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 June 14, 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.
This 8-inch sub has a 4-ohm dual voice coil and a stacked magnet structure for clean, pure sound.
- Produces super clean audio and transmits sound without vibration
- One-piece UniPlate back plate and pole piece allows for excellent thermal management
- Doesn't fit well in all automobiles
- No plug and play installation
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.
- Decent upgrade from factory speakers
- Features a durable and fatigue-free design
- Features a shallow mounting depth that’s easy to install
- May distort at loud volumes
- Not the best for bringing out deep, punchy bass
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.
- Durable construction
- Stamped basket is strong and resilient
- Rubber surround holds up to some serious wear and tear
- On the expensive side
- Not as high-powered as other high-end models
- You might need expert help when installing it
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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 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 PWE-S8 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 8" Single 4-Ohm W3V3 Series Subwoofer.
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, 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 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 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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Best 8-Inch Subwoofers Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- 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.
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.
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.