Looking for the best 12 inch subwoofer? Well, as with everything else in car audio it’s not a straightforward science and there are many factors involved when getting the right one for your car stereo system.
While factory car audio systems are passable, they’re not going to rock your world. There are many things you need in order to upgrade your system, including a nice powerful amplifier, some good car speakers, and of course a subwoofer for those who like some crystal clear deep bass.
A subwoofer is responsible for giving your sound that huge, bass-laden low end that is so desired. And they come in all different sizes, with the most popular size being the 12″ subwoofer. And getting the right 12 inch subwoofer for your vehicle will make such a difference it’s hard to quantify unless you hear it for yourself.
This guide breaks down the technical things to know and provides the choices for anyone in the market for their personal best 12-inch subwoofer.
Best 12 Inch Subwoofers Table
|350W||4 Ω||96 dB|
|750W||2 + 2 Ω||83 dB|
|300W||4 Ω||85 dB|
|800W||1 + 1 Ω||85.9 dB|
|150W||4 Ω||87 dB|
|400W||4 + 4 Ω||86 dB|
|1000W||4 + 4 Ω||84 dB|
|1000W||2 + 2 Ω||86 dB|
What are the Best 12 Inch Subwoofers for Deep Bass?
Pioneer TS-W126M – The Best 12″ Subwoofer Under $100
Looking for a high-quality 12-inch subwoofer on a budget? If so, you might want to consider this Pioneer TS-W126M. Though it carries a relatively small price tag, it offers high value in terms of power, volume, and overall sound quality.
First, let’s talk about this subwoofer’s overall power capabilities. It’s capable of receiving 1,300 watts of peak power, and 350 watts of continuous power RMS. While this is not as powerful as some 12-inch subwoofers, it is still very respectable, and for under $100, you can’t complain.
The sub can be mounted inside either a sealed or ported box, allowing you to pick one of your choosing. And with a seamless IMPP cone design, it reduces overall distortion while increasing overall efficiency, and produces tight and accurate bass at the same time.
One of the sub’s true stand out points is its construction quality. Made out of tough polypropylene, it’s built to last, and you’ll be able to work this to the bone for long periods of time.
This subwoofer sports a sensitivity of 96 dB, which is just about ideal. Any higher and you’ll be dealing with unwanted distortion, but any lower and you’ll be wanting for power.
It should be noted that this subwoofer sports only a single voice coil, which will limit the overall power you can pump into it. However, despite the fact that, it still provides huge, full low-end that will shake your entire vehicle.
If you’re looking for a great 12-inch subwoofer on a budget, the Pioneer TS-W126M is the subwoofer for you. While it’s not quite as powerful as more high-end 12-inch subwoofers, it still provides more than enough power to get your car shaking.
Available for well under $100 and coming with a 1-year warranty, it’s as good of a bang for your buck as you’re going to find.
Sundown Audio SA-12 D2 REV.3 – Best 12-Inch Subwoofer For Powerful Bass
If you truly value power and sound quality, you have to consider this Sundown Audio SA-12 D2 REV.3 12″ sub. It’s an absolute beast and arguably the best subwoofer for powerful bass.
I believe SA-12 D2 REV.3 is the best Dual Voice Coil subwoofers on the market, and the way SA series subs are becoming the goto sub for SPL competitions, you can begin to get the picture.
Firstly, the Dual 4-ohm coil subwoofer has a mesmerising 750W RMS power handling, and many reviews say this is a conservative load. Either way, it is some power and lays the foundation for some serious bass output.
SA-12 D2 REV.3. Hugely powerful and capable of handling tons of wattage, it will have you automobile shaking like an earthquake.
The construction is impressive with a quality double layer nomex spider, an SPL competition grade paper cone, and a strong foam surround capable of handling the excursion and force generated by the motor structure.
The 2.5″ voice coils are made out of anodized aluminum, which helps dissipate the heat much faster so you can drive more power for longer without the risk of damaging your voice coil. In fact, this system allows the 2.5″ coil to exceed the thermal performance of many 3″ coil drivers on the market today!
Thnaks to the dual voice coils, this subwoofer possesses 2-ohm impedance, although you can wire the sub to 4 ohm in series or 1 ohm in parallel, giving you much more flexibility with your power handling. You can also buy the 4 ohm version and it can be wired down to 2 ohm or 8 ohms.
