Arguably the process of purchasing a brand new subwoofer can be much more difficult than obtaining a standard speaker. If you’re new to the car audio game and are not familiar with the ins and outs and the differences between a subwoofer and an average speaker, attempting to purchase one may be a confusing process. The name itself is odd and can be one of the main factors that throws you off during your research process, but the function of a subwoofer is actually very straightforward. Here is a comprehensive explanation of what a subwoofer is and what the best 12 inch subwoofer is on the market right now.
What is a 12″ subwoofer?
One of the main issues that people have when it comes to deciding between buying an average speaker and a subwoofer is that they don’t really know the difference between the two. Obviously a subwoofer works in the same way, by releasing audio , however they function on different frequency ranges. For anyone that has a car speaker, you will be more than aware that they have their limitations. The main limitation that most of even the best 6.5” car speakers face is the inability to clearly play bassy songs. More often than not, if you attempt to play a very bassy song on your average speaker, you’re going to experience a lot of distortion. This is bound to happen no matter what quality of speaker you purchase and so this is where the subwoofer steps up to aid with power handling.
To put it plainly, the reason that regular speakers struggle so much with bassy songs is because they don’t operate on a low enough frequency to be able to pick up all of the channels that they need to in order to successfully play low and powerful bass. Subwoofers cooperate on the lower side of the audio spectrum and so produce high quality bass sounds. They can come in many different sizes but the most common size you can get them in is 12inches, they work on the premise of the bigger the subwoofer, the louder they’re going to get. If you were getting one for everyday use outside of your vehicle, then buying the biggest one you can afford will be the best option. However if you’re using a subwoofer for your car, then you won’t want to get anything too big as this can disturb your driving. Here are the best 12 inch subwoofers on the market right now.
What should you look at when purchasing a good 12 inch subwoofer?
Frequency really is the difference between your average speaker and a subwoofer. A good way to pick out a good subwoofer is by checking the frequency range, if it is capable of hitting lower frequencies, then you will get some nice low bass.
Whether or not it is enclosed or ported
Something that a lot of people miss is whether or not the subwoofer is ported or sealed, this can make a big difference in terms of audio sound and also how long your subwoofer will keep in good shape for. A ported enclosure is often preferred and so if you are picking out a new subwoofer, it would be wise to try and find one with an open system.
Something that a lot of people miss when purchasing a new subwoofer is how it will be mounted, depending on where you want to put your subwoofer, this could be an important factor of your purchasing process as you may find the speaker with the perfect specs, that simply don’t fit the space that you need it to.
Our Top Picks for the Best 12 Inch Subwoofer
Now that you have a general idea of how a subwoofer works and what you should look out for when purchasing your subwoofer, here are our top 10 picks for the best 12 inch subwoofer on the market right now, and be sure to take a look at our overall guide to the best subwoofers under $1000 if you’re open to subwoofers of other sizes for your car.
1. Skar Audio EVL-12 D2
- Sensitivity: 85.1dB
- Frequency Range: 25-250Hz
The Skar Audio EVL-12 D2 is one powerful bit of tech. For anyone that knows the audio scene, it would have been impossible to have not heard of quality sound production that the Skar has to offer. If you’re somewhat of a novice to the world of speakers and subwoofers, then you’re in luck because this is one of the best subwoofers on the market right now.
You may be wondering why? Well to start with, the Skar brags an impressive 1,250 watts of RMS. RMS is basically the continuous power that the speaker/ subwoofer is capable of outputting/handling. To be able to hit this wattage consistently is extremely impressive and means that this subwoofer will be capable of outputting loud and quality volumes consistently and will not likely fall victim to any distortion.
This is one powerful 12 Inch Subwoofer and with such power handling it would be easy to presume that the subwoofer may easily overheat and become damaged over time, but the Skar has you covered on that front. A unique feature of this subwoofer is an advanced cooling design that allows it to deliver that powerful sound, while also keeping your system nice and cool and so prolonging its life span.
This subwoofer setup also boasts a dual voice coil system which not only allows for easier set up, but also enables the subwoofer to produce lower tones without much difficulty. This is backed up with its frequency range of 25-250 Hz, which allows the Skar to be able to promote low frequencies clearly. It is fantastic for such a budget subwoofer for the car to be able to do this with such ease and really serves as a reminder as to why subwoofers will always be the best option for car sound, as opposed to an average speaker, to play low frequency and powerful bass songs.
Because this is such a heavy duty subwoofer, the only issue that you may face is difficulty with installation. This particular subwoofer is quite heavy and so you should only really put it in a stable place, but this is just a minor issue.
