Best 12 Inch Subwoofers in 2021

photo of Jarrett Ziemer

by Jarrett Ziemer on October 4th, 2021 in Best Picks

I’m going to date myself right off the bat here and say.. I’m a millennial. I was born in the late ’80s and a kid of the ’90s. I was picking boogers with Ren and Stimpy, being blown away by MTV when it actually played music, going to school with Billy Madison, and Hanging with Mr. Cooper.

I was doing all that and also sneaking into my older brother’s Prelude and cranking the sub, bumping bass every chance I got.

Now, the classic tv shows and movies may have faded away, the Prelude was sold long ago, and my music choices have definitely changed, but the bass, the subwoofer, the boom is here to stay.

That’s because whether you’re bumping license plate shaking bass in your JDM tuner or filling out the minivan system with lows to match the mids and highs of the kids, a subwoofer is a necessary tool to pick up all the frequencies in any sound system.

From the golden era of the subwoofer in the ’90s to the renaissance of today, when it comes to subs, there is arguably none that sound better, give you the crispy sharpness you’re looking for, that give you the perfect boom, than the 12 inch.

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Best 12 Inch Subwoofers Reviewed

With a premium build and 2500w of peak power handling, this competition-grade 12-inch sub can take everything you throw at it. This powerful and efficient monster subwoofer redefines low-end sound production. The reviews are in, and the Skar EVL-12 D2 is a bass-bumping winner.

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If you’re the guy or gal out there looking for one of the overall best subwoofers on the market, stop reading this and just go purchase the Skar EVL-12 D2.

The days of spending half a grand to find the best bone-rattling sub for the money are over. The peak power and RMS of this sub at 2,500 and 1,250 are more than you’ll need. And with a sensitivity of 85.1 dB, a high roll surround, and a high-temperature 3-inch coil to match all that power, you’ll get the crisp deep, resonating lows you’re looking for.

The deep, low, unquestionably responsive bass this subwoofer delivers is thanks to a premium build all around. Mount this bad boy in a solid box and get yourself a powerful amp, and you’ll be bumpin’ till the cows come home.

What We Like
Wattage - The Peak Power and RMS on this sub are right in the sweet spot.
Sound - The sensitivity of 85.1 dB combined with a high roll surround and high-temperature 3-inch coil mean this one will have low, rich tones.
Build - The engineering on this subwoofer is premium from the ground up.
Know Before Buying
Quality - This thing absolutely bumps. Consider purchasing only one before you upgrade and get two. You may be surprised at what you get.
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Rockville hooks you up with the whole package, including a 1200 watt vented subwoofer enclosure and matching monoblock amplifier. From your battery to the trunk, you'll be good to go with this bass bumping, affordable setup.

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The Rockville RV12.2B is a 1200 watt vented subwoofer enclosure that comes with everything you need to get your system bumping, like yesterday.

Thanks to a 1200 peak power/ 400 watt RMS dual sub system perfectly paired with a monoblock amplifier and all the fuses, wires, and switches you’ll need, the guesswork is gone when you purchase this setup.

We think you’ll love the sound quality you get with setup, as it should outperform its price and go head to head with more expensive designs. Keep in mind, though, when purchasing this package, that the lower quality may come at the expense of a higher-end finish and more difficult to adjust knobs.

What We Like
Complete Package - This thing has literally everything you need to get your system bumpin'.
Amplifier - The included matching monoblock amplifier takes the guesswork out of your setup.
Price - For the price, this package delivers.
Sound Quality - These should perform head to head with a more expensive setup.
Know Before Buying
Tuning Knobs - The amp tuning knobs are a bit low quality.
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Skar Audio delivers with the affordable IX-12 D4 12 subwoofer. The powerful single-track magnet, competition grade paper cone, and high roll foam surround ensure this budget build bumps with clean, powerful, and responsive sound.

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If you’re just diving into the car audio game or are just looking for a competent sub that won’t break the bank, this one is for you. With a bass bump that will remind you of the classic subs you owned in the 80s and a shallow depth, meaning a space-saving ease of installation, these subs are no joke at the price you pay.

If you keep a, on the high end of, reasonable expectation, pair this sub with the appropriate amp and stay within the 250 RMS wattage range, you’ll be more than happy with this purchase. And with the money you save, you can spend a little extra on gas driving to your friend’s house over on Clairmont to prove to him you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg on a dope sound system.

