12 Vs 15 Inch Subwoofers: Which Is Right For Your Situation?

If you have been debating which size of subwoofer to buy, whether for home theater or your car audio system, this article will clarify a lot for you.

We will be taking a look at what the better choice is when it comes to fitting one of these in your car, the sound quality difference between the two, some of the better brands out there and more!

Differences Between 12- and 15-Inch Subwoofers

Here’s the bottom line without making it too complicated:

15-inch subs are larger in diameter and displace more air than 12-inch subs do, therefore 12-inch models deliver a “tighter,” “crisper” kind of bass compared to larger subs. For those who like hip hop, a 15-inch sub may make more sense given that rap and hip hop often hit frequencies of around 40Hz.

So if you want a lot of boom, a 15-inch sub will bring it in spades!

Just from a sheer displacement and size perspective, it’s easy to assume a 15-inch subwoofer would yield better low-end slam compared to a 12-inch model.

However, there are many factors at play here: the size of the vehicle (when talking about mobile audio systems), the type of music you listen to and even how much power you have available from amplifiers need to be taken into consideration.

The answer to whether 15-inch subwoofers deliver better bass than 12-inch subs is simply not an easy one to determine, given the fact that “better” is a personal opinion.

Part One: Understanding the Physical Differences Between 12- and 15-Inch Subwoofers

As we touched on above, 15-inch subs are (obviously) three inches larger in diameter and move more air than 12-inch subs.

Beyond this, the enclosure factor comes into play, especially if the sub is going to be installed as part of a car audio system; because a 15-inch subwoofer is bigger in size than a 12-inch version, it is also heavier in comparison.

A 15-inch subwoofer box (or enclosure) can be significantly bigger than an enclosure for a 12-inch model, and this is often considered one of the downsides of installing 15-inch subwoofers.

Additionally, because the installation of a 15-inch subwoofer in a vehicle requires more space, some vehicles are just better suited for a speaker of such magnitude and its enclosure, and we’ll cover this in the following sub-section.

Which is Better for Fitting in a Car?

In the world of home theater, so long as the room you’re planning on setting up your system in boasts at least an average amount of space, deciding between different subwoofer sizes isn’t as crucial (for the most part) as picking one for a car.

In most average-sized automobiles, there’s only so much space to work with in a traditional trunk, so form factor and size of a sub enclosure becomes an important element; of course, if you’re behind the wheel of a massive SUV with gobs of unused space in the rear, this changes things.

So when shopping for a subwoofer, the type of vehicle is an important element being that all cars offer varying sizes when it comes to their trunk or cargo area.

The bottom line? Fifteen-inch subs are just about the largest subwoofers that you can find in the market, and they are ideal for larger vehicles where there is enough space to accommodate them.

If you have a large car, these subs will produce excellent sound quality, leaving them one of the best options if you’re looking for great bass.

Part Two: Sound Quality Differences

When it comes to car stereo subwoofers, there is often a big debate between those who prefer 12-inch subs and those who believe 15-inch models are the way to go.

And while there are benefits to both sizes, ultimately the decision comes down to personal preference.

As we touched on a bit in the beginning, 12-inch variants, in general, deliver a “punchier” bass response and have a “quicker attack;” on the flip side of that coin, they sometimes lack the sheer volume and power that 15-inch subs provide.

Subwoofers that are 15-inches in diameter, meanwhile, are often able to hit harder and produce more powerful bass than 12-inch subs – they’re also usually more capable of handling higher wattage without distorting as much.

What Materials are They Typically Made Of?

The cone durability that makes up a subwoofer’s cone determines its durability and quality of sound; polypropylene is one of the most popular cone materials in use today, boasting both lightweight and rigid characteristics and allowing the speaker cone to move easily while retaining its shape during rapid movements.

Other popular materials subwoofers are typically made of include:

• Treated paper
• Kevlar
• Carbon fiber

Part Three: Some of the Better Brands Making Both Sizes of Subwoofers

Subwoofers are commonly included in audio systems of vehicles, public address systems, home hi fi/theater systems, commercial cinemas and recording studios, but with so many brands/manufacturers that produce subwoofers on the market, how can you be sure which are the better ones?

Regardless of what kind of environment you’re using your subwoofer in, there are a few brands that stand out – and you can rest assured knowing a handful of these are coveted in the world of mobile audio.

These include:

• Alpine
• Kicker
• Pioneer
• Alto Professional
• Electro-Voice
• Polk Audio
• Klipsch
• Yamaha

Some of the manufacturers specifically making the best 12-inch car audio subs include:

• JL Audio (W7AE Series)
• Hertz (Milli Pro Series)
• Focal (Flax Evo Series)
• Sony (Mobile ES Series)
• Rockford Fosgate (Power T1 Series)

Part Four: Price Differences Between the 12″ And 15″ Subwoofer Sizes

Typically, 15-inch subs range from $70 to $500 – for a single driver – while two 12-inch subs can be had for around $100 to $750.

If you need to buy two of the same subwoofers for a system you’re planning, the cost gets multiplied.

However, an expensive subwoofer won’t necessarily deliver better audio than a somewhat cheaper one; in summary, one 15-inch sub will cost less than two 12-inch subs.

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