Music and driving – can you name a better combo? With the windows down and the wind in your hair, what’s better than your favorite tunes on the stereo?
Whether you’re a hip-hop hero or a rock god, you need a sound system to do justice to your musical selection.
And from Beethoven to the Beastie Boys, great music starts with the bass.
That’s why a car subwoofer is such an important addition to your sound system. Even the best speakers can’t handle low frequencies as well as a subwoofer.
That means that the bass loses its punch or gets lost in distortion as you crank the volume.
In fact, if you’ve never listened to your favorite albums through a powerful sound system that gives the bass pride of place, you’ve never really heard them at all.
An aftermarket car subwoofer will bring your tunes to life – huge bass will blow your mind, and blow the roof off your car. That’s one way to get the top down!
Car subwoofers come in many shapes and sizes, from giant dual subs with built-in amps that will fit in the back of a truck to streamlined, under-seat subs. We’ve taken a look at ten of the best car subwoofers on the market, for every scenario.
So to take your audio to the next level, we’re bringing you the low down of the lows.
The Best Car Subwoofers in 2022
Let’s dive right into our hand-picked subwoofer selection. Here are the best car subwoofers on the market for your supersized audio system. Boom!
- 1000 watts of RMS power
- Delivers superior quality, crisp and soul touching sound
- Wireless and easy-to-install
- Built to last
- Thumping bass
- Built-in amp offering 300 watt RMS power
- Premium construction
- Easy to install
- Solid sub, built in a die-cast aluminum basket
- Fully adjustable with remote control included
- Delivers super tight and natural sounding bass
- Optimized system delivers top quality bass when paired with the perfect amp
- Built with Industry-standard ⅝” MDF
- Great value for money
- RMS output of 300 watts
- In-built amp, and sub delivers optimized sound
- Compact and stylish design
- Delivers 1,200 watts of max power when paired with wide range of amps
- Tight and clear bass
- Space-saving design
- Super-streamlined subwoofer
- Customizable clean sounding bass perfect for rap, hip hop, and EDM
- Easy to install and space-saving design
- Great looking space-age design
- Ample power herein for cranking, heavy bass
- Premium quality construction
- Offers tight, studio-accurate bass
- 350 watt RMS power
- Carpeted enclosure makes it non-slip and durable
- Fits easily into any vehicle
- 1,200 watts max power
- Ensures rich, deep bass and excellent sound quality
Here’s the best of the bass.
1. MTX Audio TNE212DV – Best For Maximum Power
MTX Audio’s dual subwoofers provide plenty of boom for their buck. By combining two 500 watt RMS subwoofers into a single vented enclosure, MTX have created a unit that offers impressive power.
This sub is single voice coil, and combined with the dual vented (also known as ported) enclosure these features make for a subwoofer that’s particularly easy to install. Anyone with DIY ambitions should be drawn to this sub.
However, it doesn’t come with wiring or an amplifier, so remember you’ll be shelling out extra to complete your system.
Built-in a stylish all-black design and constructed with solid, durable materials including ⅝” MDF and aviation-grade carpet, this sub should handle anything you can throw at it. And the venting design allows for additional cooling, further extending the lifespan of the sub.
This powerful ported speaker will sound great at loud volumes and give you spacious, booming bass. For heavy metal, hip hop, and rap it’ll give you a textured sound where the bass comes to life.
|Power Range||1000W RMS|
2. Rockford Fosgate P300-12 – Best Sealed Enclosure
Rockford Fosgate is a premium audio brand, always with solid construction and exemplary sound. Their Punch P300-12 lives up to the brand’s reputation – let’s take a closer look.
The sub comes with a built-in amp offering 300 watt RMS power, which the sub matches.
The streamlined design means that the amp and sub are both in the sealed enclosure.
Generally, sealed subs require a bit more power to produce top-end volume but the clever closed-loop design ensures that the sub, amp, and enclosure combine to optimize performance.
This is typical of Rockford Fosgate’s innovative design. Whilst this isn’t a superpowered sub, it’s not going to struggle when you’re blasting the tunes.
