Pros: Great performance and quality
Cons: Not much to look at
This is the second in a trilogy of reviews regarding my effort to upgrade the factory stereo system in my 2003 Toyota Tacoma. I had previously written a review of my Kenwood Amp, and am now going back to review my component speakers, subwoofer, and eventually my Kenwood CD/MP3 player. All three of these reviews tie in together since I use all of this hardware together, so you may want to read them all in order to understand how this equipment works together. Ive had all this stuff installed for about a year now.
With car subwoofers, you have three main options. First, you can buy the speaker by itself and then either buy or build a box to put it in. Second, you can buy a pre-made boxed subwoofer set. Third, you can get a powered subwoofer, which is a boxed sub with a built-in amplifier. Unless you really know what you are doing, I would go with a pre-boxed or powered subwoofer.
This review is for a single speaker that I bought already boxed from a car audio shop. Picking the right box for your subwoofer is almost as important as the speaker itself, because a cheap box can rattle or cause problems that inhibit the subwoofers performance. You have to understand that a subwoofer is designed to kick out massive amounts of bass and vibration, so you need to have it enclosed in something that can handle the constant pounding abuse. This speaker came in a rectangular box with a rounded backside so that it can be adjusted to angle at the floorboard or wall. When I first started using it, I noticed that it was fluttering and buzzing a little bit, but that turned out to be the fault of the box and not the speaker. I had to do a little tweaking to the box to seal up a hole where a mounting bracket screw would go, and then it worked really well.
This 8-inch JL Audio speaker is impressive for its size. As far subwoofers go, the smallest size you can get is 6.5, so this is not much bigger. You can buy subs that are twice as big as the little JL 8, but I think that is overkill. This subwoofer features dual voice coils, allowing it to be more reflexive to different types of music. Whether you need the punch bass from a single drum kick or the heavy resonating bass from a bass guitar or synthesizer, this speaker performs.
This speaker is rated at 125 watts RMS and I am pushing 80 watts to it without any problem. I did not receive any paperwork with this speaker when I bought it, so I do not know what the max handling capacity is. I wouldnt put more than 250 watts of power to it. I dont go riding down the road with is blasting loud enough to rattle the windows, so I am not concerned about blowing it out. After sealing the box properly, I havent had any more problems with rattling or buzzing at any volume.
If you are installing this subwoofer in a visible place, dont count too much on looks. This speaker features the JL Audio logo and not much else. It is black with purple-black foam and nothing fancy. The surface of the speaker sits flush with the metal frame, so you may want to add a grill to protect it from damage or debris. The last thing you want is to have some kid poking at it. This speaker is not very heavy, even in a box, so you had best secure it down with something so it doesnt slide around in the back of your car or truck.
This sub produces really clean sound, but it is not the booming bass that you can hear a block away. Even with it cranked up loud inside my Tacoma, you can close the doors with the windows up and you cant hear or feel too much when you are standing more than 20 feet away. This could be because of how well the Toyota is sealed. If you are one of those stupid people who likes to ride around annoying everyone with your music, then you might want to look at something bigger or possibly installing 2 or 3 of these subwoofers.
I have been using this sub for a year and am very impressed with the quality of its sound and the overall performance of the unit. For the casual listener who wants to enjoy their music without making everyone else endure their music, this would be a great subwoofer to add to your system.