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12-Inch Vs 15-Inch Subwoofers – Which is Better for Car?

“Here is the ultimate guide that differentiates and helps you choose the correct size subwoofer for your car audio system”

A subwoofer or sub is a type of speaker designed to reproduce deep, low-pitched audio frequencies (bass or sub-bass – 20 Hz to 200 Hz), even low frequencies generated by a woofer. This speaker driver is an addition to the stereo system for low-frequency sounds that take the audio system to the next level.

It is essential to achieve full-range sound in the car audio system. The subwoofers come in various sizes, power levels, and shapes, and can be wired either to the powered amplifier or directly to the head unit.

12 Vs 15 inch Subwoofers

The size of the subwoofer plays a vital role in selecting a subwoofer for the car audio system, as it influences the sound quality. There are two popular and most preferred sizes available for car subwoofers – 12 inches and 15 inches. Though both these subwoofer sizes deliver excellent bass performance, some key differences affect their power handling, sound quality, and thereby overall performance.

If you are still in a confusion about which size subwoofer suits perfect for your car audio system and listening preference. Then this article will clarify your doubt and help you select the right option for your car.

When choosing between these two types of subwoofers for your car, it’s important to consider factors such as the size of your vehicle, the type of music you listen to, the power of your amplifier, and your budget. These factors can help you make an informed decision that will ensure you choose the perfect subwoofer for your needs. Ultimately, taking the time to consider these factors will lead to a more satisfying and enjoyable listening experience.

Before getting into the topic, let’s take a quick look at the comparison table of 12 Vs 15 inches subwoofers for cars.

Parameters 12-Inch Subwoofer 15-Inch Subwoofer
Size 12 inches (Small) 15 inches (Large)
Weight Lighter (around 26 – 45 lbs) Heavier (around 37 – 67 lbs)
Audio Type Sharp Audio Dull Audio
Sound Clarity More Precise & Accurate A Bit Less
Power Handling Capacity Less (1200W) More (1500W)
Frequency Response Higher (45 – 500 Hz) Lower (20 – 400 Hz)
Bass Less Loud & Powerful Bass
SPL (Sensitivity) Lower Higher
Installation Easier to Install A Bit Harder
Distortion Less More
Suits For Movies Music
Price Affordable ($30 – $300) Expensive ($50 – $750)
Response Fast Slow
Sound Characteristics Crisper & Louder Deep Tune
Area Coverage More Less

 What’s the Difference Between 12″ Vs 15″ Subwoofers?

Now, look at the key difference between these popular-sized subwoofers that help make an informed buying decision.

1. Size & Weight

The main difference between these two subwoofers is their size, form factor, or physical difference. The size of the subwoofer will determine the amount of air it displaces and affects the overall bass output. As the name implies, the 12-inch subwoofer measures 12 inches in diameter, whereas, a 15-inch subwoofer measures 15 inches in diameter. This means the 12-inch is smaller, lighter, and more compact compared to the 15-inch models, especially while dealing with the enclosure factor.

2. Power Handling

The higher the subwoofer’s diameter, the higher its power handling capacity will be. The reason for this is having larger magnets and voice coils that protect the woofer and allow it to handle more power without any overheating. Thus, a 15-inch subwoofer can handle more power than a 12-inch subwoofer.

3. Frequency Response

In general, the subwoofers come with low-frequency responses. The larger the size, the lower the frequencies it produces, and allows you to enjoy more powerful and deeper bass. So, the 15-inch subwoofer can produce lower frequencies compared to 12-inch subwoofers.

The bass is stronger in the low frequency, which means the 12-inch subwoofer has a frequency response range of 45 – 500 Hz and its 15-inch subwoofer range will be 20 – 200 Hz. Thus 15-inch subwoofers generate higher bass and exceptional sound quality.

4. Audio Clarity

The smaller the size of the subwoofer, the more quickly it responds to the changes in the music. This means a 12-inch subwoofer delivers a more precise and accurate sound than a 15-inch subwoofer. Here the 12-inch models produce a crisper, tighter bass, whereas the 15-inch models deliver excellent hip-hop, rap, and music with much more boom than bass.

5. Power Consumption

While talking about the speakers, the size matters most in terms of power consumption. The smaller the size, the more energy-efficient the subwoofer. This means a 12-inch subwoofer consumes less power to produce the same level of bass and also saves money on the electrical system of the car compared to a 15-inch subwoofer.

6. Sound Pressure Level (SPL)

If you are a car audio enthusiast who loves to enjoy the exceptional sound quality from their speaker. Then choose a large-sized subwoofer that can produce high SPL levels and delivers louder, clear, and more powerful bass. So, a 15-inch car subwoofer produces excellent bass when compared to a 12-inch subwoofer.

7. Area Coverage

Area Coverage plays a key role in the selection of these different-size subwoofers, and most people prefer to choose the model delivering adequate sound and covering more area. In this case, the smaller 12-inch subwoofer wins the race and stays at the upper hand. Its small size is the main reason that covers a wider surface area and generates a sharper sound that travels far. While 15-inch subwoofers produce deeper yet dull sound and better bass that won’t reach much farther/cover a large area.

