Here’s Why You Should Upgrade to a 12-Inch Subwoofer

Car audio system on a black background. Subwoofer.

Should I upgrade to a 12″ subwoofer? This question is often asked among audio enthusiasts looking to get the best sound quality possible out of their speakers while also making an investment that will last years. For a quality output and bass that pumps out like a surround sound experience in the movies and streaming audio that rattles your trunk – but maybe not shakes your car like those notoriously huge 90’s speaker kits – choosing to purchase a 12″ subwoofer is the ideal way to go. Also, consider the effect you require for ear-candy: the authentic textures of low-frequency output and resonance in the bass that makes pop, hip-hop, R&B, reggae, reggaeton, and other genres sound full-bodied like a studio recording.

As audio trends change and evolve, so do subwoofers. Find out more about making the jump to the new 12 subwoofers for a superb sound system for cars, trucks, extreme rides, and even home theaters. Should you upgrade to a 12″ subwoofer? Here are the facts. 

Subwoofer in the back of a car

What Is a 12-Inch Subwoofer, and Why Do I Need To Upgrade?

Subwoofers take input signals from the head unit, and this signal pushes the voice coil on the woofer back and forth, which creates air movement in front of the speaker cone, producing sound waves with help from an amplifier. A 12″ subwoofer is a speaker specifically designed to reproduce low-frequency sounds, A.K.A. bass. Bass frequencies are typically below 250 Hz. According to the team at Mobile-Installation Services, “they push the frequency range between 20 and 200 Hz for standard car audio systems.” 

 A 12″ subwoofer can reproduce frequencies as low as 20 Hz. Buying a subwoofer allows added pressure to be taken off your traditional speakers, so the bass comes from subs instead.

A speaker’s size is important because it determines how much air the speaker can move and how lower frequencies are translated. A larger speaker can move more air, so a 12″ subwoofer will produce larger and more intense bass than a smaller speaker such as an 8″ or 10″ sub. If you’re looking for an upgrade in sound quality, a 12″ subwoofer is a significant improvement over a 10″ subwoofer. The larger size allows for a longer excursion, which results in tighter, more accurate bass response. In addition, the extra cone area means that the 12″ sub can handle more power, so it will play louder and with less distortion than a 10″ sub. The increased size enhances sound output and bass resonance. 

Dual Voice Coils and 12″ Subwoofers

Dual voice coil subs allow you to adjust the low end at different frequencies with one knob. If your budget is tight, but you still want a good 12″ subwoofer, then check out Dual Voice Coil (DVC) models from either JL Audio or Rockford Fosgate. The quality of these subs is on par with many other car audio systems that cost much more. They’re perfect for those who don’t have the budget to get a top-tier DVC model but still want some serious punch in their music. The dual coil can handle more power, thus being less prone to over-excursion and the dreaded “bottoming out” of your precious audio investment. Dual voice coil subwoofers may provide better sound quality, but that doesn’t mean that a single voice coil sub won’t work for your daily audio enjoyment.

Skar Audio SVR-12 D4 12" 1600 Watt Max Power Dual 4 Ohm Car Subwoofer

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12/06/2023 12:00 am GMT

A 12-Inch Subwoofer Produces Better Low Frequencies

A 12″ subwoofer is going to produce better low-frequency sound quality than a 10″ or smaller sub. This is because the larger size means there is a greater cone area. The cone is the part that moves and creates the oscillation that, in turn, produces sound waves. The result is that the 12″ can move more air, which means it can reproduce low frequencies. In addition, the larger size also allows for a longer excursion, or how far the cone sits outside the resting position, which means the sub reaches those earth-shaking lower frequencies. You will be able to hear deeper bass and clearer highs from your music with a 12″ subwoofer. The bass will be deeper and richer. If you love music with bass, then upgrading to a 12″ speaker is definitely a plus. In addition, dual voice coil subs offer both high power handling and efficient power handling, depending on what you need. Sealed subwoofers are typically cheaper in price but usually offer the best performance. With a 12″ sub, the bass is more defined and can provide a better foundation for the rest of your auto or home theater systems. JL Audio and Rockford Fosgate are two great brands that make excellent loudspeakers and subwoofers.

