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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If you want to upgrade your car stereo system 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 subwoofers, but they work perfectly well in smaller cars, such as hatchbacks. The best 8-inch subwoofer will produce a nicer sound than your factory speakers. Read our 8-inch subwoofer review below.
- Best OverallSummarySummaryThis 8-inch, the dual 4-ohm subwoofer has a peak power of 800 watts, RMS power of 400 watts, and a 2-inch high-temperature copper voice coil. It weighs 19 pounds.ProsProsThis sub hits very low and hard, and the lower bass notes are as pronounced as the higher ones. It’s a hefty subwoofer, feels tough, and is a great value.ConsConsThe RMS and peak power may be slightly less than advertised. Also, the surround may split and/or crack open over time, and it may require fiberfill for better sound.
- Best ValuePioneer Shallow-Mount Subwoofer with 600 Watts Max PowerSummarySummaryThis shallow sub features dual 2-ohm voice coils and a mica-injected resin cone. It handles up to 150 watts RMS (600 watts peak power) and a frequency response of 20-200 Hz.ProsProsThis sub sounds cleaner and louder than a factory sub. It hits harder with more bass; the lows are crisper, and it's much sharper. It's a great value and extremely versatile.ConsConsYou may need to modify the box to make it fit. The sub has been known to blow after a short period of use, and it may produce a burning odor.
- Honorable MentionRockford Fosgate 8" Dual 2-Ohm Punch Series Shallow Mount Car SubwooferSummarySummaryThis dual 2-ohm, the shallow subwoofer has a peak power of 300 watts and RMS of 150 watts. The frequency response is 38-250 Hz. It weighs just under 9 pounds.ProsProsThis speaker is an ideal replacement subwoofer. Compared to a factory sub, the bass is deeper and you feel it more. It adds great depth to your sound with its tight bass.ConsConsYou may need to drill new holes on the enclosure to mount it properly. Also, there have been some complaints that it crackles a bit during boomier bass.
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 2019
Best 8-Inch Subwoofer Overall: Skar Audio 800 Watt Max Power Dual 4 Ohm Car Subwoofer
This 8-inch, the 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 2-inch high-temperature copper voice coil (Spl: 83.9 dB).
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 doesn'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 8-Inch Subwoofer Value: Pioneer Shallow-Mount Subwoofer with 600 Watts Max Power
This 8-inch, the shallow sub features dual 2-ohm voice coils and a mica-injected resin cone. It handles up to 150 watts RMS (600 watts peak power) and has a frequency response of 20-200 Hertz. It also works in free-air applications.
This small sub is ideal if the factory enclosure if your vehicle is too shallow to accommodate most off-the-shelf subs. The sub sounds a lot cleaner and louder than a factory sub. It hits harder with more bass, the lows are crisper, and it's much sharper. It's also a great value, extremely versatile, and overall generates an impressive punch for its size. The sub won't shake the windows, but it's good if you want to increase that lower end and don't have much space.
One downside is you may need to modify the box and trim the metal lip on the speaker to make it fit in your vehicle. You may also need polyfill to get much deeper bass. In some cases, the sub blows after a short period of use, which may produce a burning odor.
Best 8-Inch Subwoofer Honorable Mention: Rockford Fosgate 8" Dual 2-Ohm Punch Series Shallow Mount Car Subwoofer
This 8-inch, dual 2-ohm, the shallow subwoofer has a peak power of 300 watts and RMS of 150 watts. The frequency response is 38-250 Hertz. The speaker has a great appearance, is high in quality, and is an ideal 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 vibey mids and a decent low thump. It's perfect for an audio system if you enjoy music with bass at a moderated volume.
One issue 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.
- 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 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?
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.
Let us know your favorites in the comments below.
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