When it comes to sound, 8-inch subwoofers require a tradeoff. In exchange for their smaller size, you have to choose between great-sounding bass, or that powerful rumble that rattles bricks — you can’t have both. For smaller cars and smaller spaces, an 8-inch sub may be the difference between low, resonant bass or none at all. That smaller size means that a subwoofer will fit under or behind a seat or into other tight spaces. Plus, since most factory subwoofers are 8 inches, an 8-inch model is a good option for a replacement.   

It’s easy to dismiss these smaller subwoofers outright, but that would be a mistake. The best 8-inch subwoofers are little monsters that add a nice, resonant low-end sound that immediately improves whatever you’re listening to. Given the right space, they punch well above their weight, and can get loud enough to surprise you. Combined with a good quality stereo, they will deliver concert-like sound. So if you’re in a tight spot because of a tight space, or don’t feel like filling that trunk up with speakers, we’ve created this list of some of the best 8-inch subwoofers.  

— Best Overall: Pioneer TS-A2000LB
— Best for Car Audio: CT Sounds Meso 8 Inch Car Subwoofer
— Best for Home Audio: Polk Audio PSW111
— Best Under-Seat: Rockville RW8CA 8-Inch Under-Seat Active-Powered Car Subwoofer
— Best Budget: BOSS Audio Systems CXX8
— Best Replacement: Kicker 44CWCD84 CompC
— Best Loud: American Bass 8-Inch Competition Woofer

How We Picked the Best 8-Inch Subwoofers

I’ve learned a number of things building car stereos, but the biggest lesson of all is that more power output doesn’t always make for better quality sound. 8-inch subwoofers are a good example of this rule for two reasons. First, an 8-inch sub will provide great sound, but with very few exceptions, won’t provide loud, ground-shaking bass. Second, don’t cram a larger sub in a space meant for a smaller one. I kept these lessons in the forefront of my mind when I  researched the 8-inch subs for this list. My criteria are as follows: sound quality, build quality, price, then power… in that order. 

Sound quality is subjective. For me, sound quality is about range and clarity. These qualities are based on frequency range and speaker sensitivity. If you want concert sound quality, your 8-inch subwoofer needs to complement the other speakers in your setup, not drown them out. 

Power and volume are important, just not at the expense of sound quality. Bass should build the foundation of a good sound system, not drown out everything else. A great 8-inch subwoofer will give you that foundation. 

Best 8-Inch Subwoofers: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Pioneer TS-A2000LB

Bass Torpedo. Pioneer

Why It Made The Cut: Pioneer’s TS-A2000LB is the top pick because it combines a great-sounding 8-inch subwoofer with a slim enclosure for a good price.  

Specs: 
Enclosure Size: 16.5 inches L x 12.5 inches W x 7 inches H
Mounting Depth: 2 ⅝ inches
RMS Power: 250 to 700 watts
Frequency Response: 20 to 250 hertz

Pros:
— Outstanding bass sound from a shallow, compact design
— Oversized cone provides enhanced bass response
— Quality enclosure fits in tight spaces
— Good price

Cons:
— Not as much bass feel as other subwoofers

When I went to pick my best overall subwoofer, I had wanted to recommend the Pioneer TS-SWX2002, but then I discovered Pioneer’s Pioneer TS-A2000LB. With the same great bass sound as the SWX2002 thanks to its oversized cone, the A2000LB delivers 100 watts more RMS and peak power.  

The subwoofer’s enclosure is also thinner than the TS-SWX2002’s, making it a great option for small cars and pickup trucks. If you have a standard cab truck, you’ll find space for this sub behind your seat. It will also fit under some seats or even the footwell of a small car. Also, if you want to use your own enclosure you can order the speaker separately as the TSA2000LD2.      

The TS-A2000LB won’t win any audio competitions or rattle your foundation, but it will provide loud, great-sounding low-end bass from an attractive, well-made enclosure.

Best for Car Audio: CT Sounds Meso 8 Inch Car Subwoofer

Crisp Quality. CT Sounds

Why It Made The Cut: The CT Sounds MESO-8-D4 car audio subwoofer delivers surprisingly loud, clear bass from a small package. 