Rockford Fosgate Punch Dual 12″ Subwoofer

There are Different Levels of Subwoofers. Some will be more to your taste if you wish to take part in competitions for audio sounds, like speaker competitions. That means that your bass is earth-shattering and auto truck shaking. Those subs are on a different level of intensity and may have a dual coil and other enhancements that go above and beyond. One of these models is the Rockford Fosgate Punch Dual 12″, which will be sure to leave listeners hanging onto every thumping bass line with envious looks. Rockford Fosgate is one of the most well-known loudspeaker manufacturers around. The Punch Series is definitely one to check out if you’re serious about getting the best audio quality from your 12″ subwoofer. For instance, their Punch 12″ P3 2-Ohm DVC Subwoofer has state-of-the-art features that are sure to transform any audiophile’s in-vehicle stereo sound experience. Features designed for maximum performance and longevity with a reduction in wear over time are standard for the Punch Series for both trucks and cars. Anodized aluminum cones with dust caps and venting keep your motor from overheating while enjoying top-notch bass output. It features a high temp voice coil and Nomex (a heat-resistant material designed by DuPont to protect from melting or flames) reinforcement collar. Output surface area is maximized by a 25% larger cone area, leading to maximized sound and deeper richer resonance in the bass. Buying a subwoofer from the Punch Series may be an excellent way to enhance car and truck sound quality while offering cost efficiency at around $200 for a 12″ subwoofer. 

Rockford Fosgate P3-2X12 Punch Dual P3 12 inch Loaded Enclosure Ported Subwoofer

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Price of a 12-Inch Subwoofer 

The price of a 12″ subwoofer is less than the price of larger 13″ to 19″ subwoofers. The amount of power of a single voice coil sub is a happy midpoint as well. If you want more power, choose another type of subwoofer, like a 15″ or 18″ subwoofer. They will give you additional heft in the low bass but at a much higher cost. 

If your budget doesn’t allow for this option, upgrading to a 12″ subwoofer is a worthy improvement. The cost depends on the level of bass you wish to capture and the purchase of added features such as dual speakers in enclosures or single vs. dual coil. 12″ subwoofers can range from $149 for a starter speaker unit to over $3k for competition ready subsystems. 

Some suggested retailers for the latest 12″ subwoofers are: 

12-Inch Subwoofers and Home Theater Systems 

Do you want your new streaming series or new release movies to leap off of the screen? Whether it’s the new Netflix season debut or a replay of Disney’s Encanto, film sound effects sound better with the crisp sound quality and intensity that subwoofers provide. Chances are good that you should add a 12″ subwoofer to your home theater system all-star line-up. 12″ subwoofers will open up the sound quality in nearly any home-based stereo system.These systems use more power and have more powerful amplifiers than any car stereo. Your home set-up could have more space and allow for bigger enclosures, meaning they can handle lower frequency response and higher volume levels and not place too much pressure on the speaker. For full-sounding bass and motion picture playback, subwoofers are an indispensable part of the home theater system set-up for movie nights with the most realism possible in-home systems. 

Home theater system with a subwoofer

12-Inch Subwoofers and Your Vehicle 

If you’re looking for better sound quality in your car, upgrading to a 12″ subwoofer is a great way to improve the bass response in your music. Especially if a 15″ makes your truck feel extra cramped and a 10″ just doesn’t make the cut. But before you make the investment, there are some things that need to be considered. Will a 12″ subwoofer be too large and take up too much space in my vehicle? Can I install it myself, or will I need professional car installation to achieve my goals? And most importantly, how will the 12″ subwoofer affect my current stereo output in my car, and will my small car easily hold one? 

A 12-Inch Subwoofer Fits Smaller Automobiles

The 12″ subwoofer can fit in smaller cars that don’t have the trunk space to handle 15″ plus subwoofers but do not compromise sound quality. Multiple subs can give you the most lifelike sound but may be a stretch to fit your compact vehicle. High-quality subwoofers such as the JL Audio 12W0v3-4 subwoofer require very little compromise on sound while being compact enough to fit the smaller space. A 15″ or larger woofer would factually be more powerful due to intense bass output and a larger cone size, but its dimensions exceed what a compact car can handle. You should consider your trunk space when choosing the size of your subwoofer, and with a 12″, you’ll save valuable cargo room (and money) while only losing a fraction of the intensity.

