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What Are the Hardest Hitting Subs for Cars?

When you’re looking at installing a sound system for your car, you want it to rock. The music has to be loud, strong, powerful, and clear for it to be a stereo worth putting your time and money into. And, of course, that bass has to slap.

So, what are the hardest hitting subs for cars? You can’t just go with the biggest car subwoofers out there, like giant 20 inchers that will keep you from carrying around any passengers.

Instead, you need to find something that fits right but still hits hard and gets the job done. Because, if your passengers aren’t shaking in their seats, you’d better re-think your choice of subwoofer.

What Does It Mean for a Sub to Hit Hard?

The sub-woofer is sort of the keystone of your car’s stereo system. While factory systems rarely even include one, custom car stereos sound noticeably different thanks to the big bass boom that a sub or subs provide.

If your sub-woofer is hitting hard, that means that you’re getting some loud, clear, and powerful bass out of your speaker(s). It means that the bass isn’t muddy or weak or crackly or anything else other than excellent.

And, for that to happen, your sub should be getting the right amount of power that it needs and the right frequencies it can handle. Also, it should be of high enough quality to make your low-end sound great.

Hardest Hitting Subs

Most people think that “hardest-hitting” will come down to either the size or power of a speaker. While both are important features of subwoofers, size or power alone won’t guarantee you slapping bass.

Sure, a bigger speaker is going to be able to produce lower bass notes. Yes, a more powerful speaker will get you more volume. But, it also takes a great frequency response, a quality voice coil, and a whole bunch more features.

So with no further ado, let’s look at the hardest hitting subs for car stereos.

What Are the Hardest Hitting Subs for Cars

Top 6 Hardest Hitting Subs for Cars in 2022

  1. JBL Stage 102 10″ Car Audio Subwoofer – Best Budget Hard Hitting Subwoofer for Cars
  2. Rockville Punisher 12D1 Car Audio Competition Subwoofer – Hardest Hitting Competition Subwoofer for Cars
  3. American Bass USA XFL 1244 12” Subwoofer – Best Heavy Duty Hard Hitting Subwoofer for Cars
  4. Skar Audio VXF-15 D2 15” Subwoofer – Best Overall Hard-Hitting Subwoofer for Cars
  5. Rockford Fosgate P3D2-15 Punch Subwoofer – Best Powered Hard Hitting Subwoofer for Cars
  6. Kicker Q-Class L7 Subwoofer – Best Premium Hard Hitting Subwoofer for Cars

1 JBL Stage 102 10″ Car Audio Subwoofer – Best Budget Hard Hitting Subwoofer for Cars

JBL is a big name in speakers right now. But, if you’ve only heard of their quality waterproof Bluetooth speakers, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that they’re also in car audio. And some of their speakers are rated right up there with well-known car audio brands.

Take the Stage 102, for instance…

This 10” sub is a 4-Ohm speaker that handles 225 Watts RMS and 900 Watts peak power. So, that means it can slap. The speaker cone is made from stiff polypropylene and has a high-roll rubber surround for extra durability.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a grille. So, you may need to consider buying one separately or mounting it in a place where it can’t get damaged.

The sound here is big and clear…

You get a high SPL with low distortion here, leading to a nice balanced JBL sound. The voice coil is 1.5” in diameter to produce a whole lot of sound. The frequency response is a bit high, ranging from only 35-200Hz. So, you will miss out on some low-end here.

On the plus side, this speaker is less than $80 and is very shallow-mounting (4.5”), making it accessible for any car audio system. And one of the most affordable hard hitting car stereo subwoofers.

JBL Stage 102 10inch Car Audio Subwoofer
Our rating:4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Loud and clear.
  • Very shallow mounting depth.

Cons

  • Missing lowest bass frequencies with a 35-200Hz response.
  • No grille included.

2 Rockville Punisher 12D1 Car Audio Competition Subwoofer – Hardest Hitting Competition Subwoofer for Cars

If you’re building a car stereo with competition in mind, then you want extreme power and volume. Rockville’s Punisher 12D1 will deliver.

This is a 1-Ohm impedance 12-inch sub that will blow anything else in its size category out of the water. It brags 1400 Watts RMS and – are you ready for this? – 5600 Watts peak power.

Which is insane…

How does it manage this much power? The voice coil is a 4-layer aluminum coil wound with OFC (oxygen-free copper) wire, and it sports the biggest magnet you’ll ever see on a 12” speaker. A 246-ounce Y35 magnet.

The basket here is a cast aluminum done in a smooth black finish. The cone is made of thick non-pressed paper and is crowned by a super-thick, super-stiff polypropylene dust cap.

In addition to all this…

Durability. This speaker is designed to stay cool under massive exertion. It has an oversized heatsink ring and an extra-thick T-yoke to help dissipate heat and lead to extreme performance. As a result, it’s one of the most durable hard hitting subs for cars you will find.

