The main problem with installing a subwoofer on your boat is space constraints. Trying to install a 12-inch speaker where there isn’t enough room means you’ll lose limited space that might be needed for other items.
The space issue is even worse when you consider putting the subwoofer in an enclosure.
Large subwoofers require larger enclosures, which can weigh over 40 lbs!
The weight and space make installing and running big subwoofers more expensive, especially when hiring a technician.
This is where free-air subwoofers come in. Fortunately, you can get the much-needed bass while saving space with free-air marine subwoofers.
These subwoofers are usually smaller than other competition speaker options and don’t need mounting boxes like larger options.
In this article, we will discuss the top five contenders for the best free-air subwoofers that are ideal for your boat and car. But first, let’s look at what’s a free-air subwoofer and its pros and cons.
Top 3 Picks
Features and Design
The NOAM Marine Subwoofer stands out in marine sound systems with its tough look and cool features. It has a waterproof cone that’s made just for the water and a surround that won’t get damaged by the sun, perfect for the rough conditions at sea. You can put this subwoofer anywhere on your boat easily because of its clever free-air design. Plus, it’s made with materials that won’t rust, so you know it will last a long time for all the sea lovers out there.
This marine subwoofer makes your music sound deep and full, making your time on the water even better. The deep bass it pumps out improves the vibe, whether you’re speeding across the water or just chilling anchored down. It really makes listening to tunes and other sounds more enjoyable when you’re out at sea.
- Waterproof cone and sun protection make it great for the ocean.
- Easily fits different boat setups thanks to its flexible installation.
- Made with materials that stand up well to seawater.
- It might cost a bit more than other similar products.
- It could be harder to find than the big-name brands.
Features and Design:
The ECOXGEAR SoundExtreme ES08 is a tough marine subwoofer that stands out for being both strong and smartly designed. It’s built with materials that won’t rust and has a water-resistant speaker part, which means it can handle the tough conditions at sea for a long time. This subwoofer is small and flexible, so it fits well into different boat setups and works well wherever you put it. It also looks good and has cool design touches that make your boat’s sound system look even better.
When it comes to delivering deep bass, the SoundExtreme ES08 really shines, making your time on the water sound amazing. Whether you’re moving or just hanging out anchored, this subwoofer adds depth and clearness to your tunes, making listening to music and other audio by the water a lot more enjoyable.
- Built to last against rust and water, which means it stays in good shape.
- It’s compact and flexible, fitting in well with different boat setups.
- It has a cool look and smart design details.
- Can be a bit pricier when compared to some other options.
- The features might not be as fancy as those on the top-of-the-line marine subwoofers.
3. Best Overall: KICKER KMF124 Marine Subwoofer with LED
The kicker is among the best car stereo and speaker manufacturers. This brand has been around for over four decades, and they’ve mastered the art of creating quality products at a reasonable price.
Power: 175 Watts
It’s no wonder Kicker subwoofers are among the best-selling subs on Amazon and in your local store. People seem to like them for their high-tech engineering and affordability.
Design & Features
With the latest technology in the sound industry, the KICKER KMF124, a 12-free air marine subwoofer promises better performance than any other Kicker marine subwoofer on the market.
Its 12-Inch size and just 9 pounds weight make it a lightweight subwoofer that can be installed almost anywhere without a cabinet.
It has an updated injection-molded SoloKon that eliminates audio distortion, using a 360-degree back bracing mechanism.
The speaker is also round in shape, and hence it can produce serious, thumping bass that rivals boxed options.
Affordable and boasting of the latest technology, this kicker marine subwoofer is lightweight and has excellent shape.
It promises a generous audio output, handling up to 2000 watts with 1000 watts of RMS power. As such, you’ll enjoy incredible lows and super crisp highs.
It also performs great with a big ported box, though you don’t necessarily need one.
- It features high-quality components
- Durable and affordable
- Offers a generous 2000-watt peak power
- Its 15-inch size makes it not too big or small
- Little distortion at maximum volume on high frequencies
Verdict: Whether you want to install the Kicker 10CVX154 subwoofer on your car or boat, it will deliver a solid audio performance for the price. It’s easy to install after reading the instruction manual, but you can consider watching a few videos online if it seems challenging.
4. Best Design: Garmin Fusion FM Series Marine Subwoofer
Another winner from Fusion, the Garmin Fusion FM Series Marine Subwoofer, is designed for people who love boating and music.
Power: 400 Watts
It’s a powerful 10-inch sub that has undergone rigorous testing, ensuring it’s ready to rock in all extremities of a marine environment.
It also comes at a bargain price compared to other units on the list, though it’s only sold as a single unit, not a pair.
Design & Features
This 10-inch subwoofer has a water-resistant design that complies with ASTM standards for salt/fog-resistant and UV-stability.
That means the Garmin Fusion FM Series Marine Subwoofer can deliver excellent audio performance even when exposed to the elements for a prolonged period.
The installation process is pretty simple, though there’s no manual to guide you through the entire process. However, there’s a measuring template to help you mark and cut the speaker opening accurately.
Before securely mounting it with some rear room and open air at the front, the Garmin Fusion FM Series Marine Subwoofer sounds terrible. However, it hits hard and delivers a nice deep tone when securely mounted, complimenting a medium-sized system to perfection.