2. Toro Tech – Fierce 12
- Sensitivity: 86dB
- Frequency Range: 33-250Hz
The Toro is another popular option on the market right now for one of the best 12 inch subwoofers for bass. Though it reaches a slightly lower RMS than the Skar, 800 RMS is still fantastic. This is especially the case due to the low frequencies that subwoofers primarily operate on that don’t necessarily require high wattage to be able to run efficiently. Even so, this subwoofer does have a sensitivity rating of 86dB, which means it will still be able to pick up and express any frequencies and tones with clarity.
The efficiency of this 12 inch subwoofer is only supported by the fact that it is a ported subwoofer. This means that you are likely to get louder volumes due to the duo air release that occurs with ported subwoofers. This also makes up for slightly lower wattage as the gap within the box is able to make the music that the subwoofer produces sound much louder than a sealed container. This means that the Toro tech uses less power and is still capable of matching the sounds of other audio systems, which will result in less overheating and also the prolonging of the lifespan of your overall setup.
The Toro Tech also has a frequency response of 33-250Hz. This means that once again this subwoofer will be able to pick up the low frequencies that normal speakers aren’t able to. Not only is the Toro capable of picking the lower frequencies, but it can also pick up frequencies on a higher frequency, so you can enjoy all of your favourite songs.
Toro really focuses on quality and because of this they have taken extra steps to ensure that this subwoofer will withstand any sort of potential damage. To ensure this they have implemented a cooling system to protect all of the individual hardware within the system, they have also provided a fiberglass dust cap to protect the speaker from any distortion.
3. Pyle PLPW12D
- Sensitivity: 90dB
- Frequency Range: 27-300Hz
Over the last few years, Pyle have really started to leave their mark on the audio scene and the Pyle PLPW12D only continues to be a testament of the quality products that they put out onto the market.
This is an exceptionally powerful subwoofer, with a consistent RMS of 800W, you can expect some extremely powerful performance. This consistent power allows for some serious undistorted listening of some of your favourite songs, at some serious volumes. The frequency response of 27-300Hz also means that this subwoofer is capable of picking up some seriously low frequencies and playing them clearly, as well as being able to pick up some higher frequencies. The sensitivity of 90dB is also fantastic, as this only helps to ensure that the sounds that the subwoofer does pick up are picked up clearly and efficiently.
An interesting choice that Pyle has made is inputting a paper press cone design within the speaker, unlike plastic cones, paper press cones work better at preventing distortion. However, they are easier to damage and so are not too popular with audio companies. However, they did use a specially treated foam surround, which protects and works well with the paper cone to prevent distortion and also produce a higher quality of audio. Not only this, but the foam also protects the paper pressed cone, which alleviates some of the potential damage issues that may occur in the future.
This speaker is on the more expensive side when compared to some of the other subwoofers on this list, which may be off putting. However, it really is a case of you get what you pay for. The subwoofer is of a fantastic quality and has been designed with durability in mind, so you will get years of high quality audio out of a single set.
4. CT SOUNDS 12 Inch Car Subwoofer
- Sensitivity: 85.9dB
- Frequency Range: 30.5
CT are producing some of the best subwoofers on the market right now and have quickly become any audiophile’s go to for any audio equipment. The Strato is another example of their excellent manufacturing and is one of the best selling subwoofers available right now. This subwoofer packs a serious punch and brags a fantastic RMS of 1200W, meaning that this subwoofer will be able to play continuous music without worrying about distorting or experiencing any hardware fatigue. This subwoofer will be able to handle any genre of music with ease and is arguably one of the most powerful options on this list.
The strato can reach low frequencies of 30.5Hz which means that it can push some serious bass. On top of this, this subwoofer can handle some higher frequencies and so means that you can enjoy your music, no matter the genre.
What is interesting about this speaker is that it has both ported and sealed boxes, this means that you get the best of both worlds with the convenient mounting of sealed and the loud volumes of ported. CT really had damage control in mind when designing this sub and so they have implemented damage resistant rubber surrounds that not only protect the sub, but also helps buffer any distortion and produce clear sound.
This subwoofer also brags a 3” voice coil which improves the quality of the music that you are listening to, so not only do you get fantastic audio quality, but you get the security that the speakers will last a while.
5. Skar Audio Single
- Sensitivity: 88dB
- Frequency Range: 25-300Hz
This is the second appearance that Skar has made on the list and only continues to show the quality audio products that Skar are capable of creating.
