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When seeking to increase bass volume and clarity in their car audio systems, most drivers look for the biggest subwoofer they can fit. But what if a more compact, reasonably priced subwoofer didn’t compromise on sound quality? That’s where the 8-inch subwoofer comes in.
We’re living in a brave new world of subwoofers, where sedan and hatchback owners can have sound systems as strong as those in SUVs and trucks. Meanwhile, SUV and truck owners can free up space in their cabins and money in their budgets. Take a look at the best 8-inch subwoofers you can buy in our guide below.
The Best 8-Inch Subwoofer
If you’re looking for an all-around speaker that will supercharge your entire bass range, Rockville’s RTB80A is an excellent choice. Not only does this compact unit contain a built-in amplifier that can pump up bass to the tune of 400 watts, but it’s also extremely easy to install and adjust. Just connect it to power using the included wiring kit, then use its built-in tuner to sync it up with your higher-range audio.
The RTB80A is made of tough steel and tweed, and its tube-shaped construction provides more intense bass than a traditional shallow mount subwoofer—while taking up less space. Make sure you know what you’re buying, though. This bass tube is built around a full-range speaker, not one specifically built for bass. Its shape and power make up for that, but it’s not the same punch you’d expect from an ordinary subwoofer.
8-inch tube-shaped subwoofer
250 watts RMS, 400 watts peak
Molded steel construction
Wiring kit included
- Weight15 pounds
Fits easily in a standard cab
Powerful enough to match any standard setup
Built around a full-range speaker
Substandard wires included in kit
Lower bass quality than higher-priced units
Sound Storm Labs has put out one of the best-constructed 8-inch subwoofers you’ll ever find at this price point. From its long-lasting polypropylene cone to its near-indestructible rubber reinforcements, this is a speaker you’ll be able to use heavily for years after you purchase it.
Its durability is matched by other major positives, including its ability to get much more intense sound out of factory speakers, a compact fit in any vehicle size, and an affordable price. It’s great to be able to wield the power of a permanent speaker for the cost of a disposable.
8-inch basket subwoofer
600 watts peak power, 4 ohms resistance
Polypropylene and rubber surround construction
- BrandSound Storm Labs
- Weight4.6 pounds
Easy to fit in small cars
Major boost to power of factory speakers
Best performance at this price point
Doesn’t handle higher volumes well
Occasional ground feedback noise
Not bridgeable with other amps
Yamaha is one of the most trusted brand names in any kind of electronics, and its 8-inch subwoofer continues that strong tradition. This crystal-clear bass amplifier is technically intended for home use, but is easy to connect to vehicle audio. According to Yamaha, the slightly twisted construction of its cone amp cuts down on the noise of airflow, resulting in a much cleaner sound.
The main drawback of this model is that it doesn’t have a frequency control. This makes it harder to integrate with the rest of your car stereo system. Also, while the twisted flare definitely succeeds in producing clear base, the lower power rating means it’s not the strongest.
8-inch cube-shaped subwoofer with Yamaha’s Twisted Flare design
100 watts peak power
Speaker and amplifier work together through Yamaha’s Active Servo Technology II
- Weight18.7 pounds
Design reduces audio interference
Unified speaker and amp produces resonant bass
Easy to fit among other vehicle audio devices
Low dynamic power
No frequency knob
Not built expressly for use in vehicles
The Polk Audio PSW111 is another great choice that provides powerful, deep bass from a compact body. It’s on the high end of power efficiency for 8-inch subwoofers, handling 150 watts RMS and a peak of 300 watts. It sounds great even at higher volumes. It hooks up easily to any other sound system’s receivers and is balanced to provide great synchronization with treble and all-around units.
The biggest downside, of course, is the price, which puts it above many competitors that offer the same high-quality sound. Additionally, parts such as capacitors and the base amp begin going bad as the subwoofer ages, and sometimes require soldering or other specialized fixes.
8-inch dynamically balanced subwoofer
150 watts RMS, 300 watts peak
- BrandPolk Audio
- Weight21 pounds
Performs well at high volumes
Downward-firing ports increase bass impact—easy to feel in vehicle frame
Easy to blend with your other systems
Amp sometimes dies starting at five years of age
Capacitor burnouts require soldering iron to fix
If you’ve been hoping for an excellent premium 8-inch subwoofer built specifically for autos, Sundown Audio’s SA-8 is here to save the day. With the ability to handle 500 watts consistently and up to 800 at peak (some have reported up to 2,000 with modifications), a single unit is powerful enough to rattle your windows without taking up too much space.