The 12 inch subwoofer is designed to be mounted inside of both sealed and ported enclosures, ensuring that you can use it to get the bass sound of your choice. Soundown offer the best Enclosure Suggestion: 1.75 ft^3 ported tuned to 30 Hz — F3 of 26 Hz, although it really depends on your personal preference.
For me, this Sundown Audio SA-12 D2 REV.3 is one of the best 12 inch subwoofer on the market, especially in this price entry.
It’s loud, powerful, full, and everything else you could ever want from a subwoofer. And if you’re serious about power and car shaking bass, then I think the price entry is very reasonable and you will definitely enjoy it..
JL Audio 12W0V3-4 – Best 12-Inch Subwoofer For The Money
Are you looking for a subwoofer that offers high-end value at a mid-level price? If so, the JL Audio 12W0V3-4 is just the subwoofer you’re looking for.
While it’s very affordable, it’s not lacking in power, clarity, and overall tonal quality, and I make this my best 12-inch subwoofer for the money.
It can handle up to 300 watts of RMS power and 600 watts of peak power, making it both powerful and controlled. And while that might not be as powerful as other 12-inch subwoofers on the market, it does provide enough boom for most users’ tastes.
Designed to be mounted inside both ported and sealed enclosures, it can be customized to provide just the type of low end you’re looking for. The sub boasts a tough, durable cone that is made out of polypropylene and which is built to last over years of use, and dare I say it: abuse. You wouldn’t, would you?
Seriously, the construction and toughness this cone isn’t just about durability and longevity, as it helps to reduce distortion while maximizing sheer power.
With a sensitivity of around 85 dB, the sub takes a little more power to successfully drive. However, the fact that it’s not such a high sensitivity ensures that it won’t easily distort or blow.
The sub is a single voice coil, meaning that it’s limited when it comes to wiring series circuitry, but this should be of no concern as its a 4-ohm subwoofer and accommodates plenty of amps.
Overall, the JL Audio 12W0V3-4 is a great 12-inch subwoofer for those who want high-end sound quality at a reasonable price. And while there are better subs out there, if you want value for money, you’ll go a long way to beat this beast.
Rockford Fosgate P300-12 Punch – Best Powered 12″ Subwoofer
If you’re looking for the absolute best powered subwoofer on the market today, you can’t go wrong with the Rockford Fosgate P300-12 Punch. This subwoofer may cost a little more than others, but it’s well worth the price.
It accommodates 300 watts of RMS power and is powered by a 300-watt built-in amplifier, meaning it’s ready to go right out of the box. Of course, this also means that it can’t be customized to sync up with other amplifiers, so powered subwoofers aren’t for everybody.
Coming in a sealed enclosure, it possesses a very deep and punchy low end, keeping notes separated and clear regardless of what type of music you’re listening to. Made out of tough, durable plastic, it can withstand quite a beating, and is made to last over years and years of use.
It possesses a 12 dB low pass crossover, allowing you to adjust it to best meet the bass specifications of your choice. ANd with a built-in adjustable bass EQ, built-in 0°/180° phase switch and Remote bass level control, you have easy control over the bassline you need for the music you’re playing.
Built with an auto turn-on/turn-off function, it is a high efficiency subwoofer with a quiet signal that won’t disturb audio quality. It also boasts a closed-loop design that ensures optimum performance between woofer, amplifier and enclosure with easy integration in aftermarket or OEM audio systems using RCA or speaker level signals
When buying a powered subwoofer it’s important to know the dimensions, especially if you drive a small-ish vehicle. This P300-12 Punch is 11” x 19.8” x 15″, so make sure you have the space for it.
At this price entry, the Rockford Fosgate P300-12 Punch is the best powered subwoofer you can get, and if you want the full package, I highly recommend this beast. Just make sure your ears and car can handle it.
CT Sounds Strato-12-D2 – The Best 12″ Subwoofer For Power And Sound Quality
The next car subwoofer on my list is from the new kid on the block CT Sounds – the Houston-based car audio specialists who are making a name for themselves in the car audio industry.
Let’s just put this simply: the CT Sounds Strato-12-D2 is the best 12-inch subwoofer on the market today. Incredibly powerful and masterfully constructed, it’s designed not only to shake your car but last for years.
It’s capable of handling an incredible 1250W of RMS power as well as 2,500W of peak power, making it the most powerful subwoofer on my list by far. Whether you’re listening to rap, rock, country, or classical, this subwoofer will give you huge, well-rounded sound, and make heads turn from afar.