Each speaker subwoofer can deliver 130 watts of RMS power while reaching 400 watts peak.
That allows it to pump out crisp and accurate bass with excellent high-end response in all conditions. You can also pair it with a Fusion amplifier like the MS-AM402 for the best audio performance on the water.
- Water-resistant design
- Affordable price and durable construction
- Easy to install
- Great sound with a solid bass
- Not installation manual
- The coil may burn if you play at maximum volume for a prolonged time
Verdict:The Garmin Fusion FM Series Marine Subwoofer is among your most affordable options if you love boats and music. It works well with other components in your system, giving you deep, rich sound in all weather conditions. Moreover, you don’t need to be an audio expert to install it.
5. Best Under A Budget:Rockford Fosgate P1S4-10 Punch Series Subwoofer
Rockford Fosgate showcases its commitment to sonic excellence with the Punch Series of subwoofers, amps, and speakers.
As such, the punch components will deliver an impressive sound for anyone who likes to listen to powerful music.
Power: 250 Watts
Design & Features
The engineers at Rockford Fosgate created the P1S4-10 sub to deliver the kind of power you crave on your ride.
It comes with a responsive paper cone reinforced with Kevlar fibers, mainly used in bulletproof vests, giving you the best in both worlds.
This Rockford Fosgate free-air subwoofer also uses a new technique to attach its oversized rubber surround to its cone, increasing the cone area by 25%.
That ensures the sub can push in more air for enhanced bass performance.
With a bumped backplate and an extended pole piece, the P1S4-10 has enough room for the heavy excursion. T
hat enables it to deliver deep lows without bottoming out. It works equally well with all subwoofer box designs, be it ported or sealed enclosure, so you can easily choose the bass you want your system to have.
When it comes to power handling, this Rockford Fosgate free air amplifier can comfortably handle 250 watts RMS power and 500 watts max. It would be best to have a mono amplifier rated at 200-375 watts RMS (4 ohms) to drive a single P1S4-10 subwoofer.
- Quality construction and attractive look
- Nice sound quality
- Decent price range
- Easy to install
- No heart-thumping bass
Verdict:While the Rockford Fosgate P1S4-10 isn’t the best-sounding subwoofer on the market, it’s the most affordable choice. It weighs less than 1.5 kg, making it easy to install on your car or boat without any technical knowledge of audio systems.
So, What’s A Free Air Marine Subwoofer?
A free-air marine subwoofer is a simple subwoofer mounting system that eliminates the need for large speaker enclosures.
The subwoofers deliver good audio performance without a mounting box, making it easy to install one on the rear deck, between the back seats. Of course, you can design your subwoofer box as well.
By the nature of your boat’s dimensions, you’re likely to mount a free-air subwoofer in locations where a box can’t be used.
The boat’s body makes an airtight seal with the speaker and turns any space behind it into an enclosure. That’s popularly known as an Infinite baffle (IB) design.
If you plan to install it in your boat, you’ll need to ensure that the subwoofers you choose are marine grade and well-enabled for fresh and saltwater.
However, you can also install them in your car’s trunk. Here are the advantages and drawbacks of using free-air subwoofers.
Free Air Subwoofers Pros and Cons
As earlier revealed, saving space is the main advantage of a free-air subwoofer. It can deliver a solid audio performance with enough bass without bearing the burden of adding weight to your boat with a heavy enclosure.
The speaker is also versatile in installation, allowing you to fit it in any location you need as long as there’s space behind the speaker.
You should note that free-air subwoofers may compromise the sound quality, so they are not as good competitors in a sealed box.
However, you can also install a free air subwoofer in a sealed box to improve its performance – if you don’t mind carrying the burden of weight and space limitations.
Those who enjoy heart-thumping sounds will also want to be gentle on the volume levels when using a free-air subwoofer.
If you start playing the sub at maximum volume levels, there’s a big chance of damaging the speaker as it doesn’t have a nice air spring. That said, here are the best free-air marine subwoofers on the market.
1. How do I choose a free-air subwoofer?
- Reinforced rear deck
- Pressed paper cone
- Good bass without an enclosure
- Dual voice coil
- Good handle on low frequencies
- Free air applications
2. Can any subwoofer be free-air?
Air moves freely through a free-air subwoofer. Only those subwoofers qualify that are not enclosed in any way.
3. What is a fresh air subwoofer?
The fresh air subwoofer concept was designed to expand the lower frequency sound output range while reducing room requirements. A fresh air subwoofer enclosure is exposed to the outside atmosphere via port the reby, providing almost endless volume. The enclosure and port serve as Helmholtz Resonators.
4. What is the lowest Hz subwoofer?
A subwoofer’s frequency range is typically 20-200 Hz. Professional concert sound system subwoofers normally run at frequencies lower than 100 Hz, while THX-certified systems work at frequencies lower than 80 Hz.
There you have it; the five best free-air marine subwoofers are available today. These free-air subwoofers are great for saving space in your vehicle, though not most can outdo the larger and more powerful boxed speakers. However, the five options above are decent enough to deliver excellent audio performance.