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Q&A about compact powered subwoofers

A Crutchfield Advisor talks underseat bass

W

e field lots of calls from customers who want more bass, but are tight on space in their vehicles. That's when we start suggesting compact powered subwoofers, also called "underseat subwoofers" because that's where a lot of people install them.

To help answer some common questions about these small subs, I sat down with Crutchfield advisor and car audio expert, Cam, and asked him about compact powered subwoofers. But I'll start the conversation with the easy question: 

What is an underseat subwoofer?

An underseat sub is a small subwoofer with a built-in amplifier, housed in a single, compact body. This all-in-one design makes it easy to shop for and install a bass system for your car — you don't have to match a separate amp and woofer and then figure out how to best wire them up.  

Please share your thoughts below.

  • William D Morrill from San Antonio

    Posted on 5/13/2020

    I am trying to find out if the Blaupunkt under seat 10" woofer can be run in my Wrangler and instead of one, I want to run two of them. Is that a simple install or could I run into a problem like wiring or power problems by running two? And if there are any potential problems, then what would I possibly need to get to avoid those. A capacitor or anything like that. Thanks in advance

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 5/13/2020

    William, If you can fit two of those subs in your Jeep, you can use a distribution block to divide power from the battery for the two subs, and Y-cord adapters and connections for their inputs. One problem that may pop up is a noisy ground loop, if the two subs aren't grounded at the same spot.
  • Todd from Bringhurst

    Posted on 4/13/2020

    I use a rockford powered 12" in the rear of my SUV, then added a compact powered 8 inch subwoofer under the passenger seat. The result was good as I was trying to bring more bass (not sub bass, I think it only plays down to 50 hertz anyway) to the front of the listening area but, the sounds really brought the focus to the right side where it was mounted. I think you really lose allot of sound quality around 150-750 hz when placed under the seat, and the ability to make tuning adjustments is difficult. I want to add a second left side channel and another compact powered 8 inch subwoofer, then move the location to the doors bolt mounting to the door next to the factory location of the 6.5" component speakers, with some major modification and fabrication to the door panels of coarse. Do you have any thoughts on this as far as sound quality? Also that's a lot of wire to run, is there an alternative way to pass through the door to the door jamb ? How about a component that can filter out sub sonic frequencies?

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 4/13/2020

    Todd, The only way to know if a setup sounds good is to set it up and listen. The only way I know of to pass wire from behind the dash to door speakers is to follow the same path as the factory wiring.
  • PeterGomes from bogura

    Posted on 4/13/2020

    What a great article share. A great contribution especially for someone looking forward to buying a car subwoofer, amplifier and enclosure. If anybody wants to install a new one, this is the most effective share, that will be very helpful for best choice. Thanks a lot for the post.

  • PeterGomes from bogura

    Posted on 4/12/2020

    Thanks a lot for sharing your incredible ideas. It is an appreciated and pretty tip for all those music lovers. What a Fatal post for those who want to upgrade exist subwoofer with new one.

  • Sam from Hershey

    Posted on 4/9/2020

    I was wondering how these would work in an open air vehicle. I have and old CJ-7. With the roof and doors off, I wonder if you would know it was there?

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 4/10/2020

    Sam, You'd definitely hear the sub, but you may not be satisfied with the amount of bass you hear over the wind and road noise with a compact powered sub.
  • Kunal Dhatavkar from Mumbai

    Posted on 3/18/2020

    Is passive uNderseat woofer better when one has a DSP amp 6 channel or active ones are better

  • Nick from West Perth

    Posted on 10/15/2019

    What is the better location: driver or passenger side? im just wondering if having directly beneath you is a bit too much boom?

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 10/16/2019

    Nick, There is no "better," only "different." The good news, compact powered subs are simple to install, and then move to a different location in order to get the system to sound good.
  • Nathan from Las Vegas

    Posted on 10/8/2019

    Could these be adapted for home use, under chairs and couches?

