What Is The Best Powered Subwoofer For A Car?

If you’re scanning this article and only want to know what the best powered subwoofer is, I recommend the MTX Audio RT8PT.

After buying my G35 it left me desiring more from the factory Bose system. It had a small sub and amplifier in the back but I still thought it was lacking a little thump to enjoy music. I did some research and landed on a 8” subwoofer because it took up much less space than what a 12” sub required.

I was very surprised at how well the 8” performed. I could turn up the volume and it would keep up without distorting whatsoever.

The reason I went with an 8” woofer was because of limited space in the trunk. The G35 Coupe is a hatchback and there’s no room for anything. Forget about a 15” woofer. I needed something small.

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What Are The Advantages of a Powered Subwoofer?

A powered subwoofer offers a solid advantage if you have limited space in your car or truck. You want the best sound in your car but you don’t want a box taking up what limited space you have. Thankfully manufacturers are making amplifiers together with a subwoofer in the same enclosure.

The other benefit is quicker and easier installation. Everything is already wired for you. You need to bring only power and an audio source cable. The amp will take care of everything else.

It’s quite an elegant solution to save you installation time and money. It’s impressive what these little subs can dish out. Many people want a little extra kick and these powered subwoofers are a solid option.

Are Powered Subwoofers Any Good?

Yes, you can get better sound out of a custom setup. But the performance of a powered subwoofer satisfies most people. A subwoofer needs to match the right volume of air in an enclosure to sound the best. Manufacturers match the sub with a box for the best performance when you buy them together. They will also correctly size the amplifier with the subwoofer.

How to Install an Active Sub

This video has an overview of the installation steps if you’re looking to install one yourself. The specifics may change between manufacturers but it’s the same process.

Rockville RW10CA 10″ Subwoofer

I’ve often heard people say that you can’t trust the power output of an amplifier. People say they’re always over rated and never output what the manufacturer states. Now there’s a standard in car audio for amplifier output performance. It’s called CEA2006 and an amp will adhere to the standard or not. The Rockville amplifier adheres to this standard. It outputs 200W RMS.

The majority of users say this sub puts out enough bass to round out their stereo. They don’t want to win a car audio competition, but they want clean bass that’s missing from the stock speakers.

A lot of people install it under the seat or in the back of the cab of their truck. They have limited space but the Rockville fits perfectly for them. It’s very thin and is hardly noticeable under a seat. Convertible owners were also satisfied. It works well as long as it’s in the same space as the listeners and not in a trunk.

Most people follow the installation instructions and have it wired in under an hour. It turns on by itself when it senses a signal is coming through the input cable. It also has a remote knob to adjust the volume independently of your stereo volume.

There are some people who complain about poor sound quality. They say it sounds muffled and distorted. If you encounter this my advice is to double check the installation at all connection points. Try a different source for signal input as well.

Pros

  • The main positive of this combo is the minimal space it takes up. You can put it under a seat, in the back of a cab, or the back of a fold down seat. It’ll fit in many places.
  • Sound output is excellent for a 10” subwoofer. It’ll be enough bottom end to make your music enjoyable again.

Cons

  • Some users complain about the amp overheating and going into protection mode.
  • Other users were unsatisfied because the amp died after a year or two.
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Rockford Fosgate P300-12

Rockford Fosgate has been in the car audio business since 1973. They also have a long history of developing products since then.

You’ll need an amp wiring kit to pull power, ground, and source wires to the box to get it working. Most people were able to install it easily without any issues. You wire the inputs to connectors and then plug the connectors in to the amplifier. These connectors provide a way to quickly disconnect the active sub if you ever need to take it out.

Most people are happy with the 12” subwoofer. It gives them exactly what they were looking for in regards to bass quality and quantity. It’s a good option for a small to medium size car. The box is bigger than a low profile under seat sub. But this will output more bass.

Some users noticed the amp would blow fuses. This happens when there’s an over current situation or a short somewhere in the circuit. They should inspect the entire system for any faulty wiring.

Pros

  • The power and input connectors are a big time saver. It’ll make taking the powered sub out of the vehicle much quicker than unwiring it.
  • Being a 12” subwoofer it will output a satisfying amount of bass. More so than the RF 10” version.

