If you love the feeling of hard-hitting bass when listening to music in your vehicle, you will want to install an aftermarket subwoofer. When shopping for subs for your car, one of the most important things to consider is where it will be installed. For many people, the amount of space that is taken up is going to be a concern. Whether you are trying to optimize your trunk space or want to install them under your seat, shallow mount subwoofers are a great solution.
Shallow mount subs most commonly come as 8’’, 10’’, or 12’’ designs, and can range from about 2.5’’ to a little over 6’’ in depth, which gives you lots of choice and various different options for installation. As such, it’s worth taking some time to learn how to choose the right subwoofer for your particular situation.
- Key Things to Know When Shopping for Shallow Mount Subwoofers
- Top 10 Best Shallow Mount Subwoofers 2023
- 1. Best Overall Subwoofer: Kicker CompRT 10’’ Subwoofer
- 2. Best Sound Clarity: Rockford Fosgate R2 Ultra Shallow
- 3. Best Budget Subwoofer: Kicker 43C104 Comp 10’’ Subwoofer
- 4. Best Premium Subwoofer: JL Audio 13TW5V2 Car Subwoofer
- 5. Most Durable Subwoofer: Kenwood Excelon 12’’ Car Subwoofer
- 6. Most Powerful Subwoofer: Alpine 12’’ Shallow Mount Subwoofer
- 7. Best Subwoofer Set: Skar Audio VD-12 Max Power Subwoofers
- 8. Best Looking Subwoofer: JL Audio 10TW3 Thin-Line Car Subwoofer
- 9. Hardest Hitting Bass: Rockford Fosgate P3SD4 Punch Shallow Subwoofer
- 10. Most Powerful Bass: Pioneer TS 1200 Watt Shallow-Mount Subwoofer
- Buyer’s Guide for Shallow Mount Subwoofers
- Powerful Bass in Any Vehicle
Key Things to Know When Shopping for Shallow Mount Subwoofers
Subwoofers are a major component in any car audio system. Learning as much as you can about how they work will help you to choose the right model. When reading about a particular subwoofer model, you will often see a variety of different types of information, and reading through the key factors here will give you a good understanding of how to interpret that information.
When looking for shallow mount subwoofers, the depth of the sub is obviously going to be a key factor in your decision making. All the subs in our top 10 shallow mount subwoofers list qualify as shallow mount. While there is no specific depth that is universally required in order to be considered shallow mount, a good rule of thumb is anything under about 6’’.
The thinner a subwoofer is, the easier it will be to fit in tight places. Keep in mind, however, that the amount of sound produced, and the quality of that sound, is impacted by the amount of movement the cone in the subwoofer has. This is why it is important to be able to balance the depth of a sub with the quality of sound it can produce.
All manufacturers test their subwoofers to determine how much power they can safely handle. The more power that a sub can handle, the louder the sound they can produce.
When looking at the power capacity of any subwoofer, you will want to find two different numbers and understand their meanings:
- RMS Watts – RMS stands for root mean squared and is used to refer to the amount of power a subwoofer can handle on a continuous basis without distorting the sound.
- Max Watts – Max watts is simply the maximum amount of power that a subwoofer can handle, which allows it to produce the hard-hitting spikes of bass that people love.
To learn more about power capacity and when amplifiers are required to supply that power, read the selecting an amplifier section in our complete buyer’s guide below.
Most subwoofers will need to be installed in an enclosure of some type in order to provide protection and produce the best sound possible. When dealing with shallow mount subwoofers, you need to choose an enclosure that is thin enough to fit where you want it installed, but still thick enough to allow for proper installation of the sub and sufficient heat disbursement.
You can either purchase pre-made enclosures for subwoofers or have them custom built based on your specific installation. You can learn more about enclosures in the subwoofer enclosures section near the bottom of this guide.
Putting in the effort to learn as much as you can about subwoofers and how they are installed in your vehicle will help ensure you pick the right ones for your needs. Take some time to read through the top ten shallow mount subwoofers below so you can decide which one will look and sound perfect in your vehicle.
