What are the Best 12 Inch Subwoofers for Car

best 12 inch subwoofers

Having a great sound system for your car may sound too fancy, but if you’re a music lover it’s a necessity.

Nothing beats the smooth bass beats that a quality loudspeaker can produce, but finding the best one to install in your car can be difficult given the wide array of choices out there.

That’s why I asked Nick, an audio equipment expert, to help us round up six of the best 12 inch car subwoofers you can buy right now.

Best Car 12 Inch Subwoofers 2017

Here is a table of the best 12-inch car subwoofers that Nick recommended to us.

I divided them into three price points (cheap, affordable and expensive) and included some relevant specs you might want to know.

Device Name

Power
RMS/Peak

Impedance

Skar Audio IX-12 D2

250W/500W

2 ohms

Planet Audio AC12D

900W/1800W

4 ohms

Kicker 44CWCS124 Comp

600W/120W

4 ohms

Pioneer TS-W3003D4 Champion Series

600W/2000W

4 ohms

Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12 Punch P3 DVC

600W/120W

4 ohms

Power Acoustik MOFO-124X

1500 W/2700W

4 ohms


Affordable entry-level sub

The Skar Audio IX-12 D2 12-inch car subwoofer offers middle quality sound for an affordable price. Although it has a limited power range, this budget subwoofer compensates for an expansive frequency range of as low as 30 Hz to as high as 600 Hz making it capable of producing good bass most people turn to subwoofers for. It also features an advanced air flow cooling system and a two-inch high temperature dual voice coil made of copper.     

  • View On Amazon.com

Pros

  • Budget but not ‘cheap’ material-wise
  • Great entry-level subwoofer
  • Good sound for the price
  • Produces great sound at low frequencies

Cons

  • Produces a ‘rattling’ sound when used below RMS

 Great ‘middle-of-the-road’ sub at an entry-level price

The Planet Audio AC12D is a dual voice coil, 4-ohm car sub with a power range of 900 Watts to 1800 Watts, a great leap from the previous Skar Audio IX-12 D2 with only a few bucks of the price difference. It has a sensitivity of 88dB and a resonant frequency of 32 Hz. This 12-inch car sub is designed to work in either sealed or ported enclosures to achieve the best sound from the product.

  • View On Amazon.com

Pros

  • Durable and affordable
  • Produces clean sounds with deep lows
  • Has great frequency range
  • Great ‘middle-of-the-road’ sub

Cons

  • Didn’t live up to the RMS and peak power
  • Voice coil tends to break when sub is used at higher power settings
  • Wire terminals feel a bit cheap

 Best 12-inch sub under $70

For those looking for a great sub under $70, check out the Kicker 44CWCS124 Comp. The only SVC on our list, this Kicker sub delivers reliable bass sound through its thick woofer cone, perimeter venting and strong motor structure. It is best installed in a sealed box enclosure to get the best sound.

  • View On Amazon.com

Pros

  • Has solid, high-quality build
  • Produces great sound at all power settings
  • Doesn’t wear out despite constant use at overpower
  • Doesn’t require a huge amplifier

Cons

  • Bass quality wavers at certain power ranges

A good mid-range sub upgrade

The Pioneer TS-W3003D4 Champion Series is the sub to get when you want an affordable upgrade from your entry-level car subs. Retailing for under $80 at Amazon and with a range of 600 Watts (RMS) and 2000 Watts (peak), this sub presents a great deal for the buck. This sub also offers installation flexibility as it can fit into an enclosure as small as 0.85 cubic ft.

  • View On Amazon.com

Pros

  • Produces punchy sounds and deep bass
  • Good mid-range upgrade
  • Good quality for the price point

Cons

  • Has popping noise at mid-ranges due to a plastic component

Punchy, loud and bold bass

This next sub is a proven customer-pleaser. Not surprising considering its great specs and performance. The Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12 Punch P3 DVC delivers on its promise of high power as it can withstand continuous use without failure even at its peak power capacity of 1200 Watts without causing damage to the voice coils.This sub also features a hybrid StampCast basket which provides strength as it minimizes the sub’s weight and resonance.

  • View On Amazon.com

Pros

  • Sounds bold and loud
  • Good for recreating ‘concert sound’ in the car setting
  • One of the best subs in the upper $100 price range
  • Compares to more expensive subs

Cons

  • May have too much bass for the taste of some

Powerful sub

The Power Acoustik MOFO-124X is made to impress with its power range of 1,500 to 2,700 Watts. It is part of a line of improved subwoofers from Power Acoustik which boasts of featuring non-presses pulp cone for durability and producing smooth, low bass sounds. It also has an improved heat-handling system in the form of an aluminum dustcap which acts as a heat extractor. This sub ensures durability with its die-cast aluminum frame.

