The 7 Best Car Subwoofers

Updated November 13, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

7 Best Car Subwoofers
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 44 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Whether you find your car's stock sound system lacking that punch you hear from more customized vehicles, or you've already added a personal touch to your layout and you want to upgrade your low-end, our comprehensive selection of car subwoofers will help you find the perfect gear. They all come in prebuilt enclosures, so installation is a relative breeze. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best car subwoofer on Amazon.

7. Pioneer TSSWX2502 Shallow-Mount

The Pioneer TSSWX2502 Shallow-Mount lacks some of the raw, rough power of many of the larger, louder options, but it does produce a clear, even bass the refined audiophile will appreciate. Add it to your upscale European sedan's sound system.
  • injection-molded resin cone
  • scratch resistant enclosure
  • some units develop a rattle
Brand Pioneer
Model TSSWX2502
Weight 19.5 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

6. Dual Electronics BP1204 Illumination Bandpass

The Dual Electronics BP1204 Illumination Bandpass sounds every bit as good as it looks, and thanks to a chamber illuminated with blue LEDs and covered with clear Plexiglas, this little monster looks pretty great. It cranks out up to 1,100 watts.
  • computer-tuned acoustics
  • nailed and glued mdf construction
  • full volume can damage it
Brand Dual Electronics
Model BP1204
Weight 60 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. MTX Audio Terminator Series Dual 12-Inch

The MTX Audio Terminator Series Dual 12-Inch comes in a solid enclosure constructed of sturdy and durable 5/8-inch MDF board that has been covered with an aviation-grade black carpet. In other words, it's housing is liable to last for years.
  • box is well-vented
  • combined 400-watt output
  • cones are exposed
Brand MTX
Model TNE212D
Weight 48.2 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

4. Bazooka BTA6100 BT Series 6-Inch

While many speakers aimed at the low end suffer from the presence of higher frequencies muddled into the bottom mix, the Bazooka BTA6100 BT Series 6-Inch features a built-in crossover designed to remove those tones from the mix before they hit your cones.
  • dual voice coils
  • very easy to install
  • occasional feedback issues
Brand Bazooka
Model BTA6100
Weight 12.2 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

3. JL Audio CP208LG W3v3 Dual 8-Inch

The JL Audio CP208LG W3v3 Dual 8-Inch is a high-quality enclosed system with dual 8-inch speakers sharing an impressive peak output of 1,000 watts. Their 2-ohm final impedance is a great example of their excellent fidelity.
  • outer black carpeting
  • chamber-coupled box
  • weighs under 20 lbs
Brand JL Audio
Model 0699440932950
Weight 37.6 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. JBL GT-BassPro12 12-Inch

If you want to access those lower tones without necessarily shattering the back glass in your vehicle, the 150-watt output of the JBL GT-BassPro12 12-Inch can give you just that. Their die-cast aluminum basket keeps unwanted vibrations to a minimum.
  • any audio signal starts it up
  • low-pass and phase controls
  • protection bars guard the cone
Brand JBL GT-BassPro12 12-Inc
Model pending
Weight pending
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. Rockford Fosgate P3-2X12

Housed in an enclosure constructed from 5/8-inch medium-density fiberboard, the Rockford Fosgate P3-2X12 is built for transit. The unit's proprietary high-flow, low-noise ports provide a clean and satisfying bottom end experience.
  • binding posts are high-current
  • 1-year warranty
  • articulate in each register
Brand Rockford Fosgate
Model P3-2X12
Weight 89.3 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

Bringing Up Bass

Many of us can acknowledge the social impact an automobile has on different societies. For some, a car is a mode of transportation that makes traversing long distances easier and faster than traveling on foot. For others, the vehicle defines social status. It is a customizable machine used to impress friends and loved ones. Accessories that personalize the driving experience make all the difference when it comes to how a car owner perceives himself. Using music as an example, the quintessential college student is unlikely to use his car's built-in stereo system to listen to Beethoven's Fifth Symphony on campus. He's more likely to trick out his ride with a fancy subwoofer in the trunk to blast that rich-sounding bass. Doing so will immerse him in a world of audio pleasure that attracts much-wanted attention from bystanders and passengers with similar tastes in music. There are plenty of drivers like our college student who desire such a device to suit their musical tastes.

