IN THIS GUIDE
What’s the best powered subwoofer for your car?
Here’s the deal:
You’re looking for a subwoofer that’s easy to install, budget-friendly, and will rock the bass, however you want, for your choice of music.
You just want it to perform the way you want.
But what do you need to know about a subwoofer so you can decide if it’s going to give you the sound you want BEFORE you sink a whole bunch of money?
You might be wondering?
As you scroll down this article, keep these points in mind:
- Think about your budget. Subs run anywhere from about $100 upwards
- Where do you want to put the sub? Under a seat? In the spare tire? On the floor?
- What kind of music do you listen to most of the time? This will influence the type of enclosure that will work best for your choice in music
And did you know?
- A lower Hertz (Hz) rating will typically produce more bass
- The enclosure makes a difference. Ported, great for hip-hop or rock. Sealed, nice low bass and bandbox will produce hardest at low frequencies. Read more about enclosures.
- Cone size matters. Yup, you read that right. 10″, 12″ or 8″ for different results.
- And what about dB? Does it matter? Look for a rating of 3 dB or more for more power and sound.
We’ve done the research to make it easier for you to decide which powered subwoofer will work best for your choice in music
At A Glance: The Best Powered Subwoofer for Cars – 2020 (Review & Guide)
|TOP OVERALL PICK|
BEST POWERED SUBWOOFER
|Skar Audio Dual 12″||Peak Power: 2,400 Watts|
RMS: 1,200 Watts
Frequency Response: 32 – 300 Hz
Dimensions (L x W X H):
Depth #1: 16.75″ (Top Depth)
Depth #2: 18.75″ (Bottom Depth)
|TOP PICK |
SPARE TIRE SUBWOOFER
|Rockville RockGhost Hidden Powered 8″||Peak Power: 800 watts|
RMS: 200 wattS
Frequency Response: 20Hz – 250Hz
Dimensions: 14.17” diameter x 5.7” height
|Rockford Fosgate P300-8P||Peak Power: 300 Watts|
RMS: 300 Watt
Frequency Response: 30 Hz to 200 Hz
Dimensions (L x W X H): 11.4″ x 17.6″ x 5.6″
|MTX TNP212D2 12″ 1200W Dual||Peak Power: Watts|
RMS: 400 Watt
Frequency Response: 10Hz – 150Hz
Dimensions: height – 14” , width – 29.63”, bottom depth – 13.5”, top depth – 11.13”
TOP OVERALL PICK – BEST POWERED SUBWOOFER
- Peak Power: 2,400 Watts
- RMS: 1,200 Watts
- Frequency Response: 32 – 300 Hz
- Dimensions (L x W X H):
- Width: 37.875″
- Depth #1: 16.75″ (Top Depth)
- Depth #2: 18.75″ (Bottom Depth)
- Height: 14.25″
- Dual 4-ohm loaded subwoofer enclosure
- Pre-wired for a 1 Ohmfinal impedance load
- Custom vented enclosure made of high strength ⅝” MDF
- Enclosure finished in premium black carpeting
- Double front baffle that is 1.25” with countersunk subwoofer design
- Ported enclosure tuned at 32 Hz for deep and accurate bass
- Comes wired up
- Split chamber woofer design with Dual 4 ohm subwoofers are wired up inside of the enclosure with a final impedance load for 1 ohm
- Very large and may not easily fit in all trunks
- At 92 lbs, this subwoofer is a bit of a monster and will likely need a couple of sets of hands to maneuver it into a trunk
Summary: If you’re cool with getting a lot of glares from other drivers when you’ve stopped at a red light, then the Skar Audio Dual 12” 2400W is for you!
If you’re looking for some serious sound that thumps, this system will not disappoint. And for the price, you’re getting superior performance that any other system will find it difficult to outperform.
Think powerful, deep and tight bass from an all-in-one system that includes two, 12” inch dual 4-ohm SDR subwoofers.
And what makes this system even more attractive is that it’s pre-loaded and already wired up, saving you time so you can get things cranking sooner.
What makes the sound so superior is that Skar has designed the enclosure themselves, which ensures that music lovers are getting the best sound quality possible and based on the many, many reviews we read during research, consumers agree that the sound is impressive.
Remember that when you’re buying a sub, the loaded enclosure needs to be a good fit or you’ll lose sound quality and output. With this system you won’t need to worry. If you need an amp that will finish off your new sound system then consider the Skar Audio Dual 10″ Complete 2,400 Watt SDR Series Subwoofer Bass Package – Includes Loaded Enclosure with Amplifier. Not only does it include an amp that but it also includes a wiring kit so that you have everything you need to quickly get your system installed and thumping.
