The best subwoofers make the most of your music, combining resonant bass with a great low-frequency rumble that you feel more than hear. Finding a good car subwoofer has less to do with size than it does with several other factors. You can fill your trunk with speakers, and power them with an amplifier so strong it dims your headlights. That might blow fuses and rattle your fillings, but in the end it will still sound muddy and weird, like a drunk uncle singing the lyrics to a Britney Spears song. 

Instead, a quality subwoofer is one that features a good combination of sound and power.  Luckily, there are plenty of options for the best subwoofers for cars for any vehicle size that will greatly improve the sound of your car stereo. 

Best Overall: Rockford Fosgate P300-12 Punch
— Best 12-Inch: Rockford Fosgate P3D2-12
— Best 8-Inch: Pioneer TS-A2000LB
— Best Budget: BOSS Audio Systems CXX8
— Best Shallow-Mount: Kicker 44CWCS124
— Best Tube: MTX Audio RT8PT
— Best Under-Seat: Rockville RW8CA 8-Inch Under-Seat Active-Powered Car Subwoofer
— Best for Bass: MTX Audio TNP212DV Terminator

How We Picked The Best Subwoofers For Cars

There are two mistakes that are easy to make when buying a subwoofer. First, more power doesn’t translate into better sound: it just means louder sound. Second, bigger is not always better — rather, you need the right size speaker for your space; stuff too large of a speaker in the available space and it won’t sound good. 

When picking the subwoofers on this list, I used a few criteria: including sound quality, build quality, price, and power — in that order. I will always pick quality first because I prefer a full range of dynamic, concert-like sound to ground-pounding bass. However, that’s not to say you can’t have both. Most of the subs on this list are capable of delivering sonic booms without getting in the way of your other car speakers.   

Finally, I reviewed subwoofers that range in price from about $30 up to around $400. You can always spend more money and get louder or better speakers, but after about $400 you’re getting a diminishing return for what you’re paying. The subs on this list will outperform the majority of factory OEM systems, including the cheaper ones.  

Best Subwoofers for Cars: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: Rockford Fosgate P300-12 Punch

Peak Rumble. Rockford Fosgate

Why It Made The Cut: The Rockford Fosgate P300-12 Punch is the overall top pick for sound quality, build quality, and comes with an amplifier and enclosure, making it easy to set up.  

Specs:
Exterior Surround Dimensions: 11 inches H x 19.8 inches W  x 15 inches D
Mounting Depth: N/A
RMS Power: 300 to 1,300 watts
Frequency Response: 27 to 500 hertz

Pros:
— “All-in-one” package for easy installation
— 300 watt amp provides plenty of power
— Sealed enclosure provides great sound
— Good construction quality 

Cons:
— Bulky size 

If you’re looking for a great all-around subwoofer, it’s hard to go wrong with the Rockford Fosgate P300-12 Punch. The 12-inch subwoofer and 300 watt amp combo pump out 300 watts of RMS power, and 1,300 watts of peak power. All you have to do is hook it up. This makes it an ideal setup for someone who is looking to add more bass to an existing car stereo or home system.    

The sealed enclosure provides a deep, resonant low end with clear sound across the range. The construction quality also stands out. Both the subwoofer and enclosure are solid, well made, and should last for a long time. If the 12-inch version is too large, Rockford Fosgate also makes a 10-inch version of the P300.

Best 12-Inch: Rockford Fosgate P3D2-12

Wide Mouth Sound. Rockford Fosgate

Why It Made The Cut: The Rockford Fosgate P3D2-12 is one of the best 12-inch subwoofers at any price. 

Specs:
Exterior Surround Dimensions: N/A
Mounting Depth: 6.66 inches
RMS Power: 600 to 1,200 watts
Frequency Response: 28 to 250 hertz

Pros:
— Loud and responsive with clear sound
— Durable solid, anodized aluminum cone
— FlexFit design allows ease of adjustability
— Attractive, high-quality components 

Cons:
— Frequency range is not as wide as other subwoofers
— Does not include an amplifier or enclosure 

Rockford Fosgate’s P3D2 peak subwoofer provides a great bass sound for a reasonable price. Its 600 watts RMS of power and 1,200 watts of peak power mean it can handle any kind of music you like. 

It offers great performance thanks to Rockford Fosgate's “VAST” technology and its hybrid stamp-cast basket. VAST stands for Vertical Attach Surround Technique and increases a speaker’s effective cone area. That technology, coupled with a strong, lightweight anodized aluminum cone eliminates flex and provides an excellent bass response. It’s both durable and lightweight, making it the ideal subwoofer for any application, and the sound quality makes it a great choice for any bass lover.

