Choosing the best 12 inch subwoofer can be quite challenging, especially when there are lots of options taking rounds in the market with near about same features but different price ranges.
Being a music enthusiast, I understand the difficulties one may face while choosing the appropriate subwoofer. So, I have piled up a list of my best 12-inch subwoofers to help you choose the right one according to your needs.
Best 12 Inch Subwoofer of 2018
Kenwood – Portable 12″ Sub with Amplifier
Remember bass tubes? Most recently, they created the P-W131TB Tube Woofer Party Pack. For under $200, the package comes with an amplifier and a tube subwoofer.
The amplifier is the KAC-5207, a class AB amplifier with mono or two-channel operation. It has an RMS rated power of 85 watts by two channels at two ohms, 70 watts by two channels at four ohms, and 170 watts bridged at four ohms.
The KAC features a cast aluminum heat sink, a MOSFET power supply, and signal sense turn-on. Plus, it comes with a nine-inch speaker level input harness.
I wired up the amplifier to the tube subwoofer and tested it first bridged at four ohms. Again, Kenwood claims the amp does 170 watts RMS, and I got very close, hitting about 150 watts RMS at peaking bridged at four ohms with a 40-hert test tone.
The subwoofer featured in the P-W131TB is the KSC-W1200T, which is a 12-inch single-voice coil four-ohm subwoofer in a ported tube enclosure. Expect all the characteristics of a port enclosure, regardless of it being a tube, so more bass and better efficiency. The RMS power input of the sub is 200 watts at four ohms, making it a perfect match for the KAC-5207.
Before you bass heads start talking … just remember what this package is, a subwoofer and amplifier combo for under $200 aimed at those who want a quick set up without putting a system together. Obviously, it doesn’t compete with your two, 3000-watt Sundown subs wired at 0.01 ohms. Yes, I know that’s not a real impedance.
Although they’re generally pretty big, the benefit of bass tubes is they can consume otherwise unused space, making them perfect for trucks and SUVs. The cube shape of a subwoofer box is almost always awkward to fit in a vehicle. The tube shape fits snugly between seats or in the trunk.
The spring clip speaker terminals allow easy installation of speaker wire. Dimensions of the tube are 13.5 inches in height, 13.5 inches in width, and 19.75 inches in length.
If you’re on a budget and are craving bass, check out Kenwood’s new bass packages!
MTX Terminator – Best on the Market
It is built for its portability with adequate protection to compensate for the motion of a moving vehicle. They can endure well enough when fitted inside the trunk of a car.
Moreover, they are so light, you will find them remarkably easy to transport.
To resolve this issue, these speakers are built with Spider Plateau Venting. It is a cooling procedure that keeps the air surrounding the voice coil, fresh.
I have absolutely no complaints about the bass itself. It is a loud with a presence that is very impressive. It is built to add 2-ohm load to any amplifier that you connect with it.
I particularly liked the appearance of the product. It is simplistic with a class to it that will fit anywhere that you want.
These were my first pair of woofers and if you are just venturing into this field, it is a good product to start with.
Rockford Fosgate – Best for Deep Bass
Quite different from the MTX Terminator, it comes in a conical shape built with aluminum and dust cap. This is actually meant to increase the durability of your product.
At full power, it can dissipate heat up to degrees and keep the woofer cool. I was skeptical about playing the music at full volume for hours on end.
In fact, not just that, every angle of the product is built to endure heavy usage for a continuous period.
Beginning from the stitched tinsel leads that increase its resistance to being damaged by high current and heavy duty cycle to spider venting, it lasted for years before I had to replace it.
I could do the installation myself, which was a relief as I was short on time. It is remarkably easy to handle. The screws, instead of tightening the woofer to a fixed angle, can be adjusted if you require so.
Except for individual manufacturing defects, there is no such flaw in the design of the product. I would gladly term it the best bass woofer that I have used.
Pioneer TS W3003D4 – Best for Car
Probably the most convenient quality about these woofers is that you can wire them according to your needs. You can wire them together at 4 or 1-ohm. Or, you can wire them separately at 2 or 8 ohms.
It does have a spider design that enhances its durability. It protects the woofers from getting damaged by the music itself. The bass is good enough, even if not the best that I have ever tried.
I personally feel that as it comes in a pair, it consumes a bit more space and is more difficult to handle at the same time. A single woofer or one that comes in a single enclosure is much easier to move around.
