LAST UPDATED: May 13, 2019
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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PUBLISHED ON May 13, 2019
If you want to upgrade your vehicle's audio system but don't have a lot of space, one solution is a hard-hitting 8-inch sub. These subwoofers are not as large or as powerful as bigger subs, but they work perfectly well in smaller vehicles, such as hatchbacks. The best 8-inch subwoofers produce a better sound than factory speakers. Check out our 8-inch subwoofer guide to find the best one for your ride.
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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
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.
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 the installation.
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 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.
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 Alpine Electronics Restyle Compact Powered 8-Inch Subwoofer.
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 JL Audio 8" Single 4-Ohm W3V3 Series Subwoofer.
Nozomu Matsumoto founded 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 Pioneer Shallow-Mount Subwoofer with 600 Watts Max Power.
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 - JBL 8" 125W RMS Powered Under-Seat Compact Subwoofer Enclosure System and Infinity 360W Reference Series 2-Way Coaxial Car Speaker.
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 Kicker 8" 150W Hideaway Car Audio Powered Subwoofer Sub Enclosure.
Kenwood Corporation was established in the 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 Kenwood 8" Subwoofer.
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 Rockford Fosgate 8" Dual 2-Ohm Punch Series Shallow Mount Car Subwoofer.
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 Skar Audio 800 Watt Max Power Dual 4 Ohm 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.
- Over $150: 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.
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.
This is an important feature because it affects the subwoofer's quality of sound. How the sub is enclosed can also impacts 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.
A subwoofer is limited to the frequency range it can attain. A subwoofer with a smaller lower limit will producer 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.
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.
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.
- Compatibility: If you select a subwoofer with high wattage, it will need more power. It's crucial that your amplifier can support the power output. You also need to ensure that it will work with your vehicle's stereo system. If it's incompatible with the make and model of your stereo, it won't work.
- Impedance: The impedance influences the current flow and varies from 2 to 8 ohms. Most 8-inch subwoofer speakers have a 4-ohm impedance, but some brands have 2-ohm or 8-ohm impedance. It’s important that your system, including the speakers, has the same impedance or it will not work properly.
Best 8-Inch Subwoofer Reviews & Recommendations 2021
This 8-inch, dual 4-ohm subwoofer has a peak power of 800 watts and RMS power of 400 watts. It's made of competition-grade pressed paper cone and features high roll foam surround. It also includes a two-inch high-temperature copper voice coil.
This sub is loud and clear. It produces clean power and feels like most 10-inch subwoofers and even some 12-inch models. It hits low and 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. Plus, it doesn't 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 users. Also, the surround may split and/or crack open over time, and it may require fiberfill to produce a better sound.
The Rockville RockGhost Active Powered 8" Hidden Car Subwoofer fits in a 15-, 16-, or 17-inch spare tire. It's hidden inside the tire and doesn't take up any space in your trunk. This, in turn, provides protection against thieves. The sub generates 800 watts of peak output and 200 watts of RMS output. It has a single voice coil, tunnel airport design, and produces super clean audio.
One of the best things about this sub is that it transmits sound without vibration, and due to its mounting location is often better sounding than other types of subs that you place in the trunk. It features plug-and-play installation, and the back plate mounts onto the top of the spare tire. You can also install it in other areas in your trunk or under a seat, but the manufacturer recommends using the spare tire. It has flexible rubber surrounds, high level input, remote turn on, and an RCA input. Other features include adjustable gain, bass boost, and a low pass crossover filter. It has a 20 Hz-250 Hz frequency response.
Unfortunately, it doesn't work well with all spare tires. Sometimes the sub won't sit flush, and it creates an awkward bump in the trunk. Also, if you need to access your spare tire, you have to move the sub, which can be inconvenient.
This 8-inch, dual 2-ohm shallow subwoofer has a peak power of 300 watts and RMS of 150 watts. Its spider venting design helps dissipate heat, and the speaker has a great appearance, is high in quality, and is an excellent replacement subwoofer.
Compared to a factory sub, the bass is much deeper, so you feel it more. While it won't shake the doors off your vehicle, it can add great depth to your sound with its tight bass. It also produces very clean vibrant mids and a decent low thump. It's perfect for an audio system if you enjoy music with bass at a moderated volume.
One downside is that you may need to drill new holes on the enclosure to mount it properly, so the installation may require some modification. Also, you may need speaker wire adapters to connect everything together. For some songs, it crackles a bit during boomier bass sections and doesn’t have the right strength to provide really loud bass tones.
Pyle's PLPW8D dual voice coil subwoofer 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 vehicle, it sounds good with an appropriate enclosure. Also, the dual voice coil enables you to achieve 8 ohms if preferred, and all cables are included.
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.
Planet Audio's AC8D pair of subwoofers are 2400 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.
Boss Audio's CXX8 features a polypropylene cone, a 1.5-inch copper voice coil, and rubber surround. It has a mounting hole diameter of 7.25 inches. The subwoofer comes with 600 watts, a sensitivity of 83 dB, and a resonant frequency of 49 Hz.
This is a good-quality replacement subwoofer, especially considering its price. It sounds good and provides a good amount of power. The bass is tight and accurate, and it’s a great option for most people who want a good-sounding system on a budget.
However, the sub may not be loud enough or hit hard enough for everyone. Also, the soldering points behind the cone may fail, and you may have to make some modifications in order to fit it properly in certain vehicles.
Pyle's Blue Wave 8-inch subwoofer has a 300-watt RMS and a peak power of 600 watts. It comes with silver-plated speaker terminals to reduce distortion. It has a sensitivity of 83.5 dB, a 1.5-inch dual Kapton voice coil, and it can be wired to accommodate either 4- or 8-ohm systems.
The subwoofer works in sealed, vented, and open-air enclosures. It's stylish with its blue injection-molded cone and blue chrome-plated steel basket. The speaker is also easy to install and is compatible with most car, boat, and RV audio systems. Overall, it produces solid, deep bass that's clear and clean.
Unfortunately, the speaker may blow if you try to push too much power through it (an issue that's common with nearly all brands). It may also start to rattle after a short period of time and may fail after a few months.
Kicker's CompR 8-inch subwoofer has an RMS of 300 watts and a peak power of 600 watts. It features a dual voice coil design with a 2-ohm impedance and a sensitivity of 82.1 dB. It works best with a sealed or ported enclosure and with Kicker KX-Series mono amplifiers.
Most users agree that this sub sounds great. While it doesn't produce a hard thumping sound, it does have a good bass feel to it. It's a nice upgrade over a stock sub, and it doesn't overpower the rest of your system.
On the downside, it's not ideal if you listen to loud, club-style music. Also, it doesn't come with mounting hardware, such as screws. In addition, it may require more space than a stock enclosure provides.
- 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 basses. 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 pre-made 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.
Q: Does the type of enclosure make a difference?
A: 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: 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?
A: 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?
A: 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.
Our top pick for the best 8-inch subwoofer is the Skar Audio 800 Watt Max Power Dual 4 Ohm Car Subwoofer. It's very loud and clear and hits very low and hard. It's one of the top high-end subs for a low-end price, and it won't take up too much space in your vehicle.
If you’re searching for an even better deal, consider the Pioneer Shallow-Mount Subwoofer with 600 Watts Max Power.