In previous times, if you wanted top-quality bass in your car, you would have needed a lot of free space to accommodate a full-size woofer. This made it incredibly difficult for those who either had smaller cars or didn’t have enough free space for large-sized woofers. However, with the advent of the shallow mount subwoofer, car owners can indulge in their love for music and bass.
A shallow mount subwoofer (also referred to as a slim woofer), is not nearly as big as its conventional counterpart. But it can pack a punch in terms of offering top-notch sound quality and bass. The best shallow subwoofers come in a wide range of specifications; there is no “one size fits all approach.”
You can also choose from a range of sizes available out there, depending upon your needs and available space. But how can you make the best decision on which shallow subwoofer will best fulfill all your requirements in terms of bass and size?
To provide you with a detailed answer to this exact query, we went on to analyze all the major brands and products in the shallow mount subwoofer range out there.
JL Audio 13TW5V2-2
20 Hz – 200 Hz
85.51 DB @ 1w/1m
Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8
38 Hz – 250 Hz
82 DB @ 1w/1m
20 Hz – 125 Hz
93 DB @ 1w/1m
Kenwood Excelon KFC-XW1200F
30 Hz – 700 Hz
91 DB @ 1w/1m
50 Hz – 150 Hz
90 DB @ 1w/1m
Skar Audio VD-12 D2
25 Hz – 300 Hz
86.7 DB @ 1w/1m
28 Hz – 200 Hz
83 DB @ 1w/1m
20 Hz – 150 Hz
90 DB @ 1w/1m
Advantages of Shallow Mount Subwoofers
Here are some advantages of shallow mount subwoofers:
Choosing A Top Quality Shallow Mount Subwoofer
Here we have listed the most important specifications that you need to look for when selecting a shallow mount subwoofer:
Power Output & Handling/Volume
Power output is how much wattage the subwoofer can manage – remember; there is a limit defined to every subwoofer out there. Usually, speakers with the highest amount of power handling ability are given preference because they can produce higher bass and sound.
Power handling is the point where the subwoofer last handles the power output. For example, a speaker that is capable of running up to 80 Watts but with an optimum rate of 50 Watts can easily handle short, period bursts to the 80 Watts range. Speakers with higher power handling ability are preferable compared to those that can’t handle high power loads, even for limited periods.
For volume, everyone has their own preferences, but it’s essential to set a bar to ensure that you get the optimum sound settings. This optimum range is where your subwoofer will kick in and start picking and playing bass notes from an audio track. Too low below this range, and you will not get your desired bass.
Subwoofers that have a crossover range of 70 Mhz or higher are much better at producing better bass.
Frequency Response/ Range
Conventionally, subwoofers operate in the range between 20 to 200 Hz. However, subwoofers by design are meant to focus more on lower frequencies than the upper end of the spectrum. This is because, below 20 Hz, most humans fail to notice the sound but can experience vibration; the “boom" of the bass that subwoofers are so sought after.
So, if you want a top-notch subwoofer, you need to see and check how low it goes below 20 Hz.
Impedance is resistance to electrical currents by subwoofers. The lower the level of impedance, the higher volume and lower-pitched sounds your subwoofer can play. This is measured in ohms, so a 4 ohms subwoofer can handle lower-pitched sounds better than one that functions at 6 ohms.
Going for a lower ohm rate is great if you are particular about the sound, but remember to check whether your amplifier supports that low an ohm rate or not. Otherwise, the chances of a “blowout” can become increasingly high.
The amount of power that a subwoofer requires to generate a certain amount of volume is known as sensitivity. For example, if you have a speaker than can play 81 dB on 1 Watt of energy, you will need to double the power to 2 Watts if you want the speaker to play sounds at 84 dB.
This happens because doubling the power adds 3 dB to the speaker's existing sensitivity rates. Generally, in the music industry, speakers with a sensitivity of 90 dB or higher are considered good quality.
The area where you are going to mount your subwoofer will significantly affect the kind of bass you are going to get and how you will experience it. Punchy bass comes from placing the subwoofer inside the car, behind the rear seat deck. This keeps the sound in the car and makes the bass more transient.
If you place the subwoofer in the trunk, you will feel a thumping bass; but on loud volumes, the sound can get distorted. Subwoofers with low clearance are perfect for rear deck placement.
Voice Coils – Single vs Dual
While the number of voice coils doesn’t actually affect the subwoofer’s sound quality or bass in any manner whatsoever, it does affect the way your subwoofer connects to the amplifier.