Cons

  • Some users noted fuses would keep blowing. If fuses blow there’s something wrong with the wiring inside or outside. Inspect and contact Rockford Fosgate if this happens.
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Kenwood KSC-PSW8

Most people buy the KSC-PSW8 because of its size. They’re looking for something small and compact that will fit under a seat. They don’t want the hassle of having a large box taking up space in the back. The subwoofer itself is 8 inches. The box is almost 14 inches long and 3 inches tall. Measure if it will fit underneath your seat and this could be a good option for you.

The majority of users weren’t looking to add an enormous amount of bass to their system. They wanted a little extra low end frequency to round out and make a fuller, more rich sounding system. This is not the right option if you want the cars around you to feel the music you’re playing. This is for your enjoyment inside the vehicle.

A few people mention the sub wasn’t loud enough for them using the high powered speaker outputs. The sound improved as soon as they switched to the line level or RCA outs from a head unit.

This advice applies to car audio in general. Check the source if you’re not satisfied with the sound. Test other source wires and see what sounds best. There’s always more than one answer to a problem.

Pros

  • This sub and amp combo are small enough to fit under a seat. It will save you room by not taking up valuable space when you need it.
  • For most people it adds enough bass for what they were looking for. It’s not overpowering but it’s enough.
  • Many people like the wired remote. It’s an easy way to change the bass and LPF (low pass filter) remotely for each song.

Cons

  • The sound is weak for some people and gets muddier the higher you turn up the volume. My advice is to switch to the line level inputs instead of high power speaker inputs. This should show a general improvement.
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MTX Audio RT8PT

MTX put an 8” subwoofer in a tube enclosure to give the right amount of air for the sub to breathe and work efficiently. The amp is mounted on the other side opposite the sub. People who bought it enjoy how much bass it puts out for the size. It’s a good option for a hatchback, Jeep, or even in the trunk of a car. Users also like that it’s covered in carpeting so it won’t slide around and will stay put on the floor. This one is not designed to go under a seat. It’s most likely too big but measure in case. It’s 21 ¼” in length and 15 ⅛” high.

Most people appreciate how easy it is to install. You’ll need to bring a power and ground wire to the amp. You can also connect line level RCA inputs or high level powered speaker wire. Place the wired remote near the front and you’ll have an easy way to change its volume.

Many people enjoy this subwoofer as an option for a truck. It fits well on the floor in the back of a cab. It outputs more than enough sound to fill the cab.

Pros

  • It has plenty of power and sound to fill a car or truck. It’s enough bass and satisfied most people.
  • It’s very easy to install and won’t take an entire day.
  • People enjoy using the remote control to adjust the bass level as they wanted for each song.

Cons

  • It most likely won’t fit under a seat because it’s 15” tall.
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JBL BassPro SL

This is a 8 inch woofer with a 125W amplifier built in. For reference it’s almost 10 inches wide x 14 inches length x 3 inches high. Most are putting this under a seat, in the back of a truck on the floor, or even in the rear of the vehicle.

People loved the sound after adjusting it to what they liked. It can get somewhat loud if you want. Many are satisfied even at low volume levels. But the majority of users report that it has adds just enough bass to add some enjoyment to their music. They don’t want bass for a show car but to enjoy. This is a good option if that describes you.

A few people had issues with the amp upon arrival. The amp wouldn’t power up even after wiring it correctly and double checking. It turns out the amp was defective. My advice is to work with JBL to see if they can offer a solution.

Pros

  • It has great sound output for an 8 inch sub. Most people were very satisfied with the level of bass.
  • This also has a remote volume knob to adjust the bass for each song.
  • It’s the right size to put under a seat in the back or in a trunk.

Cons

  • Some people had issues with a bad amplifier on arrival. Work with the manufacturer to fix it.

Summary

If you drive a truck and want some more bass to round out your system, my pick for you is the Rockford Fosgate P300-12. It’s small, compact, and you can put it right under a seat. Passengers won’t see it and you can leave the space available in the cab. It’s easy to install and you can be up and running in a few hours.

For those that have a car with a hatchback, Jeep, or a trunk available, the best powered subwoofer for you is the MTX Audio RT8PT. This one is going to give you the most bass quantity and quality for your car. It’s got enough power, it’s not going to be overpowering, and you have a wired remote control.

Subs in this category fill a niche for people that want extra sound but don’t want the hassle or expense of a complete audio system. These fit the bill and are exactly what’s needed!

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Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell

Car Fanatic. Performance Geek. Flathead lover.

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