Not everyone has a ton of money to spend on a car subwoofer. Believe me, I’ve been there, too. Finding the best budget car subwoofer for your money doesn’t have to take hours and hours of research.
To help you make a great buying decision I’ve put together a great list as well as some helpful info about shopping for subwoofers.
Since the word “budget” generally means low-cost, I’ll keep my recommendations within the $50 and under & $100 and under price range.
Infographic – How to buy the best budget car subwoofer
What to look for when shopping
To get the best subwoofer for your money, you’ll need to buy one that’s a good compromise of a number of factors:
- Good buyer ratings
- Affordable (for your budget)
- Good value
- Adequate power handling, in RMS watts
Before we go any further, allow me to make one very important thing clear: Keep your expectations realistic. You can expect to get great sound and overall good quality for a budget price, but don’t demand the same performance as very expensive models.
With that being said, here some basic tips to keep in mind before spending your had-earned money.
You want a subwoofer with good build quality and materials. Subwoofers made with plastic cones are not necessarily better than pressed-paper cones or cones made from hybrid materials – it’s only a matter of design and performance quality.
A good quality subwoofer is one that has good connectors, durable materials, performs well, and can handle sufficient power needed to get good bass. Ultimately you want one that will last a long time and won’t have parts that separate with use over time. That’s one reason it’s so important to read buyer reviews and be sure to evaluate the negative versus positive reviews.
Remember: it’s better to own a decent-looking, well-made product with adequate performance than it is to own a flashy, fancy-looking model with crappy performance and lower life expectancy. Don’t sacrifice quality and performance for mere looks.
Spend a little bit of time reviewing the overall buyer ratings and look for patterns of problems and any complaints that really stick out.
Still, bear in mind that there always seem to be people who simply don’t know how to properly install and use subwoofers, who have unrealistic expectations, and those who always will find something to complain about.
Be diligent and look at the bigger picture when it comes to buyer reviews. You may not know this, but there are many more buyers than those who took the time leave a review.
For some reason, it’s human nature not to contribute and leave feedback unless we encounter a problem or experience dissatisfaction. If the majority of reviews are positive or negative, remember it’s possible that countless more happy buyers didn’t take the time to leave feedback.
To be more confident in your buying choices, it wouldn’t hurt to do a bit of research (like reading through the several great models I provided below). Look for patterns and figure out the good and bad aspects of a product before purchase. Don’t get turned off too quickly if you read a few terrible reviews – it’s normal to find unfair and dishonest feedback. Doing research is a skill that you get better at with time.
A relatively small percentage of negative feedback is normal and to be expected in most cases. Be sure to note any particular things you read that stand out. You should also prepare for the possibility of encountering some inherent problems with certain models.
That’s not unusual – if the product is still a great overall performer (especially considering your budget), then don’t just immediately rule it out.
Price and the importance of value
It’s not just the price that counts. Value can mean all the difference between getting the cheapest subwoofer (and being unhappy) and getting a better value, with overall better quality and durability, for only slightly more money. A good value subwoofer will rate fairly well in the criteria that matter and will last longer. As they say: it’s always cheaper to do it right the first time!
Don’t just blindly buy the cheapest subwoofer you can find – instead, think in terms of the best value for the money within your budget.
If you’re only looking with price as your main criteria, you’re very likely to end up completely missing the chance to get something better for a marginal difference in price.
For example, if you get the most inexpensive – but mediocre – speaker, you’re far more likely to encounter problems later. Once it’s past the warranty period, you’ll end up having to spend more money to fix or replace it!
This means you would have really spent less money if you had just gotten a better product to begin with. Something to think about, and that’s something I’ve tried to convey to many of my customers over the years. Because honestly, it’s true!
In order to find the best value, be sure to pay attention to what it is you’re getting in terms of the specifications, user reviews & reported performance and reliability, and the price when compared to cheaper products of lesser quality. Think about the big picture.
Power handling & buying quality
Would you buy a fake Rolex and expect the same quality of an authentic one? I wouldn’t. In fact, no one would. The same logic also applies to subwoofers. You can’t buy a proper, quality “500W” speaker for a cheap price. Be careful of advertised numbers used to mislead you into thinking you’re getting something you’re not.
Let’s be real: if you buy a budget subwoofer, you’re not going to get a speaker that can handle insane amounts of power. It’s just not going to happen.
Any company advertising a subwoofer below $100 that can supposedly handle 1,200 watts of power is lying to you. You’re being misled because of what you don’t know about power ratings.
But don’t worry – you still can get a subwoofer with good power handling for basic everyday use and some pretty loud bass you’ll love! Subwoofers have improved a lot throughout the years – a handful of major brands make budget-priced models that work well and sound wonderful.
RMS power ratings
Always look for the RMS (root-mean-square) power rating instead of the “peak power” for a more realistic expectation of what a speaker can handle in terms of power. A good rule of thumb is 150W+ of power for car subwoofers should be enough for the average person who just wants some moderate-volume bass.
