As car audio upgrades go, subwoofers are one of the best you can make. We take a look at the best subwoofer for your car in 2024, factoring in price, performance and external equipment you may also need.
An additional subwoofer of any size makes your system sound better, the mids and highs somehow clearer. Alongside the right car speakers, you don’t have to go to heavy metal concert power, though. With these choices, you can start small, with extra bass too beefy for hiding under a seat. Or, choose something on the more extreme end of the spectrum we have here, and you can still end up at ‘too loud for your mom’.
Here’s our guide to the best subwoofers for your car in 2024.
Alpine SWE-815 Car Subwoofer
RRP: $165 / £130. Buy Alpine SWE-815 here
This has been a huge success in Japan and deserves a mention in this guide to the best subwoofers for your car in 2024. One of the reasons is the low current draw. You get a nice box, with an eight inch speaker in it. This speaker has two voice coils, each of just two ohms. As a result, this means it can suck the power from an amplifier. The amplifier is one for a ‘high power’ head unit. Rather than a ‘proper’ one, it uses the biggest of the so called chip-amps. At a true 4x24W, calling this a 100W amp with 300W peak output may be a but of a stretch but the thing really does make bass.
You get a cute wired remote control for vol./freq./phase of the output. It can accept speaker level or RCA signal input. The speaker box is beautifully made and Alpine-embroidered, and best of all, you also get a port blocker panel. Run it ported for the most possible bass level or run it sealed to play deeper. Affordable, cool and fun, as well as being a great entry-level bass maker.
- Active: Single 8in (20cm) ported or sealed woofer
- Power Handling/Amp power: 100w rms from head unit chip amp
- Frequency Response: 34Hz to 1.5kHz
- Dimensions: (HxWxD) 291mm x 288mm x 363mm down to 253mm
JBL Stage 800BA
RRP: $195 / £190. Buy JBL Stage 800BA here.
You can get the optional JBL RBC wired remote control to boss this unit. A serious ten-amperes draw on your system, from a full-architecture Class D power amp with speaker or RCA level inputs. Not a head unit chip amp, the Stage 800BA needs proper wiring and fusing. I think it takes its name from looking a bit like a stage monitor. There’s bars across the front to stop the driver from being pushed in.
A small box that will not eat too much space in your boot, it measures less than a cubic foot. It may be worth trying different corners, or even pointing it into one. The amplifier has a bass EQ control that can give 9dB of boost at 60Hz. That’s quite a lift and could cripple the amplifier, so use with care. The crossover can be set between 60Hz and 200Hz and has a nice steep 12dB per octave slope.
The driver is polypropylene and that’s a part of making a more affordable JBL. A clever thing is that slot ported box. Unashamedly about the biggest possible output, this well-made enclosure has been sized to work perfectly with the driver. This is a big strength of JBL. They know their stuff and its why it placed in our guide to the best subwoofers for your car in 2024.
- Active: Single 8in (20cm) slot-ported woofer
- Power Handling/Amp power: 100 W Class D amp onboard (10A fuse)
- Frequency Response: 30Hz to 200Hz
- Dimensions (HxWxD) 285mm x 250mm x 263mm down to 203mm
RRP: $399 / £220. Buy HERTZ DBA-200.3 here
A deliciously high end and compact concept. A small eight inch active box but instead of ports, it has a ‘passive radiator’ system. And a very unusual one at that. A passive radiator looks like a speaker driver but has no ‘stuff’ on the back. It is just a suspended cone. This wobbles according to the pressure within, caused by the driven speaker unit. The sound can go as deep as the suspension allows, rather than any tuned-frequency limitations inherent in any ported design.
The port gives you an energy peak at the tuned frequency, but it drops away fast below it. A passive radiator is the best of both worlds. It adds sound pressure level like a port, but without that lower frequency limit. Normally, a passive radiator-equipped subwoofer box will have just one. This unit takes advantage of the cubist shape and has TWO extra eight inch diaphragms in the box. So it has thrice the surface area.
With amp power quoted at ‘just’ 140W peak, this suggest a true RMS of 70W. The amplifier has good controls including the crucial phase flip option and has speaker or RCA level inputs. Cute and posh with it, more than deserving of a place in our best subwoofers for your car in 2024.
- Active: Single 8in (20cm) woofer with two additional 8in passive radiators
- Power Handling/Amp power: 140W Peak quoted (so 70W RMS?)
- Frequency Response: 32Hz to 400Hz
- Dimensions: (HxWxD) 263mm x 293mm x 330mm
JL Audio CP108LG-W3v3 Car Subwoofer
RRP: $399 / £350. Buy JL Audio CP108LG-W3v3 here
This is a giant-killer, and worthy of its place on our list of the best subwoofers for your car in 2024. The speaker inside it is a JL Audio 8W3v3. This driver has all the JL proprietary technology. This includes Floating Cone suspension, vented reinforcement collar and Elevated Frame Cooling, as well as the unit having been Dynamic Motor Analysed. Even the lead-wires on the speaker are made not to clatter and flap when the speaker is driven like hell.
The box is strong, with internal bracing that you just won’t find in many other products. The slot port has a flared end and it’s all made from better quality MDF than most Chinese-made products. A passive design, it will need an amplifier, although there is a more expensive version with its own amp, called the ACP108LG-W3v3. Just adding an A for active. This doubles the price. And here’s why.
Reviews have said, “Bass with edges that stops and starts. Bass that’s melodic and tight with the ability to track wobbles within bass lines and real sudden increases in dynamics and power of the lows. Bass that’s just bloody wonderful.”
