The Subwoofer is not a new phenomenon. They were first invented in the 60s to add some bass to cinema soundtracks. We became more aware of them in the 70s with the very low frequency sounds in the movie Earthquake. And their first appearance in a car highlighted in the Steely Dan album Pretzel Logic also in the 70s.
Through the late 70s and 80s, the subwoofer began to make more of an appearance, especially in clubs. This was especially the case in Jamaica, where Reggae was augmented by this boosted bass. Achieved with a very ramshackle idea, it worked. The later developments of the subwoofer owe a lot to the ideas of the Jamaicans.
It became a ‘thing’ to have these bass monsters in the boot of your car from the 80s onwards. But it was twenty years later they really became a focal point.
Today the modern subwoofer in a car needs to be powerful to handle the low frequencies clearly. They are usually, but not always, placed in the boot or trunk of the car and are facing towards the back seat and are used as part of the car’s entertainment system. They are not THE system.
But what are the best car subwoofers? Let’s take a look and find the perfect one for you…
Top 12 Best Car Subwoofers of 2023
1 Rockford Fosgate P300
Rockford Fosgate is a US company who since there merger in 1986 with another electronics company, has made a big name for themselves in car audio and especially in speaker design. The equipment is all designed in the US and manufactured in Asia.
This speaker cabinet is made from ⅝” MDF fiberboard, Its compact wedge-shaped size of 15 by 20 by 11 inches. At its largest depth of 11 inches, the design allows it to fit in most spaces. The cabinet is covered in an industrial vinyl. It is a complete unit that is self-contained. Everything is built-in. It has a powerful amplifier that pushes out 600 watts peak, 300 watts RMS.
This big sound is driven through a Punch 12” subwoofer. This has a paper-pulp cone with Kevlar reinforcement. There is a two-inch voice coil and a frequency response of 35-150Hz.
It has a built-in bass EQ with a remote bass level control. The low pass crossover at 12dB/Octave is adjustable, allowing the frequencies you want to pass through. To achieve the highest level of performance, there is a closed-loop design. This ensures the speaker and amp inside the enclosure are working together.
Some interesting extra features include an automatic off/on function. We have already mentioned the remote bass level control, but there is also a separate gain and bass boost.
It is a tough, well-built unit that weighs 30 pounds, which makes it quite heavy for the average car size. The price point is reasonable. Powerful and well-equipped it must not only be considered as one of the best car subwoofers., but also as one of the best under seat subwoofers you can buy.
- Good sturdy build at a reasonable price point.
- 300 watt RMS handling power.
- The size of the cabinet is a little small for the very low frequencies.
2 MTX Audio Terminator Series TNE212D
If you are looking for a subwoofer for your car that is going to change the sound within, this could be it. MTX Audio is a US company that specializes in car audio systems but especially subwoofers and speakers.
This subwoofer is big and powerful and might be one of the best car subwoofers for quality. They are built tough with a ⅝” thick MDF casing that is covered with aircraft-grade carpet. It is therefore built to last all the bumps and shaking it will receive in the boot or trunk of a car.
This is not the kind of subwoofer that fits inside the car unless you lay it on the back seat. It measures 14 by 29 by 13 inches, so it is quite a size. It is also quite heavy at 30 pounds.
You don’t get a subwoofer to make the car look nice or lower the suspension – You buy it for the sound. You are looking for something to lift your possibly rather mundane car stereo sound. This is certainly going to do that. The power alone will be enough to skate it up a bit, but the sound quality is very good. It delivers a real, very deep throbbing bass that, at times, can be overpowering.
It has a frequency response of 10Hz to 150Hz. Housed inside the cabinet are two twelve-inch subwoofers. Each speaker is capable of handling 200 watts RMS. The woofer has a two-inch voice coil made from aluminum.
The speakers are fitted using a rubber surround to cushion any sudden vibrations. They have Polypropylene comes. It will dissipate heat and cause fresh air to be moved around the coil courtesy of a new design.
A powerful subwoofer at a very good price point. It has a rugged build but no grilles to protect the speakers. It is manufactured by MTX Audio, which are easily one of the best car subwoofer brands.
