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|
|Infinity Reference 860w||8"||250W||1000W||4 Ohms||91 dB||30Hz-400Hz|
|Kicker 10C84||8"||100W||200W||4 Ohms||85.6 dB||30Hz-500Hz|
|Pioneer TS-W254R||10"||250W||1100W||4 Ohms||93 dB||20Hz-220Hz|
|Kicker CVR104||10"||400W||800W||4 Ohms||83.6 dB||25Hz-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|
|Alpine SWR-12D4||12"||1000W||3000W||4 Ohms||84.9 dB||24Hz-200Hz|
|PCT Sounds Meso 15-Inch||15"||1500W||3000W||1 Ohm||88 dB||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.
Infinity Reference 860W
If you are looking for guaranteed quality, then you don’t have to look any further than the Infinity Reference series. Infinity Reference speakers have been among some of the best-selling car speakers for several years thanks to their superior sound quality at an affordable price range.
The Infinity Reference 860W subwoofer is no exception to the rule. In terms of bass quality, you will be hard-pressed to find a subwoofer that is as dynamic and precise than this one at a similar price range. While the maximum power output (1,000W) is not as high as the Meso D4, it’s still powerful enough to produce the warm-sounding bass that you come to expect from Infinity.
With a frequency range of 30-400hz, the Infinity Reference 860W is perfect for every genre of music imaginable, and the polypropylene cones and rubber-roll surrounds do a fantastic job of propelling the sound throughout your car without any buzz or other unwanted sounds that are common with lower quality subwoofers.
The generous mounting depth of 5-3/16” is ideal for almost any sub enclosures and mounting the subwoofer is quick and effortless.
While the Infinity Reference 860W certainly ticks all of the boxes, it does have a hard time staying consistent at the higher end of the frequency range. For most people, the difference would be inaudible and difficult to identify, but for the serious audiophiles out there, this could be a slight annoyance. With that being said, for the majority of music, the Infinity Reference 860W is a beast of a subwoofer that will completely surpass all your expectations.
The Kicker 10C84 prides itself on being the best value 8-inch subwoofer on the market. Do we agree? Yes and No!
In terms of pure sound quality, nothing can beat the Meso D4 in our opinion, but at almost half of the asking price of the Meso D4, the Kicker 10C84 is definitely the best bang for your buck at this price range. If you are in the market for a subwoofer that is under $100 but still delivers superb sound quality, the Kicker 10C84 is the one we would recommend.
The value of this subwoofer has got to be in the build quality. The injection-molded cone and high-temperature coil wire are masterfully built within the 360° back-bracing component, all stitched together by a strong double stitching that not only provides stability to the speaker, but also a cool design element.
The only problem that we have heard of from other owners is the fact that the rubber seal has a tendency to become loose after a prolonged period of heavy usage. We haven’t experienced anything like that yet, but it’s still worth mentioning. With that being said, the Kicker 10C84 is still an incredible subwoofer. If you need a sub that is strong, loud and produces a warm, distinct bass on whatever genre you are listening to, give the Kicker a try and you will be as pleasantly surprised as we were.
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.
Just as its little brother, the Kicker CVR104’s build quality is great. To sound a bit repetitive, the CVR104 is built the same way as the 10C84, with an injection-molded cone and with 360° back-bracing. It will make the subwoofer strong and it will also help with the elimination of distortion.
Let’s talk about how it sounds. Let’s say that you will not win any bass-battles with the CVR104 but on the other hand, it wasn’t built for that either. It gives a smooth bass experience to your music but boom enough when it counts. You will most likely find that this subwoofer will complement the rest of your car system really well.
The RMS on the Kicker CVR104 is 400W. While that is not the highest we’ve ever seen, it’s more than enough for most people. If you talk to owners of this model, they often use amplifiers that don’t go higher than 250W-300W RMS. It has a sensitivity level of 83.6 dB which is in the lower spectrum compared to other 10-inch subwoofers but that will not usually matter to most people. However, where the CVR104 beat many other subs is in the frequency range which is 25 Hz – 500 Hz. Impressive.
Some owners have been able to cook the CVR104 within a two-year period. It’s not something we can try (ask us in two years) but it’s not something we will put so much weight on right now. A few of the owners did even say themselves that they pushed the subwoofer to hard. Well, that happens if you do take care of your stuff.
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).
If you are looking for an absolute powerhouse of a subwoofer to completely blow away your expectations of what good bass sounds like, the Alpine SWR-12D4 is definitely the best choice for you. This Type-R, 5th generation subwoofer has a maximum power rating of 3,000W and an RMS of between 250-1,000W. If your amplifier can live up to the challenge, get ready for an absolute jaw-dropping experience. Your music will never sound the same again (in a good way).
A subwoofer with this much power is obviously going to be more appealing to those who are experienced with car audio technology, and since the SWR-12D4 is equipped with dual 4-ohm voice coils, it does require a certain level of understanding of how to correctly wire up and customize a stereo system.
With a top-mount depth of 6-3/8”, this 12-inch subwoofer is ideal for both sealed and ported enclosures. The volumes for each type of box is 0.75-1.00 cu. ft. and 1.25-1.50 cu. ft., respectively.
The only issue that we discovered with the SWR-12D4 is the fact that the mounting depth isn’t as generous as it could be. This is a powerful subwoofer and it does have a tendency to run hot if your system is not running absolutely spot on, so we would recommend adding a couple of extra millimeters to allow for breathing/venting room.
Overall, the Alpine SWR-12D4 is a beast of a subwoofer that we would highly recommend to audio enthusiasts who want a subwoofer that can propel some serious lows into your sound system. The price is reasonable for a sub of this caliber, so snatch one up while you still can.
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 Meso 15-Inch
It’s time for the big boys to take the stage now, and what better way to start our list of the best 15-inch car subwoofers than with another CT Sounds sub. Possibly the best subwoofer on the market right now (in our humble opinion), the Meso 15-inch is not for the faint hearted.
Being a 15-inch subwoofer, you can expect a serious amount of power to be generated by this thing. The huge 3” 1-ohm dual voice coils help to support the insane RMS of 1,500W and the maximum power capacity of 3,000W. The Meso 15-inch also utilizes the same magnets as the rest of the Meso series which are the Y35-graded triple stacked ferrites—probably the best magnets in the world.
The subwoofer itself is incredibly strong and sturdy as the rest of the Meso subwoofers are. The arms are rigid, strong and are built to support your subwoofer when it’s pumping out 1,500W of pure power. The sub can be comfortably mounted to a depth of 8.4”, and the volumes for both a sealed and ported box are 2.0-2.5 ft. (sealed) and 3.0-1.50 ft. (ported).
There aren’t any downsides to the Meso 15-inch that we have come across so far, asides from the fact that it’s extremely heavy (almost 60 lbs.). If the sheer size and weight of this beast of a subwoofer aren’t enough to put you off, we would highly recommend that you pick one of these up and experience it for yourself.
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.
Last update on 2017-10-20 at 06:48 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API