A single voice coil won’t be able to offer as many impedance connections to your amp as a double voice coil. This is especially necessary to consider if you want your amp to perform better and align with the subwoofer more naturally. Getting a subwoofer with a double coil will allow you to accommodate a broader power range from the amplifier, thus allowing the latter to perform better.
Wired or Wireless – Ease of Installation
Wired subwoofers require a thorough installation process involving power, amp, and other types of cables. Each of them needs to be set in the right port by checking the markings. Although some new subwoofers have made wired setups easier, they are still a hassle.
Wireless subwoofer installation is as easy as plug and play; you just need to plug them into the power port, and they will automatically tune themselves.
Enclosure is the space where your subwoofer sits and they come in two different types; sealed and ported. Sealed enclosures are smaller, take up a lot less power, and can deliver a punch of bass.
Ported enclosures are their exact opposites – these are larger in size and require more power. But the difference lies in the booming sound they produce that’s more appropriate for those looking for more bass.
When planning to buy a subwoofer, always gather enough information to ensure that it won’t short out or demand repairs after just a few weeks. For this, never rely on product descriptions on sites that sell them; this is marketing speak, and they can gloss over even the most problematic aspects of the sub.
It’s recommended that you read real user reviews and learn from their experience about the reliability/durability of specific models. If you don’t see a lot of bad experiences or negative reviews, then you can trust the brand/model.
Other things like checking whether the subwoofer's cone is of top-notch quality can also help in selecting the right product. If your subwoofer comes with a warranty, read all the terms and conditions thoroughly and always see what it covers and how long it will remain valid for.
8 Best Shallow Mount Subwoofers Reviewed
We conducted an in-depth survey on all the top quality shallow mount subwoofers available in the market currently and zeroed in on these 8 best models.
1. JL Audio 13TW5V2-2
Our Top Pick
20 Hz – 200 Hz
85.51 dB @ 1w/1m
250 Watts RMS/ 1200 Watts Peak
JL Audio is one of the pioneers of the shallow mount subwoofer, and they continue to churn out the best equipment and accessories for in-car audio-entertainment. Their latest offering is the JL Audio 13TW5V2-2, a uniquely sized, compact model that packs a powerful punch.
This 13.5” subwoofer packs in the power and sound of 15”, a rare quality for subwoofers in its range. The subwoofer also retains its responsiveness on the same level as a much smaller product in its category. Its required enclosure space is just a bit more than what much smaller 8-inch subwoofer would require – in fact, most subwoofers in the 12-inch category also need a larger space.
As for its mounting system, you just need the space of a conventional 12-inch subwoofer and you will be good to go. Due to the new “concentric tube” structure, the JL 13TW5V2-2’s is of smaller size while retaining the same power through its 7-inch diameter voice coil and suspension attachments.
You also get a far more improved, 13% mechanical excursion capability because of the placement of the new coil. Amongst all JL subwoofers of the same size, JL 13TW5V2-2 has the best sound quality.
This might not be the best budget shallow mount subwoofer, but if you are willing to pay the high price, you won’t stand disappointed.
2. Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8
Best 8 Inch Shallow Mount Subwoofer
38 Hz – 250 Hz
82 dB @ 1w/1m
150 Watts RMS/ 300 Watts Peak
A small size speaker from Rockford Fosgate’s Punch series, the P3SD2-8 gives off powerful sound despite its small build. This compact subwoofer that’s 8” in size is perfect for small car owners as it can deliver serious bass with 2-ohm support and dual voice coil.
The P3SD2-8 only has a mounting depth of 2”, which means that you can fit it into really tight spaces without any major issues in installation. It’s durable and sturdy as well, coming with anodized aluminum cones that last longer while keeping the bass quality at optimum levels.
The newly added hybrid stamp cast basket makes it lighter while not compromising on speaker strength in any manner. A spider venting system has also been added to keep the motor running without overheating issues, so you can use the subwoofer for long periods without worrying about damaging it.
This subwoofer by P3SD2-8 has been built in a way that it can be accommodated in both vented and sealed boxes, so you have a choice on what kind of bass you want in your car.
However, this subwoofer's bass cannot be termed as "earth-shattering" in any way. It certainly cannot match the power of much larger speakers out there. Still, it’s a good option if you are looking for some good audio for a small vehicle.
