Reviews

Best 8-Inch Subwoofers: Small But Mighty Speakers That Boost the Bass

The best 8-inch subwoofers to give your audio system some much-needed punch.

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BY Norah Tarichia / LAST UPDATED ON July 19, 2021

If you want to upgrade the stereo system in your car but don't have a lot of space, the solution is a hard-hitting 8-inch sub. They’re not as big or powerful as larger 15- to 18-inch subwoofers, but they work perfectly well in smaller vehicles, such as hatchbacks. They can be integrated into tight spaces like under the seat, directly in the center console, or in the spare tire storage space. In addition, the smaller design and typically lightweight profile of 8-inch subwoofers allow them to reproduce accurate bass. They can even produce loud sounds if housed in optimal enclosures for their size. So, if you are looking for a high-quality 8-inch subwoofer to complement or replace your factory speakers, check out the options in our guide below.

Best Overall
Kicker 44CWCD84 CompC 8 Inch Car Subwoofer
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Summary
Summary

This 8-inch sub has a 4-ohm dual voice coil and a stacked magnet structure for clean, pure sound.

Pros
Pros
  • Produces super clean audio and transmits sound without vibration
  • One-piece UniPlate back plate and pole piece allows for excellent thermal management
Cons
Cons
  • Doesn't fit well in all automobiles
  • No plug and play installation
Best Overall
Kicker 44CWCD84 CompC 8 Inch Car Subwoofer
Best Value
Pyle PLPW8D 8-Inch Car Subwoofer
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Summary
Summary

This is an affordable subwoofer that has an 800-watt peak power and 400-watt RMS power. It installs in 3.7-inch mounting holes.

Pros
Pros
  • Decent upgrade from factory speakers 
  • Features a durable and fatigue-free design
  • Features a shallow mounting depth that’s easy to install
Cons
Cons
  • May distort at loud volumes 
  • Not the best for bringing out deep, punchy bass
Best Value
Pyle PLPW8D 8-Inch Car Subwoofer
Honorable Mention
BOSS Audio Systems CXX8 8 Inch Car Subwoofer
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Summary
Summary

This subwoofer is a solid, great sounding subwoofer that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It’s a 4-ohm single voice coil that can produce up to 600 watts.

Pros
Pros
  • Durable construction
  • Stamped basket is strong and resilient 
  • Rubber surround holds up to some serious wear and tear
Cons
Cons
  • On the expensive side
  • Not as high-powered as other high-end models  
  • You might need expert help when installing it
Honorable Mention
BOSS Audio Systems CXX8 8 Inch Car Subwoofer

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Benefits of 8-Inch Subwoofers 

  • Boost your audio system’s bass. The most powerful 8-inch subwoofer will enhance your music much more than factory car speakers. An 8-inch sub will have more power and impact, regardless of the environment.
  • Save your car battery. Smaller subwoofers typically don't use too much power, so they're less likely to burden your vehicle's battery than a larger sub, yet they still provide great sound.
  • Protect your factory speakers. If you like a lot of bass, you can potentially damage your car’s factory speakers, which aren't designed to tolerate large levels of vibration. OEM speakers may tear or crack because they're typically made of plastic and cardboard.
  • Power a five-channel amplifier. Small subwoofers have the capability to work well with a five-channel amplifier. More powerful subs typically require a dedicated monoblock amp as well as a separate amplifier for the speakers. 

Types of Subwoofers

Powered

A powered subwoofer includes an amplifier inside the enclosure, making it suitable for smaller spaces. These subwoofers have decent bass frequencies and overall sound; however, their small enclosure prevents them from emitting hard-hitting, super deep, and powerful bass tones. Their size and ease of installation is beneficial, particularly in compact spots.

Component

A component subwoofer has several separate parts and is geared towards audiophiles who want to customize their sound system. You have the freedom to choose what type of enclosure, amplifier, and other items you want to include. While this type of subwoofer is tailor-made to suit your needs, it takes a bit of technical know-how. A non-component subwoofer includes everything you need in one enclosure. This type of subwoofer is geared towards people who don't want to fuss too much with installation.

Enclosed

An enclosed subwoofer is pre-mounted inside an enclosure that is specifically designed to contain it. Enclosed subwoofers do not include amplifiers, so you will need to purchase one separately. There are fewer enclosed subwoofers on the market than other options, but they're a great pick if you want a simple solution to upgrading your sound system.

Vehicle-Specific

Vehicle-specific subwoofers are tucked away in various locations in your car, truck, or SUV, such as the door. If you don't have much space or want to put the subwoofer in an out-of-the-way spot, this is one way to do it. They typically match your vehicle's interior and come pre-mounted in an enclosure. However, they don't produce a big, booming bass sound compared to larger subwoofers.

