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Best Shallow Mount Subwoofer Choices in the Market

James Benchman
Last Updated on
by James Benchman

These days, it’s easier than ever to have great bass in your car, regardless of what you drive. Whether you’re looking to improve the bass in your car without sacrificing trunk space, mount subs in your rear deck, or outfit your golf cart or Smart car with enough bass to shake the block, a shallow mount subwoofer is exactly what you need.

Today, we’ll take a closer look at the best shallow mount subwoofer options you have, and dive into everything you’ll need to know before you make a purchase.

Shallow Mount Subwoofers
  • Size: 8″
  • Frequency: 38-250 Hz
  • RMS Power: 150 watts
  • Size: 8″
  • Frequency: 20-200Hz
  • RMS Power: 600 watts
  • Size: 12″
  • Frequency: 25-350Hz
  • RMS Power: 800 watts
  • Size: 12″
  • Frequency: 30-700Hz
  • RMS Power: 1400 watts
  • Size: 10″
  • Frequency: 28-200Hz
  • RMS Power: 600 watts

Best Shallow Mount Subwoofer Reviews

1. Rockford Fosgate PS3D2 – Best 8″ Shallow Mount Subwoofer

As the smallest speaker in Rockford Fosgate’s Punch line, the PS3D2 strives to provide impressive bass for a shallow mount subwoofer in a compact 8” size.

The Rockford Fosgate PS3D2 provides some impressive thump given its small size, and it’s ideal for those who are looking for a highly responsive sub to balance out their car audio system with good sound quality.

With a max RMS of 300W and a sensitivity rating of 82dB, the Rockford Fosgate PS3D2 does deliver impressive power and sensitivity given its small size. With a mounting depth of only 2 ⅝”, this sub is ideal for installations in, especially tight quarters.

An anodized aluminum cone, low impedance rating and Santoprene rubber surround help make this Rockford Fosgate speaker particularly durable, so you can feel good about purchasing this one for the long haul.

Keep in mind that at only 8”, this Rockford Fosgate speaker is best for adding balance to your current system. While it is punchy and responsive, you certainly aren’t going to knock anyone’s socks off with deep, powerful bass from this compact speaker.

Final Verdict:

Strong, durable and punchy, the PS3D2 from Rockford Fosgate is a powerful little shallow mount subwoofer that can bring balance to any car stereo. The sub is well made and durable and capable of standing up to whatever you can dish out.

While it won’t be winning any awards for bringing earth shattering bass, this Rockford Fosgate sub is certainly a winner for most small car stereos.

Pros
  • Shallow mounting depth
  • Built with quality components: nice rubber surround & anodized aluminum cone
  • Tight, punchy bass
Cons
  • Doesn’t include a grille
  • Can’t compete with the output of larger subs

2. Pioneer TS SW2002D2 Shallow Mount Subwoofer

If you’re looking for a compact sub with tons of power to spare, the Pioneer TS-SW2002D2 is well worth a closer look.

With an impressive 600W max RMS and a high sensitivity rating of 86dB, this 8” sub from Pioneer is punching well above its weight class. It reminds us of some overachieving subs from folks like JL Audio.

This speaker uses an oversized cone structure which allows for a larger cone in the same sized footprint. The cone itself is reinforced with resin injected mica to create a lightweight and rigid cone that provides impressive bass response.

Thanks to the oversized cone, this small sub sounds larger than it’s 8” size would have you think. The sub also has an impressive frequency range given its size, and it can faithfully reproduce anything in the 20-200Hz range.

If there are any issues at all with this speaker, it may be the voice coils. Several users have complained that one of the voice coils failed them after a few short months. While these all seem like isolated incidents, it is worth mentioning.

Final Verdict:

This sub brings everything you could want to the table. It’s powerful, sensitive and produces deep, powerful bass across a wide frequency range, which is uncommon for 8” subs. While the voice coil issue is cause for concern, this may be the best overall 8” shallow mount sub available.

