Published On: October 2, 2022

Best 12-Inch Subwoofers for Home Theater & Music

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Published On: October 2, 2022

Best 12-Inch Subwoofers for Home Theater & Music

The wide selection of 12-inch subwoofer options speaks to the popularity of this size. Here are some of the best.

The 12-inch subwoofer is an extremely popular size because it offers the performance needed to hit deep notes but the 12" driver size (or in some cases 13") keeps the overall dimensions manageable, especially with sealed models. Of course, those seeking a smaller sub can always opt for 8-inch or 10-inch models, and bass addicts have plenty of 15-inch options as well larger but rarer 18-inch and larger. But 12-inch is a so-called "Goldilocks" size for many shoppers, and that's why there are so many options.

Subwoofer Designs: Sealed, Dual-Opposed, Ported & Passive Radiator

Although there are more than four types of subwoofers, the following designs are the most common among consumer models. Each has its plusses and minuses, but the biggest divide is between sealed designs and subwoofers that utilize some sort of tuning (port or passive radiator or horn-loaded) to increase their output at the bottom end of the frequency response curve. To be sure, there are other subwoofer types beyond this list, but the following are the ones that you encounter when shopping for consumer subwoofers.

Sealed: The simplest subwoofer design. It's basically a driver in a sealed box with an amplifier. Modern sealed subwoofers use DSP programming to tailor the driver's response and output, as well as how it interacts with the amplifier, to maximize output and fidelity.

Sealed subwoofers are compact and comparatively affordable. However, ported models at similar price points, while often larger, tend to offer more bass output near the port tuning frequency.

Dual-Opposed: This type uses two of the same driver at opposite ends of the cabinet. The result is "force cancellation," where each subwoofer driver's momentum cancels out the other. As a result, dual-opposed subwoofer designs are free of driver vibration.

A dual opposed design allows for a small enclosure with a large driver surface area. It produces more output than a single driver in a similar-sized cabinet. A bigger amp and two active drivers are required to overcome the pressure differential in a small enclosure. This is an unusual design, but it works well and is probably the best way to make a compact subwoofer with high performance.

Ported: A ported sub increases output near the tuning frequency by using one or more tuned ports. While this demands a larger cabinet for a given driver size, the added output is often considered to be worth the trade-off, at least in installations with room to spare.

Because ported subwoofers are the most prevalent type, there are a plethora of various types to choose from. The most important thing to understand about corded subwoofers is that they typically roll off abruptly below the port tuning frequency, in contrast to sealed subwoofers, which roll off more gradually.

Passive Radiator: Passive radiators operate in a manner, not unlike tuned ports. The passive radiator is a driver that is housed in the same cabinet as the active radiator but does not have a motor structure. Rather, the diaphragm of the passive radiator is tuned according to its weight and size in relation to the main driver.

The disadvantage of a passive radiator is that it is more expensive to implement than a tuned port, but the advantage is that it is immune to the port distortion sounds associated with some vented cabinet systems.

About Subwoofer Frequency Response Specs

Although response specs can help with choosing a sub, be aware it's not always an apples-to-apples comparison. With subwoofers, it's hard to really compare the response spec, because it is not tied to the output level. It is often the case that a sub will start to have trouble—running out of power or out of cone excursion—with the lowest (deepest) notes. The point is, you can use the response specification to compare bass extension among subs made by the same brand, but comparing between brands is tricky unless both provide more in-depth and verified specifications than is typical.

And now the good stuff: Best 12-inch (and 13-inch) subwoofers


1
Editor's Choice

SVS SB-4000 Subwoofer - Black Ash

13.5" of Pure SVS Sealed Subwoofer Power and Precision. OK, we admit this subwoofer is something a bit beyond a 12". SVS lists it as a 13.5-incher. But the reason we are including it here is the SB-4000, being a sealed design, has the compactness you expect from 12-inch class subs. And since it's an upper-tier SVS offering, its capabilities in the bass-making department earn it an Editor's Choice award.