- Tough build with good materials.
- Loud, punchy sound with good extra features.
- No grilles to protect the speakers
3 JL Audio 10W6v3-D4 10″ 600W Dual 4-Ohm Car Subwoofer
JL Audio was established in 1975 in Florida and has grown from a local store selling and marketing its speakers’ designs to a company that has interests around the world. Some of their products are still made and assembled in the US. Others are manufactured overseas.
This is a high-quality woofer that not only produces a clear and powerful bass but has a big effect on the audio as a whole. It is one of the best car subwoofers for sound quality.
The basket, housing the voice coil, terminals frame, and the cone is made of a very stiff cast alloy. This has an effect on the sound of the speaker by drastically reducing any potential distortion.
This woofer is a ten-inch speaker that delivers 600 watts RMS. The cone is made of a durable and tough Polypropylene. It produces a deep and resonating bass that is clear and very defined even at higher volumes. The frequency response is 22-200Hz. It delivers a good transient response.
Those that are familiar with bass sound will know the transient response is very important. It is the speaker starting and stopping its operation when the sound goes into starts and stops. There is no overflow of sound. A bass cabinet or a woofer is more alive with a good transient response.
This is a very good subwoofer that delivers excellent bass sound. It will require the ability to have a position where there is a mounting depth of 6.89 inches. It weighs 22 pounds, so is not over heavy. Being a fitted subwoofer, it will not take up as much space as the cabinet variety.
Not particularly cheap compared with some of its competitors, but it is well made. Regardless of that, it is still one of the best car subwoofers on the market.
- Good design with good components.
- Produces a good bass sound and transient response.
- Some may not want the ‘fitted’ style of the woofer.
4 Orion HCCA12 12″ Car Subwoofer 2000 Watts
If you are looking for a subwoofer with enough power to make a lot of noise, then you’ve found it. The Orion HCCA 12 is a monster. It is going to put out a frightening 5000 watts of power, 2500 RMS. That is an awful lot of noise for a car subwoofer. It must be one of the most powerful subwoofers around.
But it’s not only powerful; it has a good sound. It has an excellent bass sound. Crisp and clear, it has a great audio quality. Part of the quality of the sound comes from a new cooling system for the voice coil. This new system helps to control the temperature, and the audio remains clear. The bass sound is very low, and it might be one of the best deep bass car subwoofers.
The 12” speaker has a rubber surround to allow the speaker some movement. It also absorbs some of the unwanted excess energy this beast produces. It has a polypropylene cone that is very durable.
Its design is to be fitted into space in the boot or trunk of your car. It will need a depth of six inches, the size of the actual speaker is 12 by 12.5 by 6.5 deep, and it weighs a massive 68 pounds. No lightweight.
Some car subwoofers are designed to be fitted in the car as this one is. Some people, though, want the woofer but want it in a box. This is possible, but we recommend having one made. Either enclosed or ported is fine, but it will need a tough build with wood and screws, not just glue. If the build is wrong, you will find pieces of your new cabinet all over the place.
The price point is in the middle range and is, therefore, good value if you are looking for this much power.
- Tough, rugged build.
- Enormous power.
- Some prefer a cabinet rather than having to fit the speaker.
5 Rockville RVB12.1A 12 Inch 500W Active Car Subwoofer
Rockville is a New York based audio company producing sound equipment for cars, home, and marine uses. They have the majority of their products made in China.
The RVB12 is an all-in-one unit that is a complete system for generating a big sound for your car’s entertainment system. The 12” inch subwoofer puts out 300 watts RMS and peaks at 500 watts. It has a frequency response of 30Hz to 150 Hz.
The speaker is fitted inside a box that is 17 by 17 by 16 inches. It is not going to take up all the space you have available but still gives you plenty of power. Also in the cabinet is a powerful built-in amp. This 12” woofer has a pulp cone with reinforced Kevlar. Also, a molded dust cap from carbon graphite.