However, because you would be mounting these in a car, it would be a permanent fixture. So, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
To be fair, I have used woofers that are better, but this doesn’t fall too short either. It is affordable, with a decent bass and can be mounted to your car.
It may not be that easy to carry as a single enclosure or conical woofer, but it requires less space at the same time.
Dual Electronics – Best Under $100
Actually, this is the effect of the Illuminite bulb system that these woofers are designed with. It comes in an enclosed box with two chambers.
And if you get tired and want to listen to your music without hurting your eyes, just turn it off.
I found the acoustics to be really good for the price. The woofers have an acoustic chamber that is computer tuned and it adds to the sound output.
This makes for a good bass output at the same time. The latter is largely due to the fact the subwoofers are built in low Q.
The carpeted enclosure is well protected and durable. Further, being a single enclosure, it is easier to carry, but a little more difficult to install in your car as opposed to the Pioneer one.
The volume capability is pretty high in comparison to other products in this price range. However, I feel the peak power capacity to be lower than some of the other products that I have included in this article.
At the most, these woofers can handle1100 W power and the RMS power capacity is 600W.
This is certainly not the best of sub-woofers and that is evident. However, I wouldn’t say no to a trial either. It works well and has good bass. But all this is limited by its lower price range.
Still, if you want to have good music but have a low budget, this is probably what you should look into.
Soundstream T5 – Best Under $200
I personally find conical shaped woofers more alluring on principle and this is another one that delivers more than its aesthetic appeal. It adds 2-ohms to the amplified music, which is pretty good if you consider the price.
On another brighter side, this woofer is durable and will last for years. I wasn’t expecting it to work for more than a year, but it still sits in the corner of my game room, blasting the bass perfectly.
It has a resistance to overheating due to the molded polypropylene that is integrated into the paper-cone.
One thing I have noticed about this woofer is a wider range of frequency response. That is once again, an unexpected feature, but a positive one.
I bought this specifically for a road trip and not for my home. While it wouldn’t provide the beautiful music that fills an entire room, it will suffice on a lower scale.
Nevertheless, in its own capacity, it has a good bass and is a quality product.
Pioneer TS-W311D4 – Best for the Money
This woofer comes in a single piece and is shaped like a cone in a basket. That makes it easy to carry and easier to install in my opinion.
There is a certain rigidity in the design of the cone that adds to its durability. This is mainly due to the rigid dust cap and a combination of a drive cone and a single piece cone.
You can crank up the volume as much as you want without fearing that your woofer will break down.
It reduces the vibration that often interrupts the sound quality. This feature is also reinforced by the single basket design of the cone.
To add to its durability, it has an adequate amount of ventilation. This cools the woofer down and prevents damage from overheating due to loud volume and continuous use.
This is again another woofer in which, I found negligible flaws. If there are any, it should be not more than manufacturing defects.
I had every reason to like this product without any misgivings. It lasts longer than most speakers. It delivers a perfect bass.
It has a chic and compact design. And last but not the least, it is very affordable in spite of all these.
Kenwood KFC-W3016PS – Best for the Price
The cone is supported by a rubber surround so that the cone excursion gets accommodated.
With a maximum power handling of 400 watts RMS and a peak power handling of 2000 Watts, it is a reliable buy in case you want to set up the mood for a party, even during a long road journey.
Kenwood KFC has a Square array pattern which prevents the cone from warping even when heavy bass sounds are produced.
Together, they help to increase the mechanical durability and release the heated motor air from the back and the sides of the sub to keep it running perfectly for long duration sessions.
The frequency range of this subwoofer is around 27–300 Hz and it has a sensitivity of about 82 dB. With a sealed box volume of 1.25 cubic feet, this sub can be fitted into the audio system space of even the smallest of cars.
The best thing about Kenwood KFC is that it takes the bass distinctly to your ears even when you are dozens of feet away from your car. Kenwood KFC might be the one for you if you don’t want to cough a lot of cash on a subwoofer.
The sleek and contemporary design will seamlessly fit in your car, irrespective of the model.
Power Acoustik BAMF-122 – Best Car Audio
Manufacturer declares maximum power handling of 3500 watts and RMS power handling of 1750 Watts, but I’ve managed to get out only 1000W RMS in real tests.