TOP PICK For SPARE TIRE SUBWOOFER
- Peak Power: 800 watts
- RMS: 200 wattS
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 250Hz
- Dimensions (L x W X H): 14.17” diameter x 5.7” height
- Powered subwoofer
- Designed to fit inside the spare tire
- Hidden on top of spare tire, helps prevent theft
- Low level RCA inputs
- Flexible rubber surrounds
- Includes all wiring needed for the installation
- Soft delayed remote turn-on
- Plug and play installation with wire harness containing power, ground, high-level input, remote turn on, and RCA input
- Easy to install
- A bit heavy
Summary: If you’re short on real estate in your car or truck, then the Rockville RockGhost is a great option because it fits nicely on your spare tire or any other spot in your vehicle, under the seat, or on the floor.
This particular design was specifically made to fit into a spare tire and can you imagine the benefit of having a sub that’s not taking up precious storage space and is hidden away making it harder for thieves to run away with your sound system?
There are plenty of adjustments to fine-tune the sound and levels. And there’s a remote, making it easier to adjust.
Consumers talk about how easy it is to install. At 14 pounds, the metal enclosure makes the unit a bit heavy but does a great job at protecting the unit from damage. 14 pounds isn’t ridiculously heavy so it’s still simple enough to move around if needed but just know that you’ll need to secure it because it is light enough that it can still bounce around.
If you’re not sure whether you want to keep it in one location, try using industrial strength velcro instead of the mounting brackets. This will ensure that it’s simple to move it around if you need to.
BEST SMALL PROFILE SUBWOOFER
- Peak Power: 300 Watts
- RMS: 300 Watt
- Frequency Response: 30 Hz to 200 Hz
- Dimensions (L x W X H): 11.4″ x 17.6″ x 5.6″
- High-Efficiency, Low Current Amplifier Design
- 300 Watt Class-D Amplifier with Optimized “Closed Loop” Design
- Adjustable 12db/Octave low pass crossover
- On-Board Phase Switch
- Intelligent auto turn on/off function
- Robust Power/Ground connections
- Remote bass level control included
- Thermal and over/under voltage protection
- Slim Design For Truck Applications
- Small profile speaker that could tuck somewhere discreet in your car, like behind the back seats or in your trunk, and not take up a lot of space
- Good value and sound
- Small-ish profile that won’t likely fit underneath the standard car seat but will tuck comfortably under a seat in your truck
Summary: Consumers call the Rockford Fosgate P300 8″ great bang for your buck.
It’s an all-in-one amplifier and subwoofer built into the enclosure, making installation and wiring simple.
It features an 8″ high output woofer with a 300-watt internal amplifier in a slim design enclosure that will work in trucks and small cars, with quick-release input and power connectors that make it easy to remove when extra space is required.
Overall, consumers agree that this is a fantastic, all-around speaker with bass that’s hard to complain about.
TOP PICK DUAL SPEAKER SUBWOOFER
- Peak Power: Watts
- RMS: 400 Watt
- Frequency Response: 10Hz – 150Hz
- Dimensions: height – 14” , width – 29.63”, bottom depth – 13.5”, top depth – 11.13”
- Enclosure: Yes
- All in one sub and amp, simplifying installation
- Includes 2 subs and the enclosure
- Enclosure is made using extra-strength 5/8″ MDF (medium-density fiberboard)
- Each subwoofer can handle 200-watts RMS power, 400-watts RMS for the entire enclosure
- Enclosure is made with ⅝” MDF which is the preferred material for subwoofer enclosures, ensuring the enclosure can contain the massive low-frequency sound waves generated by the subwoofers without a problem.
Summary: The MTX TNE212D is a great solution for anyone looking for bass but not wanting to break the bank. It’s the perfect combination of performance and value ensuring that enthusiasts of all types can enjoy the bass that MTX has built its reputation on for 40 years.
- Peak Power: 1000 watts
- RMS: 350 watts
- Frequency Response: 15Hz – 20KHz
- Dimensions: 10” or 12”
- Signal to Noise Ratio: >97dBA (Reference: 1 Watt into 4 ohms)
- 4 Ohm Mono-Block Class A/B
- High Speed MosFET Power Supply with 50 Volt Rail
- BiPolar Audio Transistor Output Section
- OEM Integration Auto-Start Turn On Circuitry
- Dashboard Bass Remote Control with Cable
- Fully Adjustable +/- 12dB Narrow Q Bass Equalizer @ 45Hz
- Monoblock amplifier
- Kit includes the subwoofer enclosure, amplifier, and amp kit
- Includes a matching monoblock amplifier.
- Bonded, stapled, and braced 3/5″ MDF cabinet.
- Angled at 15% for near-perfect in-vehicle bass alignment
- High-quality aviation-grade tweed carpet
Summary: With a mono amp that’s built for loud bass, you can’t go wrong with the Rockville RV10.2B.