The construction is standardized but solid, with the main material being ⅝” MDF.
With a premium brand, you always have a premium price tag attached and the Rockford Fosgate Punch P300-12 isn’t going to leave you with much change. But with the added amplifier and accessories, you get plenty for your money.
For an in-depth study of this model, check out our full review of Rockford Fosgate P300-12.
|Amplifier Power||300W RMS|
3. JBL GT-BassPro12 12-Inch – Best Durable Subwoofer
JBL’s stylish subwoofer with an in-built amp gives you great value for money. It’s a solid sub, built in a die-cast aluminum basket to protect your sub and the sound quality. The sub itself is encased in protection bars to keep the cone in optimal order – and it gives this unit a meaty look that speaks of power. This is a design you’ll want to show off.
- Fully adjustable and remote level control included
- Durable materials
- Innovative porting for optimized sound quality
- Limited power due to the in-built amp
The polypropylene cone with rubber surround is a durable build, and thanks to optimized airflow this sub should last a long time – you might even upgrade your car before this sub goes bust.
Powered by a 150-watt amp, this isn’t the biggest sub but JBL has pulled out all the stops in their design to ensure that nothing goes to waste.
The result is a subwoofer that bangs beyond what you might expect.
It comes with a ported enclosure, utilizing JBL’s innovative Slipstream ports which allow for optimal airflow and eliminates distortion even at the highest levels. This is a sub you can push to the limit.
And there are a range of accessories and added features that bring this sub into the premium category – the remote level control gives you total control over the sound of your sub from the driver’s seat.
Adjusting input level, low-pass, and adding bass-boost allow for customized sound.
This sub generates super tight and natural sounding bass – great for rap and hip-hop when you’re cruising.
|Amplifier Power||150W RMS|
4. MTX Audio Terminator Series TNE212D – Best Value For Dual Subs
Upgrading to dual subs gives your system greater headroom, reduced distortion, and bigger sound – the only drawback is the cost. Thanks to MTX’s TNE212D model, there’s now a dual sub for all budgets.
How does the MTX come so cheap? Well, you’re compromising on power.
With 400W RMS power (split between the two subs), power is limited in this system. But MTX has built a sub that offers bang for your buck thanks to the optimized system, especially when paired with the perfect amp.
And MTX hasn’t skimped on build materials. Industry-standard ⅝” MDF and aviation grade carpeting combine on this sub.
The enclosure is ported and ultimately the combination of sub and enclosure makes for a sizable unit. Make sure you’ve got ample trunk space before picking up this sub.
If it fits, you’ll have no trouble installing this sub – coming with an internal amp it’s ready to get wired into your system.
|Power Range||400W RMS|
5. Rockville RWS12CA – Best For Easy Installation
Rockville advertises 1200 watt max power for this 12” sub – but the reality is that RMS power is the all-important measure for your system.
Nevertheless, the RWS12CA has an RMS output of 300 watts, meaning it performs respectively. You won’t be disappointed when you turn this baby up a notch.
The vented enclosure, in-built amp, and sub are all built to work together for optimized performance. And together, the unit makes for easy installation. Rockville has even included a wiring kit meaning you can get to work right away.
The compact design makes it stand out amongst other vented subs. However, watch out as this sub is slightly larger than the dimensions suggest due to the tapered design.
Thanks to the build, you can fit this sub under your seats. But the stylish design means you may not want to. Aviation-grade carpet has been embossed with an embroidered logo – this is one stylish sub.
|Power Range||300W RMS|
6. Pioneer TS-SWX2502 – Best Sub For Tight Spaces
Pioneer’s 10” build is a streamlined sub, perfect for smaller vehicles or tight spaces.
With 300 watts of RMS power, you can pair this sub with a wide range of amps, and 1,200 watts of max power gives you breathing room at the peak. There’s also a wide frequency range (20 Hz to 200 Hz) giving you access to great-sounding lows.
Pioneer has worked hard to design a creatively compact enclosure – that means you’ve got space-saving design and no-hassle installation.