It has a rugged build being made from MDF fiberboard that has an internal bracing to reduce vibration. The unit is covered with Aviation grade carpet in blue and black. It is designed, so the angle of the cabinet will fit against the rear seat. There is a protective speaker grille designed in the shape of a wheel cap. This helps to protect the speaker from damage. Fitted on one side are controls for adjusting the levels and sound.
This is a powerful unit that has everything you need built-in. If you are looking for a simple connection and installation, then this subwoofer is a good choice. Given a very cost-effective price point, it is one of the best car subwoofers for the money.
- All-inclusive unit with subwoofer and amp.
- Good solid build with internal bracing.
- It is quite tall in height, so make sure it fits.
6 Kicker 44DCWC122 12″ 1200W Car Audio Subwoofer
Founded in 1973 in Oklahoma, Kicker is still based there, producing powerful speakers. They now have a product range that includes speakers at all power ratings. Also, DSP, amps, and marine audio equipment. They are known to produce quality products. And where the speakers are concerned, quality build with a lot of power.
This subwoofer is built-in to a rugged cabinet with two speakers. The cabinet has been constructed from MDF fiberboard. The internals of the box show anti-vibration and strengthening bracing. The corners of the box are rounded to make an attractive design — the unit completed with a durable grey carpet.
It is a ported box with slots on the back edges. It is quite a large size unit measuring approx 36 by 24 by 18 inches, and is also no lightweight at over 60 pounds.
The cabinet encloses two 12 “ speakers with an RMS rating of 600 watts. Peak power is 1200 watts. The cones are made from Polypropylene, and they have a stabilizing surround made of polyurethane to reduce distortion.
It is a potentially powerful set up that is lowered in its quality by the amplifier supplied. It is rather underpowered, and therefore, you do not get the benefit of those powerful speakers.
For the price point, it is a good speaker system. It is a well-made and attractive design. It is rather large and heavy, though, so make sure it/s going to fit. As we say, though, it is let down by its amp.
- Good build.
- Nicely designed with two powerful subwoofers.
- The amplifier lets it down a little.
7 Dual Electronics BP1204
Do you like your share of heavyweight bass? And are quite partial to a light show? Better take a look at this then.
This subwoofer is made to be rugged and tough. It is made of MDF fiberboard with a strong interior design. The internals of the cabinet are reinforced. It is fitted with a carpet material for protection and has a sloping, curved front fascia. However, it is quite a size being 30 by 14 by 14 inches and weighs 58 pounds, so it is no lightweight. It is a ported design cabinet.
The two twelve-inch subwoofers pack a punch and deliver 600 watts RMs and 100 watts at peak. The cones are made of brushed aluminum. These deliver a loud, accurate bass sound. There is a built-in crossover to give you an easy link up with your car stereo and use a variety of setups.
The frequency response is 30Hz to 200 Hz. Twin 2.5” voice coils give you an improved sound performance. To ensure that the performance level doesn’t drop with long use, the ventilation system keeps it cool.
We mentioned light shows earlier. This has a curved front to the enclosure fitted with Plexi-glass. This creates a viewing window. Inside there is a mirrored interior. The IllumiNITE lighting gives a blue light that reflects around the inside of the cabinet. This also reflects off the aluminum cones of the speakers — quite a show and one that will throw the light into your car.
This might give you a head start over the competition. You can argue that the lighting has more priority in the design than the sound. You could be right. Other systems will give a better sound with deeper bass. This subwoofer, though, is something different. It is also at a very competitive price.
- Subwoofer and light show rolled into one.
- Good build quality and attractive style.
- Some will be more interested in the sound rather than having lights.
8 Rockville RWS12CA
Another subwoofer from Rockville. This model a slimline design. The idea is to take up less space and possibly even to allow installation inside the car. It is a very slim design that is a sealed unit. Made from MDF, it is protected by an Aviation graded carpet. It has a leather-look front panel in black.
At 25 by 15 by 4 inches and weighing just over 30 pounds, it is easy to carry around if space is limited.
It has a 12” speaker that gives out 300 watts RMS and 1200 watts peak power. The cone is designed to be very stiff and has a Kevlar reinforcement. It also has an acrylic dust cap or dome to protect the inner workings of the speaker. The basket, which includes most of the internals except the magnets, is made of rolled steel.
