LAST UPDATED: May 24, 2019
Best Shallow-Mount Subwoofers: Add More Bass to Your Car Stereo
Please your ears and quake the car with these shallow-mount subwoofers
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON May 24, 2019
If you want to get the best bass out of your music during your drive, upgrading the stock stereo speakers is a must. Yet, not every subwoofer has to be big and bulky to give you great lower tones. Shallow-mount subwoofers are smaller and able to fit more snugly in places while still giving you a great low thump. Here are the best shallow-mount subwoofers we found to grace your ears with a smooth, low bass.
This 12-inch shallow-mount subwoofer is designed to withstand extended play times at high volumes. It has a low profile that allows it to fit in most traditional enclosures.
It has a selectable impedance that allows for flexibility when configuring your system. It’s highly sensitive and brings out music details better than most factory speakers.
Mounting grilles not included. It may take some time to break it in and get a deep punchy bass. Poor energy efficiency.
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Benefits of Shallow-Mount Subwoofer
- Boost your audio system’s bass. The most powerful subwoofers will tremendously enhance your music when compared to factory car speakers. They provide a deeper bass undertone than the standard speakers can put out. A shallow-mounted subwoofer will have more power and impact, regardless of the environment.
- 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. They aren’t fitted to handle a large amount of bass. Subwoofers are specifically designed to enhance the lower frequencies throughout your car. OEM speakers may tear or crack because they're typically made of cheaper material.
- Provide a smooth output of sound. Subwoofers help control where the lower sounding frequencies go in your car. A subwoofer will channel the bass notes more powerfully and with a cleaner sound, leaving your speakers to focus on the higher ranges.
Types of Shallow-Mount Subwoofer
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, the small enclosure prevents them from emitting hard-hitting, super deep, and powerful bass tones. Their size and ease of installation are 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 skill to make it all work. 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 such as the door in your car, truck, or SUV. 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.
Founded in 1967 with its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, Alpine Electronics, Inc. is the consumer electronics subsidiary of the electronics components manufacturer Alps Electrics. Alpine specializes in manufacturing automotive audio and navigation products, with 76 percent of its revenue derived from OEM sales. One of its best-selling products is the Alpine SWR-T10 10-inch Shallow-Mount Subwoofer.
Established in 1975, JL Audio is an American manufacturer of consumer audio products and accessories. The company produces high-quality audio products for home, marine, and automotive applications, with the special distinction of being considered a pioneer in the latter category. A top product of this brand is the JL Audio 10W0V3 Series Subwoofer.
Tracing its roots to 1973, Rockford Fosgate is a subsidiary of the Tempe, Arizona-based Rockford Corporation. Rockford Fosgate has been an innovator in the consumer audio business since its inception, creating groundbreaking solutions like the Frequency Energizer. Today, the brand manufactures audio products for automotive, marine, motorcycle, and other applications. One of its best-selling products is the Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 Punch Series Shallow-Mount Car Subwoofer.
Pioneer was founded in Japan by Nozomu Matsumoto in 1938. The company specializes in designing digital entertainment equipment. It was responsible for developing the first automotive compact disc player. Try out one of its top options, the Pioneer TS-300D4.
Founded in Nagano Prefecture, Japan in 1960, Kenwood Corporation designs home audio, car speakers, and in-car entertainment consoles. It makes the Kenwood Excelon KFC-XW1200F 12 1400 Watt Shallow-Mount Car Subwoofer.
Shallow-Mount Subwoofer Pricing
- Under $50: This price range tends to include 8-inch subwoofers. While they may be small, a great subwoofer will add more sound and work better than a factory sub, but it won't necessarily have the performance or quality of more expensive brands.
- $50-$150: Here you’ll start to pay for some of the more popular name brand subwoofers. They feature several options for delivering great-quality sound at a good price. Those options are the design of the cone, the type of material used to build the speaker, and the size of the subwoofer.
- Over $150: These are the top-of-the-line, best-quality subwoofers. They’ll be louder and offer more peak power and RMS. Most will be long-lasting with superior sound quality and performance.
Vehicle subwoofers vary in size from 8 to 15 inches. Typically, larger subwoofers have louder bass, but that's not always the case. The size also impacts peak power and RMS. The larger the speaker, the more difficult it may be to mount in your car. A shallow-mount speaker doesn’t take up a lot of space, so it’s ideal for smaller cars and can fit more compact places.
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.
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.