In addition to the 12-inch model, Rockford Fosgate also makes the P3D2-10, a 10-inch version of this subwoofer.  

Best 8-Inch: Pioneer TS-A2000LB

Compact Precision. PIONEER

Why It Made The Cut: Pioneer’s TS-A2000LB is a top choice if you want a great-sounding, 8 inch subwoofer with a slim enclosure that comes for a good price.  

Specs:
Enclosure Size: 16.5 x 12.5 x 7 Inches
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 low-end bass feel as other subwoofers

Pioneer’s TS-A2000LB offers great bass sound thanks to its formidable subwoofer and full-range loudspeakers, which provide dynamic, high impact bass that lets you hear and feel the music. Its thin enclosure makes the Pioneer a great option for small cars and pickup trucks, fitting into the space behind the seat of most standard cab pickup trucks, under some seats, or even into the footwell of a small car. 

The Pioneer TS-A2000LB also looks great. The enclosure is sturdy and well-made. While the Pioneer’s sound won’t rattle your foundation, it will provide loud, precise low-end bass.

Best Budget: BOSS Audio Systems CXX8 

Rock Everything But The Wallet. BOSS Audio Systems

Why It Made The Cut: BOSS Audio Systems CXX8 and CXX10 are quality subwoofers offering 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

If you have a tight budget and want the best subwoofer for a rock bottom price, the BOSS Audio Systems CXX series is a great choice. Available as an 8- or 10-inch  speaker, this model is made with high-quality components and comes with a three-year warranty.  

The CXX 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 those looking for a marine speaker. 

The bass is clean and clear. The 600-watt peak is not as powerful as other subs, but still provides the quality of sound you’ll find in a sub costing two to three times more. Additionally, it will provide that sound quality long after other lower-quality subs bite the dust.   

Best Shallow-Mount: Kicker 44CWCS124 

Ribbed Sound. Kicker

Why It Made The Cut: The Kicker 44CWCS124 is a great shallow-mount subwoofer that offers a lot of sonic depth.  

Specs:
Exterior Surround Dimensions: N/A
Mounting Depth: 5.38 inches
RMS Power: 300 to 1,200 watts
Frequency Response: 27 to 500 hertz

Pros:
— Good sound quality
— Ribbed polyurethane surround reduces vibrations
— Attractive design
— Durable build quality 

Cons:
— Not as loud as other subwoofers 

These 8- and 12-inch Kicker subwoofers offer great value in a shallow-mount speaker. The sound quality of the Kicker 44CWCS124 and Kicker 44CWCD84 CompC stand out because of the ribbed polyurethane speaker surround that reduces vibrations. Its yellow stitching offers some flash when on display.  

The CompC voice coil ensures smooth, distortion-free bass, while 300 watts of RMS power and 1,200 watts of max power mean that this subwoofer can pump out the serious sound. Best of all, it comes at a price that won’t hurt your budget. 

Best Tube: MTX Audio RT8PT

Hot Tubes. MTX

Why It Made The Cut: If you’re looking for a tube subwoofer, the MTX Audio RT8PT provides great sound and a great warranty for a good price.   

Specs:
Exterior Surround Dimensions: 22.58 inches L x 11.25 inches W x 11 inches H
Mounting Depth: N/A
RMS Power: 120 to 240 watts
Frequency Response: 35 to 250 hertz

Pros:
— Easy to install and use
— Great sound
— Five-year warranty 

Cons:
— Not as powerful as other subwoofers 

You might be looking for a tube for a couple reasons: it will fit the unique space in your car, or because you like the old-school take. Either way you can’t go wrong with the MTX Audio RT8PT. This tube is a great all-in-one solution that takes up a minimal amount of space. Unlike other tubes that are completely cylindrical, the RT8PT has a flat bottom, which will keep it from rolling around in your trunk. 

MTX Audio may not have the same name recognition as Kicker or Rockford Fosgate, but don’t let that deter you. The company has been an industry leader for years and its products come with an impressive 5-year warranty. The RT8PT’s power output is lower than other systems, but it still provides a good resonant bass sound.

