Before technology found its way to the sound industry, achieving satisfactory bass meant having gigantic subs in massive enclosures. These boxes would occupy a lot of the car’s trunk area, leaving little to no storage space.
Today, drivers know that big subwoofer enclosures are unnecessary in the pursuit of big bass. Slim-profile, under seat subs have become the choice of many car owners who want to enjoy great bass without giving up too much storage space inside the car. Apart from saving storage space, these speakers remove the bass load that door speakers have to take in the absence of subs. Consequently, door speakers sound much better with bass response rolled off.
Which is the best under seat subwoofer for powerful and responsive bass?
If this question is banging your head right now, you’d be happy to read through this review of 10 top performing under seat subwoofers. We’ve picked all ten from the most trusted brands. As a matter of standard procedure here at Audio Mention, the selection process has involved rigorous analyses of information from various sources. Customer reviews, expert views, and test results from our sound labs are among these sources.
If you are in a hurry to pick out the best sub in the list, take a quick look at the comparison table below. The table precedes detailed reviews of each subwoofer.
1. Rockville RW10CA 10″: Best value under seat subwoofer
No one wants to deal with a jumble of cables when installing a sound system. Rockville knows this only too well, and that’s why they’ve introduced one of the slimmest subs ever. The RW10CA is a 10-inch, 800W powered subwoofer. It’s designed for easy installation and with smart features for easy use.
What makes Rockville RW10CA the best under seat subwoofer?
- 800 watts MAX/200 watts RMS with MOSFET power supply: MOSFET transistors optimize power supply to different sound components. They increase the energy efficiency of the subwoofer. Thus, this sub and amp combo outputs powerful bass with its CEA-rated power handling of 200 watts RMS and 800 watts MAX power.
- Low level RCA input: RCA is perfect for low-level input. It ensures that different components and functions in the powered subwoofer operate with minimal energy consumption. Not many 10-inch subs have this feature. We found out that this is one of the features that make the RW10CA more efficient than its competitors.
- 50Hz – 150Hz low pass filter and 0 – 18dB bass boost: You can easily control the effects of the speaker using these sound customization controls. The low pass filter sieves frequencies to ensure that only the appropriate frequency spectrum reaches the sub. The bass boost allows for easy adjustment of bass gain according to the user’s wish.
- Smart auto turn on/off: A smart circuit is integrated into the design of this active subwoofer. This smart feature facilitates automatic turning on of the amplifier when there is a sound signal. In the same way, the amp turns off when no audio gets detected.
- Easy-install design: The sub is pre-mounted in an enclosure that’s only 2.7” thick. Installing a box of this size in various space-limited locations inside the car is a breeze. Besides, Rockville has introduced high-level inputs, which make installing the system fast and easy as you don’t have to remove the receiver.
- Adds a nice touch of bass to a factory system
- 3-way protection circuit for thermal, short, and overload protection.
- Durable, high-quality build.
- Impressive set of sound control functions.
- Designed for easy installation.
- Favorable price makes the sub an affordable option for many customers.
- Audible pop when the unit turns on/off.
- Overheating issues during summer.
Of all the under seat subs we’ve reviewed, Rockville RW10CA offers the best value for the money. It adds decent punch to your car audio system’s low end, making your music sound better.
2. Kicker 11HS8 8″
For some time now, you have used the stock radio that came with your car or truck. You are certain that there is something lacking since you can hardly hear any bass from the stock speakers. This small amp/subwoofer combination can provide the sound quality improvement you are looking for.
Highlights of Kicker 11HS8
- Built-in 150 watts RMS amplifier: A powerful 150w amplifier enables the 8” subwoofer to produce strong bass without putting too much pressure on the car’s electrical system. Rest assured that this powerful unit will add depth and punch to any type of music.
- Remarkable low frequency output from a small enclosure: The Hideaway is a little over 3 inches tall. Thus, it fits in many storage areas that other powered subs cannot fit. Despite its miniature size, this sub is a trendsetter in plug-and-play bass performance.