The use of MICA injection-molded resin as cone material gives a durable subwoofer that can handle the heat when you turn it up. You can anticipate tight and clean bass thanks to the dual spider – by stabilizing cone movement, Pioneer has honed in on an accurate bass response.
|Power Range||300W RMS|
7. Rockville RW10CA 10″ – Best 10” For DIY Installation
This super-streamlined subwoofer with in-built amp is easy to install and fits snugly even into the smallest vehicles.
Like Rockville’s 12” model, this is a slim and low profile sub. The entire enclosure is only 2.7” deep – that means this subwoofer/amp combo unit can even fit under your seat.
Naturally, there’s a compromise. The RW10CA isn’t as powerful as other subs on the market and even other 10” subwoofers. 800 watt peak power and 200 watt RMS are the limitations.
But you’ll get the most out of this sub, even with its limited power. The RW10CA is 3rd party approved for the power rating, meaning not a single watt is wasted when you crank it up. The MOSFET power supply is exceptionally efficient.
The sealed enclosure design saves space and should result in a tight, clean-sounding bass perfect for rap, hip hop, and EDM.
However, a sealed design tends to require more power for high volumes, so you could be left underwhelmed when you crank it. But Rockville has included a range of controls – such as low pass crossover filter and subsonic filters – to let you customize the sound.
Liked the sound of this product? Find out more!
|Power Range||200W RMS|
8. Dual Electronics BP1204 – Best Looking Subwoofer
For a subwoofer that wouldn’t be out of place in an art gallery, look no further. Dual Electronics’ space-age design with curved viewing windows and backlit cones creating a visual spectacle.
But it’s not all style for these 12” subs. With 600 watts of RMS power at 4 ohms, there’s ample power herein for cranking, heavy bass.
A wide frequency range goes down to 30Hz, and the dual subs have 2.5” voice coils for efficient output.
And these are robustly built subs with all-premium materials in the build. Solid MDF has been used for the enclosure, whilst top-of-the-range carpeting optimizes sound by eliminating enclosure movement.
The enclosure chambers have been reinforced to ensure this dual sub can handle every bump in the road.
|Size (inches)||12 x 2″|
|Power Range||600W RMS|
9. Pioneer TS-WX1210A – Best Sealed Enclosure Subwoofer
One for the audiophiles, this powerful 12” sub offers the best of both worlds with volume and tight, studio-accurate bass. However, it comes with a premium price tag.
With 350 watt RMS power, there’s ample wattage for when you crank the volume on this sealed sub. Frequency response range of 20-125Hz means this sub can handle both the lows and highs in your choice of tunes.
As well as all this, Pioneer has built a premium Class-D amp, optimized for the subwoofer’s output. It’s a powerful combination for exemplary sound.
The enclosure is fully carpeted, making it non-slip and durable.
This sub can be installed with the car subwoofer firing in multiple directions, front, rear or standing. This provides additional flexibility when installing, although considerations of space will likely guide you with this big sub.
|Power Range||300W RMS|
10. Pioneer TS-SW2502S4 – Best Unenclosed Subwoofer
Pioneer’s 10” subwoofer is a powerful, slim sub that will fit well into any vehicle.
This sub is less than half the depth of typical 10” subs, but without any sacrifice on power or sound. 1,200 watts max power and 300 watts RMS are ample for a big sound.
A single 4ohm voice coil ensures rich, deep bass and excellent sound quality.
And premium materials from start to finish, such as the mica injection resin, hint at a robust build and guarantee accurate sound quality.
The sub itself doesn’t come with an enclosure. That means you can opt for sealed or vented, depending on what suits your sound system and the vehicle you’re working with.
However, for optimal lows, this sub works better with a vented option.
|Peak Power Handling||1200W|
|Enclosure Type||Sealed & Ported|
Before You Buy: The Buyer’s Guide To Choosing The Right Car Subwoofer
You’ve seen the best of the best – these are the premium car subwoofers on the market for taking your sound system to the next level.
