As an audiophile and adrenaline junky – I admit that’s a bit of a dangerous combination – I cannot get enough of any music that has a lot going on and that makes me want to run a marathon. And nothing is better than listening to said music while driving down the highway or around town. Of course, a great way to get that “Eye of the Tiger” feeling is to add some amazing dirty bass. But not all speakers can handle really good bass, and listening to bass-heavy music on lackluster speakers is honestly just a waste.
That’s why we want to make sure you have the best subwoofers out there so that you can headbang along with the heaviest and deepest bass possible. We’ve made this list of the best 12-inch subwoofers so that you can have your car decked out for the best on-the-go music experience possible. By the time you’re done with our list, you’ll have a car radio so good that you won’t want to get to your destination.
Carry on reading to see our full list of the best subwoofers, followed by a recap breaking down what makes each product on our list stand out. Or jump straight to our number #1 pick on Amazon here.
What Should You Look For in a 12-Inch Subwoofer?
A lot of music lovers never go through the worthwhile endeavor of upgrading their car radio. This means that you may be lacking some experience in this field and that you may not exactly know what sets the best subwoofers apart from the mediocre ones. We don’t want you to wind up with a sub-par product or to feel you’re in over your head while reading our reviews, and that’s why we’re going to guide you along the way.
We’ve made a clear and concise rubric that will help you feel like an expert in subwoofers, and after you finish the rubric, you’ll better understand our thought process as you go through our list. of course, we also hope that this rubric helps you with any further research you may decide to conduct after you finish our article.
Criteria #1: Sensitivity – Sensitivity, measured in decibels, is basically how loud the lowest amount of power – in watts – your speaker is. So if you have a speaker with a sensitivity of 80 dB, then 1 watt of electricity will emit 80 dB of volume. After that, every 3 watts will require double the power, so 83 dB will use 2 watts, 86 dB will use 4 watts, and so on. That means that the higher the sensitivity rating of your subwoofers, the louder you’ll be able to blast your music without putting a string on your car or its battery. And we want you to be able to crank up the volume to your heart’s content.
Criteria #2: Frequency Response – A simple way to understand frequency response would be to think of it as the range of your speakers. While subwoofers should by definition provide you with thumping bass notes, you don’t want to miss out on the mids or trebles either. Frequency response will be measured in a range of Hertz with a deviation listed in the form of a range of decibels. The lower the Hertz, the lower the note, so we’re definitely going to focus more on the bottom limit of our subwoofers’ frequency response than the top limit. Of course, if there’s a subwoofer out there that can play the dog-whistle tier notes as well as the grooving bass notes we crave, even better.
Criteria #3 Extra Features – The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is just that little extra. There are a lot of features out there that our subwoofers might boast that go beyond the specs and numbers. Good surround sound, a particularly durable or efficient frame, or an incredibly easy-to-install design are just a few features that will have us singing the praises of a given subwoofer. We want to turn over every stone to find the best 12-inch subwoofer with the best features.
Criteria #4: Price – We’re not here to make you spend a ton of money for no reason. Meeting this criterion is less about being cheap and more about justifying your price. We’d rather buy an expensive product that’s cheaper than it should be than waste money on a cheaper product that isn’t worth the money and that will just break on you or not perform well.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best 12-Inch Subwoofers
We measured the specs of the top products on the market against our listed criteria to see how they held up and if they’re worth buying. We then checked customer reviews, blog posts, and “best 12-inch subwoofers” articles to see if the products on our list performed as advertised. We also made sure to include any extra features that don’t fit neatly into any of our criteria, and we made sure to include products from a wide range of prices that satisfy different niches. This way, everyone can find the absolute best 12-inch subwoofer for their needs and within their budget.
And without further ado, here is our list – tailored to your specific needs – of the best 12-inch subwoofers.
