JL Audio is one of the most popular brands in the high-end car audio scene. But are they really as good as people believe? Let’s have a look at the brand, their subs series and a few models to find out.
Founded in 1975 by business partners James Birch and Lucio Proni, JL Audio takes its name from the first initials of its founders.
Although they did not initially start out in the car stereo business (they were a home speaker system kit builder), they eventually became one of the preeminent sellers of high end car audio.
Their speciality was and has always been subwoofers for producing deep bass response, and they did a significant amount of the heavy lifting in terms of development in the early days of high end car audio equipment.
Two years after the company was founded, Birch and Proni went into business with a third partner, Stephen Seidl, setting up a retail location called Speaker Warehouse.
While they maintained their JL Audio business, the business grew under Seidl’s direction and flourished thanks Birch and Pironi’s development of new and innovative car audio technology.
To this day, they remain one of the top performers in the car audio industry, and their subwoofers are still revered as being some of the best in the business.
They manufacture runs of subwoofers for various power and audio fidelity levels, and though some may perceive them as being “too expensive”, these subwoofers never fail to deliver on JL Audio’s commitment to making the best sounding subwoofers on the market.
Check out their series of subwoofer products below:
JL Audio Subwoofer Series
These are the subwoofers that all other subwoofers aspire to be.
They are the inspiration to achieve, and the dragon to slay for the competition.
Audiophiles all over the world refer to JL’s W7AE series as the gold standard of bass performance in the industry, and their reputation is well deserved.
Every W7 sub is manufactured to the highest standard of quality in the USA at the JL Audio plant in Miramar, Florida.
These subwoofers contain purpose-built components that are custom manufactured just for use in these drivers (even the bolts and screws are made to order), and over 8 patents have been issued for the motor, suspension and assembly technologies used in the W7.
They are truly a masterwork of automotive audio technology.
When people want the best possible bass quality in a compact design, the first model of choice is the W6v3.
Years of research into perfecting small box bass performance have yielded tremendous results, and this third revision of the W6 series represents the combined ingenuity of the W7s technological achievements with the new knowledge gained in the development of the W6.
These subs possess smaller, lighter frames made of cast alloy, injection molded mineral filled polypropylene, dual 4-ohm voice coils that can be wired in series for an 8-ohm impedance or in parallel for 2-ohm signal impedance.
The overall low-frequency presentation and fidelity of these subwoofers is pristine and punchy regardless of the volume level.
They are truly an achievement on par with their progenitor W7 series sug.
The answer to the question “How shallow can you make a large performance subwoofer?”
JL Audia says a mounting depth of 2.6 inches is just how shallow.
These subwoofers sport oversized voice coils to balance out the need for smaller airspace requirements and shorter travel distance that making a subwoofer for operation in unusually tights spaces demands.
One of the greatest challenges of integrating subwoofers into your car stereo system is where to put them without sacrificing passenger space or cargo space.
These subs are especially popular with car audio enthusiasts who are looking to create heard but not seen bass performance in their ride, and the TW5v2s can definitely make those plans a reality even with the most challenging invisible installations.
When a car audio enthusiast wants bass performance that takes up as little space as possible without sacrificing power, they generally turn to JL Audio’s W3v3 line.
These subwoofers range in size from 6”-13”, and are built to allow more powerful performance even when space and enclosure size are very limited.
They aren’t as low profile as the W5 series, but if you are looking to build a subwoofer box that doesn’t take up a lot of space in the trunk or rear compartment of your car, then the W3 is going to be your ideal solution.
Car audio enthusiast rave about how big these woofers sound compared to the relatively small footprint they need to be fitted in a vehicle.
Consider the W3 series your best compromise between power and convenience where power is of primary concern.
Building a flush or near-flush mounted subwoofer setup is a real challenge when you still want to be able to bring the thunder from your car.
The TW3 series sports integrated grille covers and diameters and mounting depths that are both installation friendly and powerful enough to satisfy even the most discriminating basshead in terms of low distortion and high power performance.
As with most performance subwoofers, everything is always a compromise.
Efficiency and power make this an ideal setup for those looking to conserve cargo space while still getting the best possible bass performance.
However, in terms of overall automotive thunder-god performance, these are not necessarily going to throw enough sound for serious bass competition.
Car audio fans looking for JL Audio subwoofer performance at a price that won’t break the bank should definitely consider getting a set of W1V3s for their car audio setup.
They are highly stable, well built, and powerful performers when it comes to throwing bass in shallow depth applications at lower power.
If you aren’t looking to create a portable seismic event machine but still want to feel the beat of your music, the W1v3 is the subwoofer that will deliver what you are looking for.
They can be mounted with or without grille guards, and have some classy, aggressive style thanks to their aluminum dust caps emblazoned with the JL Audio logo.
The only thing “economy” about these subwoofers is their price point in the JL Audio lineup.
There is nothing “bargain basement” about their performance at all.
JL Audio Subwoofers Reviews
Here are our reviews for some of the most popular subwoofer setups that JL Audio has to offer.
Check these out:
1. JL Audio 10W3v3-4 10″ W3v3 Series Subwoofer
When you want a good subwoofer kit in your vehicle that doesn’t require you to sacrifice trunk or cargo space, these are the best subs JL Audio has to offer that are purpose-built for just that application.