- Quick connect Molex plug & harness + Velcro-fastened nylon straps: Kicker made this sub model aiming to make it as easy to use as possible. The quick connect power plug harbors a harness for power, signal, and remote turn on wiring. It makes installation simpler. Then, the Velcro-fastened nylon straps enable secure installation as well as simple and fast removal.
- Automatic hi/low converter: You don’t have to dial the unit’s settings manually to get the best output. A hi/low converter is fitted to ensure that the subwoofer maintains top performance all the time.
- Rich bass without vibrations or distortion.
- Auto turn-on switch.
- Wired remote control.
- Sealed enclosure for tight and balanced performance.
- Very solid metallic body construction.
- An elaborate mounting template and user’s manual written in 4 languages.
- Almost flat dials are not easy to grip.
- The unit does not come with a pre-amp level signal adapter.
Compare the price of Kicker 11HS8 sub and amp combo with the cost of purchasing a subwoofer, enclosure, and amplifier separately. You’ll see that installing this all-in-one unit is a better option for the delivery of steady, high-quality sound output.
3. Rockford Fosgate P300-12 Punch
The kind of bass that 8-inch or 10-inch subs produce might not be what you are looking for. You want deeper and louder bass. This 12-inch powered sub from industry leader Rockford Fosgate will deliver it. You only need to run power on this unit, and the 300-watt amplifier pre-installed in the enclosure will get it moving.
Highlights of the P300-12 subwoofer
- Proven powerful performance: Rockford Fosgate promises mighty bass from the P300-12. The company is certain that 300w RMS power handling is enough for quite a punchy experience. Our tests confirmed this power handling. You should, therefore, purchase the unit with confidence that it will remain true to its power rating.
- High-performance construction: The design of P300-12 sets it apart from other top performers. Rockford Fosgate has employed a closed-loop design, which ensures that the woofer, amplifier, and enclosure maintain optimal performance. In addition, the unit features a durable exterior that holds up well against bumps and scrapes in the cargo and truck area.
- Easy integration with OEM and aftermarket systems: You have the option to use RCA or speaker-level inputs. This means that the subwoofer is sufficiently flexible to work with all types of OEM and aftermarket systems.
- No need for a remote wire: Don’t waste your time trying to a run a remote wire to your head unit or fuse box. You do not need it. At the high level input, the subwoofer has an intelligent turn on that senses sound signals. This initiates an automatic turn on process. Many users are delighted by the convenience of the auto turn on functionality.
- Sound enhancement features: This sub/amp combo has a variety of built-in audio control functions, including an adjustable bass EQ, remote bass level control, low-pass crossover, and a 0°/180° phase switch. All these enable you to customize sound delivery as per your desire.
- Impressive power handling.
- Quality material; very solid (5/8″ MDF) construction.
- Well-documented, simple to adjust controls.
- Sub uses RCA as well as speaker-level inputs.
- Thermal overload and short circuit protection.
- Vertical wedge shape fits in many vehicles.
- Lacks installation brackets, sub may tip over when you are on the move.
- Some users find the unit heavier than expected – almost 30lbs.
The P300-12 stands out among competitors due to its top-of-the-class features. It is one of the best under seat subs for deeper and louder sound, and it comes at an affordable price.
4. Alpine Electronics PWE-S8
Bass reproduction has come a long way. Thanks to technology, it is now possible to achieve accurate and punchy bass without having to use big sub enclosures that take up all your trunk space. Alpine Electronics PWE-S8 is one of the most successful products of ground-breaking technology aimed at designing powerful subs in compact enclosures. See its unique features below:
Unique features of Alpine Electronics PWE-S8
- 120w class D amplifier: The PWE-S8 runs on plenty of power from a highly-efficient class D amplifier. 120 watts is an acceptable power handling level for the delivery of quality bass. Hence, you should expect nice boom from this shallow-mount subwoofer/amp combo, and a total sound quality transformation for the entire system.
- Easy integration: It is not enough to have a small subwoofer that can fit in space-deprived vehicles. You need a sub that’s not only space efficient but also versatile, so that it works well with many systems. Alpine Electronics PWE-S8 represents this kind of subwoofers. It comes with easy-integration features including easy-access speaker-level and RCA line-level inputs.
