If your goal is to create the best sounding car stereo system as possible, there is one component that is absolutely crucial—the subwoofer. It doesn’t matter whether you listen to rock, rap, jazz or even classical, the addition of a good subwoofer will take the quality of your car’s audio landscape to the next level.
The problem is, how do you choose the best car subwoofers when there are literally hundreds to choose from? If a bone-shaking bass is what you are looking for, continue reading for a breakdown of our top recommendations of the best car subwoofers on the market right now.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Car Subwoofers 2017
- 2 Best 8-Inch Subwoofers
- 3 Best 10-Inch Subwoofers
- 4 Best 12-Inch Subwoofers
- 5 Best 15-Inch Subwoofers
- 6 Best Car Subwoofers 2017 Buying Guide
- 7 Benefits of having a subwoofer in your car
- 8 Factors to consider when choosing a subwoofer
- 9 Giving power to the subwoofer
Best Car Subwoofers 2017
We have researched and tested all kinds of subwoofers to get this list for you. No matter if you are looking for the best 8-Inch subwoofer or the best 15-Inch subwoofer, we got you covered. The subwoofers are not ranked in any specific order, we can almost guarantee you that you will be happy with any of these subwoofers. So without further ado, let’s take a look at the 12 best car subwoofers in this comparsion chart.
|Name||Size||RMS||Peak Power||Impedance||Sensitivity||Frequency Range|
|CT Sounds Meso D4||8"||800W||1600W||Dual 4 Ohms||82.8 dB||Not Specified|
|Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8||8"||150W||300W||2 Ohms||82 dB||38Hz-250Hz|
|Infinity Kappa 800W 8"||8"||400W||1600W||2 or 4 Ohms||89 dB||34Hz-200Hz|
|Pioneer TS-W254R||10"||250W||1100W||4 Ohms||93 dB||20Hz-220Hz|
|Kicker 43C104 Comp||10"||150W||300W||4 Ohms||86.2 dB||30Hz-500Hz|
|Skar Audio VVX-10v3||10"||600W||1200W||Dual 2 Ohms||85.2 dB||40Hz-450Hz|
|MTX Audio TN12-04||12"||200W||400W||4 Ohms||86.6 dB||24Hz-160Hz|
|Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12||12"||600W||1200W||4 Ohms||85 dB||28Hz-250Hz|
|Pioneer TS-W3003D4||12"||400W||2000W||4 Ohms||96 dB||20Hz-80Hz|
|CT Sounds Tropo D2||15"||450W||900W||Dual 2 Ohms||Not specified||Not specified|
|American Bass XFL1544||15"||1000W||2000W||4 Ohms||91.3 dB||31.5Hz-300Hz|
|Power Acoustik MOFO-154X||15"||1700W||3000W||4 Ohms||87 dB||Not specified|
Best 8-Inch Subwoofers
For those of you who prefer a more delicate, complementary bass tone (as opposed to the overwhelming, window-shattering tone that a larger speaker would provide), an 8-inch subwoofer is probably the best choice for you.
An 8-inch subwoofer will sound fantastic with every genre of music and will have the capacity to keep up with faster music without losing its clarity. They are the perfect choice for those who want more bass, but not too much where it compromises the quality of the music.
CT Sounds Meso D4
In terms of power and performance to size ratio, there are fewer subwoofers on the market that can match the Meso D4 from CT Sounds. Being an 8-inch speaker, the Meso D4 is on the smaller end of the subwoofer sizing spectrum, but the size of the sound that it creates is certainly not.
The CT Sounds D4 is a dual 4-ohm subwoofer with an incredible maximum power output of 1,600W (800W RMS), and when combined with the 2.5” voice coil that is built into its core, the power that this little beast of a speaker can produce is mind-boggling.
It’s not only the sound quality and the power to size ratio of the Meso D4 that makes it an incredibly worthy competitor for the best 8-inch car subwoofer trophy, but also its build quality. The Y35-graded ferrite magnets are triple stacked, and the outer frame is strong and sturdy, giving it the ability to produce high-powered audio frequencies without compromising or damaging the speaker.
