Car subwoofers are speakers that are dedicated to recreating low frequencies. They are the simplest method of increasing deep bass and depth whilst retaining the sound quality. Common sizes include 10 or 12 inch subwoofers with each delivering hard hitting bass. Most car audio enthusiasts stick to the bigger brands such as JL Audio but there are many cheaper alternatives that offer similar performance.
If you require a quick answer, the best car subwoofer is the 12 inch 12W7AE-3, which is built to the highest of standards and is also developed by the best in the business. The only drawback is that it does come with an expensive price tag. However, if you are on a budget, the Rockford Fosgate P300 is the best alternative.
In terms of rating the car subwoofers in this article, we based our recommendations from our experience and various factors. We have installed a whole range of subwoofers and the above photo is an example of one of our builds where we used two 12 inch JL subwoofers. The factors that were also considered included their performance, build quality, sizes available, ease of installation and value for money.
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Table of Contents
Car Subwoofer Comparison
|Car Subwoofer||Watts RMS||Watts Peak|
|JL Audio 12W7AE-3||400-1000||2,000|
|MTX Audio Terminator||400||800|
|Rockford Fosgate P300||300||600|
|Kicker C124 Series||150||300|
|JL Audio 10TW3-D4||100-400||800|
|JL Audio ACP110LG-TW1||400||600|
|Skar Audio VVX-10v3||600||1,200|
Installing a car subwoofer is relatively straight forward when you have the correct wiring kit and space to work with. Most people will place their subwoofer in the trunk but some may choose a shallow subwoofer, which can be installed under car seats.
In terms of judging the quality of car subwoofers, we recommend that you pay attention to the RMS and not peak power. This specification indicates the true power of the subwoofer.
Below is a list of the best car subwoofers that provide hard hitting bass without effecting the sound quality of the existing speakers.
The Best Car Subwoofer
1. JL Audio 12W7AE-3 12 Inch Subwoofer
For those that are serious about their in-car audio, you will know that JL Audio are one of the best subwoofer brands. Although expensive, the 12W7AE3 model is their most rated subwoofer and is designed for maximum audio performance. It’s a 12 inch subwoofer that’s made from a high quality polypropylene, which is surrounded by polyester foam. It also has a radially cross-drilled pole piece and plateau-reinforced spider attachment.
Other features of the JL Audio 12W7AE3 include:
- 400 – 1,000 watts RMS
- 2,000 watts peak power
- 86.2 dB sensitivity
- 18 – 200 Hz frequency response
- 12 inch 3 ohm subwoofer
- Top mount depth of 9 1/2 inch
The 12W7AE3 truly is the best car subwoofer you can buy on today’s market. It’s been designed for car audio enthusiasts that want to take their bass to the next level and improve sound quality without the dreaded distortion. Therefore, if budget isn’t an issue, this JL Audio car subwoofer is certainly worth the investment.
2. Orion HCCA122 12″ Subwoofer For Car
If power is what you are after, the Orion HCC is perfect because it’s the most powerful car subwoofer in this article. Obtaining a large amount of power is the easy part but maintaining sound quality and deep bass isn’t as straightforward. This is why the Orion HCCA122 is a very desirable subwoofer for cars.
It’s the brand’s new and improved model that features a copper voice coil, which increases performance and temperature control. It also has a fairly unique design as it uses a polypropylene cone woofer with a rubber tri-radius symmetrical surround.
Other features of the Orion HCCA122 include:
- 2,500 watts RMS
- 5,000 watts peak power
- 84 dB sensitivity
- 24 – 250 Hz frequency response
- 12 inch 2-ohm subwoofer
- 4 inch copper wound voice coil
Overall, the Orion HCCA122 is the best subwoofer for deep bass and is suited for “bass” enthusiasts. Many people refer to this subwoofer as a “mobile earthquake” due to the hard hitting bass. It’s a subwoofer that may be too powerful for some but exactly what is needed for many others.
It’s worth noting that if you do purchase this subwoofer, it may also require a powerful car battery to maintain the constant supply of power.Check it Out
3. MTX Audio Terminator TNE212D Dual Subwoofer
Considering the name of this car subwoofer is the “Terminator“, it’s obvious that it’s going to be a serious bit of kit. Unlike the alternatives, it uses a dual subwoofer configuration for extra hard hitting deep bass.
