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.
A good subwoofer is essential if you want the best car audio possible. A good car subwoofer will make it feel like you're at the concert. With a good subwoofer, you'll feel the music as much as you hear it. The Pioneer Champion series of subwoofers provides just that – a full-bodied, audio experience. It has the deepest frequency response and the highest power handling ratings, including a 96dB sensitivity rating. Whether you prefer crisp and defined bass or you like punchy bass, the Pioneer Champion subwoofers deliver. This is why it's our pick for the best car subwoofer.
There are three subwoofer sizes in the Champion series, and each size provides an excellent low-end to your car audio experience. Since the 12-inch subwoofer has the biggest woofer, the bass is deeper and fuller. However, you likely won't be able to tell much of a difference with the 10-inch subwoofer. Both subwoofers greatly increase the quality of your car audio experience. The 8-inch subwoofer doesn't have the range to match the bigger speakers but is still an excellent option, especially if you're limited by space.
The best car subwoofers are all about the lowest notes – the bass frequencies. With a frequency response that reaches as low as 20Hz, which is the basement of human hearing, the Pioneer Champion subwoofers have the lowest frequency response available. Only the Infinity Reference comes close. The frequency response tops out at 150Hz, which makes it the narrowest frequency response among the subwoofers we reviewed. However, higher frequency responses aren't as important with subwoofers because your car speakers typically cover frequencies above 80Hz. In our audio quality tests, it was the only subwoofer to earn an A+ grade.
One of the best features of the Pioneer Champion sub is the 96dB sensitivity rating. Speaker sensitivity measures the volume at one meter that a speaker creates with one watt of power. Since the amount of power needed to produce the same volume decreases by half with every 3dB increase in sensitivity, it's the most efficient speaker on the market. For example, if an 87dB rated subwoofer, like the Kicker CompRT, uses 200 watts to produce a specific volume, the Champion sub would only require 25 watts to produce the same volume.
One of the features that makes the Pioneer Champion one of the best subwoofer brands is the excellent power handling. The 12-inch subwoofer has an RMS power handling of 600 watts with a peak of 2000 watts. Few subwoofers in this price range have such high power-handling ratings. This means you can really push the Pioneer Champion subwoofers without fear of blowing the speaker. You can rattle the windows of the other cars on the street with this type of power handling.
The one downside to the Champion subwoofers is the ideal volume required for a sealed box. At 1.25 cubic feet, your enclosure will be larger than most subwoofers we reviewed. However, the ideal ported-box volume is only 1.5 cubic feet. While the ported enclosure box is still bigger than the sealed box, it's smaller than most subwoofer's optimal ported-enclosure sizes. If you have the space, though, an enclosure of this size won't hurt.
The type of enclosure you choose to install the Champion subwoofer on will determine the type of bass you'll hear and feel. If you want snappy and crisp bass, you want to install it on a sealed enclosure. The air pressure between the woofer and atmosphere minimizes the movement, which produces a more accurate, low-end sound. If you're concerned about hearing bass notes, the Champion will produce them more accurately with a sealed enclosure.
More on Car Audio
If you want big thumping bass, you'll want to install the Pioneer Champion subwoofers on a ported enclosure. This is an enclosure with a channel or port for air to move in and out of the box. This free movement of air allows the speakers to produce a punchier sound because the woofer literally punches the air in front of the speaker and out of the port. This enclosure style is great for bigger sounding bass but sacrifices clarity in the process.
The Pioneer Champion subwoofers are the best car subwoofer brand in our lineup because they provide deep and full bass with excellent power handling. Not only can these subs handle a lot more power than most subwoofers, but they also convert the power to sound much more efficiently with an incredible 96dB sensitivity rating.