Best Shallow Mount Subwoofer

The Best Five Shallow Mount Subwoofer Guide

Despite what a lot of articles will claim, I’ve found that shallow mount subwoofers don’t sound any better than regular units. The benefits they bring have more to do with reduced weight, easier installation and increased portability. Hence, if you haven’t got a lot of space in your car or you really don’t want to struggle with installation, then shallow mount subwoofers might be just what you’re looking for.

A couple of months ago, someone asked me what I considered to be the best shallow mount subwoofer in the market currently. This encouraged me to do yet another one of my product testing runs. Hence, I got ahold of about 15 different shallow-mount subs that came highly recommended by experts online and tried them out with my own car audio set up. After a while with each sub, I managed to create a list of my top five picks. You can read my review of each of them below.

Best Shallow Mount Subwoofers

Subwoofer Buying Guide

Before you buy any type of subwoofer, there are a few factors to consider. These include technical specifications such as power-handling, impedance, frequency response…etc. and the materials that make up the subwoofer cone and surround. Why is it important that you pay attention to them?

The aforementioned tech specs help you figure out whether or not a particular subwoofer will be compatible with your car’s audio set up. Similarly, the subwoofer materials will give you an idea about how the sound quality and durability of the unit.

Power-Handling

By turning up the volume on your stereo, you send more power to the subwoofer via an amplifier. This then causes the subwoofer cone to move back and forth faster, producing larger sound waves (i.e. the sound output becomes louder). However, there’s a limit to how much power a subwoofer can handle. Go beyond this limit and you may very well cause heat damage to the unit’s circuit.

Fortunately, subwoofers come with power-handling ratings that tell us what their limits are. Specifically, you want to take a look at the RMS and Peak Power. The former indicates how much power is safe to direct to a sub on a continuous basis while the peak power sets the absolute maximum limit for what you should feed. Personally, I find that the RMS is more useful as it covers the day-to-day operation of the subwoofer.

Similarly, your amplifier has power-handling specification too but these refer to the power output rather than handling. So before you buy a subwoofer, make sure that its RMS is either greater or at least equal to that of your amplifier. This way, you won’t risk causing severe damage to the subwoofer each time you push the volume to loud levels.

Sensitivity

The amount of power needed to get to a certain volume can vary from one subwoofer to another. This is indicated by a specification known as sensitivity, which tells you how loud a sub will get (in decibels) when driven by just one watt of power. For instance, if a subwoofer has a sensitivity of 85dB, then it basically means that it will reach a moderately loud volume with just one watt. For each additional watt you feed it, you’ll end up adding 3 dB to the volume.

Sensitivity is especially useful spec if you’ve got an amplifier with a relatively low RMS. In that case, it’d probably be best to choose a subwoofer with high sensitivity. Otherwise, you might not be able to get as loud as you’d like.

Frequency Response

The frequency response indicates the range of frequencies that a subwoofer or speaker is able to handle. ‘Full-range’ speakers have a frequency response spanning from 20 Hz all the way to 20,000 Hz. This means that they can reproduce all those sounds that fall within the human audible range.

In contrast, a subwoofer can only reproduce bass frequencies which are between 20 Hz to 250 Hz. Certain subwoofers may have a narrower or wider frequency response, depending on the make and model. Those with a more limited frequency response may produce some distortion in either the sub-bass or upper-bass regions.

Impedance

Impedance refers to the amount of resistance (in ohms) that is displayed to the current supplied by an amp. The lower the impedance, the greater the amount of current that will be drawn from the amplifier. However, this isn’t always a good thing, especially if you’re subwoofer has a low power-handling rating. Also when the impedance is too low, more stress is placed on the amplifier since it has to keep outputting more.

Likewise, if the impedance is too high, then not enough current may be pulled by the subwoofer and ultimately, the sound will sound weak and muted.

