What is the Best 12 Inch Subwoofer?
Hardest Hitting Subs

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.

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Reviews of the Best 12 Inch Subwoofers

1. JL Audio 12W3v3-4

The single JL Audio 12W3v3-4 Subwoofer features a polypropylene mineral-filled upper cone for durability. Design-wise, the metallic JL logo gives the 12W3v3-4 series a high quality audio sound feel to it.

The surround is rubber, nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) to be exact. This helps deafen the vibrations for the audio subwoofer to properly enhance the bass response. Although the subwoofer doesn’t have an impressive power, the sensitivity of 87 dB can still bring you an exhilarating deep bass response. Sound-wise, the 12W3v3 4-ohm subwoofer delivers accurate bass and reduced distortion.

Measuring in at around 13×14 inches, the JL subwoofer 12″ 12w0v3 4 is quite lightweight for its size, making it easier to install within your audio car system.

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2. Rockford Fosgate R2D4-12 Prime R2 DVC Sub

Rockford Fosgate 12″ Prime is another consistently reliable brand when it comes to high build quality series Rockford Fosgate subwoofer on the market. The Rockford Fosgate R2D4-12 DVC Subwoofer is one of the best 12 inch loudspeakers for its fine construction.

Just like its brother, the Rockford Fosgate P3D4 12″ Punch P3, you’ll get a  single 4-ohm voice coil, single copper clad aluminum voice coils, a stamp cast frame, PVC trimmed ring, and a Kevlar reinforced paper cone to ensure durability and efficiency. The continuous power handling of the Rockford Fosgate R2D4 12″ subwoofer is a little lower compared to other 12 inch sub options, but it creates nice and clear high volumes for a bass sound bubble. 

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

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3. Skar Audio Dual SDR-2X12D4 12" 2400W Loaded SDR Series Vented Subwoofer Enclosure

If you are someone who needs a powerful car subwoofer enclosure with your car setup, has space, and likes dual bass drivers, then the Skar Dual SDR Series Subwoofer is one of the best-12-inch subwoofers you can get. The highest power handling capacity of the SDR series is an amazing 2400 watts. This dual 4-ohm sub also has an RMS power range of 1200 watts. 

The car setup is simple with these Skar Audio subs because it’s pre-wired for an easy integration with only a 1 ohm impedance. The powerful enclosure is vented and custom-made with a black carpet finish. This small enclosure is excellent for giving you great bass and durability.

As for the drivers, they feature low and high audio roll surround that accommodates the low frequencies easily. The CCAW voice coil can withstand high temperatures for maximum performance of 1200 watt rms.

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

The Pioneer TS-WX1210A is an active subwoofer, which means the stereo is built-in. It has extra durability because it’s enclosed in a box that seals, protects, and prevents distortion. This saves you a lot of trouble to research the compatibility of an external amp. The powerful peak power handling capacity of this Pioneer subwoofer is quite impressive at 1300 watts. However, production of the RMS power handling performance isn’t great at only 300 watts to 350 watts.

The subwoofer features powerful dual voice coils for maximum rumble. The low frequency range is between 20 to 125 Hz and comes with a very impressive sensitivity of 114 dB.

The build of the Pioneer TS-WX1210A is designed to be heavy so you can get the best out of this 12 inch sub. It has an excellent minimalistic design with a carpet finish and the Pioneer is logo on the front.

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5. Kicker CompRT 12" 1-Ohm Subwoofer

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

When it comes to subs, the higher the sensitivity, the more efficient the subwoofer is. The CompRT has an 85.5dB rating, which is great for this price point. 

Additionally, the polypropylene injection-molded cone is solid and gives just the right amount of rigidity. It’s also coupled with a bit of flexibility, allowing the shallow-mount subwoofer to deliver the best bass output. This also means that you get distortion-free bass.

Encased in tough paper cone surrounds, this all-weather Kicker CompRT 12″ 1-Ohm Subwoofer is the first quick option for convertibles and jeeps for outdoor adventures.

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12 Inch Subwoofers Buyer’s Guide

What makes the best 12 inch subwoofer? It’s not just solely the sound and clear bass tones it can relay in music, but also the construction, how easy it is to install your sub into your car space, and of course, the price. Let’s dive deeper into what to look for in 12-inch subwoofers, as our experts break it down below.

