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What is the Best 12 Inch Subwoofer? Find the Perfect One For Your Car’s Sound System (2021)

best 12 inch subwoofers

A subwoofer is an integral part of an audio system or home theater setup. These compact options are also a great addition to your car’s audio system for that extra, rumbling bass. 

However, without knowing exactly what to look for, you might get an unsuitable model for your car. To prevent wasting your hard-earned money, our experts have reviewed the best 12 inch subwoofers.

Best Premium Choice
JL Audio 12W3v3-4
Best Overall
Kicker CompRT 12” 1-Ohm Subwoofer
Best Budget
Rockford Fosgate R2D4-12 Prime R2 DVC Subwoofer
JL Audio 12W3v3-4
Kicker CompRT 12” 1-Ohm Subwoofer
Rockford Fosgate R2D4-12 Prime R2 DVC Subwoofer
The materials used to create the JL Audio subwoofer gives it a sleek and luxurious look. The NBR surround helps the sub pump out heavy audio even without a high power output. The impedance sits at a healthy 4 ohms to ensure efficiency.
The best subwoofer for your sound system is the Kicker CompRT 12 inch subwoofer. The unit is built to last with all-weather material and an amazing power output of 500 watts RMS for booming bass sounds.
The stamp cast frame of the Rockford Fosgate R2D4-12 DVC or dual voice coil subwoofer and the impedance of 4 ohms will make sure the subwoofer lives up to its name. Thanks to the mica injected polypropylene cone, the subwoofer can handle continuous loud audio.
Best Premium Choice
JL Audio 12W3v3-4
JL Audio 12W3v3-4
The materials used to create the JL Audio subwoofer gives it a sleek and luxurious look. The NBR surround helps the sub pump out heavy audio even without a high power output. The impedance sits at a healthy 4 ohms to ensure efficiency.
Best Overall
Kicker CompRT 12” 1-Ohm Subwoofer
Kicker CompRT 12” 1-Ohm Subwoofer
The best subwoofer for your sound system is the Kicker CompRT 12 inch subwoofer. The unit is built to last with all-weather material and an amazing power output of 500 watts RMS for booming bass sounds.
Best Budget
Rockford Fosgate R2D4-12 Prime R2 DVC Subwoofer
Rockford Fosgate R2D4-12 Prime R2 DVC Subwoofer
The stamp cast frame of the Rockford Fosgate R2D4-12 DVC or dual voice coil subwoofer and the impedance of 4 ohms will make sure the subwoofer lives up to its name. Thanks to the mica injected polypropylene cone, the subwoofer can handle continuous loud audio.

Reviews of the Best 12 Inch Subwoofers

1. Kicker CompRT 12" 1-Ohm Subwoofer

If you know car subwoofers then you must have heard of Kicker. This 12” subwoofer from this brand really gives your deep bass tones a kick when you incorporate it into your system. With a maximum power of 1000 watts and an RMS at half that, you know your audio equipment is getting the boost it needs.

The injection molded polypropylene cone is solid and gives just the right amount of rigidity, coupled with flexibility to allow the subwoofer to deliver the best reverberating bass.

Also encased in a tough santoprene surround, this all-weather Kicker CompRT 12″ 1-Ohm Subwoofer is the best option for convertibles and jeeps for outdoor adventures.

Pros

Cons

2. JL Audio 12W3v3-4

The single JL Audio 12W3v3-4 Subwoofer for a car audio system features a mineral-filled polypropylene upper cone for durability and the metallic JL audio logo gives the 12W3v3-4 series subwoofer a high quality feel to it.

The surround is rubber, nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) to be exact, which will help deafen the vibrations for the subwoofer to properly enhance the bass. Although the subwoofer doesn’t feature an impressive amount of power, the impedance of 4 ohms and the sensitivity of 87 dB can still bring you exhilarating bass. 

Measuring in at around 13×14 inches, the JL Audio subwoofer is quite lightweight for its size, making it easier to install within your car audio system.