3. Pioneer TS-SWX2502
Best Enclosed Shallow Mount Subwoofer
20 Hz – 125 Hz
93 dB @ 1w/1m
350 Watts RMS/ 1200 Watts Peak
One of the most efficient subwoofers out there, Pioneer’s TS-SWX2502 offers a much more powerful bass profile than its small size of 10” might suggest.
When conducting the Pioneer 10 shallow subwoofer review, we found its best feature is its oversized mica-injected resin cone that has been accommodated into the subwoofer without impacting its actual size.
With a larger surface area of the cone, this sub can consequently shuffle air in higher quantities. The much louder bass that this subwoofer produces is due to this very innovative feature. But this couldn’t have been possible without the dual spiders added to this unit by Pioneer. These make it possible for the subwoofer to control the motion of the oversized cones, which, in turn, makes the sound much more stable without reducing the bass needed.
You also get angled push terminals with this subwoofer that makes it easier to run wires in straight lines – an essential feature if you don’t want to use high gauge wires.
The small size of the subwoofer, however, makes it necessary for you to mount it on your rear deck because it can get easily damaged if kept anywhere without support.
4. Kenwood Excelon KFC-XW1200F
Best Sounding Shallow Mount Subwoofer
30 Hz – 700 Hz
91 dB @ 1w/1m
350 Watts RMS/ 1400 Watts Peak
Featuring a high sensitivity of 91 dB, the Kenwood Excelon KFC-XW1200F doesn't require a high power-rating to produce excellent quality sound. This allows the subwoofer to keep on working even if you don't plug in the amp. Along with this, this new subwoofer by Kenwood features a cone built out of carbon fiber, giving it lasting durability.
This cone has been designed into a honeycomb-like structure that reduces the issue of flexing to a considerably low level. This feature definitely makes it one of the best sounding shallow mount subwoofer out there.
The cone sits seamlessly on flexible rubber, perfectly complementing the surrounding structure and thereby ensuring that sounds don’t get distorted too much. Similarly, the die-cast aluminum basket keeps the subwoofer cool by allowing for better heat transfer. This comes in handy, especially when you are pushing the subwoofer to its sound limits.
Bass notes of all types can be easily played on this subwoofer because of its top grade, silver-plated terminals. These give the best medium for signals to move forward and hence, offers incredible variety in bass differentials.
5. Rockville RW10CA
Best 10 Inch Shallow Mount Subwoofer
50 Hz – 150 Hz
90 dB @ 1w/1m
200 Watts RMS/ 800 Watts Peak
Rockville RW10CA is certified by CEA, thus ensuring that it actually does produce the power that is mentioned by the manufacturer. This is great because not a lot of subwoofer brands or products have this certification. With a peak of 800 Watts, you can really jack up the volume whenever you want, but it’s meant to be operated at 200 Watts, especially if you're going to run it for more extended periods.
This model by Rockville is quite basic as its cone, surrounding and cooling systems are quiet average. Its sensitivity is on the higher end of the spectrum; however, it touches the 90 dB mark, which is rare for a subwoofer in this category.
Combine all of these impressive features, and the Rockville subwoofer becomes capable of handling powerful bass with minimal distortions and no technical limitations. While this model is a bit large for fitting in a 10-inch enclosure, its shallow mount depth remains impressive at 2.7 inches – making for easy installation even in confined spaces.
If you are looking for the best shallow mount 10-inch subwoofer, then this one by Rockville should be one that ends your search.
6. Skar Audio VD-12 D2
Best 12 Inch Shallow Mount Subwoofer
25 Hz – 300 Hz
86.7 dB @ 1w/1m
500 Watts RMS/ 800 Watts Peak
The Skar Audio VD-12 D2 now comes with a dual, 2-ohm voice coil configuration that compensates for its limited power handling capabilities. The RMS power of this subwoofer by Skar has been restrained at 500 Watts, which is low if you compare it with others in the same size range.
What’s great about this subwoofer is the quality components used in the different parts of the unit. The pressed paper cone allows the unit to reach the required sensitivity by eliminating distortions; while it is rigid, it doesn’t put on too much weight on the structure.
Skar has made this subwoofer with user ease in mind, as it’s easier to install and maintain despite being a bit larger. For small enclosures that don’t have a lot of ventilation, this subwoofer will work well as it's designed to withstand long periods of use through an efficient cooling mechanism.
The mounting depth that’s touching 5 inches can be a bit of an issue, so always ensure that you have space to fit it in before buying it. At 86.7 dB, the sensitivity of this Skar subwoofer can be considered above average.
