While you may think your current OEM (original manufacturer equipment) car stereo sounds great, think again: adding a subwoofer to your car or truck will transform your listening experience.
Subwoofers are larger speakers that are specially designed to produce low frequencies. These speakers are often mounted in custom-designed boxes called enclosures to match exact dimensions. The speaker uses the air volume inside the enclosure to enhance the sound output of the speaker.
While subwoofers and their enclosures can take up a lot of space, many car audio manufacturers have design solutions for cars and trucks that require minimal space – that’s why shallow mount subwoofers are perfect for your vehicle.
These shallow mount subwoofers require minimal mounting depth and can be installed in extremely tight locations like under or behind a seat in your car or truck. They are also designed to utilize minimal enclosure space, generally requiring less than 1 cubic foot of space to produce amazing bass sounds.
Depending on your favorite music and your vehicle type, there is a wide range of shallow mount subwoofers that will work for you.
Below we’ve highlighted 8 of the best shallow mount subwoofer options on the market. Each has a unique feature set that will greatly improve your listening experience.
From hard-hitting metal to sub-bass in hip hop, you’ll want to upgrade to an aftermarket speaker to fully enjoy your favorite music.
Best Shallow Mount Subwoofers in 2022
Below we’ve highlighted the best shallow mount subwoofers in the industry. You’ll find 8” to 12” speakers on this list that can meet the needs of almost any audio installation.
- Produce clean and clear bass audio
- Optimized for sealed and vented enclosures
- One-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Holds CEA-2031 industry standards for power handling
- Cleaner and more accurate bass sound
- Fit easily behind a truck seat or in extremely tight locations
- Built to last
- Produce great quality sound for years without breaking down
- Handles 250 watts RMS and 1000 watts peak power
- Tested at peak power for days to ensure they will last
- Fits in tiny spaces and enclosures
- Provides ample volume and bass response
- 86.7 dB is more than enough for deep and rich bass music
- Advanced cooling design to ensure the speaker is always running efficiently
- Delivers amazing bass while reducing the wattage needed
- Ideal for builds that have limited space
- Simplistic look
- Designed to fit in tight places (under seats or behind the seat) but put out extreme bass
- Extreme low-end response down to 20 Hz
- The high sensitivity of 93 dB
- Sleek and stylish
- Works well in sealed, ported, and bandpass enclosures
- 250 watts RMS and 1000 watts peak power handling
- Produces highest quality sound even at extreme volumes
- Enjoy bass response down to 28 Hz
- Works great in both ported and sealed enclosures
Let’s get down to bass-y business.
1. Rockford Fosgate R2SD4-10 – Best Overall Pick
If you are looking for a subwoofer that will enhance your listening experience while driving, the R2 subwoofer from Rockford Fosgate is our top pick.
- Durable anodized aluminum voice coil
- 400 watts (total) RMS power
- Mica injected polypropylene cones result in less blown speakers
- Optimized for sealed and vented/ported enclosures.
- One-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Conforms to CEA-2031 industry standards for power handling
- Low power handling
- Not ideal for high SPL (sound pressure level) builds.
This 10” shallow mount subwoofer is ideal for builds with limited space and has a mounting depth of just 3.4-inches. It features an elevated motor structure that allows the speaker to function in reduced depth enclosures. This means you won’t have to waste space filling the trunk of your car with a massive subwoofer enclosure.
The Rockford Fosgate R2SD4-10 performs great and can handle 200 watts RMS (root mean squared). It’s optimized for sealed enclosures, so while the speaker won’t produce earth-shattering, booming bass, it will add clean and clear bass to your audio. That makes this subwoofer perfect for audiophiles who want a tight sound, rather than the party animal who wants the bass to pop.
Depending on your needs, the R2 subwoofer is available with an impedance of 2 ohm or 4 ohms. These configurations allow you greater flexibility during the installation and wiring of the speaker to your chosen amplifier.
