A subwoofer is a speaker that's designed to reproduce bass. They cover the lower end range of frequencies that smaller speakers struggle with (6.5″, 6″ x 9″, and etc). A component sub can add a level of power and sound to your music that other speakers cant reproduce. It's one of the necessities to a well-rounded car stereo. Add one of the best car subwoofers to your stereo and you'll wonder how you listened to music without one.
Here is a list of 2018's top rated and reviewed 8, 10, 12 and 15 inch subwoofers to help you choose the best products for your car's stereo.
|Our Rank||Car Subwoofer||Sizes Offered||Impedance (ohms)||Power Handling||Price|
|1.||JL Audio W7AE-3||8" | 10" | 12" | 13"||Single 4 Ohm||RMS: 500 - 1500 Watts||$$$$|
|2.||Hertz Hi Energy HX||10" | 12" | 15"||Dual 4 Ohm||RMS: 450 - 700 Watts||$$$|
|3.||JL Audio W6V3||10" | 12"||Single 4 Ohm||RMS: 600 Watts||$$$|
|4.||Alpine Type R||8" | 10" | 12" | 15"||Dual 2 Ohm||RMS: 350 - 1000 Watts||$|
|5.||Polk Audio MM||8" | 10" | 12" | 15"||Dual 4 Ohm||RMS: 250 - 425 Watts||$$|
|6.||Rockford Fosgate Power T0||10" | 12" | 15"||Dual 4 Ohm||RMS: 550 - 800 Watts||$$$|
|7.||MTX 55||10" | 12" | 15"||Dual 2 Ohm||400 Watts||$$|
How We Chose
CarAudioNow considered a number of factors when assembling our top list. We've researched and combined several reviews across the industry with first-hand tests. And we've personally tested subwoofers in the field. There are many criteria that we consider when rating and reviewing each car sub, including:
- Style (Looks, Design)
- Sound (Clarity, Loudness)
- Features (Cooling, Cone Design, Basket, Proprietary Technology, etc)
- Power Ratings (Peak, RMS)
- Quality (Materials used, manufacturer, etc)
- Online Reviews (From multiple vendors such as Crutchfield, Amazon, Top 10 Reviews and more)
The result from our in-depth research and internal testing is a list of the top rated car subwoofers. And in addition to our list products, we also provide price comparisons from vendors to try to get you the best price. But in the end, the best car subwoofer is one that meets your specific needs and is compatible with your car.
If you'd rather buy an all-in-one powered subwoofer, take a look at all of CarAudioNow's Best Powered Subwoofers. You'll find a list of great subwoofers that have an amplifier already built in!
Here's a great starter video that runs through the key points to choosing a car subwoofer:
Best Car Subwoofers List
1. Best Overall: JL Audio W7AE-3 Series Subwoofers
JL Audio W7AE Series Subwoofer Review
The JL Audio W7AE series subwoofer is not only a fantastic subwoofer, it’s become a benchmark for high-end audio products. Overall, JL is our best subwoofer brand too. There are four models under this series. Each has a 10th-anniversary edition and the original version:
- 8-inch 8W7AE-3
- 10-inch 8W7AE-3
- 12-inch 8W7AE-3
- 5-inch W7AE-D1
This subwoofer series meets our high standards for a quality and performing sub. One of the key things that stands out with the W7 is the number of unique patents that are incorporated into each model. These patents include:
- Dynamic Motor Analysis (DMA). A system that reduces sound distortion and provides an analysis of the sound dynamics.
- W-Cone assembly. This is a two-skin-unit –body design that can handle all kinds of wear and tear.
- Elevated frame cooling design for enhanced ventilation.
- Floating Cone Attach Method. This improves the surround sound.
- Overall Surround sound system which improves air displacement and speaker efficiency.
- Cross-Drilled Pole Piece for efficient cooling for superior linear performance.
- Lead-wire design for reduced sound distortion and mechanical noise.
- The W7AE series subwoofer includes all of the latest and innovative designs and features created and patented by JL Audio.
After more than a decade in the business, the flagship JL Audio W7AE Series gets the approval of many professionals and experts in the sound industry. It is the leader in automotive subwoofers. It has the least amount of sound distortion, best overall performance, highest quality and is the longest lasting. It easily earns our top choice award for the best subs for cars available in the market today.
