Your car could always use a good subwoofer. Especially if you enjoy long cross-country road trips or like listening to the thumping beat of the bass line while driving to work. A subwoofer is a significant investment, which is why you need to make sure you invest in a subwoofer that gives you the most bass for your buck.
There are several factors to take into account when purchasing a subwoofer. One of the mistakes that folks make (including myself) is to focus too much on the flashy enclosure and the subwoofer’s size. But, there are other important components to consider, such as the SPL, Ohms, RMS value, and frequency range, all of which work together to produce that excellent bass.
JL Audio’s subwoofers have come a long way from the W1 and W6 subwoofers introduced in the 90s. Today, the brand creates subwoofers designed to perform at peak performance, with state-of-the-art technologies that redefine low-frequency reproduction.
So, which are the best JL subwoofers worth investing in for your car? Here, we’re going to find out just that. This will be a list of my top picks when it comes to 12-inch subwoofers for cars by JL Audio.
#1 Our Top Pick: JL Audio 12W0V3-4
By far, this is the best 12-inch car subwoofer that offers you the best value for your money. Strapped for cash but want to get high-end value? This is the option. The s12W0V3-4 delivers a healthy 300 watts of RMS power, with peak power-hitting 600 watts.
You also get flexibility with the JL Audio subwoofer. You can mount them within a sealed enclosure or a ported enclosure. The propylene cone is tough and durable and maximizes sheer power while reducing the speaker’s distortion.
• Durable design
• Premium quality
• Low 30Hz average response
• Compatible for ported and sealed enclosures
• Bass could be better
This is a cost-effective option for those who are looking for car subs within their budget. If you are looking for a high-end design and performance with a mid-level price tag, this is the best option.
#2 Editors Choice: JL Audio 12W6v3-D4
This 12-inch subwoofer is a clear winner if you are looking for premium sound quality. The JL Audio 12W6v3-D4 is powerful enough to make the car bounce around.
Encased in a high-quality box, the unit blends well with its surroundings and looks great behind the car seat. The ABS plastic grille keeps the cone protected while the 600 watts of power delivers a relatively loud bass that’s enough to put a smile on your face.
• High-end design
• Sturdy build
• Great aesthetic build
• Powerful bass
• Too large for really small cars
These subs are strong and sturdily built. A great car subwoofer that will last you years. The robust encasement and tough ABS plastic grille ensure your investment stays safe even with daily use.
#3 Best Value: JL Audio 12TW1-2
The TW1 series of car subs are compelling. Designed with JL Audio’s patented thin-line technology, the 12TW1-2 sub delivers an immersive sound quality with impressive excursion capabilities and shallow mounting depth.
This 12-inch subwoofer’s output is insanely impressive considering its compact size, making it a great choice for those looking for a neat, compact design.
• Compact design
• Uses patented thin-line technology
• Specially designed cast alloy frame
• Injection-molded cone body
• Low-profile build
• Cannot be customized
• Needs a female push-on quick disconnect terminal
The 12TW1-2 by JL Audio is an impressive 12-inch subwoofer that offers an incredible quality of sound with soul-churning bass notes, all from an extremely compact design. If you are looking for a small-size subwoofer for your car without the need for any customization, the 12TW1-2 is the ideal choice.
The 12W0V3-4, 12W6v3-D4, and 12TW1-2 are great car subs that offer an exceptional bass power level at an affordable price tag. JL Audio designs for the high-end spectrum of car subs, but these budget-friendly options don’t disappoint when it comes to bass quality.
Subwoofer Buying Guide
The only way to find out the best subwoofer for your needs is to know what you’re looking for. Once you have a good idea of a car subwoofer’s features, you will be able to make a more informed decision. For your consideration, here are a few factors to keep in mind when choosing a car subwoofer.
Powered vs. Passive
The rules for choosing a car subwoofer are flexible. They’re not set in stone. For many people, the powered or active option will be the preferred choice. Despite being the most expensive out of the two, it offers the best value for money by delivering an exceptional bass level.
Powered subwoofers deliver a truly immersive sound quality, which you’ll definitely appreciate when you’re out on the open road.
On the other hand, there is the passive variety of car subwoofers you can also invest in. This option is the ideal choice for smaller cars or those who are looking for a more space-efficient subwoofer.
