What Are The Best Shallow Mount Subwoofers? (2020 Reviews)
Do you fancy uprating the bass in your car sound system but you’re suffering from limited space?
You’re in luck because shallow mount subwoofers are perfect if you’ve got a truck or sports car, anything compact with insufficient space to accommodate a full-bore set of subs with a bulky enclosure.
We’ll walk you through 7 of the best shallow mount subwoofers in a range of sizes and at varying price points so you can crank up the bass without eating up too much space.
Compare Our Picks For The Best Shallow Mount Subwoofer
- 10 Best Shallow Mount Subwoofers 2020
- 1. Pioneer 8” Shallow Mount Subwoofers
- 2. Rockford Fosgate 10” Shallow Subwoofer
- 3. Pioneer 10-Inch Shallow Mount Subwoofer
- 4. Kicker 10” Shallow Mount Competition Subwoofer
- 5. Alpine 12” Shallow Mount Subwoofer
- 6. Kenwood Excelon 12” Shallow Mount Subwoofer
- 7. JL Audio 13.5” Shallow Mount Subwoofer
- 8. Jl Audio 10tw3-d4 Shallow Mount
- 9. Polk Audio MM1042DVC
- 10. Skar Audio IX-10
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- What Are The Advantages of Shallow Mount Subwoofers?
- What Are The Drawbacks of Shallow Mount Subwoofers?
- Shallow Mount Subwoofers: Placement
- Different Sizes of Shallow Mount Subwoofers
- What Impacts the Sound?
- The Cone
- Woofer Surround
- The Frame
- Frequency Response
10 Best Shallow Mount Subwoofers 2020
1. Pioneer 8” Shallow Mount Subwoofers
Pioneer has gatecrashed the shallow mount subwoofer party with its recently released TS range. These dinky 8” subs harness a range of innovative features to serve up healthy levels of bass in a diminutive package ideal for compact vehicles.
- Slim profile for limited spaces
- Reinforced cone prevents failure under load
- Easy installation
- Questionable durability
- Lacks bass due to size
We’ve included this Pioneer 8-incher because some people aren’t looking for ear-crushing bass at the expense of a colossal unit taking up half the back seating. Be realistic about your expectations and this nimble little sub is more than fit for purpose.
With 150 watts of RMS power handling and 600 watts max, this is obviously not going to run off with first prize at any audio comp. That said, the frequency range of 20 to 200Hz gives you plenty of flexibility and the 86dB of sensitivity means the Pioneer is no lightweight except in terms of stature…
And size is perhaps its key selling point. Easy to install and demanding very little room, you can enjoy a deep and loud enough sound at a very reasonable price point.
2. Rockford Fosgate 10” Shallow Subwoofer
Lacking space for a sub needn’t mean losing out altogether. Rockford Fosgate, a household name in the car audio industry, gives you great bass from inside the car with these 10” subs even if you won’t be rocking and thumping from the outside. And as they say, it’s what’s inside that counts.
- A deep and powerful sound
- Shallow space-savers
- Optimized for sealed enclosures
- Doesn’t thump from outside
Everyone has differing needs with subwoofers. If you want to kick out bass that heralds your arrival from a mile away, look at something more powerful. If, on the other hand, you’re after a deep and rich sound that resonates inside the cabin, these Rockford Fosgate are ideal.
Boxing your subs in a sealed enclosure can cause too much heat to be generated. An aluminum frame with heat sink fins keeps the temperature down even under heavy load.
Despite only needing a 3” mounting depth and redefining shallow, these 12” subs have 500 watts RMS power handling deliver a crisp and clear bass across all genres of music.
3. Pioneer 10-Inch Shallow Mount Subwoofer
For any audiophile looking for maximum bass projection with the smallest possible footprint, these Pioneer 10” shallow mount subs are the optimum solution. You can push the power without compromising sound quality and you won’t need to dig too deep for the privilege.
- Excellent RMS power handling range
- Stable at 2 ohms or 4 ohms
- Very affordable
- Power rating
- Can be awkward to install due to extra 5/8” in size
With a max power rating of 1200 watts and 100 to 300 watts of RMS power handling, the Pioneer 10-incher packs a lot of power in a miniature package. Although very shallow, you might need to break out the jigsaw when installing it since most sub box holes are 9 ¼” while the Pioneer measures up at 9 ¾”.
The resin cone has mica injected into it. This augments the strength while amplifying the sound quality.
For an imposing bassline with highs and lows all easily picked out, this 10” sub outperforms many larger, pricier models.
