Best Shallow-Mount Subwoofers: Add More Bass to Your Car Stereo
Please your ears and quake the car with these shallow-mount subwoofers
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BY Scott Roepel / LAST UPDATED ON November 10, 2021
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
- 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.