Typically, we would follow our brief reviews with a quick mention of the downsides or “cons” of each product that we review, but honestly, we are really struggling to find anything to fault this powerhouse of a subwoofer. If you are looking for incredible bass without disrupting the overall sound quality of the music, the Meso D4 is probably the best choice for you.
Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8
Not all cars are designed with deep storage spaces capable of mounting large subwoofer boxes. The P3SD2-8 is a compact sub designed for just this kind of situation. It is part of the Punch series, which is one of the most popular ranges of car subwoofers to come out of the Rockford stable.
The shallow design is one of the main highlights of this 8-inch subwoofer. It is only 2-⅝ inches deep, which is quite unheard of for regular subwoofers. This design helps it fit into spaces which were hitherto considered unsuitable for subs. The driver has an anodized aluminum cone, surrounded by Santoprene instead of ordinary rubber. The use of aluminum makes this woofer more robust despite having to compromise on size.
The P3SD2-8 uses dual voice coils rated at 2 ohms each and has total max RMS of 150 watts, or 75 watts per coil. With peak power rated at 300 watts, this petite subwoofer may be sound underwhelming on paper. But the fact that you can this into spaces like doors where regular subs just won’t fit more than makes up for the power handicap.
The sensitivity is lower than average at 82dB, and frequency response is between 38-250Hz, which is not bad for a sub. And thanks to the dual 2 ohms setup, you can easily rig this sub up with other subwoofers in your setup. It also works well with a 4 ohms mono amp, rated up to 225 watts.
While this sub offers quite a good bass, it doesn’t really offer a performance bump over similar sized OEM subs. It is best used as an addition to cars that don’t have stock subs, and not as an upgrade on factory subs.
Infinity Kappa 800W
Recently acquired by Samsung, the Infinity brand has always had a name for coming up with innovative designs in car audio systems. If you want a compact and extremely flexible yet powerful subwoofer for your car, the Kappa series has a few promising prospects, including the Kappa 800W.
This is an 8-inch subwoofer, available without the enclosure as a component. With a peak power rating of 1600 Watts and rather conservative yet capable RMS figures of 400 watts, this sub can catch you off guard with its bass performance.
With all that power under the cone, this sub can rock with either a sealed or ported enclosure. So you have the freedom to choose, depending on how you like your bass. The sub coil has a proprietary air cooling system to keep the temps within safe levels.
The build is extremely durable, with a steel basket and glass fiber cones. With extra damping, the cones minimize the potential for distortions. The coated cones have a regular rubber surround. The frequency response is quite good especially for the lows, with a rating if 30Hz – 200Hz. Sensitivity could have been higher, as it is only 89 dB.
But the star feature is the selectable impedance. With the flick of a switch, you can choose between 2 ohms and 4 ohms for this sub. That helps avoid a lot of extra wiring complications, allowing you greater freedom for future upgrades.
The sound quality is excellent, but you will need a powerful mono amp to get the best out the Infinity Kappa. If you want a flexible, upgrade friendly sub with excellent build quality and sound, the Infinity Kappa 800W is an excellent choice.
Best 10-Inch Subwoofers
The 10-inch subwoofers are great all-rounders. They will provide you with a richer sound than the smaller 8-inches. They will not be as fast as the 8-inches but faster than the bigger ones. If you are anything like me and like to listen to all types of music, a 10-inch subwoofer is a must.
The 10-inch subwoofers are great for fast-paced music such as rap or club music. It will fill the car with a loud and rich bass sound which will raise your arm hair. That said, the 10-inches are great overall subwoofers and will generally take whatever you throw at it and do what it does best.
When it comes down to it, Pioneer is one of THE best brands in car electronics and it has not been many times that their products have been bad. The Pioneer TS-W254R is no exception. While it doesn’t look as great as the others on the specification sheet, Pioneer does not hold back on build quality and optimal performance per dollar.
Staying under the $100 mark, the Pioneer TS-W254R is a welcome addition to their lineup of subwoofers. The TS-W254R is small enough for fit in most cars and it gives the punch that you want while not shattering any glass. It has a quite low RMS of only 250W while the maximum power is 400W. This makes this subwoofer great for a budget-friendly mind (since the amplifier doesn’t have to be as powerful). And if you would not be happy, just get one more.
