12 Inch Subwoofer

The Best 12 Inch Subwoofer Reviews and Guide

12-inch subs seem to be the best option for those who’ve got less room in their car to house a 15-inch unit. Recently, I was asked what I considered to be the best 12-inch subwoofer in the market right now.

This was the perfect excuse to go on another one of my thorough product testing runs. I gathered about 15 different 12-inch subs and got to trying them out with my own car audio setup. I managed to pick out top five from these.

Best 12 Inch Subwoofers

Subwoofer Buying Guide

As with any audio component, there are several things to consider when buying a subwoofer for your car audio setup. And yes, that includes technical details as well. Specs such as power-handling, frequency response, sensitivity, and impedance can help you determine whether a particular subwoofer is compatible with your setup. In addition, the subwoofer cone material will give you a strong idea as to the sound quality of the unit.

If you’re not too familiar with the technical stuff, don’t worry. In this section, I will be giving simple explanations on what each of them indicates:

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The Technical Specifications

Power-Handling

When you turn up the volume knob on your stereo or amplifier, you’re sending more power to your subwoofers. This increased amount of power then causes the woofer cone to move faster and with greater force, resulting in sound waves that are louder. However, there’s a limit to how much power a subwoofer or any speaker, in general, can handle. Cross this limit and the excess electricity will be converted to heat, potentially causing heat damage to the internal components of the subwoofer.

On the other hand, if the power supplied is too little, the sound outputted will sound rather weak and inaccurate.

Power-handling indicates how much power (in watts) a subwoofer can handle. There are two specifications you need to pay attention to: RMS and Peak Power. The former tells you how much power you can supply to the sub on a regular basis while the latter sets an absolute maximum that you shouldn’t ever exceed. I personally find the RMS to be a more useful metric as it covers day-to-day use of the subwoofer.

Your amplifier will also have power-handling specs but these indicate its power output rather than power-handling. Hence, when you’re buying a sub, make sure that’s RMS is greater than or equal to that of your amplifier. This will ensure that the subwoofer won’t be damaged when you push the volume of your amplifier to full.

Sensitivity

Sensitivity tells you how loud (in decibels) a subwoofer will get when it’s supplied with just one watt of power. For example, say you have a sub with a sensitivity rating of 85dB. 85dB can be considered a moderately loud volume, and so when you supply it with one watt, you’ll get a decent output out of the sub. For each additional watt you send to the sub, 3dB will be added to the volume.

Sensitivity is a useful spec if you have a relatively low-output amplifier. In that case, you’ll want to find a highly-sensitive (above 85db) sub since that way you won’t have to supply a ton of power to get loud. The lower the sensitivity of the subwoofer, the more power you’ll need to feed it.

Impedance

Impedance tells you how much resistance (in ohms) a subwoofer will display to the current supplied to it by an amp. The lower the impedance, the greater the amount of current it will draw from an amplifier. However, low impedance isn’t a good thing if your sub has a low RMS. Plus, since more current is drawn, the amp will have to work harder continuously which can lead to overheating in certain cases.

High impedance ratings can be problematic as well. It can mean that too little current is drawn, causing the sound output to sound weak. Typically, you can expect most subwoofer impedance ratings to be either 2 or 4 ohms. You’ll also come across some with 8-ohm impedances.

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Frequency Response

A sub’s frequency response is the range of frequencies that it can handle. Speakers that are full range have a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz which covers all the frequencies that humans can hear. In contrast, subwoofers can only handle frequencies between 20 Hz to 250 Hz, which cover the bass spectrum. Certain subwoofers may have cutoffs that are higher than 20 Hz, which means that they won’t be the best at reproducing sub-bass frequencies (the extreme low-end).

The Cone Material

The cone durability that makes up the cone determines its durability and the quality of the sound. Below are some of the most popular cone materials in use today:

Polypropylene

Polypropylene is both lightweight and rigid. Hence it allows the speaker cone to move easily but also enables it to retain its shape during rapid movements. This means that you won’t hear distortion in the low-end when you crank up the volume. Polypropylene is also very tough and resistant to heat, moisture, and mold. So you can expect subwoofer cones made out of them to last a long time.

Treated Paper

Treated paper is the commonest subwoofer material. It’s even lighter than polypropylene, which means that that the cone will be able to move even faster. Treated paper is coated with materials such as carbon fiber, Kevlar and poly glass. This increases its ability to withstand extremes of humidity and temperature when compared to regular paper.

Kevlar

Kevlar is the stuff that’s used to manufacture bullet-proof vests. Hence a cone that’s made out of this material is no doubt going to be extremely tough and sturdy. Kevlar is also flexible and lightweight, meaning the cone’s movement won’t be weighed down.

Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber, like Kevlar, is a strong and flexible material. Often times, manufacturers may inject polypropylene woofer cones with carbon fiber in order to increase stiffness.

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The Surround Material

The surround is the thin strip that is attached to the very edge of the speaker and subwoofer cones. Surrounds are most commonly made out of foam, cloth or rubber. Personally, I prefer rubber surrounds because they’re flexible enough to allow the cone to vibrate feely but stiff enough to prevent it from shifting positions. In addition, rubber surrounds are very resistant to heat and humidity.

Foam and cloth surrounds are stiff and flexible but they aren’t as durable as rubber. However, there are certain ones that have had other material added to them to make for it.

The Five Best 12 Inch Subwoofers Reviews

Now that you’re well informed on what things to consider when buying a subwoofer, let’s take a look at my favourite 12-inch units in the market right now:

Rockford Fosgate P3d4-12

On Sale
Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12 Punch P3 DVC 4-Ohm 12-Inch 600-Watt RMS 1200-Watt Peak Subwoofer
675 Reviews
Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12 Punch P3 DVC 4-Ohm 12-Inch 600-Watt RMS 1200-Watt Peak Subwoofer
  • The P3 Series is Rockford Fosgate’s best performing Punch subwoofer...
  • The Punch P3D4-12 is a 12” 4-Ohm DVC (dual voice coil) subwoofer...
  • Featuring anodized aluminum cones and dustcaps, with a unique spider...
  • Best used in standard sealed or vented enclosures {Sealed (Vb): 1.02...
  • Famous Rockford Fosgate build quality with a full 1-year warranty when...
Anodized Aluminium Cone

Aluminium cones are stiff and don’t weigh much. This means that they’re great at maintaining their shape at high volumes and are able to move fast to produce sound waves. You won’t find aluminium (or magnesium) in a lot of regular speaker cones because they tend to cause high-pitched resonance. However, this won’t be picked up by subwoofers so it won’t be a problem.

600 Watts Rms

The Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12 Dual Voice Coil subwoofer is able to handle 600 watts of power on a continuous basis which means that you can definitely pair it up with a high-powered amplifier. You can pump up the volume really loud without worrying about overheating this subwoofer.

Vast

The P3D4-12’s surround is attached to the cone using a method known as ‘Vertical Attach Surround Technique’ which increases the cone’s surface area by 25%. More surface area means more ‘air’ is being pushed out by the cone, making for a ‘larger’, more detailed sound.

Frequency Response

This subwoofer can reproduce all low frequencies between the range of 27.7 Hz to 250 Hz, covering everything from sub-bass to upper-bass sounds found in music.

Sensitivity

The P3D4-12 has a sensitivity rating of 85dB which is quite decent. This means you won’t have to supply it with a ton of power in order to get moderately loud. I found that having the stereo turned up halfway was adequate for a comfortable to slightly loud listening experience.

Impedance

With a standard impedance of 4 ohms, the Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12 won’t put a lot of stress on your amplifier while still drawing a moderate amount of power from it. If you do require more power from your amplifier, then there’s a 2-ohm version of this sub.

Pros

  • High RMS
  • The low-end sounds quite ‘big’ and detailed
  • All-inclusive frequency response
  • Standard Impedance
Con

  • Probably won’t work optimally with a low-powered amplifier

Pioneer TS-A300D4

On Sale
Pioneer TS-A300D4 12 Inch 1500 Watts Max Power Dual 4-Ohm Voice Coil A Series Car Audio Stereo...
317 Reviews
Pioneer TS-A300D4 12 Inch 1500 Watts Max Power Dual 4-Ohm Voice Coil A Series Car Audio Stereo...
  • PIONEER 12" Dual 4 ohms voice Coil subwoofer - TS-A300D4
  • 12" Glass fiber and mica interlaced Injection molded polypropylene...
  • Butyl rubber surround and poly-cotton/ cotton dual spider for strength...
  • Oversized 60 oz Double stacked Magnet and vented pole yoke for...
  • Smooth and seamless integration with PIONEER a-series full-range...
Reinforced-Polypropylene Cone

Pioneer TS-A300D4 features a polypropylene cone that has been injected with glass fiber and mica in order to make it even stiffer. As a result, this cone will never rattle excessively no lose its shape when driven by large amounts of power.

Butyl Rubber Surround

The TS-A300D4’s rubber surround makes sure that the cone has enough leeway to move but at the same time prevents it from being displaced inside the speaker basket due to excessive movement.

600 Watts RMS

Like the Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12, the Dual Voice Coil TS-A300D4 has an RMS rating of 600 watts which means that it’ll work well with a high-output amplifier. 600 watts is more than enough to have your eardrums rattling, take my word for it.

