Subwoofers are speakers designed to play the notes at the lower registers of music. They feature a much larger cone than other types of speakers that allow them to replicate the longer sound waves of bass notes. Of course, this can lead to a situation where they are designed in a way that takes up too much space.
Best Shallow Mount Subwoofers 2018
This is where the shallow mount subwoofer comes into play, but even in this subcategory, there is confusing differentiation. That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best shallow mount subwoofers. Then we provide a helpful buyer’s guide, so you can find the shallow mount subwoofer that is right for you.
|Jl Audio 10tw3|
|400 Watts||82 dB||24 to 200 Hz||10-Inch||Check Price|
|Rockford Fosgate R2||200 Watts||87 dB||45 to 250 Hz||10-Inch||Check Price|
|Polk Audio db1040||270 Watts||86 dB||20 to 200 Hz||10-Inch||Check Price|
|Kenwood Excelon KFC-XW1200F||350 Watts||91 dB||28 to 200 Hz||12-Inch||Check Price|
|Skar Audio EV-10||150 Watts||85 dB||30 to 500 Hz||10-Inch||Check Price|
1. Jl Audio 10tw3 – Most Powerful 10” Shallow Mount Subwoofer
Modern and Powerfull
From those humble origins JL Audio rose to become one of the premiere manufacturers of automotive audio equipment riding high off of wins at numerous IASCA World Finals Championships where automotive sound systems are pitted against one another, comparing both sound quality and bass boxing. Following their smash success on the biggest stage of automotive audio competition, JL Audio took their specialization in subwoofer systems and expanded the business to where it is today.
Great Sound, Slim Design
Though, this subwoofer is not really ideal for the midrange production as its frequency range tops out at 200 Hz. That is due in a large part because the 10tw3 combines the solid mica polypropylene cones with a butyl rubber surround. While this allows for decent sound quality and solid durability, it does limit the flexibility a bit reducing the fullest frequency range it might otherwise achieve.
Still, one of the best qualities of the 10tw3 is its mounting depth. Even in a shallow mount category, the JL Audio is slimmer than most, requiring a svelte 3 ¼” mounting both top and bottom. The JL Audio doubles up on its mounting focus by using a tab ear mounting system. These tabs allow multiple subwoofers to be mounted next to each other saving more than an inch in horizontal mounting space.
- Provides the highest RMS wattage we reviewed
- Can push the lowest lows at 24 Hz
- Features one of the shallowest mounts on our list at 3 ¼”
- A low sensitivity of 82dB will require more power
- An exceptionally expensive shallow mount subwoofer
- Has a narrow frequency of only 24-200 Hz
2. Rockford Fosgate R2 – Best Sealed Enclosure Shallow Mount Subwoofer
A Top-Tier Brand
That being the case, it is actually somewhat disappointing that the Rockford Fosgate R2 is not more impressive especially considering the company’s top-tier product lines still lead the industry in numerous categories and remains a fan favorite of audiophiles worldwide. Still, this subwoofer does have a niche which is likely the source of some of its problems but ultimately makes it ideal for a specific setup.
This subwoofer was designed from the start to be housed in a sealed enclosure. This is due to a few choice construction decisions that favor longevity over audio quality.
For instance, the cone is made out of mica-injected polypropylene for enhanced strength and durability, but the cone is simultaneously wired and woven directly to the voice coil. This allows the cone to replicate the sound without straining itself too much, extending the cone’s lifespan even further.
Of course, as a sealed enclosure subwoofer, the steel frame that is made with vents is designed more for the midrange spectrum of octaves. As such, fans of jazz, rock, and other midrange bass genres will find the R2 more than adequate for their needs. Though, the somewhat low power rating of only 200 RMS watts will still limit the maximum volume you can achieve. Thankfully, the 87 dB sensitivity means you do not necessarily need a lot of power to get a decent volume.
- A reasonably priced shallow mount subwoofer
- Excellent along the higher lows and midrange bass
- Provides decent sensitivity at 87 dB
- Has a fairly low power rating of only 200 RMS watts
- Has the highest low at 45 Hz and a narrow frequency range
- Sound quality distorts fairly easily
3. Polk Audio db1040 – Best Marine Shallow Mount Subwoofer
Polk Audio Technologies
Sadly, this means that Polk Audio does not use the most cutting-edge innovations when it comes to their automotive audio equipment, though they are able to transfer much of their home theater innovations to the automotive market. Of course, when it comes to the db1040, that is not the goal at all, as this shallow mount subwoofer was specifically designed to be utilized in marine applications.
Altogether, these materials are designed to provide a structural integrity not only in moist environments but through a much wider range of temperatures as well. Of course, there is always a trade-off, and the more durable a material is the less flexible it is. In audio equipment, that rigidity translates to a lower quality audio. As the speaker cone struggles to properly replicate the sound wave of the bass note, its stiffness restricts its ability to do so. This manifests as a muted sound that does not have crisp edges and comes across as muddy.
- Provides a decent sensitivity of 86dB
- A reasonably priced shallow mount subwoofer
- Materials are exceedingly durable
- The largest mount we reviewed at 5 7/16” x 5 ⅞”
- Has a narrow frequency of only 28-200 Hz
- The stiffer materials produce muted sound quality
4. Kenwood Excelon KFC-XW1200F – Most Powerful 12” Shallow Mount Subwoofer
Quality and Branding
This is because subwoofers will often be forced to make use of high levels of energy in bursts rather than continuously. As such, a subwoofer with a high peak wattage as well as a high RMS wattage will be able to more forcefully and accurately reproduce both the punches and and booms of different music genre bass notes.
