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Buyers Guide & Information

Best Underseat Subwoofers in 2019: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

We have reviewed and compared the best underseat subwoofers on the market. We review all the top rated branded products with this detailed comparison guide.

by PITeam

Buyers Guide & Information

Best Underseat Subwoofers in 2019: Reviewed, Rated & Compared

We have reviewed and compared the best underseat subwoofers on the market. We review all the top rated branded products with this detailed comparison guide.

by PITeam

by PITeam

We all want to hear that bone-rattling bass when we’re blasting music in our cars, but not all of us have the space to install a huge trunk subwoofer to make it happen. Fortunately, there is another option - an under seat subwoofer.

These small, compact subwoofers are super easy to install and slot right under your seat. They might not be as big and powerful as full-sized trunk subwoofers, but they can still hugely improve your car's sound, and best of all, they won't break the bank either.

They’re absolutely the way to go if you have limited car space and a limited budget. To help you to get your hands on one, we’ve reviewed and picked out some of the best under seat subwoofers. We've also prepared a buying guide so that you know exactly what to look out for. Let’s get started!

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Product

Frequency Response

RMS & Peak Rating

Check Price

Rockville RW10CA 10' 800 Watt Slim Low Profile...

Rockville RW10CA

20Hz - 150Hz

Peak: 800 Watts | RMS: 200 Watts

BassPro SL - JBL 8' 125W RMS Powered Under-Seat...

BassPro SL - JBL

35Hz – 120Hz

Peak: 250 Watts | RMS: 125 Watts

Rockville SS8P 400w 8' Slim Under-Seat Active...

Rockville SS8P

20Hz - 150Hz

Peak: 400 Watts | RMS: 100 Watts

Kenwood KSC-SW11 150W Low-Profile Amplified Car...

Kenwood KSC-SW11

35 Hz - 150 Hz

Peak: 150 Watts | RMS: 75 Watts

Sound Storm LOPRO8 Amplified Car Subwoofer - 600...

Sound Storm Labs LOPRO8

20Hz - 150Hz

Peak: 600 Watts

KICKER 11HS8 8' 150W Hideaway Car Audio Powered...

Kicker 11HS8

25Hz - 120Hz

RMS: 150 Watts

Pioneer TS-SWX2502 10 inch Shallow-Mount...

Pioneer TS-WX130DA

DEEP: 20Hz to 200Hz / DYNAMIC: 40Hz to 160Hz

Peak: 160 Watts | RMS: 50 Watts

Types of Subwoofer Speakers

There are two different types of subwoofer speakers: passive and powered. Here are the differences between them.

  • Powered
    A powered subwoofer (also called an 'active subwoofer') has a built-in amplifier and power source. These are easier to install than passive subwoofers as you don't need any extra components, and there's less wiring involved. As such, they're the most popular option for under seat subwoofers and home theaters.
  • Passive
    Passive subwoofers don't have their own amplifier or power source - just the speakers. You have to hook them up to a separate amp. I'd recommend only using a passive subwoofer if, for some reason, you need a separate amplifier for your bass.

Benefits of Using Under the Seat Subs

Alright, you might be wondering, why use under seat subwoofers? Under the seat subs have a few huge advantages over their trunk counterparts. Here are a few of them:

  • Save storage space—as under seat subs slot underneath your car seat, you don’t need to waste any of your precious trunk space on them.
  • Lightweight—under seat subwoofers are reasonably lightweight, which means you won't need to use much more gas to carry that extra weight around. It also means it's easy to remove them when necessary.
  • Easy to install—powered under seat subwoofers typically come with their own amp and usually only need basic connections to your car’s sound system and power source, so they’re simple to set up.
  • Cheap—under seat subwoofers are usually much more affordable than boot speakers and amplifiers, so they’re a great option if you’re working with a limited budget.
  • Use less power—these units don't require as much power as huge trunk subwoofers, so they might not need any expensive upgrades to your car’s electrical system.

Choosing a Quality Under Seat Subwoofer

Here are some factors to consider when selecting an under seat subwoofer:

Dimensions

The most important thing to consider is the size of the under seat subwoofer. The last thing you want is to buy a subwoofer only to find that it won’t fit under your seat.

Most are designed to be as compact as possible but, depending on the size of your car, you may still need to check the dimensions of the subwoofer to make sure there’s room for it. Generally speaking, the bigger the subwoofer, the better the sound.