Beware, though: even as an 8-inch, it’s not the most compact subwoofer, so you might have trouble finding a place for it in your car. It’s also not cheap, so if you’re seeking out an 8-inch sub to save money, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
8-inch speaker built for vehicles
600-800 watts peak range
4 ohms resistance, 40 Hz peak frequency response
- BrandSundown Audio
- Weight27.1 pounds
Excellent volume and clarity for its size
Can often handle far more power than it’s rated for
Single unit is enough to fill bass holes
Requires mods to consistently reach high power
Larger than some other 8-inch subs
Another choice for car audio enthusiasts, Massive Audio’s Hippo84 is focused on clean sound that flows from clean construction. Its Kevlar design reduces the snapping and crackling that comes from degrading rubber or paper cones in other speakers, while also allowing the subwoofer to handle volumes far higher than factory systems can.
Outside of its strong materials, the Hippo84 is a great saver of both space and money, cheaper than many of its competitors, and easy to mount. Really, the only thing to beware of is that this unit displays some reluctance at higher volumes, sounding like it’s about to give out when paired with certain amps.
8-inch subwoofer speaker
500 watts RMS, 1000 watts peak, 4 ohms resistance
Reinforced Kevlar construction and tough dual voice coil
- BrandMassive Audio
- Weight16.01 pounds
Hits low pitches with lots of power
Pairs well with aftermarket models at higher pitches
Construction ensures a clean sound for years of use
Sound strains a bit at highest volumes
Doesn’t interface well with all amplifiers
Best 8-Inch Subwoofer Buying Guide & FAQ
Hopefully, it’s clear by now that bigger is not always better when it comes to subwoofers. True vehicular audiophiles know that the best bass performance comes from balancing the sub’s power with the way it attunes to the rest of your car stereo system—and your car itself. When you can shake your wing mirrors with an 8-inch sub and integrated amp, why waste money on something you might not even be able to fit in your car?
You might have already heard about some of the biggest names in automotive subwoofer technology other than the ones we’ve already spotlighted: Kicker, Skar Audio, Planet Audio, Pioneer TS, and of course, Rockford Fosgate. But brand names are far from the only thing to know about when searching Amazon for a new stereo system component.
Why Do You Need an 8-Inch Subwoofer?
If you’re reading this in the first place, chances are you’ve decided your car’s factory stereo system is no longer adequate for your listening needs. If you want to upgrade how you listen while you drive, it’s best to look for a balance of speakers built for high and low pitches, that together cover the whole vocal and instrumental range.
The subwoofer is the part of that system that handles lower pitches: the deep bass that helps you feel the music in your bones, not just your ears. The main reason to consider an 8-inch subwoofer is that in most vehicles, space is at a premium. Eight-inch subs can fit in tons of different places in your car, including in spaces you aren’t using for anything else: affixed to the dashboard, stowed under the jump seat, in the storage compartments, and so on.
The other biggest benefit is that 8-inch subs tend to come at a much more affordable price. Recently, they’ve also been catching up to their bigger cousins in terms of power—so you aren’t sacrificing much at all for what you gain.
- An 8-inch subwoofer is small enough to fit, and be heard, from almost anywhere in your car.
- These subwoofers are reasonably priced.
- They are easy to install alongside other aftermarket audio parts for a complete range of sound.
Types of 8-Inch Subwoofers
Not all 8-inch subwoofers are created equal. These smaller bass speakers are as versatile as they are powerful, and come in different shapes and sizes for different purposes. Types of 8-inch subs differ mostly based on their shapes, which change what sort of sound they’re best at emphasizing, and how easy it is to fit them into different parts of your car.
- Component Subwoofers
If you’ve ever seen a speaker, amplifier, or enclosure being sold individually, you’ve found what’s known as a component subwoofer. These cater to people who want the freedom to choose which parts of their factory system to replace, and help fill the holes in existing comprehensive systems.
Component subs can be really helpful because of the control they grant you. If you’ve found a gap in your system at certain pitches or volumes, you can buy what you need to fill that hole. Most audio companies produce subwoofer components in series that are designed to work with each other in any combination.
- Enclosed Subwoofers
Non-component subwoofers often come in the form of speakers built into enclosed mounts that help amplify and direct the sound.
Almost all enclosed 8-inch subwoofers are built one of two ways. Sealed subwoofers are placed inside enclosed boxes and deliver a more tightly controlled bass. Ported-enclosure subwoofers are located in larger boxes that have extra openings (ports) in them to let out more sound. This results in a louder, heavier, but less clean sound.
Generally, the more ports that are present in the enclosure, the louder and less controlled the sound, and the larger the box. Ported subwoofers are good for music that “drives” more, like hard rock and metal.