If you get one and demo it to your friends, get them to guess. They will say you have a ten or a twelve in the boot.
- Passive: Single 8in (20cm) 8W3v3-4 woofer, no amplifier, 4ohm
- Power Handling: 250W RMS for the enclosed driver
- Frequency Response: 28Hz to 250Hz
- Dimensions: (HxWxD) 283mm x 473mm x 130mm
Focal BombA 8in
RRP: $560 / £300. Buy Focal Bomba 8in here
Focal make speakers from affordable to lottery winner grade. They are enormously sophisticated and this unit is the second most impressive one after the JL Audio one here. Perhaps higher fidelity than massive might and main, this is the most technologically advanced. The 8in driver is made of glass fiber. Inherently incompressible, it is a poor man’s Kevlar or carbon fiber and it makes brilliant speaker cones. Hidden away inside a bandpass enclosure, it all goes on inside, and done right, a bandpass can boggle your mind. A dark art that can be loud, or low, or take huge power. The trick is the balance. This one will drop all the way to the deepest bass at 20Hz.
The controls it has to do so, include a sweepable phase control. Way more than a mere phase ‘flip’, this can be magical as it fits your bass to your car’s cabin. There’s a low pass filter settable between 45Hz and 120Hz and a genius subsonic settable between 20Hz and 35Hz. Stuff below that can be prevented from sapping your power. You can peak output at the bass boost frequency (although no figure in Hz quoted) by up to 12dB. Set well, this could be a seamless true hifi bottom end to a good system. Posh kit and deserved of a place on our guide to the best subwoofers for your car.
- Active: Single 8in (20cm) woofer
- Power Handling/Amp power: 150W RMS Class D amp onboard (15A fuse)
- Frequency Response: 20Hz to 125Hz
- Dimensions: (HxWxD) 249mm x 480mm x 324mm
Rockford Fosgate P1-1×12 Car Subwoofer
RRP: $239.99 / £200. Buy Rockford Fosgate P1-1×12 here
A “Punch P1” product as against a P2 or P3, makes this the affordable end of these serious ready-made enclosures. Lighter weight than the bigger spec boxes, making it easier to unplug and remove if you really need the space. Rockford Fosgate are a very old and revered brand of American car audio, even legendary. People get tattoos of their logo. You can get P1-1×12 with a dual voice coil (two coils on one speaker) or as a dual driver version. The top end 1-ohm load (!) P3 dual driver 12 is £700, weighs 40Kg (90lbs) and handles 1,200W RMS! So you can keep on upgrading.
The P1-1×12 though, will cope with a quarter-kilowatt of power and handle 500W peaks, so it needs a good amp. You may well be able to run 250W without the electrical upgrades that running a big bass amp would demand. The design is handsome, the output from the Kevlar-reinforced paper cones is tight. The port is designed for high airflow with low noise and the whole look is smart, with the front grille for said port. The driver is naked, is all, so requires care or adding the optional P1G-12 grille that will fit. It’s a worthy entry into our guide to the best subwoofers for your car.
- Passive: Single 12in (30cm) woofer slot ported, 4ohm
- Power Handling: 250W RMS, 500W peak
- Frequency Response not quoted. It’s install and application dependent.
- Dimensions: (HxWxD) 384mm x 486mm x 400mm
JL Audio CP212G
RRP: $499.99 / £490. Buy JL Audio CP212G here
An absolute bass monster. An amp is needed for this passive design and one that likes a 2ohm load and dumping watts. It can eat up to 600W RMS. The slot port along the bottom is flared, just like its baby brothers. Look at those extended front edges. They mean that you can lay CP212G on its face and the edges hold the speaker off the floor. This not only protects your drivers (and loses the pretty logo to see) but it also makes the bass immense. Like an explosion, adding the right compression, or loading, can make the forces more brutal.
A true high end instant beast of a bass install. Useful for those who want a resell-able item that in many cases will surpass most custom jobs you’d get built. The JL Audio cunning speaker technology meets their enclosure design genius. The box makers that made an 8in sound like a 12in, make these two 12 inchers sound like bass Armageddon. In a good way. There are others in the BassWedge series of enclosures, going down to a simple single ten inch. They are all good but this is a brutal subwoofer for your car.
- Power Handling: 600W RMS
- Frequency Response not quoted. It’s install and application dependent
- Dimensions: (HxWxD) 386mm x 260mm x 516mm down to 400mm
Edge EDB-12A-EO Car Subwoofer
RRP: £180. Not available in the US. Buy Edge EDB-12A-EO here
Surface area is directly proportional to sound pressure level. In other words, if you got more cone area , you get more bass. Yes, you can drive a smaller speaker like hell to move more air (there are six-inch speakers made as subwoofers that have to do that) but bigger bass, takes bigger woofers. The EDB-12A is one heck of a way to jump in. It will reduce the shopping bag count you can fit in your boot, and won’t mix well with golf bats, is all.
A full-fat twelve in driver, it comes ready to play with the built-in amplifier with speaker or RCA level inputs. This is a second-generation product and we gather the amplifier has been beefed up a bit. Known for their cool styling and well made parts, EDB-12A has a curved port mouth that breathes deep. They say it goes lower in this second iteration but do not quote the figures. Design and looks are superb, right down to the sloped heatsink on the amp. Its keen value for money and performance is why it appears on our list of the best subwoofers for your car.
- Active: Single 12in (30cm) woofer
- Power Handling/Amp power: 300W RMS Class A/B mono amplifier 20A fuse
- Frequency Response: not reported
- Dimensions: (HxWxD) 338mm x 408mm x 413mm