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Top 11 Bargain Subwoofers

This is a discussion on Top 11 Bargain Subwoofers within the Stereo and Electronics forums, part of the General Help category; Big bass doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, these days it’s easy to round out ...

  1. #1
    Blown, Stroked, & Sprayed

    Ed Blown Vert's Avatar
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    Exclamation Top 11 Bargain Subwoofers

    Big bass doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. In fact, these days it’s easy to round out a system on a budget without sacrificing much in the way of sound quality or overall volume.

    We spoke to some of the finest installers from across the country to get their recommendations for the best in bargain and value-oriented subs (read: less than $250). Their favorites—which run the gamut from bargain basement $50 woofers to more high-minded subs—are listed below. So if you're on a budget, these are some great bass options.

    Turns out, there really are still values to be found in car audio.

    Ultra LV6
    Priced at a mere $169, Ultra’s LV6 6.5-inch sub is a popular choice for tight spaces and budget-minded systems. Jon Kowanetz, an installer with Handcrafted Car Audio in Mesa, Ariz, says he uses a lot of them for pickup truck installs, where space is often at a premium. “I typically do two of them down firing and they sound real good. It's all the sub you need.” The 4 ohm, single voice coil design can hand le up to 175 watts RMS and mounts in less than four inches. Click here for specs.

    JL Audio W3v3
    “When I think of value-oriented subs, the first speaker that comes to mind in the JL Audio W3v3 series,” says Ernie Onate with Sound Innovations in Hayward, Calif. “They’re an overall great value and a great sounding speaker.” Sound in Motion’s Jim Cavanaugh agrees, calling the W3v3 an “insane woofer.” “It’s got great sound quality, it’s durable, it’s versatile, I think it’s priced really well and it’s made in the USA. It’s one of our favorites.” The woofers are available in a range of sizes from 6-13 inches for use in compact sealed or ported enclosures. Click here for specs.

    Alpine Type-R
    Alpine’s entry into the budget-minded sub category, the Type-R series, ranges in price from $200 for the 10-inch to $220 for the 12 (though other sizes are available at higher price points). According to Jim Cavanaugh at Boston’s Sound in Motion, the Type-R is a good sub for the money, though there is a price to be paid when compared to nicer subs. “For a kid who’s just starting out it’s got good bang for your buck and it sounds pretty good,” he says. Click here for specs.

    Rockford Fosgate P3
    Priced at around $250 in a 12-inch, Rockford’s P3 series woofers are, according to Bjorn Gunnlaugsson with Custom Autosound in Oakland Park, Fla., “just great, great subs. You can beat the living hell out of them, they’re extremely efficient and they have good power.” According to Rockford, the 12-inch version can handle 500 watts RMS and 1000 peak.Click here for specs.

    Hertz Energy 10
    A 10 for all seasons, the Hertz Energy 10 features of a double voice coil designed to coax the most possible power out of a smaller box. This versatile design also allows for a wider range of wiring and installation possibilities. “At around $200, it’s just a nice, solid woofer,” says Handcrafted Car Audio’s Kowanetz, who adds that the Energy 10 is probably his go-to for 10s. Click here for specs.

    Memphis SClass
    For installations that call for a shallow depth woofer, the Memphis SClass is Jason Kranitz's weapon of choice. Jason runs Kingpin Car Audio in Wilsonville, Oregon and he says, “It’s just a phenomenal sounding thin sub,” he says. “If you’re going to do a thin sub, you really can’t go wrong.” At around $229 for the 10, Memphis offers the SClass in both single and dual 4 ohm coil designs and the woofers can be installed at a mounting depth of just 3 inches. Click here for specs.

    Image Dynamics CTX
    In terms of pure bang for your buck, Jay Oliphant with Drive Customs in San Luis Obispo, Calif. says the CTX series from Image Dynamics is hard to beat. “There’s just nothing out there that gives you the kind of sound quality and volume output that they give you at that price. Usually with subs you get one or the other, but with the CTX you get the output level plus the kind of musicality that you usually just don’t see in a $99 woofer.” The CTX series is available in a range of sizes and is built to last, with UV-protected surrounds and cones. Click here for specs.

    JL Audio WX
    Like the JL W3v3 subs mentioned above, the lower priced WX line is another beneficiary of “trickle down technology” from the company’s flagship models. Available in both 10- and 12-inch varieties and priced at around $100, the WX line is positioned as an entry-level sub for performance-minded users. “The WX subs are really good sellers for us and they hold up,” says Peter Riker with The Specialists in Tucson, Ariz. “JL has always been right up there at the top with their engineering and they include all of that technology even in the cheaper models." Click here for specs.

    Arc Audio KS 10
    Built to handle up to 200 watts RMS without punching a hole in the bank account, the $119 KS 10 from Arc Audio is advertised as offering high-end sound at an enthusiast price. According to Arc, the Kar Series, of which the KS 10 is a part, is designed for use in small, low-power systems. Handcrafted Car Audio’s Kowanetz is a fan, saying he’s “always had good luck with them” as a good, basic sub. Click here for specs.

    Image Dynamics IDQ 10
    Available in single- and dual-voice coil varieties, the IDQ 10 from Image Dynamics also gets high praise from installers for its versatility and overall value. Custom Autosound’s Gunnlaugsson calls the IDQ 10 “phenomenal” and says they sell a lot of them in the shop. “I really like it because you can use it free, sealed, bandpass, ported; just about any application you can dream of.” The IDQ series is priced in the $230 range, depending on the cone size and other options, and can handle up to 250 watts RMS. Click here for specs.

    Planet Audio RX
    There’s a thin line between “value-oriented” and “cheap,” but it’s one that Planet Audio’s RX series subwoofers walk nicely, according to Drive Customs’ Oliphant. “They’re durable, they sound pretty good and they have pretty good output,” he says. “They're much more about output than sound quality, but for a guy who just wants to slam they’re a good fit.” Best of all, Planet Audio’s RX subs can be had for well under $100 (sometimes even less than $50) and come in a range of sizes and ratings (though the 12 can handle 180 watts RMS at 4 ohms). Click here for specs.


  2. #2
    Chief of his tribe! LSCyaL8R's Avatar
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    2000 T/A Firehawk M6

    I'm surprised they didn't mention the Pioneer TS series subs.

    Mine only cost me 89 bucks but it can handle 800 Watts RMS and comes in both 2 and 4 ohm DVC configurations.

    In a small enclosure it thumps hard and still plays tight enough to simply blend with the music when looking for more SQ.

    I'd buy it again in a heartbeat.

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