If you’re in this situation, the shallow mount subwoofer could be the answer to your problem. Often able to be installed with a mounting depth of four inches or less, these little powerhouses can give you the low frequency response your music needs to sound complete without monopolizing all of your car’s storage space. Here are, in our opinion, the best 10” shallow mount subwoofers:
JL Audio 10TW3
With a mounting depth of only 2.5 inches, this subwoofer will fit into spaces no other 10-inch driver could function, giving the best sound to space ratio of any subwoofer on the market. Durability is a major concern for shallow mount subwoofers but the TW3 (see full specs) is built to last, with a cast alloy frame and a mica-filled polypropylene cone. JL Audio’s patented “concentric tube” construction allows them to compress the structure of the driver cone, and they’ve designed the woofer with an ear for small enclosures. While your truck cab might never sound like a concert hall, the TW3 will at least make it feel like the musicians are playing in the bed. This is one of the best 10” shallow mount subwoofers.
Alpine makes some of the most reliable and consistently high-performing car audio equipment available, and if you’re looking for a high-end upgrade to your stereo system, the T10 (see full specs) will not disappoint. Many new speakers have to be “broken in” with hours of play before sounding their best, but the injection-molded resin of this design means it’ll sound great as soon as you install it. It uses the award-winning Type-R Thin design Alpine has become known for to provide a clean, deep bass in a lightweight package with a mounting depth of only 3.25 inches, providing a frequency response as low as 28Hz.
If your budget is more limited, you can upgrade your bass for less than a hundred dollars with the Pioneer TS-SW250. It’s best utilized in small enclosures, like a truck cab or 2-seat vehicle, and has a mounting depth of 3.125 inches, making it easy to install either behind or under seats. It’s designed to emphasize the lowest three octaves (from 20-160Hz)—the frequencies most speakers miss. It’s got a 4-layer voice coil of heat-resistant polyester resin that keeps the system cool and increases the power output, allowing it to deliver huge bass in a tight space. This should be on anyone’s list of the best 10” shallow mount subwoofers.
Another excellent option for the cost-conscious consumer, this Kicker subwoofer is impressive for its versatility. It can be wired for either 4- or 1-ohm impedance and handles up to 600 watts RMS (continuous power), allowing it to work with a variety of set-ups—great news if you think you might upgrade other pieces of your system in the future and want to leave your options open. The rubber surround will hold up under consistent heavy use and the polypropylene cone is injected-molded for greater durability. With a mounting depth of 3.5 inches, it’s easy to install in most vehicles, and provides a consistently clear, punchy bass.
Does Size Matter?
There’s two specifications measured in inches that you should think about when it comes to a car subwoofer: The diameter and the mounting depth. Thanks to the technological innovations pioneered by the companies above, the mounting depth has little influence over the sound the subwoofer will produce, at least when it comes to choosing between shallow mount models. The speaker’s diameter, however, is directly related to the depth of the bass sound. Generally speaking, a smaller diameter means a more responsive driver and therefore a punchier and more articulate bass. All of the subwoofers on this list have 10” diameters, which is a very common size and arguably the most versatile.
If you listen to a wide variety of music—or are simply looking for the most well-rounded bass sound—this size will give you the low end you’re looking for. If you are looking for a more genre-specific bass production, you could experiment with other speaker diameters. Subwoofers 8” and smaller can keep up with the faster basslines of electronic or heavy metal music, allowing greater articulation, though they sacrifice some volume and power to achieve it. On the other side, subs of 12” or larger will give you a heavy low end that works extremely well with hip hop, pop, and club music.
Where to Put Your Subwoofer
Traditional logic has most people putting their subwoofer in the trunk of their car, largely because it’s the only place such a big piece of audio equipment will fit, but with a shallow mount subwoofer you’ve got a few more options. The trunk is still a viable location if your vehicle has one. Putting the subwoofer in the trunk will mean you feel the bass more than hear it, and will get the optimal volume and quality of sound from outside the vehicle, if that’s one of your concerns.
If you’re more concerned with the quality of the bass sound within the car—or if you drive a truck or other vehicle without a trunk—the optimal mounting location is behind the rear seats or on the rear speaker deck. This will give your music a more realistic, enveloping feel, with a powerful low end and resonant treble. With a good pair of door speakers to flesh out the sound, this set-up gives you the perfect balance of high and low frequencies and makes you truly feel like you’re a part of the music.
If neither of these locations are an option, you can also install shallow mount subwoofers under the front seats. Depending on the construction of your vehicle’s interior, this placement may result in a slightly muffled or muddled low-end, so if this is the route you’re going with, experiment with a few different placements of the best 10” shallow mount subwoofers to find the optimal sound before completing a full installation.