Car Stereo Subwoofer Buying Guide

Subwoofers are the speaker in your car stereo ensemble that is responsible for producing the bass. The main reason to add a subwoofer to your sound system is to compensate for the small speakers many car models include - so small in fact, that many systems can't adequately reproduce a audible bass sound. You can get around this by purchasing an after-market subwoofer that will give your system the flexibility and extra power it needs to hear the true bass sound that was intended.

If you're looking for a trusty, dependable subwoofer that will keep your sound system powered with plenty of deep, resonating low end, there are a vast range of choices to make your selection from. Here are a few of the many types of subwoofers that you might choose to install in your personal car stereo system, along with a few significant details on each.

Types of Car Stereo Subwoofers

There are a number of distinct types of car stereo subwoofers, including the following most common examples:

Component Subwoofers

A component subwoofer basically consists of the speaker itself. You'll have to buy it separately and fit it into your car stereo system using a subwoofer box. You'll also need to buy an amplifier to power it with, especially if you really want the "booooom" Component subwoofers are available in sizes ranging from 8 inches to 15 inches, and are available in a variety of makes and models.

Enclosed Subwoofers

If you're looking for an easier fit that doesn't involve you having to do so much of the assembly, perhaps you should look into purchasing an enclosed subwoofer. These are speakers that already come pre-packaged in their own enclosed unit. Just fit it into an empty space in your car stereo system and connect it. You'll still need to purchase an amplifier to power your enclosed subwoofer, but you'll be spared the task of having to rip apart and redesign your car stereo system just to accommodate it.

Vehicle Specific Subwoofers

If you want to add in an unobtrusive subwoofer that will sound fantastic but won't disturb the stock design of your vehicle's interior, you might want to purchase a vehicle specific subwoofer. These models are excellent for bass enthusiasts who want to add a new subwoofer to a cramped or out of the way area in the interior of their car. They come in a wide variety of colors, including plenty that can be matched directly to the interior design scheme of your vehicle. It's the perfect stealth subwoofer for fashion conscious owners.

Powered Subwoofers

A powered subwoofer is the perfect space saving combination unit for those of you who have cramped quarters in your vehicle's interior and not a lot of space for extra speakers. A powered subwoofer combines a speaker and amplifier into one compact unit, thus freeing you from the need to install too many extras on to your personal sound system. They make an excellent addition when you're looking to buy a quick add-on to the system that came with your vehicle, and their compact size won't degrade your car's decor.

Pay attention to

When purchasing a subwoofer for your car stereo system, there are a number of important points that you should pay specific attention to. These details can include, but are not limited to, the following:

RMS Power Ratings. These are the specs you will need to refer to in order to make sure you are getting a subwoofer that is powerful enough for your stereo, but not so powerful as to completely overwhelm it and cause damage.

Frequency range. This statistic gives you an accurate idea of just how low the bass sounds produced by your subwoofer can go. It's important to remember that the size and model of the speaker, as well as the size and type of unit it's mounted in, will affect its performance.

The number of voice coils the subwoofer contains. Most subwoofer units will contain a single voice coil. However, you can also purchase a special dual voice coil subwoofer. A dual voice coil unit will give you more power, more volume, and more "oooomph" for your buck.

Impedance. It's important to match the impedance level of your new subwoofer with the power standards of the system you will install it on to. This will ensure the best possible sound reproduction for your unit.

Finally, yes, size does matter. The bigger the system, the better the results. However, it's important to make sure that the system you install fits comfortably into the interior of your vehicle, and doesn't overload your sound system. However, with the right placement and the right enclosure, you can get fantastic results out of smaller subwoofers.

Top brands and product lines

There are many brands offering car stereo subwoofers for the needs of average buyers and audiophiles alike. Some of the top brands and product lines include the following:

Pioneer is perhaps the best known manufacturer of quality component subwoofers. The company has many models, including the 10 inch TS-W254R and the 12 inch TS-W304R. Prices range from reasonable to high end, while the level of quality on even the smallest models is enough to satisfy even the most finicky car stereo bass enthusiasts.

Kenwood is one of the more popular brands of enclosed subwoofer, with perhaps the most popular being the KSC-SW11.

Infinity manufactures the Primus, and it's perhaps the most popular powered subwoofer on the market. This 8 inch unit will provide a staggering 150 watts of power, and is perfect for serious car stereo enthusiasts.

Planet Audio manufactures the Low Profile P8UAW. This is one of the top selling vehicle specific subwoofers. This compact 8 inch model is perfect for enthusiasts on a budget. It's small in size, but delivers plenty of bass frequency for your buck.