Music is a huge part of life. Whether you’re driving to work, the gym, or just rolling around with your friends, music sets the tone. And nothing does that better than a deep, driving bass. Feeling that solid thump reverberate through your ride gets you ready to nail that meeting, hammer those weights, or just get your head right for wherever you’re going. One of the best ways to achieve that quality bass is to install one of the best 15 inch subwoofers out there.
AutoWise’s Best 15 Inch Subwoofer Guide
We scoured the market to find you the best 15 inch subs of 2021. These subwoofers are sure to put a smile on your face and the deep bass you crave in your vehicle.
One of the best subwoofers we’ve seen, SKAR Audio’s EVL-15 D2 subs are the perfect combination of sound output and cost, thanks to its clear sound quality and comparatively low cost.
The 2,500-watt peak power is bolstered by a massive high flux, double stack ferrite motor structure. This motor makes the most of those 2,500 watts, driving a booming yet accurate bass. A black coated 3” high temp voice coil and air flow cooling design on the basket regulates heat. This means you can blast the sub at full power for hours on end without overheating.
Luckily, this isn’t all bass and no precision. All the way up to the end of its range, the ELV-15 D2 is tight and precise. Regardless of the genre or volume, this sub pumps out solid and distortion-free bass.
And with competition subs pricing up in the $500-$600 range and above, you’re not going to get a better sub for this price.
Power: 1,250/2,500 watts
Sensitivity: 86.2 dB
Frequency Range: 20-250 Hz
Impedance: Dual 20Ohm
Precision at all ranges
Wide range of genre performance
Larger branding may not work for people looking for a more subdued system
If you want a sub that’ll both crack your windshield and provide the clearest sound, DS18’s Hooligan X 15 is the one.
This bad boy has a higher RMS power than the peak power of several of the subs on this list. The result? Your entire neighborhood will know when you leave the house. All that power means more heat, however. Luckily, the beefiness extends to the voice coils. 4-inch black aluminum with four layers provides excellent heat dissipation, so you can play for long periods without overheating. Basically, how long you play at high power depends more on your endurance than the sub’s.
The dual voice coil adds versatility for your configuration. Heck, if you have the money, you can set up several and start shaking some foundations. But you might want to reinforce your car windows first.
Rockville is a known entity in the industry, and the W15K9D2 is their shot at a spot in the higher echelon of car audio.
They packed this sub with huge specs with a low price tag with some solid results. The sealed enclosing provides solid and tight bass lines and clear sound. Even at top frequency, the sound hits clearly and precisely. With RMS power handling at 1250 watts and peak power up to 5000 watts, this speaker lay down some heavy thumps.
With great power, comes higher risk of distortion and breakdown. Rockville counters this with a thick, stiff cone to handle the extra power and keep distortion to a minimum. The High BL Magnetic motor gap is bolstered to handle higher temperatures as well. There is a cost between having all this power at such a low price, however, there have been reports of short-circuiting and malfunction, which is likely due to the power going through the unit. Rockville’s warranties do cover most breakdowns, so at this price, it may be worth the risk.
Power: 1,250/5,000 watts
Sensitivity: 83 dB
Frequency Range: 33 Hz-1.5 kHz
Impedance: Dual 2-Ohm
Handles power well
Some durability issues
4. SKAR Audio Loaded SDR-15 D2 with Vented Subwoofer Enclosure
If you don’t want to have to deal with finding the right box for your sub, SKAR Audio’s SDR-15 D2 2 with vented enclosure is your go-to.
The 15-inch subwoofer box is built specifically for the SDR-15 D2 sub. This means a perfect fit and huge sound as soon as you set it up. The box itself sports a unique kerf port design for huge levels of bass output. It’s covered in premium black carpeting with the SKAR Audio logo for a sleek look wherever you put it. Everything comes pre-wired and set up. This is great news for people looking for a plug and play system.
As for the speaker itself, the SDR-15 D2 is well-built, with a high roll surround. This lets the speaker hit deep lows without any trouble. Despite its peak power at a modest 1200 watts, the bass is deep and profound. You won’t have any trouble rattling your passengers’ teeth with this bad boy. The sound is deep and precise at most ranges, but you will hear distortion at the highest levels.
