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In-car entertainment systems have come a long way over the years. Gone are the days of desperately searching through the static for a decent radio signal, dreading dips in the road, and listening to music played over tinny speakers. Today, we benefit from automatic tuning, auxiliary ports, CD players, and, of course, better speakers.
In this department, one important breakthrough has been the shallow mount subwoofer. These unique speakers can produce impressive levels of bass and don’t take up nearly as much space as their conventional counterparts. Thanks to their compact size, these devices are also known as slim subwoofers, and they’re perfect for smooth, clear music on the go. As useful as they are, you’ll have a plethora of options to choose from when selecting a slimline subwoofer for your vehicle. To help you pick the perfect speaker, we’ve put together this handy guide. Below, we run through the best shallow subwoofers on the market and answer some common questions about how to get the most out of this powerful piece of equipment.
The Best Shallow Mount Subwoofer
Kicking off our list is this powerful yet affordable flat subwoofer by Rockford Fosgate. The eight-inch speaker is compact enough to install in most passenger vehicles yet powerful enough to deliver the ‘punch’ you need to enjoy your favorite music. Thanks to the speaker’s Dual 2-Ohm voice coils, it’s easy to wire into your car.
Meanwhile, the subwoofer’s StampCast basket, fitted with integrated spider venting, helps the device to stay cool and firmly in place during use. To protect the speaker from daily wear and tear as well as the bumps of the road, it’s also protected by an anodized aluminum dustcap and stitched tinsel leads that offer improved reliability, reducing the risk of both fatigue and shorting. Each Rockford Fosgate product is protected by a one-year warranty, so you can rest assured it’s built to last.
8 inch shallow mount subwoofer
Dual voice coils deliver real ‘punch’
Made using durable anodized aluminum
Improved wiring for better reliability
Dust cap protects against daily wear and tear
- BrandRockford Fosgate
- Weight8.8 pounds
Rockford Fosgate earns a second spot on our list thanks to this ultra shallow 10-inch subwoofer. The speaker’s 2-ohm dual voice coils allow it to be wired in various configurations, making for easy adaptation to practically any vehicle. Equipped with a mica injected polypropylene cone, the subwoofer produces clean and accurate bass notes journey after journey.
Meanwhile, a stamp-cast basket complete with spider venting helps to keep the motor cool. This kind of venting was once the preserve of larger subwoofers, and its integration into a slimline design proves that this compact speaker is the real deal. Like all Rockford Fosgate speakers, the R2 subwoofer is equipped with stitched tinsel leads for improved reliability, reducing the likelihood of shorts and fatigue.
10 inch slimline subwoofer, ideal for installation in tight spaces
Mica injected polypropylene cone
Clear and accurate bass notes
Spider venting keeps the motor cool for reliable use
Stitched tinsel leads improve reliability
- BrandRockford Fosgate
- Weight9.5 pounds
The next slimline subwoofer to make it onto our list is by Kicker. Its 12-inch speaker is the perfect option for cars, trucks, and any passenger vehicle that needs a little more ‘oomph’ from its entertainment system. Thanks to its careful design, the device delivers ‘extreme bass’ without taking up your entire trunk. Featuring a 4-ohm, four-layer voice coil, the speaker can handle enough power to deliver loud and accurate bass.
Meanwhile, the subwoofer’s ventless design blends in well with virtually any car interior, making it easy to find the perfect set up for your new sound system. The subwoofer’s cone is constructed from injection-molded polypropylene, a material known for its high tensile strength. It’s also lightweight, heat-resistant, and BPA-free. Overall, this powerful and durable yet compact speaker proves that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
12 inch shallow subwoofer, ideal for passenger vehicles
4-Ohm, 4 layer voice coil
Powerful and accurate bass sounds
Polypropylene cone is strong and durable
1 year manufacturer warranty included
- Weight12.44 pounds
Pioneer is a well-known name in the world of audio equipment, and it has turned its attention towards shallow mount subwoofers with great success. This 12-inch speaker is a little larger than many options on our list, but if you can spare the room, it’s certainly a sound investment (no pun intended). Pioneer pulls out all the stops in making sure that its shallow speakers deliver all the ‘big bass’ power you’d expect from its larger cousins.