Keep in mind when purchasing this sub that it might smell a little funky out of the package due to its production and materials. Don’t worry too much, though; it should go away.

What We Like
Price - This sub is no joke at any price, and at this price, it's a steal.
Sound - For the price, you should love the sound. The sub handles low wattage, but you can expect it to move some air.
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Smell - This woofer might smell a little weird out of the box.
Wattage - These have a low wattage rating, so don't overdo it if you want em to last.
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Massive Audio delivers some massive bump with this 12-inch competition-level subwoofer. If you're looking for one of the best sounding, feature forward subs with hard-hitting, ear-splitting deep bass. This sub is for you.

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Earth Shattering bass lovers look no further. The HippoXL122R is a heavy-duty, rugged-designed subwoofer ready to shake all the mirrors and break all the glass.

Thanks to a premium build that features everything from a 430oz High Energy Double Stack Strontium Magnet Structure to a Reinforced Fiberglass Woven Dust cap for high power applications, this sub performs in every way you want it to.

This excellent quality sub is one you’d buy again and again for the sound, but you won’t have to, thanks to the build quality.

Keep in mind that this heavy (65 pounds) premium-built sub needs a large enclosure and a premium amp and wires to match. You may even consider upgrading your car battery with this one. Just remember, if you plan on going with this purchase, be ready to pull the trigger and go all the way.

What We Like
Massive Wattage - With 6000 Watt max and 3000 watt RMS, this thing can literally take it all.
Massive Durability - With a black anodized voice coil former and a kevlar reinforced paper cone to top off an utterly exceptional design, this thing is built to take all the boom.
Magnets - 430oz High Energy triple-stacked magnets and a custom milled over-sized backplate will keep this high-powered machine from overheating.
Know Before Buying
Premium Build - This thing will need a large box and a high powered amp.
Weight - This sub weighs almost 65 pounds on its own.
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If you're looking for a shallow mount pre-loaded enclosure, look no further. This subwoofer setup is compact, flexible enough to be installed in three directions, and is space-saving while still delivering the bang. You can expect a punchy boom from this one any way you install it.

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This slim boxed subwoofer answers the age-old question of how do you slap when the space in your car is crap.

Thanks to a shallow compact design that is capable of being mounted upright or laying flat and facing up or down, space is no longer a concern for audiophiles who need a little bump to get the day going.

Besides the flexible installation and shallow design that lets the sub be positioned anywhere, we think you’ll love the wattage. With the ability to handle 1500 Max and 400 RMS watts, this sub has more than enough wattage for its compact design.

When purchasing this little banger, keep in mind that it is not powered like other compact subs, so you’ll need to find an appropriately powered amp.

What We Like
Installation Flexibility - You can install this sub to down-fire,up-fire, or to face vertically.
Slim Design - The slim, compact design makes this great for trucks or cars with small spaces.
Wattage - With 1500 max and 400 RMS watts, when paired with the right amp, this should out bump its size, no problem.
Know Before Buying
Amp - This is a slim design that's not powered. You'll need an amp with this sub.
Space - This shallow sub is small but not the smallest and probably won't fit under your seat. Get out your measuring tape and make sure it'll work.
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This subwoofer is for the car audio enthusiast who wants a killer sound without the hassle of the time-killing setup. This competition-grade sub is pre-mounted and pre-wired, meaning all you need to do is run a few wires, and you're ready to slap some bass.

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The SDR-1X12D2 loaded enclosure is a great-looking subwoofer setup that was built to bring the boom. You’ll love the excellent quality box and the peace of mind that comes with a quality-built pre-wired setup ready to roll right out the gate.

Thanks to the premium vented enclosure, and a subwoofer built for power with 1200 watts of peak power and a steady RMS power of 600 watts, when you pair this with the appropriate amp, you’ll get all the deep lows you’re looking for without worrying about overheating or sound distortion.

The bottom line with this one is that it’s a premium build at a solid price that will deliver all the sound you need. Get a restraining order ready when you purchase this one cause this thing slaps.

