What is the best 12 Inch subwoofer you can buy (in 2018)?

Best 12 inch subwoofer
Matt Taylor
Written by Matt Taylor

If you have to strain your ears to detect the bass in a song, you’re not going to have the greatest listening experience. In order to enhance the bass and overall quality of the music you listen to during your travels, you should fit your car with a 12 inch subwoofer.

Exactly What Is a Subwoofer?

Most people have heard of subwoofers, though many aren’t exactly sure what they do beyond enhancing a car’s sound system in some undefined way. 

A subwoofer is essentially a speaker which operates at a frequency of 20-200 Hz, thereby enhancing the bass of any audio that passes through it.

Although subwoofers have only risen to prominence over the past couple of decades, the earliest models were first introduced in the 1960s. At this time, they were used almost exclusively in premium home sound systems before later being adopted by the film industry to support movies with bone-chilling orchestration (think Earthquake, Rollercoaster, and Saga of a Star World).

The most dedicated audiophiles and auto nuts began installing subwoofers in their vehicles during the early 1970s, but it was not until later in the 20th century that they became a regular feature of in-car sound systems. 

Because they are a relatively new piece of technology, affordable subwoofers designed to be exclusively used in vehicles can often be lacking in their performance. Thankfully, there are a couple of expertly designed, thoroughly effective subwoofers available and we’re going to be looking at them a little later on.

What Size Subwoofer Should I Purchase? 

Subwoofers, like most speakers, come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with each model being more suited to a particular use than others. Obviously, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to purchase a massive subwoofer if you’re planning to install it in your vehicle, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a model that’s so small you’re barely going to be able to hear the sound that comes out of it.

Car owners who are looking to enhance their in-car sound system by introducing a subwoofer to the mix are generally advised to go with a 12 inch model. A quality 12 inch subwoofer will make the bass of your audio unmissable, yet can be easily fitted in your vehicle without impeding the movements of yourself or your passengers.

12 inch subwoofers are often purchased by audiophiles to be added to a home sound system, as their compact size and powerful bass boosting abilities make them the perfect choice for a small apartment or already cramped living room. So, you may even want to consider purchasing two 12 inch subwoofers; one for your car and one for your home.

Before Installing a 12 inch subwoofer - or any subwoofer, for that matter - you will need to do some prepping and design. Subwoofer novices are advised to seek professional installation rather than attempting it themselves. There are a lot of subwoofers that are sold with the option for expert intervention, which I seriously recommend you take advantage of.

Things To Consider When Shopping For a 12 Inch Subwoofer

When you’re in the market for a 12 inch subwoofer, there are a couple of things you should take into account to ensure you don’t get swindled out of your hard-earned money or end up with a model that is totally unsuited to your car. In order to find the best 12 inch subwoofer for you, give some thought to the following before making your final decision.

Type of Sound System Installed in your Car

Before purchasing any kind of subwoofer, you’ll need to ensure its compatible with your existing system. Consider the existing speakers and amplifier. Is there enough power to run a subwoofer? What kind of connections and cabling are there for hooking up the subwoofer?

Music Genre 

Certain speakers work best when playing certain kinds of music, so it’s important to consult your record collection before purchasing a subwoofer. 

Many subwoofers are designed to exclusively play dance and techno music, two genres in which bass plays a major role. In fact, if you’re a techno junkie, your music is going to sound best when played over two subwoofers. 

If you prefer the likes of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash, you’re going to be just fine with a single 12 inch subwoofer. 


Although, you don't want it to be the basis of your final decision, money is always going to play a role in your search for the best 12 inch subwoofer.

Before you begin scouring the internet and browsing local auto shops, you should take a couple of minutes to plan a budget. Don't forget to include some money for cabling and an enclosure.

A quality subwoofer can be purchased for under $300, but you may also want to set some money aside for professional installation. 

Size of Vehicle

To get the best out of your subwoofer, you will need to spend some time thinking about how you want to install it. There are a number of different ways to install subwoofers so before you settle on one, you should take a moment to investigate its mounting options and ensure you have the space in your vehicle to install it accordingly. 

The best way to install a subwoofer is in an enclosure. Enclosure design is a whole other topic in itself, way beyond the scope of this article. If you are a subwoofer beginner, then I would personally recommend going with a sealed enclosure.