The frequency response here is 31.6-500Hz. So, you’re still not getting all the crazy low tone that you might be able to pull off with a bigger diameter speaker. And, you’ll need a heck of a powerful amp to hit that huge volume.

The mounting depth is also close to 8”, so it might not fit everywhere. But, the power this thing produces is well worth the under $200 price tag. If anyone asks, “What are the hardest hitting subs for cars?” you know the Punisher is near the top.

Rockville Punisher 12D1 Car Audio Competition Subwoofer
Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Pros

  • Stays cool under extreme use.
  • Huge and powerful sound.
  • Great durability.

Cons

  • Deep mounting.
  • Takes a lot of power.
  • Long break-in period.
  • Only gets down to 31.6Hz.

3 American Bass USA XFL 1244 12” Subwoofer – Best Heavy Duty Hard Hitting Subwoofer for Cars

Next up, it’s a 12” sub from American Bass. With a brand name like that, you’d better hope this thing slaps!

This is the brand’s XFL 1244, a 12-inch sub designed with dual 3” 4-Ohm voice coils that’s another competition-style sub. It includes a big 200-ounce magnet and runs at 1000 Watts RMS and can reach 2000 Watts peak power.

This gets you a big sound…

But, of course, you’ll need the right amp to do it, something like 1500A. It also has an OK of 86.5 dB/Watt/m.

The construction here includes a heavy-duty black powder-coated cast basket and a 4-layer voice coil for the best temperature control, plus perimeter vents for cooling as well. The cone is made from Kevlar-reinforced non-pressed paper, and you have a thick PP dust cap to top it all off.

This speaker is loud and powerful, giving a clear tone and slapping bass for just over $200. It’s not as loud as the Rockville Punisher, but you rarely need that much volume anyway. It does only play best down to 38.5Hz unless enclosed. So, you will lose out on a few of the deepest, dankest low tones here.

American Bass USA XFL 1244 12inch Subwoofer
Our rating:4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Powerful with well-defined sound.
  • Very durable construction.

Cons

  • Not the lowest frequency response in town.
  • Deep mounting.

4 Skar Audio VXF-15 D2 15” Subwoofer – Best Overall Hard-Hitting Subwoofer for Cars

This next sub is something I have affectionately nicknamed “The Beast.” And for good reason. This thing is incredible. Just be warned that before you install it, you’re going to need some serious engineering to handle it.

This 15” VXF-15 D2 from Skar is one of their biggest and baddest. However, it costs less than $300. So, while it might break your back installing it (41 pounds!), it won’t exactly break the bank.

It features an impressive 300-ounce magnet that will take some time to break in. But, once done, you’ll be rewarded with one of the best sounding hard hitting subwoofers for cars on the market.

How does it do that?

This speaker gives you 1500 Watts RMS and up to 3000 Watts max power. It has a decent SPL of 89.7 dB/Watt/m.

And, thanks to its sturdy construction, including a 3” high-temperature copper voice coil, a pressed competition grade paper cone, and a stitched high-roll rubber surround, you get low distortion.

The frequency response here is 20-250Hz, so we’re finally seeing a car sub that can scoop up all the lows. At the same time, it performs best at above 31.4 Hz FS unless you get it boxed.

Any complaints?

Installation is tricky because of the size of The Beast – 15” diameter and nearly 10” mounting depth. Also, the connection posts are kind of flimsy push terminals that you can break off if you’re not careful. But, once you have this beast mounted, you’ll never want to move it again.

Skar Audio VXF-15 D2 15inch Subwoofer
Our rating:4.8 out of 5 stars (4.8 / 5)

Pros

  • Massive sound.
  • Hits the lowest of the lows.

Cons

  • Huge and heavy.
  • Flimsy connection terminals.

5 Rockford Fosgate P3D2-15 Punch Subwoofer – Best Powered Hard Hitting Subwoofer for Cars

Rockford-Fosgate has been a name to beat in car stereo systems for decades. While some consumers feel they’re overpriced and underpowered, most anyone will agree that Rockford is still a name known for quality.

The Punch P3D2 is the best performing sub in its class. It handles 600 Watts RMS and peak power of 1200 Watts. You’re only looking at a 96-ounce magnet here, so it won’t be blowing the others we’ve seen out of the water.

It isn’t the most powerful sub of the bunch…

But it still packs a decent punch. And, you get an OK SPL of 86 dB/Watt/m here. The P3D2 uses a high-temp dual 2-Ohm voice coil system with spun Nomex.

The cone and dust cap are both made from anodized aluminum, as is the trim ring, and you can add a grille for even more protection and durability. And it works well down to an FS of 21.7Hz, which is deliciously low.

Rockford Fosgate P3D2-15 Punch Subwoofer
Our rating:4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)

Pros

  • Incredible engineering for under $300.
  • Superior durability.
  • Good volume at lower power demand.

