Alpine SS-SB10 subwoofer: Something that finally fits under my rear shock tower brace

Irv

4th Gear Poster
Joined
Sep 22, 2023
Messages
234
Location
GA
Vehicle Details
Yes
Country flag
20231009_145151_HDR (Large).jpg

This is going to be long, esoteric, and written like a tech product review even though it's not entirely product-centric. Maybe it gives someone else here at least one option to look at if they also have this ridiculous set of criteria to meet:
  • Rear shock tower brace installed
  • Respectable bass output and extension
  • Maximized trunk space
  • Center-aligned equipment installation (byproduct of not planning everything at once 20+ years ago)
  • Not wanting to drill (more) holes in the trunk
I have a Johnny Langton rear shock tower brace from 2002. I've had the car since '99, so the brace has been in there almost as long as I've had the car and I don't remember the experience of driving without it. Since then, I've also gone through several different progressive iterations of a stereo system that was better than the weak standard factory head unit and speakers. I've had an amp back there since '01, but I basically convinced myself that the lack of bass from not having a sub was no big deal. In the back of my mind though, it always was.

By 2011, I had to do something. I was trying to force the rear Pioneer 6x8" speakers I installed in '99 and then replaced with a newer model a few years later to do something they physically couldn't do well: sub-50 Hz frequencies. Knowing the space limitations with the brace reducing the depth of the trunk by about a foot and the center-aligned amp getting in the way of several different slim enclosures for 10" subs, I tried to find something that could be wedged under the brace.

My solution that year was a sealed 8" Kicker CompVT 09TCVT84 loaded enclosure that I bought around the same time as a JL Audio XD700/5 5-channel amp to replace my 4-channel Directed Electronics 500. The thinner part of the Kicker enclosure slid underneath the brace, with just enough sliding under to not block the spare tire well. It was much better than no sub, but I had to push it pretty hard, and I never thought the bass was truly immersive. It usually got the job done for rock and metal, but was always kind of underwhelming for the rest of my library which includes EDM, hip hop, and pop. It had some punch but lacked extension.

20230930_154923_HDR (Large).jpg

To make things worse, I had the sub pointing upward, which is the worst position to place a sub in a trunk because of wave cancellation. It was significantly louder with the trunk open versus closed. Sure, I could have put the sub in front of the brace and aimed it at the back seat, but that would only fit horizontally and block the amp. I always figured that I would at least need a second 09TCVT84 one day if not something more substantial. Having just one back there was always a temporary solution.

Last week, I decided to check the fitment of the Ford Five Hundred spare tire in the spare tire well just to get it off my garage floor. While I was doing that, I vacuumed the trunk and took another look at the sub situation. Now that I knew the spare tire cover would fit over the Five Hundred spare and I could have a flat trunk floor again, I wanted to see what else I could do about getting a better sub solution.

In the last few years, I've looked at dual 8" and single 10" loaded enclosures from JL Audio, Kicker, Pioneer, and Rockford Fosgate, as well as planned the dimensions for a pair of custom-built sealed enclosures for a couple of shallow 10" subs to flank my amp. While doing some research after confirming the fitment of the Five Hundred spare, I discovered that Alpine had unveiled a pair of ultra-thin S-series loaded subwoofer enclosures, the SS-SB10 and SS-SB12, in January of this year.

What caught my attention with the 10" SS-SB10 was its cabinet height at just 4.5" and that it was downfiring. For reference, the thin end of the Kicker 09TCVT84 is 4.25". Before pulling the trigger, I took one last look at the other options that were available today. All of them were either too tall or had some other problematic compromise. I felt like I had to take a chance on the SS-SB10.

20231007_181839 (Large).jpg20231007_182005 (Large).jpg

Price
The SS-SB10 has been going for $450 since its debut in January, except for last week when Alpine retailers everywhere had it on sale for $360. Crutchfield showed that the sale was ending in the next day, which I assumed was a sales ploy, but they actually did raise it back up to $450 on Monday. It went back up to $450 everywhere by Tuesday except at Abt, which is also one of the better appliance and electronics retailers I've bought from in recent years. They still had it at $360 through this past Thursday, so I bought it, received it Saturday, and installed it. As I start writing this on Sunday, the price at Abt finally went back up to $450 as well.

