Best Subwoofer Reviews and Buying Guide

A subwoofer is a speaker specifically designed to reproduce bass.

The smaller speakers in stock car sound systems fail to cope with lower frequencies so investing in the best subwoofer can give you significant audio gains for a nominal investment.

In today’s subwoofer reviews, we’ve got something for everyone in a range of sizes and at varying price points.

Whether you want a smaller 12-incher or a competition-grade 15” sub, we’ve got you covered.

5 Best Subwoofer Reviews

We’ll get straight amongst those reviews now before we walk you through how to buy the best subwoofer the easy way.

First in our best subwoofer reviews is an incredibly popular P300 Punch from the legendary Rockford Fosgate. For almost half a century, this company has remained something of a reference point for affordable and high-performing car audio.

Not everyone wants to struggle away with a custom install and this is where plug-and-play solutions like this 12-inch subwoofer come to the fore.

You’ll get an MDF cover overlaid in vinyl and a class D monoblock amp. This is nicely adjustable. The closed loop balances out the subwoofer and the amplifier perfectly delivering that winning combo of rumbling bass alongside a crisp, clear sound. 300 watts of RMS power handling is more than fit for purpose.

This stealthy black sub is built to withstand a bit of rough and tumble so you can pop it in the trunk if you want. Integrated thermal and over-voltage protection is a nice touch.

You can tweak the output of the sub to achieve your preferred bass levels. There’s a remote included so you can do this even if your sub’s in the trunk.

The only real drawback to this Rockford Fosgate sub is the poor paper cones.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to significantly uprate bass levels in your car, check out the P300 Punch today.

Pros.

  • Impeccable brand heritage
  • Very cost-effective all-in-1 unit
  • Closed loop promotes harmony
  • Powerful 300-watt amp
  • Extremely durable

Cons.

  • Physical strength of subwoofer is questionable
  • Paper cone is disappointing

Next up in our car subwoofer reviews is another combined unit from the stellar Rockville. While you’re buying into a brand you can rely on, this 12-inch sub comes in at a very reasonable price point.

If you’re just starting out in the world of car audio and you’re intimidated by the thought of matching subs and amps then installing a custom system, there’s no need to be. Invest in an all-in-1 and you’ll be good to go straight out the box.

The amp delivers 300 watts of power and you’ll get an effective enclosure included.

Even though you’ll get impressive power and bass levels, this sub comes in a pretty compact package so you can angle it up against the rear seats with ease even in smaller vehicles.

If you’re looking for an able all-rounder at a pocket-friendly price, road test this 12-incher today and enjoy upgraded bass tomorrow.

Pros.

  • All-in-1 powered sub
  • Fits snugly up against rear seats
  • Plenty of pulsing bass in small package
  • Great for beginners wanting quick results
  • Very affordable

Cons.

  • Some reported issues with overheating
  • Sound quality is lacking in places

At the midpoint of our subwoofer reviews is a strong performer from the ever-reliable BOSS Audio.

Available in smaller 8-inch and 10-inch form, we chose the larger sub with the 1400-watt option, as it’s still such good value you might as well max out.

The cut-throat price does leave you with a unit that doesn’t necessarily stand the test of time. While there are legions of satisfied users, a few have also complained about durability so think about your intended usage.

300 watts of RMS power handling is in line with most of the competition.

This sub will serve you well whether you opt for a sealed enclosure or a ported alternative so extremely flexible.

Exercise a light touch as some users have found they’ve blown the unit by getting overambitious with the volume.

Overall, this 12-inch sub from BOSS is budget price with pro-grade performance and well worth a place on any shortlist of the best subwoofers.

Pros.

  • Crystal clear lows
  • Superb all-round value
  • Worked with ported or sealed enclosure
  • Powerful 300-watt amp
  • Extremely durable

Cons.

  • Can blow if you overdo the power
  • Lifespan is underwhelming

Kicker is a go-to choice for many car audio enthusiasts. You’ll get top-tier results without needing to bankrupt yourself. Now, Kicker gear is not cheap but it represents outstanding value in terms of price to performance ratio.

If you have a great amp in place already, this 12-inch Kicker will deliver fully even when you push your system to its limits.

You’ll enjoy a broad power range from 100 watts to 750 watts and this is split across a pair of voice coils. This allows you the freedom to install a multi-sub set-up if you’re feeling particularly ambitious.

With an aluminum basket and a square SoloKon, the driver pushes much more air than a comparable rounded sub.

This subwoofer looks great and comes with an optional grille if you want an aggressive edge.

You’ll get no distortion and the power for all reasonable needs in a unit built to last for years. We can’t recommend this Kicker 12-inch subwoofer highly enough.

Pros.

  • Get hard and clean sound
  • Minimal distortion
  • Fantastic build quality
  • Powerful 300-watt amp
  • Enhanced cone area

Cons.

