Best Car Subwoofers of 2017 [Reviews and Comparison]

People ask me the whole time: Alex, what's the best car subwoofer?

And... that's such an open-ended question that it's really hard to give an answer.

I always find myself making them the same questions: "How much bass do you want, what's your budget, how much space do you have..?"

So I decided to go ahead and create an interactive recommendation tool. 

I've also put together a comparison of the 6 best car subwoofer series available on the market, and also listed a comprehensive "top 3" selection of subwoofers for every single size there is.

best car subwoofer 2017

A word of caution: This article is huge. Its meant to be the ultimate resource for those looking for a new subwoofer. Take your time, bookmark it... enjoy.

But if all you want is to get a personalized recommendation, simply answer a few questions below and in less than 30 seconds you'll have a much better idea of what to buy.

Subwoofer Recommendation Tool

Top Rated Car Audio Subwoofers Comparison Chart

12W7AE-3 - JL Audio 12" Single 3-Ohm Subwoofer (12W7AE3)
Sundown Audio NS-12 V.3 D2 12" 2500 Watt RMS Dual 2-Ohm Nightshade V.3 Series Subwoofer
12W6v3-D4 - JL Audio 12" 600W Dual 4-Ohm Car Subwoofer 12W6v3D4
Rockford Fosgate T1D415 Power T1 DVC 4 Ohm 15-Inch 1000 Watts RMS 2000 Watts Peak Subwoofer
Kicker S15L7 4-ohm 15" Car Audio Subwoofer
Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12 Punch P3 DVC 4-Ohm 12-Inch 600-Watt RMS 1200-Watt Peak Subwoofer
Sizes Available
8" / 10" / 12" / 13"
10" / 12" / 15" / 18"
10" / 12"
10" / 12" / 13" / 15" / 16"/ 19"
8" / 10" / 12" / 15"
8" / 10" / 12" / 15"
Power Handling
RMS: 500-1500W
RMS: 2500W
RMS: 200-600W
RMS: 550-3000W
RMS: 500-1200W
RMS: 250-600W
Tier
Highest End
SPL Competition
Audiophile-level
High End
SPL Competition
Mid End
Editor's Rating
Editor's Choice
12W7AE-3 - JL Audio 12" Single 3-Ohm Subwoofer (12W7AE3)
Sizes Available
8" / 10" / 12" / 13"
Power Handling
RMS: 500-1500W
Tier
Highest End
Editor's Rating
SPL Choice
Sundown Audio NS-12 V.3 D2 12" 2500 Watt RMS Dual 2-Ohm Nightshade V.3 Series Subwoofer
Sizes Available
10" / 12" / 15" / 18"
Power Handling
RMS: 2500W
Tier
SPL Competition
Editor's Rating
12W6v3-D4 - JL Audio 12" 600W Dual 4-Ohm Car Subwoofer 12W6v3D4
Sizes Available
10" / 12"
Power Handling
RMS: 200-600W
Tier
Audiophile-level
Editor's Rating
Rockford Fosgate T1D415 Power T1 DVC 4 Ohm 15-Inch 1000 Watts RMS 2000 Watts Peak Subwoofer
Sizes Available
10" / 12" / 13" / 15" / 16"/ 19"
Power Handling
RMS: 550-3000W
Tier
High End
Editor's Rating
Kicker S15L7 4-ohm 15" Car Audio Subwoofer
Sizes Available
8" / 10" / 12" / 15"
Power Handling
RMS: 500-1200W
Tier
SPL Competition
Editor's Rating
Budget Choice
Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12 Punch P3 DVC 4-Ohm 12-Inch 600-Watt RMS 1200-Watt Peak Subwoofer
Sizes Available
8" / 10" / 12" / 15"
Power Handling
RMS: 250-600W
Tier
Mid End
Editor's Rating

Last update on 2017-12-12 at 12:11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Depending on the kind of setup that you have in mind, your car, the available budget you have to spend and the results you're after, you'll find different kinds of subwoofers that will fit the role

On the side you'll find a navigation menu that you can use to quick jump to any section. This page is broken down into two main sections:

  • Sizes:

​Covering subwoofers from 8" (the smallest size on the market) up to 15" (which technically isn't the biggest size as there are 18" and even 32" subs but those are a different animal that you could hardly call car subwoofers; rather war subwoofers). 

