Best Car Subwoofer

There’s no good sound system without a great subwoofer. It’s the universal truth. So if you’re on a mission to upgrade your audio setup, your research should start with this item.

A proper research should answer many very important questions about the woofer, and get you towards the best decision. Let’s check out the market, inspect the products, and find the best car subwoofer you can get!

Why do I need a subwoofer?

Cars’ factory setting usually involves a speaker system which can’t handle low-end frequencies. The sheer amount of air required to play the low-end sounds is one of the main reasons; your small default speakers aren’t capable of this.

Adding a subwoofer is the first logical step in the process of upgrading your audio system, and the most significant one. The difference in the quality of sound is huge; even with the low-quality subwoofer, your car audio setup will improve drastically.

Subwoofer adds a different dimension to the sound and covers a much bigger range of frequencies, resulting in a superb sound.

Types of subwoofers

Subwoofers come in two different types.

First, we have passive and powered subwoofers. Those are the first distinctive differences that should be noted and considered.

Passive subwoofers has to be powered by an external amplifier, and they usually require a significant amount of power. Choosing the right subwoofers usually starts from this feature; you have to be careful about the power output your player/receiver has in order to add a suitable subwoofer.

For these same reasons, powered subwoofers contain a power amplifier that will provide the required amount of energy required for the subwoofer to work. When directly connected with the receiver/player, these subwoofers take the load of the unit and contribute in the proper energy distribution throughout the system.

What to look for when choosing a subwoofer?

There are several features and characteristics you should look for when searching for the best subwoofer for your setup:

Size

The woofers come in different sizes to match the specific needs of the user. The size is directly proportional to the frequency – bigger the woofer, lower the frequency. The most common sizes used in cars range from 8-inch to 12-inch diameter. Depending on your needs and space in the vehicle’s interior, you should find the subwoofer of the suitable size.

Audio quality

audio quality

The audio quality depends on several factors, and it gives you the most important category covered when you’re in a search for a woofer. When you cover the power issue, determine the right size and strength, this is what comes to play.

Besides actual testing, car subwoofer reviews are the best resource on your disposal right now. There are a ton of knowledge spread out on the internet waiting for you to use it. No matter which woofer you pick, someone bought it before and used it.

The audio quality depends on several characteristics, each of you to inspect and compare.

Power handling, sensitivity, impedance

The sensitivity of a woofer is the measure which describes the efficiency and quality of the speaker. The amount of power required for a woofer to reproduce the sound of a certain frequency varies from different models. The higher the sensitivity decibel rating, better the woofer.

Next, the power handling measurement provides information on how much energy a subwoofer can handle without distortion or damage. The more power handled equals more quality.

The enclosure box & materials

Unlike the regular speakers, subwoofers has to be enclosed in a box of some sort. You can buy an already enclosed woofer, or a separated woofer unit without enclosure. The difference between the two (besides the price) is the quality of the product you’re getting.

Subwoofers have to be enclosed to work properly, because of the sheer power and vibration these speakers produce, the air pressure, the outer influences and durability. There are sealed enclosures and ported enclosure boxes (with holes for air flow) you can choose from, each with their own pros & cons.

Low-quality woofers come without enclosure box or enclosed with bad materials which aren’t capable of handling vibration and air pressure. A high-quality speaker should be enclosed in a heavy wood, which absorbs the vibrations the best. It’s up to you to decide and buy either an enclosed subwoofer or not.

The materials of the speaker itself

Here’s another feature you need to consider while searching for the best car subwoofer. There are two different areas you need to pay attention to: the materials of the woofer itself, and the surrounding materials.

The build materials of the woofer itself determine the sensitivity, and overall quality of the entire subwoofer. These materials need to be lightweight and very resilient; more resistant materials result in a higher quality speaker. Polypropylene, carbon and Kevlar are used the most for the woofer’s cone. Materials like aluminum and even titanium are used on top-tier woofers.

The surrounding materials of the woofer are next to look and compare; these materials affect the sound quality significantly. Rubber, foam, and cloth are used in this area to prevent humidity and tear damage. Pay extra attention on these materials in the woofer specification.