The compact size of passive subwoofers is because they do not contain an amplifier. This makes these subwoofers a great choice for beginners who do not want to operate an amplifier. The passive subwoofers are also the smart choice for those who are looking for a budget-friendly option.
Down-Firing vs. Front-Firing
The major difference between the two types of car subwoofers is that the down-firing options have the driver facing downwards to the floor, while in the front-firing subwoofers, the driver is facing the front of the cabinet.
The front-facing subwoofers deliver clarity, precision, and clear intonations of each tone. Far better than the down-firing option.
Forward firing subwoofers are a great choice for achieving optimal bass levels along with delicate shimmering infra bass notes, which are muffled in down-firing subwoofers. The design of forwarding-firing subwoofers means that you get clearer and more impactful bass, which is impossible when using down-firing subwoofers.
Wireless vs. Wired
Many people ask themselves when it comes to car subwoofers is whether to get wireless or wired subwoofers. This again all comes down to the personal preference of the user.
While the wiring of subwoofers is pretty straightforward, sometimes, people prefer a cleaner and less complicated look of wireless speakers connected via Bluetooth to the car’s audio system or the user’s smartphone.
While wireless subwoofers offer a cleaner appearance and take away the need to tuck wires away neatly, you will need to compromise in terms of sound quality. As compared to wireless subwoofers, the wired variety is considered to deliver a more reliable and high sound quality.
This is mainly because the wires directly connect to the subwoofer and are not affected by disturbances in the radio signals. Also, a wired subwoofer puts more power in your hands, while the wireless option needs a built-in digital-to-analog converter, which often results in a loss of sound quality.
Wired subwoofers are a great option for all those who are looking for a powerful yet cost-effective subwoofer for their car.
When it comes to car subwoofers, more bass does not always result in better bass quality. The wattage determines this. A higher wattage level is often an indicator of more powerful bass notes with the 12-inch variety normally considered the best option.
For 12-inch car subwoofers, 100 watts is a starting point; however, that number can be higher depending on the subwoofer make and model. Anything lower than 100 watts in a car subwoofer is considered not as efficient when it comes to delivering better bass quality.
Higher bass frequencies usually require more power as compared to treble or mid frequencies. The extra power makes for a more enjoyable bass sound in a vehicle’s confined space.
Car subwoofers are not all about size and design. Frequency response is another important factor to consider to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
The average frequency range of a car subwoofer is around 20 to 200 Hz. This gives you a better bass quality in cars. Unlike other subwoofer specs, the lower the Hz, the more bass you can get from the subwoofer. This is why many of the top car subwoofers available in the market have a Hz range between 20 to 200 Hz.
Driver size varies for car subwoofers depending on the brand and type of subwoofer.
To create the best loud bass quality that big-name subwoofer brands are known for, a 12” needs a diameter of 550 sq. cm. 12-inch car subwoofers also provide better dispersion as compared to larger options, which are why it is considered to be the ideal choice for car subwoofers.
Note that since the 12-inch subwoofer has to move twice as far to get the same heavy impact of a larger cone, it also requires more power, which is not a deal-breaker when it comes to 12-inch car subwoofers.
Single vs. Dual Voice Coils
There is much confusion when determining whether you need a single voice coil or dual voice coils for a car subwoofer. Knowing what these two mean will help you make a more informed decision.
A single voice coil (SCV), is a length of wire wrapped around the former, while a dual voice coil (DVC) has two coils of wire wrapped around the former. The single voice coil car subwoofer will have a single positive terminal along with a negative terminal, while dual voice coil subwoofers have two of each, as in, one for each of the two coils.
When it comes to the best option for a car subwoofer, it goes without saying that the dual voice coil option has more wiring and can deliver more powerful sound. Note though that a dual coil subwoofer does not necessarily perform better than a single voice coil subwoofer.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to the brand of the subwoofer. When choosing from any of the high-end brands such as JL Audio, there is no need to fret whether to get a single or dual voice coil as both make the subwoofer perform at optimal levels.
If you are searching for a car subwoofer that’s able to deliver in spades when it comes to bass, then there is no substitute for power, as more power translates to more bass. It’s a simple enough equation, but you must also pay attention to the RMS power ratings of the subwoofer and not just the peak power ratings.
This is because the RMS rating will measure the subwoofer’s continuous power handling, which gives you a more realistic measure of the subwoofer’s peak power output. This is important to know since the sub must handle the amp’s output power, or else the sound quality falls apart.