In terms of the design, it’s a sealed enclosure subwoofer with dual 12 inch speakers, which has a single terminal cup that can be connected to any mainstream amplifier. This means you can hook up a more powerful amplifier in case your current setup isn’t good enough.
Other features of the MTX Audio Terminator TNE212D include:
- 400 watts RMS
- 1,200 watts peak power
- 86.4 dB sensitivity
- 37 – 150 Hz frequency response
- Dual 12 inch subwoofer
- 2 inch aluminum voice coil
- 1 year warranty
Not only is it powerful but it’s also clever. This is thanks to the technology called “Spider Plateau Venting” that it uses for mechanical cooling process. This means the subwoofer can cool down via fresh air around the voice coil.
The outer boxing is also made using a 5/8 inch MDF construction with aviation grade black carpet. This gives it an expensive look and feel as well as being rugged enough to be stored within the trunk. Most subwoofer brands only use a 1/2 inch board, which isn’t as long lasting.
To conclude, if you are in the market for a dual subwoofer, the MTX Terminator is the best on the market.Check it Out
4. Rockford Fosgate P300-12 Punch Car Subwoofer
If you are looking for a compact all-in-one subwoofer package, the P300-12 is the best option. The 12 inch subwoofer is sealed enclosed and powered by a class D 300 watt amplifier, which is ready to go and provides big bass out of the box. In my opinion, the subwoofer itself looks very classy with a sloping edge to compliment the shapes of most car trunks.
Other features of the Rockford Fosgate P300-12 include:
- 300 watts RMS
- 600 watts peak power
- 35 – 150 Hz frequency response
- 12 AWG input terminals
- Remote bass level controls
- Built in bass boost equalizer
- Separate low and speaker level inputs
- Adjustable 12 dB low pass cross over
- 22 x 14 x 17.3 inch dimensions
In terms of the installation of this subwoofer, simply run power, ground and a signal from the stereo system and you will be introduced to the bass.
Overall, the Rockford Fosgate P300-12 is the best cheap 12 inch sub for the money that won’t disappoint. For complete peace of mind, the brand also provides a 1 year warranty.Check it Out
5. Kicker 12 Inch Car Subwoofer
For those looking for a hard hitting car subwoofer without having to spend a fortune, the Kicker C124 series is more than ideal. It offers the best combination of performance and value for money on the market.
Unlike many of the alternatives, the Kicker C124 subwoofer can be installed in either a vented or sealed enclosure. This is great option for those that are undecided to how they are planning to mount the subwoofer.
Other features of the Kicker 12 Inch Subwoofer include:
- 150 watts RMS
- 300 watts peak power
- 27 – 500 Hz frequency response
- 88.3 dB sensitivity
- 4 Ohm impedance
- Improved coil-cooling venting
- Stiff injected molded cone
Overall, the Kicker C124 12 inch is an excellent all-round subwoofer for car audio installations that require deep bass at an affordable cost. Kicker are a reputable brand and when you match this sub with an amplifier, you will be able to experience hard hitting bass.
6. JL Audio 10TW3-D4 Shallow Mount Subwoofer
If you require a 10 inch subwoofer from a reputable brand, JL Audio have another premium model, which is known as the 10TW3-D4 model. It’s an injected molded, micra-filled polypropylene cone with a high-roll rubber surround that looks great. As with the majority of JL Audio speakers, the polypropylene cone used will never flex under heavy bass, which is a desirable trait.
It’s a thin 10 inch sub that requires very little air space and can be installed virtually anywhere in the car from the trunk to the rear of a car seat.
Other features of the JL Audio 10TW3-D4 include:
- 100 – 400 watts RMS
- 800 watts peak power
- 82.1 dB sensitivity
- 24 – 200 Hz frequency response
- 10 inch dual 4-ohm subwoofer
- Top mount depth of 3 1/4 inch
- 1 year warranty
Overall, the JL Audio 10TW3-D4 is the best shallow mount subwoofer you can buy. Although expensive, it’s a worthwhile investment for any car audio enthusiast requiring a shallow design.Check it Out
7. Rockville RW10CA Shallow Car Subwoofer
Space can be very limited in small cars and it’s not always possible to store a car subwoofer in the trunk. The next step is to look for a subwoofer that can be stored underneath car seats or even connected to them.