Check out what makes these such great subwoofers for smaller enclosure designs.
- Sensitivity: 85.37 dB
- RMS: 150 watts
- Peak Power : 500 watts
- Frequency Response: 32.9Hz
- Impedance: 4-ohms
Overall subwoofer dimensions are more compact than a lot of comparable 10” subwoofers, yet they still generate enough bass response to let you feel every beat while you are on the go.
They are an ideal balance between size and power without compromising on clarity or fidelity even when run at lower power handling.
Maxing out at 500 watts means that these subs are not going to win any awards at basshead competitions, but they will definitely deliver the low-frequency performance most car audio enthusiasts are looking for in a customized system for personal use.
- Compact and lightweight design
- Powerful performance in small package
- Ultra low impedance means cooler operation even in tight spaces
- They have some power, but these would not be most bassheads first choice for building a competition grade setup.
2. JL Audio 12W6v3-D4 12″
As these are one rung below the top of the line W7 car audio subwoofer series on the quality ladder, the W6 subwoofers deliver premium bass performance with an even higher fidelity of sound than the W7 series.
They have made it consistenly into our list of the best subs, and this model was rated very high into this list of the best 12 inch subwoofers.
It’s tough to beat the thunderous performance of these subwoofers even if you have them mounted flush within the vehicle in unique locations.
- Sensitivity: 85.4 dB
- RMS: 200 watts
- Peak Power: 600 watts
- Frequency Response: 26.919 Hz
- Impedance: DVC 4ohms
Definitely the best bass performance in shallow subwoofer kit that JL Audio currently manufactures.
These subs have excellent low frequency response and maintain their punchy clarity even at lower power levels.
They are definitely the product line for those who want a powerful subwoofer that they can easily mount without needing significant depth in their vehicle to accommodate bigger, more powerful subs.
The impedance for these subwoofers means that they are more than likely to run hot during periods of heavy use at full power.
You will want to make sure that you and your system don’t overheat during use by allowing adequate cooling and ventilation.
- Small size, big bass
- Top quality materials
- Built tough for superior longevity
- High impedance can mean higher operating temperatures if not properly vented, creating additional wear and tear on the cones.
3. JL Audio 12W0V3-4 12″
These are some truly beefy subwoofers that can pack serious punch provided you have the space in your vehicle.
Some consider them to be “overbuilt” in terms of how much they can handle, but their superior performance speaks for itself.
- Sensitivity: 85.64 dB
- RMS: 75 watts
- Peak Power: 300 watts
- Frequency Response: 28.43Hz
- Impedance: 4.280-ohms
These speakers are for those car audio fanatics that want bass to shake the ground as they pass.
They are exceptionally powerful despite their lower wattage output, and they can definitely deliver a thumping performance to make any bassheads heart happy.
These are actually really well built and powerful speakers considering their lower wattage and sensitivity rating.
However, their lower power rating does mean that you are unlikely to be able to compete in terms of sheer volume compared to other subwoofers that possess significantly more power handling.
- Overbuilt durable design
- Powerful bass performance
- High quality construction using premium materials
- Hardly the most powerful subs from JL Audio, but still solid performers
4. JL Audio 12″ 12W7AE-3
The premium, top of the line subwoofer for the car audiophile who wants the crispest, most thunderous bass that JL Audio has to offer.
These represent the best of of what JL Audio has to offer the world in terms of both quality and performance.
You will be hard pressed to find a better subwoofer in the consumer car audio market.
I previously called this sub the best 12 inch subwoofers and I still stand that posture!
- Sensitivity: 86.2 dB
- RMS: 400 watts
- Peak Power: 1000 watts
- Frequency Response: 27.2Hz
- Impedance: 2.47-ohms
There are so many good things to about these subwoofers.
Build quality is out of this world, and only the finest materials will do for the flagship of the JL Audio subwoofer line. In terms of raw power, these are as good as it gets at JL Audio.
With 400-watts of RMS power handling and peaking at 1,000 watts, these subwoofers can bring some serious sonic devastation to your car’s stereo.
It’s hard to criticize perfection, but these subwoofers do have one or two minor issues from a competitive bassheads point of view.
First of all, their peak and continuous power handling are significantly lower than the power handling most competition grade subwoofers can throw even at lower power settings.
While driving around town these definitely deliver the goods in terms of rock and rumble, but compared to many other so-called “boutique” subwoofer makers, these are definitely on the low end of the power scale.
If you want the best quality at a good price for made in the USA subwoofers, these are the best choice hands-down.
If you are looking to bring the heat at competition though, you may want to search from some more powerful subwoofers.
- Top of the line for JL Audio-Thunderous bass cannon performance-Power handling up to 1000-watts
- Great subwoofers for car audio enthusiasts, but definitely not basshead competition ready.
While some may decry JL Audio as not building powerful enough subwoofers, they are not concerned with maximum power handling, but rather with excellent performance as a whole.
If you are considering adding subwoofers to your car audio system, definitely find a JL Audio dealer near you and give them a listen.
You will be very glad you did.
Read also: Sundown Audio Subwoofers Review