The Cone Material

The cone material mainly indicates the quality of the construction, which in turn may give you an idea about the durability and sound quality of the subwoofer. Below is a brief overview of the commonest materials currently used to make subwoofer cones:

Treated Paper

Treated paper is perhaps the most lightweight cone material. As a result, it affords subwoofer cones the fastest response time (i.e. it allows the cone to move extremely fast back and forth to produce sound). Treated paper is essentially regular paper that’s been coated with a material such as polyglass, Kevlar and carbon fiber. These are added to increase paper’s resistance to extremes of heat and durability

Polypropylene

Polypropylene is probably the commonest cone material. It’s lightweight, flexible and stiff. Hence, the cone will be able to move as fast as possible but still be able to retain its shape at high velocities. When cones get temporarily bent out of shape, it can lead to inaccuracies and distortion in the sound output.

Kevlar

Seeing as it’s what you make bulletproof combat vests out of, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Kevlar subwoofer cones are incredibly strong. However, they’re also surprisingly light and flexible. Hence, the response time of the cone isn’t all slowed down and it’s unlikely to be bent out of shape when you drive up the volume. Kevlar is also injected into polypropylene cones in order to make them stiffer.

Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber has pretty much the same properties as Kevlar: reduced weight, flexibility, and stiffness. Like Kevlar, it too is injected into polypropylene cones to add to their stiffness.

The Surround Material

The surround is what you find covering the edge of any speaker or subwoofer cone. Its function is to absorb any excessive vibrations coming from the cone, preventing it from coming apart or being displaced from its position inside the speaker basket.

Most surrounds are made out of rubber because, in addition to having the required flexibility and rigidity, it’s also very resistant to heat and humidity. Other common materials include foam and cloth, which can be just as rigid and flexible but not as durable. However, some foam and cloth surround may have material added to them to make for this.

The Top Five Picks

After that crash course on subwoofers, you should now be able to pick out the right shallow-mount subwoofer for your car. With this information in mind, let’s take a look at my top five picks for this year, starting with the…

Pioneer TS-SW2002D2

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Resin Cone

Resin is fairly light in weight which means that the cone won’t be weighed down and prevented from moving really fast. While resin itself isn’t as stiff as polypropylene, it isn’t much of an issue, in this case, seeing as the TS-SW2002D2’s cone has been reinforced with a mica (mineral) injection. As a result, the cone will keep its shape and you won’t notice any excessive distortion when you have the volume pushed up.

150 Watts Rms

A power-handling rating of 150 watts isn’t all that high, especially compared to other shallow-mount subs on the market. That being said, it’s still enough for the average listener, who only occasionally plays music out loud inside the car.

Since it doesn’t have a very high RMS, the Pioneer TS-SW2002D2 is best paired with a low-to-medium powered amplifier.

Frequency Response

Pioneer TS-SW2002D2 can reproduce frequencies between 20 Hz to 200 Hz, which means that it’s a little shy of covering the full bass range. As a result, I did notice a slight amount of distortion occurring in the upper-bass region, especially whenever I listened to EDM. However, since I had a low-pass filter (a tool that helps block out frequencies higher than a specific cut-off pitch) on my amplifier, I was able to dial it out.

Sensitivity

With a sensitivity of 86dB, this subwoofer is able to reach a moderately loud volume when you drive it with just one watt. Coincidentally this also means that you don’t have to feed it a massive amount of power in order to get really loud.

Impedance

This subwoofer has an impedance rating at 2 ohms which means that it’s designed to pull a greater amount of power from an amplifier. The only drawback is that before you buy this subwoofer you have to make certain that your amplifier is stable at low impedance settings.

