While most finicky music enthusiasts that envy loud sound systems are not great fans of free air subwoofers, most car manufacturers of quality in-car sound systems – including Lexus, who is technically the best at crafting premium OE car audio systems – prefer incorporating these subs and for good reason. Generally speaking, these subs compromise of an enclosure with a boot volume, rather than the conventional design where the system consists of a separated tuned box.
The upside of free air subs is that they are quite easy to install and besides this, they are ideal for sedans where a “tight bass” approach isn’t necessarily the best path to take. They have flaws, though, and the main one is that they aren’t designed to deliver heart-throbbing bass as is the case with competition grade subs for instance.
However, if clean bass lines are your main goal, it is worth noting that free air subwoofers are the neatest since sliced bread.
Table of contents
- What Is A Free Air Subwoofer And What Should You Know?
- 8 Inch Free Air
- 10 Inch Free Air
- 12 Inch Free Air
- 15 Inch Free Air
What Is A Free Air Subwoofer And What Should You Know?
Before looking at the options you have when it comes to free air subs, it is worth noting that they are designed differently from other subwoofers. In short, a sub designed for a sealed enclosure, for instance, bears some distinctive characteristics as is the case with subs designed to perform optimally in ported enclosures. The same applies to free air subs where you will have to use specific drivers designed for the sole purpose of powering these babies.
In a nutshell, these car speakers don’t incorporate the usual super floppy suspension and this basically means that a free air subwoofer should be stiffer than other models. That aside, there are a number of amazing subs designed to deliver neat and precise low frequencies. To help you get the ideal free air sub, we subjected a number of top brands to some thorough tests and here is what we came up with.
8 Inch Free Air
Our Pick: Infinity Kappa 800W
Infinity models are well known for their unsullied sound yield; the 8″ Infinity Kappa 800W sub is a perfect reflection of that. Despite its small body, this sub is husky in its deliverance with a remarkable ability to take on arduous notes like a boss.
Everything about the Infinity Kappa 800W is designed for eased performance and handling. This explains why it swept away our number one trophy under this section. Here’s more of what this bad boy has to offer.
This 8″ Infinity Kappa free air sub can handle quite the power surge; that’s very palpable. It’s RMS power rating falls at 400 Watts and comes paired with a 1600 Watts maximum output. That much power backed with a 34Hz- 200Hz frequency response lets it drop tunes in their finest and most refined forms.
Further, it features a switchable impedance characteristic; it lets you switch between 2 and 4 Ohms impedance at, get this, the flip of a switch. This not only saves you any consistent wiring headache, it makes reconfigurations a piece of cake.
Down to sturdiness, the Infinity Kappa 800W comes embodied in a steel basket that serves as a shield from any hard beatings it may have to endure. Besides that, a rubber surround sees to its that it’s acoustically damped fiberglass cone is adequately guarded. The fiberglass cone also works assiduously to keep distortions on the minimal.
Last but not least, an innovative ducted air flow keeps its voice coils sufficiently cooled for top-notch performance and pliancy.
For cakewalk performance, versatility and the promise of a long life of splendid service, look no further. The Infinity Kappa 800W 8″ subwoofer is a modernized thud monstrosity that’s capable of keeping even the most notorious of audiophiles merrily enthusiastic even with no aid.
Runner-Up: Kicker CWCD84 CompC
Our runner’s up, the Kicker CWCD84 open air subwoofer comes from a long line of hard-hitting CompC subs. Seeing as much, it brings with itself a well-assembled feature list built on years of profound experience. And as you would expect, this sub is made for continuous boom plunges days on end. Let’s look at some of its building specs and abilities.
With a 200 Watts RMS rating, the Kicker CWCD84 disenthralls thunderous sonancy into any cabin easily. It’s peak power too is considered reasonable at 400 Watts. Further, a 4 Ohms impedance and 30-500Hz frequency response go that extra mile to bolster its output.
Rugged in appearance, it features a jive yellow stitched foam surround fitted in a ratified steel basket. Its polypropylene cone is built for an extended excursion which makes it a whiz when it’s time to drop a smooth pound.
Withal it’s high temp voice coil, the CWCD84 also assumes a perimeter venting design for maximum thermal dissipation. Its ability to handle high temperature makes it tirelessly potent even when hitting extreme notes.
It’s always advisable to go for subs backed by a perennial foundation; in this case, the Kicker CWCD84 is exactly that. Performance is a no-brainer with this 8″ subwoofer.
On the Budget: Lanzar DCTOA84 Distinct Open Air SVC Distinct Series
Lanzar is not the most popular audio manufacturer there is, but if you have been closely following our reviews, there are a number of great products from the manufacturer.
The DCTOA84 is nothing but impressive, to say the least. For a free air subwoofer, it is quite powerful with 160 watts of peak power handling and 80 watts RMS.