You'll also find shallow mount subwoofers, specific subs that are slim, lightweight and space-saving, ideal for small cars. 

Then there are also underseat subwoofers, which are very compact and are powered by an integrated amplifier, making the whole setup real simple.​

  • Brands:

I've listed the top 5 car subwoofer manufacturers and listed a few of their best subwoofer lines for you to have a better understanding of what's available on the market at the moment. 

So, go ahead, jump straight to where you want and find the perfect subwoofer for you!

Top Choices By Size

8 Inch Subwoofers: Top 3

Typically the smallest size that manufacturers produce, 8 inch subs have a nice and crisp sound, ideal for fast paced tracks (Progressive, drum and bass, rock, those types of music sound the best on this size). They are usually cheaper than their bigger counterparts and when picked and installed correctly, will produce just as much bass as you can handle. 

The following top 3 list is an excerpt of my very comprehensive review of the best 8 inch subwoofers of 2017. I recommend you read that article if you're specifically interested on 8" subs.​

1

JL Audio 8W7AE-3 Anniversary Edition. Editor's Choice

Specifications:
  • Sensitivity: 82.7dB
  • RMS: 200-500 Watts
  • Peak Power: 1000 watts
  • Frequency Response: 23-250 Hz
  • Impedance: 3Ohms

Why I chose it:

The loudness of this beauty is just way over what you would expect from an 8 inch sub, so that's definitely a reason to make it to the top.

But it is not just that. JL subs are desgined and manufactured in the good ole U.S.A. The 8W7AE features incredible high-end technology that makes it the best on this size.

EDITOR'S RATING:

2

Sundown Audio X-8 D4

Specifications:
  • Sensitivity: 82.71 dB
  • RMS: 750 watts
  • Peak Power: 1500 watts
  • Frequency Response: n/a
  • Impedance: Dual 2 or 4 ohms

Why I chose it:

This high-excursion subwoofer is meant for competition and SPL fanatics will find on the Sundown Audio a great friend. 

Given the amount of care and superior technology on crucial elements such as the voice coil and the cone, this sub is hands down one of the very best ever done on 8inches.​

EDITOR'S RATING:

3

Kicker Solo Baric L7

Specifications:
  • Sensitivity: 91dB
  • RMS: 450 watts
  • Peak Power: 900 watts
  • Frequency Response: 28-100 Hz
  • Impedance: Dual 2 or 4 ohms

Why I chose it:

For as skeptical I tend to be with Kicker (they can be a bit of hit and miss sometimes), there is no doubt that the square cone technology used on the Solo Baric L7 does kick ass.

There is indeed quite a lot proprietory technology from Kicker on this model and they really are an exception in the line of boring and low-quality subwoofers on 8 inches. ​

EDITOR'S RATING:

10 Inch Subwoofers: Top 3

Moving up one size, we find 10 inch subwoofers, which are a great choice as they offer a great balance between bass depth and speed. The power consumption is typically held in a reasonable range which won't force you to upgrade your system, and they can get loud, very loud.

If you want to learn more about this type of subwoofers, have a look at my overview of the best 10 inch subwoofers of 2017, where I cover ​not only component subwoofers as on this list, but also a few good options for pre-enclosed and powered subs as well.