From the superior build quality – including the mica injected polypropylene cone – to the amazing audio performance, Rockford Fosgate has designed a speaker that will meet the needs of most audiophiles. Of course, if you are trying to break SPL (sound pressure level) records, you may want to look for a subwoofer that can handle more wattage.
2. Pioneer TS-A2000LD2 – Best for Small Enclosures
What do you do if you want great bass in your car or truck but don’t have any room? You’ll need to find a subwoofer that can run in a tiny enclosure. Pioneer’s 8 inch entry into the shallow mount subwoofer market is one of the best for this use.
With a recommended enclosure size of .15 to .5 cubic feet, this 8 inch Pioneer TS-A2000LD2 subwoofer can still pack a punch. The speaker works best in sealed enclosures and can easily fit behind a truck seat or in extremely tight locations.
We also see many vehicle owners use this sub to replace factory speakers. From door installs to under-seat installations, you can install this speaker almost anywhere in your car or truck. While you will lose some response and sound quality during this application, the speaker will still be a huge improvement over your OEM (original manufacturer equipment) speakers.
The build quality is amazing as well. Once unboxed, you’ll see a glass fiber and mica-reinforced polypropylene cone that looks and feels great. Inside, the speaker features dual 2-ohm voice coils that can be wired in a variety of configurations.
3. Infinity Reference REF1200S – Most Reliable
Infinity is known for designing premium speakers and audio components. Reference 12 inch is no exception. The impeccable design and beauty of this speaker are only matched by its reliability.
- Can handle 250 watts RMS and 1000 watts peak power
- Selectable 2 or 4-ohm impedance allows you to run a variety of configurations
- High SPL (sound pressure level) of 92dB
- Excellent build on the polypropylene cone
- Includes a one-year manufacturer’s warranty
- The frequency response only reached 27 Hz
- Premium price for this premium speaker
Every Infinity speaker is put through stringent reliability testing. This involves a wide range of real-world situations, including exposure to freezing temperatures, extreme heat, UV exposure, and more. They’re also tested at peak power for days to ensure they will last. Investing in the Reference from Infinity means you are getting a speaker that’s been put through its paces!
While this speaker is 12”, and thus on the larger side for a shallow mount subwoofer, it still can fit in compact spaces and handle a limited enclosure. For smaller vehicles, Infinity suggests a sealed box with a volume of .75 cubic feet. If you have room for a ported enclosure, you will need 1.75 cubic feet of space. Both types of enclosures perform well and offer crystal clear audio and thumping basslines.
The speaker also offers selectable impedance. This means you can run your audio system at 2 or 4 ohms and take advantage of every watt your amplifier provides.
4. Skar Audio VD-12 D2 12” – Best Budget
This dual 2 ohm subwoofer is ideal if you’re on a budget. And while budget-friendly, Skar Audio has designed a speaker that works well and provides ample volume and bass response.
- Capable of handling 500 watts RMS and 800 watts peak power
- Shallow mounting depth of 4.92”
- Includes a 2-year limited warranty
- Good sensitivity at 86.7 dB
- Good frequency response between 25 and 300 Hz
- Paper cone may not last as long as other materials.
- Recommended ported enclosure may be too large for some vehicles
For enthusiasts that want to use a lot of power, this is the speaker for you. The VD-12 can handle 500 watts RMS letting you choose bigger amplifiers in your build. At peak power of 800 watts, the speaker can pump out ample volume and has a sensitivity rating of 86.7 dB, which is more than enough for deep and rich bass music.
While we do wonder about the choice of paper cone, the rest of the speaker is solid and well constructed. You’ll find a heavy 68 oz ferrite magnet powering the speaker and a durable cast aluminum frame protecting it. There’s also an advanced cooling design to ensure the speaker is always running efficiently, even in smaller enclosures.
You also get plenty of installation options for this speaker, and you can use ported, vented, or sealed enclosures for your install. While minimum enclosure volume is one cubic foot, you can still find ways to fit this 12 inch speaker into tight locations.
