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12 inch subwoofers are my personal favorite size subwoofers. 12 inch subwoofers can do everything a 10 inch subwoofer can do, but a 10 can't do everything a 12 can do. The 12 inch subwoofers handle more power, they go lower, and they are boomier. Now some may say that they like the "punchy-ness" of a 10 inch and while they may be right, you can find the right 12 inch subwoofer that will deliver that type of "punchy-ness" in a sealed box, the difference is that the punchy 10 can't go low and boom like a twelve can.
Our list of the best 12 inch subwoofers is based on our own experience and feedback from customers. We are an authorized, online dealer for the brands listed in this article. We are not a media company or an affiliate site that is just trying to send you somewhere else to buy, and then not provide support. Instead, these are product that we recommend, that we stand behind, and that we will support, AND you are backed with the full manufacturer's warranty.
The 12 inch subwoofer for your vehicle will depend on the vehicle itself, the amount of space you have and may or may not be willing to sacrifice, the amplifier you plan on using to power the subwoofers, and your budget. Buying a high end subwoofer and using a cheap, small amp to power it is not smart. Buying and installing a cheap subwoofer when you have a high quality, powerful amplifier is leaving bass (money) on the table, and finally you want to make sure you are using the right size and type of enclosure for the subwoofer(s) you are installing.
The JL Audio 12W7AE-3 is the best 12 inch subwoofer out there in our opinion. Now, this shouldn't be that much of a surprise that it is the most expensive subwoofer from JL Audio, arguably the top brand in car audio subwoofers. This subwoofer handles 1000 watts RMS and has incredible excursion at 29mm. But, what it's not just the output of the W7 that is so impressive, but it is also how accurate it is. Regardless of whether you are a bass head or all about sound quality, the 12W7AE-3 delivers.
Now, the thing to keep in mind with the 12 inch JL Audio W7 is that it has a single, 3-Ohm voice coil. This means that you will likely need a pretty large amp to power it. Sure, you can use a 1000 watt amplifier, but you need to double check the rating of the "1000 watt amplifier" at 3 ohms. The JL Audio XD1000/1v2 and RD1000/1 amplifiers are rated t 800 watts at 3 ohms. 800 watts is plenty of power for the W7 and it's still going to hammer. Now, if you look at the Rockford Fosgate P1000X1bd, that is a 1000 watt amplifier and the 3 ohm rating isn't published. However, looking at the 2 ohm and 4 ohm power ratings and using Ohm's law, it is likely rated at 400 watts RMS at 3 ohms. If you are spending $1399.99 for a 12W7, you probably want to put more than 400 watts to it. We recommend that you double check your amps output at 3 ohms if you are running a single 12W7AE-3. If you are running a pair of 12 W7s you will likely want to wire them in parallel to a 1.5 ohm load. Make sure your amplifier is 1 ohm stable and check the power at 1 ohm if applicable and 2 ohms to determine the output at 1.5 ohms.
The JL Audio 12W6v3-D4 is my favorite subwoofer because I love that "punch to your chest" feeling from my subwoofers. Yes, the 12 inch W7 goes lower and it's boomier, but I prefer the sound profile of the W6 over the W7. The JL Audio 12W6 handles 600 watts which is plenty of power and it needs very little air space to operate. When you look at the output of this subwoofer and the amount of air space it requires, it's truly remarkable. For the longest time the W6 was the top of the line offering from JL. Is the W7 better on paper? Yes. But, I like the W6.
Like the W7, you need to check the power ratings on your amplifier if you are going to run (2) W6 subwoofers. Because the W6 is only offered with dual 4 ohm voice coils, you will need to wire a pair of these to either a 1 ohm or a 4 ohm load. If you wire them to a 1 ohm load, make sure your amplifier is 1 ohm stable. If you wire them to a 2 ohm load, you will likely want the JL Audio HD1200/1 to power them. There aren't many monoblock amplifiers that put out 1200 watts of clean power at 4 ohms. The HD1200/1 is one of the few exceptions thanks to JL Audio's RIPS power supply technology.
If you are only running a single 12W6v3-D4, you will wire it in series to a 2-ohm load and it should be pretty straightforward.
If you are looking to maximize output for your money, there is no better option than the Rockford Fosgate P3 12 inch subwoofers. These things hammer and they aren't that expensive when you look at the specs and the output. The Rockford Fosgate P3 subwoofers are the "go-to" product line from Rockford in our opinion. These subs simply perform. When you compare the specs of the P3 to the JL Audio W6, you see that the P3 can go toe-to-toe without any issue. The 12 inch P3 subwoofers are offered in both dual 2 ohm and dual 4 ohm voice coils allowing for maximum installation flexibility. Before Rockford Fosgate came out with their massive 19" T3 subwoofers, they put the P3s in all of their demo vans. If you want value or if you want Rockford, the 12 inch Rockford Fosgate P3 tops our list.
The Kicker Comp RT, low profile 12 inch subwoofers defy logic. You have these low profile subwoofers that can handle good power, you hear the output, see the price, and wonder, "How can it be?" Well, I don't know how they do it, but they do. If use your trunk or you are limited by depth, the Kicker Comp RT 12 inch subwoofers are the best value out there. Many shallow subwoofers sound shallow. The Kicker Comp RT (and the others on this list) is the exception to the rule. These subwoofers deliver full size output with a mounting depth that is only 3.75" deep and with 400W RMS power handling, you can put enough power to these to get the hard-hitting output you want.