In the last few years, I've decided that if I find something that I want for this car and it ticks all my checkboxes, I don't care too much about the cost anymore if I want it enough. That's how I justify spending a bit more on the SS-SB10 when its biggest selling point is really the size, because it's otherwise pricey for a 10" loaded enclosure using a shallow depth sub in Alpine's mid-tier S-series line. It hit all the criteria I listed at the top though, and I was able to get it on sale. Since it's not bespoke or rare/discontinued, I still wanted to avoid buying it at full retail price.

Fitment
Fitment of this thing was always going to be tight, but this was a total shot in the dark. The dimensions of the enclosure are 18.5"W x 4.5"H x 12.5"D. I had approximately 4.375-4.5" of clearance under the brace. The carpet and the padding/sound damping material underneath made the exact measurement imprecise. The worst case scenario was that I would need to fully remove the brace and shim it to gain the clearance I needed.

I first tried sliding the sub in straight under, which didn't work. I needed about another 1/16-1/8" of clearance. I was convinced that I would need to loosen the brace, slide the sub underneath, and re-tighten the brace. Then I tried sliding it in from the right side where the Kicker used to be. That was a pleasant surprise because not only did it clear, it didn't touch the bar. The padding under the carpet doesn't reach the edge of the trunk. I could now slide it in from the side and then push it towards the middle, where it would compress the padding and be securely wedged underneath the brace.

20231007_221647_HDR (Large).jpg

Performance
I was content with the output at first. It was definitely louder and deeper than my old Kicker, which I mentioned here. However, I also installed new Alpine R-S68 speakers in the doors at the same time, so I had a lot of re-tuning to do on the amp.

After tuning and even before I've received and installed new RCAs to feed the sub a signal from my Pioneer Premier DEH-P800PRS head unit's subwoofer pre-outs rather than the amp's speaker-level signal, it turns out this Alpine has a lot more output and headroom than the Kicker in their respective trunk positions. Anyway, once I gain additional tuning control for the SS-SB10 at the head unit, I should be set for good.

I decided not to use the good old "Bass I Love You" by Bassotronics or "Bass...Can U Hear Me?" by Beat Dominator as test tracks like I've done for subs inside the house. I tuned against "Narco" by Blasterjaxx and Timmy Trumpet since that was a better point of reference against the system in my Lexus GS 400. That wasn't hard to match since the JL Audio XD700/5's dedicated sub channel supplies the SS-SB10 with 300W at 2-ohm compared to the 150W at 4-ohm to a 10" Kicker CompC on the bridged rear channels of the Kenwood Excelon X302-4 amp in that car.

I've gone from content to very pleased after some basic tuning and I haven't even had a chance to bring the head unit's EQ into the mix yet. The Thunderbird finally has the unequivocal best-sounding stereo in my garage. Out of all my options for a new sub, this Alpine might not be the best performer for the money, but for its minimal height and downfiring position, it was in a class of its own. It also finally let me use the brace as a feature of the subwoofer rather than an obstacle to it.

I think this also constitutes the very first Alpine SS-SB10 review on the Internet, so there's that too. 8-)
 
Last edited:
That's a compact solution. Even with my new box, I'm still close to 2 cubic feet in my box. 1.5 + the volume of the box materials. I also have a fan shroud over my amp, to keep it cool. Nice setup!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Irv
My younger son and I are installing a JBL powered sub that is similar to that. 10" speaker. We tried it out and it really did a nice job. I'm sure the Alpine is quite nice.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Irv
That's a compact solution. Even with my new box, I'm still close to 2 cubic feet in my box. 1.5 + the volume of the box materials. I also have a fan shroud over my amp, to keep it cool. Nice setup!
Thanks! The custom enclosures I had planned would have been a pair of 0.6 cubic foot sealed boxes using shallow-mount 10" subs. I would have had them flank the amp and probably strapped to the RSTB. That would have been a good bit more work though, and possibly even overkill after observing what a single slim 10" with sufficient power can deliver. I just didn't want to leave discernible amounts of bass on the table when listening to music.

My younger son and I are installing a JBL powered sub that is similar to that. 10" speaker. We tried it out and it really did a nice job. I'm sure the Alpine is quite nice.
Nice, do you know what model it is? I wasn't shopping for powered subs, but I wonder if I might have come across it at some point. I'm pretty sure I shopped the heck out of everything available under 5.5" tall and thinking it could work with some finagling!