2. Runner Up, Best Overall: Hertz HI Energy Series Subwoofers
Hertz HI Energy Series Subwoofer Review
The Hertz HX series subwoofers are designed to produce the lowest octaves of the audio spectrum with impact, precision and power. These subs have groundbreaking and innovative technologies in every detail. This includes:
- An ultra-efficient motor assembly
- Rigid V-cone
- Forced ventilation system
- Low-resonance basket.
The Hi-Energy subwoofers' also feature dual coil models to increase the flexibility of your subwoofer system design. This allows for easy management of the different connectivity solutions. It also gives you flexibility in the number of subwoofers for your setup in order to make the most of the amplifier power delivery characteristics. It's the best solution to all your needs; low frequency output and control that will meet your enthusiastic expectations. All-in-all, a very well built, high performing and great looking subwoofer.
3. Best for Clarity: JL Audio W6V3 Series Subwoofers
JL Audio W6V3 Series Subwoofer Review
JL Audio’s well reputable W6v3 subwoofers encompass multiple generations of subwoofer, each improving on the precision, power and design of the last. Made with a durable, mineral-filled polypropylene cone, the W6v3 series delivers incredible strength without the added weight that can decrease a woofer’s response and accuracy. Combined with a rigid cast-alloy basket that all but eliminates flex and distortion, you find yourself with an incredibly crafted, reliable and well engineered series subwoofer that performs.
4. Best Value: Alpine Type-R Series Subwoofers
Alpine Type-R Series Subwoofer Review
Alpine’s Type-R Series Subwoofers are built tough to handle the most extreme bass without failing. Featuring cones made from Kevlar® treated pulp (the key material that bulletproof vests are made from), and a durable HAMR Santoprene™ surround, you can expect the Type-R subs to thump while maintaining a high standard of durability and reliability.
5. Best for Outdoors: Polk Audio MM Series Subwoofers
Polk Audio MM Series Subwoofer Review
A perfect balance between light weight and quality materials, the Polk MM Series Subwoofers produce superior bass without the bulk and heaviness of standard subs. Featuring a fiberglass-reinforced ABS basket with a “wagon wheel” design that reduces flex and neodymium magnet motors that drive the rigid polymer cone, the engineering and design of the MM series subwoofers will allow superior performance that will reproduce your music with incredible accuracy.
Just released this year, the newly refreshed MM series offer even more than previous models, with increased power handling, lighter materials, a new design and more. They're Marine certified, with an IP56 rating too, which means it'll produce powerful bass in even the worst environments. They're among the best on our list for outdoor and boat applications. And with a price tag that won't break the bank, they're also one of the better values on our list too.
6. Best Splurge: Rockford Fosgate Power T0 Series Subwoofers
Rockford Fosgate Power T0 Series Series Subwoofer Review
Whether you’re looking for a subwoofer for recreational purposes, or a competitive level sub that will dominate, the Rockford Fosgate Power T0 Series Subwoofers were designed for high power and high volume bass. Featuring a responsive Kevlar Fiber (the same that’s used in bulletproof vests) reinforced paper cone, an anodized aluminum dust cap that protects the cone, and an oversized rubber surround to the cone that increases the cone surface area up to 25%, you’ll get the bass you want from a sub that’s virtually unbreakable.
7. Best Budget: MTX 55 Series Subwoofers
MTX 55 Series Series Subwoofer Review
The MTX 55 Series subwoofers are a great bang for your buck. MTX has built a high performing sub that will add incredible bass to your system without draining your wallet. They cram oversized polypropylene cone with rubber surrounds into standard sized frames to increase the surface area of the cone, moving more are and giving you more bass. It has a self-cooling design that cools the subwoofer while it plays, reducing over heating and their suspension system allows the sub to handle more power, and pump harder. Although the MTX series may not keep up with the W6v3 or Hertz HX series subwoofers, it's a very highly reviewed subwoofer and and excellent upgrade with incredible value.
Just like when choosing a home subwoofer, when choosing the car subwoofer to fit your needs, you have to ask yourself, “What kind of bass am I looking for?” The best subwoofer isn’t always the biggest. Different sizes of subwoofers respond and produce different sound to different music. Finding the right match for your music preferences is key. Let’s talk about the different sizes of subwoofers and what kind of sound they emit.
- 8″ Subwoofers – The smaller the woofer the faster, more responsive and punchier it is. An 8″ woofer can keep up with faster paced music. Heavy rock, double bass and fast paced electronic are great candidates for an 8″ sub. It’s a great choice for those who enjoy soft and light bass. An 8 inch subwoofer is one that compliments a system rather than overwhelming it. If you like very heavy and loud bass, this might not be the ideal choice for you.