Also referred to as a complete or specialized loudspeaker, a subwoofer is dedicated to the reproduction of low-pitched bass audio frequencies. This reproduction of sound is accomplished through the movement of air back and forth to create displacement. The subwoofer is usually housed inside a speaker enclosure made from wood or MDF materials. The enclosure is a specially-engineered cabinet designed to hold the subwoofer's speaker unit and amplifier. It is responsible for improving the clarity of sound, while reducing the effects of distortion. A speaker enclosure is often equipped with fiberglass insulation to help increase perceived volume levels.

Two basic types of subwoofers include passive and powered devices. As the most basic, the passive subwoofer consists of a loudspeaker and enclosure connected to an external amplifier. It is small, with less of a dramatic bass effect than its powered counterpart. Setting the powered subwoofer apart is the integration of its amplifier within the speaker enclosure itself, saving the driver precious interior car space. The powered subwoofer is also more adept at replicating rich bass sounds at higher volumes than the passive variety.

So why would someone want or need such a high level of amplification for blasting their music inside a car? Because a car's speakers are typically on the smaller side, they need a boost in order to produce the desired level of depth and omnidirectional resonance most audiophiles crave. Furthermore, the subwoofer doesn't just amplify the bass. It also takes the burden of doing so away from the vehicle's factory speakers, which would otherwise be forced to bear the load of all the low-pitched sound with a risk of damage or blow out. While a subwoofer produces audible sound from all directions inside the car, bass frequencies are non-directional. This means that regardless of where the subwoofer is placed (e.g. in the trunk), its bass effect doesn't resonate from just its source location. Instead, the effects are heard from all around the driver and his passengers.

Practical Considerations Are Music To One's Ears

For many car owners, space is definitely an issue when installing a vehicular subwoofer. That said, the more components that can be combined into a single enclosure, the simpler your installation becomes. A powered subwoofer is a great way to go in this regard, since the unit's amplifier is already built into the enclosure. The enclosure should also be of high-quality MDF or some other sturdy material that can withstand constant vibrations.

Power ratings, what they mean, and how they differ are all extremely important to keep in mind when shopping around for the right subwoofer for your vehicle. The goal is to match up an amplifier's power with that of your car's speakers. RMS power is the most useful rating to consider when shopping, as it provides a realistic measurement of continuous power output from your equipment.

One must also consider a subwoofer's level of sensitivity before making a decision. A subwoofer with a high sensitivity rating typically requires less power to deliver greater sound output. Every watt that is used within a subwoofer also generates a certain of amount of heat. A high sensitivity rating means that less power is consumed, while less heat is being generated to potentially damage your equipment. Finally, if you're looking for superior flexibility for your subwoofer's wiring setup, then consider a unit with dual voice coils.

A Briefy History Of Car Subwoofers

One of the very first subwoofer patents was filed as early as 1964 by California resident Raymon Dones. Originally marketed under the name Octavium, the purpose for this patent was to provide a portable enclosure capable of reproducing low-frequency sound. The idea was to produce a completely immersive experience with audio resonance from all directions. The Octavium was popular through the mid-1970s and was even used by well-known artists that included the Grateful Dead, among others.

The first use of subwoofer technology for an audio recording session occurred in 1973, followed by its introduction to the world of film one year later with the release of the movie Earthquake in Sensurround.

The 1980s saw the dawn of more customized car stereo systems, including elaborate speaker and subwoofer setups with multiple configurations. The evolution from tape-based audio systems to the CD technology of the 1990s provided additional incentives for car owners to upgrade their vehicular audio setups. Doing so allowed such systems to accommodate high-quality music with low-frequency resonance and less interference from hissing and other anomalies. Today's subwoofers maximize sound performance, they are dedicated to audio precision, and they seek to immerse the driver and his passengers with unfiltered resonance that transcends many traditional vehicular speaker systems.

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Last updated on November 13, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.

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