Free air subwoofers are a great way to pump up bass in your car without wasting tons of space on an enclosure. Free air systems are lighter weight, too. In order for a free air subwoofer system to work well in your vehicle, you need to start with the best subwoofer for the best price. Finding just the right subwoofer for your application can be a challenge. There are many traditional subwoofers out there that perform fantastic in a box, but won’t sound good when installed in a free air setup. We did the hard work, shuffling through dozens of products from numerous manufacturers to find you the best free air subwoofers.

Key Information About Free Air Subwoofers

There are a few features that you should look at when selecting a free air subwoofer system to install in your car. A free air subwoofer is designed to produce good bass response without an enclosure. Subwoofers mounted in a box use the air trapped inside as a baffle, both controlling the rear-moving air waves and allowing the speaker to push the bass forward. A free air sub has to have features that accomplish this without the use of an enclosure. A free air sub will need more power input than a typical subwoofer, and also can’t be driven as hard without damage. A solid, robust free air subwoofer will produce solid bass response and will take the abuse with ease.

The key to finding the best subwoofer for a free air setup is finding subwoofers that have a high level of power handling, durable construction, and excellent range of frequencies. A sub that can handle a ton of power but has a flimsy support that is intended to carry the speaker in a box will never produce the kind of booty-shaking bass you are chasing.

Undersized subs, or those that are not intended to hit frequencies you are counting on simply won’t add the complex dimension to your jams. Most subwoofers today are engineered for exceptional power handling, but it is vital that you pay attention for deceptive marketing -just because a speaker says it can handle a huge amount of peak power doesn’t mean it is going to sound good.

Best Free Air Subwoofers List

1. Best All Around Free Air Subwoofer: JL Audio M7-12IB

M7-12IB-S-GwGw-i-4 blue led
M7-12IB-S-GwGw-i-4 yellow led
M7-12IB-S-GwGw-i-4 front
M7-12IB-S-GwGw-i-4 white led
M7-12IB-S-GwGw-i-4 pink led
JL Audio M7-12IB-C-GwGw-i-4 pink led
JL Audio M7-12IB-C-GwGw-i-4 front
M7-12IB-S-GwGw-i-4 side
M7-12IB-S-GwGw-i-4 rear

Key Features

  • 12” free air/ infinite baffle subwoofer
  • 600 watts RMS
  • 4 ohm impedance
  • Marine-grade subwoofer
  • 4” voice coil
  • Heavy-duty suspension
  • Requires 200-600 w amplifier for optimal performance
  • Transparent polypropylene cone with integrated 7-color LED lights

Latest Prices

JL Audio M7-12IB Quick Review

Getting big bass in your boat means you need a big subwoofer that can handle the power and the environment. The newest free-air sub from JL Audio is sure to rock your boat, in a good way. It’s exceeded industry testing to make sure your day doesn’t get ruined by a subwoofer that can’t take a little spray. JL Audio engineers each marine-grade speaker it makes to provide durability you can rely on.

We had the opportunity to install TWO of these in our own Nautique G23 Stereo Upgrade and review them in person. You can read our My-12IB First Look Review on these as well for more details about the sub as we pulled them out of the box. There's a reason why these are on the top of our list. Check out the links above and read more about them – They're clear, crisp and loud. We used these as an alternative to the W6 and W7 that we would have loved to have on our boat but needed a Free Air Application sub. And they didn't disappoint.

With the M7, JL Audio went big. This 12” subwoofer features an oversized four-inch coil and a specially-designed suspension so you don’t have to worry about your sub coming apart right in the middle of that deep bass riff. It’ll handle up to 600 watts RMS, so plan on using a big amp – JL Audio recommends a range of 200 w to 600 w for optimum performance. Like all free air subs, it doesn’t require an enclosure to produce the kinds of throbbing, punchy bass you crave. We also really loved the style of these. We chose the gunmetal grill for our installation and they are absolutely stunning.