3 inch 4 layer voice coils help to increase the power handling of this sub and also reduce the heat to a large extent. The voice coils are stitched-in which prevents potential damage.
This sub comes with an oversized motor structure that enhances the magnetic strength of the woofer more than expected.
The cones are made of Spruce tree pulp and have extended excursion foam surround for the perfect bass production, UV protection, and chemical protection.
The frame is non-magnetic and non-resonate to prevent external magnetic loss. Moreover, the high–temperature tolerance adhesives largely prevent thermal failures.
The 12-mm T-Yoke and top plate improve the lower frequency dynamics. The dual poly-cotton suspension helps to dampen unnecessary accelerations which consequently lead to that lull before the storm and a powerful roar.
Worried about the load that this sub can take? Then look no further because this sub is a winner when it comes to handling the audio load, working perfectly well even in extreme situations.
Moreover, the subwoofers are sturdily built and the deep bass it produces enhances your music listening experience manifold.
Planet Audio AC12D – Best for Sealed Box
Suggested enclosure type is either a ported box or vented sealed box. Sporting dual 2-inch 4-ohm aluminum voice coils, this is a beast when it comes to bass production.
With a maximum power handling of 1800 watts and an RMS power handling of 900 watts, this sub is meant to rule the car.
The polypropylene injection cone with foam surround enhances the audio quality impressively.
If you are planning to install a subwoofer in your spacious vehicle for great surround sound yet don’t want to go rough on your wallet, Planet Audio AC12D is the one for you. This reasonably priced sub is a perfect choice for audiophiles like me who always love listening music at the highest volume.
Packed with some outstanding features and the customizable trim ring, these subwoofers can be installed with minimal effort.
BOSS Audio CXX12 – Best Subwoofer Speakers
You need to allow these subs enough time to break in otherwise the audio output would be horrible. A neighbor of mine setup this subwoofer to support his home theater system.
Initially, I deemed it a terrible idea but the sound blew me away. The deep bass sound fills the whole room, something most factory speakers aren’t capable of.
BOSS Audio is a far better alternative to factory speakers. Although it is mainly designed for cars, an open-air installation will almost give you the same thump and a clean bass.
The audio is distinct and soothing when you go low. At this price range, it is one of the best options you can have right now.
BBox Enclosure – Best 12 Inch Subwoofer Box
This 12-inch dual vented subwoofer box supports multiple brands. Its closely-packaged design doesn’t lend a big foothold, therefore, it can be easy fit into tight spots.
To improve the lows, I tried gluing the poly fill inside the enclosure before mounting the sub and amp.
Best 12 inch Subwoofer – Buyer’s Guide
The subwoofer or specialized speaker is responsible for the experience. First introduced in 1960, the device was introduced to enhance the sound and bass response of home theater systems.
What Are Subwoofers for?
A subwoofer is the complete loudspeaker set that is dedicated to producing the low-pitched audio frequencies, also known as bass. The average frequency range of a standard subwoofer is about 20-200 hertz.
Subwoofers are made of one or more woofers that are mounted in the wooden loudspeaker enclosure.
If you want to spice up the audio system of your car, you can install a 12 inches subwoofer along with an amplifier and have a party inside the car!
The subwoofer is a significant part of the home theater system that, other than amplifying the audio quality of the speaker, also boosts the aesthetic appeal of your personal space.
What is Powered Subwoofer?
Subwoofers can serve a number of purposes, bass reflex, acoustic suspension, and more that contribute to the sound produced by the home theater system. Now, a subwoofer comes in two types, the passive subwoofer and the powered one.
The self-contained speaker is configured to match the frequencies of the woofer as both as encased in the same enclosure
Powered subwoofers are the general preference among customers for obvious reasons, more power better sound. Also, the powered subwoofer setup comes with a single cable connection from the home theater that allows better customization of sound.
The cable also connects the surround sound output source and reduces the load on the speaker considerably. All home theaters come with a pre-amp line output unit specially designed for a powered woofer.
What Is a Passive Subwoofer?
Passive subwoofers are the exact opposite of the active or powered subwoofer. For starters, they lack the amplifier and have to be connected to an external speaker for producing more sound.
These subwoofers are “passive” and need to be powered up by an external source, very similar to the traditional loudspeakers you find in the market.
The power requirements of the subwoofer are directly proportional to the size and scale of the device.