There is a 2-inch aluminum voice coil to generate a powerful and accurate sound. The frequency response is 38Hz to 500 Hz. Interestingly the Sound Pressure Level is not that high at 96dB. This is generated by the 300-watt amplifier. It is supplied with a fitting kit and a dashboard-mounted remote control.
The physical size of this cabinet is certainly going to hinder the depth of the bass sound. Bass needs a bit of room to create its depth, and the smaller the cabinet then, the less bass it will generate. In some vehicles, it will be possible to have this subwoofer inside. However, you will lose the resonance it can often achieve from being in the boot or trunk, though.
We are also concerned about the efficiency of a separate remote control, as in this design.
It is though quite a cheap option, but we don’t think it will deliver the sort of bass sound that most will want.
- Slimline design.
- Lightweight and doesn’t use much room.
- Bass’s response might be light.
9 Alpine Type R 12
Are you looking for a subwoofer for the car that is going to make a lot of noise? Then this will do the job. With an RMS rating of 250-750 watts and a peak level of 2250, we think you might get most peoples’ attention.
This is a 12” subwoofer pushing out that kind of volume using dual voice coils. The pulp cone is reinforced with Kevlar, and it is fitted with rubber-based surround. This will reduce any unwanted vibrations that are experienced at high volumes.
It has a Poly-mica dust cap, while the speaker itself has a cast aluminum frame that is tough and rugged. There is a dual flow vent for great airflow for cooling.
Considering this is not coming to you in a cabinet, it is quite a heavy object. It weighs over 26 pounds and has a size of 14.5 by 14.5 by 9 inches. It will require a mounting depth of 6.375 inches.
What it will require is a powerful amp to drive it. It also depends on what sound you want from this subwoofer. If you are looking for a loud sound but with a soft bass, then this might not be for you.
It is a deep aggressive bass sound that requires that powerful amp we mentioned it needs to drive it. The amp should probably be rated at around 1000 watts to get the best from this subwoofer. What you will get from this subwoofer at optimum performance is whack in the back. It delivers that much impact.
If you want to enclose this in a cabinet, you may have to consider having one made. There are recommended enclosure sizes for ported and sealed enclosures.
At the price point, it is one of the best car subwoofers for the money.
- Big and powerful sound.
- Well made with good components.
- Will need to be fitted or enclosed in a cabinet.
10 Kenwood KSC-SW11 150W
Not everyone is in the market for a subwoofer that is going to blow their brains out. Some just require a bass boost to generally upgrade the sound of their existing system. If that is what you need, then this subwoofer might be just what you need.
Manufactured by Kenwood, who has a big reputation for producing quality audio. Kenwood was formed in 1946. In 1960 it was renamed as Trio, another name known for audio quality, but then later reverted back to Kenwood. It merged with another audio giant, JVC, in 2008.
The SW11 is an understated design with no flashing lights and ceremony about it. It is quite small in size, just 16.2 bt 9.8 by 4.2 inches, and weighs just ten pounds. It will, therefore, fit quite easily under a seat or in the boot or trunk of a car. You do not require an external amp as it is powered, and it comes with a remote control.
It has a unique shaped woofer that is 8.25 by 5.15 inches. It has three controls, one for crossover and two for volume. There is also a phase switch. It is going to give you 150 watts RMS, which in an under-seat subwoofer is quite good.
Do not, though, expect a bass sound that is going to rattle your number plate. You won’t get it from this subwoofer. It is neat and tidy and fits just about anywhere in the vehicle but big bass sound? Not really.
As we said in our opening, it will lift the bottom end and some of the lower mids, but that is all. If that is what you want, it is very good. If you want big deep bass, then its probably not for you.
At this price point, it is a good buy and certainly could be the best small space car subwoofer.
- The practical size and that it is well made.
- Very cost-effective price point.
- Won’t have a big enough bass sound for some.
11 JBL BassPro Micro Dockable Powered Subwoofer System
Another small subwoofer for those who may want to conserve a little space. And this one really is small. Made of plastic, it measures just 7 by 16 by 10 inches and weighs just 18 pounds.