The rugged cone of the TS-W254R is constructed out of injection-molded polypropylene. This lends toughness to the subwoofer but without making it heavy. The stamped basket comes with a magnetic cover which will allow for greater protection.
The fact that the RMS is only 250W is the big drawback of this subwoofer. If you would buy a more powerful amplifier or if you already have one, you need to be careful to not blow it. Overall, the subwoofer is great for its price but if you can afford something a bit more powerful, it will be worth it in the long run.
Kicker 43C104 Comp
When looking for affordable, entry-level aftermarket solutions in car audio, Kicker is a very reliable choice. And if you are seeking a sub to add some much-needed bass to your stock or upgraded setup, the Kicker 43C104 is a very value for money option.
This is a large 10-inch subwoofer, sold without an enclosure. You can use either sealed or ported box with this versatile sub. It will provide excellent bass regardless of the box you choose. Affordability and reliability are the keywords here, so don’t expect a class-leading thump.
For an entry-level rig, the power figures are quite satisfactory. You get 300 watts as peak and a practical output of 150W as RMS. The build quality is pretty decent, and up to the standards, we have all come to expect from Kicker.
The cone is made from sturdy polypropylene, with a foam surround that goes for a ribbed design. Unlike the regular flat surrounds, the ribbed design keeps the cone bang on target with longer excursions. Foundation is provided by a tough as nails steel basket, and reliable double stitching completes a very durable package.
The bass levels are pretty deep, and though you will not be breaking any windows with this one, you should be more than satisfied with what it does offer. It has a high-frequency response range between 30Hz-500Hz and flat-out average sensitivity of 86.2 decibels.
The price and build quality is bang on target, and Kicker has delivered a perfect entry level sub for regular users out there. For something priced at this level, you really cannot ask for anything more from a sub.
Skar Audio VVX-10v3
Skar Audio is not a brand that everybody knows. It’s a bit sad because they definitely deserve to be at the top with the more known brands. The VVX-10v3 breaks new grounds in terms of reliability, power, and performance.
The Skar Audio VVX-10v3 has an RMS of 600W and a maximum power of 1200W. This will, without doubt, be enough for most people. The sub will hit hard and loud and will make your music so much better in any shape or form. It is using robust Y30 magnets and 2.5 dual voice coil at 2 Ohms.
The frequency range on the VVX-10v3 is 40Hz-450Hz. It would have been nice if it went down a little more but it’s enough to sound good. Another thing with the VVX-10v3 is that you should not judge it until a month after buying it. The sub takes some time to break in but after it has, it will play that heavy bass that you so much enjoy.
Overall, I feel that the Skar Audio brand deserves so much more attention than they get. Here, they have a 10-inch subwoofer that is well built, small enough to fit most cars, has a great hard, clean sound and power enough to play loud. Sure, you might have wanted to go down to 30Hz but honestly, would you notice it that much in a car?
Best 12-Inch Subwoofers
The 12-inch subwoofer is probably the most commonly purchased car subwoofer on the market right now, and for good reason. 12-inch subs will provide a deeper, richer and more resounding bass sound than the 8 and 10-inch subwoofers, and will resonate at a wider range of frequencies.
If you listen to a lot of rap, electronic or pop music, a 12-inch subwoofer will completely transform the way you listen to it. Unfortunately, the 12-inch subs won’t keep up with faster-paced music as well as the smaller subs, but it will provide a deeper, richer bass sound for those who are looking for that sort of thing.
MTX Audio TN12-04
A popular 12-inch subwoofer that packs a punch in both the sound and style departments is the MTX Terminator 12-04. Coming in at less than $100, the Terminator is an incredible value for your money and can add some serious low-end to your stereo system if you are on a budget.
However, don’t let the price fool you. The Terminator is chock-full of quality technology that gives it its superior sound. The spider plateau venting that is exclusive to MTX speakers does a great job of keeping the 1-1/2” voice coil as cool as possible, while a flat spider and an extended pole help drive the asymmetrical linear drive system to produce a smooth, consistent bass for as long as your ears can tolerate it, without distortion.
The frequency response is fairly broad (14-160hz) and the power output ranges from 100- 200 watts with a peak power output of 400. The woofer cones are made from a high-quality polypropylene material and a solid rubber surround helps to keep everything in place while making sure the sound is consistent.
