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.
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
|1. Pioneer TS-A300D4 12 inch 1500
||RMS: 500 Watts||Peak Power: 1500 Watts||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|2. BOSS Audio Systems CX122V.2
||RMS: 700Watts||Peak Power: 1400Watts||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|3. JL Audio 12W6v3
||RMS: 600 Watts||Peak Power: 1200Watts||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|4. Rockford Fosgate P3 Punch
||RMS: 600Watts||Peak Power: 1200Watts||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|5. DS18 EXL-B12
||RMS: 1250Watts||Peak Power: 2000Watts||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|6. Kicker CompVR 4
||RMS: 400Watts||Peak Power: 800Watts||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|7. Power Acoustik MOFO-124X
||RMS: 1500Watts||Peak Power: 2700Watts||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|8. American Bass XFL1244
||RMS: 1000 Watts||Peak Power: 2000 Watts||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|9. Skar Audio EVL-12 D2
||RMS: 1250 Watts||Peak Power: 2500 Watts||VIEW ON AMAZON|
|10. Kenwood KFC-W3016PS
||RMS: 400 Watts||Peak Power: 2000 Watts||VIEW ON AMAZON|
Here are the 7 best 12 inch subwoofers in the market, the whole range from near a thousand dollars, to almost just 100 bucks.
Best 12 Inch Subwoofers of 2019 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) but there's no doubt these 7 subs are the creme de la creme for this size
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.
Pioneer has crafted a reputation for itself built around quality and performance. And like their products, that reputation is built to last. This subwoofer features a design capable of handling volumes much higher than its actual specifications as a preventative measure against failure to deliver a subwoofer that can stand up to the big dogs for a low price.
With this subwoofer, Pioneer has crafted a product finely tuned that demonstrates how sound quality does not need to be sacrificed in the name of volume and power.
Boasting impressive stats across the board, this Pioneer subwoofer offers an optimal continuous power level of 500 Watts, but can handle the occasional peak up to 1500 Watts. Due in part to its over-engineering, the subwoofer can handle these peaks without a problem.
However, a relative minority of customers reported blown speakers when trying to operate within what they claim are the defined parameters of operation. While it is difficult to determine whether these issues are caused by user negligence or defective units, it is worthwhile taking note of.
The inclusion of an oversized double stacked magnet coming in at 60 ounces and vented pole yoke supposedly allows for increased power usage, so the speaker should be able to handle it’s designated power range with ease. Still, we do not recommend trying to test out how far it can go, as you might blow it.
The frequency response range is incredibly large, going all the way up to 2.3 kHz. Such a high range means this sub can handle all sorts of sounds and genres, making it a more dynamic subwoofer than the traditionally bass focused speaker.
The cone is constructed from fiberglass and mica interlace molded polypropylene, giving it a weight just shy of 16 pounds. It also features a rubber surround.
The suspension system and motor structure are over-engineered to result in a cohesive listening experience even at high volumes, and that over-engineered nature is stressed throughout the design.
The sub features a 4 Ohm dual voice coil (DVC), creating powerful stereo sound from just this one speaker.
Overall, this subwoofer features impressive specifications at a very fair price compared to other subs in its class, as it typically goes for less than $100. While the product has been designed to support its listed power range levels and then some, we can not ignore the complaints about malfunctions. These complaints still only make up a small fraction of reports, so the subwoofer still comes highly recommended for anyone on a budget. It also comes with a pair of earbuds, which is a nice little bonus.
- With great frequency range
- Loud and precise performance
- Excellent peak power
- Design has some loudness limitations
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.
- RMS: 600 Watts
- Peak Power: 1200Watts
- Sensitivity: 85.4 db
- Frequency response: 10 - 500hz
- Impedance: 4 ohms DVC
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
- Great dB output.
- Quality of components and manufacture on the top of the industry.
- Made in the USA
- For audiophiles, the SQ on the highest frequencies won’t be satisfying for the price.
- Prices on the High range.
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.
- RMS: 600Watts
- Peak Power: 1200Watts
- Sensitivity: 85 dB
- Frequency response: 28-250 Hz
- Impedance: Dual 4 ohm
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- MASSIVE bass sound. Hits like a 15″
- LOW price and GREAT value for money
- EXCELLENT Customer Service from Rockford Fosgate
- With the right setting and usage, it is proved to last for a decade or more
- Dual Coils allow more installation options
- BAD performance under 41hz
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.
- RMS: 1250Watts
- Peak Power: 2000Watts
- Sensitivity: 88dB
- Frequency response: 35-700Hz
- Impedance: Dual 4 ohms
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Brutal loudness.
- Reduced price for a SPL sub with its specs
- Wide range of frequencies
- Heating is an issue.
- Made in China.
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.
- RMS: 1500Watts
- Peak Power: 2700Watts
- Sensitivity: 85.4dB
- Frequency response: 20-2k hz
- Impedance: Dual 4 ohms
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Super Loud.
- Dual coils.
- Badass looks
- Will fry without good break-in
- Insufficient response on the highest range of frequency (Although logical)
- BAD performance on sealed enclosures.
