The best 12-inch subwoofer is a crucial addition to any sound setup, whether you’re a casual listener or a full-on audiophile. Even if you only listen to music in the background, you’ll appreciate the full range of frequencies that a good subwoofer provides.
Every song needs a bass track to give it stability and rhythm. It rounds out the song and is the baseline off which the rest of the tracks build. Without the best 12-inch subwoofer, you’re missing out on a central part of the music experience. If you want to enjoy your music, don’t you deserve to enjoy all of it?
Picking the Best 12 Inch Subwoofer
To help you choose the best 12-inch subwoofer to match your sound system, it would help to know what precisely a subwoofer does. Subwoofers were not always staples of stereo systems.
They used to be specialist features only found in specific setups. But now, since they create the lowest frequencies for pretty much every sound system, these bass speakers are all but indispensable.
In most stereo systems, the regular speakers can cover most of the range of frequencies you’ll encounter in music. But, they lack the capacity to hit the lowest notes that tie it all together. Pumping out bass isn’t all that a subwoofer does, though.
In order to make your stereo system mesh together, subwoofers have to fill the frequency gap between the lowest bass notes and higher frequencies from the rest of the speakers. The best 12-inch subwoofer will tie all of this together with ease.
Where will you put your subwoofer?
Where you place your subwoofer can make all the difference in how your system sounds. That difference doesn’t just apply to its location in your room, either. Car and home subwoofers are generally the same, although there are a few differences. For one, car subwoofers are usually just the cone. They don’t come in big housing, because obviously there’s nowhere to put them. They also are made for lower voltage and higher amperage, which is the opposite for home systems.
Generally, the opposite is true for home subwoofers. Many of these are made to work in whatever size room you have, while car speakers are best fit for smaller spaces. They also come in cases that make them easier to install and use as pieces of furniture. Be careful, because the best 12-inch subwoofer for your car may not be the best one for your home. You may also wonder where to place your subwoofer for the best sound.
It’s actually a pretty easy problem to solve! In your car, the best place to put subwoofers is in the trunk or luggage storage. Because of the wavelengths subwoofers create, our ears can’t tell what direction the sound is coming from when indoors. So, you can put your subwoofer wherever fits best with your home setup.
Why would you use a 12-inch subwoofer?
So why pick a 12-inch subwoofer? How does size factor into what makes a subwoofer worth using? Well, it may seem too simple, but with subwoofers, bigger is better! Since these speakers have to create longer wavelengths than other speakers, they need more power to do so. The bigger the speaker, the better it will be at making deep, rich bass notes.
You can commonly find subwoofers ranging between 10 and 18 inches. But it many cases, the best 12-inch subwoofer will be an excellent all-round choice. That’s because it’s big enough to generate bass, but not so big that it needs special accommodations. If you’re working with a larger room or anywhere with a lot of space to fill, even the best 12-inch subwoofer may not give you the bass you desire. Keep that in mind while making your selection.
How We Narrowed Down Our Choices
When it comes to picking a subwoofer, it can seem like there are too many choices out there. To make it easier for you, we focused on two main sources when making our selection. One was professional reviews.
By using sites such as Forbes and CNET, we were able to find some excellent selections for the best 12-inch subwoofer. But there are still blind spots for the professionals. To make sure we didn’t get caught up by any of these blind spots, we have a second line of defense.
Customers may not have the ability to buy every speaker and compare. But many of them are experienced nonetheless, and they know what makes a speaker the best 12-inch subwoofer. For this reason, we did not include any choices that earned a rating of fewer than 4.0 stars out of 5.0 on Amazon.
The 10 Best 12-Inch Subwoofers for Your Sound System
We have listed our picks for the best 12-inch subwoofer below, in alphabetical order for your convenience.
While the diameter of the speaker cone makes a difference in how powerful your bass is, there’s only so much variance you can get in a 12-inch subwoofer. That’s why Kenwood is stepping it up with a cone that has more surface area in the same diameter. A lot of this added sound is thanks to the reinforced cone, which keeps the subwoofer strong while letting it deliver more sound.
The square array pattern across the face of the cone bolsters it and gives you more powerful low-frequency sound. Built for vehicle stereos, the Kenwood KFC-W3016PS has a rubber surround and polypropylene cone for added stability and smooth audio. It has a depth of 6 inches, and its power peaks at 2000 Watts. Ninety Amazon customers rated this subwoofer 4.0 stars out of 5.0. It also received Amazon’s Choice award.