5. Kenwood Excelon KFC-XW1200F – Best Low-Powered
To perform effectively, all subwoofers need an amplifier. If you plan to use minimal space during installation, you also have to account for the amp. In most cases, more wattage means a bigger amp.
- Low power requirement of 50-350 watts RMS
- Excellent frequency response between 30 and 700 Hz
- Low mounting depth of 3-15/16”
- The speaker has a high sensitivity of 91 dB
- A 2-year warranty is included
- Running a smaller amp will result in lower volume output
- The boring design is not as attractive as some other options
Kenwood Excelon KFC-XW1200F has a solution where you can still enjoy amazing bass while reducing the wattage needed. The Excelon subwoofer has the widest range of RMS on this list and can effectively run on as little as 50 watts RMS. This means you won’t have to invest hundreds of dollars into a much larger amplifier.
Of course, the speaker is also effective up to 350 watts RMS if you want to crank the volume and increase the bass response.
This speaker is also ideal for builds that have limited space. The Excelon has one of the shallowest mounting depths and requires just .8 cubic feet of space when used in a sealed or ported enclosure. With a well-designed enclosure, this speaker will fit almost anywhere in your vehicle.
Did we mention the build quality? Kenwood outdid themselves with a carbon-glass fiber cone surrounded by butyl rubber. The speaker also features a 4-ohm voice coil and cast aluminum basket.
One drawback to the speaker is its simplistic look compared to many competitors. If you plan to have the speaker exposed, you may want to invest in nice speaker grilles to enhance the subwoofer’s appearance.
6. Pioneer TS-SW3002S4 12″ – Best Subwoofer for High Volumes
Even vehicles with limited space can enjoy and feel deep bass sounds. Pioneer designed this shallow mount subwoofer to fit in tight places but put out extreme bass. With a mounting depth of less than 4”, you should have no problem installing this subwoofer in your vehicle.
- Requires 400 watts RMS and can handle up to 1500 watts max power
- Extreme low-end response down to 20 Hz
- The high sensitivity of 93 dB
- Can be installed in enclosures from .5 – 1.0 cubic feet
- Single 4-ohm voice coil design limits installation options
- Bigger amplifiers usually cost more and this is no exception
While Pioneer suggests a ported enclosure for this subwoofer, you only need less than 1 cubic foot of space. This means this sub can fit in tight spots like under seats or behind the seat in a pickup truck with minimal problems – but it’s still one of the larger subwoofers on the list.
The design and build of this subwoofer are exceptional. The oversized and reinforced cone looks and feels great. It is crafted with injection-molded resin that makes the cone durable and rigid. This allows for the speaker to create accurate bass notes at high volumes – perfect for audiophiles who want clean bass.
Where this speaker shines is its bass response. With an RMS power of 400 watts, you can push this speaker’s limits without blowing it. One of these subs should be more than enough for casual listeners that want to enjoy deep and loud bass music like hip hop, pop, or EDM as well as those who like to enjoy the subtler shades of bass in their music.
7. JBL Club WS1200 – Best for Flexible Installation
Installing a subwoofer requires a delicate balance of power and impedance. If your speaker’s requirements don’t match your amplifier, you could be headed for disaster. Using a mismatched speaker can easily result in blow speakers or ruined amplifiers.
- Selectable impedance allows for upgradability and different installation configurations
- 250 watts RMS and 1000 watts peak power handling
- 92 dB sensitivity
- Frequency response of 27-175 Hz.
- Works great in sealed or ported enclosures
- Great looking design
- The polypropylene cone is not as durable as some competitors
- Don’t accidentally overpower the speaker when using it in free air applications
This is where the Club from JBL comes in. This 250 RMS speaker offers selectable impedance. You can choose between running the speaker at 2 or 4 ohms, depending on your amplifier and system’s needs. This gives you a wide range of options during your subwoofer installation.
