If there is one thing that’s lacking in most stock car audio setups, it’s bass.
And how do you solve that? Well, you add a subwoofer.
But not every car has room for a massive one, and not everyone wants to sacrifice trunk space for a woofer box. If that’s the case with you, what you’re looking for is a shallow mount subwoofer.
A 12” one should work very well, but picking one out of all the options out there isn’t all that easy. To make things a bit easier for you, we’ve chosen a few options that work best.
Best 12 Inch Shallow Mount Subwoofer Review Guide
They range from some rather affordable models, to some higher end picks that will set you back a not-so-insignificant amount of money.
What they all have in common is that you can’t go wrong whichever you pick, so let’s not waste any more time and dive into them.
Infinity Reference REF1200S: Check Price On Amazon
Yes, it’s true that a subwoofer is meant to add bass, but it’s not just about the amount of bass it adds – it should be refined, accurate, and not overpowering.
That’s exactly what you’ll get from Infinity’s Reference series REF1200S shallow mount subwoofer.
In terms of the design, this is a very subtle low-profile subwoofer.
It’s all-black, with nothing but Infinity’s logo in the middle, which means that even if it’s visible, it will look very good in just about any situation.
To add to this, you can fit it in pretty much any shallow subwoofer box, so if you already have one, it probably works with it without any issues.
The sound quality of the REF1200S is just about perfect.
Since this is a part of the Reference series, Infinity’s goal was for everything to sound balanced and precise, instead of the bass overpowering everything and being the only thing you can hear in your car.
The frequency response is from 27Hz to 175Hz, which is pretty good, and well within the range of a good, quality subwoofer, and you also have a 92dB sensitivity.
This means that even if you don’t have a very powerful amp, you’ll be able to drive the REF1200S to a reasonable level without risking blowing your sub.
One thing we love about it is the Harman-proprietary Selectable Smart Impedance, or SSI.
This is something you won’t find on many other subwoofers, and what it basically does is it lets you choose between either a 2 ohm or 4 ohm load.
This gives you a bit of versatility so you can set it up just right with your amplifier.
Last but not least, we must mention that Infinity puts these subwoofers through a lot of testing, and at the end of the day, you get OEM-level reliability out of them.
If you want to get a sub that’s going to last you a good while, by all means, go for it.
- Beautiful design
- Selectable impedance (SSI)
- Great sound quality
- Not the widest frequency response range
Alphasonik AS12DF: Check Price On Amazon
Best 12 Inch Shallow Mount Subwoofer For Value
If you don’t have a box, and don’t want to spend extra on getting one, Alphasonik’s AS12DF is an excellent choice for you. It comes with its own box, so all you have to do is connect it to your car and it’s ready to start blasting music.
First things first, we mentioned this comes with its own box, and it’s one that looks rather neat.
It’s all black and covered in fabric, and comes wit ha couple of Alphasonik logos all around, as well as a pretty big model and wattage designation.
Yes, everyone who takes a look at this sub will instantly know it has a maximum power rating of 1500 watts.
However, it’s still very nice that Alphasonik have included a box with it, because it takes away the need for you to spend extra money and time setting it up.
You also have a copper wound Kapton voice coil, as well as push type terminals to make it even easier to connect.
In terms of sound, we have no complaints about the AS12DF. The spun aluminum cone is surrounded by high-strength rubber, so the bass is powerful and punchy.
We do, however, think that unless set up right, it can be slightly overwhelming, and give your car a bit more rumble than you’re used to.
Let’s talk numbers for a moment. The AS12DF will require a rather powerful amp, because not only does it come with a peak power of 1500 watts, but it also has an RMS power handling of 500 watts, which is pretty high.
You’re also looking at a 4 ohm impedance, as well as a 92dB sensitivity, so with the right amp, you’ll be able to get pretty loud with the AS12DF.
Overall, this isn’t a sub we’d recommend for critical listening, but let’s face it – who does that in their car? If you want a good, powerful sub that delivers punchy bass and excellent quality overall, this is a great pick.
- Comes already in an air-tight box
- Powerful punch and precise bass
- Excellent value
- Could be overpowering unless set up right
- Requires a powerful amp to drive it
Rockford Fosgate R2SD4-12: Check Price On Amazon
Best Budget 12 Inch Shallow Mount Subwoofer
Rockford’s Fosgate R2SD4-12 is one of the brand’s more value-oriented subs, but even so, it does a great job at delivering a powerful punch without requiring too much power to run well.
Pair that with a beautiful all-black design, and you should definitely check this out.
Let’s kick things off with a few numbers. The R2SD4-12 comes with a 250 watt RMS power, and a maximum power of 500 watts.
This is great because you won’t need an extremely powerful amp to drive it safely, which just can’t be said about some of its competitors on this list.
It does however have a sensitivity of 85dB, which means that if you want to get the volume up, you will certainly need a bit of power.
If you do have that power at your disposal, though, you’ll be getting excellent quality. The bass is powerful enough, without it being too much, and everything sounds very well balanced.