- Sensitivity Rating: To determine how powerful a subwoofer is, you 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.
- 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 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.
Best Shallow-Mount Subwoofer Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This small 8-inch shallow-mount subwoofer still packs quite the punch. Don’t let its compact size fool you—it has a peak power of 300 watts and RMS of 150 watts. It works as a great replacement for a car’s factory speaker system.
A great feature of this shallow subwoofer is that even though it’s on the smaller side of subs, it’s able to compete with some of the beefier and larger speakers with the added bonus of being mounted more places in your car. It has an immense power range and produces loud, clean sound with great low tones that shake throughout the car.
Whether you are looking for a recreational speaker or a compact unit to upgrade your car audio set-up, the JBL Club WS1200 packs it all in terms of great power and design technology. It’s a component subwoofer with a peak power handling of 1,000 watts and continuous RMS power of 250 watts. Its sensitivity is set at 92 decibels and the frequency response ranges from 27 to 275 hertz.
As for the design, the speaker has a rugged look, with the woofer cone being made of polypropylene, and it has a butyl rubber surround. The speaker is designed with a Selectable Smart Impedance switch that lets you change the impedance from 2 to 4 ohms. Therefore, you wouldn’t have to buy a new subwoofer if you needed to include an amplifier in your car audio system.
However, you may notice a few drawbacks with the speaker. It may take some time to break it in before you get the deep bass that it's capable of producing. It has a high power output and may drain your car battery faster than your factory speakers. Moreover, the speaker doesn’t come with mounting grilles to protect the woofer cone from mechanical damage.
These are 10-inch subwoofers that offer a low-profile design and a mounting depth of 4.41 inches. They’re suitable for all kinds of vehicles, especially those with limited free space. The installation is pretty straightforward because the compact subwoofers fit tight areas and don't require a lot of modifications.
The thing that makes these subwoofers special is the peak power of 800 watts and the RMS power of 500 watts per speaker. The numbers are quite impressive, especially combined with the frequency response from 30 to 350 hertz and the overall sensitivity of 85.1 decibels. All of this means the subwoofers produce a crisp and clean sound, splitting the low and high tones equally throughout the car.
However, even though the manufacturer states the peak power and RMS are on the higher end, the speaker may not be able to handle the optimum range for long, especially if running off the car’s factory stereo and amp. This could be solved by upgrading the amplifier to make sure the system operates at full capacity for a longer amount of time.
As the inventor of the Shallow Woofer System, Earthquake Sound Corporation is always an excellent choice for replacing OEM car speakers. This particular model comes in 6.5 inches but is available in other sizes to fit different vehicle types. With the 1.75-inch mounting depth, these subwoofers are low-profile and can be installed anywhere in the vehicle.
The subwoofers deliver 200 watts of peak power and 100 watts of RMS with a 4-ohm impedance. Therefore, you'll get punchy bass and clear and powerful mids and lows. Even better, the powerful sound that travels through the vehicle comes from a small package. The subwoofers fit into the tightest spots and can be installed in challenging places. The inverted-style cone design also promotes easy installation and makes subwoofers more durable.
However, these subwoofers won't exactly blow your ride with bass. Although the sound is quite decent, some buyers prefer a more powerful output. If you're one of them, you might want to look for alternatives. Also, depending on your vehicle type, you might need to make some modifications for a proper fit. The wiring sometimes needs to be cut for the installation.
With a peak power of 800 watts and RMS of 200 watts, these Infinity subwoofers deliver a thunderstorm of bass. If you're looking for an OEM replacement and a great balance of sound in your vehicle, these might be just what you need.
The thing that makes these subwoofers special is the Selectable Smart Impedance. It's a unique feature that allows for switching between 2 or 4 ohms in a single push of a button. Furthermore, the subwoofers are very easy to install. They feature a low-profile design to fit the most shallow areas, which makes them ideal for small vehicles with limited space.
It's also important to mention that these subwoofers feature polypropylene cones. This ensures an excellent bass response that goes as low as 27 hertz. Therefore, you’ll enjoy not only powerful bass, but an impressive range of low frequencies as well.
Nevertheless, these subwoofers aren’t without drawbacks. For example, several buyers complained about the cone design, claiming the frame is not always properly glued to the box. You might want to inspect your particular model upon arrival. Also, make sure to handle them carefully during installation because they might get easily damaged during the process.