And it also means you can easily upgrade the system in the future: whether you want to add another subwoofer or change the amplifier, you won’t have to worry about selecting the correct impedance. Simply adjust the speaker to match the requirements of your upgrade.
Design-wise, the speaker is one of the better-looking speakers on the list and is sleek and stylish. It can fit in tiny enclosures and works well in sealed, ported, and bandpass enclosures. You can also install these subwoofers free-air to save space, but you’ll need to reduce amplification down to 125 watts RMS and give up on real punchy bass as a result.
8. Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-12 – Best Premium Choice
Well designed and solidly built, the Punch 12” shallow mount subwoofer from Rockford Fosgate is impressive. While some manufacturers settle for paper cones, Rockford Fosgate has developed an aluminum cone that can take a beating while acting as a heat sink for the speaker. Combined with specialized venting, you’ll have a hard time ever overpowering and overheating this subwoofer.
Other standout design features include the hybrid StamCast basket that reduces resonance, Santoprene rubber surround, and the Vertical Attach Surround Technique (VAST) cone. Combined, this subwoofer is one of the best designed on this list.
All these patented technologies produce the highest quality sound even at extreme volumes. You’ll enjoy bass response down to 28 Hz while allowing for up to 1200 watts of peak power. That’s more than enough to shake your car while listening to your favorite music.
While slightly larger than most of the options on this list, you can still install this sub in most vehicles. Mount depth is under 7”, and recommended sealed box volume is between .75 and 1.25 cubic feet. If you plan to use a ported enclosure, you’ll need 1.79 cubic feet of space for the subwoofer.
The Buyer’s Guide to Choosing Right Shallow Mount Subwoofer
Picking the right subwoofer doesn’t have to be confusing. There are many factors to consider when choosing the right shallow mount subwoofer, including subwoofer size, amplifier power, the size of your vehicle, and your taste in music.
Subwoofers come in a variety of sizes. Depending on your needs, you can choose a subwoofer that matches your vehicle and your taste in music.
8 inch Subwoofer
Small subwoofers excel at punchier bass sounds. Their small footprint allows an 8” sub to move and respond faster to music. These speakers can be mounted in almost any vehicle and require much smaller enclosures than their larger counterparts.
While an 8 inch subwoofer provides ample bass, it is more of a compliment to the system and won’t overpower your other speakers.
10” subwoofers are still small enough to fit in most vehicles but give you a deeper and richer bass response. For car owners that enjoy heavier bass music, a 10” will give you all the bass you need and these subwoofers are perfect for rock, metal and rap music.
If you want to hear deep basslines from popular music like rap and EDM, you’ll want to upgrade to a 12” subwoofer. These subs can cover deep frequencies that a 10” or 8” can’t. The larger size does reduce the “punchiness” of the sound, however. If you are into heavy rock or punk, you may want to look at a 10” or 8” subwoofer instead.
15” subwoofers are monster-sized and are ideal for high-end car sound systems. They offer exceptional bass response and depth that is unmatched. Unfortunately, they require much larger subwoofer enclosures and high amplifier wattage for peak performance – clear some space in your trunk for these bad boys.
Build Quality and Materials
Not all subwoofers are created equal. While buying a budget-friendly speaker might seem like a good idea, you may find yourself replacing or repairing the speaker more often than a premium subwoofer.
You’ll find subwoofers with paper cones, aluminum cones, rubber cones, and cones built from synthetic polymers like polypropylene.
Paper cones are the cheapest, and can sound very good if they’re well designed. Aluminum and mica injected polypropylene cones are found at the premium end of the spectrum and will be more robust thanks to their ability to reject moisture.
Most brands have their own patented materials and build quality and there’s a wide range of variation – as well as materials, the design of the cone is significant so choose from well-known brands to ensure premium build.
All after-market subwoofers will require an amplifier to power the speaker. When choosing the equipment, you’ll want to match the power rating, sensitivity, and impedance of the speaker with the amplifier.