- Wired remote control: How convenient it is to control your sound from the driver’s seat! Alpine Electronics has made sure that nothing will stop you from enjoying your music. With the remote control in your hands, you’ll enjoy tweaking the sound to your liking from the comfort of the driver’s seat.
- Compact shallow-mount design: This compact, flexible sub can lie almost anywhere – under/behind the seat, a Sedan’s trunk, the SUV’s hatch, or tucked in any secure, compact space. To maintain the integrity of the sub’s interior, the manufacture has covered the unit with die cast aluminum.
- Fits invisibly under the back seat.
- Produces amazing sound over a wide range of music types.
- Cutting-edge sound adjustment capabilities.
- Adds clarity and depth to your sound.
- Highly-durable build.
- Higher than average price.
- It doesn’t produce ground-shaking bass.
Alpine Electronics PWE-S8 adds clarity and depth in your audio system’s bass output. If you drive a car which has limited space, give this subwoofer/amplifier combo a go and it will not disappoint.
5. Rockville SS8P 400w
Are you tired of weak bass from your factory speakers but don’t have the big bucks for a big bass output upgrade? At a very pocket-friendly cost, Rockville SS8P gives you a chance to enjoy a considerable amount of bass in your music. It’s an absolute delight to see what a well-designed and low-cost under seat subwoofer can do.
Getting to know the features and performance of Rockville SS8P
- A 400w, active subwoofer: Rockville has made it possible to eliminate weak sound from your in-car entertainment experience with less than $100. This slim subwoofer has a 400w inbuilt amplifier that does all the powering magic that makes the existence of boom possible even where there is no room.
- Super-compact design: This sub/amp combo is among the slimmest we have encountered. The enclosure measures only 2.8” wide and weighs a little lower than 10 pounds. Carrying, handling and installing this slim sub enclosure is extremely easy.
- Heat management: We read in many users’ reviews that the issue of overheating is a big issue and a deal breaker for many customers. What makes the SS8P exceptional is its multi-dimensional approach to heat management. First, the amp uses PMW MOSFET power supply which increases energy efficiency and thus reduces chances of overheating. Secondly, the cast aluminum material making the exterior of the enclosure maintains the sub cool at all times. Equally important is the addition of a thermal protection circuit that prevents any overheating consequences.
- It hits deep: In addition to the peak power handling of 400 watts, this sub boasts an extensive frequency response of 20Hz – 150Hz. This is a fair indication of deep bass. Further, the manufacturer has included a subsonic filter and a bass boost, which help to push the bass even deeper for your enjoyment.
- High signal to noise ratio (>90dB).
- Reliable 3-way protection circuit; Thermal, Short, and Overload Protection Circuit.
- Cast aluminum housing for durability and cool operation.
- MOSFET power supply with safety-oriented circuitry.
- Most budget-friendly price.
- The amp cannot produce sharp bass.
- Cannot hold up to extensive periods of play.
Rockville SS8P will give you incredible value for the price. It will add considerable bass to the car audio system’s overall sound quality. Many people will think that the sub is bigger than it actually is until they see it.
6. Sound Storm Laboratories LOPRO8
The LOPRO8 is a powerful, low-profile, 8-inch subwoofer with superior features. It has been proven to add rich bass sound in almost all vehicles. For many users, this subwoofer is a perfect option when looking for a powered sub that can fit easily under the seat. The height of this great under seat subwoofer is 3 inches only.
What makes SSL LOPRO8 one of the best under seat subwoofers?
- Built-in Class A/B amplifier: Sound Storm Labs promises you the highest levels of audio power and fidelity when you use the LOPRO8. The built-in amp uses MOSFET power supply, which is associated with improved switching speeds. It can give out as much as 600 Watts to enable your sub produce deeper and sweeter bass.
- High-level and low-level inputs: If you are using a factory or aftermarket radio that doesn’t have RCA inputs, the sub’s high-level inputs facilitate a seamless connection with the system. On the other hand, low-level/RCA inputs help to link the sub with any RCA-enabled source unit.
