Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been discontinued. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Made by Harman International, JBL has one of the best car subwoofer brands on the market with the GTO series. These car subwoofers feature a very sensitive woofer with excellent power handling, allowing you to push a lot of air at high levels without experiencing damage to your subwoofer. If you're looking for a subwoofer that announces your arrival, these subwoofers are for you. It doesn't matter if you want accurate bass or big, thunderous bass – the JBL GTO series of car subwoofers performs well.
The JBL GTO car subwoofers have a near-perfect audio quality grade with an A. Only the Pioneer Champion had a better grade. There is little to complain about with the low end it produces. It's accurate and full, even when you push the power handling to the limit. Adding this to your car audio fills out the music and makes it feel like you're at a live concert even when you're flying down the freeway at 75 mph.
Our only criticism of the audio is that it doesn't reach as deep as the best car subwoofer does. With a frequency response that reaches 23Hz, much like the Infinity Reference subwoofer, it's certainly capable of reproducing deeper bass than most car subwoofers are, but it misses the basement of human hearing by 3Hz. This can be important if you often listen to music such as dubstep, house music or hip-hop, which often use electronically created audio frequencies that easily bottom out at 20Hz.
One of the best features of the JBL GTO car subwoofers is the high sensitivity rating. With a 93dB sensitivity rating, the 12-inch car subwoofer is one of the most efficient subwoofers on the market. This means that if you sit 1 meter from the subwoofer and use 1 watt of power, the sub produces 93dB of volume output. This is significant because every 3dB increase in sensitivity means that the subwoofer only needs half the power to produce the same output. For comparison, if an average subwoofer with an 87dB rating used 100 watts to produce a certain volume, the GTO subwoofer would only need 25 watts.
One of the downsides to the JBL GTO subwoofers is the continuous power handling of 350 watts, which is among the lowest. However, with its excellent sensitivity rating, you don't need as much power as you would with other subwoofers to get significant output. The 1,400-watt peak power handling is among the highest, which means that it can handle a lot more power in brief spikes than most car subwoofers. If you push the 10-inch car subwoofer to the 350 watts of continuous power, you have plenty of room for the song to crescendo without worrying about clipping.
If you're looking for a sharp and accurate low end, you need to install the JBL GTO car subwoofers in a sealed box. With a volume of 1 cubic foot, the ideal sealed box enclosure is one of the smallest in our lineup, which makes this a great car subwoofer if you have limited space. The sealed box enclosure ensures the most accurate audio production because its internal pressure and the outer atmosphere stabilizes the woofer for a minimal amount of movement.
However, if you prefer big, punchy, thunderous bass, you need to install the JBL GTO subs in a ported enclosure. The porthole in the enclosure allows the woofer to move more freely because it's no longer stabilized by the internal pressure and the atmosphere. This freedom of movement allows it to punch the air more violently, creating the heavy bass you hear in heavy metal. The GTO's ideal ported enclosure requires 1.75 cubic feet.
The JBL GTO car subwoofers are among the best options for filling out the low-end frequencies of your car audio. The frequency response does not reach down to 20Hz, but the audio reproduction is excellent and the sensitivity is among the highest available.