But even two of the best car subwoofers have very different uses. Are you going to be blastic Lady Gaga’s pop bangers, or are you looking to bring Vivaldi to life?
Here’s everything you need to know about subwoofers to find the best choice for your car – and your listening tastes.
What is a Car Subwoofer?
A car subwoofer is a specific type of speaker, designed to boost the lowest frequencies. Regular speakers struggle to transmit these frequencies, meaning you lose the multidimensionality of sound without a subwoofer.
Shallow Mounted Subwoofers
Shallow mounted subs are subwoofers redesigned to take up less space, making them easier to fit in your vehicle. The traditional subwoofer design requires a wide cone with a magnet mounted at its base – shallow mounted subs can cut the required depth of this cone by over half.
Shallow mounted subs are designed in various ways to reduce the depth of the system and, nowadays, they produce great sound quality that’s almost on a par with traditional subwoofers. Given the space restrictions for an aftermarket car sound system, shallow mounted subs are a great choice for your vehicle.
There are no strict classification criteria for a competition-grade subwoofer – but when we talk about competition subs, we’re discussing the biggest, meanest, and most powerful sound systems around.
That could mean its RMS power packs a serious punch at over 1000 watts, or that there’s a voice coil in excess of 2.5” – but sometimes it just means the sub is built from quality composite cones that enhance the sound.
When it comes to competition subwoofers, we’ve lined up the best of the best. But don’t get too hung up hunting for a competition subwoofer – if the sub’s specs are up to scratch then it can probably compete with the best.
Are Active Or Passive Subwoofers Better?
For car audio systems, an active sub is usually a better choice as it’s easier to install and they have a better bass response, while passive subs are more compact than active subs but tend to produce a less impactful sound than their active counterparts.
The difference is that active subwoofers have a built-in amplifier whereas passive subwoofers require an additional, external amp.
Why You Need An Aftermarket Car Subwoofer
Although subwoofers have a reputation for producing banging basslines in dance music – and it’s true they can create a rave in your backseat – they also improve music from many genres.
Guitars, organs, and even deep vocals will sound richer and have more depth with a premium car subwoofer added into your system.
Subwoofers take the sound in your car to another level. Whilst the best speakers will give you audible bass, a subwoofer turns it into a full-body experience – you’ll feel every beat.
For car manufacturers, car stereos are an afterthought. The sound system that comes with your car might be okay for fuzzy radio, but it hasn’t been designed with sound quality in mind.
And low-quality speakers don’t just sound worse. They’re actually susceptible to damage when you try to run frequencies of sound that they’re not built to handle.
Without a subwoofer, when you start cranking up the volume you can damage your speakers. A subwoofer is an integral component when you’re taking your sound to the next level.
What Are The Best Brands Of Car Subwoofer?
Pioneer, Rockford Fosgate, and Alpine are all brands with years of experience and a strong reputation for reliable build quality. But there are many more car audio brands producing powerful subs these days. That includes:
- Rockford Fosgate
- MTX Audio
- Dual Electronics
- JL Audio
- Skar Audio
If you choose a brand from the above list – or even better, from our top picks, you’ll be in safe hands.
Size Matters (Dimensions)
Subwoofers come in a range of sizes, from 8” right up to a hefty 15”. Now I know you’re all looking for the biggest sound you can get, but when it comes to bass, size isn’t everything. While bigger subs might offer a bigger sound, they also offer a different sound quality.
Let’s take a look at the sizes and see what’s right for you.
These punchy little 8″ subwoofers are smaller, more responsive, and offer tight and accurate bass. They handle a greater range of frequencies and although the bass itself won’t blow your mind they do provide a subtler listening experience that makes them popular with the true audiophiles.
Best For: heavy rock and high-BPM electronic music.
10” subwoofers are good all-rounders who can keep up with your punchiest tunes while also providing a big sound for rap and club music. If size is an issue and you have eclectic tastes, 10” subs are a good option.
Best For: Club music, rap, and classical.