1. Best Overall Subwoofer: Kicker CompRT 10’’ Subwoofer
Power Handling: 400-Watts RMS, 800-Watts Max
Kicker brand subwoofers are best known for hard-hitting bass, and this model is certainly no exception. They were designed to produce that chest rumbling bass you love despite having such a shallow mount design. The cone is injection molded polypropylene, which allows it to create the deep bass without as much movement as you would find in traditionally designed subs.
This sub also has a rubber surround on the cone, which not only gives it additional durability but also makes it waterproof. If you ever want to open up your trunk and blast the music outside, you don’t need to worry about a little rain or other exposure.
As a 10’’ sub with a shallow mount, you can get this installed just about anywhere in your vehicle without any trouble. The only downside that we found with this model is the clarity of the sound isn’t quite as good as you will find on certain other models. If you are someone who is primarily focused on bass, however, this won’t likely be a major concern.
- Rubber Surround for Waterproof Usage
- Durable Voice Coils for Long Lasting Quality
- Hard-Hitting Bass
- Quality of Sound is Not as Good as Some Other Subwoofers
2. Best Sound Clarity: Rockford Fosgate R2 Ultra Shallow
Power Handling: 200-Watts RMS, 400-Watts Max
If you love listening to music and you want bass that will complement any genre and not just drown out all the other audio, this is a great option for you. This 10-inch sub from Rockford Fosgate boasts sound clarity levels of just 30Hz, which is very impressive. This means you will get crisp bass that you can really feel, while also producing an overall audio quality that will bring added depth to any music. Whether you love rap, classical music, or anything in between, this sub is a great option for your system.
Some people will be put off by the fact that this sub only has a 200-watt RMS and 400-watt max power output, but that is one of the things that allows for greater clarity. If you just want window shattering bass, you will be better off going with a high-powered model like the Pioneer TS Shallow Mount Subwoofer, which boasts 1200-Watt max power levels.
As with all subwoofers from Rockford Fosgate, you will also love the durable construction, including the MICA injected polypropylene cone and anodized aluminum voice coil.
- Sound Clarity at 30Hz
- Very Affordable
- Durable Construction
- Only 200 Watts RMS
3. Best Budget Subwoofer: Kicker 43C104 Comp 10’’ Subwoofer
Power Handling: 150-Watt RMS, 300-Watt Max
If you are looking to upgrade the bass quality in your vehicle, but you don’t want to spend a lot of money on the system, this is an excellent option to consider. Kicker is a very popular brand name for car audio, and they are known for creating good quality subs that sound great.
This model does not require much power compared to many others on the list, which means you do not need to invest heavily in an amplifier. You also will not need to install any extra batteries or other equipment along with the sub and amp. This makes it a perfect option for anyone who wants great sounding bass without breaking their budget.
Of course, since it is an entry-level sub, you will not get the same sound levels or quality as some of the other options on this list. For the vast majority of people, however, this will still be a huge upgrade compared to a stock system and will provide a great overall listening experience. If you are looking for a premium option, however, you will want to check out the JL Audio shallow mount subwoofer.
- Very Affordable
- Only Requires a Basic Amplifier
- Produces Great Bass for the Power and Price
- Sound Quality is Lacking Compared to High-End Models
Power Handling: 300-Watt RMS, 600-Watt Max
For those who want to mount their subwoofer under the seat in their vehicle, or behind the seat in a small truck, there is no better option than this sub from JL Audio. The mounting depth is just 2.5 inches, and only requires a few more inches of air space to sound perfect. While you can place these in a box for added protection and ease of mounting, they can also operate fine free-standing, which means you can just bolt them to the floor of the vehicle or behind your seat.
Despite their shallow depth, these speakers sound absolutely amazing. Whether you are looking for powerful, heart-pounding bass or a clean low end for general music, you will find it in these subs.
While there is absolutely a lot to love about these subwoofers, you will be paying for the quality. JL Audio subwoofer models are known to be some of the best on the market, but also some of the most expensive, and these are no exception. If you want to go with this option, make sure you have a large budget to purchase these subs and the amp needed to power them.