- 10″ Subwoofers – 10’s are very common. They are the most well-rounded and safest choice for a subwoofer on the market. The 10″ can keep up with fast paced music while creating a respectable amount of bass. They are good for fast paced music, and also good with heavier bass music. Rap, rock, club music, you name it. The 10″ subwoofer will cover it all. But if you’re looking for big bass, you may have to double up with the 10″ to get the volume you want.
- 12″ Subwoofers – If you listen to a wide variety of music but enjoy heavy bass, a 12″ subwoofer is for you. The 12″ sub is the most common in the marketplace today. This is because they are so universal. They're great for pretty much all types of music, produce a heavy bass and cover a deeper range of frequencies. They won’t keep up with fast paced music such as heavy rock or metal as well as the 10″. But, it will sound great for all varieties of music, especially rap, electronic, club and pop.
- 15″ Subwoofers – 15″ subwoofers aren't a common size sub. They're not a great solution to the everyday music listener either. But, if you are looking for ear bleeding bass then you are in the right category.
To sum up, when choosing a sub for your car or vehicle, you need consider a number of things. To start, the level of music you want to listen to, type of music, and confinements of the location. 8″ subwoofers are great for leveling out a sound system while a 15″ will wake the neighbors. Your safest bet is the 10″ or 12″ subwoofer.
Remember, all of the top-rated subwoofers require an awesome amplifier. Check out all of the Best Car Amplifiers, and the Best Subwoofer Amplifiers for information on choosing an amplifier that'll meet the specs of your subwoofer.
Best Component Car Subwoofers: What to Look For
Car subwoofers are essentially oversized speakers. They require much more space, power, material – pretty much more of everything. When adding a car subwoofer to your car stereo, you will need to make sure to pay close attention to specific things when researching to make sure you have both the right subwoofer, and the right components to power and house your subwoofer. Below is a list of criteria we recommend considering when you’re choosing a subwoofer for your car:
Speaker Design and Materials
The best subwoofers will add a whole new level of audio to your car. They help round out your system, supporting your speakers where needed – in the low frequencies. Here’s a couple of things to note about your speaker’s design and materials when comparing:
Woofer: The subwoofer’s woofer can easily determine the responsiveness, and overall quality of the speaker. The stiffer and more lightweight the material used, the more effective the subwoofer is. Polypropylene is a very common material used for the cone, as well as woven fabrics such as carbon and kevlar. Aluminum and titanium are also used in higher end subwoofer woofers.
Woofer Surrounding: The woofer surround also is an important aspect of the speaker system and effect the sound as well. Durable, lightweight, and free moving materials are used to allow the woofer to move with as little energy possible. The material is essential for a long lasting and performing speaker too. As speakers get older and used, humidity levels and wear-and-tear can crack and even break the surrounding of the woofer. Forms of Rubber surrounding are typically the most long lasting an high performing material. Foam and cloth surroundings are found on less expensive component speakers, with lower performance and shorter life spans.
There are multiple power handling ratings for subwoofers and speakers, the two most important to note are RMS (Continuous) Power Handling, and sensitivity. RMS Power Handling tells you what your speaker can handle continuously. Note that many providers used to sell customers on the ‘Peak’ handling since this is a much higher number than the RMS. But Peak is only the measure of what the speaker can handle in short bursts. RMS is the more important
Sensitivity is another highly important measure to look at when comparing and finding the right subwoofer. It’s the measurement of the amount of sound that a speaker will emit with the power it’s given. Essentially this is you measure of efficiency. The higher the sensitivity, the more efficient the subwoofer is.
Many of the criteria we’ve been discussing is pretty standard across all car speakers. But here’s a measure that’s pretty unique to subwoofers – Enclosure Specs. Car speakers don’t really need to consider this because you’re typically mounting a speaker in a door, or on a bracket the car. But a subwoofer needs to have an enclosure dedicated to it. There are pre-made enclosures everywhere, or you can even build your own enclosure to customize it to the contours of your vehicle, but in any case you’ll need to match the specs of your enclosure as best as you can to the specs of the recommended manufacturer enclosure specs.
There are two type of enclosures, and typically the manufacturer will provide recommended specs for both: Sealed Enclosures and Ported Enclosures. A sealed enclosure is a box that is fully concealed. These boxes are great for precise and clean bass with little distortion. Sealed enclosures are the standard when it comes to well-defined bass. Ported enclosures have a hole in the box to port sound. These enclosures are excellent for outdoor settings and provide louder, but sometimes less defined bass.