Impedance

Again, Like the P3D4-12, the TS-A300D4 has an impedance rating of 4 ohms which allows it to draw a relatively large amount of current while still placing a minimal load on the amp.

Sensitivity

The Pioneer TS-A300D4 is a highly sensitive amp with a rating of 96 dB. Hence you won’t need that much power at all to push it to really loud volumes.

Frequency Response

Compared to the Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12, the TS-A300D4 has a much narrower frequency response, between 20 Hz to 80 Hz. Hence it isn’t able to reproduce a lot of the upper-bass frequencies, resulting in some distortion in the low-end. However, you should be able to dial this out if your amplifier has a variable low-pass filter.

Pros

  • Solid construction with a reinforced polypropylene cone and butyl rubber surround
  • High RMS
  • Standard Impedance
  • Extremely sensitive
Con

  • Noticeable distortion in the upper-bass region

Kenwood KFC-W3016PS

Kenwood KFC-W3016PS 12-Inch 2000W Subwoofer
191 Reviews
Kenwood KFC-W3016PS 12-Inch 2000W Subwoofer
  • Peak Power 2000W
  • RMS Power 400W
  • Polypropylene Cone
  • Rubber Surround
Polypropylene Cone And Rubber Surrounds

By now you’re familiar with the benefits that polypropylene brings to the table: stiffness and reduced weight. Unlike the Pioneer TS-A300D4, the KFC-W3016PS’s cone isn’t reinforced but it’s still stiff enough on its own that you won’t hear any rattling or distortion when you direct lots of power to it.

Like all rubber surrounds, this one gives the subwoofer cone all the flexibility it needs to vibrate while at the same time, preventing excessive motion.

400 Watts RMS

The KFC-W3016PS has a lower RMS rating than the two subwoofers mentioned above. However, in my opinion, it’s still well-suited for the average listener, as long as you’ve got an amplifier who’s power output doesn’t exceed 400 watts RMS.

Sensitivity

The Kenwood KFC-W3016PS has a sensitivity rating of 82 dB which is a bit low for a subwoofer. Hence, I’d only recommend you buy this sub if you have a relatively high-powered amplifier.

Frequency Response

The KFC-W3016PS reproduces all frequencies in the range of 27 Hz to 300 Hz, which means it can even go slightly beyond the upper-bass region. As a result, the low-end will sound quite articulate with no noticeable distortion.

Impedance

Like all of the subs so far, the Kenwood KFC-W3016PS has an impedance rating of 4 ohms, meaning it won’t place too much of a load on the amplifier.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Wider frequency response than the typical subwoofer
  • Standard impedance
Con

  • Might not be powerful enough for certain people
  • Sensitivity is relatively low

Skar Audio Evl-12 D2

Skar Audio EVL-12 D2 12' 2500 Watt Max Power Dual 2 Ohm Car Subwoofer
288 Reviews
Skar Audio EVL-12 D2 12" 2500 Watt Max Power Dual 2 Ohm Car Subwoofer
  • Peak Power: 2,500 Watts | RMS Power: 1,250 Watts
  • 3" High Temperature Dual 2-ohm Voice Coil with Black Coating
  • Competition Grade Paper Cone & High Roll Foam Surround
  • Premium Suspension Featuring the EVL Series Signature Red Two Layer...
  • Deep, Low, Extremely Responsive Bass | Sensitivity: 85.1 dB
Treated Paper Cone

Treated paper is the most lightweight option when it comes to cone material. Hence the cone will have a pretty easy time moving in order to produce sound waves.

High Roll Foam Surround

High roll foam surrounds give the cone more surface area, allowing it to push more ‘air’ out at once. This results in a low-end that has more depth and more details coming through. Foam is certainly a stiff material but it isn’t quite as flexible as rubber and is certainly not as durable.

1250 Watts RMS

The Skar Audio EVL-12 D2 has by far the largest power-handling rating out of all the subwoofers on this list. With an RMS of 1250 watts, it’ll work with almost any subwoofer amp on the market.

Sensitivity

The Dual Voice Coil Skar Audio EVL-12 D2 has a sensitivity rating of 85.1 dB which is quite decent. You can still get quite loud with this subwoofer, especially with a high-powered amplifier driving behind it. Considering that it has an RMS of 1250, the sensitivity should hardly be an issue since you can direct an immense amount of power to it.

Low Impedance

Skar Audio EVL-12 D2 has an impedance of 2 ohms, which means that it’s designed to draw more power from the amplifier than any other subwoofer on this list. As long as your amplifier is stable at low impedance levels, it shouldn’t be too stressed out by this subwoofer.

