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No matter how good you think your factory audio system is, they just never offer enough. But if you’re looking to upgrade your daily driver, with new components or by replacing a factory component, you probably don’t want to fill your trunk, your cab, or your SUV’s cargo area with a giant set of subwoofers. Fortunately, the car audio industry has it handled, offering what are called shallow mount subwoofers.

These thinner and more compact woofers might not be able to deliver all of the thump of their full-depth siblings, but they are able to offer impressive audio improvements while fitting into factory locations or by dropping into smaller spaces like a spare tire well or behind a bench seat. To help with the small size restrictions, some of these best shallow mount subwoofers even come with a custom-designed, size-optimized enclosure and just the right amplifier.

There are a lot of factors to consider when shopping for the right shallow mount subwoofer for your vehicle, starting with the size of the subwoofer you want. Below, we’ll go over our top picks for the best shallow mount subwoofers available and then dive into the details on how you can choose the best one for you and your vehicle.

For more information on the best shallow mount subwoofers, refer to our table of contents.

1. Editor's Pick: Alphasonik 12" Enclosed Shallow Mount Subwoofer (AS12DF)

alphasonik shallow mount subwoofer as12df

A large sub in a small enclosure, this 12-inch woofer from Alphasonik has a 4-ohm impedance, 92 dB sensitivity and can hit frequencies as low as 26 Hz while handling a rated 500 watts RMS. It’s fitted in a specially designed enclosure that’s made as slim as possible. This allows it to fit nearly anywhere in a vehicle, but is especially handy for sliding under a row of seats, like in a van, or under the rear bench of a pickup truck.

The subwoofer can be installed laying down or standing up, adding even more mounting versatility. A special sealer is used on the seams of the enclosure to ensure that not only is it airtight for audio performance, but that the joints are strong over the long term and don’t start to loosen. The speaker itself has a spun aluminum cone for rigidity and better sound performance. If you’re looking at adding a subtle enhancement to your vehicle’s audio system, this is a great way to do it.

2. Pioneer 10" Shallow Mount Subwoofer (TS-A2500LS4)

pioneer shallow mount subwoofer ts-a2500ls4

This shallow mount subwoofer from Pioneer is designed to punch out frequencies as low as 20 Hz. The design is made extra thin, just 3.375-inches thick for a 10-inch wide cone, giving it a compact design that can be placed nearly anywhere in a vehicle. Even better, it responds well in an enclosure as little as 0.35 cubic feet, again adding a wide range of possibilities when it comes time to install.

This subwoofer has a glass fiber and mica-reinforced IMPP cone, oversized to move more air and deliver a better response, and the sub has a double reinforced spider to help make sure it sounds clear for the long haul. Its 300-watts RMS power handling means you don’t need a large amplifier, and eight-gauge push terminals make speaker wire connections quick, clean, and simple. It comes with a trim ring and adhesive gasket in the box as well as the necessary screws, all to make installation easier.

3. MB Quart 8" Discus Shallow Mount Subwoofer (DS1-204)

mb quart discus shallow mount subwoofer ds1-204

This extremely thin subwoofer has a mounting depth of less than three inches. Combined with a smaller eight-inch diameter size, this sub can fit into more places with ease. It also helps make it a great replacement for your factory subwoofer, since there’s a better chance of it fitting in your existing enclosure. It has dual voice coils, letting you wire it for eight-ohms resistance or for two ohms, letting you get more or less power out of your amplifier. This also means you can match factory power or install your own high-power amplifier.

Rated at 200-watts RMS, this isn’t a subwoofer to rock your vehicle, rather one that would make a great addition to your mildly upgraded or stock factory audio system, or to replace a subwoofer in your factory system that is no longer living up to your expectations. It has a powdercoated frame for corrosion resistance and a better appearance, and nickel plated spring terminals to ensure a clean signal coming through from the speaker wires.

4. Kicker 12" L7T Shallow Mount Square Subwoofer (46L7T124)

kicker l7t shallow mount square subwoofer 46l7t124

Kicker’s square subwoofers have long been one of the most innovative in the car audio realm. That square cone does more than just look cool, it also offers more cone area than a round sub, making it hit harder with the same amount of effort and the same installation size. Now, Kicker has taken that concept and made it low profile, letting you fit more bass into a smaller space.

