Portable music has never been this exciting—thanks to miniaturization of a device responsible for adding oomph to our listening experience with live bass sounds: subwoofers.
Subwoofers are no different from loudspeakers except that what they produce are low-pitched audio frequencies we all know as bass and sub-bass. Without these low frequencies, music may sound a bit pitchy and, dry.
The technology of subwoofers since they were invented on the 1960s has greatly improved. Not only are they energy efficient and better now, they are also smaller. There are even subwoofers who can produce remarkably satisfying bass sounds at 10-inch size.
Our Top 5 Picks
Last update on 2020-04-10 at 01:42 PST - Details
If you’ve been into subwoofer for a while, you must have heard about Rockford Fosgate as they have built their reputation around selling top-notch subwoofers for years.
Considering factors such as performance, cost, and durability, we’ve come up with Rockford Fosgate P1S4 as the best in our list.
The heart of every speaker and woofer is the voice coil—be it low or high-frequency sounds—these coils directly convert electrical energy into sound energy. Thus, as with all machine parts, they are subject to wear and tear.
Most voice coils are made of pure copper which is not only more expensive than its superior counterpart, but also heavier and has less electrical conductivity.
The voice coil of P1S4 is made of Copper Clad Aluminum (CCA)—an improvement (hence, a marker of better quality) to the pure copper version. It is lighter than pure copper, has high electrical conductivity (hence, efficient) and is durable.
Thus, expect that P1S4 gives an astounding performance with its energy-efficient voice coil, lasts long and is cost-efficient.
The durability of P1S4 is not only on the voice coil but extends to its frame structure. The frame structure of P1S4 is stamp-casted and with a Flex Fit Basket design. Its paper cone is reinforced with Kevlar fibers. These materials ensure that your product is as durable as can be and is performing at its finest.
- Excellent bass sound. The energy efficient copper clad aluminum voice coil ensures that you get the rich sounds you deserve with the power you feed into your woofer.
- Surround sound. High-density poly-foam in the paper cone produces rich surround sounds.
- Durable. Frame structure uses stamp casted metal, paper cone is reinforced with Kevlar fiber, and copper clad aluminum voice coil disperses and withstands heat from extended operation.
- Comes with one-year limited manufacturer’s warranty.
We do not like
- Produce less bass than high-powered counterparts. The maximum volume and bass of a subwoofer are determined by the power input it requires to operate. After all, sound is a form of energy and the sound energy that a woofer can produce depends on the electrical energy it takes in.
- Compatibility issues with amplifiers. Users report having their amp fried up after being hooked up to P1S4 for a month or so. You might want to be careful with using your amp here and consider that the operating powers are between 250-500 watts only.
Pioneer TS-SW2502S4 stands close to the Editor’s Pick and is an excellent alternative. It competes in durability with its mica-injected resin cone allowing the product to last long.
An interesting feature of the Pioneer TS-SW2502S4 is the range of its frequency response. That is, it responds to frequencies as low as 20 Hz and as high as 125 Hz.
The former being the lowest frequency the human ear can detect and the latter being the highest frequency in the bass range.
What our alternative pick lacks in durability as compared to the editor’s pick, it makes up with its performance as its operation peaks at 1,200 watts—more than double than the peak power of the P1S4.
If you got the cash to spare and the need for more definition in your bass, Pioneer TS-SW2502S4 is perfect for you.
- Shallow mount. At 3 1/8 inches mounted depth, it fits perfectly and unnoticed on tight areas that you’d want your bass such as your car or room.
- Durable. It has mica-injected resin cone to make the product last longer.
- Excellent frequency response. It frequency response ranges from 20-125 Hz.
We do not like
Fits in boxes bigger than 10 inches. This sub is advertised as 10-inch but users had difficulty fitting this one in a 10-inch box. In fact, it’s at least 10.5 inches or more and that its mounting shape is too wide.
Issues with power input greater than 1000 watts. It might have something to do with sound setup but complaints about the subwoofer dead after exposing it to more than 1000 watts for some time are pretty recurring.
Planet Audio AC10D may be on our Budget Pick but the price doesn’t speak for its quality—it’s a value for money.
Audiophiles might find an issue with its durability but for regular users, the AC10D is strong enough to last. It has a Poly Injection Cone and sports a 2-inch aluminum voice coil.
Although not as good as the Copper-Clad Aluminum voice coil, pure aluminum voice coils have their advantages, as well. For instance, they are less expensive than both CCA and pure copper voice coils and is lighter.
Impressively, the peak performance of the produce is at 1,500 watts—more than the first two products that we reviewed thanks to its dual voice coil. In fact, dual aluminum voice coil might be a great idea for improving performance and efficiency.