If loudness is your priority, Kicker has you covered with the L7 sub. Instead of the round subs you’ll see on this list, the L7 has a square profile. That profile adds more surface area, which in this case translates to a huge sound. That’s because the extra space moves more air, and this results in a much bigger boom.
In the frequency range, the L7 puts out tight definition and a deep timbre. The mid-range is tight, loud, and very precise. The only issue that may come up is the low-frequency range. With a range of 18-100 Hz, you’ll likely notice a less precise sound coming out. But if you’re looking for an extremely clear sound within that limited range and big hits with less concern for precision, the L7 is the one.
Power: 600/1,200 watts
Sensitivity: 88.6 dB
Frequency Range: 18-100 Hz
Great heat management
Narrow frequency range
6. American Bass TNT 1544 15" - Dual 4 Ohm Care Stereo Subwoofer
Another well-known company that is trying to break into the top tier, American Bass’s TNT 1544 blends high-end specs with low-end pricing. This speaker pumps out deep, solid bass with a versatile setup.
For the price, the sub puts out accurate performance on most of the spectrum. This is thanks in part to the multi-layer high-density foam surround, flat T-yoke and CONEX spiders. It handles fast, bass-heavy music with precision and clarity. And with 89.5 decibels, you’ll be able to produce some solid bumps. The only issue is that there is some distortion when you push the sub to its limits. But for the price, you’ll be getting a deep, clear performance from this sub.
The P3D2-15 Punch from Rockford Fosgate makes this list for its durability and ability to handle high output for long periods of time. This is thanks in part to the rigid anodized aluminum cone. This cone acts as a heat sink, pulling heat away from the voice coils. In addition, venting helps keep the coils cool. This provides consistent bass, even after extended play at high levels.
The sub’s Vertical Attach Surround Technique increases the effective radiating cone area. This allows for clearer low-frequency sound. The extended pole piece and bumped backplate leaves more room for deeper lows without bottoming out. This gives the Punch a deep, loud bass. Also, its slot-mounted frame pattern allows more versatility when mounting.
This list wouldn’t be complete without a good set of 15 Kickers. One of our other favorite budget subs, the Comp 15-inch from Kicker puts out solid sound from a durable unit. A UV-treated surround minimizes breakdown over time and the thick polypropylene cone can handle the heaviest bumps. The durability is backed up with double-stitching and a steel basket. Also, copious venting prevents heat breakdown over time.
The cone sports 360-degree back bracing. This lets you hit harder lows without distortion. The 250 w RMS provides clean and clear depth, and the 4 Ohm impedance means it can work with just about every amp you can find. The power output doesn’t match up with some of the subs on this list, but the price and make are excellent. You’re not going to get more hours of bass for your buck.
The Tropo 15-inch from CT Sounds is a great cheap subwoofer for bumping up your sound system on a budget.
The max power of 1200 watts and 600-watt RMS gives it loud and clear bass. The dual voice coils, let it play at high volumes and the high-quality components mean it’s built to last.
The polypropylene composite cone is reinforced with carbon fiber. The suspension is optimized to handle more power without damaging the voice coils.
While it does come with some venting, we would like to see more heat protection. But overall, the Tropo puts out heavy hits without taking a big bite out of your wallet.
Power: 120/500 watts
Sensitivity: 88.7 dB
Frequency Range: 600-1200 Hz
Impedance: Dual 4-Ohm
Minimal heat protection
Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best 15 Inch Subwoofer
Six-inch subs are the smallest available and are ideal for installation in smaller spaces. If you’re looking for a sub that doesn’t take up any trunk space in your car, this is the way to go. These subs can fit on car doors or beneath seats without issue. They are great for ramping up your system, but if you want loud deep bass, you’ll want to go bigger.
The next side up is the 8-inch subwoofer. The most commonly used sub, they can also fit on doors or under seats. They produce accurate and clear bass, but they don’t produce that body-shaking boom. If you’re looking for a crystal clear sound, these are a great option. But if you want something harder-hitting, check out the next size up.
These subs produce a great blend of accuracy and loudness. These subs require space in an auto’s storage area but aren’t as bulky as their bigger counterparts. They put out a good, solid booming bass without taking up much space. They’re a great choice for people who want a good thump without letting the whole neighborhood know they’re driving through.