You’ll be able to push this sub to its limits thanks to the combination of RMS power range and decent max power without losing out on clarity as you crank it up.
4. Kicker 10” Shallow Mount Competition Subwoofer
If you’re a car audio fan, you’ll be well aware of Kicker’s hard-won reputation for producing comp-grade subs with affordable price tags. This 10” shallow mount is compact enough for small vehicles while still providing thumping bass and excellent power handling.
- Injected-molded SoloKon
- No bass muddiness
- Capable power handling
- Santoprene surround
- 800 watts peak
- 400 watts RMS
- Some sound leakage with vented boxes
Make sure you enclose your Kicker in a sealed box and you’ll sidestep its only real downside, the fact sound can seep out from vented enclosures.
400 watts of RMS power and 800 watts at the top end translate to a sub that’s small in stature but certainly not in terms of sound quality.
The SoloKon cone and Santoprene surround are surprising additions on a relatively inexpensive 10” sub. Performance is optimized and the build quality is more than you’d expect from a shallow mount subwoofer in this price range.
Although RMS power counts more than peak power, the fact the Kicker maxes out at 800 watts gives you confident sound handling and a really powerful bass wrapped up in a compact, convenient little package.
5. Alpine 12” Shallow Mount Subwoofer
Alpine don’t make the cheapest audio equipment but not everyone is looking for the cheapest sub. This 12” still qualifies as a shallow mount while ramping up the power quotient nicely. First-class build quality and agile power handling come together to give you a hard-hitting subwoofer that won’t dominate your vehicle.
- Ultra-low profile sub
- Strong cast-aluminum frame
- Heavy but accurate bass
- Can distort under heavy load
Alpine’s Type R subs work well for recreational use giving you more than sufficient bass without you dipping out on sound quality or needing too much space for installation.
600 watts of RMS power and a top end of 1800 watts allows you to telegraph your presence as you roll into sight. The level of bass from such a small sub is quite unexpected.
While this woofer is compact enough to slip stealthily into even smaller vehicles, build quality and overall strength means it should last the distance rather than letting you down if pushed too hard.
Decent frequency range and sensitivity complete this enticing bundle of audio joy.
6. Kenwood Excelon 12” Shallow Mount Subwoofer
The final 12” sub we’ll look at today, Kenwood Excelon’s contribution to the shallow mount party is attracting a legion of dedicated followers. If you have a truck or any vehicle with limited interior real estate, these compact woofers come sailing to the rescue. While they take up a little room, you’ll still have space for passengers in back as you rattle out that bassline.
- Strong and powerful Kenwood Excelon sound
- Bass capable of really shaking
- Rapid break-in period
- Struggle to hit really low frequencies
- Eat up a bit of backseat leg room
The flexible Kenwood Excelon power range of 50 to 350 watts RMS means you can pump out some serious bass without losing clarity. The only negative is that these subs can find it tough to handle super-low bass frequencies.
The Kenwood Excelon cone is made from a carbon-glass fiber composite while it has a rubber surround. This attention to detail boosts the sound quality while protecting your investment from being knocked around a little.
If you’re looking for some subs that are easy to install even in restricted spaces, demand very little breaking in and reward you with a vibrant and crisp sound all day long, think long and hard about these Kenwood 12-inchers.
7. JL Audio 13.5” Shallow Mount Subwoofer
Last but by no means least, the legendary JL Audio have a superb off-size 13.5” sub that slots neatly into the shallow mount category. Demanding only the smallest of sealed enclosures and packing a very considerable punch, this sub is perfect if you have a compact vehicle but you’re not prepared to settle for a restrained bassline.
- Built to withstand serious punishment
- Incredibly compact
- Pulsing bass
- Relatively pricey
- Low-end frequency response is limited
JL Audio is renowned for catering to audiophiles without extracting a king’s ransom for their gear. This 13.5” shallow mount continues that tradition.
RMS gives you 600 watts of continuous handling while peak power is 1200 watts. This means you’ll get loud and full-bodied bass with rounded low notes. The frequency response at the very low end is the only meaningful drawback.
In return for this exceptional sound, you won’t need to sacrifice too much space inside. With a mounting depth of just 2.5”, this sub will slot in where you’d normally only fit a smaller 8” model.
For an accurate and rich sound, fantastic build quality and a price tag that won’t bankrupt you, the JL Audio 13.5-incher deserves its place on any list of the best shallow mount subwoofers for your car.
8. Jl Audio 10tw3-d4 Shallow Mount
As a shallow mount subwoofer, this one is a great pick if you’re looking for one that’s slimmer and smaller than most.