Much like the other Skar subwoofer, this one is extremely powerful. This subwoofer has an RMS of 1,250, which means it is capable of expressing loud music continuously without having to worry about any audio fatigue or inconsistencies in quality throughout the time that it is in use. Not only is this sub capable of producing some extremely loud sounds, but it is also capable of picking up low frequencies and playing some pretty deep bass due to its frequency response of 25-300Hz. With this there is a sensitivity of 88dB which is pretty impressive for a sub at this price point, with a sensitivity like that , the Skar is capable of running efficiently and can avoid any sort of strain caused distortion.
This ported subwoofer also has a fantastic vented box, meaning that you are not just getting a random slot somewhere on the box. This ventilation means that the sub is able to be quite loud without having to use too much power to do so, it also operates well as a cooling system meaning that your sub will stay in better condition for longer. This is a nice feature and shows that Skar have really put thought into the best ways that they can produce quality sound without overworking the entire system.
This is also a powered system so you don’t have to worry about buying any additional amplifiers in order to get it up and running, which saves you spending any extra money and also means that the installation process is much easier.
An aspect of this subwoofer that really stands out is the high roll surround that focuses the subwoofer and makes any bass that is produced sound clearer and more well rounded.
6. Infinity Kappa 1200W
- Sensitivity: 91dB
- Frequency Range: 25-175Hz
Infinity Kappa have been popular in the audio scene in both subwoofers and speakers. This shows in the quality product that they have been able to produce. This subwoofer is more in the mid range section and so the individual components aren’t as powerful as many others on the list, but when cleverly combined like they have been, they produce some pretty good sound.
For example, the frequency range isn’t as widespread as the others on list, only coming in at 25-175Hz. Though this means that this subwoofer doesn’t have a lot of range, it will be able to pick up must notes and bass really well. Because of the it’s fantastic sensitivity of 91dB, the frequencies that this subwoofer is capable of picking up will be picked up clearly and will be of a good quality.
It is kept within a sealed enclosure which may make you reluctant to buy it due to how that may affect the volume, however this subwoofer has a RMS of 1,200 which means it is exceptionally powerful at a constant state. Though high wattage does not automatically translate to higher volumes, it certainly helps. This is because with a high power, your subwoofer isn’t overworking itself and so is able to work to the best of its ability.
However, due to the power of the subwoofer combined with the sealed enclosure, there may be the issue of overheating due to a lack of cooling solutions. This won’t affect the quality of your audio, however it may shorten the lifespan of your subwoofer due to the prolonged exposure to heat.
Overall, we would say this is the best option on the market as it not only excels in power, but it is also at an extremely reasonable price point and so you really have nothing to lose.
7. Infinity Reference REF1200S
- Sensitivity: 92dB
- Frequency Range: 27-175Hz
This is one sleek looking subwoofer that would be the perfect addition to any vehicle or home.
The Infinity comes with both a sealed and ported enclosure. This means that once again you are really getting the best of both worlds within your set up. You’re getting the convenience of easy mounting due to the sealed enclosure with the amped up sound that comes with using a ported enclosure. You also don;t have to operate both subwoofers at the same time so you can choose what sound experience you want. If you want some loud and earthy bass then you will love the experience that comes with the ported enclosure, but if you want some casual listening then the sealed enclosure will be able to deliver that easily.
This subwoofer has a slightly lower RMS of 500W, which really isn’t too low at all. However, you may notice that your subwoofer may experience some audio fatigue if pushed for an extended period of time. However, this power is more than enough to have an enjoyable audio experience and play all of your favourite songs well.
The frequency range of this subwoofer is 27-175hz, which again isn’t the most widespread variety, but will allow you to listen to low frequency bass with ease. It is also matched with a sensitivity of 92dB, which means that any frequencies that this subwoofer is able to pick up will be played clearly and efficiently, so the sub is not overworking itself and potentially becoming damaged with use. Such a high sensitivity also combats any distortion.
Though this subwoofer has its limitations, overall it is a fantastic option for anyone looking for a budget set up that can handle some pretty hefty bass.
8. DS18 SLC12S Car Subwoofer
- Sensitivity: 90dB
- Frequency Range: 41-42,000Hz
This subwoofer really stands out in comparison to others on the list due to its ability to not only operate on low frequencies, but it’s ability to pick up higher frequencies too. This means that it doesn’t just excel in playing songs with a lot of bass, it can also run well with any kind of genre. It has a RMS of 500W, which isn’t the highest power but is more than enough to deliver a fantastic listening experience. All of these features are also matched with an impressive sensitivity level of 90dB. This sensitivity really ties all of the other specs together and ensures that the sub is operating as efficiently as possible and to the highest quality.