- Variable low-pass filter and bass boost: The filter keeps high frequencies from reaching your subs, thus the subs remain dedicated to bass production. In addition, the variable bass boost lets you set the lows within your desired bass range.
- Shallow, no-distortion design: Sound Storm Labs ensured that this shallow-mount subwoofer/amp combo produces quality sound free of noise and distortions. Also, you’ll like the unit’s extensive frequency response that goes as low as 20Hz. This is an indication of fairly deep bass, more than what most compact subs can deliver.
- Adds great-sounding bass to the sound system.
- Powerful amplifier.
- Has low pass and subsonic filters.
- A remote bass level control is included.
- The sub is a good bargain for the price.
- The sub lacks venting ports.
- Not very easy to install.
LoreYou might not have heard much about Sound Storm Labs. However, the LOPRO8 has defied all popularity odds to map this manufacturer among the top performing under seat subs on the market.
7. Pioneer TS-WX130DA
The TS-WX130DA is one of the most frequently reviewed compact active subs. Its popularity is mainly attributed to Pioneer’s unstained reputation in the subwoofer market. Measuring only 2.75 inches wide, this subwoofer fits the category of slim subs that can fit under the seat in many car types.
Pioneer TS-WX130DA features
- Deep, solid bass: This sub runs on a 160-watt class D, built-in amp. An aluminum woofer cone, together with a specially designed acoustic suspension enclosure, makes sure that you get nothing less than awesome bass.
- Digital bass control: This is a unique feature, where Pioneer has combined two selectable listening modes in one bass control function. These modes are Deep and Dynamic. Deep mode is suitable for classical and jazz genres. Dynamic mode produces a powerful and immersive characteristic, which is ideal for modern music such as hip hop and pop.
- Compact, versatile build: This compact unit is extremely simple to install. It’s designed to fit in small and tight spaces such as behind and under seats as well as inside storage compartments. In addition, the sub’s versatility is inspiring, seeing that its bass control provides different listening modes.
- Wired remote control: All controls are brought together in a wired remote control to allow for convenient sound adjustment. The remote control combines, gain, low-pass filter, and phase control. Unlike some lower-quality powered subs, you don’t have to struggle with access to the under seat sub.
- Excellent sound dues to oversized woofer cones.
- Durable, scratch-resistant exterior.
- Bass optimization based on music preferences.
- High-sensitivity digital bass control.
- Easy to install
- Price is on the higher side.
- Sound output not as loud as other comparable subs.
Even though this sub/amp combo comes with a premium price tag, its features clearly show that you can trust Pioneer to give you adequate value for the money.
8. Cerwin-Vega Mobile VPAS10
Here’s another powered subwoofer with a remarkable power handling of 200 watts RMS and 450 watts MAX power. It gives out thrilling bass while saving your trunk space with its slim design. What’s more, this 10” sub has top-notch features including filters, bass boost, phase switch, and smart turn on/off.
Highlights of Cerwin-Vega VPAS10
- PWM MOSFET power supply with thermal protection circuit: Like other high-performance compact subs from reputable brands, the VPAS10 uses a MOSFET power supply that enhances energy efficiency. For heat management, the unit has a thermal protection circuit. You can rest assured that this sub will run for many hours with minimal heating issues
- .Sound customization options: This is one of the areas where this subwoofer really shines. It comes with adjustable input sensitivity, a 0 – 12dB bass boost, phase switch (0 to 180 degrees), subsonic filter (35Hz) and a low pass filter (75Hz – 150Hz). These options let you control different depth and strength aspects of your audio system’s bass output.
- SMART turn on: Are you concerned with the sharp pop sound that comes off a sound system when it turns on? With the VPAS10, there is nothing to worry about. You are safe from the potential ear shock that comes with this sharp sound thanks to the sub’s delayed soft turn on feature.
- Remote control: Cerwin-Vega lets you enjoy the convenience of an easy-access system control function. The remote control contains various features including the sound customization controls discussed above plus the delayed turn on button.
