Best Car Subwoofer in 2020 [Our Reviews & Comparisons]
Road trips were part of human life since before the car was even a good idea. There are a few cultures that have no lore at all of how people crossed long distances. By boat, on animals, and sometimes just trudging along on foot, the humans have always needed to get from here to there somehow.
Getting around is easier today, of course, and trips get shorter all the time; every new year sees our vehicles become faster and more efficient, eating up kilometers of road or sky by the hundreds. What used to be months at sea with no certainty of reaching port has turned into less than a day in the air. The fabled Oregon Trail and silk roads, once endeavors taking most of a year to traverse and involving real mortal danger, have become a matter of having enough gas in the tank and food for the way.
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|1. Rockville RW10CA
|2. Pyle PLPW6D
|3. Fosgate P3D4-12
|4. MTX Audio TNE212D
|5. Skar Audio SDR-1X15D2
|6. Planet Audio AC12D
|7. Sound Storm Labs Model SS8
|8. Blaupunkt GTHS80
|9. DS18 GEN-X1800
|10. JBL Stage 810
Of course, anyone who’s been on a road trip knows that those things alone aren’t enough. You might arrive at your destination, but the vast majority of travelers will go mad with boredom long before then. Road trips mean sitting in the same spot with very little room to move around for hours on end. Crushing boredom follows in a hurry, leading to antsy behavior in the back seat, shorter tempers in the front, and a driver whose eyes are likely beginning to feel unusually heavy.
For obvious reasons, these kinds of scenarios are dangerous. People trying to ward off fatigue and boredom will resort to increasingly more drastic and foolhardy measures to stay amused until someone gets hurt. Solitary drivers are at particular risk, as they not only have nothing to do but no one is with them to check whether or not the driver is falling asleep behind the wheel.
Road trip veterans likely remember bygone days when the main means of entertainment were books, snacks, or the timeless classic I Spy. Newer travelers are always sure to have enough batteries for the electronic device of their choice and a charger ready at hand if an outlet should present itself in a rest stop. For a driver, neither is an option. Safety concerns and local regulations tend to limit their diversions to hands-free activities, ideally not ones that require much cognitive effort.
One common companion to the bored driver is the car stereo, invented in 1930 and an inseparable feature of the automobile ever since. Although it has certainly evolved from the original clunky radios and celluloid tape decks, it is the rare driver that has not been thankful for the ability to crank up some tunes or tune into their favorite show wherever they find themselves.
Having the right tracks to listen to is just half of the pleasure of an in-car speaker, though – even your favorite artist will start to lose their charm if you’re listening to them in poor-quality sound. Car manufacturers do their best to make sure your road trip is as good as your home theater, but there are some things that, for one reason or another, still have not made the cut into being a regular part of any vehicle’s construction.
Alongside certain newer safety or efficiency efforts, most cars today boast at least some level of speaker system, whether in the dry Midwest to the hot, steamy Amazon. As reliable a setup as that is, it is still vulnerable to distorted audio and fuzzy words; both can be solved at once if you simply add a subwoofer to the car’s integrated speaker system.
Subwoofers are specifically designed to replicate sound in the bass spectrum and lower, well beyond what can be projected by an ordinary speaker. By recreating the lowest frequencies independently of the rest of the sound, the subwoofer ensures that the eventual sound we hear is clearer and crisper – without needing to vibrate on as wide a spectrum, each speaker can put more power into its own specific frequency.
Electronics like these are supposed to last you a fairly long time, and are priced high to compensate for the fact that most consumers only ever buy one. Those stakes are high enough to make the marketplace for car subwoofers into a retail madhouse, with every brand competing to be the one you choose to accompany you in future travels.
Shopping for any electronic device can be confusing or even overwhelming to a new consumer, but some subwoofers do stand out from the many available. Here are our top ten subwoofer models to help you pass the time next time you’ve got a long drive ahead.
Our Best Car Subwoofer Reviews and Comparisons
1. Rockville RW10CA
This addition to your ride is slender enough not to be an eyesore while still providing clear and consistent sound.
- 10” diameter
- 800W power supply
- Filters 50-150 Hz
- Boosts up to 18dB
What We Like About Rockville RW10CA
Along with its conveniently narrow profile, this model comes with everything that one might need to properly mount and install the unit in a vehicle.