  • View On Amazon.com

Pros

  • Made of solid and sturdy materials
  • Produces great sound even when underpowered
  • High wattage enables ‘bigger’ sound

Cons

  • Bass may sound too punchy at first plays

The Best 12 Inch Subwoofers Buying Guide

Subwoofers are literally all about that bass. They are a type of loudspeakers which are designed to produce audio of low-pitched frequencies. Although they are usually seen at events such as concerts, consumer-grade models are sold for home and vehicle use.

Car subwoofers, as the name implies, are a smaller range of subwoofers made specifically to fit inside cars and other vehicles. According to Nick, they are generally made up of about eight parts, with the voice coil and the diaphragm being the most vital ones. The voice coil is the part which creates the pulsating vibrations by picking up an electrical charge from wires. These vibrations produced by the voice coil then goes into the diaphragm and churned out as the sound waves I hear from the subwoofer. The diaphragm also helps in making the sound the subwoofer produces to be louder.

Subwoofers come in a wide array of varieties depending on factors like size, power range, frequency range and enclosure type among others.

Car subwoofers usually come in three types.

Passive subwoofers.

This is the most basic type of subwoofer. It is a subwoofer housed in an enclosure and which needs an external amplifier to work properly. They can be further modified to fit the needs of the user as they come in various sizes with different features.

Powered subwoofers.

If you’re looking for a subwoofer that can produce great sounds at mid-range frequencies, Nick recommends you go for powered subwoofers. This is also a good choice for those wanting to save on space in their cars as powered subwoofers are set up with their amplifiers inside their enclosures. 

Vehicle-specific subwoofers.

This type is another great choice if you want to save on space as these subwoofers are made to cater to specific types of vehicles. You’ll surely find a setup that will work for the vehicle you have. A downside of these however is that they aren’t that powerful when it comes to sound.

Aside from type, here are other factors you should consider when looking for the best 12 inch car subwoofer.

  • Power. This refers to the ability of a subwoofer to handle the power that runs through it. Experts believe that RMS or root-mean-square is a better gauge than peak wattage when determining an audio equipment’s power. Thus, a car subwoofer with a high RMS will produce more bass.

  • Frequency range. This determines the range of sounds that a subwoofer can produce. Since you’ll want good bass sounds, Nick recommends you choose a subwoofer with a frequency range beginning from as low as 20 Hz up to 80 Hz.

  • Sensitivity. This is another important factor you need consider as a subwoofer’s sensitivity works together with the power to produce high outputs. Nick says that going for a subwoofer with a high sensitivity rating will require less power to produce a similar sound as a subwoofer with a lower sensitivity rating. Sensitivity is measured in decibels (dB) with 89 to 95 dB being the recommended range.

  • Impedance. Valued in ohms, impedance is the measure of load value that your subwoofer will present to the amplifier. According to Nick, 4 ohms is the most common impedance among car subwoofers although 2-ohm and 8-ohm subwoofers can also be bought. Impedance, along with power, will determine what type of amplifier will be a great match for the subwoofer you’ll eventually choose.

  • Type of enclosure. Enclosures are usually sold separately from subwoofers. They are a sort of sealed box which houses subwoofers and greatly affect the quality of sound they’ll produce. Nick recommends getting ported or bandpass enclosures as they produce more volume. To learn more about the different types of enclosures, check out this guide.

  • A number of voice coils. Subwoofers can either have dual voice coils (DVC) or a single voice coil (SVC). Although, SVCs are common, DVCs might be a better choice for those looking for more flexible wiring, Nick says, but in the end, the decision will depend on the number of subwoofers and type of amplifiers you’ll install. To know more about voice coils and wiring your speakers, take a look at this article.
  • Other things you might need

    If you plan on installing your newly-bought car subwoofers yourself, here are some more tools you might need.

    Amp wiring kit
    Speaker wires
    Dynamat kit
    Enclosure box stuffing

    Final Words

    If you’re an audiophile, a great car sound system is a luxury you’ll want to invest in. You can do this by starting with choosing the best car 12 inch subwoofers that will fit your car space, personal preference and budget. This can get overwhelming, but if you keep these reminders and factors in mind, I am sure that you’ll find the what you’re looking for.

    In case you're searching for a smaller subwoofer, I suggest you read the post on the best 8 inch subwoofers.

    About the Author Simon Adams

    Simon Adams here. a tech geek and an industry wizard. One of the original members of the CurateView team to offer unbiased product reviews.

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