The Best Free Air Subwoofer Everyone Is Talking About

If space has always been an issue in your car, but you don’t want to let go of your bass, a free air subwoofer is what you need.

Although you can always opt for smaller drivers, if it’s not meant for free air setup, you still need an enclosure for it to sound right.

With a free air subwoofer, you can get rid of the box and install the sub directly in your trunk, back seat, or side panels.

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What is a Free Air Subwoofer?​

As the name suggests and as I mentioned earlier, a free air subwoofer does not require an enclosure for it to play low frequencies. Regular subs may be able to do this, but they will sound bad if not terrible.

A free air subwoofer may be mounted on almost anything where it fits, and it can play bass with very minimal distortion.

Product Name

Quality

Our Rating

Kicker 10C104 Comp​

A+

Pioneer TS-SW2002D2

A

Lanzar DCTOA84​

B

What Makes the Best Free Air Subwoofer?​

  • Durable. Sitting alone in the open air without any protection means the subwoofer may be hit and beaten by almost anything in the vicinity. So for it to survive, its materials should be made to last long. If it can resist what’s coming to them, much better.
  • Powerful. Because there’s no box to amplify the sub’s sound, the best free air subwoofer should have enough power of its own to reach your preferred volume.
  • Euphonic. Any loudspeaker will be useless if the sound coming from it is nothing but a pain in the ear. The best free air subwoofer should be able to hit lows accurately with less to zero distortion (if possible).

The Best Free Air Subwoofers

1./ Kicker 10C104 Comp​

Kicker 10C104 Comp

Specifications

  • Size: 10”
  • Impedance: 4 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 86.2 dB
  • Power handling RMS: 150 W
  • Power handling Max: 300W
  • Frequency response: 30-500 Hz
  • Cutout diameter: 9-1/8”
  • Mounting depth: 5-1/16”

Durability and sound quality are two promises that this free air subwoofer gives. From the materials that make up the entirety of the sub to the tiny bits and pieces that hold them together, Kicker promises strength without compromising sonic quality.

Some of the noticeable materials used in this free air subwoofer start with the cone. 10C104 uses the SoloKon cone reinforcement, which is known to push more air thus producing louder bass.

Next one is the ribbed and stitched surround. Warehouse Guitar Speakers states that ribbed surrounds keep the cones from warping and making unwanted noises at high SPL settings. The stitching also adds to it staying in place while playing your low notes.

In other words, this type of surround makes this free air subwoofer more long lasting than ones with smooth surround.

Lastly (at least for this article) is the 360 degree back bracing that helps lessen distortion.

But what caught my attention is this sub’s ability to be placed in a different type of environment-sealed, ported, or free air. This gives you freedom to experiment where it will sound best. But note that since this sub is not a dedicated free air subwoofer, it may not perform as solidly as other subs designed for open air application.

However, if mounting a subwoofer is an issue for you, Kicker 10C104 subwoofer’s mounting depth might tick you off. At more than 5 inches deep, it sure will need a lot of space.

Another downside of this sub is that it cannot play notes below 30 Hz. So if you’re into really deep bass, this free air subwoofer might disappoint you.

Pros

  • Great sound and thumps.
  • Relatively high power handling.
  • May be used with sealed or ported enclosure.
  • Durable.
  • Wide frequency range.

Cons

  • Not for shallow mounting.
  • Can’t play lower range notes.

2./ Pioneer TS-SW2002D2

Pioneer TS-SW2002D2

Specifications

  • Size: 8”
  • Impedance: 2 Ohms (dual)
  • Sensitivity: 86 dB
  • Power handling RMS: 150 W
  • Power handling Max: 600 W
  • Frequency response: 20-200 Hz
  • Cutout diameter: 7.05”
  • Mounting depth: 2-5/8”

With less than a 3-inch mounting depth, the TS-SW2002D2 is really a space saver as shallow mount subwoofers do not eat much of your car’s room. However, despite its relatively small size, this free air subwoofer promises quality bass.

To compensate for the small driver inch, the TS-SW2002D2 expanded its cone surface without making the external dimension wider. So while you are saving space, you can get bigger cone movement. And the bigger the movement, the deeper and louder bass you get.

I especially like the fact that despite its size, it can play notes as low as 20 Hz. Hurray for us who are all about that bass!

If you are worried that it might break due to the very low notes it can play, the MICA injected molded resin may calm your mind. In a previous review, I mentioned that when MICA is used the other material becomes stronger. It gets higher heat resistance and better flexural strength.

In other words, even though this free air subwoofer makes a lot of movement, you can be assured that it won’t tear that easily. But it case it does, you can always troubleshoot it.

However, just like the Kicker sub, the TS-SW2002D2 is also designed for sealed and free air setup. Meaning, the latter is not really this sub’s specialty.

Pros

  • Relatively high power handling.
  • Shallow mounting requirement.
  • May be used with an enclosure.
  • Oversized cone.
  • Reinforced cone.

Cons

  • Relatively low sensitivity.
  • May not be durable for prolonged use.

3./ Lanzar DCTOA84

Lanzar DCTOA84

Specifications

  • Size: 8”
  • Impedance: 4 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 87±2dB (1w/1m)
  • Power handling RMS: 80 W
  • Power handling Max: 160 W
  • Frequency response: 40 Hz-3000 kHz
  • Cutout diameter: 7.01”
  • Mounting depth: 4.06”

A newcomer to my reviews is Lanzar’s DCTOA84, a free air woofer. The company claims that this 8” sub is engineered to sound good in an open air setup; thus, you can get rid of bulky enclosures and place it right where you want it to be.

Another good feature this woofer has is its ferrite magnet which is known to be more heat resistant than the neodymium counterpart. Also, this type of magnet is suitable for the free air setup because it’s chemical and rust resistant.

Next is its aluminum voice coil. In the perpetual debate between aluminum and copper, it is not uncommon for one to be favored over the other But with aluminum voice coil, the winding is usually longer than copper. As a result, the Xmax is increased. If you are using long excursions, this is good news for you.

However, note that this woofer’s power handling is only at 80 W, meaning you can’t get very loud with this. But, it is somehow compensated by the sensitivity rating which does not require too much power to play your song.

Also, note that this is a woofer. It means it can play a very wide range of low and mid frequencies. You need a crossover to make sure that it only plays the lows. But then again, remember that the lowest note it can hit is about 40 Hz. Bad news for the 20 Hz lovers.​

Pros

  • Designed for free air performance.
  • Uses ferrite magnet.
  • Can play a wide frequency range.
  • Uses aluminum voice coil.
  • Relatively high sensitivity.

Cons

  • Low power handling.
  • Not a dedicated subwoofer.

Conclusion

Although all three make up for the best free air subwoofer, I would go for the Kicker 10C104. Why?

  • First, it is made of materials that are known to withstand time. Several reviews have mentioned that they have had it for over a year and it still works like a charm.
  • Second, it’s powerful. With 150 W of continuous power, it is enough for you to be heard by you neighbors even from afar.
  • Last, it produces good bass. The driver size and the materials of the entire sub create loud and clean, tight bass all throughout despite the fact that it cannot play frequencies below 30 Hz.

Hence, although lacking in some aspects, the Kicker 10C104 is the best among the three.

What’s the best free air subwoofer for you?​

Erin Taylor
 

Chief editor of YouthTune, a music adventurer. I love learning about music and audio devices, which I eventually share with others so that they too can go on exploring the melodious world of music.

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