Also known as the active subwoofer, a powered subwoofer doesn’t need any external power sources (like an amplifier) to work. So, if you were planning on getting one, but can’t really put your finger on any of the available products, this post is for you. I’ll do my best to help you find the best powered car subwoofer under 200 from the most reliable brands.
Statistically, for most drivers, 200 bucks are the “sweet spot”: not too expensive, but still enough to get a high-quality woofer. First, we’ll take a look at my top picks – five in total. They all boast lovely designs, a strong power output, and ease of use/setup. In the Buyer’s Guide and FAQ, I’ll share some tips on how to make an educated purchase. Let’s dive right in!
Best Powered Car Subwoofer Under $200 ()
Rockville RW10CA Slim Powered Subwoofer
MTX Audio RT8PT Universal Powered Subwoofer
SSL LoPro10 Amplified Car Subwoofer
Rockville RWS12CA Powered Car Subwoofer
Rockville RV8.2A Dual 8" Car Subwoofer
Best Powered Car Subwoofer Under $200 Review
1. Rockville – Best 10 inch Powered Subwoofer for Car
In many ways, this is the finest 10-inch “woofer” the market has to offer. I’m talking about the <200 bucks category, of course. First of all, it features top-quality short circuit, overload, and thermal protection. That means it won’t “blow up” when you crank the volume up. And for most fans of loud, high-end music, 800 watts (200 watts RMS) should be more than enough to make it feel like the ground is shaking from the low frequencies.
Another thing that caught my attention was the quality of the included installation hardware. Sadly, the remote wire isn’t on the same level and might stop working in a year or so. The good news is – you can always get a replacement wire (say, order it online). Besides, this active subwoofer won’t break your bank. It’s reasonably priced and comes with a 30-day refund policy. Don’t hesitate to use it if you get a defective/incomplete package.
Affordable, well-protected against overloads, and backed by a 30-day refund, RW10CA is a bargain. It comes packed with premium installation software, puts out 800 watts of raw power, and won’t be very hard to install/mount. Just remember that the remote wire is rather cheap and faulty.
2. MTX Audio – Best Compact Powered Subwoofer for Car
Of all the subs that we’re reviewing today, this one is definitely an eye-grabber. It’s a lot smaller and more compact than the other devices. It’s lightweight, too, which makes it a mobile solution that won’t be a problem to move around. The “installation” process is quite easy and straightforward as well – no need for cutting, drilling, or anything like that. The subwoofer rocks the so-called “vented enclosure” design.
It maximizes the built-in amp’s low-frequency response, resulting in deeper, stronger bass sounds. Now, it’s an 8-inch woofer, and this is a rather clever way of compensating for the small cone. As for the downsides, the trendy design, lightweight construction, and, overall, decent sound quality come at a slightly steep price. It will be a good investment in the long run, though, especially if you do a lot of off-road driving.
Despite the high cost, the MTX Audio subwoofer is a safe bet for most drivers. It is compact, looks good in any environment, and has that extra “oomph” that most of us look for. Easy installation, durability, and mobility are even more reasons to consider it over the competition.
3. SSL LoPro10 – Best Under Seat Powered Car Subwoofer
If you’re looking for a reliable, no-BS type of powered subwoofer, SSL is a good place to start. This company did an excellent job with LoPro10: thanks to superb engineering, it won’t let you down on the road (if you take proper care of it, of course). More importantly, with it, you’ll get a lot of control over the sound/tone, which can’t be said about most similar devices.
The list includes a variable (low-pass) filter, variable bass booster, phase control, and more. So, again, the fans of sound shaping will find this powered subwoofer to be a worthy investment. My only complaint: LoPro10 isn’t as loud as I expected it to be. The volume level is decent, of course, but not on par with the other woofers on the list. The good news is – if you purchase it online, you’ll get a three-year Platinum warranty.
Backed by a three-year warranty, highly customizable, and incredibly reliable, the SSL subwoofer is a sure pick. It’s not the loudest option on the market, however, and that can be a big turn-off for the open-road drivers and campers. Still, overall, it’s a very decent product.
4. Rockville RWS12CA – Best Buy Powered Subwoofer Car Enclosures
Here, we have another good-quality active car subwoofer from Rockville. So, what can you expect to get with RWS12CA, and will it be worth the investment? Well, the first thing that you’ll notice will be the generous package. It features a long list of premium cables and installation/mounting hardware. A detailed user manual is a part of the deal as well: it’s got pictures and everything to make the process easier for you.
But that’s not even the most important thing. What really managed to impress me was the pulp cone protected by Kevlar reinforcement. It eliminates vibration, which, in turn, results in stronger bass response. But don’t expect this subwoofer to be very accurate with deep bass. In contrast to low and mid bass, the super-low frequencies won’t be as impressive.
Kevlar reinforcement, along with a generous list of installation hardware and instructions is the RWS12CA subwoofer’s biggest selling point. Thanks to clever engineering, it’s quite good at reproducing the mid and low bass frequencies. Just don’t expect it to be equally precise in super-deep bass.