The Best 12 Inch Subwoofers

Taking all of the above into consideration, here’s my list of subwoofers that I think offer the best all round value. Each of these subwoofers is expertly designed and boast remarkable performance. prices as of  2019-10-15 at 23:35 UTC Details

Polk Audio PSW505 12 Inch Powered Subwoofer
Polk Audio PSW505 12' Powered Subwoofer - High Precision Bass with Extreme Power & Wide Soundstage |...
2,291 Reviews
Polk Audio PSW505 12" Powered Subwoofer - High Precision Bass with Extreme Power & Wide Soundstage |...
  • HEART THUMPING MUSIC WITH DEEP, POWERFUL BASS Polk's 12 inch Dynamic Balance Woofer sounds better because it is built better. Make your movies, music and sports experience thrilling
  • ACCURATE SOUND REPRODUCTIONS Be it delicate, melodious string music or solid blasts and booms from bombs and bullets, this subwoofer picks the subtleties between different kinds of sound correctly and reproduces them with absolute perfection
  • DRIVEN BY IMMENSE 460 WATT POWER, the PSW505 gives HIGH PERFORMANCE IMPACT FULL SOUND WITHOUT ANY DISTORTION. While it blends with any speaker, it works best with Polk's Signature Series Speakers. Highly recommended for your home theater
  • VERSATILE and FULLY LOADED the front grille is detachable, and the back has a magnetically shielded LFE input for noisy signal aversion, line and speaker level inputs and outputs, and a Phase Toggle Switch designed for running multiple subwoofers
  • EASY TO INTEGRATE WITH EXISTING SYSTEMS Hook up this sub to the receiver and upgrade your music sound instantly Features continuously variable 60 120 Hertz crossover and 25 125 Hertz frequency response prices as of  2019-10-15 at 23:35 UTC Details

The folks over at Polk Audio proudly proclaim themselves to be “the speaker specialists” and when you experience their various sound system components, it’s pretty difficult to argue with them. The Polk Audio brand has been around since the early 1970s, which, as you may remember, was around the advent of the subwoofer. 

In the time that has passed since Polk Audio opened its doors, it has become one of the premier manufacturers of subwoofers (and similar speakers) in the world. 

The Polk Audio PSW505 12 Inch Powered Subwoofer is one of the finest products to come out of the Polk Audio factory and promises to give car owners everywhere the kind of sound quality one would expect to experience at a live concert. As well as being an in-car sound system favorite, it is also often utilized in home theater systems.

Features and Specs
  • Real wood veneer finish
  • Adjustable low pass crossover
  • Automatic shut-off after 15 minutes of inactivity
  • 43 pounds in weight
  • Magnetically shielded for storage next to televisions

Alpine SWS-12D4

No products found.

Much like Polk Audio, Alpine first opened for business during the 1970s, so it got in on the ground floor of subwoofers. 

Alpine is similar to Polk Audio again in that the experience and expertise of its design team have led to it being recognized as one of finest manufactures of subwoofers in the game. 

Virtually any subwoofer stamped with the Alpine name is going to give you crystal clear audio, but it is the Alpine SWR-12D4 which stands out as a great all rounder.

With the power of a much larger speaker, capable of shaking the windows of your car with its bass, the SWR-12D4 is an updated version of a previous Alpine subwoofer. This means all the faults customers complained about in the past have been rectified, ensuring a flawless performance this time around.

Features and Specs
  • Kevlar reinforced cone.HAMR performance surround.
  • Top-mount depth: 5-13/16"
  • 14 pounds in weight
  • Dual 4-ohm voice coils
  • Generous one year warranty

Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12

Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12 Punch P3 DVC 4-Ohm 12-Inch 600-Watt RMS 1200-Watt Peak Subwoofer
506 Reviews
Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12 Punch P3 DVC 4-Ohm 12-Inch 600-Watt RMS 1200-Watt Peak Subwoofer
  • The P3 Series is Rockford Fosgate's best performing Punch subwoofer delivering reference quality bass in our most popular models
  • The Punch P3D4-12 is a 12" 4-Ohm DVC (dual voice coil) subwoofer with 600 Watts RMS / 1200 Watts Max power handling and custom 10-AWG nickel plated push terminals
  • Featuring anodized aluminum cones and dustcaps, with a unique spider venting design to keep the motor cooler and a new hybrid stamp-cast basket providing super strength while minimizing weight and resonance
  • Best used in standard sealed or vented enclosures {Sealed (Vb): 1.02 cu. ft. (28.8 Liters) / Vented (Vb): 1.79 cu. ft. (50.6 Liters) / Mounting Depth: 6.66 in. (169.3 mm) / Cutout Diameter: 11.25 in. (285 mm)
  • Famous Rockford Fosgate build quality with a full 1-year warranty when purchased from an authorized Rockford Fosgate reseller prices as of  2019-10-16 at 04:43 UTC Details