- 2.5’’ Mounting Depth
- Shockingly Strong Bass
- Can be Used Without an Enclosure
5. Most Durable Subwoofer: Kenwood Excelon 12’’ Car Subwoofer
Power Handling: 350-Watt RMS, 1400-Watt Max
When it comes to pure volume, the more power a sub can handle, the louder things are able to be. With a max power capacity of 1400-watts, you will be able to get extremely loud bass hits out of these subs. Keep in mind that the RMS power is only 350-watts, meaning the continuous volume or clarity won’t be quite as high. You also have to be careful not to overpower these subs due to the large difference between RMS and max power capacity.
These subs are made with a carbon-glass fiber composite cone, which is very durable and long-lasting. It also has a cast aluminum basket for further strength and weight. While these subs are definitely in the shallow mount category, they are 5.2’’ in depth, which is more than many other options on this list, so make sure they will fit where you need them.
- Can Handle Up to 1400-Watts of Power
- Able to Produce Very Loud Bass Hits
- Durable Construction for Long-Lasting Quality
- Audio Quality Not as Good as Other Subs
- Only 350-Watts RMS
6. Most Powerful Subwoofer: Alpine 12’’ Shallow Mount Subwoofer
Power Handling: 600-Watt RMS, 1800-Watt Max
This 12’’ subwoofer from Alpine has an impressive power handling capacity of 1800-watts. The RMS limit is 600-watts, which is a third of the max power capacity, rather than half, like most subs are able to handle. 600-watts RMS is still higher than many other subs on the market today and will be able to provide you with a good consistent sound. When the real hard bass hits, however, you will definitely appreciate the massive max-power capacity.
There is really no doubt that this subwoofer is made for people who love listening to rap and other bass-heavy music. It will produce the window-rattling deep sound that you desire.
While power planning for your vehicle is always important when adding in subwoofers and amps, it is absolutely critical when dealing with an 1800-watt system like this (especially if you will be installing two of them). You will definitely need to install a separate car battery into your vehicle to power your audio system properly and avoid damaging either your audio components or the battery itself. Another concern with high-powered subs is heat disbursement, but that is handled well with the aluminum frame and radial finned heat sink.
- 1800-Watts Max Power
- Able to Produce Extremely Loud Bass
- Efficient Heat Disbursement
- Will Require Proper Power Planning
- RMS is 1/3 of Max Power
7. Best Subwoofer Set: Skar Audio VD-12 Max Power Subwoofers
Power Handling: 500-Watt RMS, 800-Watt Max
The Skar Audio subs are sold as a set, which is convenient for those who want to set up their car audio system with two subwoofers. The price for both of these quality subs is quite attractive compared to buying other brands separately.
We love the fact that the RMS power level is 500-watts, and the max power level is 800-watts. Having these two numbers closer together means the subs can handle a greater amount of consistent power along with the occasional spikes.
The cone is made of pressed paper, which is not as durable as other materials that are typically used in subs, so make sure they are mounted in an area where they will be protected. Using this cheaper material does allow them to keep the price down, and with proper care, will not hurt the longevity of the sub. Fortunately, proper mounting into an enclosure is easy, thanks to the convenient pre-drilled holes around the outside of these subs.
- Affordable Price
- High RMS to Max Watts Ratio
- Easy Design for Mounting
- Pressed Paper Cones
8. Best Looking Subwoofer: JL Audio 10TW3 Thin-Line Car Subwoofer
Power Handling: 200-Watt RMS, 400-Watt Max
How good something looks is always going to be subjective, but it is hard to debate the fact that these subs are very pleasing to the eye. When you get them hooked up and can see the cone movement, you will definitely recognize that this is what subwoofers should look like.
Of course, the most important thing about any subwoofer is going to be how good it sounds, and you will not be disappointed in this area either. The bass from this sub is strong and crisp. You can really feel it in your chest every time your music hits that low rumbling bass, and you will absolutely love it. These are not the loudest subs around, but for a real audiophile, the higher quality will more than make up for it.
As with just about all subs from JL Audio, you are going to be paying a premium for the quality, so keep that in mind.