The Rockville RW10CA is ideal because it’s just 12.4 x 13.4 x 2.7 inches in size, which means it isn’t too obstructive wherever it’s installed in the car. To reduce the wiring and components needed to setup this sub, it has a built-in amplifier to make it a plug-in and play subwoofer.
Other features of the Rockville RW10CA include:
- 200 watts RMS
- 800 watts peak power
- 90 dB sensitivity
- 20 – 150 Hz frequency response
- Available as a 8 or 10 inch subwoofer
- 2 Ohm impedance
- Built-in subsonic filter
Although you won’t be able to achieve deep bass like the JL Audio shallow sub alternative, you will certainly be able to save a lot of money. Overall, it’s an excellent all-round compact option that won’t disappoint and offers great value for the money.Check it Out
8. Skar Audio VVX-10v3 D2 Car 10 Inch Sub
The Skar Car Subwoofer is available in sizes that range from 8 to 15 inches but their 10 inch dual 2 Ohm model is the most popular option. The brand state that this subwoofer has been designed to produce the most accurate bass for extra depth within your car.
Unlike other subwoofers of a similar price range, the Skar Audio VVX-10v3 D2 uses much higher quality materials to produce excellent performance.
Other features of the Skar Audio VVX-10v3 D2 include:
- 600 watts RMS power
- 1,200 watts peak power
- Frequency response between 40 – 450 Hz
- Sensitivity of 85.2 dB
- 2 Ohm impedance
- High temperature copper voice coil
- Competition graded pressed paper cone
Overall, it’s a powerful 10 inch car subwoofer that’s designed to produce hard hitting bass at an affordable price. The Skar brand may not be as well known as JL Audio but they produce a variety of great subs.
9. JL Audio ACP110LG-TW1 Powered Subwoofer
The ACP110LG-TW1 by JL Audio is a powered subwoofer that uses a 400 watt class D amplifier to provide high quality and powerful bass. The amp and subwoofer are enclosed in a MDF box with V-Groove technology to ensure its protected.
Other features of the JL Audio ACP110LG-TW1 include:
- 400 watts RMS
- 600 watts peak power
- 26 – 200 Hz frequency response
- Single 10 inch TW1 Series subwoofer driver
- Vented enclosure
- 8 AWG input gauge
- 2 year warranty
Overall, it’s the best powered car subwoofer that also comes with a 2 year guarantee for peace of mind. Compared with other powered subwoofers, it provides improved RMS power handling but you will have to pay a premium for this.Check it Out
10. KICKER 10TC104 Car Subwoofer
The Kicker 10TC104 is a slim but tall 10 inch subwoofer that uses a wood enclosure for superior strength. In term of the dimensions, it’s 22.8 x 16.8 x 8.8 inches in size and it will be able to fit most locations around the car.
Other features of the Kicker 10TC104 include:
- 50 – 150 watts RMS
- 300 watts peak power
- 94 dB sensitivity
- 30 – 500 Hz frequency response
- 10 inch comp subwoofer
- 4-ohm impedance
Overall, it’s the best cheap subwoofer for bass without paying over the odds for similar powerful subwoofers. However, it doesn’t come with an amplifier, so it’s recommended to run an amplifier with a power rating of 1,000 watts and above with this particular subwoofer.Check it Out
How We Rated The Car Subwoofers
As well as installing many different types of subwoofer from multiple brands in our own cars, we also based our recommendations on a number of factors. The factors that were considered for this article included their performance, build quality, sizes available, ease of installation and value for money.
Car Subwoofer Buying Guide
The market for car subwoofers is very saturated. However, this means that every brand is competing to be the best, which results in a range of new features and competitive pricing. Deciding on the best option for your car can be difficult but this is where our comprehensive guide comes very useful.
