A killer sound system makes any drive more enjoyable, whether it’s your daily commute or a road trip, and the heart of every powerful sound system is the bass. Low frequencies are the lifeblood of audio – for immersive sound you have to pump it up!
But not all vehicles have space for a tower of speakers and subwoofers that turn your car’s audio system into a concert hall. How do you pair a big sound with a smaller vehicle?
Big trucks and SUVs usually show off 15-inch or even 18-inch subwoofers. These massive systems give you all the bass you could dream of at ear drum-bursting volumes, but say goodbye to your trunk space. Can you still install a powerful sound system in a compact vehicle?
If you have limited space in your car but want your music to make a statement, then look for the best 8-inch subwoofers. These subwoofers are small enough to fit in a compact car or hatchback while making your sound system seem worthy of a luxury vehicle.
These kits use smaller amps – often built into the system itself – so you get a powered, high quality sound, while the subwoofer is small enough to install under your seat. You could even put them in the center console or in the trunk where the spare tire fits – tucked away and forgotten about, until you crank the bass, that is.
Installing the best 8-inch subwoofers will power up your factory speaker system, so your music comes to life. They’re compatible with your OEM (original equipment manufacturer) speakers, so it’s an easy upgrade to your factory sound system – but you could always add aftermarket speakers to really turn it up a notch.
There are a lot of options on the market, so check out this round-up of the best 8-inch subwoofers. We’ll get the bass pumping.
Best 8-Inch Subwoofers in 2023
There are a lot of options on the market, so check out this round-up of the best 8 inch subwoofers.
1. Rockville RW8CA – Best For Peak Power Output
The Rockville RW8CA subwoofer has a slim design, so it fits out of the way and maximizes space in your vehicle. But it also produces powerful sound, so you don’t have to worry about compromising quality for size.
This Rockville RW8CA is less than three inches thick, so it’s no problem to slide under your seats or slip into the center console. Anywhere with a few inches of space and you can install this low profile model.
Rockville RW8CA’s an active subwoofer (also known as a powered subwoofer) meaning there’s a built-in amplifier, designed to the optimal specifications. This powers your subwoofer perfectly, and saves on further space and hassle for installation.
Rockville RW8CA also has technology that automatically picks up when the music is on and adjusts the input accordingly. But everything isn’t automatic—you can adjust each control to your liking, so you’re hearing your music just the way you want it. The panel with all the controls is conveniently located on the side of the subwoofer. When you install it ensure this particular area will be easy to reach, so you can customize the output.
The Rockville RW8CA has a super high sensitivity of 100 dB, which means it plays music at a high volume without draining too much power, and the subsonic filter also increases the sound quality by eliminating frequencies your ear can’t hear anyway.
If the bass is something you can hear and want more of, you’ll love the bass boost option Rockville RW8CA features. You’ll hear clean bass with no fuzz or distortion.
RW8CA from Rockville has a handy 150 watts of RMS (root mean squared) power, and its max performance is 600 watts. That’s an incredible feat for such a compact subwoofer. Better yet, it’s CEA2006 compliant. CEA2006 rates output power and signal-to-noise ratio, which mean the most in terms of sound quality.
2. Alpine Electronics PWE-S8 – Best For Great Sound At Modest Volumes
Alpine PWE-S8 is slim, coming in at about three inches deep, makes it ideal to install under or behind seats for easy access. However, you can also install it in the trunk or hatchback to keep it out of the way.
Alpine PWE-S8’s an active subwoofer with an in-built 120 watt amplifier, and the subwoofer itself uses 150 watts continuously, while the peak power is just 300 watts. This makes it a quieter option compared to other compact subwoofers, but the bass is exceptionally high quality and performs beautifully at modest volumes. And sometimes, bigger doesn’t mean better. This high-quality, moderate output Alpine Alpine PWE-S8 subwoofer could be a good option if you’re traveling to Florida any time soon and don’t want to fall foul of the law!
When you try to crank up the Alpine PWE-S8, you’ll most likely hear some distortion. It also has a sensitivity of 84.8 dB, which isn’t terrible but isn’t as good as others on this list – it runs less efficiently at higher volumes.