1

JL Audio 10W6v3 Editor's Choice

Specifications:
  • Sensitivity: 82.7 dB
  • RMS: 200-600 Watts
  • Peak Power: 1200 watts
  • Frequency Response: n/a
  • Impedance: 4ohms DVC

Why I chose it:

Probably the only scenario in which you'll see me recommending the W6 series over the W7 series, but there's just a nice combination of the higher SQ the W6 series tends to produce (vs a higher SPL from the W7) and the sort of sound you would typically expect from a 10 inch sub that just forces me to LOVE how the JL 10W6V3 sounds. 

Incorporating some really friggin' massive voice coils and the classic extreme quality expectable from JL, this is definitely my choice.​

EDITOR'S RATING:

2

Orion HCCA10

Specifications:
  • Sensitivity: 84 db
  • RMS: 2000Watts
  • Peak Power: 4000Watts
  • Frequency Response: 23-250 Hz
  • Impedance:  2 or 4 ohms DVC

Why I chose it:

Incorporating dual black aluminium voice coils, heat dissipation on this monster is second to none. And I mean, look at the specs, you'll need that.

This extremely powerful competition subwoofers is hands down the loudest 10 inch suboofer i've heard so far, so it's no surprise I had to place it into the top 3.

It's big, it's good, it's badass.. and it isn't as expensive as you think! win-win-win​

EDITOR'S RATING:

3

Rockford Fosgate P3-10

Specifications:
  • Sensitivity: 82dB
  • RMS: 500 Watts
  • Peak Power: 1000 watts
  • Frequency Response: 27 - 250 Hz
  • Impedance: Dual 2 or 4ohms

Why I chose it:

A great piece of technology from the hand of Rockford Fosgate. For the price, there aren't any other subs that are this reliable and well-done. Incorporating 2.5 inch copper clad aluminuim voice coils, the heat dissipation is absolutely great.

Considering all the previous, they are one of my go-to choices when it comes to create a setup with multiple subwoofers on a limited budget.

EDITOR'S RATING:

12 Inch Subwoofers: Top 3

Things start to get very serious on this size. Twelve inch subwoofers are typically the end point for most bassheads, as they can crank out some significant bass (and have a very strong power draw too). While offering a MUCH deeper bass than the previously covered sizes (great if your tracklists are full of Rap and R&B) they are slooow. Oh, and they move A LOT of air, so they aren't the perfect fit for everyone. They need big enclosures which isn't always easy to accomodate. 

The following selection is my top 3, but there are plenty of good choices on 12" subs (and some are way cheaper that the three I mention here), so make sure you check out my selection of the best 12 inch subwoofers of 2017.​

1

JL Audio 12W7AE-3 Editor's Choice

Specifications:
  • Sensitivity: 86.2dB
  • RMS: 400-1000Watts
  • Peak Power: 2000Watts
  • Frequency Response: 18-200 Hz
  • Impedance: 3Ohms

Why I chose it:

The biggest size JL makes on the W7 series had to be my top pick. A very powerful subwoofer that doesn't really have a crazy power draw and that is, in my opinion, the best built subwoofer i've tested on this size. 

With some really good SPL values and a proper big badass motor, this is my recommendation for those who demand just the best.

EDITOR'S RATING:

2

Sundown Audio X-12 V.2

Specifications:
  • Sensitivity: 84.4 db
  • RMS: 1500 Watts
  • Peak Power: 3000 watts
  • Frequency Response: 20-150 Hz
  • Impedance: 2 or 4 ohms

Why I chose it:

Amazing linear suspension, waaaay above average Xmax and minimal distortion, this is one of the best competition subwoofers i've had the pleasure to test. 

I mean, there's no surprise there though. Sundown Audio is typically the king of SPL shows and the V2 series is some serious stuff.

Definitely a smart purchase.​

EDITOR'S RATING:

3

JL Audio 12W6v3

Specifications:
  • Sensitivity: 85.4 db
  • RMS: 600 Watts
  • Peak Power: 1200 watts
  • Frequency Response: 10 - 500hz
  • Impedance: 4 ohms DVC

Why I chose it:

And of course, the W6v3 couldn't be too far on this list. Extremely high quality of construction, the best high-end materials, and a configuration that tends to produce a better, clearer sound that isn't as loud as the W7 but definitely packs a punch and will give you some good flex. 