What We Like
Setup - This pre-wired loaded subwoofer enclosure is ready to roll out of (or better yet, "In") the box.
Looks - The double front baffle gives this an attractive countersunk look that will be tough to get if you're building your own box.
Sound - The subwoofer in this is the popular SDR-12 D2. You should be more than happy with the deep lows the enclosure provides.
Know Before Buying
Car Rattle - Batten down your hatches cause this thing slaps.
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Time and attention are of the essence, and JBL gets that. This setup pairs a subwoofer, a ported enclosure, and a perfectly matched amp all in one package. Don't let the affordable price or all-in-one package fool you; this thing will bump.

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The JBL GT-BassPro12 is a slick-looking, slick performing affordable all in one subwoofer for a car audio enthusiast who wants the wicked whack without the installation wait. This system will keep your car setup clean and deliver the 12-inch bump you’re expecting.

Thanks to the well-designed port on this system, you’ll be able to get a big sound from a small box without losing audio quality or experiencing distortion. And with a bass remote, the stellar low ends on this one will be there with every twist of the dial.

We think you’ll love the price of this all-in-one setup but keep in mind that low, low price does come with a drawback. With a 150 watt RMS this thing will produce clean, deep, intense sounds, but don’t expect the power you’ll get from a stand-alone enclosure with a higher quality subwoofer. It bumps, but it’s not a window shaker.

What We Like
Ease Of Use - This all-in-one subwoofer is as easy to set up as they come.
Bass Remote - The included remote lets you adjust the bass level from the comfort of your seat.
Port - The port on this should eliminate distortion at high output levels.
Price - You get everything you need with this one for a reasonable price.
Know Before Buying
Sound Level - This thing bumps but, with a 150 watt RMS, don't expect it to win any awards.
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If you're the guy or gal looking to take your car audio experience into your own hands, this is the component sub for you. With a premium build from the cone to the magnet, the P3D4 is Rockford Fosgate's best-selling subwoofer for a reason; it bumps, it bangs, it punches.

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The design, the magnet, the coils. The whole build of the punch 12 was comprehensively created with predictable clean low-end power in mind. As a result, this thing delivers the crisp, clean sound you’d expect from a 10-inch sub inside of the powerful bass bump you’d expect from a 15. The Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12 Punch is the reason you buy a 12.

We think you’ll love the top-to-bottom build quality of the whole sub, especially the spider venting. With 1200 watts of peak power and a 600 watt RMS, that venting will keep the motor of this booming sub cool for continuous hours of use.

If you’re looking for that deep bass you remember from the ’80s or looking to experience what all the hype was about for the first time; this is the sub for you. Just be ready with the earplugs and the dustpan and broom to clean up that broken glass cause this thing will bump.

What We Like
Venting - The unique spider venting on this subwoofer should keep the sub cool and the sound booming.
Build Quality - The quality of this build is top-notch, from the anodized aluminum cone down to the PVC Protective magnet cover.
Design - The "VAST" design of the speaker means you'll get up to 25% more effective radiating cone area.
Know Before Buying
Earplugs - If you plan on turning this thing all the way up, get the earplugs out.
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The P3-2X12 is a dual enclosure subwoofer designed for all-day accurate low bass frequencies. Featuring two of Rockford Fosgate's famous component Punch woofers, this precision-built enclosure lets you set your system up hassle-free so that you can produce some of the best low-end sounds around, like yesterday.

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Featuring two of Rockford Fosgate’s famous Punch subwoofers, this dual-loaded enclosed ported setup delivers all the clean bumps of the Punch with double the boom in a beautiful, smartly designed enclosure.

With a proprietary high-flow, low-noise port with high current binding posts, you’ll get the best flow possible to your 2400 watts max system.

The entire build of each Punch 12 was comprehensively created with predictable clean low-end power in mind. 1 12′ Punch will shake your windows. 2 12″ Punches should rattle your brain. These subwoofers deliver the crisp, clean sound you’d expect from a 10-inch sub inside of the powerful bass bump you’d expect from a 15.

The Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12 Punch is the reason you buy a 12, and with double the delivery in a clean, wired ready to go build, you’ll never look back.

Keep in mind that this setup weighs nearly 100 pounds delivered to your door. If you’re throwing it in your old VW bug, expect that zero to 60 to drop a few seconds.