Pros

Cons

3. Rockford Fosgate R2D4-12 Prime R2 DVC Subwoofer

Rockford Fosgate is another consistently reliable brand when it comes to high quality subwoofers on the market. The Rockford Fosgate R2D4-12 DVC Subwoofer is a best 12 inch subwoofer for fine construction.

You get a single copper clad aluminum voice coil, a stamp cast frame, a PVC trimmed ring with a Kevlar reinforced paper cone to ensure durability and efficiency. The power handling of the Rockford Fosgate subwoofer is a little lower compared to other 12 inch subwoofer options, but with 2 of them together, you can create a nice sound bubble for bass.

Aside from the sturdy build of the driver itself, the surrounding materials are just as tough. We’re looking at a mica injected polypropylene cone and foam surround.

Pros

Cons

4. Skar Audio Dual 12" 2400W Loaded SDR Series Vented Subwoofer Enclosure

If you are someone who needs the subwoofer enclosure with your setup and likes dual bass drivers, then the Skar Dual SDR Series Subwoofer is the one for you. The peak power of the SDR series is an amazing 2400 watts with an RMS power handling of 1200. 

The setup is simple with the Skar Audio sub because it’s pre-wired for an easy integration with only a 1 ohm impedance. The enclosure is vented and custom-made with a black carpet finish.

As for the drivers, they feature a high roll surround that accommodates the low bass frequencies easily. The CCAW voice coil can withstand high temperatures for maximum performance.

Pros

Cons

5. Pioneer TS-WX1210A 12” Sealed Enclosure Active Subwoofer

The Pioneer TS-WX1210A is an active subwoofer, which means the amplifier is built in. This saves you a lot of trouble to research the compatibility of an external amp. The max power handling capacity of this subwoofer is quite impressive at 1300. However, the RMS power handling isn’t great at only 350 watts.

The build of the TS-WX1210A is designed to get the best out of this 12 inch sub. The frequency range is between 20 to 125 Hz and comes with a very impressive sensitivity of 114 dB.

The subwoofer features a very minimalistic design that has a carpet finish with nothing but the Pioneer logo on the front.

Pros

Cons

12 Inch Subwoofers Buyer’s Guide

What makes the best 12 inch subwoofer? It’s not just solely the bass tones it can relay, but also the construction, how easy it is to install into your car or home audio system, and of course, the price. Let’s dive deeper into what to look for as our experts break it down.

Design and Size

We won’t go too much into the size, because our focus today is on the best 12 inch subwoofers. Assuming you are sure the 12 inch sub fits into your setup, the next item to pay attention to is the design. 

Do you want one that comes with its own enclosure, has a 2-in-1 combo, or just a single sub to add to your system? The sound quality of 2 will definitely outdo the bass of just one, but again, this depends on the amount of space you have.

If you have one with its own enclosure, look for one that is pre-mounted and pre-wired. This makes the installation process so much easier, but we will get into that in a bit. A single sub without an enclosure will require more of your time during setup and there’s more work required to be sure it’s compatible with your system.

Look into the materials that go into the construction of the best 12 inch subwoofer you choose. The sound quality hinges greatly on what’s used to create the cone and the surround. 

For your car stereo, look for some sort of injected cones like the options we have suggested above. Sturdy material with the right rigidity will provide a means for the bass on your subwoofers to complement the rest of your sound system. 

Installation

The installation process often influences our experts and their opinions on the products. For example, a subwoofer that takes a lot of effort to install but provides exceptional sound will still sour your experience.

Fortunately, manufacturers have taken this into account and most subwoofers nowadays are very easy to install. If it takes more than 10 minutes, it’s considered too much. 

Understand what you need before purchasing the product. Does your 12 inch subwoofer come with all you need, or are there a lot of other components you need to look into before setup can be complete?

The enclosure will also matter and affect the installation process. Your choice of a shallow mount, ported or not enclosure, also known as a sealed enclosure will affect your stereo system setup. Of course, you can connect any subwoofer to a speaker using two different amplifiers. It can boost the sound quality and clarity through this process. 

Power

When we talk about sound, how much power you get will influence the rating of the product. Speakers and subwoofers alike have two different power ratings that you need to make note of. The first one is the watts RMS and the other is the max power. 