Now you can either directly connect the amplifier to the subwoofer via a speaker wire or connect the line output of the home theater system to the external subwoofer.
Passive subwoofers are usually custom-made, wall-mounted subwoofers, cube-shaped woofers or other compact setups are examples of passive subwoofers.
What Does an Active Subwoofer Mean?
An active subwoofer is basically a powered subwoofer, the exact opposite of the passive woofer system. Considered to be among the most common types of speakers found in the market, the active subwoofer doesn’t require an external connection.
The device comes with an inbuilt amplifier that is installed in the framework for a better sound quality and bass effect.
As the amplifier and the woofer are encased in the same cabinet, there is no need for an external power source. The framework works wonderfully with the home theaters and sound systems.
Go for an active subwoofer if you want better, louder sound quality and a more pronounced bass effect.
Moreover, the active subwoofer is also a more cost-efficient option as you do not require all those extra cables and wires for connecting the power source.
What Is the Difference Between a Woofer and a Sub-Woofer?
There is not much of a difference between the woofer and subwoofer sound systems as both the devices are used to produce low-frequency sound waves.
Subwoofers are units that cover a small bass range of 20-200 hertz, the setup usually contains multiple woofers that are installed in a large speaker enclosure. While a woofer produces low-frequency sounds, the subwoofer concentrate on extremely small audio notes.
Subwoofers focus on a small part of the entire low-frequency sound spectrum.
Also, the subwoofers are better at moving large amounts of air and dealing with excessive pressure to emit sound waves at a low speed and frequency without compromising on the quality and volume of the sound produced.
Car owners usually install subwoofers to boost the audio quality of the speaker. Woofers, on the other hand, deal with a broader spectrum of low-frequency sound notes, therefore the sound produced by a woofer is not very impactful or thunderous.
What is a Subwoofer Box?
The sound quality and bass effect produced by a subwoofer don’t just depend on the amplifier or the speaker attached to the framework.
The material and size of the enclosure also play a significant part in determining the audio frequencies produced. A strong, sturdy and tightly constructed enclosure is generally the best option for getting the optimum performance.
Without the enclosure, the sound emitted from the back of the speaker cancels out the low frequencies and bass. Now, different types of subwoofer boxes can create difference types of bass effects depending on the material used.
For instance, sealed boxes produce a deeper, richer and clearer sound that is not exactly boomy, but produces a strong impact nonetheless.
Ported boxes produce a more forceful bass and are best for heavy metal or rock music.
Bandpass boxes offer maximum slam as the speakers are mounted on dual chambers, one sealed and one with a port.
The enclosures are made of wood as it offers maximum air resistance and is capable of withstanding high pressure.
Front-firing VS Down-firing Subwoofers
The location of the subwoofers also plays an important role in determining the sound quality and performance of the device. The low-frequency sound notes aren’t as affected by air pressure and are less directional than high-frequency sound waves.
You don’t necessarily have to place the subwoofers in front of the speakers. However, if you want to place the device near the speaker, place the woofer in the front-firing placement.
In case you want it mounted on the corner wall or atop the side wall, it is best to place the subs on the down-firing side, the side driver delivers more bass and hence, a better performance.
Sealed VS Ported Subwoofers
Sealed or ported? I’m gonna give you guys a pretty basic answer. Ported versus sealed is really a personal preference kind of thing, and it also depends on the woofer. There are benefits and drawbacks to either one. The most critical part of an enclosure is the design based on the TS parameters, and response that you have chosen.
Again, this subject is widely debated; it’s very subjective and depends on a bunch of different variables and factors. Ported enclosures will offer you more slamming bass so if you’re listening to hip-hop, BDM, rap and you want to shake your … car and shake your windows, ported’s the way to go. But usually you’ll trade that bigger bump for a bigger enclosure.
Other people will disagree with me. Again, it’s subjective. Ported enclosures provide a wider range of low frequencies. Whereas, the listening experience with a sealed enclosure is greatly improved in my opinion for more defined low frequencies rather than a wide range of them because without the port, the air inside the sealed enclosure acts as like a shock absorber. Allowing the woofer to move back and forth with more control.
Don’t worry though, sealed enclosures still have plenty of bass, you’ll be bumping. However, they are less efficient than ported enclosures and will require more power from your amplifier to get the subwoofers moving. Sealed enclosures are also easier to build because they’re generally smaller and they don’t have a port to tune.