Pros

  • Powerful bass response thanks to the stiff mica-injected resin cone
  • Decent sensitivity rating
  • Low impedance allows it to draw a relatively high amount of power
Con

  • RMS isn’t that high compared to a lot of other subs in the market
  • Slight amount of distortion in the upper-bass region

Rockford Fosgate P3sd2-8

Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 8' Dual 2-Ohm Punch Series Shallow Mount Car Subwoofer
123 Reviews
Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 8" Dual 2-Ohm Punch Series Shallow Mount Car Subwoofer
  • The Rockford Fosgate P3S series shallow mount subwoofers deliver...
  • The Punch P3SD2-8 is a slim 8” 2-Ohm DVC (dual voice coil) subwoofer...
  • Featuring anodized aluminum cones and dustcaps, with a unique spider...
  • Optimized for both sealed and vented enclosures {Sealed (Vb): 0.25 cu....
  • Famous Rockford Fosgate build quality with a full 1-year warranty when...
Anodized Alumnium Cone

Aluminium cones are rigid and don’t really weigh much at all. Hence, they produce fast response times and are able to retain their shapes while doing so. Alumnium cones aren’t commonly used to make regular speaker cones because they tend to produce a high-pitched resonance. Fortunately, that isn’t picked up by subwoofers.

Santoprene Surround

Santoprene is thermoplastic material that looks and feels like rubber but is even more durable. It’s very resistant to heat and is a quite flexible substance. Hence it’ll absorb excess vibrations just like rubber would and will also last longer.

150 Watts Rms

Just like the Pioneer TS-SW2002D2, Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 can handle a maximum of 150 watts on a continuous basis. Again, this seems plenty for the average listener while people who enjoy blasting their music on the regular may want something with a higher power-handling rating.

If you’ve got a medium-to-low powered amplifier, the Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 might be well suited for your setup.

Frequency Response

The Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 can reproduce frequencies in the range of 38 Hz to 250 Hz, which is fairly inclusive. However, that means it does not handle frequencies between 20 Hz to 38 Hz. While this might not be such an issue when it comes to rock or classical music, it’s a bit noticeable with EDM and pop, where you got plenty of sub-bass beats in the music. As a result, with this subwoofer, you may notice a slight amount of distortion in the extreme low-end.

Sensitivity

Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8 has a sensitivity rating of 82dB which is a bit low, especially considering that it hasn’t got a very high RMS. However, if you don’t really plan on getting past moderately loud volumes too often, then this subwoofer could still serve you well.

Impedance

This subwoofer has an impedance rating of 2 ohms, which I think helps to offset for its low sensitivity a little. It’s able to draw more current from the amplifier than your standard sub.

Pros

  • Solid construction with an anodized aluminium cone and a Santoprene surround
  • Detailed bass response
  • 2-ohm impedance allows the sub to draw more power out of the amplifier
Con

  • Produces a slight amount of distortion in the extreme low-end
  • The sensitivity should have been a bit higher considering the power-handling rating

Kicker 43CWRT102

Kicker 43CWRT102 CompRT 10' 2-Ohm Subwoofer
51 Reviews
Kicker 43CWRT102 CompRT 10" 2-Ohm Subwoofer
  • Slim all-weather design delivers big bass almost anywhere
  • Unique heat management system insures outstanding reliability
Injection-Molded Polypropylene Cone

Polypropylene cones are made by casting them or injecting them into a mold. The advantage of injection-molded cones is that they are able to retain stiffness better and are less likely to produce distortion than cast cones.

Rubber Surround

Kicker 43CWRT102’s rubber surround seems quite capable of absorbing the excessive abuse that the cone suffers when you crank up the volume. As a result, I could go up to really loud volumes without any worries of damaging the subwoofer cone.

400 Watts RMS

With a power-handling rating of 400 watts RMS, the Kicker 43CWRT102 can safely be paired with a high-powered amplifier. Hence if you’re the kind of person that likes blasting your music out loud regularly, then this subwoofer could make you quite happy.

Frequency Response

The Kicker 43CWRT102 has a very wide frequency response, spanning from 25 Hz all the way to 500 Hz. This means that the subwoofer reproduces not only bass frequencies but extends into the midrange signals as well. As a result, you won’t hear any form of distortion at all coming through this unit.