This is my recommendation for those that prefer sound quality over SPL and want a great 12 inch sub.​

EDITOR'S RATING:

15 Inch Subwoofers: Top 3

For the true bassheads, the 15 inch subwoofers. The sort of stuff you get if you want to be that kid on the block who flexes all day long and gets neighbours all p***ed. For those who NEED bass in their lives, and want to get some crazy loud setups on their rides, this is the perfect choice.

If you're really serious about bass, you should consider checking the complete list on the best 15 inch subwoofers of 2017, where I talk about this three models here and ​another 7 great choices, covering different price ranges and options.

1

NS-15 V.3 D2 - Sundown Audio Nightshade V3 Series. Editor's Choice

Specifications:
  • Sensitivity: 84.27dB
  • RMS: 2500 Watts
  • Peak Power: 5000 Watts
  • Frequency Response: 23-250 Hz
  • Impedance: Dual 1ohm

Why I chose it:

Sundown Audio Nightshade. There are just a few three-word combinations that I like more than that. Possibly the best line of subwoofers ever released. The 15 inch model is just a BEAST. With 2500W RMS this is one of the most deafening subs i've ever tested.

Make sure to read my full review because there's just so much around this subwoofer that It's hard for me to summarize. It just makes BOOOOOOM.

EDITOR'S RATING:

2

Rockford Fosgate T1D215 Power T1

Specifications:
  • Sensitivity: 88 dB
  • RMS: 1000 Watts
  • Peak Power: 2000 watts
  • Frequency Response: 25-500 Hz
  • Impedance: 2 or 4Ohms (SWIFT)

Why I chose it:

Straight from the highest-end line of subwoofers that Rockford Fosgate produces, we've got the T1 on 15 inches and it is good

The materials used to make this subwoofer are the sort of stuff that will make your head spin, Kevlar and what not.

What I truly like the most is the proprietary SWIFT technology, that allows you to change the impedance of the subwoofer with just the flick of a switch. Really sweet.

EDITOR'S RATING:

3

X-15 D4 - Sundown Audio X-Series

Specifications:
  • Sensitivity: 86.7 db
  • RMS: 1250Watts
  • Peak Power: 2500Watts
  • Frequency Response: N/A
  • Impedance: Dual 4ohm

Why I chose it:

Designed and hand-made 100% in the U.S.A., ridiculous excursion and the high-end materials you would expect for this kind of subwoofers. Black aluminum coils, double tinsel leads to prevent fatigue, heat sink... definitely one of the very best 15 inch subs.

EDITOR'S RATING:

Underseat Subwoofers: Top 3

Underseat subs are the perfect choice for those who want to add some bass to their music but don't really have where to put a subwoofer or simply don't want to lose trunk space. They are powered and very easy to install. The bass output they produce couldn't really be compared with their bigger counterparts, they are designed to solve a specific problem (space) not to blow windshields.

If you're short on spare space or just looking for something simple to install that will give you a good enough bass, don't forget to check my complete review of the best under seat subs of 2017.

1

Kenwood KSC-SW11 Editor's Choice

Specifications:
  • RMS: 75w
  • Peak Power: 150w
  • Frequency Response: 35-125 Hz
  • Dimensions: 11”W x 2-¾”H x 7-½” D

Why I chose it:

Let me put it this way: I've never come across a subwoofer with such an insane value/cost ratio.  The Kenwood KSC-SW11 is one of those rare cases in which a very fairly priced piece of tech put other "superior" subs at shame.

Great features, best possible quality of build, amazing price...​ It has everything you could ask for on an underseat sub.