With the 12 inch Kicker Comp RT, it is worth noting that the down-firing loaded enclosures are incredible. The subwoofer comes pre-installed in the enclosure along with a passive radiator to give you the output of a ported box without the port noise. The Kicker Comp RT loaded enclosures will outperform your expectations at an incredibly reasonable price point of $329.99.
The 12" JL Audio TW3 is our pick as the best overall, low-profile subwoofer. There are less expensive options that aren't as good and there are better performing options, but they cost significantly more. The low-profile subwoofers are for applications where mounting depth is limited and/or space is a premium and the TW3 solves for those problems with better output than virtually all other options. The required air space for the 12 inch TW3, combined with the 400 watt RMS power handling is what really allows for these subwoofers to shine. Compared to the Kicker Comp RT, the TW3 has more excursion and can therefore move more air and provide better bass output.
The TW3 is available in a dual 4 ohm and dual 8 Ohm voice coil setup. The 12TW3-D4 is ideal for single subwoofer and three subwoofer setups. The 12TW3-D8 is ideal for two and four subwoofer installations.
The Rockford Fosgate T1 Slim 12 inch subwoofer is the best performing, low-profile subwoofer out there. It is pretty crazy the amount of output you get from a subwoofer this shallow. The performance aspect of these subwoofers is driven by the amount of power they can handle. At 600W RMS, the Rockford Fosgate T1 Slim suboowfers handle as much power as a full-size, P3 but without the depth and air space requirements. Now, the performance comes at a cost. The T1 Slim 12 inch subs are significantly more expensive than both the JL Audio TW3 and the Kicker Comp RT. But, at the same time, you get what you are paying for. I have this subwoofer in my daily driver and I love it. I have put the TW3 and the CompRT up against it, and they just don't hit nearly as hard. The real difference is the power. You can't substitute the ability to put 600 watts to a T1 Slim vs. 400 watts to the Comp RT
There are entry level 12 inch subwoofers and then there is the JL Audio 12W0v3-4. The JL Audio W0 is the gold standard for affordable performance. These subwoofers are overbuilt and they flat out perform. With 300 watts RMS power handling, the 12W0 handles as much power as many other "step-up" subwoofers and there is just something about the W0 that you have to hear to believe. The 12W0v3-4 is rated at 300 watts RMS and comes with a single, 4-Ohm voice coil. From an enclosure standpoint, the W0 does need alot of air space compared to other subwoofers with similar power handling.
The single 4 ohm voice coil is not ideal for single subwoofer applications. You will likely find yourself with a 500 watt amplifier that is rated around 300 watts RMS at 4 ohms. In theory, you are paying for 200 watts of power that you aren't using, that you could be using if you went with a 2 ohm SVC subwoofer or 4 ohm DVC subwoofer. While this is not ideal, these subwoofers just sound good.
The Kicker Comp C is our pick for the best affordable, 12-inch subwoofer. The Kicker Comp C sounds good, offers installation flexibility with the choice of single or dual 4 ohm voice coils, and with 300W RMS power rating can handle enough power to generate the output you want. While there are definitely cheaper subwoofers out there, the ones that are cheaper are in fact, cheaper. You can't go wrong with a Kicker Comp C and at the price point, it doesn't make sense to settle when you can get Kicker subwoofers for $119.99.
If you are running a single or 3 subwoofers, we recommend the Kicker 44CWCD124 because you can wire it to a 2 ohm load, assuming your amplifier is 2 ohm stable. If you are running two or four subwoofers, you can run the dual 4-Ohm version to a 1 ohm load, or you can run the Kicker 44CWCS124 to a 2 ohm load. We recommend powering the Kicker Comp C 12 inch subwoofers with a Kicker CX amplifier.
The Kicker Comp R 12 inch subwoofers deliver the best value for a "step-up" subwoofer. These subwoofers are perfect if you want something better than entry level, but you aren't going to go crazy with high end subwoofers. The 500 watt RMS power rating is a perfect match for so many monoblock amplifiers and the 2-Ohm and 4-Ohm voice coil configurations allow you to get to a 1-Ohm, 2-Ohm, or 4-Ohm load. In addition to the raw output, the Kicker Comp R subwoofers are designed to be accurate and they feature Kicker's ribbed surround to maintain linearity and prevent it from warping at maximum excursion.
From an overall value standpoint, these subwoofers are very similar to the Rockford Fosgate P3, but the extra power handling and excursion in the P3 gave it the slight edge over the Comp R. When you compare these subwoofers to other mid-level or step-up subwoofers, you will notice that you get very similar specs and power handling for less money with the Kicker Comp R.
From an enclosure standpoint, we recommend a ported enclsoure and these do need a good amount of air space. If the ported enclosures are simply too big, go with a sealed box.
The JL Audio 12W3v3 is the best overall, "step up" 12 inch subwoofer. With 500 watts RMS power handling, you can put legitimate power to these, they are super reliable, they sound great, and they hit hard. JL Audio is the leader in car audio subwoofers and they lead for a reason. The W3 has long been that jump after the W0 but not as expensive as the 12W6. From a wiring standpoint, the 12W3v3 is available in both 2-Ohm and 4-Ohm voice coils so you can get to 2 ohms with a single subwoofer and choose between 1 or 2 ohms if you are running 2. These match up perfectly with JL's monoblock amplifier offering allowing you to power a single subwoofer with a JD500/1, RD500/1 or XD600/1v2 or a pair of subwoofers with the JD1000/1, RD1000/1 or XD1000/1v2. If you want a full-size JL Audio subwoofer, you want more than the W0, but the W6 is out of your price range, the 12W3v3 is the perfect solution.
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