You’ll want to match the Root Mean Square (RMS) power of the speaker and amp to ensure you have adequate power to run your new subwoofer at high volumes. Choosing an amp with not enough power or overpowering a speaker can cause damage to your equipment.
Max power is the maximum power that your speaker can handle for a short period. Exceeding max power will ultimately result in a blown subwoofer. Also, you should be wary of any subwoofer that has outlandish max power claims compared to the RMS. If you want to avoid damaging your speaker, you should always run it near the RMS value and not the max power rating.
The sensitivity of the speaker will also affect the volume and sound quality. Premium subwoofers will have high sensitivity ratings and require less RMS power to function efficiently. This means you can achieve better sound from the speaker while using a smaller amplifier.
Finally, you need to match the impedance of the speaker to the impedance of your amplifier. Impedance is the resistance of eclectic current in your system. Speakers and amps will have an impedance rating measured in ohms: 2, 3, 4, 6, or 8-ohm impedances are commonly found among premium products. A mismatch in impedance could also result in damaged speakers of amplifiers.
Some speakers offer selectable impedance, and these can be used at a variety of ohms. Subwoofers with selectable impedance are ideal for owners who would like to upgrade their system in the future or have complex wiring with their audio system.
Single vs Dual Voice Coils
Subwoofers come in single and dual voice coil models. Dual coil speakers give the car owner more flexibility during wiring and installation. They produce amazing bass responses but do have a premium price tag.
Single coil subwoofers are more affordable and are ideal for anyone upgrading their car’s audio system on a budget. While they do have fewer configuration options, they still provide good bass response and clarity.
Using a shallow mount subwoofer offers a variety of mounting and installation options. Most subwoofers require large enclosures that could take up the entire trunk of a car. Shallow mount speakers are specifically designed to take us as little space as possible. Many of the speakers on this list can fit in spaces less than 4” wide.
Depending on the model of the subwoofer, you’ll most likely need a sealed or ported enclosure for the speaker, while some shallow mount subwoofers called free-air subwoofers work without an enclosure at all. Often, subwoofers will work with any enclosure, but the choice of right enclosure can make a considerable difference to your overall sound.
Sealed enclosures have a smaller profile and shallow mount subwoofers will require an enclosure of between 0.15 and 1 cubic feet. These subs offer a precise bass response and require a little more power – so prepare to pair them with a larger amp, and they’re perfect for anyone who prefers tighter bass and accurate sound.
Ported enclosures, also known as vented enclosures can provide louder bass with less power, but you will need more room for the enclosure. For optimal sound, ported enclosures also require more skill and care in the construction, so as well as being larger they demand a more complex installation.
Ported enclosures can hit lower frequencies than sealed subs, and they’re best for hard-driving music like heavy metal and hard rock.
Bandpass enclosures are a variation on the sealed design that incorporate an acoustic filter into the sealed enclosure. They’re more efficient than either sealed or ported enclosures and can be designed in a wide range of sizes. But they’re difficult to build and will likely require professional installation – but if you want a deep bass sub then bandpass enclosures let you get low.
Free-air subwoofers are also an option and can be installed almost anywhere space is at a premium. However, these speakers will have a much harder time providing ample bass and clear audio compared to a subwoofer that is installed in an enclosure. Free-air subwoofers are often ideal if you plan on using them as a direct replacement for your OEM (original equipment manufacturer) speakers – and don’t mind the compromise in sound quality that results.
When it comes to bigger sound, size matters. So are shallow mount subs any good? Heck yes: they offer a huge upgrade in sound and the bassy output can take your system to the next level. And with a compact depth, they can be fitted anywhere in your vehicle.
A subwoofer is a near-essential component for any aftermarket car audio system. Adding one subwoofer to your existing system is one of the easiest ways to instantly improve the sound quality in your car or truck.
From under-seat to trunk-mounted subwoofers, we’ve highlighted 8 of the best shallow mount subwoofers for your vehicle. All of these subwoofers will provide ample bass and excellent sound quality for your favorite tunes.