Best Free Air Subwoofers – Gain Bass Without Losing Space

free air subwoofer mountingOne of the major complaints about adding a subwoofer or a couple of subs to your car audio system is that they take up a lot of space. When you put a large, giant square box in the boot, you find that lots of nooks and crannies that were previously available are now impossible to get at.

To add insult to injury, subwoofer boxes made with thick MDF panels – which is the preferred material for subwoofer enclosures – are quite heavy. A dual subwoofer enclosure designed to house in two 12″ inch subwoofers for example can weight up to 30-60 lbs – weight whose fare you pay for at the gas station every time you fill the tank up.

So, what is the best way to add a subwoofer to your car audio system without losing most of the available cargo space? Well, there are a few great solutions available such as using powered subwoofers or under seat subwoofers. A free air subwoofer is another simple, space-saving mounting form in which the subwoofers use the trunk space as their enclosure.

Free air subwoofer is a great solution for those who want to add punch and presence to their music without sacrificing the entire cargo area on their cars.

What Is a Free Air Subwoofer?

free air subwoofer installation type A free – air subwoofer is the simplest subwoofer mounting form, yet it requires specifically designed subwoofers. Free air subwoofers don’t require a mounting box in order to work efficiently.

In a free-air setup, subwoofers are usually mounted either in the rear deck or attached to a board placed between the backseats of a car and the trunk. This board makes an airtight seal and turns the entire trunk into an enclosure – this is also known as infinite baffle (IB) design (more on that later).

free air subwoofer installtion type - Infinite baffleIt should be noted, however, that using a free-air subwoofer may compromise sound quality, at least to some extent.

A free-air subwoofer won’t sound by any means as good as a subwoofer mounted in a carefully-designed enclosure. Additionnaly, anything that you place in the trunk may prevent the sub(s) to sound as good as it meant to, which may be an inconvenience to the general use of one’s vehicle.

One thing to keep in mind is that when you’re mounting a sub or a couple of subs in your rear deck or behind the backseats, It’s highly recommended to use some deadening material like Dynamat or Hushmat in the trunk so you can get better sound performance.

Free-Air VS. infinite baffle

We frequently get asked about the difference between free-air and infinite baffle. Well, they’re relatively the same thing. However, technically, in infinite baffle setup, the front and rear waves are completely isolated so that they don’t interfere with each other, while In a free-air setup, front and rear waves have some interaction. Some people use both terms ex-changeably, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

3 Best Free Air Subwoofers Reviews

Kicker Comp 10C104 Review

Kicker Comp 10C104 free air subwoofer reviewKicker is one of the best car subwoofer brands out there. They’ve been around for quite a long time. And they’ve mastered the art of providing quality product for a reasonable price.

Kicker subwoofers are some of the best selling subs on the market. They seem to be well-liked. They’re very well engineered and most importantly, they’re very affordable.

The 10C104 is one of the best free air subwoofers that Kicker has to offer. It’s 10-Inch in size, and it can handle a decent amount of power on continuous basis.

The Kicker Comp 10C104 is rated for a sensitivity rating of 86 dB. It can handle up to 150 watts RMS. It’s suitable for both sealed and ported enclosures, as well as free-air use.

The Kicker 10C104 features a flex-resistant polypropylene cone with 360-degree back bracing for hard-hitting lows without distortion. Its ribbed foam surround offers long excursion and keeps the cone on target, while the double stitching ensures reliable performance under heavy bass load.

Our only complaint about this subwoofer is its relatively weak sensitivity rating of 86 dB. Sensitivity goes hand-in-hand with power to achieve high sound output. Simply put, the higher the sensitivity, the less power required to produce the same amount of sound as a model with a lower sensitivity rating.  For example a subwoofer with a sensitivity rating that’s 3 dB higher than another sub only requires half as much power to deliver the same amount of sound.

Kicker 10C104 Specifications
  • Subwoofer size : 10″
  • Power Handling
    • RMS  : 150 watts
    • Peak   : 300 watts
  • Frequency Response  : 30-500 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance : 4 ohm
  • Top-mount depth     :  5″
  • Sensitivity : 86.2 dB

Pioneer TS-SW2002D2

Pioneer TS-SW2002D2 free air subwoofer reviewThe Pioneer TS-SW2002D2 is another great free air subwoofer. This 8 inch shallow-mount sub with a mounting depth of just 2-5/8″ is designed to bring great bass to vehicles where traditional subs won’t usually fit.

The TS-SW2002D2 features an oversized cone made of MICA injection-molded resin that moves more air and delivers accurate louder bass. It’s rated for 150 watts RMS and has a sensitivity rating of 86 dB.

We’ve come across many guys who have used the TS-SW2002D2 subwoofer as a direct fit replacement for their OEM subwoofer, and it works like magic. This subwoofer will also work quite well in free-air applications as well as in sealed and ported enclosures.

Pioneer TS-SW2002D2 Specifications
  • Subwoofer size       : 8″
  • Power Handling 
    • RMS  : 150 watts
    • Peak  : 600 watts
  • Frequency Response   : 20-200 Hz
  • Mounting depth : 2-5/8″
  • Impedance : dual 2 ohms
  • Sensitivity : 86 dB

Kicker 10C84 Review

Kicker 10C84 best free air subwoofer reviewThe brother of the 10C104. The main difference between that subwoofer and this one is the size. The Kicker 10C104 is 10 inch in size, while the 10C84 is just 8 inch.

Both subs look the same. They’re made with same quality materials. However, since the The Kicker 10C104 has a bigger woofer cone, it can move more air, and produce more bass than the 10C84.

The Kicker 10C84 would be a great investment for anyone who’s looking for a decent free air subwoofer to mount in the rear deck opening. You can also use it as a replacement for your factory installed subwoofer. It’s rated 100 watts RMS and has a sensitivity rating of 85 dB.

As with all Kicker Comp subwoofers, the 10C84 can be mounted in ported and sealed enclosures. It’s also suitable for free-air use.

Kicker 10C104 Specifications
  • Subwoofer size  :
  • Power Handling 
    • RMS  : 100 watts
    • Peak   : 200 watts
  • Frequency Response   : 30-500 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance    : 4 ohm
  • Top-mount depth         : 4-1/16″
  • Sensitivity     : 85 dB

 

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