#1: Skar Audio SDR-12 D2 12″ Car Subwoofer (Best Value – All-Purpose)
Skar tops of our list with their powerful and popular SDR-12 D2 12″ Car Subwoofer. Skar Audio is one of the most highly respected names in car audio, so it should come as no surprise to see them at the top of our list. This also gives you the added peace of mind of knowing that our number one pick comes from a reliable and trustworthy brand.
The Skar Audio SDR-12 D2 12″ Car Subwoofer features a solid sensitivity rating of 84.7 dB to give you the volume you deserve without using a lot of power, and a frequency response range of 22 Hz – 300 Hz. That means that these subwoofers aren’t exactly capable belting out those Freddy Mercury soprano notes, but they can definitely deliver perfect quality on the rolling and tumbling bass notes of a Red Hot Chili Peppers song or any dubstep track. And building off of the sensitivity rating, the Skar Audio SDR-12 D2 12″ Car Subwoofer boasts a max wattage of 1200 watts. That means that things can get loud with these subwoofers. Our top-ranked subwoofers feature a frame of 12 x 12 x 8 inches and a weight of 18.26 pounds, but, of course, your car won’t notice the extra 20 pounds.
All of its respectable specs aside, the shining feature of the Skar Audio SDR-12 D2 12″ Car Subwoofer is definitely its price. While paying a a great, competitive price, you’re getting a product that matches all of the high-water marks in everything we’d look at in good subwoofers. Our best 12-inch subwoofer also boasts a durable frame that adds a lot onto the value of the cheap price tag, since you won’t be adding to your expenses by replacing this product any time soon.
As we mentioned earlier, Skar is one of the best and most popular brands out there, and that’s made apparent by the fact that the SDR-12 D2 12″ Subwoofer is featured on multiple lists of the the best subwoofers, and the glowing reviews this product earned on Amazon. Customers loved the value and the performance of this subwoofer, and they praised it for being very durable considering its price. That makes the Skar Audio SDR-12 D2 12″ Car Subwoofer the best value out there.
So if you’re concerned with getting the best deal for your dollar, the Skar Audio SDR-12 D2 12″ Car Subwoofer is the only choice for you. This Skar product was the only contender in terms of value for our best 12-inch subwoofer.
#2: Dual Electronics SBX212i 12-inch illumiNITE Studio Enclosed Subwoofers (Best Overall 12-Inch Subwoofer)
There are plenty of subwoofers out there, and it’s more likely than not that our number one pick just won’t be the right choice for all of our users. Of course, that’s why our list offers more than one 12-inch subwoofer, and its why the Dual Electronics SBX212i 12-inch illumiNITE Studio Enclosed Subwoofers might be the choice for you.
There’s no way around it. It’s more expensive than the Skar Audio 12-inch subwoofer that topped off our list, but there’s a reason for that. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and if you’re the kind of customer that likes to splurge for the best, there are a few key features that might convince you to break the bank on the Dual Electronics SBX212i 12-inch illumiNITE Studio Enclosed Subwoofers and pass on our number one pick from Skar.
Reason #1 to Choose This Product: Blue illumiNITE Illumination
When you really get down to the brass tax, the point of music is to set the mood. Of course, there are other ways to set the mood, with good lighting being one of the main options. Luckily, with the Dual Electronics SBX212i 12-inch illumiNITE Studio Enclosed Subwoofers you can get all of your ambiance-related needs in one place, from one product.
These powerful subwoofers come equipped with a beautiful blue light that will make you feel like you’re in your own personal night club whenever you start playing music. Couple this with the genre of your choice, and you’ll feel be transported straight to the dance floor or the mosh pit. For anyone that wants to host a good house party, the lighting of the Dual Electronics SBX212i 12-inch illumiNITE Studio Enclosed Subwoofers are an absolute must.