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 10/9/2019

    Nathan, You could install a compact powered subwoofer in your home using a 12-volt DC power supply that can handle current draw as high as 20A.
  • Sade sr from Indianapolis

    Posted on 10/4/2019

    I have a 2007 Chevy avalanche just wondering about some sub under the seats or a power sub maybe 2 of them one for each side

  • Michael G from Fort Worth

    Posted on 9/4/2019

    After much research and trepidation I bought a Kicker hideaway for my Toyota Tacoma Access cab. There were no reviews that sounded like they were written by audiophiles with the kind of descriptive language I was looking for. First of all the obvious point, there is no output at 20Hz or lower, NONE. It Will reproduce 25Hz but not in a big way. At 30Hz and above? Hold on to your shorts, it really does thump the seat. It won't take your breath or rattle the mirror but you feel it like someone is kicking your seat. I actually turned it down from initial setting and then I had to reduce some of the upper bass via the crossover and EQ. If you like just listening to music like rock or pop it's worth it. I can't tell about the hip hop with the overboosted mid bass but if you like that you might as well get some 15's. It's not going to attract any attention, which is fine with me.

  • Broeheem from Keno, OR

    Posted on 8/27/2019

    Bonehead mistake: Buying a lesser underseat sub (Rockville). The one I have was basically a low-budget experiment before committing to a better sub, and the experiment proved one thing: It is low-budget for a reason. I can't hear/feel it. Either it's rubbish, or my factory door speakers are just that good. Seriously, the settings have been tweaked all over the place, and I really can't tell whether it on or not unless I stick my hand on it....... yep, it's "working". I didn't expect miracles, but.......... wow. Nothing. Now it's a choice between the Sound O and the JBL. The Sound O is almost half the cost and a lot of people seem to like it, but I've read a lot of reviews addressing the short lifespan of them, which reminded my of the fiasco when Infinity used to make 4ch amps...... I went through 3 of them before I gave up, a lot of waiting and time wasted. Probably, I'll go with the JBL.

  • Christiaan from Springbok

    Posted on 7/28/2019

    Hi Sir. I have a Blaupunkt 2000w low profile (under the seat sub) it gives really good base and really good performance. But, I have one concern. I mounted it underneath the passenger seat and it's really a good fit it fits in perfectly. Not hopping around or sliding at all, but It seems to get a little hot. I want to know is it normal? For it to get hot? It's not really really hot like you can bake an egg on it but I do definitely feel some heat. Kind Regards

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 8/1/2019

    Christiaan, The amplifier in your powered subwoofer needs air space around it in order to keep cool. If you have your powered sub wedged in under the seat, it needs to come out and mount elsewhere.
  • Juan Q. from Dallas

    Posted on 5/28/2019

    Are there any under the seat subwoofer that aren't powered or active but instead a passive under the seat sub and just run it to an amp? I just can't find anything like that. I have a 2013 ford f-150 4 door super crew and putting the subs under the rear seat just will not work because well that's where i have my tool bin. want something under the driver and front passenger seat. I will already have an amp for my door speakers so I figured I would go with a 5 channel amp and run the sub channel to those. Any suggestions? Thanks

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 5/29/2019

    Juan, I looked around online and also couldn't find any non-powered subs that would fit under a front seat in your vehicle. You may have to settle for a powered underseat sub and a 4-channel amp.
  • Scott Warren from Las Vegas

    Posted on 5/9/2019

    Will the output of the small powered subs like the Alpine get lost in a mid-size SUV along the size of a Jeep Grand Cherokee? Ideal placement would be under rear seats or in the cargo space. Not looking for mind-rattling bass, but the factory system is really lacking in the low end. Should I consider the slightly more powerful Rockford P300-8 or P300-10? Thank you.

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 5/10/2019

    Scott, I think you'll be happier with the higher-powered sub.
  • Ti-Sheng from East Rutherford

    Posted on 1/19/2019

    I have a 2003 subaru forester and they sell an under seat subwoofer, but I want to choose something better, but still keep under seat. Will you have any harness/instructions to connect it to the factory wires already under the seat?

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 1/21/2019

    Ti-Sheng, If you purchase your compact powered subwoofer from Crutchfield, you will also receive free tech support, which will help you with your installation. The wiring under you vehicle's seat may have nothing to do with audio or power.
  • Shawn

    Posted on 11/29/2018

    My truck has a factory sub already. It sucks. I am used to the old school way, new head unit, amps, subs, etc... I'm passed that now. Would it really just be as simple as removing the factory sub and installing the aftermarket one?

  • Thomas dupre from Pawtucket

    Posted on 11/23/2018

    Question coil I install one of these in my motorcycle saddle bag. Also would I need to use a capacitor because of the power draw

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 11/24/2018

    Thomas, Yes you can install a powered sub in a saddlebag. You probably won't need a capacitor.