I'm glad this Alpine worked out well, but I'm more glad to be done with this aside from the RCA cables which should arrive by the end of the week. Car audio was one of my first nearly adult-aged hobbies, but I prefer putting more effort towards home audio if we're still talking audio at all.

Otherwise, I'm content with having things that are a good enough quality and not jerry-rigged because one could spend a lifetime chasing better audio gear for little practical gain.
 
I like seeing compact solutions. Aside from subs in custom enclosures that fill the trunk or (like me) repurposed factory enclosures, it doesn't seem like there are many meet-in-the-middle solutions.

With my 8", I too feel also it leaves space on the table regarding generating sufficient LF response to overcome road noise. But like you said, it's easy to chase perfection endlessly. IMO good enough is, well... good enough. Glad you found it!
 
I found out back in the 80's that a 10" sub doesn't hit hard enough for me. I listen to all kinds of music, and to fully fill out either rap or orchestra,the lower end is soft with a 10" speaker. I've roasted many a speaker trying to use power to make up for inadequate speakers. 6x9" speakers will never make much bass, no matter what you drive them with. I did have a set of Craig triaxials that sounded great with a sub.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Irv
I found out back in the 80's that a 10" sub doesn't hit hard enough for me. I listen to all kinds of music, and to fully fill out either rap or orchestra,the lower end is soft with a 10" speaker. I've roasted many a speaker trying to use power to make up for inadequate speakers. 6x9" speakers will never make much bass, no matter what you drive them with. I did have a set of Craig triaxials that sounded great with a sub.
I agree on the potency of a 10", although for me, I feel like it matters less in a car subject to NVH factors while driving and requires my attention over music listening. If our cars had the NVH characteristics of a W223 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, that would probably raise the bar a bit.

I have a sealed 15" Rythmik Audio servo sub in my family room home theater and nothing I'd be willing to put in my cars could come close to that. It extends down to 14 Hz and I can feel the bass between my ears. I wouldn't be able to enjoy that while driving though.
 
Thanks! The custom enclosures I had planned would have been a pair of 0.6 cubic foot sealed boxes using shallow-mount 10" subs. I would have had them flank the amp and probably strapped to the RSTB. That would have been a good bit more work though, and possibly even overkill after observing what a single slim 10" with sufficient power can deliver. I just didn't want to leave discernible amounts of bass on the table when listening to music.


Nice, do you know what model it is? I wasn't shopping for powered subs, but I wonder if I might have come across it at some point. I'm pretty sure I shopped the heck out of everything available under 5.5" tall and thinking it could work with some finagling!

I'm glad this Alpine worked out well, but I'm more glad to be done with this aside from the RCA cables which should arrive by the end of the week. Car audio was one of my first nearly adult-aged hobbies, but I prefer putting more effort towards home audio if we're still talking audio at all.

Otherwise, I'm content with having things that are a good enough quality and not jerry-rigged because one could spend a lifetime chasing better audio gear for little practical gain.
JBL Bass Pro SL2
 

Attachments

  • IMG_6562.jpeg
    IMG_6562.jpeg
    3.2 MB · Views: 1
  • IMG_6563.jpeg
    IMG_6563.jpeg
    1.7 MB · Views: 1
When I was still in College, I had a music appreciation class, that was all classical music. I ran into class one day for a test, after "studying" in my Subaru. :) It was an Alpine deck with a 600w Sherwood amp, 6x9's, and a dual 12" sub.
Wendy, my professor, asked me not to study in the parking lot; I made the stuff on her shelves rattle. :) Fugue in D minor ftw, lol.
Cool note: When Robert Plant and Jimmy Page came in concert, she got to play viola in their 'Orchestra section. I had seats up front, I could almost touch Robert Plant; He sang most of the first set right there! She got to hang with them after the show; I think she had as much fun as I did!
I have been lucky over the years with Concerts: I've got to see every band I admired; Ozzy and Van Halen and AcDc seemed to come every year thru the 80's.
I met Bon Scott and Angus, Met Ozzy a few times, once walking with Randy Rhoads. I saw his last concert. :( I saw Lynerd Skynerd's last show, before the crash. Alice Cooper in '72, with Bob Seger as opening act. :) He lost his snake, and it ended up in the knoxville zoo. :) Black Sabbath, BOC,Nazareth, Aerosmith... I saw kansas on Halloween, and some idiot nailed the drummer with a liquor bottle. There were 50 members of the Outlaws MC club there, sitting in front of us, and the idiot. I bet they didn't find much of that guy, lol.
Best of all was Pantera, opening for Skid row. I thought Skid Row would suck, but they really rocked mostly covers, and saved their ballads for the encore. The moshpit was awesome, lol.
 
