The Best 12 Inch Subwoofers

A 12" Subwoofer and Amplifier

Although the most commonly upgraded component of a vehicle’s factory sound system is the stereo head unit, the most common problem is usually a lack of low-end bass. The best way to improve this issue is by adding an aftermarket subwoofer.

This article is focused on 12” subwoofers, which are more than just a size in between the smaller “tight” sounding 10” subwoofers and the larger “deep” sounding 15” subwoofers. 12” subwoofers bridge the gap between those two sizes, and gain advantages from both. They offer a tight, responsive sound that is punchy with more depth than their 10” counterparts. While 15” subwoofers can still have more depth to them, 12” subwoofers are often much more efficient. This efficiency allows them to make the most out of the power given to them. They offer a good balance in sound and are a great choice if you are unsure which size to proceed with.

While it’s easy to get intimidated with the number of options available, we have tried to help with this process by doing some legwork for you. Below is a list that features some of the best options available, depending on your application or budget.

Best Value
MTX Audio TNE212D

Best Value 12" Subwoofer Setup

If you are looking for the quickest and easiest way to add bass to a system, then the TNE212D from MTX Audio is worth considering. The TNE212D is a pre-built sealed enclosure that comes fitted with two 12” MTX Terminator series subwoofers. All that is needed is to supply power to it from an amplifier.

Covered in black carpet for durability, the enclosure is made out of 5/8” MDF to handle the stressful conditions produced by the subwoofers. For housing two 12” subwoofers, the enclosure is reasonably sized to fit most applications with dimensions of 14” tall, 29.68” wide, 13.5” deep at the bottom, and 11.12” deep at the top.

Wired internally to 2ohms, the subwoofers have a combined power rating of 400w RMS and 800w peak. The polypropylene cone and rubber surround are matched with a 2” aluminum voice coil to deliver powerful bass while also being durable enough to stand up to the demands of bass reproduction. This package pairs excellent subwoofers with a specifically designed enclosure to deliver low end to your sound system with ease and convenience.

This Speaker is For:

Someone looking for the easiest route to extra bass.

This Speaker is Not For:

Someone who wants to design their system for the best performance.

Best Overall
Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12

The Best 12" Sub

For forty years Rockford Fosgate has been an innovator in the automotive audio industry and these years of experience went into designing the P3D4-12, a high-performance subwoofer that produces deep, loud, aggressive bass.

The anodized aluminum cone and dust cap have a parabolic cone design that adds rigidity and improves sound quality while the aluminum aids in heat dispersion. The cone is attached to the basket using Rockford’s “VAST” (Vertical Attach Surround Technique) surround that increases the speakers radiating area, resulting in up to 25% more radiating area than similar models.

The basket itself is a new hybrid stamp-cast basket design that provides superior strength while minimizing weight and resonance. The Aluminum voice coil former acts as a heat-sink to dissipate heat with more efficiency than standard plastic materials. To handle the large dynamic needs of bass, the P3D4-12 has a decent 600w RMS power rating with a peak rating of 1200w. Installation is made easier with the flex-fit frame that uses slotted screw holes to allow for slight adjustments while the speaker itself has a mounting depth of 6.66”.

If you are looking for a subwoofer that balances quality, performance and affordability then the P3D4-12 should be a strong candidate worth considering.

This Speaker is For:

Anyone who is looking for a quality subwoofer.

This Speaker is Not For:

Someone who prizes volume over quality.

Best Under $100
Rockford Fosgate R1S4-12

The best 12 inch sub under 100

Coming in under a hundred dollars, the R1S4-12 from Rockford Fosgate is a great choice for a high-quality subwoofer that won’t hurt your wallet. The R1S4-12 is composed of high-end materials like the fiber reinforced painted paper-pulp cone and the laser-etched aluminum dust cap. Aluminum was chosen over other traditional materials to help dissipate heat from the voice coil. The voice coil itself is made from high temperature copper with an aluminum former. Attaching the speaker to the powder coated stamped steel frame is the compressed foam surround and the poly-cotton spider with integral woven leads.

While not the most robust, the power rating of 200w RMS and 400w peak is enough to handle the average user who doesn’t push their system.

With a narrow mounting depth of 4.94” and being optimized for both sealed and vented enclosures, the R1S4-12 has the versatility to work with the widest range of enclosure designs while also saving space. The R1S4-12 is a budget friendly subwoofer made with high-quality materials that will go a long way in improving any sound system.

This Speaker is For:

Someone looking for a high-quality subwoofer at a reasonable price.

This Speaker is Not For:

Someone who likes to push their system.