Top 5 Best Car Subwoofer Review

MTX Audio Terminator Series TNE212D
Rockford Fosgate P300-10
  • 4.5 Stars
  • Rockford Fosgate P300-10
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  • Great sound for the money
              
  • Crossover Controls
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  • Good design
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PIONEER TS-SW2502S4

Having all of the above mentioned segments in mind, we selected five of the top subwoofers on the market (currently sold on Amazon) and put them through the test. Let’s see how they fare:

1. Rockford Fosgate P300-10

Rockford Fosgate P300-10

My rating: 4.5 Stars

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Rockford Fosgate is a very well-established manufacturer that delivers the optimal audio experience in vehicles of all sorts for more than 35 years. With such reputation in mind, it’s really no wonder that P300-10 ticks all the right boxes to satisfy a casual music fan.

Let us start with the good things. The tightly sealed black enclosure looks great and feels very durable. The very case has the dimensions of 19.5 x 12 x 15.3 inches, which is, by no means, the slimmest design you can find on the market, but not a deal-breaker, either.

Also, P300-10 is one of those devices that allows you to skip the ordeal of matching the right woofers and amplifiers and gives you a great sounding 10’’ woofer and a reasonably powerful 300 Watt amp, all in one package. You get some very nice treats like thermal protection and remote bass level control, but they don’t truly affect the overall performance.

What’s bad? Well, the 10’’ woofer is what it is – it sounds good, but you won’t get too much punch out of it. A number of users have reported that, over time, the quality of sound deteriorates, and that their units haven’t outlived the 1-year warranty for too long.

Things we liked

An excellent way to improve your car audio system on a budget.
Kevlar re-enforced paper pulp cone.
Great sound for the money.
Plug-n-play philosophy.

Things we didn’t like

The woofer is not exactly made with durability in mind.
At this price range, you can find more versatile products.

   Check Price On Amazon


2. MTX Audio Terminator Series TNE212D

MTX Audio Terminator Series TNE212D

My rating: 4.7 Stars

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Branding a lineup of your product with the word Terminator is a very brave move. It gives you a pair of huge Arnold-sized shoes to fill. TNE212D does its best to give the impression that it’s capable of accomplishing this gargantuan task.

The most obvious perk – a pair of powerful 1.200 Watt, 12’’ inch woofers. The device generates clear and powerful output regardless of RMS you’re going to have.

The enclosure is not that bad, either. 5/8″ medium density fiberboard and aviation grade covering provide a lot of structural integrity, and the insulating material does a great job in maximizing the output while keeping the sound loss in control. The overall visual impression is very good.

It is also worth mentioning that the device is very easy to control, and that the inbuilt amplifier makes installation as effortless as possible. All in all, a great package that comes at a very reasonable price.

On the bad side – TNE212D is massive. Packing it into a smaller vehicle will prove to be troublesome. If you apply an extremely high voltage, the device will most likely blow, which is a significant turn-off for users who want to push their woofers to the limits.

Things we liked

Great value for the money.
The device looks sleek and very visually pleasing.
Great sound.

Things we didn’t like

If you don’t own a limousine, you better skip it.
Don’t push TNE212D over the edge or you may regret it.
The speakers may require a separate amplifier.

   Check Price On Amazon


3. Polk Audio AA3085-A MM840

Polk Audio AA3085-A MM840

My rating: 4.5 Stars

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And now for something completely different – we are moving into the bare-bone subwoofer territory. Much like the others similar woofers on the market, MM840 features a very low price, great versatility, and you can fit it wherever you want it.

The downside is that, this time, the task of finding the right enclosure and amp will befall on your shoulders. Now that we’ve moved this issue off the table how does the woofer perform?

Well, the modest size of only 8’’ won’t provide too much blast. If you, however, enjoy slower, riff-driven hard rock you will get a lot of enjoyment out of this unit. The cones are made of high-quality Polymer that looks very durable, and the rubber surrounding does not lag behind.

