What Is A Shallow Mount Subwoofer?

what is a shallow mount subwoofer

A very common dilemma among owners of small cars is the bass in the sound system. Given the limited space in a vehicle, building a powerful sound system with a bass that actually thumps hard requires big subwoofers, not to mention the box that encases them.

Take note, what’s being judged in these competitions is high sound pressure levels and not sound quality. Cars with high SPL are used for competition and not suited to play music while driving. However, lots of non-competition subwoofers can still create high SPL, which is dangerous for human ears.

Extremely high sound levels can lead to hearing loss when exposed to it for a long period. This is why regular, powerful subwoofers shouldn’t be installed in small cars. But a tiny car can still enjoy the perks of high sound quality and the comfort and safety of medium sound levels.

A Small Car Does Not Mean A Small Bass

For the uninitiated, a subwoofer is a speaker component tailored to recreate low bass frequencies. In small spaces, a regular subwoofer can’t fit.

Of course, vehicles that have limited cargo space can still fit compact powered subwoofers, which add depth to the music. But in a small car, it might not be enough. Unlike regular or compact powered subwoofers, a shallow mount sub offers a different type of performance that adjusts based on its size and portability.

It’s engineered to mimic the much-coveted big bass sound that everyone wants to hear while jamming in their car. It’s also designed to be thinner than other subwoofers in order to fit and perform in tighter spaces.

Shallow Subs: A Literal Weight Off Your Vehicle

The first and most self-explanatory advantage of a shallow mount sub is the lightness and portability of the sub. When it’s mounted inside the chosen space, wherever it is, it doesn’t weigh down the vehicle as other subwoofers do.

This also means that the sub is easier to install and remove. Whether to adjust to a big trip that takes up lots of luggage or to move the thing just because you want to, it won’t be as much of a hassle to uninstall and place it wherever you choose.

Finally, you won’t need three men to transport you into or out of your car. It’ll pretty much be a one-man job.

What A Shallow Mount Sub Can’t Provide

It would be easy to rave on about all the wonders of a shallow mount subwoofer to be able to sell you one, but that won’t be very fair.

It still has its limits, as it can’t mimic the same quality of sound that a large sub can give. The bass and other low frequencies can never be as loud and powerful as they are on a shallow mount’s conventional counterparts.

With that said, what you can expect is clear, smooth music with just the right amount of bass to carry the richness of your favorite tunes.

Sub Size Determines Sound Quality

The most important spec to consider is the size. Shallow mount subwoofers come in 8, 10, 12, and 15 inches, each of which has advantages and disadvantages.

Small subs like the 8” and 10”-sized ones can balance the sound with just the right amount of bass. This is recommended for listeners of heavy rock and upbeat electronic music since these subs can handle fast-paced music. However, this isn’t as powerful as bigger-sized subs out there.

12-inch shallow mount subwoofers in size are the most popular because they’re both powerful enough to give a deep bass sound and responsive enough to keep up with a fast pace. These can still be suited for hard rock.

The largest shallow mount subs that come in 15 inches are the most powerful. The downside is that they’re not as responsive as smaller subs and may distort or muddle up music that goes too fast. They’re best suited for listeners or heavy hip-hop.

Other Important Specs To Consider

Aside from sub size, there are many specifications that could be useful in selecting the right subwoofer. One such spec is peak power, which refers to the amount of power that the sub can take up to its point of damage.

Subs with higher peak power provide a more impressive bass sound. Another spec to consider would be sensitivity, which measures how loud the speaker can be with just one watt powering it. If the sub has high sensitivity, then it has better volume and power, meaning no need for an amplifier.

If the sub has low sensitivity, then an amp is needed. Finally, there’s frequency range, measured in Hertz, which determines the range of frequencies that the speaker can recreate. The broader the range, the more versatile the speaker is for different types of music.

The average range is 30-200 Hz, with more expensive subs dipping as low as 20 Hz.

shallow mount subwoofer in a box

Choosing The Right Sub Box

Aside from sub specs, sub enclosures are a major part of the purchase. Although preloaded boxes, or subs already pre-installed inside a box, exist on the market, some prefer to find the right box on their own. For starters, a shallow mount sub requires a slim box. A box too large for the sub could affect the dynamic of the sound it provides. The extra room could cause vibrations, producing an annoying rattling noise.

Thankfully, it won’t be much of a concern since a wide range of box styles exists to accommodate all subwoofer sizes. And when it comes to quality bass sound, there’s various enclosure material to choose from, although the best would be non-fabric, like plastic or wood.

Here are some box types that could fit your sub.

Slanted Sub Boxes For Unusual Placements

For really, really small cars that just don’t have the space for a sub sticking out, a slanted enclosure would be a great help. These boxes can make a subwoofer fit into unusual places. Because they’re designed to angle into corners, they won’t be as hard to install in your car compared to their usual box-shaped, bulky counterparts.

Wooden Sub Boxes For Those On A Budget

If you can’t afford to spend much more just for a box, then a wooden sub enclosure is less expensive than the plastic or fabric ones. The disadvantage of wood is that it must be taken care of to ensure durability.

A wooden box can’t get wet for long, as it will get damaged if left moist over an extended period of time. Compared to boxes made of other materials, there is also the risk of a rattling noise if not placed snugly around the subwoofer. So only get a wooden box if it perfectly fits your sub.

Where To Put Shallow Mount Subwwofers

Most subwoofers are installed in the trunk or under the seats since they get in the way when placed into the doors or the dashboard. There are quite a few spots to choose from, depending on the kind of sound you need from your sub and the amount of room your car can spare, so let’s run down the pros and cons of each.

Inside The Trunk

Some people like having a bass sound that can be heard from outside the car. This can be achieved with subwoofers placed in the trunk. What’s great is that the sound quality of the music won’t be compromised.

Most people have a sub in the trunk because it can accommodate the size of the sub and the enclosure. An enclosure that’s built long and tall can fit right behind the rear seat in the trunk, with just enough space left for storage.

Under The Rear Seat

Rear seats usually have larger, unused spaces underneath them compared to front seats. These spaces can accommodate an enclosure with a sub. The good thing is, it’s easy to mount a sub box here because the seat secures it in place anyway, along with some screws and brackets. However, the enclosure needs some extra width to ensure internal volume.

Also Read: Are Underseat Subwoofers Really Worth It

Inside The Rear Speaker Deck

Subwoofers in the rear speaker deck can produce a good bass sound that isn’t too loud and overbearing. This spot is located at the rear of the car, right behind the back seats.

This is also convenient because you can place an amplifier in the trunk and connect the two for better sound.

Conclusion: Determining What Works Best For You

A shallow mount subwoofer has a slim profile, and only requires a slim box. This is good news for owners of small vehicles with limited space.

Although not as great as regular subs, they serve their purpose well and provide a bass sound that’s apt for small cars. There’s a lot of factors at play in choosing subs, including sub size, type of sub enclosure, amount of car space, type of vehicle, and price.

It’s a matter of weighing what matters and what can be compromised. Most importantly, make sure to consider the specs, size, material, and overall sound of the subwoofer before purchase!


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