Power Output/Volume/Sound Quality

We can talk about the volume and power output of under seat subwoofers in two terms: peak power and RMS power, both of which are measured in watts. 

The peak power is the maximum wattage the subwoofer can handle in short bursts, whereas the RMS rating is the wattage it can handle continuously without distorting the sound. The peak power is often misleading, whereas the RMS rating is a more accurate measurement of the realistic power output as exceeding this can damage the product.

Frequency Response/Range

The frequency response/range is another good indicator of the quality of a subwoofer and tells you the range of frequencies your subwoofer can handle without distorting. Ideally, you'll want to see a frequency response of at least 20Hz - 200Hz, as this will cover most of the audible bass frequencies in a soundtrack.

Impedance

The impedance of a subwoofer refers to the electrical resistance of the voice coil and is measured in Ohms. If you’re pairing up an amp with a subwoofer, it’s an important factor to consider as different amps have different minimum impedance requirements.

It’s also worth noting that low impedance under seat subwoofers are more likely to accept thin wires, so if you're aiming for a clean install, this is something to think about.

Sensitivity

A subwoofer’s sensitivity refers to the amount of electrical energy that is required to produce sound. Greater sensitivity means less power is required to provide the same amount of sound. In other words, more sensitivity means more power efficiency. As high-sensitivity subwoofers use less power, they produce less heat and tend to be more durable.

Voice Coils

The voice coil is the component of the subwoofer that provides the force to move the cone. Voice coils come in different sizes. Larger voice coils tend to provide better damping and linearity than smaller voice coils. You can also get both single voice coils and dual voice coils.

Cone Size & Subwoofer Shape

The cone itself is the component that’s responsible for producing the bass sound. It does this by displacing air. Larger cones can displace more air and, therefore, produce deeper, more-powerful bass sounds. Look for a model with a large cone if this is something you’re looking for.

Enclosure type – sealed, ported, bandpass

It's not just about the size of the subwoofer; it's about the enclosure too. Under seat subwoofers come in three different types of enclosures: sealed, ported, and bandpass.

Sealed boxes are airtight enclosures and are best for deep, accurate bass but tend to require more power than ported boxes. Ported boxes use a vent to reinforce their low bass response and are best for heavy rock music and forceful bass, while bandpass boxes are designed to produce maximum slam.

Warranty

A final factor to consider is the warranty period. Under seat subwoofers sometimes come with a manufacturer’s warranty. This is usually around 1 year, but the very best models may cover you for even longer than that.


7 Best Under Seat Subwoofers Reviewed

1. Rockville RW10CA

Best underseat subwoofer

Dimensions

12.4 x 13.4 x 2.7 inches

Mounting Depth

N/A

Frequency Response

20Hz - 150Hz

Power Output, (RMS & Peak Rating)

Peak: 800 Watts | RMS: 200 Watts

Comes with Amp?

Yes, built-in

Warranty

1 year

My top pick for the overall best underseat subwoofer has to be the Rockville RW10CA. It has both the largest frequency response range and the highest RMS power output out of any subwoofer on this list.

It’s also CEA-2006 compliant and meets the industry standard when it comes to power ratings. Unlike many other units, which promise unrealistic watts that don’t reflect the reality, the RW10CA delivers on its promises.

The 2.7-inch sub enclosure is slim enough to fit under most car seats, and installation is a cinch as all the inputs and outputs are on the same side. The subwoofer also has high-level inputs which eliminate the need for a remote wire and allows you to install an aftermarket amp subwoofer combination without removing the speaker.

It's also effortless to adjust the sound to your preference on this subwoofer. It has a volume level control, subsonic filter, low pass crossover filter, phase control, and bass boost.

Considering the size of this thing, the bass is really impressive. It might not quite match the volume of trunk subwoofers, but it's still super loud, and the bass is clean and solid.

If you do want to install it yourself, it’s also available in a package with a wiring kit.

Pros

  • Excellent power output
  • Great frequency response range
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee
  • Easy installation

Cons

  • Bass not as powerful as some trunk subwoofers

2. BassPro SL - JBL

Top of the Range

Dimensions

9.9 x 13.6 x 2.8 inches

Mounting Depth

N/A

Frequency Response

35Hz – 120Hz

Power Output, (RMS & Peak Rating)

Peak: 250 Watts | RMS: 125 Watts

Comes with Amp?