Specs: 
Enclosure Size: N/A
Mounting Depth: 6.61 inches
RMS Power: 800 to 1600 watts
Frequency Response: 25 to 250 hertz

Pros:
— Loud, earthshaking bass
— Clear sound with no noticeable distortion
— 800-watt RMS rating and 1600-watt peak performance
— Sturdy construction handles high-powered audio frequencies

Cons:
— Premium price
— Lacks the “plug and play” of some subwoofers in this class

CT Sounds advertising boasts, “Whether you’re looking for a dropkick through a concrete wall or to annoy the… neighbors, the CT Sounds MESO-8-D4 car audio subwoofers deliver the primordial bass that you don’t just hear, you feel.”

They’re not lying. 800 watts RMS power with a 1,600 peak from an 8-inch subwoofer is unreal. With the CT Sounds Meso 8 Inch Car Subwoofer you feel that power as well as hear it. It rumbles and thunders, delivering bone-shaking bass that rattles windows with no distortion.  

There’s no way an 8-inch subwoofer should bring this level of bass. The Meso can dunk on a lot of 10-inch subwoofers, proving big things do come in small packages. If you want big bass sound, you can’t beat the CT Sound Meso.  

Best for Home Audio: Polk Audio PSW111

Thunder For Your Home-Theater. Polk

Why It Made The Cut: Polk Audio’s PSW111 is the top pick for home theater, providing great bass sound in a box that fits anywhere. 

Specs: 
Enclosure Size: 14 inches L x 11 inches W x 12.2 inches H
Mounting Depth: N/A
RMS Power: 150 to 300 watts
Frequency Response: 38 to 250 hertz

Pros:
— Clean, precise bass
— Compact, sleek design
— Integrates well with most home theater setups
— Automatic on/off feature

Cons:
— Lacks deep low-end frequency bass

If you’re looking for a little extra low-end sound for your home theater, the Polk Audio PSW111 is a great option. The clean precise sound will complement  your existing speakers without overwhelming them. It remains balanced and distortion-free even at high volumes. Combine it with a soundbar, loudspeakers, or even just a television for a dynamic range of sound.  

The PSW111 is small and unobtrusive, making it easy to set up anywhere, and is ideal for small spaces. You can hide it behind a couch, under an end table, or even on a bookcase without guests knowing it’s there. It’s easy to hook up, and comes with adjustable audio controls and an automatic on/off mechanism that make it hassle-free.  

If you’re looking for chest-thumping, room-shaking bass, keep looking, but if you want to enhance your music listening or movie watching experience with precise bass, this device is perfect. It responds well to changes in audio and produces reliable results. Best of all, the Polk adds warmth, expanding the resonance of anything you listen to.

Best Under-Seat: Rockville RW8CA 8-Inch Under-Seat Active-Powered Car Subwoofer

Rumble Seats. Rockville

Why It Made The Cut: If you want great-sounding bass in a slim profile setup with hassle-free installation and reliability, you can’t go wrong with the Rockville RW8CA. 

Specs: 
Enclosure Size: 12.4 inches L x 11 inches W x 2.7 inches H
Mounting Depth: N/A
RMS Power: 150 to 600 watts
Frequency Response: 20 to 150 hertz

Pros:
— Slim profile fits under almost any seat
— Built-in amplifier with customizable settings
— Crisp and clean bass you can feel
— Three-stage protection circuits and auto on/off switch

Cons:
— Lacks big-sounding bass

It may have one of the slimmest profiles in its class, but the Rockville RW8CA puts out an impressive 150 watts of RMS and 600 watts of peak power. It’s also reasonably priced and has a built-in amplifier, and includes some nice safety features like auto on/off, and protection circuits for thermal overload, shorts, and power overloads. 

The metal case is solid and durable with high-level inputs, making it easy to hook up to your stereo. It’s also customizable with a level control for volume, a subsonic filter to filter out frequencies below the human hearing range, low pass crossover, phase control, and bass boost.  