Cons

  • Not the loudest sub on the block.
  • Big and bulky for installation.

6 Kicker Q-Class L7 Subwoofer – Best Premium Hard Hitting Subwoofer for Cars

These days, Kicker has built up a big name for car stereo components. The quality is up there, but so are the prices. And the Q-Class L7 we’re about to look at is the most expensive one I tested, getting close to $400.

An unusual design…

A square-shaped 12” cone, so you get nearly 20% more surface area than you would with a standard round 12”. Kicker uses their patented Santoprene corner to limit distortion, resulting in a surprisingly clear sound for a square speaker.

This guy uses a 4-Ohm dual voice coil system, but is also available in 2-Ohms. You get 900 Watts of RMS and up to 1800 Watts of peak power here. This speaker is no slouch.

The sensitivity is okay at 86.9 dB/Watt/m. Thankfully, you get a frequency response of 20-100Hz, so you’ll get all the low lows that you need out of this speaker. The bass here is rich and solid and will shake your vehicle just like you hoped it would.

Kicker Q-Class L7 Subwoofer
Our rating:4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Pros

  • Powerful and solidly built.
  • Clear and very low distortion.
  • Gets down to 20Hz.

Cons

  • Getting expensive.
  • The unusual shape can make mounting difficult.

What Are the Hardest Hitting Subs for Cars? – Buying Guide

Buying Guide

If you want a hard-hitting stereo system, you need a sub or a pair of subs that can shake everyone’s cans. So, what should you look for in a hard hitting car subwoofer that’s going to truly slap? Here are some of the top hard-hitting car subwoofer features to consider.

Resistance

Should you get a 4-Ohm, 2-Ohm, or 1-Ohm sub? This is an age-old question and not one I have the space or even the technical brilliance to put to rest here. Suffice it to say, resistance (aka impedance) is how much a speaker resists the flow of electricity to it from your amp.

So, a higher resistance sub will use less power but produce less volume. On the other hand, a lower resistance sub will be loud as heck but will also need tons of power.

Think about your system and your needs. If you’re looking at competitions, you’ll want to go low resistance and make sure you have a dedicated battery to produce enough power to push your sub(s).

Sensitivity / SPL

This is a measure of how well a speaker can pick up an incoming signal. Lower sensitivity means a speaker is going to need more power to boost a signal. High sensitivity means the speaker is efficient at changing signals into blasting bass.

Sensitivity is measured in dB/Watt/m, and a good sensitivity is going to be 88 dB/Watt/m or higher.

Frequency Response

When you want a great sub, you want it to produce all the bass you can throw at it. And, since the human ear can hear frequencies down to 20Hz, you will want a sub that can also respond to and produce frequencies that low so that it rattles your rump.

Construction Durability

The materials your sub is made from will determine how long it will last. This includes the cone, the basket, and the voice coil especially. Look for efficient 4-layered voice coils that shed heat and don’t get damaged easily.

Paper cones can sound great but will have to be protected more than polypropylene and aluminum. And aluminum and steel baskets are a must for great subs that will stand the test of time.

Want a Sweet-Sounding Ride?

We can help with that. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Car Subwoofers, the Best Under Seat Subwoofers, the Best Competition Subwoofer, the Best Subwoofers for Single Cab Truck, the Best 12-Inch Subwoofers, and the Best 15-inch Subwoofers you can buy in 2022.

Also, take a look at our comprehensive reviews of the Best Car Amplifiers, the Best 2000 Watt RMS Amps, the Best 3000 Watt Amps, the Best Monoblock Car Amplifiers, the Best 6×8 Speakers, and the Best 6.5 Speakers currently on the market.

What Are the Hardest Hitting Subs for Cars?

We’ve just looked at some of the hardest hitting, slappingest subwoofers you can get for your car. They all have their pros and cons, as I’ve already detailed. So, now it’s time for you to judge which is the best for your needs.

If you’re looking at a competition sub, I think the Rockville Punisher is impossible to beat. But if you want huge volume and delicious lows for everyday use, the best is the…

Skar Audio VXF-15 D2 15” Subwoofer

The Beast. It is going to rock your ride like you won’t even believe. But keep in mind that all of these subs will perform and sound better in enclosures, so box them up if you can. And enjoy your brain-melting bass.

Until next time, happy listening.

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About Joseph L. Hollen

Joseph is a session musician, writer, and filmmaker from south Florida. He has recorded a number of albums and made numerous short films, as well as contributing music to shorts and commercials. 

He doesn't get as much time to practice and play as he used to, but still manages (just about!) to fulfill all his session requests. According to Joseph, it just gets harder as you get older; you rely on what you learned decades ago and can play without thinking. Thankfully that's what most producers still want from him.

He is a devout gear heat and has been collecting musical instruments all his life. As his wife, Jill, keeps on saying, "You're very good at buying nice instruments, but terrible at selling them!".

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