However, if you just want a subwoofer to bring your music to life and make it sound amazing on your drives, Alpine PWE-S8 subwoofer does the job. It produces a crisp, clean sound when you use it within its limits.
The durable case on this Alpine PWE-S8 8″ subwoofer is cast aluminum. That lets you know the Alpine PWE-S8 will last for years. Better yet, you can install it in open-top Jeeps or drive with the windows down and not worry about damage to the unit.
The side panel has all the controls, so you can access them regardless of where you install the Alpine PWE-S8 subwoofer. You can customize the sound directly on the panel or by using the wired remote, a particularly handy feature if you squeeze this sub in a hard-to-reach location.
3. Sound Storm LOPRO8 – Best On A Budget
Sound Storm LOPRO8 is a compact, active subwoofer with an in-built amp: saving space and simplifying installation. The sub is powered at an impressive 400 watts continuously and 600 watts max, with the amp tailored to these requirements.
With the variable bass boost, you can choose to make your music thump up to an additional 12 decibels. If your next song isn’t bass-heavy, you can use the remote control to easily adjust your controls to make each track sound its best. Though wired, the remote control adds some convenience since you won’t have to access the control panel itself.
You don’t have to choose custom controls for your music; the Sound Storm LOPRO8 has basic high- and low-level outputs. High-level produces a deeper sound, while low-level isn’t as great of quality. Still, it’s worth trying if you’re listening to songs at a reasonable volume on your commute, and you want to save a few bucks.
The Sound Storm LOPRO8 is easy to mount because it’s low profile and only needs to plug in to play music. Since it’s so compact, you can put it under your seats with room to spare. As always, you can still install these smaller models in the trunk if you want. Installation location doesn’t affect the sound quality at all, so you have all the options available.
Sometimes listening for too long can overheat Sound Storm LOPRO8, or the wiring might cause it to get warm since it’s under a seat, so in compact models installed under a seat, you want to look for short protection – Sound Storm LOPRO8 has it. This feature makes Sound Storm LOPRO8 turn off if it’s getting overheated.
4. KICKER 11HS8 – Best For Easy Installation
Kicker is a brand known for powerful sound, and its KICKER 11HS8 8-inch subwoofer is no different. You’ll be amazing at the pounding bass that comes from this compact unit.
There’s 150 watts of continuous power available – it won’t break any records, but KICKER 11HS8 know how to optimize design so you feel every watt in the thumping bass. The KICKER 11HS8 subwoofer is an all-in-one active subwoofer, which means you don’t need an external amp to get the best sound.
The aluminum case makes KICKER 11HS8 a sturdy choice. Even though KICKER 11HS8’s so compact that you’ll most likely install it out of the way, you want something durable. You can put KICKER 11HS8 behind or under seats or in the trunk and can rest easy, knowing that the aluminum case will keep the technology inside safe.
All the custom controls are on the side of the KICKER 11HS8 subwoofer, so you can access them after installation, and there’s a remote bass control button so you can pump up the bass from song to song without having to stop and access the unit itself.
And the best thing about KICKER 11HS8? Everything you need for installation is in the box, including the wiring, so you can plug it in and start playing your music. For the installation itself, you can drill into the car’s body or use Velcro straps if you don’t want to mess with the chassis.
5. JBL BassPro SL – Best For Sound Quality
The JBL BassPro SL 8-Inch has a low profile and is compact, so you can install it anywhere without compromising for high-quality sound.
JBL BassPro SL has squeezed 125 watts of continuous (RMS) power and 250 watts of peak power into the little sub. With limited power, you can’t crank the volume as high with JBL BassPro SL but it’s an efficiently-designed sub that’s focused on quality over volume.
JBL BassPro SL’s casing is ABS plastic, which is the most durable plastic you can use for this type of tech. It has a high melting temperature, so you don’t have to worry about prolonged use of this subwoofer presenting a fire hazard.