What We Don’t Like About Rockville RW10CA
This model’s bass projection is a tad shallow, such that it is more of an extra speaker than a way to improve sound quality.
- Narrow profile
- Relatively inexpensive
- Phase and power controls
- CEA compliant
- All installation accessories and supplies included
- Reliability issues
- Narrow and relatively high bass range
2. Pyle PLPW6D
This model features a heavy spring-loaded sound membrane and high-power audio that will have heads turning up and down the street.
- 6.5” wide
- Up to 800W variable power supply
- 3” mounting depth
- 89 dB projection
What We Like About Pyle PLPW6D
This speaker boasts a minimal footprint in your vehicle without losing any of the deep bass that you love.
What We Don’t Like About Pyle PLPW6D
Few if any installation accessories are included, and the sound quality begins to degrade at higher volumes.
- Exceptionally cheap
- Small footprint
- 30oz magnetic coil driver
- Foam-lined surround basket for added durability
- Non-pressed paper cone
- Cannot handle higher volumes
- Does not include a full installation package
3. Fosgate P3D4-12
This subwoofer is rated for a much higher power than others, making it capable of blasting through highway noise, rallies, and more.
- 12” diameter
- 1200W power supply
- 6.66” mounting depth
- Four-ohmic resistance
What We Like About Fosgate P3D4-12
Dual voice coils and a 1200W power supply make this speaker deliver exceptional volume and clarity no matter what you are playing.
What We Don’t Like About Fosgate P3D4-12
- Double voice coil for better sound quality
- Compact profile
- High-quality materials
- Year-long manufacturer warranty
- Custom power terminals for added lifespan
- Very expensive
- Excessive vibrations
4. MTX Audio TNE212D
Unlike most car subwoofers, there’s no need for a wiring job here. This is a fully assembled enclosure with two subwoofers mounted and ready to work.
- Enclosure houses two 12” diameter subwoofers
- Up to 150Hz frequency response
- Two Ohm resistance
- 1200W maximum power
What We Like About MTX Audio TNE212D
This system has won the prestigious Amazon’s Choice award for delivering customers the best value for money in its field.
What We Don’t Like About MTX Audio TNE212D
Because this system comes with a preconstructed enclosure, it will be harder to customize to fit your vehicle.
- Aviation-grade materials
- 48 oz magnet for powerful voice projection
- Year-long warranty, even when purchased online
- No need to build or adapt an enclosure
- Wiring accessories included
- On the pricey side
- Enclosure does not allow for easy placement customization
5. Skar Audio SDR-1X15D2
This single-speaker enclosure gives your car subwoofer the support and appearance it needs on top of an incredible audio boost.
- 15” speaker diameter
- One ohm final impedance
- Double front baffle and countersunk design for aesthetic effect
- ⅝ “ black carpeting finish
What We Like About Skar Audio SDR-1X15D2
Everything in this subwoofer is prewired, letting you add professional aftermarket bass to your ride in a hurry and without fear of faulty installation.
What We Don’t Like About Skar Audio SDR-1X15D2
The wiring and driver coils inside this unit has been reported to have a disappointingly short lifespan, especially when used at high power.
- Compact unit
- Internal pre-wiring makes things simple for the user
- High-temperature driver coils
- Up to 250 Hz frequency response
- Thick carpet finishing for added grip and padding
- Shorter lifespan than most speakers
- Cabinet is too large to fit in some trunks or back seats.
6. Planet Audio AC12D
This speaker is a relatively simple model but emphasizing durability to give you the longest possible time with your subwoofer.
- Stamped metal basket and platform
- 12” speaker diameter
- 32Hz resonance
- Boosts up to 88 dB
What We Like About Planet Audio AC12D
For a budget subwoofer, this model still delivers a powerful boost and is physically more durable than one might expect for the cost.
What We Don’t Like About Planet Audio AC12D
As a relatively basic system, this will provide a bass-and-below boost but comes with no phasing options and relatively little of what is needed to wire it up.