Several customer reviews have stated that the sound quality of the Terminators are not as good as older MTX models, but we have yet to come across any issues with the quality of sound. For the price, these bad boys are unbelievable. If you are in the market for a 12-incher, you should seriously consider the Terminator.
Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12
One of the best 12-inch subwoofers on the market right now and one of our personal favorites is the Fosgate P3D4-12 from Rockford. With a 600W RMS and a maximum power output of 1,200W, the Fosgate P3D4-12 is a powerhouse of a subwoofer that works extremely well with all genres of music to produce a well-rounded, consistent bottom end at whatever volume your ears can handle.
The 2.5” copper clad voice coil is reinforced with a spun-laced Nomex collar, and the VAST (Vertical Attach Surround Technique) system allows for a larger surface area for the thermal anodized aluminum cone. These two features, when powered by the right amplifier can produce some of the best sounding bass in the world.
The new P3 also features a unique spider venting system that helps to keep the subwoofer cooler for longer periods of time, allowing you to pack some punch into your music without worrying about blowing your sub or damaging it in any way.
To experience the P3 at its peak potential, make sure you have a powerful amplifier to run this thing through. If you are a serious bass head and want to hear what world-class bass sounds like, the Fosgate P3 will absolutely blow your socks off (literally).
As one of the big Japanese brands in the business, you cannot go wrong with Pioneer as your choice for aftermarket upgrades in car speakers. If you are on the hunt for an affordable yet powerful 12” subwoofer, the TS W3003D4 from Pioneer has some interesting specifications.
There is nothing small or diminutive about the TS W3003D4. It is quite huge at 12 inches. And entirely appropriate for a sub this large, the power ratings are nothing if not impressive. You get a peak power output of 2000 Watts and constant output capabilities of 400 Watts RMS. And the lows are what this sub tries to excel at, with frequency response range between 20-80Hz. And it also has one of the highest sensitivity ratings at 96 decibels.
Regarding build quality, this sub screams of high quality.The TS W3003D4 belongs to the Champion range of products from Pioneer, and it does look every bit a champion.You get rigid aluminum baskets with ribbing, over a superior IMPP composite cone. The surround is made from an elastic yet durable dual layer polymer. This is a heavy-duty sub, weighing in at over 18 lbs.
This Champion sub has received near universal acclaim for its performance levels. Bass is powerful, and it hits really hard. All you need to do is pair it with a suitably powerful amp and a well-designed enclosure. If you are seeking a powerful sub on a budget, the Pioneer Champion is an excellent choice. Just remember not to push it too hard as it tends to smoke out at higher wattages.
Best 15-Inch Subwoofers
If you think clarity and richness of sound are overrated, and you want nothing more than a gut-wrenching, bone-shaking, ear-bleeding, window-smashing bass sound to completely transform your bass-heavy music into something a transformer would be proud to endorse, then look no further than a 15-inch subwoofer.
Although 15-inches aren’t really common, they are still popular among those who want the deepest, heaviest bass possible. If that sounds like something that tickles your fancy, then we would highly recommend choosing one of the following.
CT Sounds Tropo D2 15″
In the car audio market, the age-old truism still holds: you get what you pay for. And if you are budget oriented, the less known brands like CT sounds have some interesting products available at reasonable prices. The Tropo series is what we have in mind here.
The Tropo 15 inch is a subwoofer for folks who are not short on space inside their cars. This is a massive 15-inch sub, with a dual voice coil setup. The impedance is rated at 2 ohms, which makes this ideal for multi-sub setups. But its large size makes it suitable for bigger vehicles, and not compact cars.
The power ratings are pegged at 450 Watts RMS, and 900 watts peak. But it looks like they remain only on paper, and in actual performance, the subs don’t feel as if they are playing at 450 Watts. The subs have 2-inch voice coils inside, for improved power consumption and versatility.
The build quality is not too bad though, with a large Y35 Ferrite magnet at the core. It has sturdy aluminum brackets, and the basket frame is very strong and durable looking. As this is a subwoofer without an enclosure, you will need to get an appropriately sized box to house it. The Tropo will also need a mono amp rated somewhere close to 500 watts for optimum performance.