Sporting a 3-inch, 4 Layer High-Temperature CCAW Voice Coil, allows for flexibility in impedance ranging from 1-ohm to 2 ohms. And with a 170 Oz Triple Stacked Y35 Grade Ferrite Magnet ensures the sound output of the subwoofer is loud and broad.
This 12in car subwoofer was engineered for hard hitting bass and Mega Foam Surround and 4% Carbon Fiber Reinforced Cone in a Die Cast Aluminum basket ensures the distribution of the bass is clean, deep and loud.
For me, the price is reasonable, although not for everyone. If you’re a true bass afficianodo, however, you’ll be happy to spend over $200 on a hugely powerful, well-constructed, subwoofer that will drive some unbelievably crisp bass at volumes, you won’t be able to handle for too long.
Paired up with the right amplifier and head unit, and this 12in subwoofer will turn your sound system into a complete monster, and as Sundown says ‘bass around the clock because you’ll be the loudest on the block.’ Enjoy!
Rockford Fosgate R1S4-12 – The Best Shallow Mount Subwoofer
Perhaps you’re tight on space looking for a shallow mount 12-inch subwoofer? If so, the Rockford R1S4-12 is the subwoofer for you. Mounting at 5.5 inches, it fits in most cars, big or small. And for its price (under $100), it offers superb sound quality to boot.
Let’s first talk about this subwoofer’s power handling capabilities. It possesses RMS power of 200 watts. While this isn’t as powerful as other woofers on my list, it’s still plenty powerful enough to shake your car.
The 4-ohm single voice coil sub is limited with power handling variations, but don’t be fooled by the price or the seemingly low RMS, because this 12″ subwoofer reproduces a well-rounded low end sound.
The construction is a fiber reinforced painted paper-pulp cone, and high durable compressed foam surround. Fixed inside a proprietary powder coated stamped steel frame and a fatigue resistant poly-cotton spider with integral woven leads, this woofer distributes some absolute wide and low bass.
And for thanks to the laser-etched aluminum dust cap, the clarity of this bass woofer isn’t too shabby either. If you own a small car and are tight for space, the Rockford R1S4-12 should be considered.
Shallow-mounted, it takes up very little space, yet still provides a controlled and nuanced, yet powerful sound. It will make a big impact to your soundscape, and at a very reasonable price, it’s quite the bargain as far as 12-inch subwoofers go.
MTX Audio Terminator Series TNE212D – Best Dual 12 Inch Subwoofer
Are you looking for the best dual 12-inch subwoofer that can be powered by an external amp? If so, the MTX Audio Terminator Series TNE212D is the subwoofer for you.
This monster is available for a very reasonable price and is capable of producing more volume than any sane person needs. Did I say sane? Of course, we’re all insane.
Anyway, this dual 12 inch subwoofer comes equipped with two woofers, with a power handling of 200W RMS each. And while this isn’t as powerful as some single subs on my list, the dual sub offering makes for a whole new soundscape.
With a dual subwoofer, thanks to the available headroom the bass quality will increase, effortlessly thanks to the reduced compression, lower distortion and greater dynamic range.
The cones of each woofer are made of tough, durable polypropylene, ensuring durability. They’re available in sealed or vented enclosures, which are ruggedly constructed using 5/8″ MDF and aviation grade black carpet.
This dual 12″ subwoofer offers controlled, punchy, and nuanced bass. With both running, you’ll be able to lay louder and still drive clean bass without running out of driver excursion or amp power.
Of course, these dual 12in subwoofers aren’t for everyone. But if you have the space, and enjoy a greater dynamic range, reduced output compression, lower distortion, running them will give you cleaner, more accurate bass at extreme drive levels.
Don’t be put off by the RMS, it’s loud enough and will make a huge impact in any sized vehicle. Just make sure yours is big enough.
Kicker 43CVR124 CompVR – DVC 12″ Subwoofer – Great Value For Money
If you’re looking for a powerful Dual Voice Coil 12-inch subwoofer at an affordable price, the Kicker CompVR is that. While it doesn’t provide quite the same quality of sound as a high-end woofer, it still makes a huge difference to your soundscape, for half the cost.
The CompVR 12-Inch Subwoofer is a 4Ω dual voice coil design, built for easy wiring. It’s recommedned RMS power of 400 watts, gives it enough power to handle and reproduce bass for all genres.