If you're not worried about the price tag, this is our choice for a free air subwoofer right now.

  • Big and powerful marine-grade subwoofer
  • Excellent choice for free air and infinite baffle designs
  • Eye-catching lighting effect that is unique to JL Audio speakers
  • Requires a large(r) cutout
  • Power demands exceed other speakers- upgrade your amp!

2. Best Marine & Boat Free Air Subwoofer: Wet Sounds REVO 10 FA

REVO 10 FA S4-W front angle view
REVO 10 FA S4-B V2 front angle view
REVO 10 FA S4-W front view of woofer and cone
REVO 10 FA S4-B V2 front view of subwoofer with cone
REVO 10 FA S4-W rear view with casing and terminals and motor
REVO 10 FA S4-W side view of casing and terminals

Key Features

  • Power: 300 W (RMS), 600 W (Peak)
  • Frequency Response: 20-500 Hz
  • Sensitivity 88 dB
  • Weight: 8 lbs
  • Santoprene Rubber Spider and Surround
  • Nylas Composite Frame
  • 10” and 12” Available
  • 4-ohm impedance

Latest Prices

Wet Sounds REVO 10 FA S4-B Quick Review

You may be wondering why a marine-grade subwoofer tops this list of free air speakers. It’s quite simple, really -Wet Sounds engineers their free air sub to perform in the most demanding, challenging environments you can possibly subject a speaker to. When you want deep, responsive, feel-it-in-your-pants bass from a free air sub, why not get the very best out there? Wet Sounds has made a number of our top lists, including the best boat subwoofers and best tower speakers too. They're a highly regarded brand known for their quality products.

Wet Sounds gives you some truly eye-popping specs with this 4-ohm, dual voice coil sub. It is rated at an RMS of 300 watts, so it can handle a big amp, which you are going to want with any free air setup. The 10” Marine sub has a frequency response of 20 to 500 hertz, meaning it goes all the way down to the point you can’t hear the bass, you can only feel it. And since this speaker is not designed to reach into the upper frequencies, you get bass, bass, and bass.

  • Durable, purpose-built free air subwoofer
  • Optional RGB Light Kit
  • Excellent bass response
  • Price tag – they're expensive since they're marine grade

3. Runner Up, Best Marine & Boat Free Air Subwoofer: Kicker KMF124

Kicker KMF122 angle
Kicker KMF122 rear

Key Features:

  • 175W (RMS) and 350W (Peak) Power Handling
  • 12” Weatherproof subwoofer
  • Frequency Response: 30 – 500 Hz
  • Dual voice coil
  • Injection-molded polypropylene cone
  • Molded Santoprene Surround
  • Works best with 175 watts of power
  • LED grille (purchased separately)

Latest Prices

Kicker KMF12 Quick Review

We're a big fan of these subwoofers. The KM-Series of subwoofers from Kicker are designed exclusively for use in free air applications, specifically boats. When you are looking for tight, responsive bass, Kicker is a name you can rely on. The KM-Series are available in 2 or 4 ohm impedance and in 10” and 12” sizes.

Kicker uses a Santoprene surround for durability and a polymer basket for durability. The frequency response is 30 to 500 hertz, so it’s all about the bass here. Kicker rates the power handling at 350 watts RMS on the 10” 4-ohm KMF sub, so you have plenty of handling for a good amplifier to really drive the tunes home, whether you are rolling around town or on the bay.

See our full review of the KMF series subwoofers.