EDITOR'S RATING:

2

KICKER 11HS8

Specifications:
  • RMS: 150w
  • Peak Power: 300w
  • Frequency Response: 25-120 hz
  • Dimensions: 14-¼” W x 3-⅛”H x 9-⅜”D

Why I chose it:

A more powerful choice than the previous one, the Hideaway is the perfect sub for you if you need a bit more punch than what the Kenwood produces.

Real hi-quality here, this Kicker is one of the most popular underseat subs and I couldn't leave it out this top 3.

EDITOR'S RATING:

3

Sound Storm LOPRO

Specifications:
  • RMS: 300w (8") 600w (10")
  • Peak Power: 600w (8") 1200w (10")
  • Frequency Response: 25-125 Hz
  • Dimensions:  L13.5” x W9.7” x H3” / L13.9” x W11.1” x H3”

Why I chose it:

Sound Storm brought with the LOPRO a very pleasant surprise. An affordable, well-built powered subwoofer that will crank MORE bass than any other.  Hats off.

Available in both 8" sub and 10" sub, they are definitely worth of being on the podium.

EDITOR'S RATING:

Shallow Mount Subwoofers: Top 3

Shallow mount subwoofers (also known as slim subs) fall somewhere in between classic, bigger subwoofers and self-powered compact subs like the underseat ones we've just seen.

They are designed to take less space than regular subs. They are a great choice if you're short on trunk space, but want more bass than what you'd get with a powered sub. I did a comprehensive review of the best shallow mount subwoofers on the market, so make sure to check it out too!​

1

JL Audio 13TW5V2 Editor's Choice

Specifications:
  • Sensitivity: 85.63 dB
  • RMS: 600 Watts
  • Peak Power: 1200 watts
  • Frequency Response: 20-500 Hz
  • Impedance: 4Ohms
  • Sizes: 13"

Why I chose it:

Simply the best shallow mount sub ever produced. Honestly, if you've ever tried a different sub and you think it's a better one write it down on the comments because I'd love to try that sub if it really is better than this.

Audiophile-level quality on the kind of subwoofer where depth of bass is always troublesome (by design). Gotta love it despite the price.

EDITOR'S RATING:

2

JL Audio TW3 Series

Specifications:
  • Sensitivity: 82.1 dB
  • RMS: 100-400Watts
  • Peak Power: 800Watts
  • Frequency Response: 24-200 Hz
  • Impedance: 4ohms
  • Sizes: 10 and 12 inch

Why I chose it:

So just below the TW5 is the TW3 series and it's so close to be as good as the previous that it's crazy. Specially when you consider is almost half the price.

The TW3 Series from JL Audio are a great choice given the extremely high quality of materials and build, powerful puch for such a small speaker, and the crispiness of sound. Top notch stuff.​

EDITOR'S RATING:

3

Alpine SWR-t Series

Specifications:
  • Sensitivity: 84 dB
  • RMS: 600Watts
  • Peak Power: 1800 watts
  • Frequency Response: 26-200 Hz
  • Impedance: 4Ohms
  • Sizes: 10"

Why I chose it:

Alpine is one of those brands that never dissapoints. Their line of shallow mount subwoofers is a perfect example. Priced higher than the TW3 series (on most retailers) they also have superior specs in terms of punch and RMS. The SWR-T series is definitely a winner.

EDITOR'S RATING:

Best Car Subwoofer Brands

1. JL Audio

The American brand was founded in 1975 by James Birch and Lucio Proni. They combined the initals of their first names to name the brand, JL.

The company is based in Miramar, Florida, where they design, manufacture and were originally selling their subs back in 1979.

  • W7AE-3 series
  • W6v3 series
  • W3v3 series

Image Source: JL Audio

Specifications:
  • Tier: Mid-End
  • Available Sizes: 6.5", 8", 10", 12" and 13.5"

JL's W3 Series is also on their third generation and are one of the best subwoofers available for those who have a limited budget yet demand the highest possible quality with zero trade-off on that regard.