Reason #2 to Choose This Product: The Most Durable Build
The Skar Audio SDR-12 D2 12″ Car Subwoofer is pretty durable, but if you really want something that will last for decades, then the Dual Electronics SBX212i 12-inch illumiNITE Studio Enclosed Subwoofers are the clear choice for you. These fancy illuminated subwoofers boast a specially built enclosure that is guaranteed to protect your subwoofer from the bumpy life living inside of a car.
As Dual Electronics themselves say, “The chambers are reinforced to withstand the jostling of any road condition for accurate bass all the time.” This enclosure also provides amazing sound quality, so you don’t have to worry that you’re missing out by coddling your subwoofer. If you want to be able to really embrace the open road without being concerned about damaging your subwoofer, then you need to buy the Dual Electronics SBX212i 12-inch illumiNITE Studio Enclosed Subwoofers.
In addition to its amazing frame that manages to be both stylish and functional, the Dual Electronics SBX212i 12-inch illumiNITE Studio Enclosed Subwoofers come in with a frequency response range of 30Hz – 250Hz, which both starts and ends higher than our previous 12-inch subwoofer, so there’s a bit of a decision for you to make there.
Of course, one look at the reviews of this premium-grade subwoofer will tell you how amazing its sound quality is. With close to 1,000 reviews on Amazon, the 30Hz – 250Hz was complimented for being loud and clear, which is really all you want from subwoofers. They even called it a good deal for its price, which is pretty impressive considering it’s more expensive than the Skar Audio 12-inch subwoofer.
It costs a bit more, but there’s not a whole lot of doubt. The Dual Electronics SBX212i 12-inch illumiNITE Studio Enclosed Subwoofers are the just about the strongest product out there.
#3: Kicker 44CWCS124 Car Audio Subwoofers (Best for Loud Volume)
Whether you’re a diehard, moshing metal fan or a headbanging dubstep enthusiast, a lot of music lovers want one thing over everything else – volume. If you’re the kind of person that wants to crank things up to 11, then you’ll need to deck out your ride with the Kicker 44CWCS124 Car Audio Subwoofers.
These powerful 12-inch subwoofers boast a high sensitivity rating of 88.3 dB, which combines with the high maximum wattage of 600 watts per subwoofer to help you make sure things get loud. Of course, you’re not just blasting white noise at this volume. With a frequency response range of 27 Hz – 500 Hz, the Kicker 44CWCS124 Car Audio Subwoofers give you those low bass notes we crave, while still going higher than any other subwoofer on our list so far.
And to top things off, these Kicker 12-inch subwoofers feature a well-designed vented frame that allows the Kicker 44CWCS124 Car Audio Subwoofers to withstand high temperatures and go at full blast for hours on end. You’ll be blasting everything from Metallica to Periphery to All That Remains for the entirety of your cross country road trip with these bad boys.
Honestly, in terms of specs, this really might be the best subwoofer on our list, but it doesn’t have the flair provided by the lighting of the Dual Electronics SBX212i 12-inch illumiNITE Studio Enclosed Subwoofers. The only real problem is that its price is definitely starting to get up there, but it’s still nothing you can’t save up for, if you think your car sound system is a worthwhile investment. Blast some heavy metal and blow out your eardrums with the Kicker 44CWCS124 Car Audio Subwoofers.
#4: Pyle 12″ Car Audio Speaker Subwoofer (Best Low Cost)
Even our more affordable subwoofers haven’t exactly been products that you can buy with pocket change, and we don’t want to leave those of you on a tighter budget out of the loop. The Pyle 12″ Car Audio Speaker Subwoofer is the cheapest 12-inch subwoofer on the market. If you find a cheaper one, then please let me know. But until then, the Pyle 12″ Car Audio Speaker Subwoofer boasts a booming max wattage of 1600 watts and a durable rubber frame that’s guaranteed to last.
The return on your money for buying something for this cheap, that won’t need to be replaced, can’t be overstated. The low impedance rating of this budget 12-inch subwoofer also means that your sound will be as crisp as ever, and the dual voice coil lets the Pyle 12″ Car Audio Speaker Subwoofer handle higher temperatures, so you don’t need to worry about this subwoofer burning out on the first listening session.