Yes, built-in

Warranty

1 year

Next up, we have the BassPro SL JBL 8" underseat subwoofer. This is another top of the range subwoofer that does a great job considering the size and price.

It has a 125 Watts of RMS power, but you can push that right up to 250 watts for short bursts. The LED power and protect indicators are a nice touch, and the soft-start turn-on and auto-on features are other great features that make this an excellent subwoofer.

It doesn't have quite the same 'thump' as some other subwoofers have, but the base lows are really nice, and it still manages to vibrate those mirrors.

“I had this installed in my 2015 Jeep Wrangler and what a difference it made! It fit right under my seat and sounds great. When I turn it up, the mirrors shake and makes the whole jeep thump. This is perfect to buy if you want decent bass for a low price and a sub that can hide under your seat. Overall I'm very happy with this sub” - Review on JBL website

It’s not too difficult to install yourself, but it is a little more complicated to set up than the subwoofer above. Expect to spend around 3 hours or more to hook it up if you plan on doing a DIY install. 

Pros

  • Good RMS power output
  • LED indicators
  • Good additional features
  • Good frequency response range

Cons

  • Difficult to DIY install

3. Rockville SS8P

Value for Money

Dimensions

11.4 x 8.3 x 2.8 inches

Mounting Depth

N/A

Frequency Response

20Hz - 150Hz

Power Output, (RMS & Peak Rating)

Peak: 400 Watts | RMS: 100 Watts

Comes with Amp?

Yes, built-in

Warranty

1 year

Our third spot goes to another Rockville product, the SS8P. This is Rockville’s best value for money option, and I’d definitely recommend it for anyone looking to get their hands on a tremendous under seat subwoofer for less than $100.

It has just half the RMS power of the RW10CA, but what it lacks in power it makes up for in other ways. It’s very compact and comes in a cast aluminum enclosure that keeps it cool and helps to prevent overheating.

The SS8P has a frequency response range of 20Hz to 150Hz, which is right in the sweet spot. It also has other essential features for safety and functionality, like a soft-delayed remote turn-on, thermal protection circuit, overload protection circuit, and more.

It’s very durable and comes with heavy-duty mounting feet and a 1-year warranty. The level control for the volume allows you to adjust the levels to suit you quickly, and the subsonic filter gets rid of those really low frequencies that we can't hear.

As it’s not super powerful, it won’t exactly cause the ground to shake, and I wouldn't recommend it if you're looking for something that keeps your neighbors awake. However, if you're after a decent, affordable, compact underseat subwoofer, I would recommend it.

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Durable/reliable
  • Not prone to overheating
  • Good frequency range

Cons

  • Limited power output

4. Kenwood KSC-SW11

Quality compact subwoofer

Dimensions

11 x 2-¾ x 7-½ inches

Mounting Depth

N/A

Frequency Response

35 Hz - 150 Hz

Power Output, (RMS & Peak Rating)

Peak: 150 Watts | RMS: 75 Watts

Comes with Amp?

Yes, built-in

Warranty

N/A

The Kenwood KSC-SW11 is one of the smallest under seat subs on this list, so it's great for anyone with a small car and minimal space under their seats.

This quality compact subwoofer has a built-in amp, so you don't need to worry about buying an external one. It also comes with remote bass control and the power and ground wire harness for ease of installation.

It's advertised as a 150-watt subwoofer, but that's the peak power; the RMS power is actually only 75 watts. It's not going to rattle your windows, but the sound quality is outstanding, and the subwoofer fills out the hollow mids and highs nicely. 

Kenwood is a very reputable brand that's known for making high-quality products, so expect this subwoofer to be pretty durable and reliable. It’s built with an aluminum die-cast frame, so it’s very resistant to damage and should last at least a few years if you take good care of it.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend the Kenwood KSC-SW11 if you have very limited space to work with, or you're not super-concerned about volume but appreciate the excellent sound quality.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Comes with power and ground wire harness
  • Nice hollow mids/highs
  • Very compact

Cons

  • Low RMS power

5. Sound Storm Labs LOPRO8

Subwoofer and amp combo

Dimensions

13.7 x 9.8 x 2.8 inches

Mounting Depth

N/A

Frequency Response

20Hz - 150Hz

Power Output, (RMS & Peak Rating)

Peak: 600 Watts

Comes with Amp?

