Why buy a 12-inch subwoofer?
12-inch subwoofers are one of the most popular subwoofer sizes for audiophiles due to their ability to handle more power than their 8- and 10-inch counterparts and provide a more “booming” bass. They’re also ideal for people who listen to bass-heavy music such as R & B, rap, electronic, funk, and even jazz. While 12-inch subwoofers tend to be a bit more pricey than smaller options, the results are truly night and day, making them worth the investment for most lovers of music and especially for bass addicts.
What should you consider when buying a 12-inch subwoofer?
- Compatibility: Since car subwoofers require an amplifier to power them, it’s incredibly important to take note of a subwoofer’s RMS power. This way, you can be sure that the amplifier can handle it, which will help prevent an audio disaster. Of course, if you’re buying a powered amplifier, you won’t have to worry about the built-in amp’s compatibility. If you’re purchasing a subwoofer for your vehicle, it might also be necessary to measure the available space at your disposal to ensure your new sub is a great fit.
- Key Specs and Features: There are plenty of other specs aside from RMS power to keep an eye out for. Sensitivity is vital since a higher sensitivity rating will mean less distortion and less power required to produce the same amount of sound as a subwoofer with a lower sensitivity rating. The number of voice coils a subwoofer features is also a key consideration. Most car subwoofers only contain a single voice coil, which is fine. However, dual voice coils can add a lot of flexibility in terms of wiring options and are thus preferable. Also, be on the lookout for a subwoofer’s frequency range. This metric is indicative of how low the sounds a subwoofer can produce. Typically, lower is better as far as frequency range is concerned, with 20 to 200 Hertz being an ideal range for most needs.
- Enclosure: A subwoofer’s enclosure or “box” is another key consideration for those looking to get the most out of their purchase, and you’ll have two primary options. A sealed enclosure is airtight and typically ideal for limiting the amount of space a subwoofer will occupy. It also provides tighter bass with a somewhat cleaner sound, although it will likely require more power than a ported enclosure. A ported enclosure, on the other hand, is vented to facilitate a low bass response. These types of enclosures are preferable for those who love their bass booming and loud, even if this comes at the expense of accuracy. Ported enclosures tend to be more efficient than sealed enclosures in terms of power but less efficient in terms of size.
Are all-inclusive packages worth the investment?
The answer to this question will depend on who you ask. Sets that include a subwoofer, amp, enclosure, and even installation gear can be an excellent purchase for beginners since it takes most of the guesswork out of implementing a subwoofer into your car’s sound system. However, experienced car audio enthusiasts tend to shy away from these packages due to the lack of options that they present to the user. Either way, be sure to do your research if you’re purchasing a set. This is important because even if an amp and subwoofer are packaged together, this doesn’t mean that they’re a perfect fit. Thus, if you aren’t careful, you might blow your subwoofer out on the first listen if you assume the two devices are well suited to each other in terms of output and capabilities.
Kicker CompRT 12-Inch Subwoofer
This subwoofer impresses both in terms of its clean, reliable bass and its sturdy design.
Pros: Sporting dual voice coils and great sensitivity for the price, this Kicker subwoofer checks off a lot of boxes in terms of specs while maintaining a compact build size. Luckily, the bass it produces is just as reliable and clean as one would expect it to be, and at 500 watts of RMS power handling, this thing is capable of serious sound. This subwoofer is even a great option for your ATV, thanks to its all-weather, robust construction.
Cons: Due to its slim, compact design, this subwoofer isn’t engineered for car-rattling, skull-numbing bass. Thus, if that is what you’re looking for, you’ll need to seek it elsewhere. Also, if you don’t already have a suitable enclosure for this subwoofer, that purchase will increase the total cost of your investment.
Bottom Line: For those who are short on space but desire clean, powerful bass, this is your best option at its price point. However, depending on your current setup, it might require purchasing a new (more powerful) amp and an enclosure to really unlock its power.
BOSS CXX12 Car Subwoofer
Despite its budget-friendly price tag, this subwoofer delivers impressively rich bass and respectable durability.