The subwoofers in this package are of fantastic quality and have high-power 1.5″ aluminum 4-layer voice coils with bumped and vented magnet motor structures for superior performance.
Like with all Rockville Bass Packages, everything from the woofers to the enclosures to the amps were all designed and engineered to specifically work together as a system which means you get the same industry standard as you would with other popular brands like Kenwood, Sony, Kicker etc.. The CEA-2006 certification ensures that they’ve been tested and rated with the same industry standards as these brands.
You can be certain that the top-of-the-line enclosure will give you more punch and better-sounding bass so you get all the thumping you could possibly desire. And with a 15-degree angle design, the bass will fire out hard and give you amazing sound quality.
Unlike most packages that typically include a 2 channel stereo amp, this package also includes a monoblock amplifier, built specifically for loud bass.
Skar Audio Dual 12″ 5,000 Watt Subwoofer Bass Package – Includes Subwoofers in Ported Box with Amplifier
- Peak Power: 5000 watts
- RMS: 2500 watts
- Height: 15.75″
- Width: 35.5″
- Depth #1: 20.5″
- Depth #2: 17.0″
- All-in-one package that includes 2 subwoofers, the sub enclosure, a Skar Audio RP-2000.1D amp and wiring kit
- 2 pre-wired subwoofers and loaded in vented wedge-style enclosure
- Easy to install
Summary: Go big or go home with the Skar Audio RP-2000.1D package that has everything you need for a solid, clear, thump.
If you’re looking for quality and are okay with a higher price tag, this is the system to go with. Based on consumer reviews, you won’t be disappointed.
- Peak Power: 160 watts
- RMS: 50 watts
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 200Hz
- Dimensions: 8″ x 5. 25″
- Built-in Class D amp
- Aluminum cone
- Urethane surround
- Digital bass control to tailor frequency response
- Easy to install
- Produces great bass, good range
- Compact size
- Remote control
- Need to understand how to properly configure it for good sound with bass
Summary: Music lovers who want some extra thump in their vehicle, will love this all-in-one subwoofer and amp.
The all-in-one design makes Pioneer TS-WX130DA an easy installation and avoids having to install and configure an external amp.
This sub really makes some big sound and paired with the right head unit, will certainly shake your mirrors.
Some consumers note that it doesn’t handle the really low frequencies, but that is to be expected due to the size of the woofer.
As with any electrical component, it’s recommended that you don’t install this yourself if you don’t have a good understanding of electrical components.
If you’re up for the challenge, watch some videos and read the instructions. You should be able to get the job done with ease.
- Peak Power: 400 watts
- RMS: 120 watts
- Frequency Response: 40Hz – 150Hz
- Dimensions: 9.9 x 9.9 x 3 inches
- All-in-one subwoofer and amp
- Small design will fit under most seats
- Die-cast aluminum heatsink
- The compact size means it will fit under most seats or in another inobtrusive location
- Comes with metal brackets for securing to carpet floor or you can use double-sided velcro
- Good sound but won’t shatter your windows – provides low-end bass
- Includes wiring kit (without RCA cables)
- Doesn’t include RCA cables
Summary: Consumers rave about how compact the Recoil SL1708 powered subwoofer is. It disappears under seats which means it’s out of the way, and it’s unlikely to get stolen or damaged.
It’s at a great price point which makes it appealing to a wide range of buyers. And music lovers who want a good-looking sub, appreciate the aesthetics because if it’s not under a seat or hidden away, it adds to the interior decor instead of just looking like a huge piece of metal.
What Is A Powered Subwoofer And Why Do You Need It?
A powered subwoofer has a self-contained speaker and amplifier that are typically matched for optimal sound performance. The amplifier provides a source of power which eliminates the need for an external power source, just a sound source.
Quite often, factory-installed stereo systems don’t have great sound or much bass. By adding a subwoofer, you’ll get more bass in your music which can improve the sound all around.
Alternatives To Powered Subwoofers
The alternative to a powered subwoofer is a passive subwoofer. A passive subwoofer doesn’t have an internal power source which means you’ll require an external power source such as an amplifier.
Quite often, installing a passive subwoofer is more difficult and more expensive than a powered subwoofer because of the need to buy an amplifier and do the installation of both the sub and amp.
5 Benefits Of Using Powered Subwoofers
- Easy to install because you don’t need to do extra electrical work like you do when installing a passive subwoofer
- Wide price range from under $100 to $700+ giving most people great options
- Performance optimized due to the pairing of an amp and sub that are designed and engineered to work well with each other
- Most often a compact design which makes it easy to find an installation location such as under a seat
13 Things To Look For In A Powered Subwoofer
- What kind of music do you play? A bigger speaker will give you more output and fuller frequency response.