The Rockville RW8CA has a high sensitivity of 100 decibels and produces clean, clear bass. It will shake you and your seat, but won’t rattle the car next to you. Get something else if you want to vibrate the pavement, but if you want great-sounding bass in a system with hassle-free installation and reliability, this is it.

Best Budget: BOSS Audio Systems CXX8

Rumble Seats. Rockville

Why It Made The Cut: BOSS Audio Systems’ CXX8 is a quality subwoofer that offers great sound for a bargain price. 

Specs: 
Enclosure Size: N/A
Mounting Depth: 3 ⅞ inches
RMS Power: 150 to 600 watts
Frequency Response: 20 to 150 hertz

Pros:
— Quality components at a budget price
— Clean, clear bass
— Good warranty

Cons:
— Not as powerful as other 8-inch subwoofers
— Lacks the “plug and play” of some subwoofers in this class

I was going to recommend the Pyle PLPW8D until I noticed the BOSS Audio Systems CXX8 is now roughly the same price. The Pyle is a great choice for a budget subwoofer and provides more peak power, but the BOSS is made with higher-quality components and comes with a three-year warranty.  

The CXX8 features a durable polypropylene cone, stamped basket, and rubber surround. It can take some serious punishment and is resistant to high thermal and electrical conductivity. It’s also corrosion-resistant making it a good choice for a marine speaker. 

The bass is clean and clear. The 600-watt peak is not as powerful as the Pyle or other 8-inch subs, but the CXX8 provides the quality sound of a sub costing two to three times more. More importantly, it will provide that sound quality long after other lower-quality subs bite the dust.

Best Replacement: Kicker 44CWCD84 CompC

Rejuvenate Your Sound. Kicker

Why It Made The Cut: If you need an 8-inch sub for an OE upgrade or replacement, Kicker’s 44CWCD84 makes a nice upgrade. 

Specs: 
Enclosure Size: N/A
Mounting Depth: 3 ⅞ inches
RMS Power: 200 to 400 watts
Frequency Response: 30 to 500 hertz

Pros:
— Clean, clear bass sound
— Durable, made with quality components
— Great thermal management

Cons:
— Can be tricky to mount
— Lacks the “plug and play” of some subwoofers in this class

Kicker has been around since the early days of car subwoofers and has a reputation for reliably great sounding bass. The 44CWCD84 CompC is no exception. Engineered for a clean, strong sound, it generates 200 watts of RMS power and 400 watts of peak power. Like the Boss CXX8, it’s not the most powerful, but it’s durable, providing lasting quality over peak power. 

Like less expensive options on this list, the Kicker 44CWCD84 needs to be hardwired and isn’t “plug and play”. It also doesn’t have the power of top tier subwoofers.  There have been complaints that it’s not easy to mount. Some home mechanics recommend purchasing an adapter ring if you’re replacing an OEM subwoofer. Aside from that, the Kicker makes an excellent OEM replacement if you need a quality 8-inch sub.

Best Loud: American Bass 8-Inch Competition Woofer

Thunder Anyone? American Bass

Why It Made The Cut: If loud, intense bass is your priority over low-end rumble, the American Bass Competition Woofer will deliver. 

Specs: 
Enclosure Size: N/A
Mounting Depth: 5 inches
RMS Power: 400 to 800 watts
Frequency Response: 30 to 300 hertz

Pros:
— Loud and intense bass from a small package
— Sturdy, well-made construction
— More powerful than most 8-inch and some 12-inch subs

Cons:
— Heavy with a sluggish low-end bass response
— There are cheaper options with better sound quality

It’s a bit of a stretch to expect an 8-inch subwoofer to provide loud, rumbling bass. That's the trade you make when you opt for the smaller size, and it’s one I’ll make all day long if it affords me better sound quality. But an exception can be made for the  American Bass 8-Inch Competition Woofer; it’s loud and bumps hard. 

The speaker sounds surprisingly good near its peak, only muddying when the frequency drops below 30 hertz. That’s fine for most music, but if you listen to music with extremely low bass, it will get muddy.  

