If' you're looking to improve the audio in your car but don't have a lot of space, a shallow-mount subwoofer could be just the ticket. If you think a shallow-mount subwoofer won’t sound good or is too expensive, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. For less than $100, you can get a great-sounding subwoofer provides years of enjoyment. And quality names like Rockford Fosgate, Infinity, and Pioneer have plenty of options for around $200 or less.
Like other stereo equipment, it’s hard to know where to start. There are plenty of choices, many of which are good options. If you have trouble deciding or don’t know the first thing about subwoofers, read on. We’ll cover what to look for and provide our recommendations on the best shallow-mount subwoofers.
— Best Overall: PIONEER TS-A2500LS4
— Best 10-Inch: Infinity REF1000S
— Best 8-Inch: Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8
— Best Budget: Skar Audio VD10-D4
— Best With Enclosure: Rockford Fosgate Prime R2S-1X12 Single R2S
How We Picked the Best Shallow-Mount Subwoofers
To pick the best shallow-mount subwoofers, I looked at the leading brands and compared the specs, features, and costs. Experience also factors into this mix as well as evaluating each model based on power, sensitivity, and frequency range.
In addition to my own research and experience, I looked at reviews from professional sources as well as individuals. Then I compared features, quality, and sound. Price also played a factor, and I ranked less expensive subwoofers higher if they had the same features and specs as more expensive ones. Finally, I looked at the criteria many people use to consider speakers to organize this list into categories.
Best Shallow-Mount Subwoofers: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: PIONEER TS-A2500LS4
Why It Made The Cut: Whether you drive a Miata or pickup truck, if you need a shallow-mount subwoofer and want powerful, great-sounding bass, the Pioneer PIONEER TS-A2500LS4 is an excellent choice.
— Mounting Depth: 3.375 inches
— RMS Power: 300 watts
— Frequency Response: 20 to 900 hertz
— Ideal for narrow spots and tight spaces
— Proven build quality
— Great sound with minimal distortion
— Angled push terminals
— Not as powerful as other subs
Some reviews rank the Pioneer TS-ZL10LS2 over the PIONEER TS-A2500LS4, but I’m sticking with the TS series. Both match up well and get great reviews. However, there have been some durability concerns related to the TS-ZL’s voice coils.
The TS-A2500LS4 delivers great-sounding, deep resonant bass. It’s a 10-inch sub that comes with a mica-injected resin cone with an oversized surface area. This increases the surface area of the sub without increasing the overall size and makes it very efficient. The reinforced cone structure provides crisp and accurate bass. Combined, these features minimize distortion at higher volumes.
The TS series has been around for a while and has a tried and true reputation for durable, great-sounding speakers. It needs just 3.375 inches for mounting and comes with angled push terminals. This may seem like a minor feature, but it allows easy connections preventing wires from getting bent or crimped.
There are other subwoofers that produce more power than the TS-A2500LS4, including other shallow-mount subs. If more power is important, and you have the space, check out Pioneer’s TS-A3000LS4, a 12-inch sub with 400 watts of RMS power. You won’t need it. The 10-inch is extremely versatile and will fit a lot of vehicles. That versatility, durability, and great sound quality are why it’s the top pick.
Best 10-Inch: Infinity REF1000S
Why It Made The Cut: While slightly less powerful than the Pioneer, the Infinity REF1000S offers surprising bass in a durable, well-made 10-inch package.
— Mounting Depth: 3.375 inches
— RMS Power: 200 watts
— Frequency Response: 35 to 175 hertz
— Affordable price
— Great build quality
— Tight, clean distortion-free bass
— Fits a variety of vehicles and spaces
— Low RMS rating
Infinity’s REF line of shallow-mount subs is a great addition to any car audio system. With the 3.375-inch mounting depth, they will fit almost any vehicle and space. The REF1000S is ideal for anyone who needs a sub in a 10-inch size, but Infinity also offers a 12-inch sub if you want to go bigger.