If you did any research on car speaker manufacturers before coming here, the chances are you have already read about Rockford Fosgate. For those who are unfamiliar with the brand, Rockford Fosgate is widely acknowledged as one of the leading manufacturers of car speakers, amplifiers, and, of course, subwoofers. 

For close to half a century, Rockford Fosgate has been on the forefront on innovation, so the success of the brand’s P3D4-12 shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. 

The Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12 is a cost-effective means of boosting the bass in your vehicle and doesn’t require quite as much effort as some other models when it comes to installation and maintenance (although you should still seek the help of somebody who knows what they’re doing). 

It’s a popular choice among new car owners and subwoofer novices, so if you fall into either category you should give it careful consideration.

Features and Specs

  • 2.5 inch copper-clad aluminum voice coil
  • Flex fit basket design
  • Thermal anodized aluminum cone
  • One year limited warranty
  • Weight of 20.9 pounds

MTX Audio TNE212D 
MTX Audio Terminator Series TNE212D 1,200-Watt Dual 12-Inch Sub Enclosure
1,500 Reviews
MTX Audio Terminator Series TNE212D 1,200-Watt Dual 12-Inch Sub Enclosure
  • 5/8" MDF Construction
  • Frequency response: 10Hz - 150Hz. Aviation Grade Carpet
  • Embroidered Terminator Logo; Impedance: 2Ω
  • Combines the sleek looks and power of a Terminator mono block amplifier with either a sealed enclosure
  • Houses two 12-Inch Terminator subwoofers, TNP212D2, or a vented enclosure prices as of  2019-10-15 at 23:35 UTC Details

MTX Audio was founded in 1979 in Winslow, Illinois by audiophile Loyd Ivey. Much like other subwoofer manufacturers that opened for business during the 1970s, just prior to the subwoofer boom, MTX Audio is today recognized as a giant in the industry and its new releases are eagerly awaited by car and music lovers the world over. 

Although MTX Audio is relatively small compared to other subwoofer manufacturers, it has made itself a legitimate contender in the fight for subwoofer supremacy. Its latest punch comes in the form of the TNE212D.

The MTX Audio TNE212D promises to boost the bass of your audio for a fraction of the cost of other in-car subwoofers. 

Merging that classic 70’s design with modern engineering techniques, it makes crystal clear audio attainable for everybody, regardless of budget. Its dual speakers make it the perfect choice for fans of dance music and other bass-dependent genres.

Features and Specs

  • Designed for use with the MTX THUNDER500.1 Amplifier
  • Aviation grade carpet
  • 48 pounds in weight
  • Max power of 1200W
  • Lower than average price 

Infinity Reference 1262W

No products found.

Infinity opened its doors in 1968, which makes it the most experienced manufacturer of audio systems on this list by a couple of years. Although it has gone through a number of changes since its inception - including a total management shake up - Infinity remains as dedicated to producing great sounding speakers today as it was when it opened for business towards the end of the most iconic period in music history.

The Infinity Reference 1262W is a testament to the expertise of those who make up the Infinity design team. The audio which pours out of it is immensely impressive and yet it will set you back less than half of your week’s wages. Usually selling for just above $120, the Infinity Reference 1262W is the least expensive subwoofer on this list, though as anybody who has purchased it will tell you, it is far from cheap.

Features and Specs

  • Dual voice coil for multiple wiring options
  • Generous one year warranty
  • Weight of 14.3 pounds
  • 1200 Watts peak power handling
  • Enhanced ventilation for greater cooling


If you have studied each of the subwoofers featured on this list and are still no closer to deciding which is the best subwoofer for you, maybe I can provide some further guidance. If I were in your shoes, I would go with the Polk Audio model.

While the Polk Audio PSW505 12 Inch Powered Subwoofer is a little on the expensive side, it promises a performance that will get the best out of all genres of music. With its expertly designed speaker and multitude of features, it ensures you will be engulfed by bass until your journey’s end.

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