This JBL BassPro SL 8″ subwoofer is great to highlight your existing speaker system. It pulls out the rich notes in any song and makes the music sound great. But if you’re looking for thumping bass, this isn’t the subwoofer for you. JBL BassPro SL aims more for louder, clearer sound instead of the deep frequencies.
6. Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 – For Customizing Your Build
The Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 is compact, making it perfect for small cars and hatchbacks. It looks simple but cool, so you won’t mind if it shows when you install it.
Unlike most of the 8-inchers on the list, Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 is a passive sub. If your factory amplifier is appropriately powered, you can wire Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 straight into the stereo for an instant upgrade, but for optimized sound you’ll need an aftermarket amplifier to install it.
There’s no enclosure either – while that means more work on the installation, Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 gives you options about how you customize your sound.
The Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8’s exterior is aluminum and has a dust cap to prevent debris from getting in and messing with your sound. The sound is impeccable, especially considering the size of Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8. The bass is as deep and rich as you’d hear on a larger subwoofer.
Though the bass sounds great, the volume of Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 doesn’t get as loud as some other models. If you connect it to an amplifier, you’ll get a louder sound than if it’s just connected to the speaker system.
However, Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 doesn’t come with an amp and even a mounting supplies, so make sure you pick those up before you can try this unit.
7. Kicker 44CWCD84 – Best For An Aesthetic Set Up
Yes, there’s another KICKER subwoofer on the list because they’re just that good. KICKER 44CWCD84 has a cooler design than the other on the list, so if you want a sight for sore eyes, this might tick all your boxes.
In addition to a sleek design, KICKER 44CWCD84 has an impressive 200 watts of continuous power and a solid 400 watts of peak power: great for those of you who want to turn the volume up. KICKER 44CWCD84 produces thumping bass without any vibration, so your music always comes out crystal clear.
KICKER 44CWCD84’s another passive subwoofer: there’s no amplifier here and, with the higher power requirements, it’s definitely going to be better with an aftermarket amplifier.
KICKER 44CWCD84 has a one-piece UniPlate backplate to prevent overheating. It will vent heat safely so you can listen to your music for hours without worrying about safety or performance issues.
The backplate design is nice, but you’ll still have to mount KICKER 44CWCD84 in an enclosure for the best sound and safety. That makes KICKER 44CWCD84 a bit out of reach for basic music fans and more in line for people who enjoy working on cars or with tech. KICKER 44CWCD84 also requires hardwiring instead of being plug and play like other options on this list.
While you’re going to be shopping around for an amp and an enclosure, KICKER 44CWCD84’s a surprisingly affordable option from a premium brand that should leave space in your budget for the additional aftermarket components.
8. CT Sounds MESO-8-D4 – Best For Audiophiles
CT Sounds is a brand well-known among audiophiles, and their subwoofers hold ground with some of the best in the industry. While the design of CT Sounds MESO-8-D4 is a bit bigger than the low-profile models on the list, it makes up for that extra space by commanding some of the most impressive sounds for its size.
Just by listening to the music produced by CT Sounds MESO-8-D4, you wouldn’t believe it was a mere 8 inches.
When you lift the CT Sounds MESO-8-D4, however, you’ll understand how it produces such robust sound—this unit weighs over 20 pounds. But since CT Sounds MESO-8-D4 functions on 800 watts with no problem and has a peak performance of 1600 watts, it’s easy to see why this subwoofer is one of the best.
That’s extraordinary power for such a CT Sounds MESO-8-D4 compact subwoofer, and you’ll need an additional aftermarket amplifier to power it. But audiophiles like you want to customize every component of your system, right?
The CT Sounds MESO-8-D4’s price is affordable for everything you’re getting. However, you’ll have to buy a separate enclosure to mount the subwoofer, but that gives you more freedom on the overall design. For the sound it produces, it’s hard to beat the price point of the CT Sounds MESO-8-D4.
The Buyer’s Guide to Picking Right 8″ Subwoofer
Investing in a subwoofer is a big step. You’re buying technology that’s going to make your driving and listening experience better than it is with your current system.