Like their 10” little brothers, 12” subwoofers offer great all-round sound with the ability to hit the lows hard. These are probably the most popular sub for anyone who isn’t trying to save on space and a single 12” sub can offer impressive bass – although you’ll lose out on a range of frequencies that might limit your sound.
Best For: Everything from rock to pop to club.
We don’t have any 15” subwoofers on the list because they’re pretty rare in-car audio setups. But they will offer all-out bass that will blow your mind – often at the cost of the higher frequencies in your music.
Best For: Bass to blow your socks off!
So What Size Of Car Subwoofer Do I Need?
Ultimately, you should be looking to match your subwoofer to your system as well as the style of music you listen to. With the right enclosure and powered appropriately, an 8” sub can sound incredible if you’re looking for a subtler listening experience. But if you’re all about that bass, go for a 12” sub unless space becomes an issue.
What To Look For
Here are the key features of any car subwoofer.
This one is pretty simple to get your head around – power matters. A sub that can handle more power will be able to provide deeper bass and a cleaner sound, and all at higher volumes.
How much power you need depends on what you’re going to be listening to, however.
If you enjoy a wide range of musical genres and you’re looking for subwoofers for deeper bass that compliment a broad spectrum of sound, you don’t need excessive power – something around 300 watts should be adequate for any purpose.
But if you’re all about that bass, then power is everything. For EDM, techno, and electronic music that revolves around a bassline, you can’t have too much power.
When it comes to power, there are two ways it’s measured in a subwoofer. Peak power and RMS.
RMS (root mean squared) is an indicator of how much power your sub can handle consistently, whilst peak power is for spikes within the frequencies of the music.
Because the lows appear throughout, RMS power is more important as an indicator of what your speaker can handle. Don’t be impressed by peak power which disguises a weaker RMS power rating.
The frequency range on a car subwoofer determines the range of sound you’ll get from the speaker, from the lowest lows to the highs. Because you’ll never use a subwoofer alone – it’s just there to bring the bass to life – the highs aren’t too important.
However, a greater frequency will almost always translate to higher sound quality as your car subwoofer complements the rest of your system. At the highest end, around 100Hz will be ample.
We’re all sensitive souls at heart, so we should relate to the value of sensitivity in our car subwoofers. In speakers and subwoofers, this is a measure of how loud a subwoofer can go with a certain power – and higher sensitivity means an increase in volume is relatively less power-demanding.
Because car subwoofers with higher sensitivity will use less power at a certain volume, they’re inevitably more efficient and put less of a strain on your system. If you’re looking to blast the tunes then maximizing sensitivity will always give you a stronger system. Anything over 90dB will sound great in your car.
Single or Dual Voice Coils
Subwoofers tend to be found with single or dual voice coils. If you’re looking for the simplicity of set-up, single voice coil subs will still sound great, and they’re easier to install.
Dual voice coils will give you extra flexibility in complex sound systems – you have more options for wiring into your speakers, and can avoid necessitating long chains of speakers which erode sound quality.
Let’s Talk About Subwoofer Enclosure Type
As well as the various variables that impact your sub’s performance, set-up is equally important. No matter the power, range, and sensitivity of your sub, making the right choice of sub box can make or break your system’s sound.
There are three common ways to enclose your car subwoofer and this can hugely affect performance. We’ll take a closer look at installation, but before you can get to the nitty-gritty you need to make a call on enclosure.
1. Sealed Enclosure
For optimized sound, a sealed enclosure is the optimum choice. Sealed enclosures are airtight and create the perfect, sealed environment for sub performance.
In terms of sound quality, a sealed sub produces a tighter, true-to-life bass sound. However, to some, this can almost sound clinical, verging on soulless. If you’re an audiophile with a thing for accuracy though, a sealed enclosure could be for you as the airtight container captures booming and echoing and strips it from your sound.
Sealed subs also require more power to produce an equivalent volume when compared to other enclosures. If you’ve got an underpowered system, sealing your sub could leave you underwhelmed by the sound.