7. Alpine Swr-t10
Best Shallow Subwoofer for Truck
28 Hz – 200 Hz
83 dB @ 1w/1m
200 Watts RMS/ 800 Watts Peak
For a subwoofer of this category, the Alpine-Swr-t10 offers an elevated level of performance. Whether it’s on features or materials, this subwoofer is up there with the very best.
Covered in Santoprene rubber, this Alpine subwoofer’s cone is made up of aluminum, making the whole structure extremely durable and lightweight. This combination can produce an incredibly high bass without ever suffering from issues like overheating or distortion due to vibrations.
With a neodymium magnet structure, this sub produces 5x times more power, thus rendering high-quality bass at all times. Its RMS power is 600 watts, while peak power can touch the 1800 watt mark easily. This high power ratio keeps the bass richer without muzzled or distorted sounds, even if you jack it up to full capacity.
The aluminum heat sink technology prevents the whole structure from overheating when running for longer periods.
8. Kicker CVT124
Best Rated Model for the Money
20 Hz – 150 Hz
90 dB @ 1w/1m
200 Watts RMS/ 800 Watts Peak
Kicker always offers affordable and durable subwoofers that don’t compromise on the quality of bass – and the CVT124 is no different.
Its frequency range runs from 25 up to 350 Hz, and the model comes with a SoloKon cone that’s injection molded and supported by Santoprene around the base. All of this makes the subwoofer not just powerful, but also very durable.
In terms of size, it falls in the 12" category, but the clearance of 4⅜ inch is a bit too large, considering a lot of other subs are available in as low as 2-inch shallow mounts. This can make installation difficult if you try to fit it into a really tight space. The Kicker CVT124 is also part of the CompVT line, which has been very popular amongst users.
Overall, this subwoofer is one of the best options if you are looking for a model that can stand the test of time and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance. Despite its deeper mount, installation is more comfortable to go through than expected, and the price is also on the affordable side.
Shallow Mount vs Regular Mount Subwoofers
Conventional subwoofers are much more powerful and deliver far better sound and bass than shallow mount subwoofers. But their biggest con is their large size, which makes them ill-suited for cars that don’t have a lot of space in the trunk or behind the backseat.
Installation is also tricky for regular subs, and if we couple that with the high costs, acquiring a regular subwoofer becomes an impractical decision for those on a budget. Shallow mount subwoofers, on the other hand, are definitely not as good as regular subwoofers in terms of bass or sound, but they offer great bass nonetheless.
There are a lot of top quality shallow mount subwoofers that can produce just the right kind of sound and bass, perfectly complementing their smaller, more compact sizes. Modern-day subwoofers like the ones listed above are also incredibly sturdy and durable – making them a good investment.
Overall, design and tech improvements in recent years have allowed shallow subwoofers to take up a lesser amount of space without compromising on sound quality or bass impact. They are "shallow" as the word implies, so even if you put them behind your backseat, there is ample space left underneath.
Shallow Mount Subwoofer Installation Process
First things first, here's a list of items you need to have in hand before you can begin the installation process:
After you have ensured that you have all these things in hand, you can now begin the installation process:
- 1Open your car’s front hood and check for an opening in the firewall. This is the place underneath the metal wall near your front windscreen.
- 2When you find an opening, insert your power cables through it.
- 3Now, take off some of the insulation from the wire you are holding, but do make sure that it’s the end of the wire that is near the battery.
- 4Next, you will need to take the in-line fuse and carefully wire it here.
Note: do not join the wire to your battery at this point.
- 5Thread the power cable underneath the carpet. It’s best to make sure that the wires are going through the middle of the car and run all the way to the trunk.
- 6Now, from the back of the car, take the RCA cable and the 16-18 gauge wire, and thread it from the trunk to the front, going below the carpet again until you reach the stereo. It’s advisable that you to join all these wires together - this way, you won’t feel multiple bumps under your carpet.
- 7Your cables have to be connected to the RCA connections on the stereo now. Remove the stereo head to locate them.
- 8The 16-18 gauge wire also goes in there; locate the place where there is a connection titled "Amplifier" or "Amp." This will ensure that both the stereo and amplifier get turned on simultaneously.
- 9If you have undertaken all of these steps carefully, the subwoofer can now go in its box. Place the shallow mount subwoofer box where you want it – for instance, you can place it in your trunk.