- Enclosure Type The type of enclosure also plays a big part in how your music sounds. Here are 3 enclosure types and how they influence performance: (1) Ported enclosures are great if you listen to a lot of rock, hip-hop, techno, because it will produce the low bass that gives that deep, loud boom to these types of music (2) Sealed box enclosures add some low bass that is particularly suited for classical and jazz music. (3) Bandpass box booms hardest at low frequencies, perfect for music with strong, focused bass hits.
- What’s your budget? Most quality powered subwoofers are going to start at $100 and go up from there. You can find a decent one for the low $100s, but just know that typically, the larger subs will cost more but will also have the ability to provide more power and sound. How much you pay will depend on how much sound and what kind of performance you’re looking for
- How much space do you have? If you’re short on space, look for either an under seat powered subwoofer or a powered sub that is designed to fit in your spare tire. The Rockville RockGhost or the Recoil SL1708 great options. If you have plenty of space and are happy to give up the real estate in your trunk, go for a larger system like the Skar Audio Dual 12″
- Tuning and Ease of Use – A sub needs to be easy to install, easy to use, and simple to tune with the ability to optimize performance. Look for a powered subwoofer that has bass boost EQ and filters. Many have a remote control which simplifies tuning on the fly
- Power handling Max power will give you a good indication of how loud the subwoofer is. Generally, the higher the power, the louder the sound. The amplifier will also need to be powerful to support the subwoofer. This is where a powered subwoofer stands out because the all-in-one subs and amps are typically configured to perform well together
- Cone Size – All subwoofers have a cone and the size of the cone will impact the type of bass you’ll get. If you want deep bass, go with a 10” or 12”. If you prefer punchier bass, try an 8”. One thing to remember is that the larger the cone, the more expensive the sub and the larger it will be, requiring more real estate
- Sensitivity — Sensitivity tells you how much volume you’ll get from a speaker with a given amount of power. A sub that has a higher sensitivity rating requires less power to produce the same amount of sound as a model with a lower sensitivity rating. Also referred to as efficiency (measured as SPL — sound pressure level), this specification is quoted in decibels (dB). The higher the number, the more efficient the subwoofer is at turning amplifier power into sound, and the louder it plays. A subwoofer rated 3 dB more than another will require only half the power to produce the same output.
- Frequency range — A speaker’s frequency response is measured in Hertz (Hz) and tells you how accurately it converts the frequencies of an input signal. It’s common to see specs such as 60 Hz to 18 kHz. This means that it can convert frequencies in that range with some accuracy. Other factors, such as the enclosure or cone size also impact sound output.
- Number of voice coils — Typical subwoofers have a single voice coil but a dual voice coil (DVC) subwoofer uses two separate voice coils, each with its own connections, mounted on one cylinder, connected to a common cone. Performance is the same for both single or dual voice coils but the dual offers more flexibility in wiring sound systems.
- Impedance — Many subwoofers are rated at 4 ohms impedance, but 2-ohm, 8-ohm, and dual voice coil subwoofers are more common. When you’ve chosen a passive subwoofer, look for an amplifier that will perform best when matched with your sub in terms of power rating and impedance. A powered subwoofer, such as the subs on our list, will have an amplifier that has been correctly sized and designed for optimum performance with the sub, the cone, and the enclosure.
FAQs for the Best Powered Subwoofers
Are 2 subs louder than 1 sub?
Whether 2 subs are louder than 1 sub depends on various factors so there isn’t a straightforward answer. You need to consider the power, the enclosure type and size, cone size, and the size of the space you’re installing (small car vs large truck). Typically, two subs will sound a little cleaner and punch harder.
How do I get more bass out of my subwoofer?
Assuming that you have a powered subwoofer, you can improve the bass performance by:
1. Setting the speaker level to remove crackling, hissing and any other undesired sound
2. Removing the distortion – set the amp gain to low, play some music and turn up your receiver’s volume until you hear the distortion. Note where the distortion started because this is the loudest volume setting
3. Flattening the signal
4. Adjusting the subwoofer gain and low-pass filter until you don’t hear any mid and high-frequency sounds
Bottom Line – Best Powered Subwoofers for Your Car
All you want is a subwoofer that gives awesome bass. Maybe you want deep, thumping bass or maybe you just want low bass to fill in your music.
Our top overall pick, the Skar Audio Dual 12″ will work well for a wide range of bass lovers but this one will need to sit in your trunk space or somewhere in your cabin real estate.
If you’re short on space, this fantastic, small profile powered subwoofer, Rockville RockGhost Hidden Powered 8″, will fit nicely in your spare tire or just about anywhere else you want to install it.