In order to achieve quality bass, you will need to find the best rated car amplifier for your specific subwoofer. Failing to give the subwoofer the correct signals can result in poor sound quality to both the subwoofer and any car speakers.
To help you make an informed buying decision, we have produced the below guide regarding car subwoofers.
Subwoofer Box Size
The subwoofer size is dependent upon the space you have available for mounting. Some cars have plenty of space in the trunk which is the best option for custom audio installs.
Methods in which car enthusiasts are installing subwoofers into their cars is truly remarkable. Through various car shows, I have seen car audio enthusiasts removing their spare wheel compartment and installing large subwoofers.
The way in which you install your subwoofer is up to you but you will want to ensure that you take measurements before purchasing an expensive subwoofer.
Type of Enclosures
Some subwoofers will have an enclosure that’s mounted, which has a huge effect on the type of audio that will be derived from it. Generally speaking, sealed boxes will provide you with the deepest, most accurate acoustics compared with those that are ported in a bandpass enclosure. This will be able to be used to derive more volume.
If the space where you are installing the subwoofer is small, don’t try and squeeze a large 12 inch subwoofer into the space. This will compromise the performance and be hard to install correctly.
The power and sensitivity of the subwoofer work intricately with each other in order to deliver a high output. Subwoofers with a higher level of sensitivity will require less power to produce the same amount of quality sound as a subwoofer that has a lower sensitivity rate.
When looking for the most powerful subwoofer, you will want to analyze the RMS rating as opposed to the peak power ratings. The RMS rating measures the continuous power handling or output. This is a significantly more realistic measure to determine the power supply compared to peak power.
Subwoofer Speaker Size
If your ultimate goal is to create a sound system that has the ability to play your music loud and at low frequencies, then you can simply go for the largest sized subwoofer.
However, just because a subwoofer may be small, it can still make enough power to match with the larger units. Technology is making electronics smaller and more powerful but this usually costs more.
Impedance can be defined as resistance to the flow of electricity, which changes depending upon the frequency the subwoofer is generating. The majority of subwoofers have an impedance rating of 4 ohms. However, those with measurements of 2-ohm, 8-ohm, as well as dual voice coil subwoofers are becoming more popular.
The majority of car amplifiers will require certain resistance to function to the best of it’s abilities. This is because as the subwoofer moves, so does the resistance values, which means mismatching amplifiers will cause performance issues to the sound quality.
Types of Subwoofers
To make choosing a subwoofer even more tasking, there are three main types of subwoofer to choose from. Each subwoofer type has their own Pro’s and Con’s and they are as followed.
This is the subwoofer unit that’s most popular and is often referred to as a passive subwoofer. They are mounted inside the enclosure of the subwoofer for them to operate properly. They require the power from an external amplifier, and can range from 8 inches to 15 inches in size.
These types are a combination of an amplifier and subwoofer situated within the enclosure. Powered subwoofers don’t require a lot of space in your vehicle but they have limitations with regards to the amount of bass they deliver.
Vehicle Specific Subwoofers
These types of subwoofers are specifically designed in order to fit in the small spaces of a compact size cars, trucks, and SUVs.
How to Match Subwoofers and Amplifiers
To get your subwoofer working to its optimal performance, you will need an amplifier. A subwoofers impedance is measured in ohms and an amplifier will output varying power dependent upon the impedance load of the subwoofer.
To get the perfect match you need to achieve the following:
- Subwoofer OHMS that can handle the Amplifiers watts RMS
- Amplifier Watts RMS into the Subwoofers OHMS.
You will also want to ensure that the amplifier you select is capable of supplying between 75% to 150% of the subwoofer’s total rating for the system. If possible, we advise matching the brand unless you need more power that the brand doesn’t offer.
Introducing a car subwoofer with hard hitting bass can make a huge difference to your car’s in-car audio experience. Many cars lack bass and this can be fairly frustrating if you like to listen to music with deep bass. Most car owners will install either a 10 or 12 inch subwoofer to their car but the placement differs depending on the space available.
Our car subwoofer recommendations cover everything from maximum power output, shallow mount and powered subwoofers. Therefore you should be able to find the best car subwoofer that fits your requirements.