5. Rockville RV8.2A – Best Powered Subwoofer Car Audio
First of all, I want to say that this subwoofer thumps. Even with your car’s doors open, it still gives you that mean bass that can get any party going. This alone makes it an attractive purchase for all the audiophiles out there. The dual-woofer system also deserves our attention. Yes, with this one, Rockville decided to go with an injection-molded pair of high-power subwoofers, instead of one.
Add aviation-grade tweed carpet, and you’ll see why I’m calling RV8.2A the best powered woofer for car audio. There is a big con, however, and it has to do with durability. While I didn’t notice any of that during my meticulous review, many drivers claim it breaks down for no reason in two-three years, or even sooner. On the other hand, a lot of these reviewers crank it up to the limit, and that’s (mostly) the reason for the failure.
RV8.2A is incredibly accurate in producing deep bass frequencies. In this price range, it’s one of the obvious leaders. Plus, it features a dual woofer system and premium tweed carpet for added efficiency and reliability. However, some buyers complain about serious durability issues.
So, do you have a favorite pick from my top-five list? Or maybe you’re still not 100% sure you’re ready to invest in one of these subwoofers? If that’s the case, I’m confident this Buyer’s Guide will be of great help to you. I’ll tell you about the most important aspects to consider before making a purchase, including active vs. passive, loudness/power, frequency response, and more. Read carefully, and you’ll become a pro in no time!
What does powered subwoofer mean?
Here’s what you need to know: “powered” means it comes with a built-in amplifier that, well, powers it up. So, you won’t need to invest in an external power source. That will save you money and space in the car. In contrast, passive subs can’t make a sound without an amp. An active subwoofer will cost you more, but, in many ways, it’s a lot more convenient device that can just be bought, plugged into the car, and “hidden away” somewhere under the seat.
Passive subs (or speakers, for that matter) are mostly used in professional recording studios, as they are a bit more clear and precise. On the downside, passive speakers are rather fragile and only work with specific amps. For a fan of cranking the volume to the limit and scaring the birds away with that throbbing bass, powered woofers are a better choice.
This one is simple: the higher the power handling, the louder the subwoofer will be. This universal rule can be used for figuring out the volume level of pretty much any device. The other important aspect is sensitivity. Essentially, it also measures the loudness of the sub. And remember: the higher the sensitivity rating, the less distortion you’ll get, even when the volume knob is cranked up.
The wider the frequency response, the better the bass will sound. To elaborate: the lower bass sounds are kinda “tricky” to handle for most subwoofers. Therefore, check the specs carefully if you’re a big fan of the super-low bass. For example, the SSL’s LoPro10 from today’s list can “go” as low as 15 Hz, which is a very good result.
You’ll start losing the very essence of bass if your woofer can’t play anything below the 50 hertz mark. A regular set of speakers will do an even worse job of reproducing the extreme lows. This is true not only for cars but also for the regular audio systems that we plug into our TVs or just use for listening to music.
What size of powered subwoofer should I get for my car?
Well, that depends on a few things. First of all, consider the space that you’ve got in the car. Before making a purchase, I always check the dimensions on the official website or at an online store. Next, I measure everything in my vehicle, so that there are no unpleasant surprises. If you’re limited in space, an under-seat subwoofer might do the trick for you. With that out of the way, consider your budget for this product.
As a general rule, the bigger the woofer, the more expensive it will be. Most drivers like what a ten-inch sub brings to the table. Eight inches are decent as well but might lack volume (loudness) and sound less beefy than the bigger alternatives. Twelve inches, in turn, are much larger and pricier.
What type of powered subs for car will sound the loudest?
If loudness is the most important thing for you, there are several factors that need to be considered. As mentioned in the Buyer’s Guide, sensitivity is probably the most important one. You’ll find it in the specs, and something in the 80-100dB range should be just the right pick for you. Power handling also indicates how loud the device can get. Look for 800-1200 watts in PH, and you’ll be fine.
The enclosure type plays a key role as well. The cheapest enclosure can dull down the sound, make the sub sound worse than it actually is. In contrast, premium enclosure (MDF, for example, or carpet with venting) will make the tone meaner and beefier. Still not satisfied with the volume level? Then maybe you’d like to invest in an external amp? Make sure the power handling matches, though; otherwise, you might ruin everything.
Is an aftermarket stereo required to hook up my powered sub?
Of course, not: you can plug a subwoofer directly into your car’s computer/infotainment system and it will work just fine. At the same time, an aftermarket stereo system will make everything sound even better when working in combination with a new sub. Most folks invest in speakers and a head unit first and only then consider purchasing a woofer.
A quick note: look for the crossover feature in your sub. With it, you’ll be able to control all the speakers in your car with one single knob.
It’s not really that hard to get an okay-sounding active subwoofer for +/- 200 bucks. However, if you’re trying to get the best bang for your buck – a bargain – you’ll have to invest a lot of time and energy in that. Or, you can use this list and pick one of the five woofers from the comparison table. Instead of checking every single available option, focus on these market-leading products and make your choice wisely.
The Buyer’s Guide and the FAQ section will help you with that. Take your time, go back to the reviews, and check the pros and cons again. While none of these subwoofers can “beat” the more expensive alternatives, you will, most certainly, get a dramatic improvement over the stock audio system. Besides, most of them look great sitting in the far back!