- Bone-shaking bass at half of maximum wattage
- Low price for high-value performance
- Needs to be used for a while before it breaks in
If you’re looking for a subwoofer that will give you everything you didn’t know you needed from a speaker, the Kicker 12-inch CompVR 4-ohm model may be the best 12-inch subwoofer for you. Why? Part of it is the CompVR technology. This is how the Kicker subwoofer creates your bass, using high-temperature dual voice coils for the deepest sounds. The cone is surrounded by a ribbed Santoprene support that keeps this subwoofer stable under stress.
To keep everything cool inside the speaker, this subwoofer has perimeter venting. Alongside everything Kicker offers in its speakers, you can be sure your investment won’t go to waste thanks to overheating. Online, 28 Amazon customers rated the Kicker 12-inch CompVR 4-ohm subwoofer 4.4 stars out of 5.0. It also earned the Amazon’s Choice Award.
- Durable speaker can go in any vehicle
- Perimeter venting prevents overheating
Might blow out even after little use
Klipsch’s R-120SW is the first subwoofer that we recommend that fits better in a home setting than it does in your vehicle. Its fiberboard exterior reduces vibrations, so your audio is clean and clear. Dark colors and a modern finish suggest that this speaker offers a lot more under the hood. The woofer cone is spun copper, as well as injection-molded graphite. That means they are both lightweight and rigid.
A more rigid speaker will generate cleaner sound, so your bass won’t dissolve into a mushy mess. This all-digital amplifier on this subwoofer makes sounds that are more efficient and accurate. Plus, the R-120SW has low-pass crossover and phase controls. These ensure the low-frequency sounds mix well with the rest of your sound system. Klipsch’s R-120SW earned 4.8 stars out of 5.0 from more than 230 customers on Amazon. It also earned the Amazon’s Choice Award. This subwoofer is also available for sale at the Klipsch website.
- Tight and clean bass for home systems
- Effortless setup and integration
Less expensive subwoofers can do the same job
Pioneer’s TS-W126M 12-inch Subwoofer with IMPP is focused on giving your car a powerful bass system that closely recreates the source audio. It does this with a combination of a specially-designed voice coil with a voice coil cooling system, and a robust IMPP cone. This subwoofer’s voice coil is specially designed so that it can handle higher power. It also offers linear movement and greater excursion, so your bass output is higher than ever.
Part of the way it does this is with its voice coil cooling system. This special system strengthens the durability of the speaker, so your bass comes out perfectly every time. To further improve the speaker’s rigidity and maximize its sound output, the cone of this subwoofer is IMPP or injection-molded polypropylene. This keeps your bass audio clear rather than letting it melt into an inaudible mess. More than 75 customers rated this speaker on Amazon, rating it 4.1 stars out of 5.0. It also earned the Amazon’s Choice Award.
- Low cost but reliable performance
- Good entry point for car audio
Doesn’t offer most powerful bass available
Polk Audio’s PSW505 12-inch powered subwoofer is the home-ready subwoofer you need to really rattle your bones. This powerful subwoofer comes ready in housing and brings higher wattage plus a plug-and-play setup system. If you’re looking for the best subwoofer to finish off an otherwise-complete sound system, the PSW505 might be the right choice for you. Polk Audio intends for this subwoofer to work with any existing system.
All you need to do is plug it in, and let your new bass tones roll. How much wattage your speaker gets affects how strong your bass is, so a more powerful speaker will produce the cleanest sounds. The Polk Audio PSW505 has 460 Watts behind it, so you get a deep, rich sound that doesn’t have any distortion. Because this is a home speaker, it also differentiates between sounds well. The deep booms of an action movie will be distinct from the rumbling tones of a timpani.
No matter what you use your home stereo for, this subwoofer will give you the best sound available. On Amazon, the Polk Audio PSW505 12-inch powered subwoofer earned 4.2 stars out of 5.0 from more than 2,350 customers. It’s also Amazon’s Choice for 12-inch subwoofers.
- Much less expensive than other home subwoofers
- Smaller and lighter enclosure than other subwoofers
Smaller range than some home models
Audio powerhouse Rockford Fosgate knows how to make speakers, and the P3D4-12 is their best-performing model. With anodized aluminum cones and frame to keep the speaker strong but light, this is a strong contender for the best 12-inch subwoofer. One advantage this speaker has over the competition is a StampCast basket.