- Extremely Attractive Subs
- Produces Deep Strong Bass
- Premium Materials and Construction
- Lower Power Levels than Many Other Subs
9. Hardest Hitting Bass: Rockford Fosgate P3SD4 Punch Shallow Subwoofer
Power Handling: 400-Watt RMS, 800-Watt Max
This is another great subwoofer from the iconic Rockford Fosgate brand. Their punch series is appropriately named, given the amount of bass that you can get out of these impressive subs. The 800-watt max power for these subs can easily rival the volume and sharpness of the bass that you would find with higher powered options.
The powerful bass is largely made possible by the fact that the materials used in these subs are top-notch. It has an anodized aluminum cone and dust cap. They also designed a custom spider venting option that helps to keep the speaker cooler, even with extensive use. All of this is backed up by a full 1-year warranty.
While the bass is loud and can hit very hard, there are some issues with the overall range of the sound it puts out. This will not be a problem for those who are going strictly for volume, but if you listen to a variety of different types of music, it may become apparent. Another concern is that these subs are quite expensive. For this amount of money, there are some better options available, unless you are looking strictly for subs from Rockford Fosgate (which nobody would blame you for).
- Made with All Premium Materials
- Produces Hard-Hitting Bass
- Full 1-Year Warranty
- Better Cost vs. Quality Options
- Some Complaints on Bass Range
10. Most Powerful Bass: Pioneer TS 1200 Watt Shallow-Mount Subwoofer
Power Handling: 300-Watt RMS, 1200-Watt Max
When most people are looking to purchase subwoofers, the feature they want most is powerful bass, and that is just what you will get with this model from Pioneer. With a max power output of 1200-watts, you will be able to really rattle the windows in any vehicle every time that bass hits. Even with this great max power that produces the deep bass, you will still get excellent sound clarity.
While most subwoofers have the RMS output power right at half of what the max power is, that is not the case with this one. The RMS power limit is 300-watts, which is just 25% of its max. This means that it can’t sustain the extremely loud and powerful bass constantly. For most people, this is not going to be a problem because it is the crisp, hard-hitting bass that they are looking for, and this sub will not disappoint there. If you are not sure about your power needs, however, make sure to learn more about this important aspect of subwoofers in our full buyer’s guide below.
One other point to keep in mind is that this subwoofer is a single voice coil design, so you generally want to install just one.
- Max Power Capacity of 1200-Watts
- Surprisingly Good Sound Clarity
- Produces Powerful Bass
- 300-Watt RMS is Lower than Expected
- Single Voice Coil
Buyer’s Guide for Shallow Mount Subwoofers
Installing new subwoofers is a significant investment for your vehicle, so you want to make sure you get it right. By the time you purchase the subwoofers, amplifier, and other components you need, you will be spending anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars. With this in mind, it makes sense to do the necessary research to ensure you get the perfect setup the first time.
In order to avoid mistakes, read through this guide—we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about choosing, powering, and installing your shallow mount subwoofers.
Size of Subwoofer
Subwoofers come in a variety of different sizes, typically ranging from 8’’ up to 15’’. The most common options for car audio are 10’’ and 12’’. This size is measured from one edge of the cone to the other, going directly over the center of it. The larger the sub, the more sound it can produce.
When it comes to subwoofer size, one of the most common questions is whether it is better to go with two 10’’ subs or one 15’’ sub (or some other combination). There is no right or wrong answer here, but in general, you will be able to get better overall sound quality and volume from two smaller subs than one larger one, when they have similar power ratings. This is because they can be positioned in the vehicle to create better audio coverage.
Most subwoofers need to be placed into an enclosure to keep them safe while also optimizing the sound that is produced. Most enclosures are box-shaped, which take up quite a bit of room. If you are investing in a shallow mount subwoofer, make sure you choose a shallow enclosure as well. When shopping for an enclosure, you will see three main designs:
- Sealed Enclosures – This is a box that the subwoofer is secured in, facing outward, with the wiring run inside the box to keep it safe.
- Ported Enclosures – Ported enclosures have openings that allow the sound to escape easily, which allows you to better direct where the sound goes.
- Reflex Enclosures – Reflex enclosures completely encase the subwoofer and direct all the sound out through an opening. This option is also known as a bandpass box.
Some subwoofers are designed so that they can be used without an enclosure. This is especially common if you are installing a sub into a custom location in your vehicle, such as in the door, into one of the seats, or even under a seat. When this is the case, you simply secure the sub into the location either by bolting it to a secure object in your vehicle or securing it in place using straps as part of the custom install.