Top Brands

Alpine Electronics Of America

Alpine Electronics of America, Inc., based in Auburn Hills, Mich., was founded in 1978. It is a subsidiary of Alps Alpine Co. Ltd., one of the world's largest manufacturers of electronic components for cars, computers, and communications. One popular product is the PWE-S8 Restyle Compact Powered 8-Inch Subwoofer.

JL Audio

JL Audio, based in Miramar, Fla., was founded in 1975 and concentrates on audio products and accessories for automotive, marine, and home purposes. One top product is the 8" Single 4-Ohm W3V3 Series Subwoofer.

Pioneer

Nozomu Matsumoto founded the audio company Pioneer in Tokyo, Japan, in 1938 by designing speakers in his garage. Its focus is high-tech entertainment and electronic products for home and automotive. One recommended product is the Alphasonik AS8DF 8-Inch Enclosed Subwoofer.

JBL & Infinity

JBL and Infinity are two of several audio brands under the HARMAN International umbrella, which also includes AKG, Harman Kardon, Lexicon, Mark Levinson and Revel. HARMAN, based in Stamford, Ct., has been producing premium audio and infotainment products for more than 60 years. Recommended products are the BassPro SL  8-Inch Subwoofer Enclosure System and 360W Reference Series 2-Way Coaxial Car Speaker.

KICKER 

KICKER, based in Stillwater, Okla., started as a two-man operation in a car garage in 1973 by company founder and current president Steve Irby, who invented the mobile-stereo enclosure market. One popular product is the 8" 150W Hideaway Car Audio Powered Subwoofer Sub Enclosure.

Kenwood

Kenwood Corporation was established in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, in 1960. The company designs home audio, car audio aftermarket and OEM systems, in-car entertainment consoles, and other products. One popular product is the KSC-PSW8 Subwoofer.

Rockford Fosgate

Rockford Fosgate was founded in 1973 and is a subsidiary of Rockford Corporation, based in Tempe, Ariz. The company designs audio products for automotive, marine, motorcycle, and other purposes. One recommended product is the 8" Dual 2-Ohm Punch Series Shallow Mount Car Subwoofer.

Skar Audio

Skar Audio is also new to the audio game and was founded in 2012 by CEO Kevin Schlenker, who has since turned his hobby into one of the fastest-growing car audio brands in the world. One top product is the SDR-8 D4 Car Subwoofer.

8-Inch Subwoofer Pricing

  • Under $50: You can find several 8-inch subwoofers in this price range. The best cheap 8-inch subwoofer may work better than a factory sub, but it won't necessarily have the performance or quality of slightly more expensive brands.
  • $50-$150: You can find a decent, good sounding sub without spending a whole lot of money. There are numerous brands available at this price point, and they feature several options for delivering great-quality sound at a good price.
  • $150 and up: If you're looking for a top-quality subwoofer to add to your audio system, there are many on the market. If you want the loudest 8-inch sub, you will have to spend a little bit of money. Most will be long-lasting with superior sound quality and performance.

Key Features

Size

The best subwoofer for cars, trucks, and other vehicles vary in size from 8 to 15 inches. Typically, larger subwoofers have louder bass, but that's not always the case. A variety of other factors also affect performance, including the sensitivity rating, enclosure type, and power handling. An 8-inch subwoofer is usually better than factory, particularly if it's set up for optimal performance.

Enclosure Type

This is an important feature because it affects the subwoofer's quality of sound. How the sub is enclosed can also impact performance. The best 8-inch subwoofer for a sealed box, for example, will generate the deepest base, while a ported enclosure and bandpass enclosure will permit higher levels of volume.

Frequency Range

A subwoofer is limited to the frequency range it can attain. A subwoofer with a smaller lower limit will produce deeper, lower frequencies. If you're looking for really deep bass, choose a sub with the lowest frequency limit. A high-power 8-inch subwoofer will typically have a lower frequency rating between 20 and 30 hertz.

Single vs. Dual Voice Coils

Single voice coils are useful if you want a quick and simple upgrade to your audio system. Dual voice coils give you flexibility when it comes to adding additional sound outputs. If you enjoy customizing your stereo to find the best sound, consider dual voice coils.

Power

Every subwoofer has a wattage rating that demonstrates how much power it can handle. It should be noted that this rating is for peak performance. A subwoofer that operates at its highest rating for an extended period of time will eventually overheat and fail. Look at the root mean square (RMS) to see how much power the sub can consistently handle.

Sensitivity Rating

To determine how powerful a subwoofer is, you also need to look at the sensitivity value as well as the power rating. A sub with higher sensitivity is able to produce the same level of sound with a smaller amount of power compared to a sub with a lower sensitivity.

