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Q&A about compact powered subwoofers

A Crutchfield Advisor talks underseat bass


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.  

  • Kristopher M lisewski from Hampton

    Posted on 12/17/2022

    Will they produce an unpleasant vibration or sound if placed on carpet under seat held by gravity? Is there a preferred mounting method? Is any insulation from the vehicle needed?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 12/19/2022

    Kristopher, Powered subwoofers are designed to not produce "unpleasant vibrations" - of the box, presumably - wherever they're mounted. You should secure your sub in place so that in case of an accident the sub box won't become a dangerous piece of flying debris. Bolting the enclosure directly to the car or using custom-made metal or plastic brackets are preferred solutions.
  • Travis from APO

    Posted on 10/31/2022

    Hi... my only question is should it be mounted directly to the firewall/metal, or should it be placed on carpet, wood, or something like that? Just curious what offers the best sound. Thanks!

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 11/1/2022

    Travis, You can mount your compact powered subwoofer anywhere it fits while allowing sound out unobstructed. Mounting it to the vehicle's metal chassis or frame may not be the best place, because grounding the amp's chassis to the vehicle ground may produce a noisy ground loop. That's why most installers use plastic brackets and sheets for mounting amplifiers.
  • JP from Woodbridge

    Posted on 6/30/2022

    I have an F150 and I am trying to decide between an 8' and 10' compact amp. I listen mostly to rock and alternative and I am trying to round out the sound from my aftermarket head unit and aftermarket speakers. I'm more concerned with sound image than rattling the truck.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 7/1/2022

    JP, Give us a call, so an Advisor can help you pick out the perfect sub for you and your vehicle.
  • Jeff from centerville

    Posted on 1/20/2022

    Hi, I have a 2010 jeep wrangler unlimited. Installed a Alpine ILX W650. Still using the factory speakers, but have found the base terrible and worse when the top is off. What do you recommend for this? Understand base or something else?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 1/21/2022

    Jeff, There are a few options for getting great bass in a Jeep. Give us a call, so an Advisor can help you pick the perfect sub for your vehicle.
  • Bobby from Isleton

    Posted on 1/20/2022

    I have an 18 Ft Maxum SR3 open bow boat. Very limited for space, but has a cubby in front of the drivers seat area. Which one of these powered subs would you recommend? Or something else? I have 6 1/2 in front and custom 6x9 speaker boxes and speakers. Again, very limited space for speakers. I plan on purchasing JL Audio 650X & 690X speakers to replace the Pioneers I have installed. Also am going to purchase the Fusion MS-RA70NSX to run it.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 1/20/2022

    Bobby, Give us a call, so an Advisor can help you pick out the perfect sub for your boat.
  • Chris from Seminole

    Posted on 1/19/2022

    Is there any danger from the heat generated, especially with it under a seat?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 1/20/2022

    Chris, Yes there is. When installing an amplifier, you should make sure there's plenty of air space around it for cooling. Otherwise, not only could the amp's internal components fail, but some flammable parts of your car may ignite.
  • Mautofu Stirk from Sefton

    Posted on 1/6/2022

    So I have a mg suv with a stock infotainment touch screen I couldn't replace as it's tied to the cars features .I have installed two pioneer underseat subwoofer and my partner wanted me to think of space and four new kicker 6.5 door speakers which are powered by a pioneer four channel amp which feeds all four speakers 100 watts rms .I have recently picked up a mono block pioneer amp and a shallow included pioneer 12 which pumps out 300 watts rms .my question is are the underseat subwoofers a waste of time now or will they add to a more fuller sound? I'm having the mono block amp and sub hooked up next week and am at the dilemma of do I take the undsrseat subwoofers out or leave them in as I wasted money buying them and having them installed

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 1/9/2022

    Mautofu, I recommend you ask your installer why your existing sub isn't enough, and what adding another would accomplish.
  • Shawn Brown from bridgeton

    Posted on 10/6/2021

    can you use more than one ?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 10/11/2021

    Yes. Wire the two power wires to a distribution block, then to the battery. Signal can be split for two inputs using RCA Y-cords.
  • Jay from Bloomfield

    Posted on 2/23/2021

    Rear out or sub out on HU for pro bass SL2 ...and what slope would be best LPF also crossover settings would the cross over settings on HU interfere with the crossover on the pro bass Sl2 there no off on the HU for the subwoofer crossover .. just need the best settings

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 3/25/2021

    Jay, Use the sub out of your receiver for your subwoofer. Check out Tuning your subs for help with settings.
  • Amber

    Posted on 10/20/2020

    Do I need to connect both front and back speakers to an under seat sub?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 10/21/2020

    Amber, If you're talking about getting speaker-level inputs for a powered sub, you can use the front or rear speakers - you won't need both.

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