- Highest RMS wattage
- Pushes low around 24Hz
- One of the shallowest subwoofer mounts on the market
- Pricey for a shallow mount subwoofer
- Narrow frequency response
JL came onto the scenes in the 1970s and started throwing together different components and concepts to try and push the limits of audio as people knew it. They’re now the premiere in automotive audio equipment winning many awards every year.
This subwoofer provides a top out frequency range of 200Hz. This happens due to the combination of solid mic polypropylene and butyl rubber surround. What occurs as a result is reliable sound and maximized durability. It does restrict the flexibility of the sound, but it makes up in design.
9. Polk Audio MM1042DVC
The Polk Audio subwoofer offers excellent sensitivity, and it’s priced affordably for what you get.
- Sound sensitivity
- Affordably priced
- Durable materials
- Large mount
- Lower quality of sound
Lower quality sound
10. Skar Audio IX-10
If you’re looking for a budget subwoofer that provides excellent sensitivity and an easy install, take a look at this one. It can also work as a great base if you’re interested in playing around with it.
- 85dB offers “so-so” sensitivity
- Rubber surround
- 200 RMS wattage
- Pressed paper cone
The company, Skar, is new to the automotive audio world, but they have an impressive operation that is always researching and developing new ways to create high-quality audio equipment. That said, this option is more of your budget brand. You can usually pick this shallow mount subwoofer up for less than $50, which is impressive, but it makes us wonder why.
The reason they can sell these for such a low price is that they don’t have a lot of the overhead that other companies have. They keep their prices low and their operational costs low, so they don’t have to compete with the larger manufacturers. It makes sense to us.
Since they need to save money on production costs, they will likely cut corners, which may result in a cheaper product.
The most significant issue we have with this subwoofer is the pressed paper speaker cone. It’s cheap and not as functional as we would hope. It’s a low-grade material that hurts the quality of sound and doesn’t provide structural integrity to the product either.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
For general advice on buying the best subwoofers for your car, check out our detailed guide here.
There are several key factors to bear in mind if you’re specifically looking for shallow mount subwoofers, though.
We’ll walk you through the pros and cons of this style of sub then look at where to place them for best effect. We’ll also look briefly at the different sizes at your disposal.
Read on so you’ll be fully informed when it comes to adding the most effective shallow mounts for your requirements and vehicle…
What Are The Advantages of Shallow Mount Subwoofers?
- Light and compact
- Highly portable
- Easy to install
What Are The Drawbacks of Shallow Mount Subwoofers?
- Lack really deep bass
- Sound issues
- Prone to becoming dislodged
Shallow Mount Subwoofers: Placement
With shallow mount subs, placement is super-simple.
- Rear Speaker Deck: Popping your shallow mount subs behind the rear seat or on the speaker deck is a smart move. You’ll enjoy a great balance of highs and lows and you’ll feel like you’re really amongst the music. For quality of sound combined with a great vibe, this placement is probably your best option
- Trunk: If it’s not practical to house your subs on the rear deck, place them in the trunk. This leads to you feeling the music more than hearing it. The pulsing bass will thump throughout your vehicle and you’ll get the loudest sound from outside the car.
Different Sizes of Shallow Mount Subwoofers
Size matters when it comes to subs but it’s not the only important factor.
There’s absolutely no right or wrong answer to sizing and you need to think about what you want rather than seeking a generalized solution.
- 8” – The smallest sub, don’t write off 8-inchers completely. Clearly, you won’t enjoy the thudding bass a beefier model will produce. On the upside, soft and light bass and rapid sounds come out beautifully from smaller units.
- 10” – For a rounded sound that will cope well with fast-paced sounds while also added a little more depth to proceedings, 10” subs are a wise bet.
- 12” – Anyone looking for more bass in a sub capable of dealing with a broad spread of frequencies should think about 12-inchers. The drawback here is that they don’t acquit themselves well with the quicker sounds of rock or metal. For hip-hop heads or dance music fans, though, this size sub is the connoisseur’s choice.
- 15” – Unless you’re looking to enter audio competitions or you really want to make a statement when your car is approaching, the sheer volume generated by 15” subs is probably unnecessary for most needs. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you must go large. Only roll with 15-inchers if you feel it makes sense for you. Also, 15” can hardly be termed shallow mount so for the purposes of this article, we’ve focused on 8” to 12” subs.
What Impacts the Sound?