It also boasts a sensitivity of 87 dB and the best part is that you need not fret over space issues thanks to a shallow mount depth of 4.06”.
10 Inch Free Air
Our Pick: Kicker CompS 40CWS104
Looking back, the Comp Series has given us some pretty punchy subs. Now, the Kicker 40CWS104 CompS sub takes that up a notch and is easily one of the best releases of the Series yet. Why? The following explores all possible answers to that question.
The 40CWS104 has been said to give a world-class performance. And if you stop to consider the 300 Watts RMS rating it puts at your disposal, it gets hard to argue with that. At its peak, this sub can comfortably juggle 600 Watts maximum.
A deeper look at its capabilities will lead you to its 30-500Hz frequency response and a 4-ohm impedance; both of which relentlessly clean out its delivery.
When cranking up tunes at insane volumes, heat build-up is inevitable. This 10-inch sub proves well prepped to curb such predicaments with its quad venting mechanism which keeps its interior under perfect operational temperatures all through. In addition to that, it’s single voice coil is made to withstand high temps with a negligible possibility of getting fired.
Its manufacturers went a step ahead in ensuring its longevity by adding a heavy duty, tear resistant motor. Its thick woofer cone is injection molded to make it all the more flexible when driving grave timbre. Last but not least, for a slick dramatic look, it houses spider tinsel leads and a beyond firm heavy duty steel basket.
If you intend to crank up your cabin to the moon and back, you might as well grab one of this. Not only is it a reasonably priced package, it’s booming power will have heads turning everywhere you go.
Marine Option: Wet Sounds XS-10FA-S4V2
For all you boaters out there, here’s a little something for you too. Authentic marine subs are hard to come by, and that explains all the fracas encompassing the Wet Sounds XS-10FA-S4V2 subwoofer. The geniuses behind this one of a kind conception intended to give boaters an adequate companion to help them take on voyages into the deep. The XS-10FA-S4V2 comes with a Bass upsurge that’s guaranteed to rock up the docks.
This package is made specifically for boat free air application; it consists of dual XS-10FA-S4V2 subs, each with a 300 Watts RMS rating. At its peak, each of these subs is able to push a 600 Watt output. It takes on low frequencies coolly thanks to its 25-500Hz frequency response range.
I have to admit, the Wet Sounds XS-10FA-S4V2 overall chassis is nothing short of swank. With a contemporary silver protective grill, it’s proving to be a stylish addition to any boat.
Knowing just how harsh the briny marine milieu can get, it’s manufacturers made sure to brace up sufficiently for the task. It’s powder-coated aluminum frame, magnet boot and gold plated terminals are some of the mitigatory inclusions to help it dodge potential moisture related damages. With that, you can rest easy as the XS-10FA-S4V2 cranks up the waters.
A sub built to withstand battles waged in the deep is definitely no joke. The Wet Sounds XS-10FA-S4V2 means serious business when it comes down to dropping a punch; it will rev up any voyage regardless of how grim it may appear.
12 Inch Free Air
Our Pick: Infinity Kappa 1200W
Under the 12-inch free air category, it’s only fair that Infinity Kappa takes the top spot once again. The Infinity Kappa 1200W is an ingenious assembly with sleek flair to back it. This sub is known to produce an off the charts tumble even with no box boost application. This makes it one of the market’s high soaring free air subwoofers globally. What’s even better is that it goes on to include innovative technology to boost its proficiency.
The kicker to this sub has got to be its power output; it dishes out a solid 500 Watts RMS and 1000 Watts at its peak. From that alone, you can already tell Infinity Kappa 1200W 12″ free air sub can drop a rather heavy punch. When it drops a tune, it does so with rambunctious bop that can do no less than blow your hat off.
Besides that, the sub makes wiring a breeze with its Selectable Smart Impedance; it lets you switch between 2 and 4 Ohms with remarkable ease. The configuration has never come this easy.
One look at its chassis would have you underrate its capability because, well, it might as well be the sleekest sub out there. Nevertheless, it’s steel basket is sturdy enough to stand any storm. It’s glass fiber made cone is can also take a punch thanks flex – resistant attribute. Cone excursion is cherry cake easy for this sub; this lets it stretch its capabilities to an impressive level.
The last but definitely not least mention is its aero cooling technology that helps keep its voice coil clear of any thermal mishaps.
This sub gives its counterparts a run for their money with its all flossy all capable package. Even under free air application, it delivers musical strings with a notorious dynamism not to mention clarity.
Runner-Up: JBL S3-1224
JBL is a giant in the industry and for that very reason, JBL strives to keep its users awed. An in truth, the S3-1224 is a representation of the greatness that is the JBL brand. The thing with this sub is that it’s built to revamp your musical experience by bringing out the tunes exactly as they were intended. And you know what else? You don’t have to dig that far deep into your pockets to own it.