Pros
  • Impressive bass for its size
  • Very powerful
  • Shallow mounting depth
Cons
  • Questionable voice coils
  • Doesn’t include grille

3. Kicker CVT124 – Best 12″ Shallow Mount Subwoofer

Kicker has developed a reputation for bringing deep, powerful bass to the masses with their high quality and affordable subwoofers. This 12” sub from their popular CompVT line aims to provide that same powerful bass in a compact frame that can be installed practically anywhere.

It has an impressive peak power of 800W (400 watts RMS) and a frequency range of 25-350Hz. Perhaps the most impressive aspects of the CVT124 are its build quality.

This sub features a four-layer high-temperature voice coil, ribbed Santoprene rubber surround that’s stitched to the speaker, and an injection molded SoloKon cone. It’s safe to say that this speaker is built to stand the test of time.

It’s a bit deeper than other shallow mount subs, but that’s to be expected in a 12” subwoofer. At 4 ⅜” deep, this sub should still work for virtually all applications where a shallow mount sub is required.

Final Verdict:

The CVT124 provides pretty impressive bass given its compact size. This sub is powerful, offers good sound quality, and built to stand the test of time. While it’s 4 ⅜” depth may be prohibitive for installations in really tight spaces, most people will find that the CVT124 fits their needs while delivering impressive performance.

Pros
  • Deep bass for a shallow mount sub
  • Impressive build quality (Santoprene is better than a polypropylene cone, different than an anodized aluminum cone)
  • Wide frequency range
Cons
  • May be too deep for some installations

4. Kenwood Excelon 12” Shallow Mount Subwoofer

If you’re looking for a speaker with serious headroom, the Kenwood Excelon line is one to take a closer look at.

This compact 12” sub features an impressive 1400W max peak power (up to 350 Watts RMS), which is more power than any reasonable person will ever need. The Excelon also posts impressive sensitivity numbers at 91dB and a wide frequency range of 30-700Hz.

While the frequency range is wide, we’d prefer to see a smaller range with a bit more low end, as you’d be surprised how often frequencies of 25 or 20Hz come into play.

Durability wise, the Excelon features a high-tech carbon glass fiber cone, butyl rubber surround and a single voice coil with an impressive heat transfer system. It’s safe to say that this sub is built to stand up to whatever you can dish out.

While the single voice coil does limit the amount of boom you’ll be able to get out of this sub, we’ve yet to find an application where this sub didn’t perform adequately.

As for mounting, at nearly 4” deep, this sub is on the deeper side as far as best shallow mount subwoofers go, but it should still be narrow enough for virtually all applications.

Final Verdict:

With its impressive power handling and sensitivity and overbuilt design, the Kenwood Excelon 12” shallow mount sub from Kenwood is certainly one worth taking a closer look at among shallow mount subwoofers. While the single voice coil does limit the amount of thump you can get out of this speaker, most people will find that it provides an ideal sound for their needs.

Pros
  • High power handling
  • Impressive sensitivity
  • Built to last
Cons
  • Doesn’t include grille

5. Alpine SWR T10 – Best 10″ Shallow Mount Subwoofer

If you’re looking for a top of the line subwoofer that pulls out every possible stop to achieve impressive bass response while maintaining a small footprint, the SWR T10 from Alpine may be the one for you.

Alpine rolled out lots of innovative new technology with the Type R line, all of which designed to provide the performance of a full sized subwoofer in a tinier package. At only 3 ¼” deep, the SWR T10 can be mounted virtually anywhere, but you’d probably have no idea you were listening to a shallow mount sub if you weren’t told.

Power handling is good with peak power of 1,200W and max RMS of 600W, as is the 28-200Hz frequency response. These numbers aren’t overly impressive, but where the SWR T10 shines is in the innovative technologies that Alpine has developed to give it a bigger, fuller sound.

Features like an oversized 100mm voice coil, injection molded cone, and patent-pending spider design allow this speaker to move air and produce bass as only a full-sized sub can. Other innovative features, like a radial vented VC heat sink with airflow management system help to keep this speaker well cooled so it can perform at a higher level for the life of the speaker.

Final Verdict:

Alpine dumped tons of R&D into the development of their Type R line, and it shows. The SWR T10 is one of the best sounding compact subs you’ve ever heard. That said, all this innovation comes at a price, and the T10 is one of the most expensive 10” subs on the market.