Yes, built-in

Warranty

3 year

The Sound Storm Labs LOPRO8 is another great subwoofer and amp combo that I’d definitely recommend.

It has the second-highest peak power on this list, at 600 Watts. The product listing doesn’t officially state the RMS power, but one reviewer puts it at 400 watts, which is pretty great. Considering the price and size of the LOPRO8, I was a little skeptical about this, but it does seem to deliver on its power promises.

The built-in amplifier provides improved switching speeds and lower gate-to-drain feedback capacitance than other subwoofers. The variable low pass filter also does a great job of keeping the high notes away by filtering out notes outside of the frequency range.

The variable bass boost gives you added control over the sound - you can adjust the low bass based on your preferences. I’d recommend spending a few hours tuning it up to your liking by trying it out with different musical genres to see what works best. 

The LOPRO8 also has the best warranty period of any product on this list. As long as you purchase it through Amazon.com, you’re covered by Sound Storm’s 3 Year Platinum Online Dealer Warranty. This provides a lot of peace of mind and is probably a good indication of the quality of the product - they probably wouldn’t offer such a generous warranty period if they thought this subwoofer wasn’t reliable.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Excellent power output
  • Excellent warranty period

Cons

  • Can overheat if not placed in a well-ventilated space

6. Kicker 11HS8

Popular Model

Dimensions

13 ⅞ x 9 ⅜ x 3 ⅛ inches

Mounting Depth

N/A

Frequency Response

25Hz - 120Hz

Power Output, (RMS & Peak Rating)

RMS: 150 Watts

Comes with Amp?

Yes, built-in

Warranty

1 year

Moving onto the Kicker 11HS8, a hugely popular model of subwoofer for trucks.

This isn’t the kind of speaker that will make your heart stop. It doesn’t have a lot of 'thump' and won't rattle your windows, but it does what it's supposed to do: provides great bass to compliment your music. If you crank the bass up high, you will get a little thumping, but it's more of a full bass sound with great lows.

It’s advertised as an 'ultra-compact' subwoofer, which means it should be perfect for smaller spaces and sounds great in a small car as well as larger trucks. It's probably not the best choice if you plan on listening to bass-heavy music or electronic, but it rounds out the sound on rock, metal, country, and pop songs really well.

The price is a little higher than I'd like it to be, but you get what you pay for. It also comes with everything you need to wire it up, so you don't necessarily need to buy an additional wiring kit.

It comes with a 1-year warranty, but the average lifespan is probably around 4 years. If you want it to last as long as possible, take care of it and try not to let it overheat.

Pros

  • Great full bass sound
  • Ultra-compact
  • Comes with all the wiring required to install it

Cons

  • More expensive than other models

7. Pioneer TS-WX130DA

Trusted Brand

Dimensions

8" x 5-1/4" inches (Cone)

Mounting Depth

N/A

Frequency Response

DEEP: 20Hz to 200Hz / DYNAMIC: 40Hz to 160Hz

Power Output, (RMS & Peak Rating)

Peak: 160 Watts | RMS: 50 Watts

Comes with Amp?

Yes, built-in

Warranty

N/A

Last but not least, we have the Pioneer TS-WX130DA. Pioneer is a trusted brand in the digital entertainment and technology market. It has been making great products for decades, which is a pretty good indication of the quality you're likely to get with this subwoofer.

It has the lowest RMS power output on this list at just 50 Watts, but believe me, that's still plenty in a small-to-mid-sized vehicle. You'll rarely want to crank the volume higher than that.

It has a sealed enclosure, which is great for deep, tight bass. A lot of people prefer the sound of sealed subwoofers over that of ported subwoofers. If you’re one of them, this might be a great choice. It also has an aluminum cone and urethane surround, with a built-in Class D amplifier.

It’s very small and compact and will fit under pretty much any seat. It’s also very reliable and shouldn’t break easily unless you mistreat it.

Overall, it’s a solid under seat subwoofer. I’d recommend it for anyone less concerned about volume and more concerned about finding something small and compact that produces a tight, accurate bass.

Pros

  • Small and compact
  • Sealed enclosure
  • Good frequency response

Cons

  • Low RMS power output

Underseat vs Shallow Mount Subwoofers

People sometimes use the terms' under seat subwoofer' and 'shallow mount subwoofer' interchangeably, but they're not necessarily the same thing. 