- 10Now, it’s time to power up the amp; run a power cable from the battery towards the amp. The port you will have to connect this cable to is also known as:
- 11Pick up the 16-18 gauges next and slot into the port with either of these markings:
- 12The 10 gauge wire which should approximately be 3 feet in length has to now be inserted into a port that has any of the following names:
- 13Firmly bolt the ground wire next (there is always a bolt that’s placed on the car’s body here)
- 14Secure the speaker wide on the + and –ports on your amp.
- 15Take this wire and connect the other end to the corresponding ports in the subwoofer.
- 16To turn the system on, you just need to plug in the power cable to your battery.
If you are still not sure about this process yourself, take your car and subwoofer to the nearest auto shop and get it installed from there.
Fixing the Crossover
The crossover is the limit of the subwoofer – it cannot detect bass below this level. Nowadays, most subwoofers have auto EQ programs to set this range in auto mode, so if yours is one of them, don’t tinker with the settings.
If it’s not, then set the crossover frequency 10 Hz higher than what your speakers can handle on the lower level; usually, this limit is 80 Hz, but it can vary.
Setting Up A Wireless Subwoofer
If you have a wireless subwoofer, let it detect and pair it with the system automatically.
Adjusting the Volume and Phase Control
Simply turn up your volume to your desired level. Lastly, you need to set the phase; for this, start with 0 and continue to crank it up until you can’t feel a difference in the sound produced by both the speaker and subwoofer.
Common Subwoofer Issues & Fixes
Subwoofers, like every other type of machinery, are bound to go through issues at some point in time. Usually, such problems occur when the subwoofers are a bit old and have been in use for a good amount of time. But sometimes, new subwoofers can also malfunction.
Here are the most common subwoofer issues and their fixes:
Subwoofer Not Working
If your subwoofer is still not working properly, then it might be time to claim your warranty. However, if you don't have a warranty cover, you will need to buy a new amp, subwoofer, or battery.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Shallow Mount Subwoofer Size for My Car?
The best model for you depends on the kind of sound and bass you would like to hear and how much space there is in your car. Starting off with 8-inch shallow subwoofers that are small yet produce good quality bass, all the way up to 15-inch models that are meant to shake the ground, you have a lot of choices. According to us, it’s best to opt for 12-inch subwoofers as they are incredibly powerful, possess a high-frequency range, and are small enough to fit anywhere.
What Is The Difference Between 2-ohm vs. 4-ohm Subwoofers?
The major difference between a 2-ohm and 4-ohm subwoofer is the sound they can produce. Simply put, a 2-ohm speaker is louder than the other. On the other hand, a 4-ohm speaker has better sound quality, although it’s not that noticeable to most people.
Does the Type of Enclosure Make a Difference?
Generally, there are two types of enclosures that you can opt for – sealed and ported.
Sealed boxes take up less space and produce better sound with low bass, but they consume a lot of power. Ported boxes are quite “boomy," and if you want to feel that bass, this enclosure is the best for you. While these require a lot of space, they don’t need much power to run. So, you can go for either option, depending on your personal choice and requirements.
Professional or DIY Installation? Which is Best for Shallow Mount Subwoofers?
Installing a subwoofer is not very difficult, and the process has been outlined above.
If you are still nervous about it or don’t have a lot of technical knowledge, then you should opt for professional installation.
Who Makes The Best Shallow Mount Subwoofers?
There are many different brands out there, each with its pros and cons, and different prices. From JL Audio to Rockford, Kicker, Kenwood, etc. a lot of brands out there offer some amazing subwoofers. To know the best fit for you, read through our list of the top 8 subwoofers above.
Where is The Best Place to Buy Shallow Mount Subwoofers?
Usually, Amazon is the best place to buy shallow mount subwoofers since the platform is reliable, and the sellers there are trustworthy. You can also go on and buy these subwoofers directly from the brand, as well.
Shallow mount subwoofers are an excellent substitute to regular subwoofers due to their compact size. Recent design improvements and constant upgrades in component quality have allowed subwoofers to become better by each passing day.
The best subwoofer, however, is the Pioneer-TS-SWX2502.
This fantastic subwoofer has a sensitivity level of 93dB, unmatched by other models in the category. The new mica-injected resin cone, dual spiders, and angled push terminals are excellent features that provide greater stability and less distortion. Its peak power tops out at 1200 watts, meaning that you can crank up the volume and bass without compromising on the sound quality.
Overall, this model by Pioneer is perfect for cars and other small spaces – you certainly won’t be disappointed by its performance.
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