Thanks to an oversized cone surface, the subwoofer can move enough air to produce loud and deep bass. The cone is made from highly rigid resin, ensuring great durability and accuracy. Drivers say this high-quality speaker has an excellent range when it comes to bass and never misses a note no matter the track. Despite its shallow build, this carefully engineered subwoofer can really pack a punch. It’s also surprisingly affordable.
12 inch shallow mount subwoofer
Delivers the same ‘big bass’ performance as full-size options
Oversized cone surface produces crisp, accurate bass
Cone is built from durable resin
Affordable price point
- Weight14.1 pounds
This brand might be better known for kitchen equipment, but Kenwood has also earned a spot on our list with this high quality yet affordable shallow subwoofer. The 12-inch design is perfect for cars and trucks, tucking into places that larger speakers just can’t handle. Thanks to its surprisingly lightweight design, the speaker won’t weigh down your vehicle either. The 4-ohm subwoofer manages to achieve this impressively low mass with the help of carbon fiber – long recognized for its strength, rigidity, and lightness.
Because of this rigidity, carbon fiber makes a great cone, ensuring crisp and accurate bass sounds. For extra durability, the subwoofer also features a butyl rubber surround and a cast aluminum basket. As well as being durable, the speaker also boasts a great range – especially considering its size and price point. Drivers are impressed with how powerful the speaker is given its diminutive size and weight. The sleek black design looks great with any vehicle interior.
12 inch shallow mount subwoofer
4-Ohm voice coils
Carbon fiber cone
Butyl rubber surround
Cast aluminum basket
Excellent tonal range
Great value for money
Sleek design matches any vehicle interior
- Weight4.41 pounds
JL Audio has also earned a place on our list, thanks to its sturdy and powerful shallow subwoofer. The 10-inch design can deliver more bass than its eight-inch counterparts, while its dual 4-ohm voice coils make for a rich, yet clean sound. Inside, a clever ‘concentric tube’ structure is built into the speaker’s injection-molded cone body. This structure allows for a substantial voice coil, and full annular spider, without taking up the space that regular subwoofers do.
Once installed, the speaker is built to last. Thanks to a cast alloy frame, and aluminum-alloy dust cap, all inner components are protected against the wear and tear of daily driving. Each speaker includes a full one-year warranty and is built to a high standard of quality in Miramar, Florida. Drivers say the speakers sound powerful yet crisp in practice and are impressed with their power given the relatively small size.
10 inch slim subwoofer
Powerful yet crip bass sound
‘Concentric tube’ design allows Dual 4-Ohm voice coils to fit the slim body
Cast alloy frame
Aluminum alloy dust cap
Made in the USA (Florida)
12 month warranty included
- BrandJL Audio
- Weight11.38 pounds
Alpine is another well-known name when it comes to car speakers and for good reason. Its shallow mount design measures in at a compact 10 inches, but don’t be fooled by its diminutive appearance. This speaker packs quite a punch. Its 4-ohm voice coil ensures a crisp, powerful sound every time, while an injection molded santoprene rubber surround keeps the whole device safe and sound during transit.
The subwoofer also features a vented heat sink and a clever airflow management system that keeps things chilly even in tight spots with virtually no distortion. Meanwhile, a sturdy aluminum cone ensures accurate tones and is super lightweight. For efficiency and compactness, Alpine’s design can’t be beaten. Drivers agree that this powerful little speaker is a great addition to any vehicle: it’s very clear, and very loud.
10 inch slim subwoofer
4-Ohm voice coil
Crisp and powerful sound
Injection molded santoprene rubber surround
- Weight14 pounds
Earning a second space on our list is JL Audio with this thin-line 12-inch subwoofer designed specifically for cars. The device combines powerful bass capacity and quality materials, resulting in a subwoofer that’s built to perform, and built to last. The speaker’s rubber surround protects against the daily vibrations of driving, while a mica and polypropylene cone ensures crisp, accurate sound.
Like all slimline JL Audio products, this super subwoofer utilises a ‘concentric tube’ design to squeeze all the power of a conventional subwoofer into a small space. Drivers aren’t just impressed with the sheer volume that these speakers are capable of – they also appreciate how crisp and clear their favorite music becomes. At just 3.5 inches in depth, it’s easy to find the perfect spot for this small but mighty subwoofer in virtually any passenger vehicle. Featuring a sleek, black design, it blends in nicely, too.
