Best Underseat Subwoofers: Hear and Feel the Music

These top underseat subwoofers will boost the bass in your vehicle

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Most factory car stereos lack what some call the most important part of their music: that low, rumbling, booming bass that you feel in your gut. How do you get that hard-hitting bass punch you’re looking for without tearing up your car’s interior by running wires everywhere? An underseat subwoofer is just what you need, and we’ve got three of the best right here.

  • Best Overall
    Alpine Electronics Restyle Compact Powered 8-Inch Subwoofer
    Summary
    Summary

    Alpine is one of the most respected names in-car audio. The three-inch mounting depth allows it to fit under even the lowest seats.

    Pros
    Pros

    This underseat subwoofer has all the inputs and controls conveniently mounted on the side for easy access when installed. The Class D amplifier puts out 120 watts of clean power.

    Cons
    Cons

    Customers report a weak output that is overpowered by other speakers. Several customers reported crackly output and amplifiers that died soon after installation.

  • Best Value
    Pioneer 8" Shallow-Mount Pre-Loaded Enclosure
    Summary
    Summary

    Pioneer is a popular name in mobile audio. The box on this is only 5 ½ inches deep. The woofer cone’s structure gives it greater gasket and cone surface, allowing it to move more air and deliver a better low bass punch.

    Pros
    Pros

    The woofer’s cone is made of MICA injected-molded resin and is durable and rigid. It is equipped with a dual spider, giving more control over the cone’s movement, thus better-sounding low bass.

    Cons
    Cons

    There’s no amplifier; it’s just the underseat subwoofer enclosure. The box is made of ⅝ inch fiberboard, which can vibrate at higher power levels. The sensitivity rating of 86 dB is pretty low,  so you won’t hear softer hits at lower volumes.

  • Honorable Mention
    Kenwood 250W Max (150W RMS) Single 8" Under Seat Powered Subwoofer
    Summary
    Summary

    Kenwood is a respected name in-car audio. The slim design means it will fit almost any car. It also comes with a wired remote.

    Pros
    Pros

    This powered underseat subwoofer handles a maximum of 250 watts. The Class D amplifier delivers a clean, crisp sound between 38 and 150 Hz, an optimum range for a subwoofer.

    Cons
    Cons

    The 81 dB sensitivity of this underseat subwoofer won’t let you hear soft bass notes at low volume. Customers report low or muddy output. 

Tips

  • An underseat subwoofer should come with a built-in amplifier, so you’re not relying on the (usually) weaker output of your head unit for stomach-rumbling bass.
  • Underseat subwoofers that are covered with carpet will scratch less easily than aluminum or wood boxes. Carpet is also less likely to slip.
  • Measure the height, width, and depth, and make sure the underseat subwoofer you choose will fit in those dimensions.
  • Mount your underseat subwoofer in such a way that you can reach and adjust the controls, especially the low-pass filter and gain. Forcing the subwoofer to reproduce audio outside its capability (low-pass filter) or overdriving it (gain) can ruin a speaker.

FAQs

Q: What is the difference between an underseat subwoofer and a regular subwoofer box?

A: An underseat subwoofer is one that is specifically designed to fit under or behind a seat, while a regular subwoofer may or may not fit under or behind the seat.

Q: Will an underseat subwoofer work with my factory head unit even though it only has high (speaker) level outputs?

A: Yes. A well-designed underseat subwoofer will work with factory stereos right out of the box as it will have input converters. External input converters are also available.

Q: Is it bad to mix subwoofer and speaker brands?

A: No. High-end professional installers will commonly mix speaker brands to obtain the best mix of low, mid, high, and ultra-high frequency reproduction.

Q: What kind of bass response can I expect from an underseat subwoofer?

A: It varies. There are units you can buy that will deliver a soft tickle to your stomach on hard bass notes, and there are units that will deliver an outright gut punch on those hard hits. For that harder kick in the gut, you want a high sensitivity number, frequency response as close to 20 Hz to 250 HZ as possible, and some decent power. How much is up to your ears and stomach.

Final Thoughts 

Our choice for the best overall underseat subwoofer, the Alpine Electronics Restyle Compact Powered 8-Inch Subwoofer, comes with a Class D amplifier with MOSFET technology to ensure a clean, crisp bass response, even at the highest output levels. 

Our choice for the best value underseat subwoofer, the Pioneer 8" Shallow-Mount Pre-Loaded Enclosure, is a low-cost sub and amplifier system that delivers excellent low bass.