They feature all the fancy materials you'll see on higher series from JL, and are also 100% manufactured in the Miramar plant.

2. Sundown Audio

Acclaimed as the best manufacturer of SPL competition subs, Sundown Audio is an American manufacturer that still hasn't gotten full mainstream, yet has a loyal following due to the extremely high quality of their products. The company is based in Claremont, North Carolina, and Jacob Fuller is the owner.

  • TEAM SERIES
  • NSV3 SERIES
  • X v.2 SERIES
X Series

Image Credits: Sundown Audio

Specifications:
  • Tier:  Mid-Hi End
  • Available Sizes: 8", 10", 12", 15" and 18"

The X Series from Sundown Audio is currently at its second generation and its a few steps below the previously covered series.

These are competition-designed subs with amazing linear excursion and all the high-end quality of materials and design we find everywhere on the SA product line.​

3. Focal

Focal is a French manufacturer that has been in the car audio industry for the last 38 years. They are one of the most renowned brands when it comes to audio fidelity and sound quality. They are an audiophile's dream come true.

  • Elite Utopia BE
  • Elite K2 Power
  • Performance Expert

Image Source: Focal America

Specifications:
  • Tier: High-end
  • Available Sizes: 8", 10" and 12"

Still on the high-end of the spectrum, the Expert line of speakers and subs uses a proprietary technology and unique combinations of fibers on the cone that makes F subs a great choice. 

The flax fiber cones provide a unique quality of sound. 

4. Kicker

Also known as Stillwater Designs, Kicker has been around since 1973. It's one of the oldest car audio brands and theirs are the square subwoofers, something absolutely unique that was a major "wow" factor in the industry.

  • L7 SERIES
  • sOLO BARIC L7S SERIES
  • COMPQ SERIES
Kicker CompQ

Image Source: Kicker

Specifications:
  • Tier: Mid-High End
  • Available Sizes: 8", 10", 12" and 15"

The CompQ Series is Kicker's most advanced line of round subwoofers. They belong to the "Q Class" which is Kicker's label for their highest quality products.

​This dual voice coil subs are available on both 2 and 4 ohms and provide with the highest RMS ever achieved on a round sub by Kicker.

5. Rockford Fosgate

Last but not least on this list is Rockford Fosgate. The American manufacturer was founded in 1973 (that's a lot of history!) by Jim Fosgate and has delivered great audio products ever since.

  • power
  • punch
  • prime
RF Prime Series

Image Source: Rockford Fosgate

Specifications:
  • Tier: Entry level
  • Available Sizes: 10" and 12"

The entry level and most budget friendly subs from the whole line of products of Rockford Fosgate is the Prime Series. 

These are high quality subs at an affordable price that differ from the other series in the size of the motor, coils and spyder, aswell as on how many available options they have.

Additional Resources

Here are a few articles that you may be interested in reading if you're about to buy a new subwoofer:

Here's a good video on how to install a subwoofer. If you've never done this before, I recommend you watch it!

2 thoughts on “Best Car Subwoofers of 2017 [Reviews and Comparison]

  1. I have a 2006 350z roadster and I what to put to 8″ or 10″ subwoofers, one in the OEM place for a sub and the other one on the passage side in the same area (glove box area). what would you recommend for the install?

    • If you have the hatchback (non convertible) version of the 350z I would highly recommend getting the JL Audio Stealthbox for that model and a 1000 watt JL Audio amplifier.

      Otherwise I would consider just using the OEM sub location and installing a JL Audio 10w6 or 10w7. Putting more than one sub back there would require a lot of custom modification to the vehicle. The other subs I would recommend would be the Image Dynamics IDQ series. Either way you must get an amp to power them even if you already have a factory amp installed because it will not work with the factory system.

      I would personally get new speakers all around because the factory BOSE upgraded system is pretty lame.

      Hope this helps with your question. Thanks.

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