Design and Size

We won’t go too much into the size, because our focus today is on the best 12 inch woofers. That said, measure the space you have to ensure the fit. Assuming you want a small bass and you are sure the 12 inch subs fits into your setup instead of high-quality 8 inch substhe 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 bass subwoofer to add to your amp? The heavy booming sound performance and high-quality sound of 2 ohms will definitely outdo the bass and punch of just one, but again, you will enjoy the performance for a long time. It mostly depends on the amount of car space you have.

If you want a subwoofer with its own powerful enclosure, look for one in the market 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 subwoofer without an enclosure will require more of your time during installation. There’s more work required to be sure it’s compatible with your bass speakers.

Look into the materials that go into the construction. The good sound quality performance and bass quality hinges greatly onthe construction quality and motor structure as well. The best 12 inch subwoofer/ loud speaker would have a good cone design such as propylene and a foam surround.

For your car stereo, look for some injected cones or top-quality shallow mount subs available in the market. Non-press paper cone, like those in American Bass subs, are a good option, too. the Sturdy material with the right rigidity will provide a means for the bass on your subwoofers to complement the rest of your high quality car speakers.

Installation

The installation often influences our experts and their opinions on the products. For example,10 inch or 12 inch subwoofers that provide exceptional clear quality sound performance but take a lot of effort to install 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 to install in your car’s interior, it’s considered too much. 

Understand what you need before purchasing the product. Does your 12 inch sub come with all you need, or are there a lot of other bass components you need to look into before setup can be complete? When choosing a good quality subwoofer, also consider how much space you have. If you got limited space, shallow mount subs are a great option. They’re thinner and lighter than subs which are made of the same material. Plus, the shallow mounting depth results in less air space behind the subwoofer. If you’re a bass lover who prefers a tight bass over something with louder sound, then these subs can produce volume at good levels while delivering distortion-free sound reproduction. They might have the loudest sound, but you can always add a powerful amplifier.

The ported enclosures will also matter and affect the bass installation process. Your choice of a mounting depth, sealed or ported enclosures, will affect your car stereo sound setup. Of course, you can any subwoofer to a speaker using two different amplifiers. A proper amp can boost the sound, clarity, and bass quality through this process — perfect for bass enthusiasts who like a bit more punch.

Power

How much power do you need? When we talk and take a look at the big bass produced by 12″ subwoofers, the high power handling you get will influence the rating of the product. The best speaker and subwoofers have two different peak power ratings that you need to note. 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 to focus more on the RMS value when looking at subwoofers available in the market.

The highest power handling is how much continuous power the subwoofers 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 produces the high temperature and amount of power your speakers can handle continuously without any damage or distortion.

If you choose to listen to your music consistently at the highest power handling, you are more than likely to blow your subwoofers. This is why the RMS is the more vital figure when it comes to the power of your subwoofer. Just remember this when choosing a 12-inch subwoofer with lower RMS power handling.

Of course, all this power needs to be handled well. A powerful speaker means perfect sound enclosure, here are helpful ways to create louder and better out of your subwoofer box.

Sensitivity

What makes great subwoofers is also what’s hidden within. The impedance, sensitivity, sound output, sound pressure level, and maximum power 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 woofer 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 match and recommended by our expert audio quality team for cleaner sound.

If you are looking for a subwoofer with higher sensitivity rating, you can also check our review of the best 10-inch subwoofer here

Impedance and Amplifier Impedance

Next up in the what-to-look-for list in subwoofers is the impedance. The impedance is the resistance the subwoofer has to the electrical current. It’s most important for the compatibility of the subwoofers with the rest of your system. It’s written in ohms, and most subs have 1 ohm, 2 ohms, or 4 ohms.

If you have purchased passive subwoofers, that means there is no sealed box and internal sub. Without sealed enclosures, the sub is prone to distortion. If you have an active or powered subwoofer, it will have its own amp included. Many people choose a powered subwoofer because passive ones don’t produce as much power in terms of impactful sound quality, but it’s really up to you.

The subwoofer should be labeled clearly whether it’s passive or active subwoofer, but another way to gauge is most single subs without a sealed box or ported box enclosure will most likely be passive instead of a powered subwoofer.

Common impedance figures are 2 ohm [1], 4 ohm, 6 ohm and 8 ohm load. If your sub match into any of these categories, it will be easy to integrate it into your small car audio setup.