If you ever have trouble hearing DJs with lower voices on your car radio, you know that the factory-installed speakers can only reproduce a certain range of decibels. Consider how much of your music you’re not hearing if you’re missing that many spoken words.
Installing a subwoofer in your car has many benefits beyond bumping up the bass levels, so you don’t miss a beat. In addition to elevating these low frequencies, a subwoofer faithfully reproduces every note. You’re not just adjusting the default settings to ramp up the bass; the technology adjusts everything else accordingly.
The best subwoofer will make all of your music sound better. If you’re not sure what to look for in a subwoofer, this buying guide will help you identify what you want and why you need it. Let’s dive deeper:
Since you’re looking for the best 8-inch subwoofers, size is probably your main concern. You don’t want huge subwoofers that may sound great but don’t fit in your vehicle or take up all your storage space. Therefore, size is one of the first factors to consider.
Keep in mind that the 8-inch measurement only refers to one dimension. You’ll still have to check the exact specifications to see how wide these are so you’ll know where you can install them.
Also check: 8 Best Shallow Mount (Slim) Subwoofers Reviews
When it comes to aftermarket car subwoofers, there are two aspects of power that you want to look into, which are RMS power and peak power.
RMS power is the continuous rating. The number means that your subwoofer can handle this much power over several hours, and there will be no decrease in the quality of sound.
Peak power is the maximum power the subwoofer can handle, but that doesn’t mean you can push it to the limits all the time. You should only use peak power in short bursts, like for a song or two. Otherwise, you’re using a lot of power, and you’ll lose sound quality over time.
Sensitivity refers to how much power the subwoofer needs to produce better sound. You can easily understand this feature when you realize that the decibels given is how much the subwoofer produces with one watt of power.
There are 100 dB and 84.8 dB subwoofers on this list, among others. The 100 dB subwoofer will produce richer, louder sound per watt compared to the lower numbers. Higher sensitivity ratings will give you louder and clearer sounds from your speakers. Anything higher than 90 dB is good quality.
Subs are all about the lowest frequencies – the frequencies you feel in your bones when the bass bangs. Typically, an 8-inch subwoofer will have a frequency range from 20Hz (hertz) to 200 Hz – and the best deep bass subwoofers will have the lowest frequency range.
Active vs Passive Subwoofers
Active subwoofers, also called powered subwoofers, come with an in-built amplifier matched the subwoofer’s exact power specifications. Passive subs don’t come with an amp at all.
Active subs are great for simplifying your installation and saving a bit of space, but they give you less flexibility in customizing your sound system.
Passive subs can be powered by your factory stereo – if there’s adequate power – or you can upgrade the whole shebang with a new powerful amplifier. These are the best subwoofers for those who want to customize every component of their system.
Subwoofers work by moving air around to produce those low bass frequencies, and they all need an enclosure to work well. Most active subs, with an amp included, will also have their own enclosure.
Meanwhile, passive subwoofers usually need an enclosure to be built around them. Again, you have more options – you can build a sealed enclosure or a ported one, and get a customized sound quality as a result.
Installation for a car subwoofer refers to both the wiring and how you secure it to your car. Many options on this list are plug and play, which means you can easily connect the wires to the stereo system, and you’re ready to go. Others require a more involved installation.
The mounting depth is important to consider. This measurement tells you how far the unit sticks out after you install it. Many 8-inch subwoofers are low profile by nature since they’re already so small. But they might have a mounting depth that causes them to stick out and impede your foot space or storage space, depending on where you install them.
The Final Words…
Installing the best 8 inch subwoofer in your vehicle will make every drive more enjoyable. Whether you choose an option with pounding bass or one that just makes your music powerful and loud, you’ll love the new sound.
Since 8-inch subwoofers are so compact, you don’t have to worry about the space they’ll need in your car. They’re designed to easily fit under the seat. Many have plug-and-play installation options, so you’re ready to listen to your tunes in no time flat.
If you’re driving a smaller vehicle, you already know that bigger isn’t always better. When you’re squeezing your car into the smallest parking space, you can feel smug that the SUVs are driving around in circles looking for a spot. Now, you have a compact subwoofer to fit your compact car.