Where to Install Your Subwoofers
If you are interested in purchasing shallow mount subwoofers, the chances are that you are working with limited amounts of space, or you want to try to keep the subs hidden from sight. Where your subs are installed will impact how they sound, how easy they are to hook up, and how safe they are, so make sure you put plenty of thought into this decision. In most cases, there will be three options available.
Trunk or Hatch
Installing subwoofers in the trunk or hatch of a vehicle is by far the most common option. There is typically plenty of space in this area, and since people do not ride in the trunk, you won’t have to worry about them getting kicked or damaged. To get the best sound from subs in this location, you will want to install them right up against the back wall of the vehicle. They can be either facing the front of the vehicle or facing up, depending on the design of the enclosure and the vehicle.
Behind the Seat
If you drive a sportscar or small truck with no back seat, installing subwoofers directly behind the two front seats can be a great option. This will keep the subs right in the cabin with you, so you get the best sound quality and volume possible. Of course, with this option you will be taking up most of the available space for storage or passengers, so there is that limitation. Since shallow mount subs take up much less room than the standard design, however, this may work for you.
Under the Seat
Shallow mount subwoofers can often slide directly under the two front seats. This will really let you feel it when the bass hits, and it also helps to keep the subs from being seen by potential thieves. Another advantage of installing them under the seat is that they are not taking up any of the room normally used for storage or other passengers. When going this route, you want to make sure that the subwoofer (or the enclosure) does not come into contact with any moving parts from the seat. The last thing you want to do is scrape up your new subs when you slide your seat forward or back.
Selecting the Right Amplifier
Subwoofers require a lot of electricity in order to produce the amazing sound that you love. The stock wiring and electrical system in your vehicle will not be able to safely provide an even flow of electricity to your subwoofers. In order to power your subs, you will need to purchase and install one or more amplifiers. When shopping for an amp for your car audio system, make sure to consider the following factors.
The most important thing to look for when choosing an amp is its electrical power capacity. This will tell you how many watts of power it is able to deliver per channel. You want to select an amp that is able to produce anywhere from 100 to 150% of the RMS level of the subwoofers you selected.
It is important to be aware that when subwoofers are underpowered, it can actually damage them. For this reason, you never want to buy an amp that is not able to produce at least enough power to match the sub’s RMS rating. It can also be hazardous to your subs to use an amp that is dramatically overpowered, but that will not be a concern until you reach about 200+% of the RMS levels.
Amplifiers can get extremely hot when being used, especially if you are listening to music for an extended period of time. When selecting a location to install your amp, make sure you choose somewhere that can be well-ventilated so that the heat can be dispersed safely. You will also want to avoid having any fabric or other heat-sensitive items near the amp, or it could cause damage or even a fire.
Source of Power
Your vehicle was designed to be able to support the electrical needs of all the stock systems, including the sound system. When you add in subwoofers that take hundreds, if not thousands, of watts of power, it can cause a strain on your vehicle’s electronics.
For subs that require less than 600-watts of power, it is safe to simply draw the electricity from your vehicle’s battery. If your system needs more than 600-watts of power, however, you should install a separate battery that is used exclusively for your sound system. For higher-end systems, you may also need to upgrade your alternator to meet the power requirements.
Make sure you note that these power requirements are for the total system, not each subwoofer. So, if you install two subs that each have a power requirement of-400 watts, you will definitely want to add a separate battery.
Powerful Bass in Any Vehicle
No matter what type of vehicle you drive, shallow mount subwoofers will allow you to enjoy the hard-hitting bass that you love. Once you choose the right subs, enclosure, and amplifier for your system and get them all installed, you will be able to enjoy listening to your favorite bass-heavy songs for years to come.
Now that you know everything needed to find the right shallow mount subwoofers for your vehicle, go back and review our top shallow mount subwoofers list to find the ones that are right for your situation.
Of course, even with the best subwoofers installed, you won’t get the best audio experience if you still have a lousy stereo. If you’re also considering an aftermarket stereo as part of your upgrades, check out our guide to the best car stereos.