Those who are looking for sleek and stylish subwoofers will love this JBL shallow-mount option. It's a model that looks great in all vehicle types and proves to be quite powerful as well. With 800 watts of peak power and 200 watts of RMS, this subwoofer provides quality and enjoyable bass.
One of the benefits of this JBL subwoofer is wide frequency response. Going between 35 and 175 hertz, the model delivers sounds that regular OEM speakers never allowed you to hear. Thanks to the Selectable Smart Impedance, you'll also be able to switch between 2 and 4 ohms.
Overall, this model is quite powerful, reliable, and flexible. It works well in both sealed and ported enclosures and has a 3 5/16-inch mounting depth. That makes it suitable for tight and shallow areas in your vehicle.
However, the main concern with this subwoofer is the installation. Although it's suitable for tight spaces, the model might not fit all vehicles. We recommend taking its dimensions before the purchase and comparing them to the desired installation location. Still, even if you get the dimensions right, you might need to make some adjustments for a proper fit.
This 10-inch shallow subwoofer allows you to save some space in your vehicle and still keep a good amount of bass. In fact, with the peak power of 1,000 watts and RMS of 500 watts, the DS18 subwoofer provides more than a decent sound. Thanks to the high-power output and the ability to handle very low frequencies, this device provides an enjoyable ride at all times.
You'll be quite satisfied with the overall design of the subwoofer, too. The model features a rubber edge and quality suspension for more protection and durability. It also comes equipped with ferrite magnets to cover different tones and handle high volumes. Overall, the subwoofer is uniquely designed, stylish, and very durable. You'll enjoy its outstanding performance for quite a while.
The main thing to keep in mind with this speaker is the price. The model is not as cost-efficient as other options on our list. If you're on a limited budget, the DS18 subwoofer might not be a perfect option for you. Another minor inconvenience might come from the installation. It seems that the mounting parts and pieces are not always included in the package.
If you're out there searching for subwoofers with reliable performance and excellent output, we have another model in mind. The MB Quart shallow subwoofer offers a peak power of 400 watts and an RMS power of 200 watts. On top of that, it has a sensitivity of 81 decibels and dual 4-ohm impedance.
That's not all we find special about the MB Quart subwoofer. Along with being powerful, the device is well-built and durable. It features a thermal-formed poly cone and a vented aluminum former and butyl surrounding. That means the subwoofer is well-protected against all kinds of threats and will last for quite a while. Additionally, the installation is fairly simple, and the package includes all you need to mount the subwoofer in your vehicle.
You might want to consider how much bass you need, though. This subwoofer is quite powerful but still might fail to satisfy some music enthusiasts. Also, make sure to compare its dimensions to the desired installation area. Some buyers complained about the subwoofer not being compact enough to fit their vehicles.
- Tuning your system after installing a subwoofer is a must to get the max amount of power. If your system has other amplifiers, you will need to tune them separately to get the sound you desire.
- If you hear distortion, turn down the sub amp gain to get a cleaner sound. If you are not getting enough bass out of the subwoofer without distortion, you may need a larger subwoofer and amplifier.
- If your subwoofer doesn’t appear to be performing at its peak 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: Which shape is best: round, square, or triangular?
A: This really depends on your style and preference. Square subwoofers reproduce bass incredibly well and look stylish. Triangular subwoofers also reproduce bass very well and have the advantage of being able to fit in tight spaces. Traditional round subwoofers reproduce bass effectively with the advantage of playing more precisely.
Q: Does the type of enclosure make a difference?
A: Enclosures greatly affect the sound of the bass. Most enclosed subwoofers come contained in pre-mounted boxes, but many require you to order their own or build it yourself. To get more volume, try ported or bandpass enclosures. If you want to get a deep, low frequency, choose a sub in a sealed box.
Q: Does a subwoofer need an amp?
A: This depends on the amount of peak power and RMS the subwoofer is rated for. 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. You’ll need a more powerful amplifier to really get the best performance from your subwoofer.
Q: Does the material of the subwoofer cone make a difference?
A: The material of the subwoofer can have an impact on the sound. The cone of a sub varies in construction. They can be paper, synthetics, or composites. Paper is less durable but is lightweight and has a quick response. Overall, most types of material work just fine and produce equally great sound.
If you want to get the best bass sound out of your car and need a high-quality subwoofer, we recommend the Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 Punch Series Shallow-Mount Car Subwoofer.
For those who want a deal on a shallow-mount subwoofer with crisp and clean low frequencies, check out the JBL Club WS1200.