Sealed enclosures are airtight and offer a tight accurate, clear bass effect. Also known as acoustic suspension setup, the enclosure doesn’t allow any air to pass through.
The ported framework has unique vents that reinforce the bass produced. Ported subwoofers lack the punch that sealed enclosures offer. Both sealed and ported devices offer high-quality sound, sealed subwoofers are best for playing jazz, classical and other acoustic music.
For rock music lovers and hip-hop and EMD enthusiasts, a ported subwoofer design would be the most befitting choice.
Bandpass or bass reflex? Which one booms louder?
Bandpass enclosures generally play louder but have a more narrow frequency response with a steep roll off. Depending on if they’re single reflex or dual reflex, you can have two steep roll offs which must be taken into consideration when adjusting your crossovers.
Wired VS Wireless Subwoofer Kits
The subwoofers that come for cars are often wireless, while those that have to be installed with home theaters have to be wired. For a wired subwoofer, you’ll need an additional cable for connecting the speaker to the receiver.
What Is a Blass Reflex Subwoofer?
A bass reflex subwoofer, also known as a ported or vented box subwoofer, has a port hole or vent cut into the cabinet section of the enclosure. From this hole a section of pipe is affixed to the port.
The port or cut in the framework enhances the efficiency of the woofer at low frequency sounds when compared to a sealed or boxed subwoofer.
The reflex port is a unique feature added to the bass reflex subwoofer that enables the production of lowest possible sound frequencies without compromising on the bass or quality. The port has some tubes or pipes mounted on the rear face of the enclosure.
In a bass reflex subwoofer, the rear of the speaker cone is routed through an open port that in turn reinforces the overall bass output of the device.
The ports set in the front and rear of the cabinet. They vary in depth and diameter depending on the scale and range of the speaker.
The bass reflex speakers curve the low frequencies of the sound spectrum and add the much-needed punch and power to the sound effect.
What Is a Subwoofer Pre-out?
Pre-out, in layman terms, means a setup where the audio waves will only send audio data to the subwoofer. It is a line-level output source where that doesn’t have any power amplification.
Your subwoofer should have its own amplifier. The pre-out RCA ports set on the back of the enclosure receives only audio output signals and is connected only to a powered subwoofer.
Pre-outs produce a balanced line-out version of the same sound produced by the speaker.
What is Watts RMS?
RMS or root mean square is a power rating used to measure the rate of power that an amplifier can produce and a speaker can handle.
Usually used for measuring voltage or current, it is a statistical unit of measurement that gauges the magnitude of sound produced in the subwoofer.
Audio power is measured in watts. The amount of electricity that is received by the loudspeaker along with the efficiency of the speaker determines the audio power of the woofer.
Watt RMS in subwoofers refers to the peak point that the highest value of voltage will reach when in the waveform. In simple terms, the watt RMS is the continuous music or power a woofer can deliver.
RMS measurements are more accurate when compared with other units for determining the audio power of the subwoofer. It measures the maximum audio power a device can handle without damaging the speaker or distorting the sound produced.
What Is the Difference between RMS and Peak Watts?
Watt RMS and peak Watt happen to be the most common units of measurement when gauging the audio power of a speaker.
It is basically the maximum amount of power a subwoofer can handle for an instant without damaging the speaker or the enclosure. You need to look at both RMS rating and the peak powers of the woofer before you buy one.
How Many Watts Do You Need for a Car Subwoofer?
Car speakers are small and require a compact subwoofer usually eight to ten inches wide that produced enough sound without damaging the speaker or quality of the sound.
For a car, the best audio power range required for a subwoofer is about 450 to 900 watts if you install two subwoofers, each of 300 RMS watt ratings.
To Sum it Up
MTX Terminator is my personal pick of the best 12 inch subwoofer of the lot. The boom sound, tight and punchy bass topped with a classy, no-nonsense design- everything is in place. If you’re constrained by budget, then Kenwood KFC deserves a glance.
For an audiophile like me, buying the right sort of subwoofers is of primal importance. Thus, sorting of products should be done on the basis of major criteria like sensitivity, suggested enclosure type, frequency range, and heating of the material.
Next time you head to the store to buy a sub, keep an eye out for these key areas and you are bound to pick the best 12 inch subwoofer for your requirements.