12 inch slimline subwoofer
Just 3.5 inches in depth
Powerful and crisp bass
Unique ‘concentric tube’ design
Rigid and durable polypropylene cone
Rubber surround for protection
Sleek black design
- BrandJL Audio
- Weight14.99 pounds
Pioneer has also found a second place on our list with its 10-inch, 4-ohm subwoofer. Tipping the scales at under 10 pounds, the speaker is one of the lightest options to grace our list so far, making it easy to handle and install. Don’t be fooled by its featherweight credentials, though – this slimline subwoofer packs quite a punch, thanks to quality materials and a single 4-ohm voice coil.
Inside, a mica-filled resin cone produces crisp, accurate sounds, allowing drivers to fully appreciate their favorite music on the go. The cone is also oversized, making for a large surface area that allows for adequate air movement, hence louder, deeper bass sounds. The speaker’s simple but attractive exterior will be comfortably at home in almost any vehicle interior. Overall, it’s a great-sounding and budget friendly speaker that’s in its element where space is a little tight.
10 inch shallow mount subwoofer
Ideal for tight spaces
Single 4-Ohm voice coil
Mica-filled resin cone for accurate bass sounds
Oversized cone for powerful bass
Budget-friendly price point
Sleek, attractive exterior
- Weight1 pounds
Last but not least is this small yet mighty subwoofer from Rockford Fosgate, earning the brand its third and final place on our list. At just eight inches, this subwoofer is the smallest of the bunch, making it ideal for really tight spots such as door panels.
Thanks to an anodized aluminum cone, the subwoofer can produce the same crisp, loud bass as its more unwieldy cousins. It also features a stamp-cast basket with spider venting, keeping things cool during long sessions of use. The subwoofer’s dual linear spiders also feature stitched tinsel leads for impressive durability and reduced risk of shorts. Finally, a santoprene surround keeps the device’s interior safe from the knocks and vibrations of life on the road. Drivers across the board are impressed with the speaker’s power, especially considering the limited airspace this incredibly compact device has to work with.
8 inch shallow mount subwoofer
Ideal for tight spaces
Anodized aluminum core for crisp, accurate sounds
Spider venting helps the speaker stay cool
Stitched tinsel leads for reliability
Impressively powerful bass sounds
- BrandRockford Fosgate
- Weight8.7 pounds
Shallow Mount Subwoofer Buying Guide
These 10 subwoofers are the best of the bunch, and whatever your personal set-up, we’re confident you’ll find something on our list that fits the bill. To help you choose, we’ve compiled this brief guide. Below we run through what to look out for when selecting a shallow mount subwoofer for your vehicle, why you might want one, and how to get started.
What to Look for in a Shallow Mount Subwoofer
When it’s time to choose a slimline subwoofer for your vehicle, watch out for the following features:
- Slim Design
Shallow mount subwoofers are meant to be just that - shallow. When shopping for one of these speakers, make sure it’s slim enough to fit into its proposed space. Most of these subwoofers measure somewhere between 3.25 and 3.5 inches in depth, which is usually slim enough for most automotive applications. If in doubt, carefully measure your planned installation space before making your final decision.
- High Quality Cone
A subwoofer’s cone is one of the most important elements, so it’s important to make sure that it’s made to a high standard of quality. Anodized aluminum, mica-injected resin, and carbon fiber are three of the best materials to look out for. Because they’re strong and rigid, they help to produce an accurate sound.
Nobody wants to install their new speaker only to have it give out after just a few uses. For this reason, it’s important to choose a slimline subwoofer that can stand up to regular use. It can be hard to tell how long a component will last by description alone, so check out reviews from other customers if possible. Stitched tinsel leads and a good quality cone also imply that a subwoofer is built to last.
If you’re a dab hand at audio systems, you might want to choose a subwoofer that can be installed in multiple ways. If this is the case, look out for a device with dual 2 or 4-Ohm coils.
- Cooling System
A good shallow mount subwoofer won’t overheat during use. To make sure your new component won’t run too hot, watch out for a good venting system. Many slimline subwoofers use the same spider venting as their larger cousins.
Benefits of Shallow Mount Subwoofers
Adding a shallow mount subwoofer to your sound system comes with a whole host of benefits:
- Compact, slimline subwoofers are more affordable than their conventional counterparts
- Shallow mount subwoofers don’t take up much space in your vehicle
- Adding a slimline subwoofer to your sound system significantly improves sound quality
- Shallow subwoofers come in a few different sizes, so it’s easy to find the right fit
- Subwoofers provide a crisp, clear sound
- Shallow mount subwoofers help drivers rediscover their favorite music
- Many slim subwoofers offer a comparable performance to traditional designs
How to Install a Shallow Mount Subwoofer
With a little electronic know-how, you can install a shallow mount subwoofer in your vehicle at home.