With a whopping 4,000 reviews on Amazon, the customers have spoken, and they’ve spoken loudly and clearly. The crowd loves this subwoofer, though people tend to be easier to please when something is all but free.
My biggest problem with the Pyle 12″ Car Audio Speaker Subwoofer is that certain specs like sensitivity and frequency aren’t listed. So in some respects, I can’t guarantee a good performance. But if the paying customers are any indicator, the Pyle 12″ Car Audio Speaker Subwoofer passes the eye and ear test with flying colors. So save your money and thank me later by purchasing the insanely cheap Pyle 12″ Car Audio Speaker Subwoofer.
#5: Polk Audio PSW505 12″ Powered Subwoofer (Best for Home Theaters)
Most of our 12-inch subwoofers so far have been designed for car audio systems, but we know that you like to listen to music even when you’re not driving. Even more to the point, there are reasons to want some high-quality subwoofers even when you’re not listening to music – most notably when you’re watching TV or playing video games. If you want the best home theater system for a movie with the gang or a dedicated gaming night, then you’ll have to get the perfect subwoofer system, and that’d be the Polk Audio PSW505 12″ Powered Subwoofer.
This industrial-grade 12-inch subwoofer offers 460 watts of power and promises to give you the best sound quality possible without any distortion, which wouldn’t necessarily be ideal for certain genres of music like rock or metal but is absolutely perfect for movies and video games.
A huge plus of the Polk Audio PSW505 12″ Powered Subwoofer is also that it features an incredibly easy and intuitive setup that just involves quickly plugging a few wires into the clearly-labeled sockets. You don’t need to be an electrician to set up these subwoofers, and you’ll be able to add a whole new range of bass to your TV-watching experience in no time.
The back of the unit also has knobs to control every setting you could need to, so you’ll be able to customize and perfect your sound system. This is great for initially setting things up just the way you like it, or for tweaking things depending on the genre or specific movie you’re about to watch. After all, you want a different experience when you watch Love Actually than from when you watch Die Hard. The 25-125 Hz frequency response range is definitely smaller than some of our other 12-inch subwoofers, but that’s why this product is meant for TVs and not radios.
What you’re really paying for here – and considering the price of the Polk Audio PSW505 12″ Powered Subwoofer, you definitely want to know where your money is going – is an amazing 12-inch subwoofer that’s easy to set up and just as easy to use. It’s tailor-made to be easily compatible with a larger sound system and with other subwoofers, so the Polk Audio PSW505 12″ Powered Subwoofer will fit right into your existing setup.
If you want to make sure you’re the best movie night host in the neighborhood, then you’ll have to go ahead and buy the expensive-but-worthwhile Polk Audio PSW505 12″ Powered Subwoofer.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re not a musician or roady, you may be new to all of this technical jargon when it comes to audio gear. Even some diehard audiophiles don’t learn about the more technical side of things, and that can lead to a lot of confusion and questions when it’s time to look for the best gear. We want to answer those questions, and that’s why we’ve added this FAQ section to our article. In just a few short minutes all of your questions will be answered, and you’ll be on your way to buying the best 12-inch subwoofer for your needs.
Why is the size of my subwoofer important?
With all this talk about the best 12-inch subwoofer, you’re probably wondering why we’re fixating on the size so much. When it comes to hitting those low notes, the more surface area, the better.
If you play guitar, think about how an open note is the deepest note on a string. That’s because the section of the string actually reverberating is the longest this way, and a longer string means more surface area, which means a deeper note. See how subwoofers work
The same mechanism is at work with our subwoofers. (Or at least, I assume so. Some physicists can probably explain that that’s completely inaccurate, but the analogy works.) The bigger the subwoofer, the deeper the note. There are reasons why you’d want two smaller subwoofers instead of one big one, but if you want to hit those low notes, then you’ll want the biggest subwoofer possible.
