Best 12 Inch Subwoofer 2017 [Reviews and Comparison]

What is the best 12 inch subwoofer?

A simple question, yet not so easy to answer.

There's a lot of subwoofers in the market and brands like Pyle, MTX, Boss and others flood the market with their top selling $49.95 subs that look, feel, and last like cheap toys.

To find the really good stuff is hard.

Why are they top sellers then? Well, because that's what almost everyone can afford.

Best 12 Inch Subwoofer 2017

Will they last as they should an pack the punch you look for? I doubt it.

I know it is hard, so I have tested a few dozens of the most popular 12" subs and I have reviewed my favorite seven that you can buy right now.

12 Inch Subwoofer Comparison Chart

Subwoofer NameRMSSensitivityMy Rating 
JL Audio 12W7AE-31000W86.2 dB5 Stars
Sundown Audio X-12 V.21500W84.4 dB5 Stars
JL Audio 12W6v3600W85.4 dB4.5 Stars
Rockford Fosgate P3 Punch600W85 dB4 Stars
DS18 EXL-B121250W88 dB4.5 Stars
JL Audio 12W3v3500W87.15 dB4 Stars
Power Acoustik MOFO-124X1500W85.4dB3.5 Stars

 Usually, 12" subs offer a good balance between sound quality and loudness.

They lean more towards SPL (because of the size) and are great for electronic music (house, trance, electro etc) and RnB, Hip Hop, and other similar styles.

For faster-paced music such as rock or drumN'bass, we recommend going for a smaller sub. You can check then our reviewed 8 inch subwoofers and 10 inch subwoofers.

We’ve installed quite a few sound systems in cars, ranging from extreme low budget to $7000 car audio systems (Don’t worry, you don’t need that much to get good sound!) and found that 12 inch subs will satisfy almost every car owner’s bass needs. If you really are looking for even more bass, then have a look at my recommendations on 15 inch subs.

Proper installation of such systems is a critical aspect on how good the music will actually sound so do not forget to check our installation tips for subs.

We’ve based our selection of subwoofers from personal testings, references from trusted audio systems installers and thousands of amazon reviews.

Here are the 7 best 12 inch subwoofers in the market, the whole range from near a thousand dollars, to almost just 100 bucks.

12 Inch Subwoofer Reviews

The following list is ordered by our preference. Some spots are arguable depending on one's preference (more towards loudness and SPL or Sound Quality) and this has some correlation with price.

We've tried our very best to cover each key aspect from each sub and to list only what we've seen are the best 12" subs of the year.

1

JL Audio 12W7AE-3

Hands down the best 12 inch subwoofer around. JL Audio is meant for music enthusiasts and audiophiles who demand utmost performance and sound quality. Let’s have a look at its specs and see where this subwoofer excels at and what are its flaws.

Specifications

  • RMS: 400-1000Watts
  • Peak Power: 2000Watts
  • Sensitivity: 86.2 dB
  • Frequency response: 18-200 Hz
  • Impedance: 3 ohms

Review

When we look at the specs we quickly realize why people say that this is the best subwoofer around.

The quality of build is absolutely superb, as every JL is hand-made in the USA.

EDITOR'S RATING:

Power and Sensitivity

The RMS, as in every JL sub, is given as a range.

From that we see that 750w RMS is consider the "optimum" power, although it stretches up to 1000w.

We know JL plays it safe, so don't be afraid to pump this bad boy up to 1000w RMS, it will handle it like a champ.

JL audio 12 inch sub specs

With excellence on low-freq notes, it has great SPL with 86.2 db at 1w.

With those 1000w RMS, we're guaranteed some great output, better than some 15 inch subwoofers.

Build wise, it uses an aluminium alloy frame and black aluminium coils for massive heat dissipation. Check its unbelievable excursion on this video:

Impedance.

The W7 has one single 3-ohm impedance coil.

This is a somewhat strange impedance as most coils are 2 or 4 ohms.

It is harder to hook up with non-JL amps and we don't really like that. 

Conclusion

Besides the impedance thing, we've found no other downsides whatsoever. If you can afford this sub, go for it.