JBL S3-1224 subwoofer focuses on maximum power optimization as a way to get you the delivery you desire. How? Well, first and foremost, this sub comes packed with staggering 500 Watts RMS which shots up to 1500 Watts at its peak.
Secondly, it houses an exceptional 3 inched voice coil instead of the conventional 2 inch one; this revs up its power handling ability by a long shot. If you think that’s incredible, it gets better. Trying to configure your sub in an attempt to tap its full-on adeptness is nothing short of daunting.
With the S3-1224, you get the privilege of seamless wiring and reconfiguration all thanks to its Selectable Smart Impedance mechanism. SSI lets you switch impedance in the blink of an eye with the help of a button. That, paired with its wide range (25-175Hz) frequency response lets it drive notes to a ground shaking extent.
When it comes to battling notorious heat based perils, it makes use of an aero-cooling method to keep its voice coil well fanned up. Finally, it’s chassis is made up of a heavy-duty steel basket in which a nitrite rubber surround sits with a polypropylene lightweight cone right in the middle of it. This design is sturdy and super efficient when it comes to heat dissipation.
JBL is known for their no-compromise methods of ensuring customers satiety. Palpably, JBL S3-1224 stands as a testimony to that. There’s only so much that can be said about this 12″ free air sub. The standing fact though? It can definitely pack a punch.
Also Great: Infinity Reference REF1200S
This free air subs list would be incomplete without a shallow mount inclusion; small spaced vehicles too deserve a little bass too. And this case, the spotlight falls on the very much deserving Infinity Reference REF1200S. However, don’t let its small package fool you, this sub is will have your mouth ajar once it drops a beat. Who said limited space should deprive you the chance to shake up your car.
In all honesty, the 12″ Infinity Reference is rather teeny requiring a mounting depth of only 3.5″ for a proper setup. You can have it running from a very small portion of your car space. But, does it sound any good?
You’ll be pleased to know that this little fella is very much capable of kicking you off your boots. With a power RMS of 250 Watts and a max output of 1000 Watts ( that’s right), what more would you expect?
Sensitivity is a major kicker with this one coming in at 92dB. This sub also takes on the low frequency with decency as it’s frequency response ranges in between 27 Hz all the way to 175 HZ. It also features switchable impedance allowing you to waltz between 2 and 4 Ohms at the flip of a switch.
Not only does this sub look good, it’s built to stand the test of time. To ensure a seamless reproduction, the sub is furnished with rigid polypropylene cone that remits nothing but clean rhythmic tunes.
Is it small? Yes. Sleek and snazzy? Definitely. But does it pack a punch when the need arises? Absolutely. Infinity Reference REF 1200S shallow mount is loaded with efficacy and a long lasting service period guarantee.
On The Budget: Kicker CompC 44CWCS124
Under the 12-inch free air subs class, Kickers made sure to throw in one of their own for its fanatics out there. Like all their other models, the 44CWCS124 oozes of power that goes on to disenthrall bass in a manner that only a Kicker sub can. The best part? It comes in considerably affordable. For all you cheapskates out there, this sub is it for you. It sees to it a tight budget does nothing to compromise your chance to experience music accordingly.
Astounding performance is Kicker’s ultimate goal. In this case, the 44CWCS124 300 watt RMS rating ensures that’s well taken care of. At its maxi, it handles a neat 600 Watts; clearly, it can handle a slight push with no problem. This sub has dual voice coils featuring a 4 Ohms impedance.
On the outside, the sub adapts Kicker’s signature yellow stitching on its ribbed polyurethane surround. For proper thermal dissipation, it takes up the perimeter venting mechanism. Its solid motor structure backs its durability by preventing any substantial damages to its interiors.
Although most of us hate to admit it, money is always the elephant in the room whenever we intend to embark on a purchase of this nature. The Kicker 40CWS104 is not only affordable, it also screams quality.
Cheap may not always be good enough but with this sub, you can amp your sound system to unimaginable new heights (unbelievable for such a price).
15 Inch Free Air
Our Pick: Kicker CompC CWCD154
As they say, bigger is always better. That statement might fall short every now and then but in this case, it couldn’t be more correct. When you feel it’s time to step it up to the 15 inch free air league, be sure to take the Kicker CWCD154 into consideration.
Large comes to its body as well as its competence. This sub runs a 600 Watts RMS rating through its chassis and can go all the way to a 1200 Watts at its peak. Agreeably, a sub that powerful will have a car’s chassis vibrating uncontrollably if pushed all the to its limit.
Even at a relatively low volume, you would be right to expect all sorts of musical thuds and punches. Considering it’s 25-500Hz frequency response, there’s no limit the to what CWCD154 can drop. Calling it a hard hitting sub would be a wry understatement of its capabilities.