The bass sounds crisp with clear and accurate notes. The REF series feature Harman’s SSI™ (Selectable Smart Impedance) letting you choose a 2- or 4-ohm impedance at the flip of a switch. It’s also designed for efficient aero-cooling to keep the voice coil cool while optimizing power handling. Acoustically damped glass-fiber cones minimize distortion while improving flexibility, performance, and durability.
The one knock on the REF1000S is the low RMS power rating. It’s less than the Pioneer, which bumped this speaker from the top spot. However, the Infinity makes good use of that power and gets excellent reviews for sound quality and durability.
Best 8-Inch: Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8
Why It Made The Cut: If you’re looking for a replacement 8-inch subwoofer or want a well-built sub that sounds amazing and fits in small spaces, the Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 is an excellent choice.
— Mounting Depth: 2.66 inches
— RMS Power: 150 watts
— Frequency Response: 38 to 250 hertz
— Super skinny mounting depth
— Rock-solid build quality
— Deep bass sound
— Makes an ideal replacement option
— Time-consuming installation
Let’s get the RMS (power) rating out of the way first — it’s only 150 watts. Ignore that because the Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 is one of the most balanced, resonant subwoofers you can buy. It can also get loud if you feel the need to pump up the volume and sounds crisp and clear doing it.
The P3SD2-8 makes a great replacement subwoofer for cars with 8-inch factory subs. The only challenge is installing it. Some of the holes are not pre-drilled and the speaker lacks a universal mounting kit so it will take a little bit of time to set it up. However, the shallow 2.66-inch mounting depth means you can fit it anywhere. You could almost stuff it in your wallet.
Unfortunately, you’ll have space in your wallet because it’s more expensive than most other 8-inch subs. But you also get what you pay for because Rockford Fosgate makes a premium quality product. The materials and the build quality are top-notch and should provide years of enjoyment, aAnd it will sound amazing doing it.
Best Budget: Skar Audio VD10-D4
Why It Made The Cut: Budget subwoofers sound cheap and almost never last, but the Skar Audio V10-D4 is an exception. It offers surprisingly loud bass at a surprisingly reasonable price.
— Mounting Depth: 4.41 inches
— RMS Power: 500 watts
— Frequency Response: 30 to 350 hertz
— Inexpensive yet well made
— Durable construction and speaker components
— Crisp, clear distortion-free bass
— Requires 4.41 inches for mounting depth
It’s unusual that the most expensive shallow-mount subwoofer has the lowest RMS (power) output, while the cheapest offers three times the power. But then Skar Audio is known for powerful bass, and with 500 watts, RMS the VD-10 D4 is no exception. This 10-inch subwoofer sounds big and fools people into thinking it’s bigger than it is when at full volume.
It sounds good as well. Skar uses a pressed paper cone and stitched foam surround. It’s not the same quality as other materials like polypropylene, but it does its job. Skar Audio has used this setup for years and it works for them, providing good sound and durability at a reasonable price.
The only issue is mounting depth. At 4.41 inches, it needs almost 50 percent more space to mount than the other subwoofers on this list. It’s in between the mounting depth of a regular subwoofer and a true shallow one. Think of it as a mid-shallow-mount speaker.
At less than $100, you can’t beat the sound the Skar VD-10 D4 puts out. There are cheaper speakers, but they can’t touch it in terms of sound or quality. It also comes in other sizes, ranging from 8 to 12-inches so you have options.
Best With Enclosure: Rockford Fosgate Prime R2S-1X12 Single R2S
Why It Made The Cut: If you want a skinny enclosure to fit in a small space and premium bass sound quality, Rockford Fosgate’s R2S-1X12 has your name on it.