As far as actual performance is concerned, the Tropo is no world beater by any stretch of the imagination. This is a sub you buy if you want a large 15-inch option that costs under a hundred bucks. Tight bass is not a strong point of this sub. It also has some reliability issues, when played at higher power settings on the amp.
American Bass XFL1544
Keeping up with the monster subs, we have the American Bass XFL1544 competition subwoofer. It’s big, it’s powerful and it’s stupidly loud. With an RMS of 1,000W, it’s crucial that you have an amplifier that is powerful enough to allow this subwoofer to reach its full potential—and some potential it has!
Ultimately, the box that the XFL1544 is housed in and the amplifier that is powering it will have a huge impact on the end result, but in terms of specifications and features, it’s certainly world class. The dual 4-ohm voice coils (3” diameter) are surrounded by a dense memory foam and the triple stacked 220 oz. magnets are in place, giving you permission to bump this thing as loud as you can bear it without worrying about damaging the woofer.
The maximum mounting depth of 8.46” is generous enough to allow it to fit comfortably into any type of enclosure that you desire, and it’s surprisingly easy to install. Being a competition subwoofer, you do have the ability to customize the setup as much as you want, but as long as you have the sufficient power to run this thing, you are good to go.
What else is surprising with the XFL1544 is the price. There are few sub manufacturers on the market that can match American Bass when it comes to value for money. For less than $200, you can have one of the most powerful subwoofers in the world and the value of the quality of sound that will be added to your system is priceless.
If your amplifier (and your ears) can handle it, we would highly recommend checking out the XFL1544 if you want some serious brute force in your trunk. It’s ideal for heavy-hitting music as you would expect, but even on a lower power output, the incredible frequency allows you to enjoy your music in a way that you have never enjoyed it before.
Power Acoustik MOFO-154X
Last, but certainly not least is the MOFO-154X from Power Acoustik. Not only does the MOFO have the coolest name of the bunch, it also packs a mean punch. The new model of the MOFO 154X is equipped with a 1.4” dual 4-ohm voice coil and a die-cast aluminum heatsink to help keep it cool during periods of intense usage.
The paper cone is surrounded by a polyether foam, and the addition of a dust cap helps to eliminate the flexing that cones are sometimes vulnerable to during lower bass frequencies. The dust cap also doubles as a cooling mechanism for the voice coil, providing additional heat regulation.
Unfortunately, the MOFO-154x is not currently CEA certified, so it’s hard to give an exact RMS rating for this subwoofer. The maximum power rating is a massive 3,000W, but to err on the side of caution, we would recommend powering this bad boy somewhere between 800-1200 RMS.
Of course, not knowing the exact RMS rating for a subwoofer can be worrying for some people, as it’s important to make sure the amplifier’s power output can match the RMS of the subwoofer and vice versa. However, we have been running the MOFO at a maximum of 1,200W RMS and we have never had an issue with it, so don’t let the uncertainty worry you too much. Other consumers have recommended going as high as 1,500W, but we have yet to experiment with that sort of power, so we can’t comment on that.
The MOFO is indeed, a loud MOFO! If you are looking for some serious power and a subwoofer that has the frequency range to smash any kind of music you dare to throw at it, the 154X will be right up your street.
Best Car Subwoofers 2017 Buying Guide
Chances are, if you have made it this far into this article, you are still undecided about which car subwoofer you should choose. For those who are new to the world of subwoofers and need a quick crash course in purchasing car subs, we decided to put together a little “Subwoofers 101” guide to help make your decision that little bit less stressful.
Benefits of having a subwoofer in your car
Regardless of whether you like to listen to the heaviest of metal, the smoothest of jazz or even the poppiest of pop (is that even a word?), the good quality bass is an absolute necessity if you want to enjoy the music how the producer or artist intended.
Car stereo speakers tend to be small and lack the power that is required to generate the low-end frequencies that make the music feel “complete” and real. Without good bass, music has a tendency to feel flat, tinny and dull. This is where subwoofers come in.
Subwoofers are simply speakers that are dedicated to producing lower frequencies of sound. When coupled with some good-quality speakers and a powerful amplifier, the music that you know and love can evolve into something magical. It’s hard to explain the feeling you get when you finally hear your favorite music through a set of good-quality speakers. It’s something you have to experience to truly understand.
