Want to enjoy high-quality sound in your car? A subwoofer can make it happen!
While subwoofers are traditionally installed in larger trucks and SUVs, there are plenty of models for small cars, too. The best compact car subwoofer can give you the booming bass and premium audio quality you need to enjoy your jams.
To help you choose the right subwoofer for your car, we’ve rounded up some of the best on the market. Take a quick look at our comparison chart below.
Top 5 Compact Subwoofers For Car
- Top 5 Compact Subwoofers For Car
- 1. Rockville RW10CA 10″ 800 Watt Slim Low Profile Active Powered Car Subwoofer
- 2. Alpine Electronics PWE-S8 Restyle Compact Powered 8-Inch Subwoofer
- 3. Rockville SS8P 400w 8″ Slim Under-Seat Active Powered Car/Truck Subwoofer Sub
- 4. JBL BassPro SL 8-inch 125W RMS Powered Under-Seat Compact Subwoofer Enclosure System
- 5. Kicker 11HS8 8″ 150W Hideaway Car Audio Powered Subwoofer Sub
- What Does a Car Subwoofer Do?
- Does the Size of the Subwoofer Matter?
- Types of Compact Car Subwoofers
- Other Key Considerations
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Rockville RW10CA 10″ 800 Watt Slim Low Profile Active Powered Car Subwoofer
From a performance standpoint, the subwoofer doesn’t disappoint. It has adjustable sensitivity and an impressive output of 200 RMS. For a unit of this size, it’s surprisingly powerful. It generates a punchy bass while fitting on the floor of your rear seats!
2. Alpine Electronics PWE-S8 Restyle Compact Powered 8-Inch Subwoofer
Overall, this is a good option for those who want to have greater control over the performance of their subwoofer. It’s a compact unit with a lot to offer.
3. Rockville SS8P 400w 8″ Slim Under-Seat Active Powered Car/Truck Subwoofer Sub
The wires are streamlined and simple to create a clean look. But, you’re not sacrificing performance or control.
4. JBL BassPro SL 8-inch 125W RMS Powered Under-Seat Compact Subwoofer Enclosure System
These flexibility features are a big perk! While it’s still not going to work for everyone, there’s a good chance that you can get it installed in your ride without issues. All you need is the right wiring harness!
5. Kicker 11HS8 8″ 150W Hideaway Car Audio Powered Subwoofer Sub
Installing this subwoofer is very easy, too. It comes with all the accessories you need. Kicker even included some velcro to keep your wires hidden and out of the way.
What Does a Car Subwoofer Do?
Your car is already equipped with a speaker system, right? So, why invest in subwoofers?
Well, it all comes down to audio quality. You see, factory speakers are notorious for producing inferior sound. Manufacturers have to keep the speakers small to accommodate other components.
As a result, audio quality suffers. Small speakers can’t handle the entire frequency spectrum alone. Because low-frequency sounds take more power to generate, they’re the first to suffer. Instead of that crystal-clear sound you’re after, factory speakers tend to sound weak and tinny. In many cases, the low-end is virtually non-existent, turning everything from pop to hip-hop tuned into an airy mess!
Subwoofers aim to tackle those issues head-on!
Subwoofers are nothing more than separate drivers that only handle the low frequencies. Generally, they take care of the lowest frequencies that humans can hear, which is usually around 20 to 200 Hz.
Routing those low frequencies to a standalone subwoofer offers tons of benefits. For one, you can get a booming bass that you feel!
But more importantly, you’re taking the load off the other speakers. When those stock speakers don’t have to worry about producing the low end, they can focus on the highs and mids. Thus, the rest of the music sounds warm, powerful, and true to life. Mix the bass back in and you can enjoy distortion-free music no matter where your travels take you!
Does the Size of the Subwoofer Matter?
The answer to this question depends entirely on your goals. If your top priority is to achieve a thumping bass that rocks the entire car, bigger subwoofers are a must. But if you just want to improve the overall sound quality in your ride, you can still get amazing results without focusing on the subwoofer’s size.
There’s no getting around it: Size does matter with lower frequencies. Low sounds have longer wavelengths. To recreate them, subwoofer drivers have to be pretty big! That’s why woofers are larger than tweeters or mid-range drivers.
All that said, subwoofers don’t have to massive to provide you with good results. Smaller compact woofers can produce low-end sounds all the same. But the difference is that you’ll sacrifice power.
You can experience a noticeable improvement and may be able to get a bass that you can feel. However, smaller units aren’t going to send shockwaves through the neighborhood, which is probably a good thing!