If you’re looking for the highest quality regardless of price, take a closer look at this speaker. Otherwise, you may want to consider your other options like the Rockford Fosgate.

Pros
  • Sounds like a full sized sub
  • Great bass response
  • Packed with tech and features, good power handling
Cons
  • Expensive

6. Kicker CVT104 Shallow Mount Subwoofer

The CVT104 is the 10” version of Kicker’s popular CVT124 that we profiled earlier.

If you like what you hear about the CVT124, the CVT104 is no different. It features the same components inside a 10” speaker (including a Santoprene surround and a stiff ribbed polypropylene cone), which delivers a bit more responsiveness and punch while still retaining a healthy amount of boom.

The CVT104 is slightly shallower than the CVT124, with a mounting depth of 4 ¼” as opposed to 4 ⅜”. But, both speakers are a little on the deep side for a shallow mount sub, and there may be a few situations where this speaker isn’t shallow enough for your installation.

This speaker’s power handling is not a very high peak of 800W (400W RMS), and the sensitivity is fairly impressive, coming in just north of 87dB. Thanks to it’s 10” size, the frequency range is also expanded from the CVT124, and this subwoofer will handle frequencies from 25-500Hz.

Outside of these differences, the CVT104 features the same components and materials as the CVT124, and thanks to its shallow mounting depth, this sub is ideal for anyone who likes the CVT124 but was unable to install one because of its depth.

Final Verdict:

Kicker always manages to offer a good blend of punch and presence in a well-built speaker for a middle of the road price. There may be better subwoofers at a variety of price points in this category, but Kicker certainly brings a unique sound and perspective to car audio that lots of people love.

The CVT104 is no different, and it’s worth checking out if you’re in the market for a 10” sub.

Pros
  • Good frequency response and sensitivity (power handling is decent)
  • Provides tight, punchy bass
Cons
  • Single voice coil
  • Doesn’t include grille

7. JL Audio 13TW5V2 Shallow Mount Subwoofer

When it comes to professional car audio, no name is as synonymous with excellence and great sound as JL Audio. JL Audio is known for producing some of the best sounding, most responsive and well-tuned subwoofers on the market, and the 13TW5V2 is no different.

The first thing you’re likely to notice about this sub is its unique size. At 13.5”, this speaker blends the block shaking boom of a 15” with the responsiveness of a smaller subwoofer. It’s also incredibly thin, with a mounting depth of only 2.5”, which makes this one of the most compelling choices for challenging installations.

This sub has a max RMS of 600W and an exceptional frequency response of 20-500Hz. A DMA optimized motor, massive 7” voice coil, Santoprene surround and mica infused polypropylene cone ensure that this speaker is built to stand the test of time.

While it may not be quite as powerful as some other subs, this is one you need to hear to fully understand. In my opinion, there isn’t a subwoofer on the market that can deliver the same level of performance as this model from JL Audio, especially given its extremely shallow design.

This sub is musical, and it provides plenty of bass while maintaining great definition and clarity. If there’s any knock on this subwoofer, it’s the price. Granted, this sub is worth every penny of it’s near $600 price, but the average user is going to be priced out.

Final Verdict:

It’s no secret that JL Audio is the leader of the pack when it comes to car audio. The 13TW5V2 is arguably the most impressive subwoofer in the category, and it provides a level of bass and frequency response and clarity that you’d never associate with a shallow mount sub.

If you’re willing to break the bank to own one, this may be the best bet for you.

Pros
  • Incredible clarity and frequency response
  • Shallow mounting depth
  • Top quality components
Cons
  • Expensive

Shallow Mount Subwoofer Buyer’s Guide

Whether you opt for one of the best shallow mount subs that we’ve covered above (like the Rockford Fosgate one we featured), or if you’re planning on checking out any of the countless shallow mount subs we haven’t discussed, there’s a few things you’ll need to know before you head to your local car audio store.

What is a Shallow Mount Subwoofer?