Factors to consider when choosing a subwoofer
It’s no use looking at a bunch of subwoofers if you don’t even understand what makes each one unique. To improve your understanding of subwoofers, here is a breakdown of some of the most important factors that you should be considering when making your final decision.
When looking at the power handling rating of a subwoofer, you only need to consider the RMS and not necessarily the maximum output of the particular woofer you are looking at. The RMS rating is what you can expect to run your subwoofers at consistently, without any issues. With that being said, if you want a powerful system that really explodes with bass, you will need to look into purchasing something with as high a power rating as possible.
Always check to make sure your amplifier can match up with the power handling of the subwoofer, else they may not work together.
The higher the range of sensitivity that a subwoofer has, the less power output is required to achieve the same level of sound as it would with a subwoofer with lower sensitivity. If you have a powerful amplifier and you want to achieve maximum sound and power from your subwoofer, always look for the highest sensitivity.
In simple terms, the frequency range determines how “low” a subwoofer can produce sound. The greater the range, the more suited the subwoofer will be at playing the lows and the highs of the bass sequence of the music you are listening to.
The majority of newbies to the world of subwoofers will usually opt for a single voice coil sub, as they are the easiest to set up and still offer a fantastic quality of bass sound. For those with more experience and those who want to fine-tune their entire system, a dual voice coil (DVC) subwoofer will be more suited.
Giving power to the subwoofer
Unfortunately, installing and setting up a new subwoofer is not as simple as just throwing it in your trunk, clicking the “on” button, and hitting “play” on your stereo. Powering the subwoofer takes a little bit of mechanical know-how and a little bit of time, so if you are an absolute beginner and don’t know where to start, it can be a good idea to ask for guidance from someone who knows what they are doing.
Simply put, the power cable needs to be connected to the car battery in order to provide the power for the subwoofer to work. The power cable can reach the battery through a hole in the car’s firewall and can be kept neat and tidy by running underneath the car’s carpet.
The process of powering a subwoofer isn’t difficult, but it is incredibly important. If the connection is loose in any way, there is a chance that it could produce a short circuit, causing the subwoofer to fail and stop working.
Different types of enclosures
One of the most important aspects, and often the least appreciated aspect of good quality bass sound is the type of enclosure that you house your subwoofer in. It doesn’t matter how expensive or well-reviewed a subwoofer is; if it’s not fitted correctly into an appropriate enclosure, it will never be able to spread its metaphorical wings and produce the bass that it’s capable of.
Chances are, if you are inexperienced with subwoofers, car speakers or any other form of audio technology, you will need to rely on a “ready-made” subwoofer enclosure. If you are handy and know what you are doing, it can be a great idea to build your own to your own specifications, but if you are a newbie and don’t understand what is what, you are better off purchasing one that is ready to go.
Different types of enclosures will produce different types of bass. Knowing which one is the best choice for you is crucial if you are serious about making your car audio your own. Here are the characteristics of the most common types of enclosures.
If you require an accurate and consistently tight bass sound from your subwoofer, you will need to go with a sealed enclosure. As the name suggests, a sealed enclosure is basically an air-tight box that houses your subwoofer. The bass that a sealed enclosure encourages is flatter, warmer and more precise. If you are looking for a loud, booming bass, a sealed enclosure is probably not the best choice for you. If you want warmth and richness of sound, then this is definitely your best bet.
A ported box is simply an enclosure that utilizes a small vent (or port) to produce louder, lower bass tones. In other words, you get louder, more in-your-face bass with a ported enclosure when compared to a sealed one. Ported boxes are perfect for hard-hitting music like heavy rock, metal, and fast rap. Ported enclosures are considerably larger than sealed enclosures, so keep that in mind when making your final decision.
Bandpass enclosures are very hit and miss. They don’t work well with some subwoofers, but for the ones they do work well with, they work VERY well. The reasoning behind bandpass enclosures is to squeeze every little bit of slam out of the subwoofer as possible. If you want bass that will shatter an entire row of cars windows when you pull up to the traffic lights, a bandpass enclosure is probably the right choice for you.