But if you really want some serious slam and volume, you’ll definitely need to spend a bit more for that. Expect to spend around $200 and above per subwoofer in that case.
Advice about subwoofer brands
If you can help it, try to buy a well-known brand.
Major car audio manufacturers have better production and quality control processes. You’re less likely to get a defective speaker from them than you are from cheaper, less-known brands.
Established brands are also less likely to outsource and rebrand. If you don’t know, rebranding is the act of selling a product made by or sold under other a different brand name – then replacing the original product logo and reselling it under their own name.
The most reputable brands that create high-end products also have a budget line of speakers – that’s definitely a great starting point when shopping.
★ The best budget subwoofers under $100 ★
Pricing and comparison table
1. Rockford Fosgate Punch P2D4-12 Punch 12″ – Wonderful bass & power below $100
The Rockford Fosgate P2D4 2 x 4 ohm dual voice coil subwoofer features excellent performance and features with additional flexibility (note: a 2 x 2 ohm model, the P2D2-12, is available as well).
There’s plenty to love, including the incredibly strong and stiff cast basket, spring loaded terminals that are placed intelligently on the side, and the lightweight yet stiff cone.
The paper cone is reinforced with Kevlar and a durable Santoprene surround outlasts cheaper competitors. Power is rated at 150W-400W RMS so you’ll want to have sufficient power available to drive it.
It’s a great performer that’s designed and built with the legendary world-renowned Rockford Fosgate quality – you know it’s worthy of being a part of the Punch family of high-performance subwoofers and amps.
Frequency response is 27-250Hz and mounting depth is 6 3/8″.
People love it! If it’s in your budget, go and check out this great model today!
2. Pioneer Champion Series TSW311S4 12″ & TSW261S4 10″ – Fantastic buyer reviews and a really good value.
If you want excellent value, the Pioneer Champion series TWS311S4 12″ and TSW261S4 10″ 4-ohm single voice coils subwoofers are some of the best models you can find anywhere! These normally sell for around $100 – they’re an excellent buy with fantastic buyer reviews to back them up.
Unlike cheaper subwoofers, Pioneer developed its own injection-molded polypropylene (IMPP) composite seamless cone and a more solid, heavier-mass stamped steel basket for much more power dissipation and rigidity for those hard bass notes.
Sensitivity at 1 watt is one of the best, being at 93 dB. So you’ll actually need less power than others to drive it. As big as it may look, mounting depth is only 5 1/2″. Power handling is a good 350W RMS, too!
It’s a great buy and well worth having a look at. Head over to check out the 12″ version’s best price at Amazon, where it is priced better than other retailers. Or click here to check out the 10″ instead.
3. Kicker Comp Series Kicker 43C124 12″ and 43C104 10″ subwoofers – Low-priced quality that lasts.
On a tight budget? Then check out the Kicker Comp Series 43C124 12″ and 43C104 10″ models! These actually last – they’re created with the famous Kicker build quality and performance that in this case follows a budget-minded design approach.
Speakers in this price range can’t match their build quality. The traditional Kicker design features a stitched cone with ribbed surround (for high durability) instead of the inexpensive glue most competitors use.
The 12″ model handles 150W RMS while the 10″ model handles 125W. Both are 4-ohm single voice coil models with many happy reviews from other buyers.
Frequency response is 27-500Hz, so they’re useful for 3-way setups as well. Mounting depth is 5 7/8″ – they’ll fit nearly all standard speaker boxes without any problem.
You’d be hard pressed to beat these for the value in this price range so go have a look at the great buyer reviews for the 12″ model here or if you like you can check out the 10″ here instead.
4. Skar Audio EV-12 S4 and EV-10 S4 shallow mount subwoofers – Budget priced subwoofers with good sound that work in small enclosures.
If you’re tight on mounting space, here’s a great option for you: the budget-priced Skar Audio EV-12 (12″) and EV-10 (10″) subwoofers are 4 ohm shallow mount drivers that can still deliver good low end in your ride.
The great mounting depth (only 3.75″!) is fantastic for small enclosures. Recommended sealed enclosure size is only 0.75 ft^3. With a power rating of 200W RMS, they’re right up there with many bulkier subwoofers in terms of performance.
The frequency response range is a great 20-500Hz, making these great for mid-bass/front woofers in custom multi-speaker setups. Not only that, the warranty also lasts for 2 years – a considerably long period compared to most drivers.
They’re a great buy – selling for a little below $50 depending on where you shop!
Note: there are several other variations available including dual-voice coil and 2 ohm versions, which you can find listed together with prices at Amazon.
If you’ve never installed a subwoofer or an amplifier before, be sure to check out my post “How To Install A Subwoofer And Subwoofer Amp In Your Car.”
If you’re also looking for a good budget amp to drive your new subs with, here’s a great guide about budget amps that will surely help you find one that you can afford and will enjoy.