— Mounting Depth: 5.5 inches
— RMS Power: 250 watts
— Frequency Response: 29 to 250 hertz
— Epic-sounding bass
— Durable enclosure and speaker components
— Enclosure fits in very tight places
— It won’t rattle the windows
If you’d rather go the plug-and-play route to avoid messing with wires and amplifiers, the Rockford Fosgate R2S-1X12 is an ideal alternative. It offers the same Rockford Fosgate quality in a shallow-mount enclosure. If you have 5.5 inches behind your seat, you can stuff this subwoofer back there.
Sound quality is also on par with other Rockford Fosgate products. The bass is spot on and surprisingly nuanced for such a shallow speaker. However, if you’re looking for a towering wall of sound you’ll be disappointed. It’s not going to rattle your fillings, but it will give you epic concert-quality sound.
Rockford Fosgate advertises the R2S-1X12 for trucks saying, “the wedge design is optimized for single-cab trucks with limited seat travel.” But it also makes a great subwoofer for a small car like a Mazda Miata or Mini Cooper. It’s small enough it won’t take up your whole trunk yet doesn’t compromise on clear, resonant bass sound.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Shallow-Mount Subwoofer
Like a regular subwoofer or another piece of stereo equipment, the first thing to determine is if the shallow-mount subwoofer will fit your space and complement your existing stereo. That’s where a tape measure and your ear come in handy. When shopping for a subwoofer, it’s important to consider the following three things:
Sound volume is based on power, which is measured in watts (W) for speakers. The higher the output, the louder the sound. When looking at power ratings for shallow-mount subwoofers, you’ll want to compare two numbers:
RMS Power: RMS power, which is the maximum constant power rating for a speaker. RMS stands for root mean square, a calculation of how much constant output a speaker can handle without coming apart. The higher the RMS power rating, the more output a subwoofer will provide.
Peak Power: Peak power indicates the extreme loudness a speaker can handle in short bursts. Think sounds like thunder or explosions that last for a few seconds. You cannot run a subwoofer at peak power continuously because it will blow the speaker. For more options, here is our guide to the best 12-inch subwoofers.
If you compare two speakers with the same RMS power but one sounds louder, check the sensitivity ratings. Measured in decibels (dB), sensitivity is an efficiency rating showing how well a speaker converts power volume into loudness.
Measured in hertz (Hz), frequency range is the dynamic range of sounds a speaker will produce. For subwoofers, the only range to care about is 20 to 200 hertz, at the extreme low end of human hearing. Keep in mind that the lower the hertz,, the deeper and better the bass you’ll get. Steer clear of subwoofers with a fixed hertz rating, as they won’t let you adjust the bass based on what you’re listening to.
Q: How much do shallow-mount subwoofers cost?
Shallow-mount subwoofers cost about the same as regular subwoofers. You can find one for under $50 but good inexpensive ones cost $80 to $100. Premium-quality shallow-mount subwoofers will set you back around $200.
Q: Do shallow-mount subwoofers sound good?
Yes — you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between regular and shallow-mount subwoofers. If you prefer a particular brand, the shallow-mount subwoofers will sound similar and offer the same quality as the brand’s standard subwoofer.
Q: How deep is a shallow sub?
Most subwoofers require a mounting depth of about six to eight inches. A shallow subwoofer typically requires half that depth space or three to four inches.
Q: What’s the difference between shallow-mount subwoofers and typical subwoofers?
Shallow-mount subwoofers sound the same as typical subwoofers but weigh less and require less space. This makes them ideal for small cars and pickup trucks that don’t have a lot of room for a big subwoofer.
The reality is you can’t go wrong with any of the brands on this list, but the subwoofers from Rockford and PIONEER consistently receive top ratings for sound and build quality. The PIONEER TS-A2500LS4 takes the top spot for the build and sound quality that comes in such a thin package. The Rockford Fosgate Prime R2S-1X12 Single R2S offers good, though not window thumping, sound from an enclosed design, if that’s what you need. However, you can’t go wrong with every model on the list.
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.