The max power is most often higher than the RMS and is the one advertisers and manufacturers tend to focus on. Our experts warn not to be tricked by the marketing and to remember that the RMS figure is more crucial. 

The peak power handling is how much power the sub can handle in short bursts. Because this figure isn’t meant to be consistent, it’s a lot higher than the RMS. As you may have guessed, the RMS is the amount of power your sub can handle continuously without any damage.

If you choose to play your tunes at peak power handling consistently, you are more than likely to blow your sub. This is why the RMS is the more vital figure when it comes to the power of your subwoofer.

Sensitivity

What makes a great sub is also what’s hidden within. The impedance, sensitivity, power rating all have to do with the internal wiring and construction, which brings us to the next point.

The speaker sensitivity directly correlates to how loud your sub will be. The sensitivity, measured in dB or decibels, refers to how much power can be transformed into sound. Anything above 88 dB is considered the best and recommended by our expert audio team.

Impedance and Amplifier Impedance

Next up in the statistics of subwoofers is the impedance. The impedance, put simply, is the resistance the subwoofer has to the electrical current. It’s most important for the compatibility of the sub with the rest of your sound system.

If you have purchased a passive sub, which means there is no internal amplifier, then you really need to pay attention to the impedance. If you have an active or powered subwoofer, it will have its own amplifier included. 

The sub should be labeled clearly whether it’s passive or active subwoofer, but another way to gauge is most single subs without sealed box enclosures or the like will most likely be passive. 

Common impedance figures are 2 ohm [1], 4 ohm, 6 ohm and 8 ohm. If your sub falls into any of these categories, it will be easy to integrate it into your system.

Voice Coils

You will have seen our experts mention voice coils more than a few times up to this point, but some may still be unclear as to what they are and what they do. You may see a sub labeled as SVC or DVC for short, but they just mean single voice coil or dual voice coil.

The difference between the two can be quite substantial, which is why it’s important to understand what they do. The voice coil provides the force behind the driver, and is crucial to the power of the sub.

With that said, you can imagine needing dual voice coils if you have a sub capable of a higher power and RMS rating. In this case, you need to pay attention to the ohm rating as well, and in most cases, dual voice coils are better for sound.

Enclosure

Do you need or want an enclosure? Is it better to get a subwoofer that comes with its own ported enclosure? If you want an easier setup and the design of your car audio system allows it, our experts suggest getting a sub with an enclosure.

Enclosures can be divided into two main categories: ported or sealed. So what’s the difference and which is better? The answer to the latter greatly depends on personal preference. So to help you make the right decision for you, our team will now break down each one.

A sub with a ported enclosure is usually of lower quality but can produce punchier bass with much louder sound than its opponent. You will notice subs with very high power ratings are in ported enclosures.

As you may have guessed, a sub in a sealed enclosure is usually of a higher quality build, are more compact, and also capable of better sound accuracy. Even though the quality factor is generalization, you may still find a higher quality ported enclosure sub that’s well built compared to a sealed one that is flimsily put together.

Frequency Response

Next up is the frequency response. Since we are talking about subwoofers and not speakers in general, you don’t need the high frequency range to be hit as much as the low ones.

The frequency range or response, is the sound spectrum your sub or speakers can hit with no issues. For speakers, you need them to go as low and as high as possible since they are also responsible for the high tones of the tweeters.

Speakers such as the best Hertz car audio are used to deliver the full audible sound range for human ears, so you would want the frequency response to be as wide as possible.

On the other hand, for subs, the lower the frequency response, the better. You don’t need a wide range for an amazing subwoofer. Look for subwoofers that can generate the low bass tones of around 20 to 30 Hz to begin with.

Motor Cooling

As something you will be using a lot, you can imagine the heat generation your sub produces. This is why motor cooling, or the general cooling methods are crucial to the design. You need to make sure your system has a voice coil cooling system or motor cooling system just to prevent your sub from overheating.

It’s normal for your sub to get a bit warm after use, but it shouldn’t get hot. If you notice your sub getting consistently hot and not just warm, you should look at better cooling methods.