Sensitivity

The 43CWRT102 has quite a decent sensitivity with a rating of 84.8dB. While it’s not the highest sensitivity rating on this list, you can still push it to very loud volumes, considering that you can keep supplying it with up to 400 watts continuously.

Impedance

Just like the Rockford Fosgate P3SD2-8, the Kicker 43CWRT102 features an impedance of 2 ohms, which means it designed to draw more power out of the amplifier. Again, seeing as it’s got a high RMS, this shouldn’t put the subwoofer itself in any danger. Just make sure that your amplifier is stable at low impedance ratings.

Pros

  • Precise and detailed bass response
  • Solid build construction with injection-molded polypropylene cone and rubber surround
  • Very high RMS
  • A frequency response that extends up to the midrange signals
  • 2-ohm impedance for drawing more power out of the amplifier
Con

  • May put additional stress on some amplifiers

Infinity Reference Ref1200s

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Infinity Reference REF1200S 12' Shallow Mount Subwoofer
60 Reviews
Infinity Reference REF1200S 12" Shallow Mount Subwoofer
  • Overall diameter: 12.25"
  • Cutout diameter: 11.125"
  • Top-mount depth: 3.25"
Polypropylene Cone And Rubber Surround

Like any other polypropylene cone, this too is light enough to make for fast response and also sturdy enough that it doesn’t flex at high pressures. The rubber surround that encircles the cone is able to absorb any excessive vibration at loud volumes, making sure that there isn’t any rattling and that the cone doesn’t get displaced from its fixed position inside the speaker basket.

250 Watts RMS and High Sensitivity

The REF1200S features a relatively high RMS of 250 watts. This is good news if you’ve got a high-powered amplifier. In addition, the Infinity REF1200S has a high sensitivity rating of 92dB. This means you don’t have to supply much power at all to get some loud volumes out of the sub.

Frequency Response

The REF1200S has a rather narrow frequency response, only handling signals that fall between the 27 Hz to 175 Hz range. This means that it ignores a large number of frequencies in the upper-bass region. On the upside, this sub is quite good at reproducing sub-bass frequencies, especially when listening to EDM.

Selectable Impedance

The Infinity REF1200S is a dual voice coil unit which essentially means that you get a few more wiring options than with single voice coil units. In the REF1200S’s you’re able to wire each coil so that they show different impedances to the amplifier, essentially allowing you to toggle between 2 and 4 ohms.

Pros

  • Polypropylene cone and rubber surround
  • Relatively High RMS
  • Extremely sensitive
  • Selectable impedance
Con

  • You’ll notice a slight amount of distortion in the upper-bass region

Skar Audio Vd-10 D2

(2) Skar Audio VD-10 D2 10' 800W Max Power Dual 2 Ohm Shallow Mount Subwoofers, Pair of 2
20 Reviews
(2) Skar Audio VD-10 D2 10" 800W Max Power Dual 2 Ohm Shallow Mount Subwoofers, Pair of 2
  • Sold as a package - includes (2) Skar Audio vd-10 D2 10-inch Dual 2...
  • Peak Power: 800 watts (each) | RMS Power: 500 watts (each)
  • Shallow mount subwoofer design - mounting depth: 4. 41" | Sensitivity:...
  • Frequency response: 45 Hz - 500 Hz | 2" High temperature voice coil
  • Pressed paper cone and stitched foam Surround
Pressed Paper Cone

The advantage of pressed paper cones is that they have a larger surface area. This means that they can push more air is out, resulting in a ‘larger’, louder sound. Plus, in my experience, pressed paper tends to last much longer than non-pressed ones as well.

High Roll Foam Surround

When compared to regular foam, high roll foam provides more surface area to the cone, allowing it to push out more ‘air’. This again makes the sound ‘fuller’ and more detailed.

500 Watts RMS

With a rating of 500 Watts, the Skar Audio VD-10 D2 has the highest RMS on this list. Hence, it can be safely paired up with most high-powered amplifiers on the market.