The Kicker CompVR comes in 2 or 4-ohm dual voice coils, and is constructed with Kicker’s famous red surround stitching that expertly binds the a ribbed santoprene surround to the polypropylene cone for added strength.
A stamped steel basket holds vibration at bay, and with the SoloKon™ marrying the woofer and back brace into one, you get a truly cohesive system that pushes out some strong, distortion-free bass.
The driver also boasts a perimeter venting, Spiralead™ tinsel-lead technology, and spring-loaded push terminal, which ensures the high performance Kicker has made itself famous for.
Kicker uses an advanced heat management system, and perimeter venting allows air to circulate while the brand’s UniPlate™ system redirects even more heat away from the motor, ensuring you get a cool, reliable speaker that you can play loud for long periods, and lasts.
All in all, the Kicker 43CVR124 CompVR is a great subwoofer for those who are looking for maximum power on a budget. It can get extraordinarily loud, and provides a ridiculous amount of low end.
And while it might not be quite as nuanced as a high-end subwoofer, it’s nuanced all the same, and for the average person, it’s certainly good enough.
Known for their Subwoofers from the classical gods, American brand Hifonics has delivered another thunderous car audio classic but this time in the name of Julius Caesar’s assassin, Brutus – a subwoofer dedicated to low frequencies at high volumes.
Subwoofers are drivers dedicated solely to reproducing low frequencies, and this Hifonics Brutus 12” sub drives incredibly clear and tight bass for this price entry.
The 4-ohm 3” Dual Voice Coil subwoofer can handle an incredible 1000W RMS, and with a heavy gauge, powder-coated, aluminum die-cast basket, this car subwoofer really hits hard and clean.
All this power needs to be maintained for it to perform as heat could be a concern, but thanks to the vented aluminum former holding the voice coil it allows the heat to be extracted.
The Hifonics 12” subwoofer also boasts a heavy duty aluminum die-cast basket, which enables back venting. This also helps with dissipating heat, which means the woofer can reproduce more power handling, increased reliability and ultimately very loud and distortion-free bass.
The pressure treated double stitched ribbed foam surround and the dual poly cotton spider helps keep the piston motion of the subwoofer linear and distortion free, resulting in arguably the cleanest bass of any subwoofer at this price entry.
There are better subwoofers for a car on the market, but there are much worse. For this price entry, you’re going to get an extremely loud, well-constructed piece of equipment that will allow you to pound your bass without fear of damaging your sub.
Hertz SS 12 D2 – The Best SPL Competition Grade 12-Inch Subwoofer
Last but certainly far from the least on my list is the Hertz SS 12 D2 12-inch subwoofer. And like many other Hertz audio products this beast is built for SPL standards.
To win any SPL (Sound Pressure Level) Bass War competitions you have to have something that can outblast and outsculpt the sound level of any other subwoofer there, and Hertz does a great job at regularly producing winners.
This 3-inch Dual Voice Coil, developed in 4-layer configuration on a support with venting holes allows for an incredible 1000W RMS. How competitive!
Something so powerful should heat up quite excessively, no? Well to win SPL Bass Wars you have to be constant and Hertz utilizes the innovative DVC and supports it with venting holes that allows the SS 12 D2 to manage the power handling impressively.
To maintain heat dissipation absolutely the basket has been designed for optimal thermal dissipation and high mechanical resistance.
The suspension system is reinforced with progressive double-layer spiders, which is necessary for the huge ferrite engine, and it keeps the performance constant, especially in the heavy use typical of Bass Wars events.
The non-pressed paper / cotton fiber cone makes for a perfect platform to push low bass at extreme volumes, of which will be of little use to people who value their ears.
Of course, with all this exquisite soundscape comes at a cost, and this Hertz SS 12 D2 is the most expensive subwoofer on my list. But it’s also probably the best 12” subwoofer, just go to an SPL event and find out.
Difference Between a Passive and Powered Subwoofer
Subwoofers are operated in one of two different ways: passive and powered.
First, let’s talk about passive subwoofers. Passive subwoofers contain enclosed woofers which must be powered via an external amplifier. Typically, passive subwoofers provide a cleaner sound and are more flexible in terms of overall wiring configurations.
Powered subwoofers contain enclosed woofers that power the subwoofer themselves. While these subwoofers are a little easier to understand and operate, they typically don’t provide the same level of sound quality provided by passive subwoofers.