The Kenwood manages to do all of this with the highest sensitivity we reviewed at 91 dB per watt. This means that the Excelon will be able to produce equal volumes of music with much less power. Ultimately, this plays to the subwoofer’s advantage in a couple ways. For one, its maximum volume will be louder than many other subwoofers with higher RMS wattage rating but less sensitivity. Even better, you can get away with a less powerful, and less expensive, amplifier assuming you do not intend to push the Excelon to its limits.
- High sensitivity of 91dB provides louder base
- 350 RMS wattage is fairly high
- Both cone and surround made out of quality materials
- A fairly expensive shallow mount subwoofer
- One of the larger mounts on our list at 3 15/16” x 4 7/16”
- Does not feature a dual voice coil
5. Skar Audio EV-10 – Best Budget Shallow Mount Subwoofer
As such, the EV-10’s speaker cone will only produce okay sounding lows but is liable to rip and get blown if played at its maximum rated power setting. This is an even larger issue when you consider that the EV-10 has the lowest power rating we reviewed at 150 RMS watts.
Thankfully, you do not necessarily need to blast this speaker in order to get a reasonable volume out of it as its 85 dB sensitivity rating is decent for a shallow mount subwoofer. While we rated this as our best budget shallow mount subwoofer, this can actually be a good base subwoofer for those who like to tinker on their own.
- Provides a decent sensitivity of 85dB
- An exceedingly inexpensive shallow mount subwoofer
- Rubber surround is great at this price point
- An RMS wattage of 150 is low
- Cone is made out of pressed paper
- Magnet is a single stack ferrite
Best Shallow Mount Subwoofers – Buyer’s Guide
While the power rating of any speaker is important, it is arguably more important for subwoofers than it is for tweeters and mids. This is because a subwoofer is a much larger speaker with a larger cone. As such, subwoofers require more power to flex their cone and replicate the longer sound waves of bass notes.
That being said, subwoofers are one of the few speaker types in which the second type of power rating, peak watts, is important. Essentially, peak watts determine the maximum wattage that a speaker can handle for brief moments. While mids and highs will generally play more or less continuously, subwoofers will often play intermittently depending on the music. In this case, a peak wattage can be important for punchier music.
When it comes to the speaker’s cone, this is the most important material consideration. The cone carries with it the unenviable requirement of needing to be both durable and flexible. This often leads to the use of complex plastics like polypropylene. For more advanced systems, glass will be combined with various woven fibers to produce a material that strikes the proper balance between flexibility and durability.
In regards to the frame, this generally has more to do with the heat dissipating qualities than anything else. While low-end speakers will go with the less expensive plastic, that material traps heat. Similarly, steel will trap heat as well, though it is far more durable. Generally, the best material for a speaker frame will be some type of aluminum alloy that provides a solid structural durability while providing better heat dispersion.
Still, the most important factor of a speaker’s sensitivity involves how much power it takes to produce a certain volume. As such, sensitivity is rated in decibels and determines how many decibels a single watt of power can produce. The more sensitive the speaker, the less power it requires to produce volume. In effect, two speaker’s of equal wattage but differing sensitivity will favor the more sensitive speaker for producing more volume.
This becomes even more relevant when you consider the mid-lows. Mid speakers are generally focused on playing vocals and other melodic frequencies of music. As such, some of the higher lows played in music can muddy a mid speaker’s sound. That is why a subwoofer with a frequency range above 200 Hz can actually improve the overall sound quality of your audio system and can be an important factor depending on the genre of music you generally listen to.
In terms of subwoofers, the most common speaker sizes are 10” and 12” in diameter. Still, subwoofers can come in sizes as large as 15” to as small as 8”. In fact, some subwoofers even blur the line between a woofer and a mid speaker at 6”.
The impedance of a speaker is a measure of its resistance to an electrical current. This resistance is measured in ohms and ultimately determines how easily it can translate the signal from a head unit or amplifier into sound. Generally, a lower impedance will produce a better quality of sound.
This is because the digital signal suffers less distortion through a less resisted set up. Though, this does carry with it the greater potential of durability issues over time as the voice coil of the speaker will be handling a stronger electrical current.
Some speakers aim to alleviate this issue by providing dual voice coils or DVCs. The DVC allows you some leeway when choosing how to setup your speakers often offering the option of either a 2 ohm or an 8 ohm. Still, the most important thing to remember is to match your speaker’s impedance to that of your amplifier to reduce the risk of damage.
While everyone would love to have the best subwoofers available, that ultimately involves a serious financial investment. Though, that kind of investment will extend well beyond the subwoofers themselves. For this task, the amplifier and the head unit will also be major cost factors.
That is why the best shallow mount subwoofer cannot necessarily be judged exclusively on the audio quality produced. Of course, if you are looking for the absolute best audio quality, the JL Audio and Kenwood are great places to start. While the Kenwood cannot handle quite as much power, its larger cone and superior sensitivity place it on equal or better footing than the JL Audio.
Still, if you are in the market for a shallow mount subwoofer, chances are you do not have a wealth of space to work with. In that case, twelve inches might be too large and you would do better with the smaller ten-inch subwoofers from JL Audio. When you combine the smallest mounting depth with the ear tab mounting system, the JL Audio is arguably the best pound for pound shallow mount subwoofer we saw.