A shallow mount subwoofer provides the same functionality of a traditional subwoofer in a smaller package. Regular subwoofers are deep and heavy, and their size can make it difficult or impossible to mount them in small spaces. The traditional route to take for those interested in a subwoofer in their vehicle is to build or buy a subwoofer box that their new subwoofer will fit into and then be placed in their car or truck. Most people end up putting these subwoofer boxes in the truck of their vehicle since there’s more space there usually and it’s out of sight and not taking up interior space.

The interesting thing with subs and the low frequencies of music is that these sound waves are not directional or sensitive like the other portions of the sound frequency. For example, the front speakers in a vehicle are critical in the overall sound presentation and the placement of those speakers is super important. You will see serious car audio enthusiasts who actually forego speakers inside their front doors and instead place speakers on specially created front pillars.

They do this based on the principle that these higher frequencies coming out of these front speakers need to be placed as close to ear height as possible for best performance. When we say best performance, we’re referring to those factors that produce fantastic sound reproduction and thrilling listening. You will hear terms like soundstage and imaging. They sound like fancy terms, but just think of it as the realism of your music sounding like the performers are actually in front of you on stage performing just like a live performance in the real world. Yes, speaker placement is that critical and, when done right, it can deliver fantastic sound experiences in your vehicle.

Back to the point here is that, thankfully, the low frequencies that subwoofers pound out don’t need this type of careful attention and you can just throw subs under seats or in trunks and it makes absolutely no difference. It’s all about getting that sub-bass to hit you and have you feel it just as you hear the rest of the music. That’s the magic that you want and that delivers an awesome dynamic listening experience. Now, let’s get back to the shallow mount subwoofers story.

Speaker companies recognized that for certain applications, a traditional sub wasn’t practical, and they’ve developed subwoofers that require 4” or less of mounting clearance to remedy the problem.

These shallow subs can easily be mounted in rear decks, along the sides of trunks, or in slim boxes that allow you to enjoy powerful bass without sacrificing much space.

How Do They Compare to Regular Subwoofers?

Compared to a traditional sub, shallow subs are much lighter and more portable, in addition to being thinner. They’re easier to mount, they can be mounted virtually anywhere, and they’re also much more portable than a traditional sub.

On the other hand, shallow mount subwoofers represent a significant departure from the design of traditional subwoofers. What you gain in ease of installation and space savings, you lose in sound quality.

Simply put, shallow mount subwoofers will never be able to compare to a traditional sub in terms of bass response or overall sound quality. That said, they’re still an ideal option for those who are looking to add full, deep bass to their car, but can’t install a traditional subwoofer for whatever reason.

If you’re looking to buy a regular subwoofer, have a look at our list of best subwoofer for car.

Important Considerations

When you’re evaluating different options, there’s a few key metrics you’ll want to look at so you can ensure you’re comparing apples to apples, and selecting the best shallow mount subwoofer for your needs.

Subwoofer Size Considerations:

The size of the subwoofer is the most important consideration you’ll need to make when shopping for a new sub. You’ll find subwoofers in 8”, 10”, 12” and 15” sizes, and each size brings it’s own characteristics, pros and cons.

Smaller subwoofers, like an 8” or a 10” are the most responsive and punchy option. They’re a great choice for those who listen to heavy rock or fast paced electronic music. They can bring balance to a sound system, and provide good bass without overwhelming the system. But, if you’re looking for powerful bass that will turn heads, you’ll want to look for a larger sub. The 10-inch subs are a great option, don’t get us wrong. There are plenty of great choices out there that are really rocking and will round out a car audio system beautifully with great low bass. For example, both JL Audio and Rockford Fosgate offer shallow sub choices in this size. And, as you can imagine, because JL Audio and Rockford Fosgate are awesome brands, these shallow subs are also something to to really enjoy. We do talk about JL Audio and Rockford Fosgate shallow choices above in our reviews, but not in 10″ size. But, definitely feel free to look at that size if it makes sense for your system.