Pros

  • Solid build
  • Highest RMS on this list
  • Decent sensitivity
  • Low impedance
Con

Jl Audio 12w0v3-4

12W0V3-4 - JL Audio 12' Single 4-Ohm W0V3 Series Subwoofer
96 Reviews
12W0V3-4 - JL Audio 12" Single 4-Ohm W0V3 Series Subwoofer
  • 12W0V3-4 - JL Audio 12" Single 4-Ohm W0V3 Series Subwoofer
  • Mineral-filled, polypropylene cone woofer for excellent durability
  • Large roll surround for generous amounts of excursion
  • Elevated frame cooling brings air directly to the voice coil
  • Designed for compact sealed enclosures or medium-sized ported...
Reinforced Polypropylene Cone and High Roll Foam Surround

The JL Audio 12W0V3-4 features a polypropylene cone that’s been injected with minerals in order to make it stiff. As with the Pioneer TS-A300D4, this gives the cone a greater ability to retain its shape and makes it more durable.

The benefit of the high roll foam surround is quite noticeable. The bass sounds deeper than what I usually get with most subs, owing to the greater cone surface area.

300 Watts RMS

With an RMS of 300 watts, the JL Audio has the lowest power-handling rating out of all the subwoofers on this list. It means you should only pair this amplifier with a relatively low-powered amplifier. If you’ve got a high output monoblock amplifier, you’ll definitely want to give this subwoofer a miss.

Sensitivity

The JL Audio 12W0V3-4’s sensitivity is rated at 85.6 dB which puts in the same league as the Skar Audio EVL-12 D2 and the Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12. You’ll just have to provide a little bit more power to push it to loud volumes.

Impedance

Like most 12-inch subwoofers in the market, this subwoofer has an impedance of 4 ohms. You can rest assured it won’t be overworking your amplifier even with prolonged use.

Pros

  • Durable construction
  • Reproduces the entire range of bass frequencies
  • No distortion at high volumes
  • Decent sensitivity
  • Standard impedance
Con

  • Lowest RMS out of all the subs on this list

The Best Overall…

If I had to stick with one 12-inch subwoofer for the next couple of years which of these five would I go with? The choice was a difficult one, considering that all of these subs were excellent choices, depending on how you’ve got your stereo set up and what your sonic preferences are. When it came to my own setup and preferences, I chose the Skar Audio EVL-12 D2. I had a couple of reasons for doing so:

First of all, the EVL-12 D2 had the highest power-handling rating out of the subs from this list. This was perfect for me considering that I like to blast my music on the regular and the fact that I’ve got a high-output multi-channel amplifier. In addition to this, the subwoofer features a solid build with a treated paper cone and high roll foam surround (which made the low-end sound particularly massive).

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Best Subwoofer For Deep Bass?

Subwoofers that are particularly good for sub-bass or ‘deep bass’ have exceptionally stiff cones and a frequency response that goes all the way down to 20 Hz. Considering these requirements, I’d recommend subwoofers like the Skar Audio EVL-12 D2 and JL Audio 12W0V3-4.

What Size Box Do I Need For A 12-Inch Subwoofer?

Generally, a speaker enclosure’s front panel should be two to three inches larger than the size of the subwoofer. So if you’ve got a 12-inch sub, get a speaker box that has a front panel of at least 15 inches.

How Do I Get More Bass Out Of My Subwoofer?

There are a few things you can do to get a better bass response out of your subwoofers. For instance, you can turn down your amp’s gain knob all the way down so that there’s no excess distortion. You could turn up the low-pass filter so that it doesn’t cut off any bass frequencies. If your amplifier comes with a bass boost switch, then try engaging that as well.

What Is Better: Single Or Dual Voice Coil Subwoofer?

The voice coil is an essential component of any subwoofer or speaker. When you pass a current through it, the coil creates a magnetic field. This field, in turn, interacts with the magnets found in the speaker cone, causing it to move and produce sound waves.

Subwoofers come with either a Single Voice Coil (SVC) or Dual Voice Coil (DVC) setup. The biggest difference is that the DVC subs offer more variety when it comes to wiring:

  • Parallel wiring – parallel wiring allows you to have the sub’s impedance so that you can draw more current from the amplifier. This is useful if you have a relatively low-powered amp.
  • Series wiring – this lets you pair up multiple amplifiers to a single channel on your amp while keeping the impedance at an acceptable level.
  • Independent wiring – this allows you to connect each voice coil to a separate channel on your amplifier, allowing you to run things on the stereo.

The products featured on this page were last updated on 2020-08-25 at 19:50 /. Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.

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