2
Extreme Performance

Monolith by Monoprice M-12 V2 Powered Subwoofer

THX Certified Ultra for Guaranteed Extreme Performance. According to Monoprice, the M-12 V2 12" ported Monolith THX-certified subwoofer is unrivaled in terms of bass output, low distortion, and affordability. The Monolith subwoofer unleashes cinema-level volume while conveying and articulating the subtle nuances of music, with visceral bass that plays down to well under 20Hz.

For a better aesthetic appearance, the Monolith subwoofer cabinets have been redesigned with a sleeker look, rounded edges, and an inset subwoofer.

3
Excellent Value

SVS PB-2000 Pro Bk Ash 12" 550 watt Powered Subwoofer

Ported, Powerful and Adjustable. Astonishing output with deeeeep low-frequency extension down to 16 Hz. Features run the gamut: 550 W (1500+ peak) Sledge amplifier with fully discrete MOSFET output, 12-inch SVS driver, and the SVS subwoofer DSP smartphone app. Constructed with a dual-port design for clean bass, with minimal distortion

4
High Fidelity

Focal Sub 1000F 12" powered subwoofer

The Focal Sub 1000F: Compact and Premium. Big performance, small enclosure. It sounds simple enough, but making it work requires a powerful amplifier and motor, a robust enclosure and proper tuning. But if you get all the ingredients right, the result really sings. This sealed Focal Sub 1000F is all about that.

Here's a sub with a focus on music. It's frequency response is modest in home theater terms, 24 Hz to 200 Hz with a 22 Hz -6 dB cutoff. If you were choosing a sub just based on specs, you might even pass it over. But to do so would be to miss the point, which is this Focal subwoofer "focuses" on precision over quantity, and most music does not demand it play any deeper than it does. The 1000-watt BASH amplifier ensures the 12" driver can use its full 43mm excursion.

5
Best Design

Definitive Technology Black Descend DN12 Subwoofer

Deep Bass from a Compact Dual-Opposed Passive Radiator Sub. This Definitive Technology subwoofer smartly solves one of the bigger issues with using a passive radiator by incorporating a dual opposed force canceling design. Because passive radiators are tuned by adding weight to them, their movement can be transferred to the cabinet. At least that's the case when there's only one passive radiator, but with this Definitive Technology Descend D12 12" subwoofer the passive radiators are located on opposite sides of the cabinet and cancel out each other's momentum.

A 56  bit DSP keeps everything under control and optimizes the output. This subwoofer offers three different EQ modes to complement its placement.

The result is a sleek design that offers a modern minimalist aesthetic that's pleasing to the eye. And it's got plenty of power to push all that cone surface area, it comes equipped with a 500 W RMS amplifier that's capable of reaching 1500 W peaks. Frequency response is rated at 25 Hz to 150 Hz plus -3 dB.

6
Highly Recommended

Klipsch R-112SW Reference powered subwoofer

This Klipsch Looks as Good as it Sounds. Klipsch created a winner with the R-112SW. This front-slotted, ported model has the signature Klipsch Cerametalic woofer so if you are into Klipsch and leaving the grills off, you'll get a pleasing aesthetic match. And regardless of what brand speakers you own, this sub has 24-125 Hz frequency response (no range given) and an amp with 300 W RMS, 600-watt peak power. And before you complain that other subs on this list have more power, typically this Klipsch is among the most affordable subs on this list.

7

Mark "movie night" as a special event on your calendar I've been a Polk Audio home theater enthusiast for years, having owned several different-sized Polk systems that I've loved. If I was building a new surround sound system today, I'd strongly consider the HTS 12 for my all-important bass production. This hard-hitting sub can fill even large rooms with deep, responsive bass. My hunch? If you're like me, you may look forward to watching movies with family or friends, just to show them how good the bass sounds. The Polk Audio HTS 12 powered sub features a sleek, rounded enclosure and a removable grille. A new design adds visual interest This sleek sub features a hip, updated design with rounded corners and a slot on the bottom that shows off the flared, down-firing port - a bit of a departure from Polk's previous enclosures. Cosmetically, it's my favorite Polk sub design to date. But the HTS 12 offers more than just good looks. It pairs a 12", front-firing driver with a 200-watt amp for impactful bass from music and movies. Use it as part of a stereo music system, or as part of a Polk Audio Signature home theater system. Get the most out of your sub Where you place your sub within your room makes a big difference in how it sounds. Check out our tips for placement and setup to get the best performance out of your system.