At this price, you’d expect nothing less, but it’s nice to see that Rockford have absolutely delivered on their claims that the R2SD4-12 work great.
In terms of build, you’re looking at a mica-injected polypropylene cone, as well as an anodized aluminum voice coil former.
The StampCast basket comes with integrated spider venting, and you also have an integrated PVC trim ring. All the materials used in this sub are high quality, so the not-so-wallet-friendly price is actually worth it in this regard.
One thing you will need to keep in mind, though, is that you’ll want to be careful when it comes to choosing the box.
Rockford claim that this is optimized for completely sealed enclosures, so if you’re making one yourself, you should be careful and pay attention to that.
And if you’re replacing your sub that’s already in a box, make sure to give it a good check and see if it’s completely sealed. But if that’s not an issue, this is a pretty great choice.
- Subtle, all-black design
- High quality materials used in the build
- Very well balanced bass
- Nitpicky in terms of box requirements
- Not exactly affordable
Kenwood Excelon KFC-XW1200F: Check Price On Amazon
Kenwood’s Excelon KFC-XW1200F might sound like a complicated name, but performance-wise it’s far from it. It works very well, performs admirably in a variety of situations, and won’t set you back too much when you factor in the level of quality you’re getting.
Let’s kick things off with the design. Kenwood have kept things incredibly simple here, with an all-black design that fits just about any vehicle.
You’re looking at a carbon-glass fiber composite honeycomb cone, which is rather stiff and results in accurate bass that’s punchy and powerful.
The cone also comes with a butyl rubber surround, to add a bit of durability to the entire thing, and keep things sealed well. Overall, it’s a great design that is going to last a good while unless you find a way to damage it.
The power that Kenwood mention is a range from 50 to 350 watts RMS, but the peak power is at 1400 watts, which is pretty impressive.
At a 91dB sensitivity, and with a 4 ohm impedance, you will probably be able to drive it without a too powerful sub. But of course, if you want to make the most of it, you’ll want something that can deliver a bit more power.
We have zero complaints about the build quality here, too. The cast aluminum basket ensures that this subwoofer will last you a good while if you take good care of it.
This is actually one of the things that hikes up the price because the Excelon KFC-XW1200F is far from cheap. However, it is a very durable choice.
Overall, we like the direction Kenwood took with the Excelon KFC-XW1200F.
Instead of trying to make it the most powerful shallow mount subwoofer out there, they made it sound very good, look really nice, and added more durability than you’d ever need.
And they’ve hit the nail in the head with it, that’s for sure.
- Built like a tank
- Subtle, discrete design
- Sounds really good
- Tricky to install
JL Audio 12TW3-D4: Check Price On Amazon
Best High-End 12 Inch Shallow Mount Subwoofer
While it certainly won’t fit everyone’s budget at this price, JL Audio’s 12TW3-D4 is a premium pick that checks literally all the boxes for a high quality subwoofer.
This is one of the most balanced shallow mount subwoofers out there, and for many, it’s more than worth its asking price. So, what exactly are you getting?
To begin with, this subwoofer comes with an extremely shallow mounting depth of only 3.5 inches. To add to this, there is no pole vent, so you can mount it close to your enclosure’s rear wall without any issues.
Overall, it has very small requirements when it comes to the overall volume of the sealed enclosure.
This isn’t something many other subwoofers do, because most of them, while shallow mount, require a larger box if you want to make the most of them.
The build quality is overall excellent, and you’ve got high-quality materials used all around.
From the cast alloy frame, to the mica-filled polypropylene cone that’s injection molded, the materials are all the crème de la crème. And JL Audio also included their patented “floating cone attach method” technology.
Then you get their concentric tube suspension, which allows them to put the motor system higher up in the cone body’s space without compromising sound quality. This is why you’re able to fit this in a very small box.
One of the hallmark features of the 12TW3-D4 is the DMA optimized motor. DMA stands for Dynamic Motor Analysis, and has been JL Audio’s effort to produce bass that’s clean, tight and articulate.
Given that they’ve been working on this since 1997, it’s no surprise that this speaker gets you some of the best bass out there.
Now, make no mistake, the 12TW3-D4 is very, very expensive.
But if you’re looking for an end-game upgrade for the bass in your car, this is the one to go for. Impeccable sound quality, best-in-class build quality, and a great design make this an excellent choice.
- No-compromise build and design
- Works great in a small box
- Sound quality is incredible
- Very expensive
If you’d have to pick just one of the shallow mount subwoofers above, we would definitely recommend going for JL Audio’s 12TW3-D4.
Yes, it’s very expensive, but it’s the only one on the list that comes with zero compromises. You won’t be missing out on absolutely anything, from sound quality, to build quality and design.
The materials used are all high quality, and the combination results in one of JL Audio’s most durable products.
If you’re looking for a shallow mount subwoofer that you’ll buy once, and use with your next couple of vehicles, this is the one.