The polypropylene cone is another wise choice—it makes the product durable without the additional cost. Not to mention the surround foam that Planet Audio claims to last between 8-16 years.
In support of its claim of durability, in spite of its affordable price, Planet Audio offers AC10D with a 3-year Platinum Online Dealer Warranty—longer than any other product warranty on this list.
- Affordable. As a budget pick, AC10D is the cheapest in this list with the best quality for its price.
- Has dual voice coil. Dual voice coils deliver better performance (superior bass definition) and more efficient operation (that’s why it can handle a maximum power of 1,500) compared to subs with a single voice coil.
- Relatively durable build. It has poly injection cone and a foam surround that are expected to last for 8-16 years.
We do not like
Uses an inferior pure aluminum voice coil. Pure aluminum voice coils operate in less electrical conductivity compared to CCA and pure copper voice coils. They are also less durable and the connections are less reliable. Although the usage of pure aluminum voice coil may be one of the reasons for its lesser price, though.
Needs a break-in. Not an issue for those who are willing to put off hours of under-performance to get to its peak, though. For break-in, you will be forced to hook it up to less than 4 ohms and 200 watts which means you get less performance than advertised for a while. Not subjecting the product to a break-in risks damage to the product.
The only way you could get something better than our editor’s pick is to throw in more money to make up for its weaknesses. You can do that with the same brand, Rockford Fosgate, but with a different and more expensive model—the Rockford Fosgate P3D4.
For a start, it operates between 500 to 1000 watts—more than the range of the P1S4. It sports a 2.5-inch (0.5-inch longer than P1S4 voice coil made of the same material—Copper Clad Aluminum. Expect that P3D4 delivers unparalleled bass definition.
To help dissipate heat, which is the most common cause of speaker and subwoofer damage, it has a Thermal Anodized Aluminum Cone. This acts like a heat sink that immediately dissipates any heat build-up on the voice coil.
P3D4 is the bulkiest of the 10-inch subwoofers featured on this list but that is to an advantage. The P3D4 feature its signature VAST surround that increases the radiating performance of the cone by up to 25% more.
If you have the cash to spare, and your demands for subwoofers are higher than normal, you need a Rockford Fosgate P3D4. The additional cash is for the additional structures and features that helps it be more durable, attractive and efficient and enables to deliver quality bass.
- Durable. Cone has Flex Fit basket Design and aluminum cone and dust cap. The 2.5-inch voice coil is made out of CCA which withstands extended performance and high power ratings.
- Radiates sound better. It has Vertical Attach Surround Technique (VAST) surround that enables the cone to radiate by up to 25% more.
- Dissipates heat effectively. Its Thermal Anodized Aluminum Cone serves as a heat sink that disperses heat buildup better than the plastic counterpart. Probably one of the best features unique to Rockford Fosgate subwoofers.
We do not like
- Large for regular speaker box sizes. It is difficult to look for suitable speaker boxes that will house this subwoofer considering its size.
- Power hungry. It may sound an advantage but for some who wants good sound but at less energy, this is a no-no. P3D4 delivers performance at the expense of power so be prepared.
- Expensive. It is priced at more than what one feels fair to pay for the additional features. Considering, however, that no other subwoofer in the market sports all these features into one, P3D4 is the only option you can have.
There are lots of subwoofers to choose from—that includes the best 10 inch subwoofer in this review. Selecting one for a specific purpose—like a subwoofer for a car—makes the process of choosing, however, challenging.
We scoured over the Internet and found one, though, that we think is the best 10-inch subwoofer for a car—the Kicker 43C104.
A subwoofer for a car needs not operate at peak power of more than 1000 watts since such a power is inaccessible, at least not easily, in a car. Kicker 43C104 operates at a regular power of 150 watts and peaks at 300 watts.Pair this subwoofer with a car-compatible 300 watts Orion amp bridge and you’ll have one amazing sound experience inside your car.
- Ribbed Foam Surround. Expect that your bass will fully cover your car. At 300 watts, you could have a sound experience that is loud enough to be enjoyed few meters from your car.
- Relatively durable. At 300 watts peak performance, getting the voice coil burnt is rare. The cone of the Kicker 43C104 is made out of injection-molded polypropylene. In addition, it has bumped back plate and disperses heat using its high-temp voice coil. That’s more than what you could expect for a car subwoofer.
- Produces excellent sound for its 10-inch size. You’d know that this product is a value for your buck because it produces excellent bass sounds inside your car at its small size and relatively low operating power.
We do not like
- Requires a large box. You need to install it to a box larger than 1 cubic foot (which would have fitted under your rear seats well.
- Not loud enough to host a party around a car.
What to Look for in a Subwoofer
Activities that involve our senses, like watching or listening, becomes increasingly demanding over time.