- Easy installation in tight spaces.
- Powerful bass output with adjustable boost.
- On-remote sensitivity setting.
- Efficient power supply and thermal protection systems.
- Unit has RCA inputs.
- Price higher than average.
- The sub cuts out during long hours of use.
Compared with other subs of its price range, this Cerwin-Vega under seat sub is more compact. It puts out impactful bass that changes the overall sound quality completely.
9. Kenwood KSC-PSW8
Built on the success of Kenwood’s earlier models, the KSC-PSW8 is an award-winning 8” powered sub with a sturdy enclosure and high-efficiency remote control. For experienced audio equipment buyers, the thought and sight of the Kenwood brand instills confidence and trust. The company has maintained this reputation with the design and performance of this under seat subwoofer, as evident in the features below.
Award-winning features of Kenwood KSC-PSW8
- 250W MAX/150W RMS built-in Class D amplifier: Class D amps are more efficient than other amplifier topologies. Kenwood has decided to use such an amp, hitting highs of 250 watts power handling, to ensure that your sub is sufficiently powered at all times. Add to this capability a sensitivity of 81 decibels and you have an assurance of memorable music experiences every other day.
- Well-constructed design: This sub’s enclosure is reasonably constructed for durability and great sound performance. Boasting an ultra-compact design, this enclosure holds the massive 8” sub. Tests on the KSC-PSW8 reveal that the enclosure is largely responsible for the tight bass output that characterizes this subwoofer/amplifier setup.
- Adjustable frequency: If you have been struggling to find a sub that matches your music listening preferences, search no more. Kenwood KSC-PSW8 is designed with numerous frequency-adjusting functions that allow you to get not only balanced sound but audio that fits your listening preferences.
- Versatility: You can wire this sub in different ways to different sound systems. It has both low-level and high-level (speaker-level) inputs. Besides you can connect it to receivers that use RCA cables when need be. This level of versatility grants the sub its ever-increasing popularity among users of different sound system types.
- Clear, distortion-free sound.
- Small, ultra-compact design.
- Remote control feels very comfortable in the hand.
- Easy-to-use sound control functions.
- Quick and simple installation.
- Not as powerful as other top-ranking models.
- Lower sensitivity.
We loved Kenwood KSC-PSW8 mainly because of its super-small size. It gets lost under the seat. You should not have any problems installing the unit in the tightest of spaces. Also, its premium sound performance features warrant careful consideration.
10. MTX Audio RT8PT
So far, we’ve looked at several 8-inch under seat subs with great bass qualities. Here is another worthy competitor – the RT8PT from MTX Audio. It is a high-performance sub enclosure that comes with a dedicated in-built amp. You want to know how this sub compared to other top-of-the-class under seat subwoofers. Check its features below:
MTX Audio RT8PT Highlights
- 120 watts RMS power: This subwoofer works with a rugged amplifier that delivers 120 watts of stable power for incredible low notes. With this power handling level, the sub might not be outstandingly powerful but it will give your sound system a substantial bass boost.
- Road Thunder woofer: MTX Audio has used an unconventional woofer design that utilizes a stiff poly cone and a long-lasting rubber surround. These features make for reliable long-run bass reproduction.
- Carpeted, vented enclosure: In addition to the unique woofer construction, this sub features a cylindrical enclosure ported in the back – for fat, loud bass. For the protection of the enclosure, the manufacture has used industrial-grade carpet. The carpet also showcases the MTX logo on the side of the enclosure.
- High-level and RCA inputs: Connect this subwoofer to any audio system set up and it will fit in perfectly. If your system does not use RCA inputs, use the high-level inputs. You’ll find all the cables required for installation in the package.
- Vented sub enclosure is optimized for superior bass.
- Remote for External Bass Control (EBC).
- Captivating exterior design.
- Instructions manual in 10 languages.
- Favorable price
- RCA cables are sold separately.
- Tends to get hot.
The RTP8A Road Thunder subwoofer is an all-in-one solution for better bass in a small vehicle. Its woofer and enclosure are designed creatively for optimal bass reproduction.