Although different models may vary, you can expect to work through the following steps when installing a subwoofer in the trunk.
- A subwoofer box
- The subwoofer itself
- Wiring kit
- Basic toolkit
First, you’ll need to run power from the vehicle’s battery. Find an opening in the car’s firewall (the metal wall under its hood, near the windshield) and run most of a power cable through the hole.
Strip the insulation away from the wire at the battery end, and wire the in-line fuse to this end. Don’t connect the wire to the battery at this point.
Next, run the remaining length of power cable under the car’s carpeting, all the way to the trunk. While the carpet is loose, run a 16-18 gauge wire and two RCA cables from the trunk to the back of the stereo head.
Remove the stereo head unit, and look at its back. You should see two RCA connections, each of which should be connected to your RCA cables.
The 16-18 gauge wire must also be connected to the stereo - the appropriate wire will be labelled ‘Amp’ or ‘Amplifier’. This ensures the amplifier comes on when the stereo does.
Once this wiring is completed, place the subwoofer in its box, and secure it as appropriate. Set the box in the trunk of the car.
Next, you’ll need to wire up the amp, by connecting the power cable (from the car’s battery) into a port with one of these markings:
Connect your 16-18 gauge wire into the port reading:
Ground the system by connecting a three foot, 10 gauge wire to the place marked:
And, finally, connect the other end of the ground wire to a bolt that meets the car’s body.
Next, connect the speaker wire to the + and - speaker ports on the amplifier. Connect the other end of these wires to the + and - ports on the subwoofer itself.
Return to the battery, connect it to the power cable, and you’re done.
When installing a shallow mount subwoofer, you’ll have a few different placement options. If your vehicle has a rear speaker deck, placing the device here may be a better idea. With the subwoofer in this position, you’ll be better able to hear the bass sounds produced.
Although it’s often easier to position a subwoofer in the trunk, here you’ll feel the bass as much as hear it, and a lot of sound will be lost to the outside world.
If in doubt, may workshops will be able to install your new subwoofers for you.
Best Shallow Mount Subwoofer FAQ:
Q: What is a shallow mount subwoofer?
A: Subwoofers are a special type of speaker, specifically designed to produce low frequency sounds between 20 and 80 Hertz, otherwise known as bass. Inside a subwoofer, electrical signals are passed through a magnetic coil that causes a cone to vibrate. We perceive these vibrations as low pitched sounds.
Subwoofers are a useful piece of kit if you want to experience a ‘beefier’ range of sound. However, they should be combined with other speakers for best results. In terms of practicality, one key difference between regular speakers and subwoofers is that the latter requires an external power source.
Slimline, or shallow mount subwoofers work by the same principles as their conventional brethren, and produce the same frequencies. However, they are much slimmer, allowing them to be fitted in tighter spots, such as vehicle interiors.
Q: What size of shallow mount subwoofer should I pick?
A: This really depends upon how much room you have in your vehicle, and how much you want to spend.
This type of speaker ranges in size from eight to 15 inches - larger options tend to be pricier, but they do offer a wider range of low frequencies.
Q: How do they compare to regular subwoofers?
A: Although shallow mount subwoofers function through the same principles as regular versions, they do differ in a few key ways:
- Slimline subwoofers consume less power
- Slimline subwoofers are more affordable
- Slimline subwoofers take up significantly less space
- Regular subwoofers produce a greater range of low frequencies
Our Top Pick
For us, the best shallow mount subwoofer on the market right now is this effective yet affordable device by Rockford Fosgate. The subwoofer combines powerful, ‘punchy’ performance with a slim profile that fits easily into practically any passenger vehicle. Thanks to its Dual Voice coils, the device is easy to install, while durable stitched tinsel leads ensure it will last for years, however you decide to mount it.
For proper protection against the wear and tear of daily driving, the speakers is housed inside a cast aluminum trim ring, and protected by an anodized aluminum dust cap. Users across the board were impressed with the subwoofer’s powerful sound, and noted that it was pretty straightforward to install. Thanks to a 12 month warranty, drivers can rest assured the hardy speaker is built to last.