Having efficient cooling methods will also prolong the life of your subwoofer. Just like with other technological devices, overheating can cause long-lasting damage, so make sure your cooling system is functioning.

Price

As always, our experts make sure to provide a wide selection of products to fit everyone’s budget. You can choose from single more premium priced subs to ones that are a dual combo in their in enclosure that can be even cheaper. Whatever you’re looking for, there is an option for your price range.

There are many things that can affect the price of a subwoofer. It’s not as easy as just getting the most highly reviewed product, because it may not be the best choice for your unique needs. Sometimes the quality of the bass is the least looked at component.

The brand, type of enclosure, size and materials used can all influence the pricing greatly. As all consumers know, the brand of a product alone can be the sole influencer on the price, but that isn’t without reason. Well-known and renowned brands in the industry have more than likely mastered the technology to deliver the best sound quality.

Brands like Kicker and Rockford Fosgate are well-known for car subwoofers, but the price is still incredibly reasonable, which is why we often see them on top lists. 

As we mentioned before, there are two types of enclosures with one being of higher quality. With the higher quality, you can expect better sound, and of course, a higher price tag.

Since we are only talking about 12 inch subs today, they tend to fall around the same price range. However, the size of the subwoofer can also affect the price. Then consider the materials used to construct the sub you chose.

If they use top technology with injection molded cones and the best and sturdy materials, you can also expect a hike in the cost. Choosing dual voice coils over single ones can also increase the price.

The bottom line is, our experts never recommend sacrificing the quality for the price. This is because you may end up with a subpar product you will end up having to replace sooner than later, which will balance out had you opted for the better quality product in the first place. It will also save you the hassle of having to uninstall the old one and setting up the new sub.

You should work within your budget, and after looking at our top list and buyer’s guide, you should have a better idea of how to identify the best sub for you.

FAQ

What 12 inch subwoofer hits the hardest?

The Skar Audio Dual 12” Subwoofers in a vented enclosure hits the hardest. It has a peak power rating of 2400 watts with the RMS rating at 1200 watts. Yes, it’s a dual design and is a mounted option, but that doesn’t take away from the power it’s capable of producing. If you want a hard hitting sub, this one is the way to go.

How many watts can a 12 inch sub handle?

A 12 inch sub can handle at least 100 watts of power. The peak power isn’t limited, it depends on the manufacturer and the design, but it should at least be capable of 100 watts at the very least. Subs that cannot meet this minimum will most likely not produce the bass sound you are looking for.

Are 15 inch subs louder than 12?

Yes, 15 inch subs are louder than 12 in general. However, it is not only the size that contributes to the loudness of the sub, but rather the power rating and sensitivity. To really understand whether or not your 15 inch will be louder than a 12 inch sub, you need to look at these figures and not just the size.

Are 12 or 15 inch subs better?

Neither 12 or 15 inch subs are better. What defines a better sub is more on personal preference and system compatibility than anything else. You need to look at the voice coils, the figures, the enclosures, the build and the sizing to understand if 12 or 15 inch subs are better for you.

Our Top Pick For a 12 Inch Subwoofer: Kicker CompRT

Our expert team’s top pick for the best 12 inch subwoofer is the Kicker CompRT 12″ 1-Ohm Subwoofer. This subwoofer is special because of the very low impedance, guaranteeing more efficiency during power to sound conversion. You don’t often see a 1 ohm sub, as most are around 2 ohm.

The bass offered by the Kicker CompRT 12″ 1-Ohm Subwoofer is also unmatched for its size. It can deliver surround sound and the high power rating will guarantee vibrating bass.

The surround and injected polypropylene cones give this sub awesome construction and an all-weather design, making it a great addition to your car audio system. 

Willie Greer

Willie Greer is the founder of The Product Analyst. A cinephile, he has made it a personal quest to achieve the awesomest home theater possible. He now shares what he has learned through the years on the site, and has enlisted the help of tech-savvy colleagues in providing more insight about today’s most sought-after gadgets.
Willie Greer

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