Best Under $200
Infinity Kappa 1200W

The Best 12 inch sub under $200

Infinity’s Kappa series subwoofers use high-quality materials and offer outstanding sound performance at a fair price. Also featured is Infinity’s SSI (Selectable Smart Impedance) system that allows the user to choose between 2ohm or 4ohm impedances at the flip of the switch, providing flexibility for future growth

The acoustically damped glass-fiber cone reduces distortion while improving accuracy and detail that leads to the signature sound of the Kappa series. Unique among other subwoofers is the aero-cooled voice coil that uses a two-sided, ducted airflow design that increases power handling and improves reliability.

The terminals accept wire sizes up to 8-gauge, which provides low resistance and low power loss even with long wire runs. The Kappa 1200W has a peak power rating of 2000w with an RMS rating of 500w, providing an impressive amount of headroom. The depth of the Kappa series is deeper than other subwoofers in the same class, with the 12” model having a mounting depth of 7.625”.

The Infinity Kappa 1200W sounds as good as it looks, and won’t hurt the wallet as much as other high-end subwoofers.

This Speaker is For:

Someone looking for a great sound experience at a fair price.

This Speaker is Not For:

Someone with space restrictions.

Best Shallow Mount
Infinity REF1200S

The Best Shallow Mount 12" Sub

If you are in the market for a 12” shallow mount subwoofer, then Infinity’s 1200S (having an impressive mounting depth of 3.25”, offering unmatched installation flexibility) should definitely make your list of contenders. The low-profile design allows them to fit into even the shallowest of enclosures, allowing users an option that doesn’t involve losing needed cargo space.

Like other Infinity speakers on this list, the REF1200S has Infinity’s SSI (Selectable Smart Impedance) technology, which allows the subwoofer to operate at a 2ohm or 4ohm load at the flip of a switch. The polypropylene cone is durable and has a frequency response as low as 27Hz. Power rating is scarified slightly to gain such a shallow depth with an RMS rating of 250w and a 1000w peak, so this subwoofer is best suited to balance out a sound system, not to rattle the windows with pure power.

To make the most out of the shallow design a sealed enclosure offers the greatest space savings. However, Infinity offers details on how to construct other enclosure designs, such as vented or band-pass.

Despite its small size, the REF1200W will balance out any sound system lacking bass without taking up much space.

This Speaker is For:

Anyone with space restrictions.

This Speaker is Not For:

Someone who has extra space and wants greater volume.

Best Sound
Skar Audio EVL-12 D2

The Best Sounding 12" Sub

If you are looking to gain deep responsive bass that you can feel in a subwoofer that can also handle high volume SPL, then Skar Audio’s EVL-12 D2 is an excellent option at a reasonable price.

Built to handle a lot of power with an RMS power rating of 1250w and 2500w peak, users can push this subwoofer with confidence. The competition grade paper cone is paired with a high roll foam surround to achieve an impressive Xmax of 23.5mm—Xmax being the maximum forward excursion the cone can handle safely.

Helping to keep the speaker well balanced is Skar’s signature red two-layered spider. Featuring a 3” high temperature voice coil and the advanced air flow cooling design of the basket allows the EVL-12 D2 to handle the high temperatures that develop inside the subwoofer during peak performance. With a mounting depth of 7.75” this subwoofer is on the larger size, so those with limited space need to beware.

The EVL-12 D2 is the perfect choice for users who want superior sound quality and the ability to reach high volumes.

This Speaker is For:

Someone looking for the most out of their subwoofer.

This Speaker is Not For:

Someone with space restrictions.

Honorable Mention
Planet Audio AC12D

A Great Affordable 12" Sub

Planet Audio offers options for people looking to upgrade their systems without a large investment, including the AC12D. This 12” subwoofer has a polypropylene cone with a foam surround in a stamped basket. These are standard materials that are resilient against the elements while still offering performance and strength.

It has a smallish mounting depth of 5.8” and can handle a good amount of power with an RMS rating of 900w and 1800w peak. To make the most out of the power rating Planet Audio recommends the speaker goes through a “break-in” period before being pushed too hard. This “break-in” period is common for most speakers, especially in subwoofers, and involves restricting volume to low or medium levels for several hours to loosen the suspension components. Planet Audio also provides an impressive 3-year warranty when purchased through Amazon.

This budget friendly sub is an excellent option to gain extra bass in your ride.

This Speaker is For:

Someone looking for a budget friendly bass upgrade.

This Speaker is Not For:

Those who want to spend more to gain more performance.

About The Author

Jack Nemo is a professional sound engineer based in Alberta, Canada. He’s managed to make a career out of his love for music while working with artists from around the world. When not behind a soundboard he can be found taking things apart to see how they work and attempting to put them back together again.