Sensitivity

The VD-10 D2 comes with a decent sensitivity of 85.2 dB. While not as sensitive as the Infinity REF1200S, it can take double the amount of power, which means that it can easily get just as loud and louder.

Impedance

Not only is the Skar Audio VD-10 D2 capable of handling a ton of power, but it’s also designed to draw a lot of it from the amplifier with a low impedance of 2 ohms.

Frequency Response

The Skar Audio VD-10 D2 is able to reproduce frequencies in the range of 30 Hz to 350 Hz, which means it extends beyond the upper-bass region into the midrange. At the same time, it seems unable to handle frequencies between 20 Hz to 30 Hz, resulting in a little distortion in this area. However, this is only noticeable if you listen to bass-heavy genres such as EDM and you could easily dial it out with a low-pass filter if your amp has one.

Pros

  • Solid, durable build
  • Bass response sounds larger to the increased cone surface area afforded by pressed paper
  • The high-roll foam surround
  • Highest RMS out of all the subwoofers on this list
  • Decent sensitivity
  • Low-impedance allows more power to be drawn from the amplifier
Con

  • Slight amount of distortion in the sub-bass frequencies

The Best Overall Shallow Mount Subwoofer

If I had to choose my overall favourite out of these top five shallow mount subwoofers, I’d have to go with the Skar Audio VD-10 D2.

(2) Skar Audio VD-10 D2 10' 800W Max Power Dual 2 Ohm Shallow Mount Subwoofers, Pair of 2
20 Reviews
(2) Skar Audio VD-10 D2 10" 800W Max Power Dual 2 Ohm Shallow Mount Subwoofers, Pair of 2
  • Sold as a package - includes (2) Skar Audio vd-10 D2 10-inch Dual 2...
  • Peak Power: 800 watts (each) | RMS Power: 500 watts (each)
  • Shallow mount subwoofer design - mounting depth: 4. 41" | Sensitivity:...
  • Frequency response: 45 Hz - 500 Hz | 2" High temperature voice coil
  • Pressed paper cone and stitched foam Surround

My reasons are simple. First of all, the subwoofer has the highest RMS of all the units on this list which is perfect since I like blasting my music out loud. The bass response sounds particularly massive through this sub because of the increased cone surface area. While I did notice a bit of distortion in the sub-bass frequencies, I was able to cancel it out with the low-pass filter on my amplifier. Hence, it wasn’t really a problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Hardest-Hitting Shallow Mount Subwoofer?

From all the units I’ve tried, the Skar Audio VD-10 D2 was probably the hardest-hitting. In addition to having a really high RMS, the increased cone surface area makes for a very impactful bass response.

Are Dual-Voice Coil Subs Better?

Dual voice coil subs allow more wiring options than single voice coil ones:

  • Parallel wiring – parallel wiring allows you to cut down a sub’s impedance by half so that you can pull in more current from the amplifier. This is very handy if you’re not getting the power you need from your amp.
  • Series wiring – series wiring allows you to keep the impedance at an acceptable level while pairing up multiple subs to a single amplifier channel.
  • Independent wiring – this method allows you to hook up each voice coil to a separate channel on your amplifier, allowing you to run things on the stereo.

What Size Shallow Mount Subwoofer Is Best?

The bigger the surface area of the cone, the more it can push out. This essentially means that big cones can provide a richer and more detailed bass response. However, we can’t all have large shallow mount subwoofers since we have to consider the available room inside of our vehicles. For very small vehicles, an 8-inch subwoofer is the most compact option. If you’ve got plenty of room, then you go for a 12-inch or even a 15-inch sub.

What Are The Best Spots For Mounting Your Subwoofer?

Most often people mount their subs either under their seats or inside the trunk. Under-seat placement is most appropriate for smaller subs while the larger ones are better off inside a trunk. The advantage with the latter spot is that you don’t necessarily need an enclosure for your sub since the trunk will act as a speaker box.

The products featured on this page were last updated on 2020-03-06 at 20:12 /. Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.

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