We got searched going into the show, and I had 2 pints of Jack in my socks; the cop found one, tapped the other one then asked "Whats this? I quickly said"I brought that for you, just to see if you were paying attention!" He laughed, put it in his pocket, and didn't mention the other one, Or my Weed, or my switchblade, lol.
 
I agree on the potency of a 10", although for me, I feel like it matters less in a car subject to NVH factors while driving and requires my attention over music listening. If our cars had the NVH characteristics of a W223 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, that would probably raise the bar a bit.

I have a sealed 15" Rythmik Audio servo sub in my family room home theater and nothing I'd be willing to put in my cars could come close to that. It extends down to 14 Hz and I can feel the bass between my ears. I wouldn't be able to enjoy that while driving though.
The JBL 10 sounds nice enough to know the difference when we turned it on and off. We are not going for Volume persay. Just fidelity overall. I'm sure there are "Better" options. But it does sound good. We are running an Alpine deck that is 10 years old or so now. JL audio speakers, and a 4 channel Alphasonic amp. Everything isn't fully installed quite yet. But we are getting there.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Irv
Iike all kinds of music, but If I'm listening to Sinatra and Basie, I Want to hear Satchmo , Louis; and broad spectrum bass is really needed for that.
Mozart s the same way, although Beethoven has better bass. :) And then there's Disturbed, Luke Skyywalker, and NWA...
 
Iike all kinds of music, but If I'm listening to Sinatra and Basie, I Want to hear Satchmo , Louis; and broad spectrum bass is really needed for that.
Mozart s the same way, although Beethoven has better bass. :) And then there's Disturbed, Luke Skyywalker, and NWA...
I love Sinatra, Basie, and Armstrong! I'm right with you there!
 
 
Those are interesting. Aren't those for gamer chairs?
 
I've tried the "non-speaker bass units since the 80's; they come into fashion every few years. They work well for vibration, and can really add something to smaller bass drivers. Shock-style effects for gaming work well for blast effects, but not so much for music. Bolted to a chair, they help bring a movie or game to life. But for sound, not so much.
 
I've always hated that tactile crap, feeling vibration when there's no acoustic pressure creating it. To me it just makes the absence of low bass sound more obvious.
 
I helped a buddy build up a "dance club" in the 90's, and the 24"EV subs we put in had 60lb magnets, that you had to install after the speakers were mounted. That's the best bass I've personally felt, lol. I think there were 8 of those, total. and a huge pile of other drivers. Each cabinet had an amp, and a channel to the board. We went on opening night, with a dj I knew. He walked in with us, and immediately said, I didn't think you swung that way. Then I realized we had built a gay bar, lol. We were with the only two real women, lol. Needless to say, free drinks was not enough to make me go back. :)
I think that install was over 500k. My buddy I helped out was a black belt; his dad taught me ishinru. I was watching him shoot a shot on the 8, in a game I had 10 bux on and Maria, the girl i was with, drew my attention to the guy Looking laviciously looking at his ass. I got us the fuck out of there, before shit went bad. :)

I was cursed, in the early 70's by one of the Einstein family, as a fourth grader, in oak ridge. She told me, as I repeated an anti-semetic trope, "May you live in interesting times." :)
I have lived that, lol.
 
We used the ButtKicker for our bass player when I did live sound reinforcement. He was deaf in that tonal range from playing in front of his amp for so many years. It really helped stage noise, this was before IEMs were popular so we had wedges all over the place in addition to the instruments and vocals on stage. That tactile feedback kept the noise down and helped him play.
 
Irv, if you have any interest in selling that kicker I might be interested.
 
Best bass I've ever heard is when I go to a concert and they have the organ start bellowing out pedal tones! :)

</Cleveland Orchestra fanboy>
You would absolutely love the Tennessee Theater in Knoxvile. It has a killer organ that is very old, and was refurbed in the 70-80's.
I helped polish some of the tubes in hs. We started, others finished.
 

Similar threads

Back
Top