This 12-inch sub needs just 4.125 inches of mounting depth, letting you pack it into tight corners or into your spare tire well. It has dual voice coils, letting you get more power from your amplifier, and it can handle it up to 600-watts RMS for plenty of thump. While other subwooferss on this list can handle well into the mid-range frequencies, this one is designed for that low end from 25 to 100 Hz. So make sure your amp can handle that cutoff and that your mid-range speakers pick up the slack.

5. Rockford Fosgate 12" R2 Shallow Prime Subwoofer Enclosure

rockford fosgate r2 shallow prime subwoofer r2s-1x12

Giving you bass when you have an extremely thin space, this 12-inch shallow enclosure is just 3.25-inches thick on top and 5.25 inches on the bottom. That’s not the speaker depth, that’s the entire box! It’s about as thick as a soda can, and that lets you pack it behind, under, or even over top of loads of places in your vehicle. It’s ideal for behind the seats of a single-cab pickup, for example.

The enclosure is perfectly sized for the Prime R2 subwoofer that’s mounted in it and is designed to handle 250-watts RMS with a two-ohm impedance. That pre-wiring for two ohms lets you get more sound power from a smaller amplifier, again helping you to fit it into more places. Despite the shallow speaker, Rockford Fosgate says the stamped basket has vents for cooling that would normally only be found on a full-depth speaker, and that helps it hit harder and longer.

6. Kicker 8" ComprtRT Shallow Mount Subwoofer

kicker comprt shallow mount subwoofer 43cwrt82

This recommendation delivers plenty of bass without the larger footprint of a square sub, measuring less than three-inches tall. The Kicker CompRT is designed for installation in small cars, small trucks, and even on your side-by-side if you want to make the outdoors loud.

It has a rigid IMPP cone so it won’t flex and distort the bass when you’re giving it full power, while the rubber surround is designed to last for years and is combined with a special plate to give you more cone travel. That means more bass. It’s a dual voice coil sub that can handle up to 300-watts RMS in either four or one-ohm impedance, though make sure your amplifier can handle one ohm if you’re planning to go that way. With an ideal box volume as low as 0.2 cubic feet, you should be able to find a place to fit this in nearly every vehicle.

7. Infinity 10" Shallow Mount Subwoofer (REF1000S)

infinity shallow mount subwoofer ref1000s

No, not Infiniti like the car brand, Infinity the car audio company. This Reference Series 10-inch subwoofer is extremely thin so that it can fit in the tricky small enclosures found in most modern vehicles. It’s got a neat trick, too, instead of making you change the wiring arrangement to switch between two and four ohms, there’s a toggle switch on the backside of the surround. Get every watt possible out of your amplifier the easy way.

Measuring just 3.25-inches deep, this sub can handle up to 200-watts RMS, letting it add that little bit of thump your factory system has been missing. Good sensitivity and a wide frequency response range reaching as low as 27 Hz ensures that your sound is as good as it looks. Infiniti also makes OEM car audio systems for several automakers, and its aftermarket designs like this one are subject to the same extreme testing conditions that help guarantee years of use.

8. Kenwood 8" Subwoofer Enclosure (KSC-PSW8)

kenwood shallow mount subwoofer ksc-psw8

Forget about finding a slim subwoofer, the right box to fit it, and then figuring out where to locate a new amplifier, this eight-inch powered subwoofer from Kenwood does it all in one tiny package. That means less wiring, less work, fewer things to buy. The subwoofer itself is a super-slim eight-inch unit that can handle from 35 to 150 Hz, ensuring that it’s not leaving a gap between the sub and factory speakers.

The box is perfectly matched for the sub and at smaller than 10 by 14 by three inches, it can ever fit under the driver’s seat in many cars. Get the bass without costing you all the space. The amplifier offers 150-watts RMS output with a max of 250 watts, so it will add bass without overpowering the rest of your system. Even better, a wired remote lets you control the bass from anywhere in the car. The system even comes with a wiring harness and mounting brackets ready to install.