Part of that tradeoff in the lower register is due to the speaker’s construction quality. The American Bass Competition Woofer has a woven carbon Kevlar material in a golden hue, backed with a non-pressed paper cone. The basket is cast aluminum and there is a high-density foam surround to minimize vibrations. It’s a heavy, powerful little beast of a subwoofer and it will handle real punishment. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a 8-Inch Subwoofer

When buying an 8-inch subwoofer, the three most important considerations are power, sensitivity, and frequency. 

Power

Power equals loudness. When looking at subwoofers, there are two ratings to keep in mind:    

— RMS power, or root mean square, indicates how much power a subwoofer can handle continuously. Your subwoofer should be able to handle this level of power indefinitely. 

—  Peak power is the maximum power a subwoofer can handle in short bursts. However, if you try to sustain peak power it will only wreck your speakers.   

Sensitivity

Sensitivity is measured in decibels (dB) and rates how well a speaker converts power into sound. The higher the decibels, the less power a speaker needs to produce sound. This is why a speaker with a RMS output of 200 watts can sound louder than one with a 250-watt rating, so long as the former has a higher decibel rating. 

Frequency

Frequency rating indicates how wide the range of sounds your speakers can reproduce. Measured in hertz (Hz), the lower the frequency, the better the low-end sound. Speakers that can produce sounds below 30 hertz will produce that deep physical rumble we all like, while subwoofers in the 30- to 50-hertz range will still give you a nice deep resonance. 

FAQs

Q: Is an 8-inch subwoofer big enough? 

The adage about size not being important applies to whether 8-inch subwoofers are big enough. You can certainly get tight, clean bass from an 8-inch subwoofer. In some cases, you’ll even get power that rivals a 10 or 12-inch sub. But in the 8-inch size category, the emphasis should be on quality, not loudness.  

Q: Are dual 8-inch subwoofers good? 

The answer depends on the 8-inch subs and what you are comparing them to. As a rule, dual subwoofers will increase the available system headroom, providing greater dynamic range, lower distortion, and less potential for overdrive. In other words, two smaller subs will provide cleaner, more accurate bass at extreme drive levels.

Q: Are 8-inch subwoofers worth it? 

If you have to choose between an 8-inch subwoofer and no subwoofer, the answer is always yes. 8-inch subs have a number of benefits: they draw less power than larger subwoofers and won’t put as much strain on your car’s battery, and if you’re running factory speakers, a good 8-inch sub will complement your stereo instead of drowning it out.   

Q: How much space does an 8-inch subwoofer need?

The minimum recommended space for an eight-inch speaker is 0.375 cubic feet. A larger enclosure provides more volume of space to produce a flatter sound, which is better for less bass-heavy music. Anything smaller than 0.375 cubic feet will not allow for proper acoustics. Not only does that hurt sound quality but it also causes more wear on the subwoofer.  

Q: Do shallow subs sound as good? 

Shallow mount subwoofers won’t provide as deep of bass or sound quality as one that requires a deeper mount. However, there are a number of good shallow mount subwoofers that provide good bass in most situations. 

Q: Are 10-inch better than 8-inch subwoofers?  

Larger subwoofers typically provide more volume and better clarity than smaller ones. However, if you try to cram a 10-inch sub in too small of space, it will sound worse than a bad 8-inch sub. The key is finding the right-sized sub for the space available that will fit your specific needs.  

Final Thoughts:

The Pioneer TS-A2000LB is at the top of the class because of all-around performance. For an all-in-one subwoofer to fit under a seat, the Rockville RW8CA is a great choice. For the best subwoofer for a low price check out the BOSS Audio Systems CXX8. And if you want the best 8-inch for big, loud sound, you can’t miss with the CT Sounds Meso 8 Inch Car Subwoofer

Other choices include the Kicker 44CWCD84 CompC and the American Bass 8-Inch  Competition Woofer. Both of these 8-inch subs are great options and are rated almost as high as the other choices on this list. Finally, if you want a great 8-inch subwoofer for your home theater, take a look at the Polk Audio PSW111 which stands out for its great bass delivery that’s ready for a lot of applications.

This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.


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