Recommended Amplifier

For this subwoofer we would recommend going for the JX1000/1D – JL Audio Monoblock 1000W RMS Class D Amplifier, it produces 750Watt RMS at 3ohm impedance. It is an absolutely perfect combination (that comes at an unavoidable high price though) So let’s have a look at the good and bad points we’ve found about this subwoofer.

Pros

Cons

2

Sundown Audio X-12 V.2

Still on the high-end range, we find Sundown’s X-12 V.2 Subwoofer. (Available in both 4Ohm and 2Ohm impedance).

For the price, it could happily contend vs the JL W7 in terms of performance and overall quality, and it's actually got more power.

So let’s have a look at its specs to know what’s going on on the battle for #1.

Specifications

  • RMS: 1500Watts
  • Peak Power: 3000Watts
  • Sensitivity: 84.4 db
  • Frequency response: 20-150 Hz
  • Impedance: 2 or 4 ohms

Review

The X V.2 series stands out of the crowd due to its amazing linear suspension.

This subs are designed to produce the lowest distortion possible.

In ranges (40-80hz) where other subs would distort, thanks to this design, the V.2 series do not produce noise.

EDITOR'S RATING:

This does however have an impact in higher frequencies where the V.2 lacks depth of sound.

When we open the package, the immediate feel is of a tough, well manufactured component.

All the materials feel prime quality and once we test the subwoofer we realize it is not only feels but actually such quality.

This is really a great competition subwoofer given its power and Xmax.

You can watch its amazing power yourself on this video (turn your volume down before 0:30. You've been warned)

Impedance

Available on both 2ohm DVC and 4ohm DVC, that's enough wiring options.

The unit we tested was the V.2 D4 which is dual 4ohms, and we had it wired down to 2 ohms in parallel. 

Conclusion

All in all a great subwoofer for those interested on getting the loudest, deepest bass possible without having to go one size bigger (perhaps for lack of space or a more adjusted budget)

A vented box is totally advised with this subwoofer.

Lastly, as we always recommend, for a subwoofer this powerful upgrading to a good car battery for car audio is always advised

Recommended Amplifier:

For this subwoofer we would recommend going for the SCV-2000D – Sundown Audio Monoblock 2000W RMS Amplifier, which is the same amp that the manufacturer recommends.

However, if we want to power this sub to the max, the SCV-3000D would be what be looking for.

That will come at a cost tho, given that not only that amp is very costly but also it may require us to change the alternator as 3000watts RMS would be over what a regular factory alternator on a passenger car can feed.

Pros

Cons

3

JL Audio 12W6v3

And closing the premium segment of this list of the best 12 inch subwoofers we find another JL Audio sub and it is more than understandable! If the best sub is the W7, the W6 is just one step below in overall performance. (But a few in price so check it out!).

The w6 won’t bang as loud as the w7 but from our experience (and it matches what we’ve heard everywhere else) the sound quality is slightly better, so they really are worth the 3rd spot. Let’s have a quick look at the specs before we dive into the review.

Specifications

  • RMS: 600 Watts
  • Peak Power: 1200Watts
  • Sensitivity: 85.4 db
  • Frequency response: 10 - 500hz
  • Impedance: 4 ohms DVC

Review

This subs have been in the market for a long while so they’ve proved what they can and can’t do.

They’ve achieved a great balance between sound quality and loudness.

EDITOR'S RATING:

It does carry a little boomines on the highest notes (not where a sub is meant to work anyway) and that's the only thing that diminshes its Sound Quality output, that we would qualify as excellent.

Power and Sensitivity

JL once more gives us a RMS range. In this case, the optimum spot lies at 400W where the max recommended RMS is 600w. 

JL 12W6v3 specifications
Impedance.

This subwoofer uses dual coils rated at 4ohms impedance, which allows us to wire it either at 2 ohms (parallel) or at 8 ohms (series)

Conclusion

This is the perfect sub for those who prefer to spend more in the subwoofer than in the amplifier, not really looking for the very loudest bass but more for a balance with good sound quality.