9. Rockford Fosgate 8" Punch Series Shallow Mount Subwoofer (P3SD2-8)

rockford fosgate punch series shallow mount subwoofer p3sd2-8

Measuring just 2.66 inches, this is one of the thinnest subwoofers out there. But that doesn’t mean it can’t compete with the rest, because the Punch P3SD2 offers a two-ohm dual voice coil driver that can let it get the most from your amplifier and handle up to 150-watts RMS. Optimized to fit in a box as small as 0.25 cubic feet, or a ported box as small as 0.75 cubic feet, it’s hard to find more bang per cubic inch than this Punch Series subwoofer.

Rockford Fosgate is one of the original high-end car audio firms, and it knows how to make your car go boom. An anodized aluminum cone and dust cap make it lighter so the speaker is easier to drive, but stays more rigid than other designs to avoid distortion at maximum load. It also boasts a proprietary surround design that gives it excellent excursion for high output and durability.

10. JL Audio 10" Thin-Line Component Subwoofer (10TW3-D4)

jl audio shallow mount subwoofer 10tw3-d4

JL Audio builds high-end gear, and that applies even if it’s a shallow mount subwoofer. This option is a 10-inch subwoofer, but it needs just a 0.5-cubic foot box. Once you’ve got the 3.25-inch deep subwoofer in that box, it can handle up to 400-watts RMS to give you plenty of power handling and loads of bass. Frequency response goes as low as 24 Hz all the way to 200 Hz adding impressive low end to your sound stage, and making sure you’re not missing any part of your music.

The 10TW3-D4 shows that you can pack full-size sound into a small-size package, and gives you loads of bottom end even if it’s hiding behind the seat of your pickup truck. If you’re looking for the cheapest option, this isn’t it, but for high quality it’s tough to beat. No pole vent on the rear means you can put it even closer to the rear of your enclosure, but the cone is able to move 15.2 mm for loads of excursion.

Why Choose a Shallow Mount Subwoofer?

best shallow mount subwoofers

Photo credit: aleksmechanic / Shutterstock.com

Subwoofers are speakers designed for one thing: to recreate bass. To make those low frequencies, they need to move a lot of air. That normally means deep speaker cones and thick, heavy magnets. All of those things take up a load of space, meaning a subwoofer can be as deep as it is wide.

That’s generally not going to fit into the cab of your pickup, and if you have a trunk or an SUV, there will be a big box taking up space and sliding around. Fine for a competition car, not so great when you’re taking the kids to soccer practice. Shallow mount subwoofers are much, much thinner, typically a third the thickness of conventional models, and that means they can fit tucked away behind or under seats, inside a spare tire well, or just about anywhere you can think of.

Key Subwoofer Features to Consider:

Shallow subwoofers generally range from eight to 12 inches in diameter. While larger cones usually mean more bass, it’s not always the case. Look closely at sensitivity, which means how much volume for every watt of power the speaker can deliver, which can make smaller, more expensive speakers sound bigger than a larger, less efficient model. With shallow mounts, though, you’re likely going to be more worried about where to fit it, in which case smaller is better, and factory-sized replacement is best.

Single voice coil subwoofers have one winding around the tube that attaches to the speaker cone. The magnet is what pulls and pushes against that coil to make the punch of the speaker. A dual voice coil speaker has two separate windings. It does the same job, but allows for wiring flexibility. Many car audio amplifiers deliver more power the lower the impedance, and less power with higher impedance. Without getting into an electrical engineering lesson, lower and more is better. Dual coil woofers let you wire the two coils in series for less power, or in parallel for lower impedance and even more power.

Power is how many watts the speaker can handle. Too few watts and it will respond poorly; too many and it will likely overheat and fail. RMS, or root mean square, is a measure of maximum continuous power, as opposed to max power, which is the most the speaker can handle (or the amplifier can put out) for an extremely short burst. Size your subwoofer’s RMS to your amplifier’s RMS for the best sound and longevity.

How Do You Choose the Right Shallow Mount Subwoofer?

If you’re looking to replace a factory subwoofer that is weak or failed, try to find one that’s the same size from an aftermarket company. That way you can just drop it in, reconnect the wires (or add an amplifier) and be on your way. If you have a regular cab truck, an enclosure designed for that setting will work well with any sized speaker.

If you’re looking at adding a new sub entirely, one of the powered options on the list, or one that comes with an enclosure is the better option. Otherwise, you’ll need to build a properly sized enclosure yourself or have one made. The enclosure is critical for proper subwoofer performance.


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