2. Ported Enclosure
The other option for enclosure is ported. A ported enclosure isn’t airtight – in fact, airflow is encouraged by vents (also known as ports) located around the box.
As well as demanding less power for an equivalent sound (because sound travels through vibrations in the air escaping the enclosure) you also get a “bigger”, boomier sub. If you have a penchant for heavy metal or rock, booming bass takes you straight to the stadium.
Ported enclosures require less power – but they’re inevitably bigger to make room for airflow around your sub. If you’re trying to squeeze your system in, then a ported encore might not fit.
Another upside of ported enclosure is that the airflow functions to cool your sub – reducing the risk of overheating and generally extending the lifespan of your system.
3. Bandpass Enclosure
A hybrid enclosure – bandpass – is an increasingly common option, especially in car sound systems thanks to the efficiency you get with volume and the impressively banging bass.
In a bandpass enclosure, the sub is mounted in a dual-chamber enclosure, half sealed and half vented.
This narrows the frequency you sub operates in, and channels soundwaves from the open-air ported side of the enclosure. The result? Enormous lows that are best for rap and reggae. Boom boom, shake the room!
Lastly, you’ll hear about free-air enclosure which is actually the lack of any enclosure whatsoever. Rather than using a bespoke enclosure, the framework of the car encloses the sub – usually the trunk of the car, which separates the sub from the speakers.
Free-air subs are easy to install and bypass many of the questions of enclosure per se, but frequency is badly undermined and they can’t handle too much power.
Anyone interested in elevating their car sound system should consider DIY installation of a car subwoofer. With a few tools and basic instructions, it’s a step-by-step process that not only saves you money but also provides a valuable learning experience about optimizing your sound system.
However, installation can grow arms and legs depending on how you’re locating the sub in your car. Plan out your audio system in advance before you get the toolkit out – for complicated wiring jobs, it might be best to call in the professionals.
The Car Subwoofer FAQs
Bass can be a baffling business – and you want to find the right answer for your aftermarket audio. So let’s take a look at the common questions.
Which Subwoofer Is Best For Bass In Car?
The MTX Audio TNE212DV Dual 12″ Subwoofer, with its twin 500W RMS subs, offers some serious power that will guarantee you powerful bass.
What Is The Hardest Hitting Car Subwoofer?
Which Brand Makes The Best Subwoofer?
Rockford Fosgate, Pioneer, and MTX are some of the biggest brands in the subwoofer market and all three make powerful and reliable subs.
What Size Subwoofer Is Best For Bass?
The bigger the sub, the better the bass so a 15” subwoofer will be the best for bass. However, these sizeable subs won’t fit into many car audio setups so settling for a 12” sub makes sense and you’ll be guaranteed a solid sound.
How Many Watts Is Good For A Car Subwoofer?
Around 300 watts is considered good for a car subwoofer when you’re talking about RMS power, the most important metric for subwoofer power. With 300 watts you’ll have ample power for a big sound, although systems that stretch up to 1000 watts will offer harder-hitting bass.
Are Shallow Subs Any Good?
As sub technology has progressed, shallow subs are now well built and can compete with regular subwoofers in terms of power and sound, and they’re easier to fit into tight spaces like the back of your vehicle. Pioneer’s TS-SWX2502 is a powerful shallow mounted sub with 300 watts of RMS power that packs a serious punch.
A car subwoofer is an integral part of any aftermarket sound system. Whether you go for 10” or 12”, vented or sealed, a subwoofer is going to take your car’s audio to the next level.
And thanks to in-built amps and easy wiring kits, you can get your sub installed without any hassle. DIY installation is a great way to get to know your sound system’s inner workings – the path to audiophile heaven.
With a premium car subwoofer, the back seats will sound like the front row at the arena. So do justice to your favorite artists, and get the bass jumping, just like it was in the studio.
From hip hop to rock ‘n’ roll and even mellow jazz, the bass brings your music to life. When you feel the wind in your hair, and the bass pulsing through your body – that’s living.
When it comes to aftermarket audio systems, don’t let car subwoofers be an afterthought.