With just 400-600w RMS, the output is great although nothing like the Sundown X12 or the DS18.

Recommended Amplifier:

For this subwoofer we would recommend going for the JX500/1D – JL Audio Monoblock 500W RMS Class D Amplifier.

At 4 ohms impedance this amplifier will deliever 500Watts RMS which is more than enough to power this subwoofer.

Pros

Cons

4

Rockford Fosgate P3 Punch

Jumping to more affordable subwoofers, we find the P3 Punch. Rockford Fosgate faced some rough times around the early 2000’s, when they started manufacturing in China. A substantial drop in quality made them lose a lot of customers.

Luckily for us, they’ve learnt from that mistake and they are back with really good subwoofers. The P3 has been around for a while and it belongs to RF’s highest line of products. 

Specifications

  • RMS: 600Watts
  • Peak Power: 1200Watts
  • Sensitivity: 85 dB
  • Frequency response: 28-250 Hz
  • Impedance: Dual 4 ohm

Review

The first thing we notice on the Rockford Fosgate P3 is how heavy it is. Double coils have of course this effect. The aluminium case feels very resistant, with the gap in the middle and everything.

EDITOR'S RATING:

The alluminum allow case offers increased resistance and greater heat dissipation.

After prolonged usage we have not experienced any heating (at all, practically) this clearly shows the greater efficiency of using dual coils.The looks are sick in this subs so that’s a thing to consider. For the price we very hardly find something that beats the P3 Punch.

We like the 12 inch version even more than the 10 inch model of the Punch P3.

Power and Sensitivity

With 600W RMS we wouldn't truly call it a competition grade subwoofer as RF does, although we have to recognize its bass output is really loud. 

Impedance.

This sub is available on both dual 2ohms and dual 4ohms impedances. The specs on this review are from the dual 4ohms version, which is the one we tested. 

Conclusion

For the price, we can't find a better subwoofer. It's got the quality, it's got the looks, it's got the boom. Definitely a great choice if you plan to run a dual sub setup.

Recommended Amplifier:

For this subwoofer we recommend going for the Rockford Fosgate Prime 1,200-Watt Class-D 1-Channel Amplifier.

 For just one sub that’s a great amplifier and the combination won’t break the bank.To help you clarify better whether this is a good buy for you or not, check this pros and cons table.

Pros

Cons

5

DS18 EXL-B12

This affordable, high excursion competition subwoofer will be the delight of bass lovers. It won't break the bank, and comes packed with power.

It isn't however the kind of sub that will fit everyone's need so read our review before you make a decision.

Specifications

  • RMS: 1250Watts
  • Peak Power: 2000Watts
  • Sensitivity: 88dB
  • Frequency response: 35-700Hz
  • Impedance: Dual 4 ohms

Review

With a base sensitivity of 88db (If you think that's impressive, check the 15 inch version of this same subwoofer) and some good 1250w RMS, this sub is really loud.

EDITOR'S RATING:

or

However, this sub has a tendency to get hot. It is designed with a ported box in mind, and installing it on a sealed enclosure will be a quick and sure way to fry it quickly.

A slight downside is that DS18 Subs, whilst designed and engineered in the United States, are manufactured either in China or Korea (vary depends models) and that has an impact on the durability of the component.

Impedance.

This subwoofer is available on both dual 2 ohms and dual 4 ohms impedances.

On both 15 and 12 inch, we tried the 2 ohm impedance version which has a slightly better db output.

Conclusion:

This is the sub you are looking for if you don't have a very big budget (like the one you need for the Sundown X-12) and are aiming at the highest SPL possible. 

Recommended Amplifier:

Our recommended amplifier for this subwoofer is the JX1000/1D – JL Audio Monoblock 1000W RMS Class D Amplifier.

Yes, we know we recommend this amp often and there are a lot of reasons why. In this particular case, we recommend wiring both coils from the sub in parallel to get 2ohms.

For that impedance, the JX1000 will produce 1000Watt RMS and 2000watt peak. 

Pros

Cons

6

JL Audio 12W3v3-4

If JL’s W7 and W6 made into the top of the charts, the w3 couldn’t be too far below.