For instance, if you are exposed to impressive graphics, of a certain level, you would get impressed initially but over time, your demands for what you find impressive and beautiful would increase.
Thus, you would end up not finding what you find impressive now as impressive days, weeks, months or years after.
The same is true with music. As soon as you get to experience rich bass sounds from listening to music through a speaker with a woofer, you would find music without one boring or not as pleasant.
If you are one of those whose definition of excellent music includes rich bass sounds, you’d better purchase a subwoofer then. The problem is, not all subwoofers are created equal. What do you need to look out for, then, to make sure you get the best for your buck?
Before you select one, determine what you need a subwoofer for in the first place and where do you plan on installing it. Is it for home theater? Is it for your car?
Dealing with these will make it easier for you to deal with selecting the best subwoofer afterward.
Passive vs. Powered Subwoofers
Before you buy a subwoofer, ask yourself this question first: are you prepared to buy additional hardware to make your subwoofer work or not? If you are, then feel free to buy a passive subwoofer. If you are not and you want to setup the soonest, a powered subwoofer is best for you.
Passive subwoofers are those that require an external amplifier. For this to work, you need to purchase additional hardware—an external amplifier.
The advantage of a passive subwoofer is that you’d have more control over a lot of metrics—like the amount of power you feed into your subwoofer. Another is, in case of damage, you get to save one of the two components—either you break your sub and you get to keep the amp or the other way around.
The disadvantage is, it is a risky job finding an amplifier that works perfectly with your woofer. There is a chance that you’d burn your woofer with poor amplifier configuration.
Powered subwoofers are common, these days. They are self-powered—meaning, they have a built-in amplifier and you don’t need to buy an external one (although buying an external one is also a choice).
The advantage of this is that you won’t have a problem with amplifier-woofer compatibility as they are manufactured and tested by the same company.
Front-Firing vs. Down-Firing Subwoofers
Front-firing subwoofers have the sounds radiate from the front of the subwoofer while the down-firing ones have their speakers mounted so that the sound radiate towards the floor or downward.
Both types of subwoofers deliver almost similar results although selecting the correct one for your needs could make your listening experience a bit better.
Consider, for instance, front-firing subwoofers. Since the sounds radiate to its front, it is good for home theaters where viewers expect the sound to come from the front.
For cars or listening experience where sounds are better off if they come from sides, down-firing subwoofers, placed on the corners and/or sides of cars and/or rooms are ideal.
Another concern is durability which is greatly determined by the quality of material used. Different component requires different materials, however. Let’s explore the materials that you would look out for in each of subwoofer’s parts.
Electrical energy is converted to sound energy through the metallic wires inside the woofer called the voice coil. Earliest woofers make use of pure copper wire for voice coil. Copper wires are still used today.
Pure copper is heavy and expensive. It also has less conductivity compared to another metal used for voice coils—pure aluminum. Aluminum, on the other hand, is cheap, lighter and has high electrical conductivity.
You’d find pure copper in some expensive subwoofers and pure aluminum voice coils in cheaper subwoofers.
There’s an innovation, however, that combines the two to take advantage of the strengths of each material—the Copper Clad Aluminum (CCA) voice coils which are less expensive and lighter than pure copper, has higher conductivity and is more reliable than pure aluminum, and has higher strength than either of the two materials.
Voice coils made of CCA can withstand high temperature from high power and long operation hours thus making your subwoofer durable.
For the cone, you’d find that there are two commonly used material: Polypropylene, which is a type of plastic, and metal.
Plastic is great and cheap but is poor on heat dissipation. Remember, transforming electrical energy to sound energy, at our current technology, is still not 100% efficient. You’d expect energy loss through heat—which can endanger the life of your subwoofer.
Foams surrounds are among the parts that get easily damaged. It also determines the quality of music that you hear. It’s important to look for foam surrounds that are durable and has self-dampening properties to prevent damage from unusual sound waves.
Based on its prize, performance, and durability, Rockford Fosgate P1S4 is the best 10 inch subwoofer out there. It’s an Amazon’s choice for 10-inch subwoofers and is patronized by lots of customers for the same reason: quality.
It’s a perfect fit both for enthusiasts and for novice audiophiles who want quality bass sounds from 10-inch woofers at a reasonable price.
If you want to shell out additional cash for a better version of P1S4, however, we have our upgrade pick, from the same company, the P3D4. P3D4 is for those with higher demands for performance and quality—of course, it comes with a hefty price.
Rockford Fosgate has proven to be the best when it comes to subwoofers in the market today and P1S4 is a 10-inch subwoofer that is most likely perfect for enthusiasts as you. It has the durability fit for its price and delivers the best bass sounds for its price.
If you found this review helpful or if you have questions, please let us know in the comment section below. We hope this review helped you in one way or another.