- Powered Subwoofers
Powered subwoofers are enclosed, non-component subwoofers that come with their own built-in amplifiers. Along with being physically wired to their amps, powered subwoofers are synced to their built-in amps’ frequencies for a clean, high-volume sound at any pitch.
An 8-inch subwoofer often comes powered, which is super-convenient if you’re going with a smaller sub for space reasons . Getting amplified sound without needing to buy another component offers you a ton of benefit from a single unit. As you might imagine, it also makes installation a lot easier. The risk, however, is that when one part of a powered sub fails, the whole system goes down.
What to Look for When Buying 8-Inch Subwoofers
Sound system components often come with a dizzying array of numbers, and it might seem like you need to be an electrical engineer to understand all of them. By focusing in on the important stats, though, you can easily use this information to find the right 8-inch sub for your car.
- Power Handling
Each subwoofer has two power handling stats attached to it, both measured in watts. RMS power handling is the amount of power you can continuously apply to the sub, while peak power handling is the amount of power the system can withstand at one time.
Peak power will always be the more impressive measure, but don’t forget that the RMS power you’ll typically be getting from this sub is about half of that. Power directly correlates with how much volume you can pump out of your subwoofer. Try to find out the wattage of your factory system, then go above that in order to upgrade your car’s sound.
Check the resistance as well: most 8-inch subs have somewhere between 2 ohms and 4 ohms. Lower ohms means less resistance and higher output.
Sensitivity is the connection between power and volume. It’s measured by decibels. The decibel level listed on the product pages for 8-inch subwoofers is the volume generated by applying a single watt of power to the unit. For example, the Rockville RTB80A 8-Inch Subwoofer is rated at 105 decibels of sensitivity.
Higher sensitivity means your speaker is better at converting power into sound. A lower-sensitivity subwoofer will be quieter and a bigger drain on your car battery. While you should be careful to match power to what your battery is able to deliver, with sensitivity, higher is almost always better.
Frequency response on speakers is given in a range that describes what pitches they’re able to effectively put out. Subwoofers are covering the bass portion of your sound system, so they should be low, usually in the range of 20 to 30 hertz. Low frequencies equal deeper bass, and vice versa.
One important note here is that a wider range is not always better. It might seem useful to have a single speaker unit covering a wide range of pitches, but remember that’s what the factory units we’re trying to replace are. You’ll get a better sound out of something that’s built to handle a smaller range well, especially if you want it to thud like the best bass.
Tips for Buying and Using 8-Inch Subwoofers
Buying 8-inch subwoofers is a matter of knowing what you want and going for it. Once you’ve decided how much you want your bass to boom and where you’re going to mount your sub, there are a few more things to take into account.
- Smaller cars are not only more convenient, but sometimes all-around better for 8-inch subwoofers as well. In a smaller space, pulsing bass reverberates more, getting you the window-rattling effect you deserve.
- Don’t forget the three most important numbers attached to subwoofers. Power (W) shows how much energy the sub can take, sensitivity (dB) tells you how efficiently it converts that energy to sound, and frequency response (Hz) lets you know what range of sound it best conveys.
- If you can, try to buy as many of your sound system components as possible from one brand. You’ll get overall better sound if your units are tuned to one another, and companies try to make their own products work together as much as possible. Some manufacturers, like Rockford Fosgate and JL Audio, list suggested systems you can put together from their products (Rockford Fosgate also helps you sort these suggestions by vehicle type).
Best 8-Inch Subwoofers FAQ:
By this point, we’ve helped you understand the advantages of 8-inch subwoofers, and taught you a bit about how to get the best experience buying and using them. There are just a few more things you’ll need to know before boosting your sound system with one of these pint-sized powerhouses.
Q: When is an 8-inch subwoofer the best choice for a car?
A: Remember that the main thing 8-inch subs have to offer is their small size. If you have a car with limited space, such as a hatchback or sedan, but still want hard-hitting bass, go with an 8-inch sub.
Q: What are some of the other benefits of an 8-inch subwoofer?
A: In addition to being more size-efficient, 8-inch subs tend to demand less power, which puts less of a burden on your car battery. Smaller speakers are a great way to upgrade your sound system while preserving your battery life.
Q: Is it true that subwoofers get louder as they’re broken in?
A: Yes, especially if the sub has stiff materials in its construction. Sound will loosen the stiffness in most speakers in much the same way walking breaks in shoes. Make sure to give a sub some time before you judge its quality!
Our Top Pick
We’ve named the Rockville RTB80A 8-Inch Subwoofer as the best 8-inch subwoofer available on Amazon. While its core is a full-range speaker and not a dedicated subwoofer, it’s still able to handle a huge range of bass notes. Its tube-shaped case amplifies sound over shallow mount subs, while making it easy to fit in any part of your car.