  • No mounting screws included
  • Certainly not the cheapest sub

Last up in our subwoofer reviews is an eye-wateringly expensive comp-grade unit from the hard-hitting Skar Audio.

If you’ve got a fluid budget and you’re committed to extracting the very most out of your car’s sound system, slot in the DNR-15 and make a real statement driving along.

You’d better buckle in and brace yourself since the Skar is rated at 5000 watts RMS with an outlandish peak power of 10,000 watts. Don’t worry, though… You won’t just get a crashing wall of sound so expect stunning clarity as well as sheer firepower.

There are 8 layers to the 4-inch aluminum voice coil meaning however hard you push your system, you shouldn’t experience any overheating or distortion as you’d expect with an inferior sub.

There’s really nothing we can say to knock this subwoofer aside from the ruthless price tag. If you’ve got the money to spare, treat yourself. You won’t regret it.

Pros.

  • Designed to cope with harsh treatment
  • Outstanding RMS and peak power
  • Massive triple-stack motor
  • Powerful 300-watt amp
  • Extremely durable

Cons.

  • Extremely expensive so not for everyone
  • Paper cone is disappointing

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What To Look For In The Best Subwoofer

This is some loose guidance rather than a definitive guide for the simple reason there’s no standardized blueprint for the best subwoofer. There are many variables and everyone has differing requirements.

Think about the following areas if you’re hunting for the most suitable subs…

Power and Wattage

Power is key with subwoofers.

Bass demands plenty of energy and the higher the wattage, the more energy is created whatever the volume.

By far the most important stat is the RMS (continuous) power rating. This represents overall power but at a reasonable volume.

The peak (dynamic) power rating is the flat-out loudest the sub will go. It’s not the most meaningful value for normal listening conditions so focus on RMS.

You should look for a sub with a wide wattage range between these RMS and peak power ratings. Go for as much wattage as budget permits and you should end up with a crisp, tight sound regardless of volume.

Caution: It’s essential to match the power of the sub with the capability of your amp. A high RMS value means little unless you have an able amplifier that either matches or beats this.

Frequency

Frequency concerns the range of sounds your sub will kick out.

You should ideally opt for a unit at the lower end of the scale.

There are variables such as the enclosure that can impact this so you expect results to vary.

Sensitivity

A subwoofer rated high for sensitivity requires less power to generate the same sound as you’d get with one rated lower.

Sound pressure level (SPL) numbers are used to express sensitivity.

When you’re mulling over the total output, sensitivity has a crucial role to play.

Size

Size matters, certainly when it comes to subwoofers.

Bass calls for plenty of energy. Your amp is obviously vital but the physical size of the sub also comes fully into play.

While you might get some benefit from a smaller sub, you should angle for 12” or bigger if you want a real rattling, pulsing bassline.

If your most valuable metrics are low and loud, get the largest subwoofer you can comfortably fit in your car.

For anyone requiring a smaller unit, focus on the enclosure and amp to ensure the whole package delivers the sound you want without too much compromise.

Sealed or Ported?

There are 2 main types of enclosure:

  • Sealed Subs: This type of subwoofer comes in a fully enclosed cabinet
  • Ported Subs: With openings in the cabinet of ported subs, air can flow freely

You’ll enjoy more raw volume with ported subs but stripped of such a rich, throbbing bass as sealed subs deliver. Sealed units also lend to exceptional depth and accuracy of sound.

Roll with whichever works best for you.

Passive or Powered?

  • Passive Subs: A passive sub or driver is a basic unit in an enclosure. These subs call for an external amp. Since bass demands power, make certain your amp is up to the job
  • Powered Subs: A powered sub comes with an inbuilt amplifier. This will save you some space but with some loss of sound, especially at the very low end. Powered subwoofers work wonderfully with mid-range frequencies. For a stress-free build without needing to worry about matching up your sub and amp, think about powered subs

Construction

How the cone and surrounds are made will impact both sound quality and durability.

Paper cones are best given a swerve while urethane surrounds are also underwhelming.

Rubber surrounds work well and most cone material except paper is pretty effective.

Look at plenty of honest user reviews and if you see common complaints about longevity, it’s worth being wary.

Solid subwoofers should give you many years of service so take the time to get some that are carefully built.

Installation and Placement

The majority of vehicles don’t come with a suitable pre-mount for a subwoofer.

Many complete kits offer the sub along with an enclosure and all mounting hardware.

Pressed fiberboard is an effective material if you fancy a DIY enclosure.

Think about placement that best gels with your needs.

If you opt for back seat placement, you’ll get a real rush of air but this comes at the expense of precious passenger seating.

Placing your sub in the trunk overcomes this problem but limits your storage space and can muffle the sound to some extent.

There will perhaps be an element of compromise required so think before you install.

A Final Word

Hopefully, you’re now fixed on which subwoofer would make the best fit to uprate your stock sound system.

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