In addition to the above, the subwoofer features dual 4 Ohms voice coils that back its reliability even when performing under extremities.
It’s injection molded polypropylene cone gives the sub remarkable hard-hitting strengths thanks to the fact this lets unrestricted excursions easily achievable. To wrap all that up is the Kicker signature yellow surround stitching that gives it a bit of an aesthetic pop.
For an inexhaustible dose of some clean, seamless and extremely bassy music, this is the go-to 15″ subwoofer. Needless to say, this sub represents the epitome of extreme free air bass bursts; its bound to keep heads bopping for a very long time.
On The Budget: Lanzar DCTOA15D
You definitely want a sub that has all it takes to keep you giddy and avid. And at an unbelievable price tag, Lanzar DCTOA15D lets you do just that. This hard hitter tops the list within its price range with reliable reproduction and prowess. In addition, it brings to the table a whole lot of fresh innovative technological inclusions.
Power, every sub’s lifeline, comes reasonable catered for with the Lanzar DCTOA15D. The sub has a 200 Watts RMS rating and a 400 Watts maximum output. Although this may not be the best rating out there, it’s sufficient for subtle bass drop within a cabin.
In regards to how low or high this sub can take you, it’s 31-2kHz frequency response tells you all you need to know about its versatility. Its frequency range is incredibly wide allowing its users the privilege of a filtered musical episode regardless of the nature of its notes. Its dual-layered 3-inch voice coil gives it that reliability factor that most audiophiles relentlessly look for in subwoofers.
Moving to its design, the Lanzar DCTOA15D features a non-pressed paper cone with a lofty foam surround. This allows the sub punchy bursts without damaging its internal components. Other than that, its motor is vented to kick up its durability levels. Lastly, everything comes assembled carefully into a steel basket shelter that holds each component well in place.
Top-notch performance and output are, in a nutshell, what the 15 inch Lanzar DCTOA15D has up its sleeves. More importantly, it let’s those on the tight budget into the magnificent world of a boom.
Free air subwoofers need to be power packed in order to fully function like they were intended too. The perfect free air sub is merrily convenient, versatile and an ingenious way to rev up your vehicle’s audio system.
It is my hope that the guide above is enough to serve you as well as it is meant to. It is also my hope that you find your ideal sub from the above-mentioned selections. Nevertheless, keep in mind that patience and thorough research are paramount inputs all through your walk down this road.
A Good Free Air Subwoofer
It’s imperative to keep in mind that just like most other paramount purchases, you’re not about to simply stumble on to the best free air subwoofer by mere chance. Some due diligence is vital on your part.
In order to ease your stroll down this road, here’s a brief compilation of factors to ardently analyze beforehand making a purchase of this nature. The subsequent aspects pretty much build or break free air subwoofers.
With free air subs, beserk power is a no-compromise necessity. Remember these are designed particularly to work in the absence of enclosures. And if your intention is to blow minds, your pick is going to need an ocean worth of power. The good thing is that most free air subs come packed with an incredible dynamism that makes them effortless boomers.
So just how do you measure the amount of power a sub is capable of unleashing? It’s RMS rating is what to keenly weigh in this case. A higher the power RMS rating certainly means more potency. A sub’s maximum power output does little to influence its power abilities; it, therefore, shouldn’t demand that much of your attention.
We all know that a good sub is only one that can stand the test of time with outright pugnacity. Free air subs operate in the truancy of the sanctuary that enclosures provide. That means they need to be hard as nails to serve long and tenaciously. These kinds of subs take quite the bashing compared to their counterparts; you can see why resilience is of utmost necessity in their case.
The number of voice coils being dealt with often define the nature of wiring required to have a sub up and running. Sure single voice coil subs are a breeze to hook up; however, you may want to go for something a tad bit more flexible. Dual voice coiled subwoofers offer the much-needed pliancy when it comes to wiring making them a much safer option.
Different genres of music fall within different frequency ranges. A sub with a wide frequency range allows its users the privilege of total indulgence in whatever tune is at play. A sub that can hit both lows and high with ardent preeminence should be what you’re after. It also leaves little to no room for nuisance distortions.
Designed to operate on a no aid notion, free air subs need to be impressively dulcet. That way, you’re assured of that out of this world musical experience your vigorously after.
To wrap this section up, there are a few more factors that require keen regard but often go unnoticed in most cases. First and foremost comes the impedance. The impedance is a major determinant of how smooth a sub’s delivery ultimately is. The lower the impedance the higher the output.
Next up are the installation requirements. Unknown to many, the manner in which you install a sub could very much kill its performance ability. A sub with a no-brainer set up process saves you from mishaps that could potentially render a sub useless.