Will I hear my subwoofer if it’s in the trunk?
Everyone is a little short on space most of the time, and the best place to put your subwoofer for your car’s audio system is usually in the trunk or somewhere else in the back. This raises the question: “Will I hear my subwoofer if it’s in the trunk?”
The very short answer is yes. Unless your trunk is sealed and deliberately soundproofed, you’ll hear it from the back of your car, and you’ll still enjoy that rich bass. If it’s the most convenient option available, definitely consider the back of your car a viable location for your new subwoofer.
Verdict: Your Best 12-Inch Subwoofers
We’re reaching the end of our list, and you’re hopefully starting to get a good idea of which of our products is best for you. But if you haven’t made up your mind yet, not to worry. We don’t want to rush, and we know how important it is to make sure you’re getting the 12-inch subwoofer that’s perfect for you. That’s why we’re going to recap all of our 12-inch subwoofers and focus on their standout features. This way, you’ll be able to see the highlights and really know what each product has to offer for you.
If you want the best value for your money, pick the Skar Audio SDR-12 D2 12″ Car Subwoofer.
With an affordable price and all of the ideal specs, there’s not really anything more you can ask for from the Skar Audio SDR-12 D2 12″ Car Subwoofer. You get a solid sensitivity rating, a low limit on your frequency response, and a lot of wattage. The only real issue with this Skar product is that its frequency response doesn’t extend very high, but that’s an easy fix for the rest of your audio gear to take care of. With the right company, this product will help you hear all of the bass, mid, and treble notes clearer than ever. And at this price point, there’s no question that the Skar Audio SDR-12 D2 12″ Car Subwoofer is the best value of any 12-inch subwoofer out there.
If you want the loudest speakers, pick the Kicker 44CWCS124 Car Audio Subwoofers.
Crank the volume up with the 88.3 dB sensitivity rating of the Kicker 44CWCS124 Car Audio Subwoofers. If you want to really shatter some glass and rattle your ears, then this is the only 12-inch subwoofer for you. And on top of the high sensitivity and max wattage, you can really turn it up to 11 all day long thanks to the breathable mesh design of this subwoofer that lets it survive high temperatures without overheating. It comes at a price, but it’s worth it for any noise junky to feel like they’re pushed up against the barrier at a concert every time they turn on their car radio. Embrace your inner speed demon with the Kicker 44CWCS124 Car Audio Subwoofers.
If you want to keep the spending cheap, pick the Pyle 12″ Car Audio Speaker Subwoofer.
Save your money. It turns out that, despite what you may think, you really don’t have to bust out the big bucks and max out your credit card to get a good subwoofer. The Pyle 12″ Car Audio Speaker Subwoofer features great wattage – 1600 watts, to be exact – and a durable build that will make sure this budget subwoofer is the last one you ever buy. You can rest easy knowing your money is going farther than ever. There’s really not a whole lot more I can say about this affordable subwoofer that the paying customers haven’t already said, and they’re crazy about it. So go buy the Pyle 12″ Car Audio Speaker Subwoofer and make your friends jealous that they paid so much more than you did.
That brings us to the end of our list. Remember, if you didn’t find the best 12-inch subwoofer for you in the highlighted options above, you may prefer the flashy and functional Dual Electronics SBX212i 12-inch illumiNITE Studio Enclosed Subwoofers, or the cinema-grade Polk Audio PSW505 12″ Powered Subwoofer.
Each subwoofer has a quality that sets it apart from the crowd. So if you’re having trouble making your decision, it may be a good idea to think about which trait is the most important to you. This will speed up the debate process by letting you skip past the products on our list that don’t have what you’re looking for.
That’s all for now. We hope our list has helped, and we hope you enjoy the best brain-rattling bass that you’ve ever experienced in your life!