products, and the SWS-12D4 is a good example of why the company enjoys its reputation. This subwoofer shares its technology with higher-end models, and offers bass output that belies its price tag. Read Full Review
Kenwood's KFC-W3013PS delivers top-notch performance at a price that simply cannot be argued with. This subwoofer can handle up to 400 watts RMS, and the design of the cone and surround permit longer-than-average cone excursion for added bass punch. Read Full Review
Polk Audio offers its Mobile Monitor series for budget-minded enthusiasts looking for higher quality, and the MM1240 does not disappoint. While the pricing may stretch the definition of "budget", the marine use certification and substantial power handling can explain the higher price tag compared to the rest. Read Full Review
Car Subwoofer Buyer's Guide
Whether in a vehicle or otherwise, subwoofers are dedicated to handling low frequencies. This leaves the rest to the other speakers, allowing each component to handle what it is best at. Regardless of the type of music you like or the volumes at which you listen to it, a good subwoofer can improve the sound quality and overall listening experience. We’ve put together this car subwoofer buyer’s guide to help clarify the process of choosing the right one for your needs.
A component subwoofer is the speaker itself. This needs to be mounted inside of an enclosure in order to perform properly as well receiving power from an external amplifier. Component subwoofers can range in size, typically from 8-15 inches. They have a wide variety to choose from when it comes to size, impedance, voice coils, and box installation options. If you’re building a custom system, this is the best choice.
This is a subwoofer that already comes in an enclosure, but still requires an external amplifier for power. Although this limits you when it comes to the number of speaker and box type choices you’ll have, it makes the process just that bit simpler for those who aren’t concerned with building a custom setup.
A powered subwoofer is essentially a subwoofer kit that comes with everything you need. This is when you purchase a subwoofer that comes in an enclosure with a built-in amplifier. These subwoofers tend to take up very little space in your car, but offer no real options for customization, and won’t always produce the best bass output possible.
These subwoofers are designed to fit in certain vehicle models, with the idea in mind of saving as much space as possible. They are often designed to fit in a vehicle-specific unused space, allowing them to be installed without intruding much into the interior room. These aren’t always the best choice when you’re looking for the best performance, but it varies from model to model.
Subwoofers require an enclosure in order to move air effectively. An enclosure or “box” allows for air pressure to build, creating stronger sound output. There are two main types of enclosures, sealed and ported. Sealed enclosures tend to deliver more precise and accurate bass while ported enclosures are especially good for high volume performance.
The power of a subwoofer is rated in RMS wattage which measures the amount of power the subwoofer can take before risking damage. The idea is to make sure that the RMS wattage rating of the subwoofer and the RMS wattage of your amplifier (measured in terms of how much power the amp can produce) match each other as closely as possible.
For example, if your subwoofer has a rating of 200 watts, your ideal amplifier would have a power output rating of 200 watts. This ensures the safety and longevity of all of your components.
Measured in ohms, impedance refers to the resistance of a circuit to the flow of electricity. Most subwoofers are rated at 4 ohms, but 2-ohm, 8-ohm, and others are becoming more popular. Without needing to understand electrical concepts, just keep in mind that like with the power rating, you want the subwoofer and the amplifier to match as closely as possible.
Voice coils are what make the subwoofer diaphragm actually move, moving air and creating sound. Subwoofers typically have a single voice coil, but dual voice coil subwoofers are increasing in popularity amongst those seeking wiring flexibility for their custom systems.
Measured in Hz, frequency range tells you what sort of sounds a subwoofer is capable of producing. The most important number to look at is the low end; the lower the number is, the more the subwoofer can do deep bass.
While most people focus primarily on the size of the subwoofer, it is not the most important factor to consider. However, after considering the type of subwoofer, the enclosure, and the power that you want, size does come into the picture.
When you have the space, bigger is usually better; however, a correctly-installed small subwoofer can add a tremendous performance upgrade. It’s usually much better to stick with a higher quality subwoofer that is smaller, as opposed to getting the largest you can afford/fit into your vehicle.