When you’re in the process of shopping around for a shallow mount subwoofer, it’s easy to get swayed in one direction or the other. It’s essential to understand the parts of the subwoofer and how they impact the quality of sound.
Here are the primary components and features you’ll want to think about and how they relate to sound.
Power gets referred to as watts, but there are two different types of wattages. The main one is RMS watts, which is continuous wattage and is the primary judge of the quality of a subwoofer. The second type of power rating is called peak power, and you’ll likely only hear about these when referring to subwoofers.
Peak power is vital because it determines how much wattage the speaker can handle during specific moments. A subwoofer with high peak power provides a more edgy sound and a bigger punch when you’re playing music.
You’ll find three primary materials on your subwoofer. You have the cone, the surround, and the frame. These are the most essential parts to consider and understand when shopping for a shallow mount subwoofer.
The cone is the most crucial part because it needs to be both durable and flexible to provide great sound while remaining sturdy enough to stand the test of time. The cone usually gets made of polypropylene and other complex plastic materials.
For great sound, you want to avoid subwoofers where the cone uses pressed paper and other cardboard-like materials. These are cheaper alternatives, and they won’t only hurt the life of your subwoofer, they will damage the sound as well.
In some situations, we also see glass used with fibers that help create a great balance of flexibility and durability. Flexibility is crucial because it directly impacts the sound of your subwoofer.
In the best situation, you always want a rubber surround. The purpose of the rubber surround is to reduce the number of vibrations your subwoofer feels so it doesn’t distort the sound. Cheaper materials like plastic won’t provide the cushion your subwoofer needs to protect the sound. The result is a lot of muted sections and less rigid sound.
The primary purpose of the frame is to reduce the amount of heat the subwoofer sucks in and contains. Lower-quality speakers will use cheaper materials like plastic. When this happens, the subwoofer sucks in and retains warmth, which causes the subwoofer to overheat and shorten its lifespan.
Steel is another popular material used for subwoofer frames, but it also traps heat. The best material is something that dissipates heat like aluminum alloy. This material offers both durability and heat removing qualities.
Now let’s talk about sensitivity since it’s a word we’ve used quite frequently throughout the reviews. You’ll often see the word sensitivity used in conjunction with efficiency. These mean the same thing.
The more efficient your speaker is, the better it is at taking watts and converting that to sound. The more efficient it is, the cooler it will stay. Compare this to the impact on your ears that a jet taking off over your head would have. Now think about the effect that someone whispering in your ear has.
There is a big difference, right?
If your subwoofer isn’t efficient or it has low sensitivity, it means that it will require more effort to produce volume. If it needs more power to make sound, it will wear down the material components of the speaker quicker.
So, to make a long story short. You want a speaker with high sensitivity because it requires less power to produce the same amount of volume.
Many people look for a subwoofer that can play the lowest note and think that they found the best one on the market. While there is some truth to this, there is a lot of falsehood there as well. You want to consider the mid-lows because most bass notes are about 20Hz, which is the lowest sound that the human ear can hear.
As a result, you want a subwoofer with a high-frequency range so it can hit the higher highs and lower lows while also producing melodies and vocals in the mid-range. Subwoofers with frequency ranges of around 200Hz provide the best sound because they have the highest range.
This factor will vary depending on the kind of music you listen to, but it’s a good rule of thumb to follow for everyone.
Since we’re talking about shallow mount subwoofers, it’s also important to consider how the size of your speaker will impact the ease of installation and, ultimately, the quality of your sound.
Modern technology allows everything to shrink in size while providing better quality sound. That said, larger speakers are still able to produce a more full-bodied sound. Most speakers will run between 10 and 12 inches in diameter, with some being smaller or larger.
The size of your subwoofer won’t directly impact the sound, but you’ll notice that larger ones provide a louder volume and generally a greater range as well.
The final point we need to understand is impedance. This is the measure of the speaker’s resistance to electric currents. We measure this in ohms, and it determines how easily the unit can transfer energy into sound. If the speaker has lower impedance, it provides a better quality sound.
The lower the impedance, the less distortion you’ll experience. All of these sound quality factors often play together. The materials in the cone and surround will also have an impact on how the impedance affects the sound quality.
For most people, you won’t have to worry too much about this factor since you’re only using your subwoofers in a vehicle.
We hope these shallow mount subwoofer reviews have given you some inspiration and the encouragement to enhance your car audio without needing to outlay a fortune.
If you think carefully about your budget, your specific requirements when it comes to the sound quality you’re looking for and the size of the sub to match this, getting the best shallow mount subwoofer should be a cakewalk.
Come back soon!