8

Thunderous bass customized for your room No knobs, dials, or switches here! The SUB3030 uses a free app on your smartphone for set up, control, and room calibration. ELAC broke the subwoofer mold with their original line of Debut Series subwoofers. Now, the Debut 2.0 SUB3030 offers even better performance and customization to deliver excellent bass from anywhere in your room. This hard-hitting, high-tech sub is a perfect complement to Debut 2.0 bookshelf and floor-standing speakers. Use it as part of your stereo or home theater system with confidence. Control everything from your phone Out of the box you'll notice that the SUB3030 doesn't have the usual assortment of knobs, switches, and adjustment options on its back panel. That's because it uses your smartphone's microphone along with sophisticated on-board software to deliver the most accurate bass possible. Simply download the ELAC SubEQ app and let its powerful processing customize the subwoofer's settings for your room, wirelessly via Bluetooth. You'll enjoy visceral, ground-shaking bass from the sub's 12" woofer and 12" passive radiator, while its super-charged 500-watt RMS amplifier provides plenty of horsepower for your music and movies. Calibration made easy The magic behind the SUB3030 lies in how you set it up and control it. Everything is done from your device's touchscreen. The SubEQ app uses Bluetooth Low Energy, a wireless connection between your device and your sub that requires no pairing and no passcode. The calibration process begins by capturing a near-field measurement of the subwoofer's bass output. Simply hold your phone or tablet within one foot of the sub and press "Analyze." The app then records what's coming out of the subwoofer, capturing sound before it's affected by its interaction with the room's reflective surfaces and other sound-muddying anomalies. Then you'll do the same measuring process from your favorite listening position. The app's software compares the first measurement ag

9

Big bass that takes up less floor space SVS's PC-2000 Pro cylinder-shaped powered subwoofer delivers all of the deep, powerful bass you get from their ported-box version, the PB-2000 Pro , but in a more space-efficient design. (The PB-2000 Pro cabinet is about two feet deep, while this PC-2000 Pro is only 16-5/8" in diameter.) SVS originally made its name with their potent cylinder subwoofers. Put one (or two) in your listening room and find out why these subs continue to amaze audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts alike. The PC-2000 Pro's rear-panel touch controls make changing settings easy. Deep, powerful, and precise bass for movies and music The PC-2000 Pro's 12" aluminum-cone woofer and high-current 550-watt amplifier produce subterranean low frequencies all the way down to 16 Hz! The innovative amplifier design combines the efficiency of a Class D switching power supply with the high current capability of fully discrete MOSFET output devices. You'll hear seismic rumble and crushing impact in movie soundtracks, and tuneful bass lines in your favorite music. The PC-2000 Pro's big 4" port lets the long-throw 12" driver really breathe, creating high-output levels at very low frequencies. That's the brawn part. The PC-2000 Pro's "brains" are supplied by a sophisticated 50MHz Analog Devices Audio DSP that is one of the most advanced digital processors you'll find in a subwoofer. It constantly monitors and maintains pristine sound quality through advanced in-room tuning, optimized frequency response curves, powerful DSP controls, and more. Simple control from the sub or your phone The PC-2000 Pro is designed for easy set-up and integration in both multichannel home theater and two-channel systems. On the back panel is SVS's Intelligent Control Interface, which uses touch buttons and an LED bar to make changing DSP settings and other audio adjustments straightforward. But the best way to control this sub is via SVS's free smartphone app, a feature that until n

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