- Budget model
- Sturdy construction
- Three-year warranty
- Safe use and maintenance instructions included
- Freestanding speakers with several diameter choices for easy customization to your vehicle
- Wiring kit not included
- No independent controls
7. Sound Storm Labs Model SS8
Some cars don’t have space for a larger subwoofer, but this model has them covered with great sound in a small speaker.
- 8” diameter
- 400W max power
- 59.2Hz resonance
- 87dB boost
What We Like About Sound Storm Labs Model SS8
This speaker is in many ways the ideal mini-subwoofer – it gives a clear boost at the right frequencies, even without the size or power of larger models.
What We Don’t Like About Sound Storm Labs Model SS8
Unlike larger models that occasionally pack as much as 1200W, this model maxes out at 400W, which can cause some difficulty with installation and maintenance.
- Convenient size
- Low power usage
- Polyurethane cone for durability and performance
- Vibration dampers
- 15-year operational lifespan
- Not as powerful as larger models
- Relatively flimsy basket
8. Blaupunkt GTHS80
This speaker is another award-winning model with a sleek cabinet and a remote control to fine-tune the sound on the go.
- 8” speaker diameter
- 300W power supply
- Frequency response between 20 and 250 Hz
- 88dB boost
What We Like About Blaupunkt GTHS80
Adding a remote control to this subwoofer gives the driver a chance to adjust the sound for every track, with no need to pull over and reach for the speaker by hand.
What We Don’t Like About Blaupunkt GTHS80
Many users of this model report rapid unit failure and difficulty claiming warranty coverage.
- Stylish and slender box
- Multiple sound mixing options
- Remote control
- Low power drain
- 180 degree phase switch
- Unit may prove unreliable
- Warranty coverage not assured
9. DS18 GEN-X1800
This futuristic device is a step forward in external subwoofers, with molded contact points delivering ease of use and installation and industry-leading power efficiency.
- 450W power supply
- Four distinct input channels
- Bass resonance 30 to 50Hz
- 98 dB boost
What We Like About DS18 GEN-X1800
Where most aftermarket speakers come with bare wires and need professional installation, this one has actual outlets that allow you to easily add and subtract a device in any of its four channels.
What We Don’t Like About DS18 GEN-X1800
The complete wiring system and attached sockets limit the options for connection and service, and mean that the user will need to keep track of more connectors for their audio devices.
- New generation of power and connection terminals
- Four channels support multiple media devices at once
- CEA compliant
- Shielded against power fluctuations
- Dashboard remote
- Some devices may not be compatible
- On the expensive side
10. JBL Stage 810
JBL is a longstanding name in the audio industry with a history of quality products. Although perhaps best known for their iconic cylindrical speakers, their car subwoofers bring the same quality and experience to your ride.
- 800W power supply
- 38-200Hz resonance
- 88dB boost
- 10.6” speaker diameter
What We Like About JBL Stage 810
JBL’s usual excellence in speakers is found here, making a speaker with a more slender profile and lighter in weight than many competing models.
What We Don’t Like About JBL Stage 810
This speaker produces unusually high vibrations and projects at a frequency well above that usually associated with a subwoofer, making it more another loudspeaker than a bass media.
- Trusted manufacturer
- Easy to install
- Relatively inexpensive
- Automotive grade materials
- Exceptionally low distortion
- Higher vibrations than usual
- Does not hit the bass scale as well as other models
Everyone appreciates good quality sound, whether you’re enjoying a radio broadcast, chatting on an in-car phone, or cranking up your favorite tunes. No genre or artist was ever hurt by a proper set of speakers, and good speaker sets these days mean having a good subwoofer.
While some of these models may not be suitable for your particular car, there’s plenty to choose from, and most of them are freestanding speakers that can be affixed to a piece of the chassis or inserted to an enclosure to make them an organic part of your car. Pick one that suits your needs, style, and budget, and bring your next track to the next level.
A word of caution is in order for someone buying any of these devices – many of them require integration into your car’s electronics to function. This can prove a significantly greater drain on the car battery than it is designed for, so make sure your car can power such a system before installing it.
On a similar note, almost every manufacturer and vendor of these systems recommends professional installation only. Attempting to install these systems yourself is likely to seriously damage your car’s wiring and could be dangerous to you as well.
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