Buying Guide: What Specifications to Look For
Can you imagine how disappointing it is when your audio system can’t deliver the supposed thrill of your favorite songs? You probably can, or you won’t be here.
The best 12-inch subwoofer will level up your car audio system’s bass production and more. To find the right model for your car, here’s what you need to consider:
Aren’t you just sick and tired of smoking coils, overheating head units, or busted cables? The best way to avoid these issues is to find a sub-woofer that matches the power output of your amplifier.
For this, look for the subwoofer’s RMS power rating. Make sure it has the same rating as your amplifier or head unit.
Single or Dual Coil?
Generally, you have two options when it comes to a subwoofer’s voice coil. You will often find single voice coils to be cheaper compared to dual coils. However, not all amplifiers are compatible with this.
If you are unsure whether or not your amplifier accommodates single voice coils, and if you have the budget, it would be better to go for dual voice coils. They might be more expensive, but you can guarantee you’d be able to connect them to your amplifier.
The enclosure refers to the box or casing that your subwoofer often comes with. When choosing between ported or sealed enclosure, many people assume that it’s always about personal preference. Yet, there’s a noticeable difference in the sound and protection they provide.
The biggest advantage of ported enclosures is that they are not prone to overheat. What’s more, they will produce a louder sound. On the other hand, a sealed enclosure may not be as loud, but you can expect the sound to be clearer and more controlled.
Subwoofers produce crisper bass sounds, and the lower the frequency range they have, the deeper they can go. For your subwoofers, anything below 80 hertz will be more than enough for the sound quality of your bass.
Frequencies at the lower range often require a lot of power to produce quality sound. This is often indicated by the subwoofer’s sensitivity.
Generally, a subwoofer with higher sensitivity is more efficient at producing sound by using lesser power. Anything between 80 and 99 decibels is the best sensitivity rating for a subwoofer.
Your budget will significantly affect the quality of the subwoofer you get. Then again, it depends on what you need on your audio system.
Subwoofers below 100 dollars may not be for car shows, but they will still add considerable bass to the sound your speakers produce. Anywhere between 100 and 200 bucks will provide you with more durable subwoofers and better quality.
If you want something with an enclosure and use dual voice coils, you should probably start looking for price tags above 200 dollars.
Wired or Wireless?
Most of the subwoofers you'll encounter require a connection to a socket for power. This includes the amplifier, where the sound is transmitted via an RCA cable. In most setups, a wired subwoofer is more practical and cost-effective.
Wireless subwoofers are also available, but they might not be the best option, mostly because of their higher price tag. Their only difference from wired models is the lack of an RCA cable that connects the subwoofer to the amplifier. It's not a significantly convenient advantage to have.
Also, most wireless subwoofers are designed to operate exclusively. This indicates that they will only be able to function with other equipment from the same manufacturer.
Unless you're not a fan of RCA cables, you're better off having a wired subwoofer in your music setup.
1. Does the location of the subwoofer matter?
The location of the subwoofer is often influenced by various criteria such as available floor space, preferred sound quality, or aesthetic appeal. This piece of equipment is commonly placed in the rear of the room, although this is unlikely to be the best placement option.
For the best possible audio signal performance in low frequency, the subwoofer needs to have at least a 6-inch distance from the wall in the front. It's also recommended to raise the subwoofer's height slightly from the ground level to help produce a higher sound quality.
So, before you go out and buy a subwoofer, plan how you'll incorporate it into your setup while considering where it will sit.
2. Does a subwoofer improve the sound quality?
Subwoofers are designed to support loudspeakers, therefore boosting your whole sound system.
For example, most speakers struggle to process sound at 50Hz, depriving you of the full depth and clarity of bass tones. A decent subwoofer has a frequency response of 20Hz or below.
This means you'll be able to hear the lowest sound from various sources, significantly improving your immersion.
3. Do you need multiple subwoofers?
One subwoofer won't have the capacity to deliver the ideal frequency response at all spots in the room, regardless of where it is positioned. In a particular area, a subwoofer has a distinct 'modal pattern' and corresponding frequency response. Listeners can recognize a drop in bass sound quality once they start moving away from that specific spot.
With strategically-placed multiple subwoofers, their unique modal patterns will converge, increasing the density of the sound wave in the room significantly. This setup allows you to experience a consistent frequency response in more spots than a single subwoofer can.
4. Can a subwoofer function as a speaker?
Subwoofers and speakers can both generate sound, but they don't function the same.
Regular speakers will not be able to process audio loaded with bass and sub-bass properly as subwoofers can. On the other hand, subwoofers are not designed to handle mid to high frequencies.
Overall, these two are not interchangeable.
5. What is DSP?
A digital signal processor (DSP) is designed to bring out the full capabilities of a subwoofer. It triggers the best power and quality possible while ensuring that each component works in sync.
DSPs are important not only for subwoofers because they are a key component of most audio equipment, ranging from car speakers to concert setups.
A high-quality DSP provides advantages such as speech recognition, on-device EQs, active noise cancellation, and other audio-related technologies.
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.
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.
So this was our take on the best 12 inch subwoofer 2022.
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!