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

Rattle The Seats. Rockville

Why It Made The Cut: If you want great sounding bass in a slim profile setup with hassle-free installation and good 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, but the Rockville RW8CA puts out a respectable 150 watts of RMS and 600 watts of peak power. It’s also reasonably priced, with a built-in amplifier. Plus it includes some nice features like an auto on/off, and protection circuits for thermal overloads, shorts, and power overloads. 

The metal case is solid and durable with high-level inputs, making it easy to hook up to your stereo. You can also adjust the settings, 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 puts out clean, clear bass. It will shake you and your seat, but won’t rattle the car next to you. It’s a great choice for anyone who wants a great-sounding bass sub, with hassle-free installation and good reliability.

Best for Bass: MTX Audio TNP212DV Terminator

Subsonic Supernatural. MTX

Why It Made The Cut: The MTX TNP212DV offers thumping low-end bass in an attractive box that comes for a reasonable price. 

Specs:
Exterior Surround Dimensions: 29.5 inches L x 13.5 inches W x 14 inches H
Mounting Depth: N/A
RMS Power: 1,000 to 2,000 watts
Frequency Response: 37 to 150 hertz

Pros:
— Strong low-end bass
— Durable polypropylene cones
— Attractive, well-crafted box
— Includes amplifier and bass control knob 

Cons:
— Large, bulky size

The MTX Audio TNP212DV combines a pair of 12-inch subwoofers to deliver outstanding, clear, thundering bass. The subwoofers are made with durable polypropylene dust caps which will handle heavy use. The lightweight design ensures efficient movement that uses less power. 

Best of all, the system’s easy set up makes it convenient to hook up to anything, be it your car, or even your home stereo. No matter how you use them, the MTX TNE212D will kick your sound up a notch and look good while doing it. 

Things to Consider Before Buying a Car Subwoofer

There are three things to evaluate when buying a subwoofer for your car: power, sensitivity, and frequency. 

Power

Power determines loudness and is measured in watts. There are two ratings to look at when considering subwoofer power:     

RMS power, or root mean square, refers to the subwoofer’s continuous power rating. A subwoofer should be able to handle RMS power indefinitely. 

Peak power is a subwoofer's maximum power. A subwoofer can only handle peak power for short periods of time. Run your subwoofer continuously at peak power and you will wreck your speakers.    

Sensitivity

Sensitivity reflects how well a speaker converts power into sound. Measured in decibels (dB), the higher the sensitivity rating, the less power a speaker needs. At equal power, speakers with a higher sensitivity rating will emit more sound than ones with a lower sensitivity rating. 

Frequency

Frequency, which is noted in hertz (Hz), measures soundwaves. Bass sounds and resonant sounds at the low end of human hearing have a frequency of 60 to 250Hz. Subwoofers rated for 30Hz can reproduce that deep physically thundering rumble we all like.  

FAQs

Q: How much do subwoofers cost?

Subwoofers range in price from about $30 up to $1,000 or more. The ones on this list range in cost from about $30 to about $400. 

Q: How do I install subwoofers in my car? 

If the subwoofer you purchase comes with its own enclosure, it’s pretty easy to install it: just place it in the trunk or under a seat, and then wire it to the car’s stereo. If the subwoofer doesn’t have an enclosure then you’ll want to buy one, make one, or mount it inside your car. There are lots of videos that show you how to install a subwoofer

Q: How many watts do I need for my car subwoofer? 

Generally, 300 watts is the minimum to power your subwoofer. You can always add more speakers or power, but for the best sound, it’s important that the amplitude matches the power output of the other speakers in your vehicle, so that it doesn’t drown them out. 

Q: Do you have to break in a new subwoofer? 

For optimum sound quality, subwoofers should be broken in. Generally, it takes anywhere from 20 to 100 hours of play to break in a subwoofer, but check the subwoofer’s owner’s manual to confirm the recommended process and break-in period. 

Q: Do subwoofers destroy your car?

No they don’t destroy your car, but they can drain your battery and damage your ears. 

Q: Can you install a subwoofer without an amp? 

Yes, but unless your car already has one it defeats the subwoofer’s purpose, as it will need one to provide good-sounding bass. If not, select an amp that’s compatible with your subwoofer and delivers enough amps and wattage, then follow the instructions to install it.

Final Thoughts

The Rockford Fosgate P300-12 Punch and Pioneer TS-A2000LB top the list of best subwoofers for cars for sound quality and performance in an all-in-one package. For a budget option, check out the BOSS Audio Systems CXX10. Finally, the Kicker 44CWCS124 is a good option if you need a shallow mount sub that provides great sound.  

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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