  • Durable construction with tons of great marine-specific features
  • Excellent low-end response
  • Available in different sizes and impedances for the perfect installation
  • Great choice for your boat
  • Grilles may not match well with the interior of your car

4. JL Audio M6-10IB

JL Audio M6-10IB Front angle view with grille
JL Audio M6-10IB rear view of casing and magnet
JL Audio M6-10IB Side view of spider and terminals

Key Features

  • 10” Free Air Subwoofer
  • Marine-grade design
  • 250 W RMS
  • Sensitivity: 86.1 dB
  • designed for infinite baffle applications but also works with sealed/ported

Latest Prices

JL Audio M6-10IB Quick Review

Another marine-use subwoofer, but don’t be afraid to mount this 10” sub in the trunk of your ride. JL Audio uses a polymer-synthetic Syntex basket and a stainless steel backplate for extra strength. The subwoofer is designed for free air setups, and uses an extended motor structure to provide more cone movement. This helps to compensate for the lack of a box by giving the subwoofer the ability to really thump without distortion.

The M6-10IB works best with a robust amplifier producing between 75 watts and 250 watts. Like all free air subs, you will need substantial amplifier power to get the kind of deep bass you want. Free air subwoofers are less efficient than boxed woofers, and you must be careful with the gain to prevent damage. This speaker will give you years and years of boom because of its rugged design. It’s purpose-built to survive saltwater environments, so you know it’s tough enough for your land yacht.

  • Marine-grade subwoofer built for tough environments
  • Deep bass response
  • Pricey for the size and specifications
  • Gunmetal or white color choice may not work with all vehicles

5. Best Power Handling: Infinity Kappa 1200W

Infinity Kappa 1200W top view of cone and casing with terminals
Infinity Kappa 1200W rear view of casing, terminals and subwoofer magnet motor

Key Features

  • 500W RMS 2000W Peak
  • 12” subwoofer
  • Steel Basket
  • Coated glass-fiber cone
  • Rubber surround
  • Selectable impedance
  • 2” voice coil

Latest Prices

Infinity Kappa 1200W Quick Review

Infinity is one of the most trusted names in reliable car audio tech. This 1200W subwoofer works great in a free air setup because of the excellent steel basket. The subwoofer features a selectable 2 or 4 ohm impedance too for customizability. Plus, this is truly a great looking subwoofer. If you're looking to showcase the speakers, the 1200W is probably the best looking on our list.

Kappa engineered this subwoofer to handle frequencies between 23 and 400 hertz, so it really gets down deep into the bass spectrum. With power handling of 500 watts RMS, it can take a beating, but installation in a free air setup will reduce the amount of power you can push through it before the voice coil can’t take it anymore.

  • Excellent looking and performing subwoofer
  • Selectable impedance is great for custom setups
  • High power handling
  • Requires more than 7” of clearance
  • Challenging to install in tight spaces

6. Best Value Free Air Subwoofer: JBL Stage 122AM

JBL Stage 122AM
JBL Stage 122AM front
JBL Stage 122AM rear

Key Features

  • 12” 4-ohm subwoofer
  • 250 Watts RMS (1000 W Peak)
  • 34-200 hertz frequency
  • Polypropylene Cone
  • Rubber Surround
  • Also available in 10” & 12” sizes

Latest Prices

JBL Stage 122AM Quick Review

Building a system on a budget doesn’t mean you have to accept poor subwoofer performance. The JBL Stage series has been a popular choice for years, most notably for its robust build quality and high-power output. The newest JBL Stage 122AM subwoofer advances the reputation this series has built over the years.

The Stage 122AM features a simple polypropylene cone material that ensures rigid, clear bass without adding unnecessary weight or cost to the subwoofer. Although polypropylene is not a proprietary material that JBL spent years of R&D on, it’s a tried-and-true material for subwoofer and speaker cones alike. A rubber surround completes the package, to provide the excursion that the cone needs to translate into big volume.

The Stage 122AM subwoofers were designed to work in a free-air system, of course, but they are also a great choice for both ported and sealed boxes. You can fit one in a sealed enclosure with a volume of 1.4 cubic feet, or a vented box with a volume of 1.6 cubic feet. The 2-inch voice coils allow the speaker to produce big bass in free-air spaces too, while the cone actively cools the coils from overheating.