What We Like
Sound - This enclosure is loaded with two of the best speakers on the market.
Wattage - 2400 max and 1200 RMS should be more than enough wattage to bump this enclosure for years to come.
Vents - The high flow vents on this give the subs the proper airflow for consistent performance.
Know Before Buying
Weight - Get the back brace out; this setup clocks in at nearly a hundred pounds.
Terminal Ports - Keep an eye on the terminal ports of this speaker. If they touch, they may melt or blow a fuse.
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A well-designed dual enclosure should be rugged, ready to roll, and should deliver the boom. With the MTX Terminator TnE212D, you get all three in an affordable, easy-to-install system.

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A dual subwoofer setup has one job: Deliver double the boom. This one does it without dipping into the muddy waters of too much bass. This system fits right into the sweet spot with a peak power of 800 watts and RMS of 400 watts.

It’ll deliver all the boom and more while managing to keep a clean deep, low sound that won’t rattle the neighbor’s pictures off of the wall. This dual setup won’t win any competitions but instead will deliver consistent, smooth bass that you’ll actually want to listen to day in and day out.

If you love the loud but don’t want to compromise on clean sounds and maybe don’t want to carry around earplugs every day, this setup is for you.

We think you’ll love the construction of this enclosure. From the logo stitching to the carpet, this one should feel premium.

What We Like
Price - This thing delivers all the bass you need at a reasonable price.
Looks - From the stitching to the carpet, this enclosure should feel premium.
Sound - This isn't a competition sub but will deliver the crisp, clear, heavy bass you’ll actually want to listen to day in and day out.
Know Before Buying
Complete Setup - What you see you get with this one. You'll need to purchase an amp and wire it yourself.
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This shallow mount, powered sub is designed for the car audio enthusiast looking for excellent low-end sound in a small package. This subwoofer is perfect for all you Jeep, truck, and small car owners who understand space and style are premium and want the best sound boom possible.

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The reviews for this one are in. Alphasonik AS12DF 12″ is a shallow mount 1500 Watt subwoofer that delivers the lows you’re looking for in a small compact design.

If you’re low on space or want a clean build, this is the subwoofer for you. With installation flexibility in the most compact design you’ll find for a 12″ sub; you can face this up or down under a seat (don’t forget to measure your personal setup) or stand it vertically in a space as small as 7 inches wide.

This sub is more than compact, though. A spun aluminum cone and copper wound Kapton voice coil on this subwoofer gives way to 92dB of sensitivity and a frequency response ranging from 26Hz to 500Hz. That means you’ll get the most boom available from the shallow mount box.

Keep in mind that though it looks like its shallow powered brothers, you’ll need an amp for this sub.

What We Like
Size - Make sure you measure, but this sub should fit under your car or truck seat.
Flexibility - This sub can be installed facing up or down and vertical or horizontally.
Know Before Buying
Power - You'll need to buy a separate amp with this subwoofer.
Sound Level - The shallow box on this sub means you won't get the glass breaking lows you will with a bigger sub or enclosure.
Space - This 12" subwoofer is nearly as small as they come but don't forget to measure the area you'll be installing it in.
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What Are The Benefits of a 12 Inch Subwoofer?

Music and how people have listened to it has been a constant progression since early humans learned to carry a tune some 40,000 years ago.

The car subwoofer is a relatively recent addition in all of that progression. It was developed in the ’60s popularized in the ’70s and almost necessary in cars by the late 80 and ’90s after the invention of the CD and bass-heavy styles of music like hip hop.

Obviously, when looking at the sub, you’re looking at bumping bass, but believe it or not, the sub does so much more.

Bass Response

The subwoofer doesn’t just sound bassy. It actually “reveals” the bass in your favorite track. The subwoofer is designed to pick up lower frequencies (20HZ) than standard speakers (50HZ), allowing you to hear the music the way the artist intended.

Work Load

Subwoofers add clarity to your system by reducing the workload of your smaller speakers. Even a full-range small speaker doesn’t give you clear bass like a sub. By programming the sub to take the load, the whole system will sound better and less distorted.

Amp Installation

Although most folks will install an amp to regulate the subwoofer, that amp actually benefits all your car speakers. With an amplifier, you’ll be able to hit higher volume levels without distortion from all your speakers while you’re getting that full-spectrum response and full audio range from the sub.

Car speakers

Why choose a 12-inch subwoofer?