Best 8-Inch Subwoofers Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Kicker 44CWCD84 CompC 8 Inch Car Audio Subwoofer

The Kicker 44CWCD84 CompC 8 Inch Car Audio Subwoofer is engineered for clean and reliable sound that gives you the strong bass tones you want. The sub generates 400 watts of peak power and 200 watts of RMS power. It has a 4-ohm dual voice coil for wiring and sound flexibility and a stacked magnet structure for power control and handling.


One of the best things about this sub is that it transmits sound without vibration, and the backing plate and pole piece act like one solid unity to provide awesome thermal management. It’s recommended to install this sub in a ported or sealed sub enclosure with a minimum with a minimum rating of 200 watts. For optimal sound, use sealed sub boxes between 0.5-1.2 cubic feet or vented boxes between 0.66-1.2 cubic feet.


Unfortunately, this sub requires some hard wiring and isn’t just plug and play. Sometimes the sub won't sit flush, and it creates an awkward bump in the trunk. 


Best Value
Pyle Car Subwoofer Audio Speaker

The Pyle Car Subwoofer Audio Speaker has a power of 400 watt RMS and 800 watts of peak power. It has a sensitivity of 89 dB, a dual 4-ohm impedance, and a 1.5-inch, four-layer voice coil designed to resist corrosion for a longer lifespan. The surround is treated with foam for durability, while the 3.7-inch mounting depth accommodates most cars, RVs, and boats.


This subwoofer is great if you're on a budget and have limited space in your vehicle. While it won't blow the roof off your car, it sounds good with an appropriate enclosure. Also, the dual voice coil enables you to achieve 2 ohms if your amplifier is a 2-ohm device.


However, while the subwoofer is a great price and produces decent bass notes, it doesn’t handle heavy, low punches. It also doesn't handle well at a high volume. If you turn the volume too high, you will hear some distortion.

Honorable Mention
BOSS Audio Systems CXX8 8 Inch Car Subwoofer

The BOSS Audio Systems CXX8 8 Inch Car Subwoofer deserves a shout out for being a solid, great sounding subwoofer that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It features a polypropylene cone that is both durable and resilient. Rubber surround can take some serious punishment without getting damaged too easily. 


A stamped basket has excellent corrosion resistance, high thermal, and electrical conductivity, and can absorb and transfer energy to create a cleaner sound. This subwoofer also features a 4-ohm single voice coil that’s capable of producing 600 watts of max power, which isn’t amazing, but considering the price, it’s still a great deal. 


The voice coil is constructed to withstand high temperatures and maintain its strength, giving you lower weights and longer pay times. Plug and play installation would be nice, but wiring it up is relatively straightforward.

Best for Tight Spaces
Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 8

The Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 is an 8-inch, dual voice coil 2-ohm subwoofer with a peak power of 300 watts and RMS of 150 watts. The speaker has a great appearance, is high in quality, and is an ideal replacement subwoofer. Compared to a factory sub, this model features anodized aluminum cones that pump out bass you can really feel. 


The sub has the capacity to handle power under continuous demands. The voice coils provide serious heat dissipation, and stitched tinsel leads give you better reliability, reducing the risk of shorting and fatigue.


Some users note that a break-in period is necessary on this sub before it starts performing optimally. So, if you’re not blown away initially by the sound quality, give it some time and see if you notice continued improvements.


Most Accurate Bass
Skar Audio SDR-8 D4 Car Subwoofer

Skar Audio’s SDR-8 D4 Car Subwoofer is a dual 4-ohm subwoofer that has a peak power of 700 watts and RMS power of 350 watts. It's made of competition-grade pressed paper cones and features a high roll foam surround. It also includes a 2-inch high-temperature copper voice coil. 


This sub is very loud and very clear. It produces clean power and feels like most 10-inch subwoofers and even some 12-inch models. It hits very low and very hard, and the lower bass notes are as pronounced as the higher ones. When it's installed in a bass tube, the bass rolls off nice and smooth. It is a hefty subwoofer, feels tough, and is a great value. It's perfect if you want bass and a high-end sub for a low-end price but don't want it to take up too much space in your trunk.


One downside is the RMS and peak power may be slightly less than what's advertised, and it may not provide enough trunk-shaking power for some tastes. In addition, the surround may split and/or crack open over time, and it may require fiberfill to produce a better sound.

Best Enclosed System
JBL BassPro SL Subwoofer Enclosure System

If you want the convenience of buying a subwoofer that's already in an enclosure, you can choose the JBL BassPro SL Subwoofer Enclosure System. This compact subwoofer is housed in a low-profile, ABS plastic enclosure that can fit under almost any car seat. The speaker has a maximum power rating of 250 watts and an RMS power of 125 watts.