12” subwoofers are arguably the most popular option on the market, as they offer the “best of both worlds.” A 12” sub provides deep and powerful bass, but it’s still responsive enough to handle faster paced music, such as hard rock and metal. The 12-in sub is arguably the most popular size out there for folks that are looking for a dedicated sub-bass component to their car audio system. So, as a result, there are tons of choices out there from many manufacturers. So, whether you want to spend a little bit of money to get some boom or you are an audiophile and want an awesome sub to round out an incredible system, this size has a lot of action in the market.

15” subwoofers are the largest and most powerful option, and they’re typically reserved for the true bass heads among us. A 15” sub provides the deepest and most powerful bass of any subwoofer. But, they’re large size makes them far less responsive, and they tend to muddy up or overwhelm any faster paced music. 15” subs are most popular for today’s 808 heavy hip-hop. This is the size that really hits hard, when you want to go low, stay low, and pound out some heavy bass. Even though they’re more extreme than 12s, 15s are fairly prominent in the industry and you have a good amount of choices to find one that you like and that fits your budget.

18″ subwoofers do exists and make up the extreme end of super bass heavy car audio. We are probably oversimplifying but not much at all in saying that this side of the spectrum of subwoofers encompasses basically car audio show cars and those that are simply want to simply annoy others with massive booms and show off their ride. The former folks will use products that are meant for shows and achieving high sound pressure levels (SPL), while the latter are those that like driving around with the the devastating bass and lows that is only possible from these massively sized subwoofers.

This is the territory, where you drive down the street or even on a noisy highway with the windows up and people will know there’s something special happening. Obviously, we’d like to say to “keep it clean” out there and don’t be one of those annoying hacks that disturbs a residential neighborhood with the sick frequencies or other annoying behavior. Yes, you get an 18 (or two!) to be heard and to put on a jaw-dropping show. But, like with anything in life, there’s a way to do things with good style and not make people have a negative impression of our hobby and passion.

Subwoofer Power Handling and Peak Power:

Peak power refers to the amount of power shallow mount subwoofers can handle without any damage occurring to the subwoofer. This metric is a good indicator of how powerful the sub is compared to the competition.

Subwoofer Sensitivity (in decibels or dB):

A speaker’s sensitivity is another important metric to consider. Sensitivity is measured by how loud the speaker is with only one watt of power driving the speaker. If you’re not using an external amplifier, a high sensitivity speaker will provide you with more volume and power. If you’re using an amp, a speaker with lower sensitivity will be better for your needs.

Frequency Range:

The frequency range refers to the different frequencies the speaker is able to reproduce. A broad frequency range makes for a more versatile speaker, but that’s less of a concern when shopping for a subwoofer.

The frequency range is measured in hertz (Hz) and subwoofers usually have a frequency range between 20-200Hz. An average subwoofer may not be able to dip below the 100Hz range, while more expensive, professional quality subwoofers can dip as low as 20Hz.

Our Final Word

Thanks to shallow mount subwoofers, it’s easier than ever to achieve deep, powerful bass in your car, regardless of what you drive. While there are some trade-offs with a shallow mount subwoofer, the benefits greatly outweigh the drawbacks for most applications.

When you’re shopping for the best shallow mount subwoofer for your needs, be sure to evaluate important factors like the specs, build quality and overall sound of the sub before making your purchase. Brands also matter greatly as always, so look especially at brands like Rockford Fosgate, JL Audio, and other top brands that have the best frequency response and components used like rubber surround in their construction.

Other subs to also consider:

About James Benchman
James Benchman
James is an Automotive Mechanic with over 20 years experience and 300+ car repairs. He is an expert with cars and has worked with different models from the biggest brands.James is a Mechanic , Husband , Father of 3 , and head of content at Caraudiologic. Learn more about us
2 Comments
  1. okay for starers I hate Kicker when i tried starting my own business 10 years ago I looked into kicker because they are so popular,the mark up is insane about 70%back then and you have to stick to their MAP and cant sell lower than that i competed against kicker than and beat regularly,seeing the L7 fail numerous tines voice coils smoke and amplifiers go into protection mode or overheating in the 110°f temperatures fosgate yeah a little over priced but has the internal to ask for it Just for statement i used to run Soundstream and never had to replace or have anything shut down

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