Another great subwoofer, this time in a much more affordable range that also works at much lower wattage, meaning we won’t need an amplifier as big as we would with its higher-end brothers. Let’s check it out.

Specifications

  • RMS: 500Watts
  • Peak Power: 1000Watts
  • Sensitivity: 87.15 dB
  • Frequency response: 22-200 Hz
  • Impedance: 4 ohm

Review

So the first thing we see is that this subwoofer is very little power hungry.

It is ideal for running a dual setup (two subs) with one 1000w amp.

They give however fantastic loud sound.

EDITOR'S RATING:

They don’t excel at really low subs (even if the frequency response goes down to 22hz, we start noticing underperformance before that) and for those looking for something more impressive, we would advice going for a W6.

Power and Sensitivity

In the following chart we see the recommended range of power for this subwoofer, as provided by JL Audio.

JL 12W3v3 Specifications
Impedance.

This subwoofer is available on single 4 ohms or 2ohm impedance.

Nice and simple, not too many wiring options but for the price and quality we couldn't expect dual voice coils.

Conclusion:

This is a great subwoofer for those with a limited budget who want to do a one-off purchase and be served for a long time.

You won’t need to upgrade your system nor replace the speaker if you treat it good, give it a good break in and configure the amp-sub setup right.

Recommended Amplifier:

Our recommended amplifier for this subwoofer is the JL Audio JX500.

It won’t break the bank, it will power the 4ohm version of the W3 at the exact optimal RMS rate it should be (300watt).

If you want to experience a bit more overall power (in the risky area though), go for the 2ohm version of the W3.

Pros

Cons

7

Power Acoustik MOFO-124X

This is a sub that is getting very popular on the car audio scene. It’s got great specs and superb looks at a very low price so we do understand why that increase in popularity.

Want to see what we mean? keep reading.

Specifications

  • RMS: 1500Watts
  • Peak Power: 2700Watts
  • Sensitivity: 85.4dB
  • Frequency response: 20-2k hz
  • Impedance: Dual 4 ohms

Review

So for the little money that this costs, we find a subwoofer that is crazy powerful and offers multiple wiring possibilities thanks the double coils.

As always, this also means you really need to know what you are doing when wiring this sub or take it into a professional car audio place to have it installed.

EDITOR'S RATING:

Power and Sensitivity

This are really powerful subs.

The ventilation in this subwoofer is really good, and when enclosed in a vented box, it shouldn’t give heating issues itself.

Now think of the wattage it needs because you may have heating issues with your amplifier if it isn’t a high quality one.

Bear in mind the price that you pay.

These are inexpensive subs, meaning the overall quality of materials won’t be the same as you would find in some hi-end subs.

With a good break-in you'll gradually experience better output. As always, here's a video so you can check them out.

Impedance.

This subwoofer is available on DVC (Dual Voice Coils) with 4 ohms impedance each and on 2ohms DVC too.

The unit we tested was a 4ohms one so we've based our review on that particular model.

Conclusion:

The MOFO-124x is the right subwoofer for multiple subs setup, given its low price and the dual coils, when using multiple subs you can get something as little as 0.5 ohms, which will be easier and cheaper to find a good amplifier to feed the high wattage this subs need.

Recommended Amplifier:

We recommend to pair this subwoofer with the Hifonics ZRX2416.1D Zeus Mono Class-D it gives 1600watts @ 2ohms, so if we wire this sub paraller, it would be a perfect match. 

Hifonics amplifiers got some bad reputation in the past, but from our experience so far with their newer models we are quite pleased with their performance.

Pros

Cons

So this was our take on the best 12 inch subwoofer 2017.

If you liked this article, share it with your friends and remember, you can leave a comment below if you have any question about this list or subwoofers or car audio in general.

We're here to help so don't be shy to ask!

Alex Meyer
 

Alex Meyer is a 26-year-old Certified Automotive Technician with over 10 years experience as a mechanic and car audio installer. He shares his knowledge at Gear4wheels.com

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments
Scroll Up