While we’re discussing power, it is also important to mention another factor of a car subwoofer going to go hand in hand with it. We’re talking about the level of sensitivity of the car’s subwoofer.
For those of you who do not know, the sensitivity level of a car subwoofer is measured in decibels or dB; the higher the dB of a subwoofer, the more efficient it is going to be to amplify those lower frequencies.
When comparing car subwoofers, it is critical to remember that the subwoofer with a rating of 3dB will require half the power to produce the same level of output compared to a subwoofer 3dB lower.
Subwoofer’s Impedance vs. Amplifier’s Impedance
The impedance of a car subwoofer refers to the ohm rating. Ohms measure the impedance or the flow of current in the subwoofer. More ohm ratings usually mean a greater load impedance and result in a lower amplifier output. To get an idea of what this means, a car subwoofer producing 2 ohms will produce more power compared to a subwoofer with 4 ohms.
This is mainly because a subwoofer with lower electrical resistance can produce a higher sound quality than one that has to deal with more electrical resistance. This is why 2 ohms car subwoofers are louder than their 4 ohms counterparts.
Any car subwoofer requires crossover, or else you’ll have to sacrifice overall sound quality. While it doesn’t hurt not to use a crossover, having one will translate to a better audio experience. This is because a crossover is a frequency in which the speakers start to roll off while the subwoofer kicks in to capture those full-sounding bass notes, including LFEs.
The good news is there’s no need to ponder over the ideal crossover setting for your car subwoofer since most modern units set the crossover automatically depending on the subwoofer’s frequency. This also results in a reduced distortion level while improving the overall bass quality of the car’s subwoofer.
Ported vs. Sealed Enclosure
There’s always the question of opting for ported or sealed enclosures when it comes to car subwoofers. It is important to understand the difference between the two before making a decision. As compared to sealed enclosures, a ported enclosure produces a higher output level with the same amount of power. This makes ported enclosures a more efficient choice.
Additionally, ported enclosures also deliver a higher overall output compared to the sealed variety. It means you get a louder overall sound with ported enclosures.
More than One?
Many car audio systems use two speakers and a single subwoofer. But there are advantages of using more than one subwoofer. When it comes to whether you should use more than one subwoofer, the answer is yes.
Using multiple subwoofers rather than just one will result in a lower frequency distortion while enhancing dynamics. This not only allows the subwoofers to have more radiating area in the car but provides more power on tap. Each of the subwoofers operating with less intensity to produce the given output level. This makes multiple subwoofers the preferred option for those looking to get cleaner sound quality than just a single unit.
That being said, subwoofers that high-end brands design can produce an exceptional sound quality level despite using a single unit. If you’re strapped for cash, a single subwoofer should do the trick.
The main function of a subwoofer is to disperse air. Always keep that in mind.
If the subwoofer faces the rear seat, there’s less air space to play around with the sound waves.
If the subs are close to the wall, it results in louder sound. Because the sound waves bounce off the surfaces and disperse in multiple directions.
However, you’ll want to move your spare tire tools away when using down-firing subs to prevent that rattling sound.
It goes without saying that a warranty will provide you with the peace of mind you need when investing in a car subwoofer. The amount of warranty you can get is mainly going to depend on the brand you choose. Warranties usually range from 1 year to 5 years or more, depending on the manufacturer.
What is the best JL Audio subwoofer?
JL Audio is a brand well known for its impressive subs. When looking for the best JL Audio options in town, choose from any of the subwoofers that have been mentioned above.
What is the hardest-hitting 12-inch subwoofer?
JL Audio is a well-known brand for designing efficient subwoofers for cars. But when it comes to JL subs, the Rockford Fosgate P300-12 Punch is one name that stands out from the rest. With 300 watts of RMS power, this might be a little more than you bargained for.
What is the best 12 inch shallow Mount Subwoofer?
The 12TW5v2-2 and the 13TW5v2-4 are shallow mount subs but don’t let their appearance fool you. These subs are a testament to JL’s commitment to advanced engineering and innovative design.
How good are JL Audio subs?
JL Audio has built a reputation by designing powerful subs that deliver maximum performance in any setting. If you are considering a subwoofer for your car, JL Audio has quite a selection of options. All of which deliver an exceptional level of sound.