Voice Coils

You will have seen our experts mention this 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 double voice coils wiring.

The difference in wiring between the dual and single voice coils can be quite substantial, which is why it’s important to understand what they do. The single voice coils wiring provides the force behind the driver and is crucial for enough power in the subwoofers.

With that said, you can imagine the wiring needed in dual voice coil subwoofers instead of single voice if you have a sub capable of low or 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 sealed or ported subwoofers? Is it better to get the best subwoofer that comes with its own ported enclosure? If you want a quick and easier installation and the design of your car audio sound equipment allows it, our experts suggest getting a sub with an enclosure.

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

A subwoofer with a ported enclosure is usually of low quality performance but can produce bass notes with more punch, and thus louder types of music with more bass. They can handle more power, too. You will notice subwoofers with low or very high power ratings are in ported enclosures, like the MTX Audio Terminator Series.

As you may have guessed, a sub in a sealed enclosure is usually of a higher sound quality build. Sealed subwoofers are more compact, and also capable of better sound quality accuracy and distortion-free output. Even though the quality factor of sealed subs is a 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. But we’d also like to add that there are options like the Planet Audio AC12D which produces deep and powerful bass in either enclosure.

Frequency Response

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

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

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

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

Motor Cooling

As something you will be using a lot, you can imagine the heat generation that a good quality sub produces. This is why motor cooling, or the general cooling methods, are crucial to the cone design. You need to be sure your subs have a cooling system for effective heat dissipation.

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 something with an advanced cooling design.

Having efficient motor cooling methods will also prolong the life of your subwoofer. Just like with other technological devices, voice coils protect from overheating that can cause long-lasting damage, so be sure your cooling system is functioning. Added features like a dual ventilation system also helps with heat dissipation and keeping the system cool.

(Experiencing subs and speakers connection problems? Try using a sub-woofer pre-out in your home theater for flawless connectivity)

Price

As always, our experts make sure to provide a wide selection of products to fit everyone’s budget. You can choose from single or dual subs, from something at an affordable price point to an expensive subwoofer. Whatever you’re looking for, there is a great subwoofer for your price range.

There are many things that can affect the price of a subwoofer. For instance, top-notch 15-inch subs have different pricing than 12-inch subs. Something with more power, more bass, distortion-free reproduction, and added features like remote bass level control can be more expensive. Additionally, it’s not as easy as just getting the most highly reviewed product, because it may not be the best choice for your needs. Sometimes the quality of the bass is low and 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 brands in the industry have more than likely mastered the technology to deliver the best sound quality at an affordable price tag.

Brands like Kicker and Rockford Fosgate are well-known for car audio sub, but the price is still incredibly reasonable if you need a quick upgrade to your sound amp which is why we often see them on top lists, including our search for the best 12 inch subwoofer.

As we mentioned before, there are two types of enclosures with one being of higher quality and sensitivity. 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 range in price. However, the size of the subwoofer can also affect the price. Also consider the materials used to construct the woofer you chose.

If they use top-notch technology with injection-molded aluminum cones and sturdy materials, you can also expect a hike in the cost. Choosing dual over single voice coil can also increase the price. All these specs matter.

Since we’re talking about getting the best value out of subwoofers, our experts point out that aside from incorporating a sub into car stereos, you can also use it in a home theater system. That can provide you with great value and powerful bass at half the cost, as wireless subwoofers can cost too much money. Find something with a subsonic filter and ensure that the dust cap is on. If you want to upgrade it further, you can also choose the right amp for louder bass and more power.

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 or a blown subwoofer that you have to replace soon. This wouldn’t happen if you opt for a high quality bass 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 to buy at a reasonable price.

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 the production of an audio 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 specs, this one is the way to go.

How many watts can a 12 inch subs handle?

A 12″ subs can handle at least 100 watts of power. The maximum 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. Woofers 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 inches 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″ subs, you need to look at these figures and not just the size.

Are 12 or 15 inch subs better?

Neither 12 or 15 inches subs are better. What defines a better sub for cars is more on personal preference and speakers compatibility than anything else. You need to look at the ohm single voice coils, the figures, the enclosures, the build quality, 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 a hard hitting bass output.

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. 

For related topics, we also have the pages below: 

Excellent Klipsch subs 

Writer

Willie Greer
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.