It has an 8-inch woofer that will deliver up to 140 watts RMS and has a built-in Class D amp. It has been designed with RCA adapters, and you can link a series of these subwoofers together.
Featuring a stylish design with a black finish and chrome trim, it also has some durable fabric over the grille. It certainly has an interesting design. The amplifier is the base of the subwoofer that is installed on a permanent basis. The BassPro Micro can also be detached very easily if needed.
If you need more space, just quickly unclip it. It is an interesting and functional idea. With the amp as the central fixing point, it probably fits inside most vehicles. The small size of the woofer makes it removable, which is also convenient.
The downside is that the size of the box is going to limit the extent and depth of the bass. Bass needs some space to perform, and you will automatically lose depth with smaller sizes. It is, though, a good idea to have a detachable subwoofer though it won’t win too many prizes for the power of its bass reproduction.
Not really a cost-effective price, it is quite expensive for what it is. You do get JBL build quality but not a lot of JBL bass.
- Small footprint and space-saving.
- Bass performance is a little weak.
12 Pioneer TS-WX1210A 12″ Sealed Enclosure Active Subwoofer
Pioneer needs little introduction to audio people. Established in 1938, Pioneer has grown to be one of the most recognized audio brands in the marketplace. They produce a huge range of electronic equipment, with most of it aimed at the home market.
You could argue that with this subwoofer, Pioneer has stepped a little out of their comfort zone. It hardly notices. They have produced a subwoofer that is one of the best car subwoofers for sound quality there is.
This has a twelve-inch woofer in a sealed unit cabinet. The cabinet is made from MDF fiberboard and finished with a carpet covering. The speaker features a-Cellulose fiber cone. It has Urethane support for stability.
The frequency range is interesting to consider. The range is 20 Hz to 125 Hz. Now the depth of human hearing goes down to about 20Hz. The lowest note on a piano is 27Hz. There would be no point going any deeper with the bass on this subwoofer. We wouldn’t hear it.
It has a built-in amp with a 350 watt RMS and 1300 watt peak performance. On the rear of the cabinet are controls for gain, bass boost level, and bass boost frequency.
With some systems, you can have a lot of volume but very little sound quality. This is not the case with this subwoofer. The bass is tight and resonant and is clearly defined. It can be a little overwhelming at times. The tendency being to give it a tweak of the gain too often.
It is though a big sound, and also quite a big cabinet, and at the price point great value for money. Not just a contender for Best Car subwoofer but also for best car subwoofer under $200.
- Plenty of power with a defined sound.
- Great price point.
- Rather a large unit for some vehicles.
Best Car Subwoofer Buyers Guide – Finding The Best Car Subwoofer
To find exactly what you want, and most of us will want slightly different things, there are some questions that you’ll need to ask yourself.
How much will you need? This will determine some things about the overall sound. In most, but not all cases, the more powerful it is, the louder and deeper the bass will be.
If you want a sound that is going to move trucks out the way, go for the big powerful subwoofers. If you want something that just enhances the bass of your stereo in the car, you need less power. A word of warning – don’t be too impressed by extravagant volume claims. It is the RMS rating you should be interested in.
Having a wider frequency range is always the best idea. It demonstrates the sound quality and potential at both ends of the range. A bigger range means it should be better at producing both ends of tops and bottoms of the bass sound.
That is only part of the picture, though. The design and efficiency of the cabinet will also play its part in sound quality.
Two Other Issues
Sensitivity can be important. If the sensitivity rating is higher, it will take less power to drive them. Voice coils have an impact. Single coils are fine and will produce a good sound, but dual coils are usually better.
The Final Question Is, Do You Actually Need One?
Well, the answer to that is yes if you like the best possible sound in your car. Car stereo speakers never produce quality low frequencies and can always do with a little help. How much help you give is what we are talking about.
But What’s The Best Car Subwoofer?
So what do we want from our subwoofer? Clarity of sound and a reasonable volume level. Not too big and bulky but well-made. A sub that will lift the bass frequencies without blowing your socks off. We have therefore decided on the…
Excellent sound at a good price and our choice for the very best of the best car subwoofers.