 

It's equipped with a high-efficiency Class D amplifier that eliminates the need for ventilation or cooling fans in the system. Controls on the amplifier include a bass boost and an adjustable crossover frequency. The speaker provides soft starts when it turns on so it doesn’t startle you, and includes an Audio Sense Auto-On that turns on the subwoofer when an audio signal is sensed. 


However, it’s not the best for bringing out the deep, punchy, lower frequencies. Also, the speaker may sound distorted when playing audio at high volumes.

Great for Loud Bass
Rockville W8K9D4 8

Give your car’s sound system a major upgrade with the Rockville W8K9D4 8" Inch Car Audio Subwoofer. This bad boy sub features 1,000 watts of power handling and 2,000 watts of peak power. It will produce bass that you’ll be able to feel in your core. This sub is equipped with dual coils 4-ohm capacity and a frequency response of 48-800Hz. The voice coil is stable up to 200 degrees Celsius, making it one of the toughest coils on our list.


It’s got a super lightweight cast aluminum basket with a black sanded finish that adds to the overall efficiency of this sub. Ultra stiff and thicker cones and thicker foam ensure incredible sound quality with minimal distortion. 


There is some concern over the quality of the adhesive used on the dust caps, so double check that they aren’t loose during installation.

Great for Mid Bass
Planet Audio AC8D 8

Planet Audio's AC8D pair of subwoofers are 2,400 watts. The cones are constructed of poly injection material, and the trim rings are customizable. They also have high-performance dual voice coils, a 4-ohm impedance, a sensitivity of 84 dB, and a resonant frequency of 35 Hz.


This set of speakers is really good and comes at a reasonably good price. They sound great if you want mid bass on a budget. The speakers also come with a one-year manufacturer's warranty.


One problem with these speakers is that the connector plates are a little weak. During installation, the plate may break if you're not careful. Also, if you overpower them, the inner voice coils will fail.

Tips

  • One subwoofer should suit your needs unless you listen to a lot of hip hop, dance, techno, or other music that uses a lot of bass. Otherwise, you may need two subs.
  • If you don't have a free air subwoofer, you will need one that is enclosed with enough air space so it stays cool. If not, the sub can blow over time.
  • If you want greater performance from your 8-inch sub, fill the enclosure with polyester fiber. It's a cheap and easy way to reduce unwanted resonances and produce a cleaner bass tone.
  • You must tune your system after installing a subwoofer to make it sound better. If your system has other amps, you will need to tune them separately to get the sound you desire.
  • Turn down the sub amp's gain if you hear distortion. If you are not getting enough bass out of the subwoofer without distortion, you may need a larger subwoofer and amplifier.
  • If your subwoofer lacks volume, don't lower the gain on your amplifier to compensate. If you do this, your full-range speakers will not produce the clean, full sound that you want.
  • If you really want tighter bass and more clarity from your car audio system, upgrade all of the factory speakers on your vehicle. It will make a huge difference in overall performance.
  • If you don't have a premade enclosure for your subwoofer, you can build a box. Just make sure it's sealed properly because leaks can affect performance. Also, the box should have the correct interior volume in relation to the sub.

FAQs

Q: Does the type of enclosure make a difference? 

The type of enclosure greatly affects the sound of the bass. Most enclosed subwoofers are contained in pre-mounted boxes. If you want more volume, consider ported or bandpass enclosures. If you want deep, low frequencies choose a sub in a sealed box.

Q: Does a subwoofer need an amp? 

A powered subwoofer usually has a speaker and amplifier within the enclosure. They're ideal if you have a small vehicle without a lot of space for a separate speaker and amplifier system.

Q: Can I get away with using a cheap amplifier with the subwoofer?

If you purchase cheap audio equipment, it likely won't bring out the best sound in your speakers. It's better to put aside some money for a better quality system rather than purchasing cheap parts that you will probably replace anyway.

Q: Does the material of the subwoofer cone make a difference?  

Subwoofer cones vary in material construction, from paper to synthetics to composites. Paper is less durable, but it's lightweight and has a quick response. Overall, most types of material work just fine and produce equally great sound.

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for the best car audio system upgrade that will give your vehicle the bass kick you desire, we recommend the Kicker 44CWCD84 CompC 8 Inch Car Audio Subwoofer. It’s a well-designed speaker that produces clean, accurate, and loud bass that will vibrate your windows. If you are on a budget but would still like to experience some clean and clear bass, we recommend the Pyle PLPW8D 8-Inch Car Subwoofer