Shallow mount subwoofers are simply compact subwoofers designed to reproduce bass while still fitting in cars with limited space. Most people still prefer to place them either in their car trunk or in their rear speaker depth.

Underseat subwoofers, on the other hand, are designed specifically to fit under your car seat. They’re typically even more shallow, compact, and lightweight than regular shallow mount subwoofers.


Underseat vs Trunk Subwoofers

Trunk subwoofers are the 'standard' subwoofers most people think of when they hear the word subwoofer. They tend to be very large, so they're installed in the boot of the car as this is usually the only place with enough space to accommodate them.

The fact that they’re so large allows them to generate louder sounds and extend to lower bass frequencies. In other words, they represent the best possible sound quality, but that quality comes at a sacrifice - your storage space.

People who either don’t have enough or aren’t willing to sacrifice their car storage space can opt for under seat subwoofers instead. They're designed to be small enough to fit under your car seat while still providing excellent sound. They're also usually cheaper and easier to install than trunk subwoofers, and they don't require an amp.


Underseat Subwoofer Installation

Underseat subwoofer installations can be tricky, and the exact steps will differ depending on your vehicle and model of subwoofer. It’s best to check your manufacturer’s instructions to find out how to install it.

Installing under seat subwoofers also requires you to work with your vehicle's electrical system, which can be dangerous. If you don't have the electrical knowledge to know what you're doing, you risk damaging your vehicle (and yourself). Therefore, it’s probably better to pay for a professional installation service if you don’t have solid electrical knowledge.

If you do try to install it yourself, make sure you always disconnect the negative battery terminal before you begin for your own protection. Also, bear in mind that the subwoofer you've purchased might not come with all the wiring and fuses needed to install it, so you may need to buy a separate amp wiring kit.

Here’s a video that shows the basic steps:

Once your subwoofer is installed, the next step is to tune it so that you get the best possible sound. Here's how to do it:

  1. 1
    Set the crossover to a frequency (the ideal crossover will be based on your subwoofer’s frequency range)
  2. 2
    Adjust the gain (volume) by turning it up until you hear it begin to fill in the bass, but no more than that.
  3. 3
    Play around with the phase switch (if you have one) to see which sounds better.

If the sound still isn’t perfect, you might want to adjust the location of the subwoofer slightly.


Common Subwoofer Issues & Fixes

Here are some common subwoofer problems and how to fix them:

  • Amplifier won’t turn on - make sure your ground connection is good and that there is sufficient battery power on the + terminal. If neither of these is the problem, check the fuses and replace them if required.
  • The sound is distorted - this usually happens when the crossover frequencies aren’t properly set. Adjust them as necessary. If this doesn’t fix it, check the Input Level Control is correctly set to match the head’s signal level.
  • High-pitched squealing noise - this is often caused by improperly grounded RCA interconnects.
  • Engine noise - This might be caused by faulty RCA cables that are picking up radiated noise, or RCA grounds being shorted to the vehicle chassis. Check this and fix it if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use a sub without an amp? Do all subwoofers need an amp?

Amps provide the power needed to run a subwoofer. However, not all subwoofers require a separate amp as many come with them built-in. All subwoofers on this list have built-in amps.

What is the difference between 2-ohm vs. 4-ohm subwoofers?

Ohms are a measure of electrical resistance. 2-Ohm subwoofers have less electrical resistance than 4-Ohm subwoofers and so are less likely to overheat. They also can, in theory, create a more powerful, cleaner bass.

Which of these brands are best for deep bass and for rock music?

It comes down to personal preference, but I personally think that Rockville is a great subwoofer brand for deep bass and rock music.

What under seat subwoofer brands are the most reliable and provide the best warranty terms/customer service?

Sound Storm Labs provides the most extended warranty period of any brand on this list. Other reputable brands include AudioEngine, Kenwood, and Pioneer.

Professional or DIY Installation?

Which is best for truck subwoofers? It’s usually best to have your subwoofers installed professionally, rather than doing it yourself, as it requires complex electrical wiring.


Conclusion

That concludes this guide to the best underseat subwoofers in 2019. We hope you found the right product for you and enjoy your new rockin’ bass!

If you're still unsure which one to purchase, I'd definitely recommend the Rockville RW10CA - it's a great all-round subwoofer, and it won't cost you an arm and a leg. Enjoy!

Images from:
amazon.com


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