8. Sound Characteristics

The 15-inch subwoofer is designed to produce a deeper sound, as they displace more air to generate deep tuning and more booming sound. While a 12-inch subwoofer delivers a clear, crisp, & loud sound. The reason is that a 12-inch subwoofer displaces less air offering a more precise sound. The larger subwoofer delivers a low sound. Also, the bigger subwoofer creates more distortion, while the low subwoofer creates less distortion. Thus, the 12-inch subwoofer is designed better to watch movies, whereas the 15-inch subwoofer is designed for music listening.

9. Price

A larger-size subwoofer will cost a bit more compared to a smaller-size subwoofer, and the reason for this is the manufacturer needs less material to produce them, and are quite easy to install. Thus, a 12-inch subwoofer is much more affordable than a 15-inch subwoofer.

10. Installation

The compact, small-sized subwoofer is easy to install because it needs less space and fits well (compatible) with most car models. Therefore, a 15-inch subwoofer is a bit harder to install than a 12-inch subwoofer for the car audio system. Some vehicles are suited better for a speaker with a 15-inch subwoofer magnitude and enclosure.

11. Portability

The smaller-sized (12-inch) subwoofer is more compact, lighter, and portable than a larger-sized (15-inch) subwoofer. This means you can remove them from the car and can take it with you wherever you go without much strain.

12. Compatibility

Compatibility is one of the deciding factors for purchasing a speaker or subwoofer for the car audio system. The small-sized subwoofer is quite easy and quick to install and needs less power to operate, making them a versatile and the most preferred option. In this compatibility case, 12-inch subwoofers win the game over a 15-inch subwoofer.

Which is Better for Your Car – 12 inches Vs 15 inches Subs?

It is tough to decide which one to choose between a 15-inch or 12-inch subwoofer for the car audio system because each size comes with its own unique set of benefits and limitations.

A 12-inch subwoofer is compact, affordable, portable, and easy to install compared to a 15-inch subwoofer. Also, it delivers more accurate, deep, and more controlled bass, which makes it a perfect option for audio enthusiasts to play music genres like jazz, rock, pop, and classical music. Yet it is unable to produce much bass as a 15-inch subwoofer. which in turn, impacts the ability to deliver powerful sound.

On the other hand, a 15-inch subwoofer is an excellent option for those seeking to enjoy exceptional audio quality or bass lovers. It is widely available and ideal for larger vehicles with enough space to accommodate. It delivers deep and more powerful bass, allowing its users to enjoy a wide range of music genres that includes rap, pop, hip hop, or electronic dance music. Yet it may not fit well (compatible) with all car models and need a powerful amp to drive the subwoofer.

Ultimately, the decision-making falls under one’s personal preference, based on certain factors like available space (enclosure) in the car, type of vehicle, budget range, and sound quality. All these factors are essential to consider while deciding on which size subwoofer to choose.

12″ Vs 15″ Subwoofers – FAQs

1. Which subwoofer sounds better – 12 or 15 inches? Do the bigger subs sound better?

Ans: Usually, a 15″ cone provides a better bass and handles higher wattages, frequency response, and sound quality without distorting compared to a 12″ cone. Simply to say, bigger subwoofers sound better than smaller subwoofers. Yet it depends on several factors – the type of speaker (passive or active), frequency response, or amp wattage.

2. Are two 12-inch subwoofers louder than a single 15-inch subwoofer?

Ans: A single 15-inch sub delivers better sound quality compared to the dual 12-inch subs, as they hit deeper yet not louder due to their large size and greater bass output. However, the dual 12-inches subwoofers have more surface area than a single 15-inch, making it a bit louder, cleaner, and more accurate bass with less distortion. These dual small subwoofers can fit into more locations and widely spread the sound all over the car.

3. What size subwoofer is best for bass (or) louder?

Ans: Subs with larger sizes are generally louder than those with a low diameter. This means a 15-inch sub is considered the best option to produce the best bass and louder high-quality sound than a 12-inch sub.

4. How long does it take to break a 15-inch subwoofer?

Ans: The subwoofer should undergo a break-in process to deliver the best possible sound, as it helps to loosen the suspension and thereby enhance the overall performance and bass output along with extending its lifespan. The break-in process for a 15-inch subwoofer might take a week, during which you need to play some bass music at low – medium volume for 3 hours daily and then a bit higher volume to make it work properly. 

5. What are the best brands manufacturing both of these subwoofer sizes?

Ans: A subwoofer is one of the main components of the car audio system used to enjoy exceptional sound quality, especially the bass. Some brands such as Alpine, JBL, Pyle, Polk Audio, Pioneer, Skar Audio, Klipsch, Kicker, or Rockford Fosgate manufacture both these different-sized subwoofers.

Wrapping Up…

However, the final choice between a 12-inch and 15-inch subwoofer will come down to individual preference and listening requirements. For instance, if you look for a powerful and deep bass, then a 15-inch subwoofer will be your best pick. In case, if you seek a louder sound with accurate bass, then a 12-inch subwoofer is the way to go. Consider these top key differences between them and make a wise buying decision that fits according to your car space, budget range, and listening preferences. We hope this article will give better clarity on how to select and which one to select for your car’s audio system. We’d like to hear your queries or thoughts regarding these subwoofers. Feel free to share it with us in the comments section below. 

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