If bone-shaking bass is your priority, 12-inch subs are a great place to start. Their bigger size takes up more storage space, but the sound output is huge with these subs. They are ideal for larger cars with larger trunks or SUVs. Their larger size makes them louder, but they’re less accurate than smaller subs.
A step up in size and sound from 12-inch subs, these will provide ground-shaking bass. The deeper cones hit depths that smaller subs can’t hit. 15’s take up a lot of space, so they’ll fit best in wagons, trucks, and SUV’s. These subs don’t have the accuracy of their smaller counterparts. But if you’re shopping for 15-inch subs, deep, booming bass is your priority.
The biggest subwoofer on the market, 18’s give the loudest and deepest bass you can get. Most often used in competition, these subs are for people who value loudness over everything else. Including trunk space, because these will take up most of the cargo space in your vehicle.
The most common type of sub, round subwoofers tend to play more accurate sound. Square subwoofers have more surface space and generally produce a louder sound. However, they generally don’t provide the kind of accuracy that round subs provide. Triangular subwoofers are ideal when space is a priority. Triangular subs can fit where round or square ones can’t. The shape also allows you to fit multiple subs closer than you can with round or square subs.
Look at the recommended power range of whatever subwoofer that you’re considering. The recommended power range lets you know in which range that sub will work best. The lower end is the minimum amount of power that the sub needs to get decent results. The higher end of the maximum power range is the most power that the sub can take without being damaging. Bass notes require a lot of power, so more power generally means more boom. For the best results, pair your sub with an amp rated in the upper half of your subwoofer’s maximum RMS power range.
One thing to note is that your amp output can go higher than the sub’s maximums RMS. Keep in mind that you’ll need to listen for the sound quality at this higher range. If the sound starts to break up, you’ve hit the sub’s performance limit. This can damage your subwoofer. Ease back on the volume if this happens to keep your sub safe.
Sensitivity is the measurement of how loud a speaker gets with a given amount of power. A subwoofer with an 88 decibel (dB) rating means that with 1 watt of power, it will put out 88 decibels of sound from 1-meter away. The higher the decibel rating, the more decibels it will put out with the same amount of power. Being able to put out more sound with less power is ideal, as it will generate less distortion. Generally speaking, 85-90 decibels is enough for big sound and small distortion.
The best subwoofer in the world won’t make a difference without the right amp. Make sure whatever amp you choose is dialed in with whatever sub you use.
An amplifier is what drives extra power from your auto to your subwoofer. Subs have to move a good amount of air to get deep bass sounds. Stock vehicle audio systems don’t have the power to move air through a sub. If you want that sub to work, you’re going to need a power amp. Look for a single-channel amplifier. Low-end frequencies don’t require stereo sound, so one channel is plenty. You can also hook up a single-channel amp to several subs as well.
When you’re looking at amps for your sub, find one that has the same RMS watts as your amp. RMS watts refers to the amount of power your amp can produce. Look for an amp that the minimum RMS of your amp is 75% of your sub and the max is 150%. If you’re installing several subs, multiply the power in the amp for however many subs you’ll be using.
Once you have the power dialed, be sure that the impedance matches. If you have a 2 Ohm sub, make sure you have a 2 Ohm amp. Like the power above, you’ll have to multiply the impedance of the amp for however many subs you’ll be using. If you have two 4 Ohm subs, you’ll need an amp with 8 Ohm impedance.
Also, take note of how many voice coils your sub has. If you have a dual voice coil amp, remember that each voice coil has two connections. So if you have an amp that has a 2-ohm impedance, you’ll need a 4-ohm amp.
Car subs are made with either one or two voice coils. A voice coil is the wire coil that’s wrapped around the tube that attaches to the speaker cone. Put simply, it’s what provides the driving force to the cone. Oddly enough, both single and dual voice coil setups provide the same amount of force to the cone. It actually doesn’t directly affect the performance at all. What having dual voice coils does is add more wiring options to your setup. You can use two channels to add more power to a single sub. Or you can wire several subs to a single amplifier.
Basically, the advantage of dual coil subs is that you’ll have more flexibility in setting up your sound system. If you want to keep your setup simple and don’t have any plans to change it, single-coil will work fine. But if you want the option to upgrade in the future, consider a dual coil sub.