Sealed vs. Ported Enclosure
Typically, subwoofers are enclosed in one of two different ways; they can be either sealed or ported.
Let’s begin by talking about sealed subwoofers. Seal subwoofers typically offer clearer and more controlled bass. They keep air locked in tight, allowing sound to be nuanced, punchy, and responsive. However, they also require a great deal more power to operate.
Ported subwoofers allow air to move in and out freely. This has both its benefits and drawbacks. While ported subwoofers don’t require as much power to operate, they don’t offer quite as clear a sound as you’ll find with a sealed subwoofer. Whereas sealed subwoofers are best used for classical and jazz music, ported subwoofers are best used for rap, rock, and other raw-sound music.
Single vs. Dual Subwoofer Voice Coils
Voice coils are the wires wrapped around a subwoofers speaker cone. These voice coils connect to amplifiers, allowing the subwoofers to be powered and operated. In general, there are two different types of voice coils: single and dual.
Let’s begin by talking about single voice coils. Single voice coils are typically less expensive, but also don’t work with as great a number of amplifiers. This can present a problem if you don’t have the correct amplifier on hand. However, there are plenty of amplifiers available which accommodate single voice coils.
Dual voice coils are more expensive but are also capable of more wiring configurations. This allows them to connect to a greater diversity of amps than single voice coils. This will make it easier to find an amp when you need to buy one.
Wiring Dual Voice Coils
|Parallel Wiring||Series Wiring|
|Dual 2 Ohm Voice Coils = 1 Ohm Load||Dual 2 Ohm Voice Coils = 4 Ohm Load|
|Dual 4 Ohm Voice Coils = 2 Ohm Load||Dual 4 Ohm Voice Coils = 8 Ohm Load|
|Dual 1 Ohm Voice Coils = 0,5 Ohm Load||Dual 1 Ohm Voice Coils = 2 Ohm Load|
When it comes to subwoofer power handling, there are two different types of power to consider: RMS (root mean square) and Peak. RMS power refers to how much power a subwoofer can handle consistently over time. When choosing a subwoofer, this is the most important number to consider. The higher a subwoofer’s RMS, the louder and more powerful it can consistently be over time.
Peak power refers to the maximum amount of power subwoofer can handle in small bursts. This will be higher than the RMS, but is not as important to know as the RMS. Finding a subwoofer that can handle the power provided by its amp is an absolute necessity.
Subwoofer sensitivity refers to how much power a subwoofer needs in order to produce volume. The higher a subwoofer’s sensitivity, the more volume you can get out of less power. Ideal subwoofer sensitivities range from around 80 dB to 99 dB.
You would think that the more sensitive a subwoofer is, the better. However, this is not always the case. Some subwoofers are so sensitive that they become easily muffled and distorted. In general, you’re going to want to look for a subwoofer that has a sensitivity of around 90 dB. This is the ideal sensitivity.
Matching Subwoofer’s Impedance with Amplifier’s Impedance
The most complex part of buying a subwoofer is matching it with the correct amplifier. In order to do so, you must take both device’s impedance into account. First, it’s necessary to find your subwoofer’s RMS wattage. After you’ve found this, you must find an amp which can supply between 125% and 200% of the total RMS wattage on the subwoofer.
The second thing to look for is ohms. Most mono amps are capable of 2 ohm loads. Although, most 2 or 4 channel amps are not 2 ohm capable when bridged. You can’t connect low impedance than it can an amplifier.
Single voice coil subwoofers can only match with amps that have the exact same number of ohms.
For instance, a single voice coil subwoofer with 2 ohms can only match with an amp that has 2 ohms.
Dual voice coil subwoofer you can wiring in series or in parallel.
So, for instance, a dual voice coil subwoofer with 4 ohms in series wiring: 4+4 = 8 ohm; in parallel wiring: (4*4)/(4+4) = 2 ohm. It should, however, be noted that it’s best synced up with an amplifier that possesses less ohms. The lower the number of ohms, the greater the power overall.
If you’re looking for big, rounded, full sound, a subwoofer is an absolute necessity. The most popular sized subwoofer available is the 12-incher. While you could go bigger or smaller, you’ll be sacrificing either power or money. There are a number of things to consider when choosing the right 12-inch subwoofer. But, if you take all of these things into consideration, you should be able to find a subwoofer that fits your sound system perfectly.