Types of Compact Car Subwoofers
Upgrading your audio system is not as easy as picking up the first subwoofer that fits into your car. Like home stereo systems, audio gear can get complicated very quickly.
The first thing you need to do is choose the type of subwoofer that works best for your vehicle.
If you want full control over your audio setup, component subwoofers are the way to go. Essentially, these subs are just standalone drivers. You can choose your own box or mounting method. They give you greater flexibility, allowing you to mix and match components to meet your exact needs.
An enclosed subwoofer is a more “off the shelf” option. These subs come with a driver that’s already mounted to an enclosure. While you don’t get as much control, these are a good choice for those who want a simple setup process.
Next up, we have active subwoofers. The term “active” refers to the power source. Typically, traditional woofers connect to an external amplifier so that the driver has enough power to operate. With active subwoofers, the amp is built right in.
Sometimes called powered subwoofers, these units are surprisingly compact. Everything is built into one unit, allowing you to save a ton of space.
Passive subwoofers are akin to a traditional speaker. They look simple and don’t have any built-in power supply. So, you must connect them to a separate amplifier.
They are good for those who have a deep understanding of audio gear. You have to match the amp to the subwoofer, which can be tricky if you’re not familiar with specifications like Ohms and wattage.
Other Key Considerations
Beyond the type of subwoofer, there are a few other factors to consider. To choose the right subwoofer for your car, you need to think about your existing setup and your goals.
As we mentioned earlier, subwoofers need substantial size to produce solid bass tones. But when you’re in a smaller car, there’s a fine balance between getting a nice sound and wasting a ton of room!
Generally, anything below 10 inches in diameter is considered “compact.” Use that knowledge as a guide and see what works for your car’s interior. One way to workaround is to use multiple subs.
Power and Sensitivity
The power and sensitivity ratings only apply if you’re using passive subs. These specifications reflect how much power the unit needs and how much it can handle.
For power, pay attention to RMS ratings. Reflected as watts, this is the amount of power the unit can handle continuously from your amplifier. It’s a much better reflection of the sub’s capabilities than the peak power ratings.
For sensitivity, higher ratings are always better! A higher sensitivity means that the sub can do more with less power.
The type of enclosure can make a big impact on the kind of bass you hear! A sealed enclosure provides a tighter and punchier sound. Meanwhile, a ported unit gives you more boom and power.
This is all a matter of personal preference. For smaller cars, sealed boxes are usually best. With a port, you need ample interior space to generate that sound. As a result, the enclosures have to be bigger.
Last but not least, it’s a good idea to plan for a smooth installation. The installation process can vary dramatically based on your car and the subs you choose. If you go for passive subs that require an external amp, installation can get downright difficult!
Match the subwoofer to your skill level. There are plenty of simple subs out there with straightforward installs that anyone can complete.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What’s the smallest subwoofer for a car?
The smallest subwoofers available can have a diameter as small as four to six inches!
But, they don’t have much to offer in terms of performance. Subwoofers of that size are best for smaller applications, such as desktop computer speakers or portable speakers.
For a car, your best bet is to go with a subwoofer that’s at least 8 inches in diameter. An 8-inch subwoofer provides a good balance between power and space-saving size.
2. Does subwoofer improve sound quality?
Subwoofers can improve sound quality. Smaller factory speakers aren’t capable of handling the full sound spectrum of your music. In turn, it can cause distortion and imbalance. This is more evident if you pump up the volume.
A subwoofer improves your music by handling all of the power-heavy bass tones. The lower end will become more punchy and prominent! Meanwhile, the reduced load on the rest of the speakers improves the mids and highs.
3. Are smaller subwoofers better for music?
Usually, bigger is better for subwoofers. A larger subwoofer provides more space for the driver to create those long waveforms.
That said, smaller units can get the job done, too. In fact, many prefer smaller subwoofers because they’re not overbearing. Unless your goal is to rattle your car with every beat, a smaller subwoofer may provide better results when it comes to clarity and balance.
Traditional sedans, compact cars, and full-sized cars aren’t known for having the most heart-pumping sound systems on the road. But with a new compact subwoofer, you can change that!
The best compact car subwoofer will significantly improve your audio system, allowing you to enjoy your music collection the way it was meant to be heard!
All of our recommended picks are a worthy upgrade for your stock system. However, the Rockville RW10CA is the clear winner of this roundup. Compared to all of the other subwoofers, this one offers the most power and punch.
The internal driver is slightly bigger at 10 inches. As a result, it can produce a more prominent and accurate punch to every bass hit. Plus, the 200-watt RMS rating provides exceptional volume and clarity. What more can you ask for?
Give it a shot and hear the difference yourself! After installation, your car will be the best place to jam out!