When it comes to 15-inch subs, the price range can vary greatly. You can find budget subs in the low $100 range and competition subs up in the four-digit range. If you want the most powerful sub available and want the cleanest, deepest bass, the sky’s the limit when it comes to price. This range is usually reserved for true audiophiles or people who have a bottomless wallet. For most people, 15-inch subwoofers in the $250-$350-dollar range will do just fine. Subs in this range provide deep, heavy bass and exceptionally clean sound without breaking the bank. While these mid-range subs may have some distortion at the highest ends of their spectrum, the power and sound in the optimal ranges is on point.
When you’re looking for a sub, consider how much you’re willing to spend and how good you want it to sound. For most people, mid-range subs provide clear enough sound to satisfy. Once you start looking at subs on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, the benefits diminish. The added clarity might not even be noticeable for the average listener. Weigh how much you’re willing to spend against what kind of sound quality you require.
If you’re buying your first sub, you may want to get one on the lower end. As you listen to it, you may, over time, figure out what upgrades you’ll want on your next one. Buying a decent bargain sub (we have several in the list above) will let you upgrade without taking a big financial hit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are 15 inch subwoofers louder than 12 inch subs?
Louder? Definitely. Since 15 inch subwoofers have a larger surface area, they displace more air. This leads to louder, deeper bass. If you’re looking for a lot of boom and bass notes that you can feel, the 15 inch is the way to go.
However, if clear music is your goal, louder is not always better. Since 12 inch subs don’t move as much air, the sound coming from them will be crisper and cleaner. 15 inch subs are the way to go if you listen primarily to bass-heavy hip hop or rock. Or if you want to feel the bass as much as you hear it.
If clarity is your priority and want to hear crisp, tight sound, 12 inch subs are ideal.
What is the best subwoofer size?
It all depends on how you want to listen to your music. If you want clearer sound, a smaller sub will work better. Smaller subs move less air, which generally results in a cleaner, crisper feel to the music. If you just want a minor upgrade to your music, anything from the 6 inch to the 8 inch range will work. If you want more bump but still want clean sound, 10 inch to 12 inch subs are great. They provide a solid boom, but don’t overtake the overall sound of the music.
This works really well for bass-heavy rock and hip hop. 15 inch subs are ideal for people who want to feel their music as much as they hear it. These subs can provide the bone-shaking boom that will announce your approach from a block away. If you want the loudest boom possible or are looking to participate in competitions, 18 inch subs are the way to go.
What is Impedance?
Simply put, impedance is the resisting property of a coil. The lower the impedance, the easier it is for an amp to supply it with power. If the impedance is too low, however, it can lead to an amplifier to overheat. In the best case, the amp will shut down and cool off. Worst case, the amp burns out and is ruined.
What this means for you is that you need to match your sub’s impedance with your amp’s. Most amps can work with a 4 Ohm load. They can also work with 2 Ohm loads on each channel. So check the specs on your amp and subs before you make a purchase.
What subwoofer has the deepest bass?
In general, a deeper cone will give you deeper bass. For example, an 18 inch sub will give you deeper bass than a 15 inch in most cases. But there are other factors involved like the setup and components. If you’re looking for quality of sound, smaller subs will produce cleaner, more accurate bass.
How low should my subwoofer frequency be?
Bass refers to low-frequency sounds from 20 Hz to 160 Hz. Sub-bass frequencies start at 60 Hz and drop down to about 20 Hz. The sub-bass level is the level at which you will feel the bass more than hear it. For subwoofers, the lower the frequency, the lower the bass. The best bass range for most subwoofers is from 20 Hz to 120 Hz. Any lower than 20 Hz is out of range of human hearing.
One thing to consider is sound quality and accuracy. As you go lower on the frequency spectrum, the quality of music can dip. If you just want the loudest, deepest bass possible, that isn’t an issue. But if you want to listen to the music as it was intended, you may want to go a bit higher with the frequency.
Billy Brown loves automotive adventures. He has tested and reviewed autos for various print and digital outlets for the past decade. His testing methods have included doing donuts in a Volvo XC90 in Barcelona, drifting a Lexus ISF around switchbacks in Northern California, and jumping a Subaru Crosstrek in a mountain bike park in Miami. If you couldn't guess, Billy loves to have fun with vehicles and share his enthusiasm and expertise with others.