Pros: Given this subwoofer’s bargain bin price point, it’s actually quite surprising how much it impresses in terms of performance. When utilized at a lower watt RMS, this unit produces incredibly clean bass that won’t wake up the neighborhood but will make your car audio sound much more dynamic. This subwoofer is also pretty reliable despite its price as long as you ensure that it’s broken in properly and not pushed too hard.
Cons: Although this subwoofer (supposedly) supports 1,000 watts of max power and RMS power handling of 500 watts, it’s definitely not a product that you’ll want to push too hard. That being the case, it’s wise to break in this subwoofer as carefully as possible and test it out at a lower watt RMS before cranking things up a notch so that you can avoid destroying it before you have a chance to enjoy it.
Bottom Line: This lacks the durability and power of more expensive subwoofers, but it’s easily the best budget-conscious choice around. If you’re deliberate and careful about how you use this subwoofer, you can expect not only quality bass but a respectable lifespan as well, assuming you don’t decide to replace it with something more powerful while it’s still working.
Dual Electronics BP1204 illumiNITE
Simply put, these dual subwoofers slap. Aside from their booming bass, they really stand out for their high-quality LED-illuminated enclosure.
Pros: This dual subwoofer sounds as good as it looks and comes equipped with a quality enclosure that offers a lot of sturdiness for the price. The end product is deep, punchy bass that outperforms just about any budget-friendly dual subwoofer you can throw at it. Luckily, this product is no slouch in the performance department either, so as long as you’re running it responsibly, you won’t have to worry too much about overheating. Also, the built-in crossover helps ensure the installation is as pain-free as possible.
Cons: This is a fairly bulky product that will have those who drive compact vehicles either forgoing their trunk space or seeking another subwoofer. Also, the plexiglass might rattle when you’re running it, but it’s nothing that tightening some screws won’t fix.
Bottom Line: If you love bass-heavy music like rap and prefer bass that booms, this is a great option for you. Of course, this assumes you have a vehicle that has the available trunk space for dual subwoofers of this size. Either way, in terms of style and sound, this is a great value for its price point.
Rockville RVE12CA Powered Car Subwoofer
This subwoofer comes with accessories for a simple installation process and will be a great fit in a wide variety of vehicles.
Pros: If you’re looking for something low profile and easy to implement, you’ve found it. This subwoofer is compact enough to fit behind a seat in various vehicles and sports a built-in 300-watt RMS amplifier that has enough power for the subwoofer’s clean, accurate bass. This is also an incredibly simple subwoofer to install, making it a great option for those undertaking their first DIY car audio project.
Cons: While this subwoofer and amp combo provides excellent-sounding bass, the 300-watt RMS amplifier is somewhat limited in the power department for those who want their subwoofer to resonate throughout the entire block.
Bottom Line: While this isn’t the loudest or most powerful setup out there, it’s a nice option for those who have graduated from listening to their favorite songs at ear-splitting volume. Because it’s a good fit for just about any vehicle type, this is definitely a versatile system that provides a lot for the price.
Skar Complete SDR Series Bass Package
This package comes equipped with a powerful amp, a booming subwoofer, a wiring kit, and an enclosure to implement your bass setup.
Pros: If you want your system to bump without bumping your head against the wall to find all the right components, this is a great way to take out the guesswork. The subwoofer itself has powerful, booming bass, and the amp is powerful enough to bring out the best in it. This system also scores points both for limiting distortion as well as its heavy-duty enclosure quality.
Cons: Since this setup’s amp can easily overpower the subwoofer, you’ll really want to exercise caution when experimenting with it, especially if you’re a newbie to car audio. Additionally, the sub and enclosure are pretty large, so be sure you have the available space before you buy.
Bottom Line: This is a system that can rattle your car into pieces with booming bass notes if that’s what you’re into. While it’s a great option for novices looking for an easy way to purchase an amazing sound system, be sure to respect the amplifier’s power if you want the subwoofer to last as long as your vehicle does.
Car audio isn’t the easiest thing to get into. However, if you put a little thought into the subwoofer you purchase, as well as the amp, enclosure, and vehicle it will be paired with, you should have no problem crafting a bass-heavy sound system that you’ll enjoy for years to come.