The JBL Stage subwoofers earned their reputation by being reliable. To that end, JBL puts them through what they call “HARMAN standard Reliability Testing”. They freeze these subs, bake them in an oven, and force them to run at peak output for days on end to ensure that the subwoofers you install will last for years. Reliability and performance at the price point are the two key reasons this sub made our list of best free air subs.

  • Low initial cost makes the subs approachable and affordable
  • Good bass output with low distortion and high clarity
  • The versatility of a free-air subwoofer that can be mounted in a box
  • Bass output can get muddy sounding when using higher-powered car amplifiers. Ensure your sub is tuned properly and matched with your amp
  • The somewhat large depth and cutout can require a lot of space

7. Lanzar DCTOA15D

Lanzar DCTOA15D side view of woofer and cone
Lanzar DCTOA15D Front view of woofer and cone
Lanzar DCTOA15D rear view of magnet and casing

Key Features

  • 15” Free Air Subwoofer
  • 200W RMS, 400W Peak
  • Frequency Response 50 to 2,000 hertz
  • Black pressed Paper Cone
  • Rigid Foam Surround

Latest Prices

Lanzar DCTOA15D Quick Review

If you are not familiar with Lanzar, that’s okay. You are probably familiar with the parent company, Pyle, though. Pyle produces well, pile-driving bass, and the Lanzar is simply a budget-friendly version. But don’t think you are getting short changed with a budget sub. The 15” Lanzar has lots to offer in an affordable package. It's a good entry level sub that'll get the job done.

Lanzar uses a massive 2” voice coil in these speakers to help prevent overpowering in a free air setup. The rated power is 200 watts, giving you plenty of room to run a big amplifier without damaging the speaker. As in any free air setup, you will need to keep an eye on the gain from your amp. Too much and the non-pressed paper cone and foam surround won’t take it.

  • Very affordable Subwoofer
  • Easily installs in factory locations
  • Designed for free air installation
  • Materials like the pressed paper cone and foam surround (and other parts) are not as durable as more expensive products

Looking for a different type of subwoofer? Check out these lists!

How We Chose the Best Free Air Subwoofer

The internet is absolutely stuffed with subwoofers that can be installed in a free air setup. You can spend hours sifting through speakers, only to be more confused than ever. Marketing hype can lead you to think one speaker is better than another, only for you to find that the sub can’t perform the way you want.

We did the hard part and went straight to the manufacturers with burning questions about their free air subs. Then we balanced what the maker had to say against the advice professional audio installers provided to identify the best free air systems. Finally, we went through countless reviews by real-life users to find out how a product actually performs in the wild. We narrowed the search down to just a few options that we believe are the best on the market in 2020.

Stock Replacement, Infinite Baffle, and Free Air

The benefits of a free air subwoofer system are easy to see, your trunk isn’t filled with a massive sub box. But there are certain downsides to a free air setup that you should consider before going ahead with building a system. Understanding the limitations of a free air sub system will help you make the decision on how you want your system to work.

A pure free air subwoofer mounts in a stock-type location, like on the rear deck. Many cars come factory-equipped with a subwoofer, almost always in a free air setup. You are probably shopping for a free air subwoofer because the stock setup just isn’t very good. A better speaker, a bigger amp, and a rethought installation can help improve a stock system using a free air subwoofer.

When there simply isn’t room on the package shelf for a subwoofer, you can also mount your subs to the back of your rear seats. This installation does take up more room, but makes installation of 10”, 12”, or larger subs much easier.

Many free air subwoofers will perform better if you engineer your space as an infinite baffle. In an infinite baffle setup, your free air subwoofers use a sealed space, like your trunk. In order to make an infinite baffle perform right, you will have to seal off your trunk. This can involve serious modifications, alterations to vents, and quite a bit of expense.

For all but the most discerning of audiophiles, a free air setup will function well, but any amount of bleed through of sound waves from the rear of the sub will offset forward moving waves, causing distortion and a lack of punch in your bass.

Read more about Free Air vs Infinite Baffle vs Traditional subwoofers here.