This basket has integrated venting, whipping heat away from the interior while increasing durability. It also minimizes weight and keeps resonance down, so you only get sound from your speaker itself. An aluminum cone and dust cap make this speaker more rigid, and ensure you get clearer sound. Its reinforced voice collar will keep the bass going strong as long as you need it. More than 500 customers on Amazon rated the Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12 subwoofer and gave it 4.7 stars out of 5.0.
- Handles daily use, even in hottest temperatures
- Bass is clearer at higher frequencies
Lower frequency range than other subwoofers
The Rockville W12K9D2 4,000-watt model is one of the more costly options for car subwoofers that we recommend. While it doesn’t match the cost of the more expensive home subwoofers, it does come with its own housing and a few bells and whistles to help justify the price. It differs from other subwoofers that we recommend in a few ways.
For one, this subwoofer is made with different material. The cone of this speaker is made of paper, which makes it lightweight, stiff, and durable. Also, the basket is made of aluminum rather than plastic. This also makes it more durable and weigh less. The voice coils of this subwoofer are made of aluminum wound with copper. They are certified up to 240 degrees Celsius, or around 464 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s not a chance these speakers will overheat!
A custom mounting gasket and a magnetic cover make it easy for you to mount this speaker wherever you need to, and make it look beautiful. On Amazon, more than 300 customers gave the Rockville W12K9D2 12-inch 4000 Watt Car Audio Subwoofer 4.6 stars out of 5.0.
- Powerful bass on a reasonable budget
- Sturdy construction protects the speaker
Ohms are inconsistent and limit power
Skar Audio engineered their DDX-12 D2 12-inch 1,500-watt subwoofer to fill your car with deep, low bass. It uses features including a paper cone and a high-temperature copper voice coil to make sure your car audio has the low-range sound you need. One of the most important features of this subwoofer is the paper cone.
This is traditionally a common component used in subwoofers. But in the Skar Audio DDX-12 D2, it is both lightweight and rigid for superior sound quality. This subwoofer’s cone is stitched to high-roll foam for support and protection. The voice coil on this subwoofer is a 2.5-inch copper coil, especially for high temperatures. It will recreate bass tones for any genre of music. On Amazon, the Skar Audio DDX-12 earned 4.4 out of 5.0 stars from 44 customers.
- Consistently powerful sound
- Construction that fits more expensive models
Does not have as clean a sound as other subwoofers
The Skar Audio IX-12 D2 12-inch, 500-watt subwoofer is a model that works for everyday vehicle audio, on an everyday budget. This subwoofer has many of the features of the Skar Audio DDX-12 D2, but with a price point that makes it fit any car driver looking to upgrade their sound system for the first time.
The voice coil is a 2-inch copper coil that can withstand high temperatures. But it doesn’t have to do it alone. That’s because this speaker has an advanced airflow cooling design that keeps everything from overheating. With a peak power of 500 watts, you won’t have any trouble hearing bass notes from anywhere in your car. More than 180 Amazon customers rated this subwoofer, giving it 4.3 stars out of 5. They also awarded it Amazon’s Choice Award.
- Easy to install
- Good, deep sound out of the box
May overheat with extensive use
The Tarantula T5.122 T5 Series subwoofer from Soundstream has a lot to offer. Bigger components bring bigger sound to the 12-inch diameter than other similarly priced subwoofers we recommend here. As a rebirth of a classic Soundstream line, the Tarantula offers new twists on a popular subwoofer. Everything in the T5.122 is big.
The voice coil requires 1,000 watts and is 3 inches in diameter, meaning it brings big bass sounds to your vehicle. Not to mention, the speaker is powered by a triple-stack magnet structure that won’t let you down when you’ve got the volume up. The vented frame helps keep things cool within the speaker, so you’ll never worry about it burning up.
But even if it gets too hot for comfort, the adhesives resist high temperatures and keep your speaker sturdy. On Amazon, 25 customers rated the Soundstream T5.122 Tarantula T5 Series subwoofer 4.7 out of 5.0 stars. It is also available at the Soundstream website.
- Massive amounts of bass output
- Inexpensive, especially for their performance
- Takes some time to break them in
- Might break the glass in your car
Which 12-Inch Subwoofer Will Balance Your Sound System?
Any one of the subwoofers we recommend here will be a stable base for the rest of your sound system to build off of. Whether you need a setup for your car or your home, on a budget or all-out, the best 12-inch subwoofer is waiting for you. When making your selection, remember to check that you’re looking for the right kind. While car subwoofers work at home and vice versa, both will work and sound better when you use them where they are intended. Where do you use your subwoofer? How does it round out your listening experience? Drop us a comment below to let us know!