JL Audio 12W0v3-4 subwoofer

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12/06/2023 12:16 am GMT

Factory Audio vs. a New 12-Inch Subwoofer

The subwoofer is different than your car audio stock speaker in that there are larger voice coils and suspension, so cones can move back and forth in an oscillating manner, thus producing sound waves. Your factory audio has limitations, even in the higher-end makes and models. The highs and lows of your music are not necessarily as defined without a stereo speaker upgrade, and adding the 12″ subwoofer helps to achieve a higher quality sound system. In particular, the depth and clarity of sound that would otherwise be lost come out in full force with the assistance of a higher-quality subwoofer. New car speakers alone won’t offer the richness and fullness of the lower register or bass. Adding the 12″ subwoofer increases the low-frequency output, thus taking your entire car audio experience to a new level. 

12-Inch Subwoofers Overall Speaker Weight and Dimensions 

A 12″ subwoofer will weigh slightly more than the 10″ sub. The average weight of a 12″ is 26 pounds. If you add in the weight of the box for an enclosed subwoofer, the total is 45 pounds. This weight may not be ideal for a tiny vehicle where weight distribution is all-important to safety, but it is a very reasonable weight for the average compact car.

The dimensions of a 12″ speaker will be larger than a smaller 6″ or 8″ subwoofer, so make sure you have enough space for it (with enough space for other cargo needs) in the trunk before installation. A 12″ speaker will also require more power than a 10″ speaker, so if you have an amplifier that can’t handle the extra power, you’ll need to upgrade that as well. Skar Audio’s amplifiers are some of the best in the business. They have a wide frequency response and can produce high-quality sound. Plus, their Dolby Atmos system is top-notch. Make sure your speakers don’t overextend from the housing and that the volume isn’t excessive or you might encounter bottoming out and then blow your investment quickly. It doesn’t take too much power to cause this to happen.

One 12″ Subwoofer Is Better Than Two Separate 10″ Boxes

Instead of paying more for less resonance, buying a high-quality 12″ subwoofer will produce a better sound and a deeper, richer bass than two separate 10s. Plus, a 12″ subwoofer is cheaper than two 10″ subwoofers. A 12″ cable can be bought for around $30, and Jl Audio makes one of the most resonant products on the market for about $150. For this reason, JL Audio is a go-to for audio equipment and loudspeaker products. For best results, you also might want to upgrade your amplifier if you don’t have a mono amplifier. The frequency range should be between 20 Hz – 200 Hz, your head unit should have RCA cables, and your voice coil should have an impedance of 4 ohms or more. Subwoofer cables and speaker wires are thick and hard to work with. This is especially true when connecting multiple subs or installing a sealed subwoofer box. Another consideration is the size of your car. Large and bulky car audio speaker kits usually take up space on both sides of the back seat. This can be as much as two feet on each side in larger cars. That doesn’t leave much room for anything else. If you have already maxed out on the number of amps and head units installed, adding more speakers may not be an option.

RCA Cables against a white background

Balanced Line Level Output

Balanced line level output is an important topic if you want to add a subwoofer to your car audio system. Most car stereos have unbalanced line level output, which means that the left and right channels are not equal. This can cause problems with the sound quality of your system. Balanced line level output is when the left and right channels are equal, so there is no problem with sound quality. Unbalanced line-level output isn’t as good for producing powerful bass notes. Also, some say that unbalanced outputs are best for running into passive crossovers or speakers indoors because they offer better signal-to-noise ratios than the more expensive (and more common) components with passive crossovers built in. Let your professional car audio installer answer any questions about line output and other concerns with your 12″ subwoofers and speakers. 

You Can Pair Up with Other Car Audio Enthusiasts

What is better than sharing your love of music with others? With many versions of 12″ subwoofers, you can do just that and pump the sound through multiple systems. Polk Audio’s 12″ subwoofers are a great option. They’ll bring out the deepest bass tones in your music. JL Audio has 12″ subs that can allow you to share the sound of your favorite music with other enthusiasts at your next tailgating celebration, car show, or big college football game. All JL audio subs come with speaker output as well, so it’s easy to hook up multiple speakers together if desired. 

If you purchased a small subwoofer in the past, buying a 12″ subwoofer is the next step for a richer, deeper bass in your car audio or home theater. 

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