A great feature that they have put into this subwoofer is a treated foam surround. This helps to prevent any kind of fatigue, but also protects all of the components of the subwoofer, such as the cone. This is also protected by a black steel basket which prevents any bumps from damaging the sub.
What this sub really prides itself on is being one of the best options on the market for pumping out powerful bass and can be moved between both sealed and ported enclosures and still produce some fantastic sound.
This is one of the most popular subwoofers on the market right now and it’s easy to see why this is the case, it is extremely reliable and is capable of playing near enough any song with fantastic quality.
9. JBL Club 1224
- Sensitivity: 93dB
- Frequency Range: 25-175Hz
JBL is another one of those brands that is a fan favorite for any audio fan out there, even if it is on the weaker side. This subwoofer operates on a power of 275 Watts which isn’t the most powerful on the market, but this sub is targeted mainly at being focused on some nice low bass, which 275 watts would be more than enough for. You can really tell that this sub has a focus on playing bass due to its low frequency, though it is more than capable of clearly playing any song and having it sound fine. What really stands out is the subs fantastic sensitivity rating of 93dB, this high sensitivity means that the subwoofer will be playing extremely efficiently and so you will get some nice, undistorted sound.
This subwoofer also looks extremely good, so it won’t look out of place in any setup, so if you’re someone who cares about aesthetics this may be an appealing aspect of the sub. It is also extremely easy to mount and is not too big, meaning that you won’t have much trouble fitting it wherever you want to put it.
This subwoofer set is also ported, this makes up for the lack of power as it means that noise is able to be released easier, which means this speaker will still be able to reach some good volumes.
10. Rockford Fosgate P3D4
- Sensitivity: 85dB
- Frequency Range: 28-250Hz
Rockford have been making leaps in the audio world and have only got better as the years have gone on, the Rockford Fosgate is a great example of what this company is capable of and is a fantastic subwoofer option.
This subwoofer has a wattage of 600 which is plenty of power to operate a sub that has a focus on bass, as high power doesn’t make too much difference when it comes to subwoofers. You may however notice that your subwoofer will experience fatigue, as it will be working harder to process more demanding music. This subwoofer operates on low frequencies, which as previously discussed is fantastic for bass and will be able to pick it up and play it to a high quality. This is matched with a sensitivity level of 85dB, this is the sensitivity that you would expect from a mid range subwoofer and is more than enough to play music efficiently.
This sub also consists of an aluminum cone which isn’t the most popular option on the market, but it is a fantastic way to keep the shape and thus protect the components of the speaker. Aluminum is also less prone to distortion than your everyday plastic and so is a fantastic match for a bassy subwoofer, as usually audio systems that focus on bass are the usual victims of distortion.
How to Choose your 12 Inch Subwoofer
Passive vs powered 12 inch subwoofer
The difference between a passive and a powered 12″ subwoofer is that powered subwoofers basically already come with a built in internal amplifier. However, a passive subwoofer requires a separate amplifier and external crossover. You would only really need a passive subwoofer if you have a professional audio setup, as you would be able to hook it up to a powerful amp. If you just have an average home setup then an already powered subwoofer would be the best option as they are already put together and you won’t need to purchase any external parts.
Sealed vs ported enclosure
Whether or not ported or sealed is best for you really depends on what you are looking for in terms of audio volume and quality. Ported subwoofers consist of a ported subwoofer and several other ports that allow air to escape the container box. A ported enclosure results in louder sounds as the air is able to escape easier. Not only are they louder, but they often have a longer life span due being able to run cooler because of the increased airflow. A sealed enclosure is quite self explanatory, it lacks the airflow of a ported enclosure but comes with the appeal of being much smaller and thus easier to store. Both will give you fantastic sound quality, so again it depends on what will fit your needs better.
Single vs dual subwoofer voice coils
The main difference between the two is that dual subwoofer voice coils has way more wiring options and so will be compatible with far more amplifier options, a single voice coil will not have as many options but as long as you have the right amplifier, the coil quantity shouldn’t really matter.
How much power does a 12 inch subwoofer need
Again this really depends on your set up. The sweet spot in terms of power is around 150 watts as this will cater to the weaker and even more powerful subwoofers. If you are using a ported enclosure then you could get away with less power as they don’t really depend on power too much to promote louder volumes, instead they depend on their airflow.