Considerations to make when buying the best under seat car subwoofer
You have a small vehicle and are in need of big bass. Many subwoofer brands claim to offer a compact subwoofer model that can fit in small spaces. But is small size all that you need?
What other critical factors should you consider when selecting the best hideaway car subwoofer?
We dedicate this final section of our comprehensive review with a brief overview of these factors.
Is the subwoofer powered or passive?
A powered sub comes in an enclosure that also contains an in-built amplifier. The main advantage of this design is that the sub will not put much pressure on the audio system’s power. You will not need to install an amplifier separately. That’s why powered under seat subs are marketed as “all-in-one solution” for better bass.
Unlike powered subs, passive models rely on an external amp because they don’t come with an in-built amplifier. For the very reason of lack of a dedicated amp, many people looking for a simple solution to weak bass don’t use passive subs. But, if you intend to add a more powerful amplifier to your system, then going with passive subwoofer may save you some bucks. Passive subs are generally cheaper than active/powered subs.
Power handling capacity of the subwoofer
Make sure to check the CEA-rated RMS power handling of the subwoofer you are considering for purchase. This power rating gives the accurate capability of the sub. Note the emphasis on RMS power rating. Some manufacturers will indicate considerably higher power handling in terms of MAX power. It’s important to know that such indications are aimed at making the sub look more powerful than it actually is. It’s important to take your time to understand the true power handling of every unit you consider buying.
We have included the manufacturer’s RMS and MAX power ratings of the 10 best under seat amplifiers. As a general remark, anything above 100 watts RMS power is good for a hideaway sub.
Sensitivity of the subwoofer
A sub with higher sensitivity is considered a more power-efficient option compared to another sub with lower sensitivity.
When assessing different models, you may find out that one sub has a relatively lower power handling. However, that alone shouldn’t be a reason to dismiss the sub. Such a unit may have a high sensitivity, say 90dB. The sub’s high sensitivity enables it to use the available energy efficiently, resulting to great sound performance despite the otherwise lower power rating.
Actual size of the subwoofer
Going for a hideaway subwoofer means that you are dealing with space limitations. Since even these small subs come in different models, you want to make sure that whatever model you choose will fit in your desired location.
Check the dimensions of the sub on the manufacturer’s specifications. Using a ruler and a pencil, you can draw the size of the unit on a manila paper so that you can see how well the unit will fit under the seat of your car.
Other important considerations to make include:
- Durability of the enclosure material.
- Ease of installation.
- Heat management: are there reported issues of overheating?
- Quality of bass.
It doesn’t matter if you are a first-time or seasoned subwoofer buyer. As long as you take adequate time to consider these factors, you are more likely than not to find a great under seat subwoofer for your system.
Why Rockville RW10CA is our pick for best under seat subwoofer
Rockville RW10CA will get the bass killing. At 800 watts MAX, this bass teenager is LOUD. If you were to compare it with unpowered subs, it competes shoulder to shoulder with 1000-watt 12-inch subs running on a 1200- to 1500-watt amp.
Wouldn’t you want to get bigger bass from a smaller unit?
The only thing you should worry about is aggravating your neighbors. Otherwise, this 10-inch sub is super awesome.
The RW10CA is incredibly easy to install. You don’t have to mess up with installing an amp as this sub comes with its own built-in amp. Besides, it fits perfectly under the passenger seat and on the back of a Jeep’s tail gate. You can also install it straight on the floor behind the seat if you wish.
Blasting this Rockville champ to and from work and during your road tours is total fun. It sounds flawless no matter what type of bass you play.
Free your truck space by purchasing the RW10CA while it’s on sale. This powered sub is an absolute delight.
Michael Evanchuk is a San Francisco-based sound engineer with 20 years’ experience installing, troubleshooting, and repairing commercial, automotive, and household sound equipment. Evanchuk owns an auto stereo center, where he offers highly competitive car audio installation and repair services. He has written dozens of articles on different sound engineering topics, all of which have been published in leading journals, blogs, and websites.