The debate on the perfect sub size won’t be over after this article, but if you’re looking for a solid subwoofer that produces rich, heavy sounds, and isn’t too big, is probably the most popular on the market, there’s really nothing that beats a 12 inch.

12-inch subwoofers are known for their accuracy and loudness. With outstanding response and clarity, they are capable of producing the same crisp, clean sound as a 10 inch while also handling more power, playing louder, and being boomier in the right places.

On the other end of the spectrum, they also are more readily available than 15 inches, won’t require the more expensive amp, and don’t take up the room.

The bottom line is, if you’re looking for the “it” sub, the 12 inch is the one for you.

What to Look for in a 12-inch Sub

When purchasing your 12-inch subwoofer, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Type

There are essentially three types of subwoofers.

The powered subwoofer or active subwoofer works using its own amplifier. This subwoofer always has the right amount of power and is usually the easiest to install.

An enclosed subwoofer is your basic sub but pre-mounted. This is another easy-to-install option great for beginners.

A component subwoofer is the sub for you car nerds, audiophiles, and DIYers. The component sub only comes with a speaker. You’ll have to purchase or make an enclosure and purchase the amp separately.

Size

You’ll notice you have a wide range of size options when it comes to picking up a 12-inch sub and enclosure. Generally speaking, the better quality the component sub and the bigger and more well built the enclosure, the better the sound.

On the small end of the 12″ sub, you’ll find powered subwoofers that are generally compact enough to fit under or behind your seat. On the large end, you’ll find huge enclosures with dual or triple subwoofers installed. When considering your sound, also consider your space and remember that bigger and louder isn’t always better. The boom should complement your car speakers and space, your soundstage, not overpower it.

Peak Power/ Power Handling

More power means more bass, but also more money and sometimes, actually, a worse sound for your specific system. A subwoofer is a purchase you want to last for a while. When searching for the perfect one, consider that the peak power lets you know how much power your sub can handle for a short time. So then, look for a peak power you’re happy staying well below, not reaching every day.

Impedance Level/ 2 ohm vs. 4 ohm

A sub with a lower electrical resistance produces a louder sound. That means that 2ohm subs are going to be louder than their 4ohm counterparts. Keep in mind, though, that although louder, 2ohm subwoofers generally produce a worse sound quality.

12 Inch Car Subwoofer

Frequency Response

Generally speaking, the higher the frequency, the sharper the sound, and the lower the frequency, the more bass you’ll get. If you’re purchasing a sub with a fixed frequency rating, looking for something lower than 80 Hz. If your sub has a range, look for something around 20-120 Hz.

Voice Coils: SVC VS DVC

A voice coil is a wire around the bottom of the speaker cone, or cylinder called a former. The former receives the amplified current being sent to the sub. When the current reaches the coil, the coil reacts by moving up and down on the former’s magnet. The entire setup is attached to the speaker cone, and the moving of the former produces air pressure in the cone, which in turn produces sound.

A single-coil sub has one coil, and a dual voice coil subwoofer has, you got it, two coils. Now, it’s a little techie, but the benefit of a DVC subwoofer comes in wiring options. To keep it simple, kind of, the DVC lets you change the ohm impedance level of your sub.

If you’re looking to dive deep, check out this tutorial.

Installation

Before you pull the trigger on any subwoofer or speaker, make sure you have everything you’ll need. That might include separate wiring and fuses, an amplifier, basic electrician tools, and a trusty manual or youtube.

Don’t forget; you’ll also want to soundproof your car. That might include adding carpeting and other noise-canceling material, as well as getting out the screwdriver and tightening down anything that might rattle.

And when in doubt, there’s no shame in picking up a six-pack and having your brother-in-law over or dropping your rig off at a geek squad for the afternoon.

Price

As with everything you purchase, but even more so with subs, you generally get what you pay for. So if you’re looking at the deal of the century, be wary, check the specs, and read the reviews.

In Summary

Every good sound system is nothing without that full-range audiophile’s love.

Whether you’re listening to hear the highs, the mids, and the lows and to bump some bass, or you’re looking to give your system clarity and range and to reduce the wear on your car speakers, a subwoofer is for you.

In the subwoofer world, there are a variety of sizes and kinds, but nothing quite compares to the classic 12 inch.