The power range of 100-250 watts RMS is more than reasonable. All in all, the unit sounds very good, and that’s the only thing important.

Although very small, the Polk Audio branding makes sure that the woofer won’t simply disappear in your car. However, the unit has a less than stellar lifespan, and some users were complaining about the unpleasant, burnt smell after prolonged usage.

Things we liked

An affordable device that packs a lot of punch in the 8” body.
The mid bass response is nothing short of great.
If you pair it with the right amp, you can get a very loud and clear sound.

Things we didn’t like

If you overuse the unit, your car will smell like barbecue.
Questionable durability – some users were complaining that their woofer blew after just a couple of months.
There is only so much power you can fit in an 8’’ package.

   Check Price On Amazon


4. Kicker 10C124 Comp 12-Inch Subwoofer

Kicker 10C124 Comp 12-Inch Subwoofer

My rating: 4.5 Stars

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Now here’s a woofer that gives you the same level of customizability as MM840 but in a much more substantial package. In the world of car woofers, 4 inches make all the difference in the world. Also, this time, the price is much lower. So, what’s the catch?

Expect that fact that Kicker 10C124 is a device that can be the best described as “ok” there’s nothing horrifying here. For instance, the sensitivity rating measures 87.1dB which is not that bad, but it’s just slightly above the average.

The device is made to handle up to 300 watts of power, but when we take into account the continuous use, you can easily cut this number by half. The overall design is ok, but it won’t fit all vehicles. It will look great in a sports sedan, though.

On the more positive note – steel basket is solid, and it can endure excessive bass. Internal components are great and the unit won’t break so easily. Also, the ability to handle 4-ohm impedance load makes 10C124 compatible with any amplifier you throw at it. Considering the very lucrative price the subwoofer packs a lot of value.

Things we liked

Probably the best 12’’ subwoofer in the price range.
Reliable and consistent performance.
High-quality components that won’t break so easily.

Things we didn’t like

It would be good to know that the device excels at least in some area.
It’s hard to escape the feeling that Kicker 10C124 is a bit over designed.

   Check Price On Amazon


5. Pioneer TS-SW2502S4

PIONEER TS-SW2502S4

My rating: 4.5 Stars

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Size-wise Pioneer TS-SW2502S4 strikes the perfect balance between the previously mentioned Polk’s and Kicker’s products – if you are not an avid speed addict, 10 inches will provide you a very solid performance. Also, this subwoofer is simply beautiful to look at, and it features almost the exact price as 10C124. So far so good.

What about the performance? Well, the device is designed to work extraordinarily well with the frequencies between 20-16Hz and hit the lowest three octaves. Since that is the range where majority of the similar woofers struggle the most we can take this as a huge plus. In this case, smaller diameter means the more responsive driver, which, in turn, amounts to punchier bass.

The power range 100-300 Watts (the woofer peaks at 1.200 Watts) offers a lot to be played with, and the sound output is clear and crisp. A four-layered voice coil made out of quality Polyester keeps the system cool and delivers a great bass in tight spaces.

What are the downsides? Well, the 2-omhs stability leaves a lot to be desired, and a couple of users have reported the untimely end of their units, but at this price range, that’s something to be expected.

Things we liked

Great looking and affordable device.
Excellent performance.
The subwoofer excels in the low octaves.
Because of the small dimensions, you can fit the subwoofer wherever you want.

Things we didn’t like

With great affordability comes less than stellar durability.
We could live with 4-ohm impedance load.

   Check Price On Amazon


The Verdict & Our Recommendation

Finally, it’s time to round these products up and see which one is the best. Well, if you are not too interested in customization and just want to buy something that will provide you the best bass for the money, MTX Audio Terminator Series TNE212D might just be the product you are looking for.

Sure, it’s massive, but it works, and that’s the only thing that matters. If you, on the other hand, want something slenderer that can be installed even under your seat, you’ll hardly find any better product than Pioneer TS-SW2502S4. On the paper, 10” diameter may not look too impressive, but this little fella ought to surprise you very pleasantly.

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