12 Inch Subwoofer Buying Guide
What is a 12 Inch Subwoofer?
If you didn’t already know, a subwoofer is a loudspeaker that generates intense, deep pulses that are not possible for other types of speakers. This kind of pulse is referred to as bass, and this is a reproduction of low-pitched audio frequencies. When it comes to music, the bass provides harmonic and rhythmic support while also stressing the strong beats. If you’re standing next to a car and you can feel the thumping music, then this is the bass that you’re feeling and hearing, and there’s a good chance that the sound system has subwoofers. There are so many different kinds of subwoofers available on the market, and the one that you should select depends upon your own personal needs, but you want to do a bit of research before you make a decision. When you go online, you can shop around and see what’s out there, and also get a sense of what customers love and depend upon. This guide is intended to help you find the right subwoofer for you.
History of Subwoofers
Subwoofers were created in the 1960s so as to add bass to home theater systems. These were big and bulky speakers at first, and they would measure over a foot in height. Then in the 1970s, Sensurround was created, and this featured large speakers that gave off low rumblings to emulate action that was playing in a movie. This new technology was a huge hit in movies such as “Earthquake” in 1974, and then “Star Wars”. When cassettes and CDs were introduced onto the market in the 1980s, there were deep and loud bass systems that became popular, otherwise known as boom boxes. These were incredibly popular among teenagers, and the boxes were metallic, heavy, bulky music machines that were battery operated and very large, to ensure that they could handle the strong bass vibrations.
It was in the 1990s that DVDs became popular, and so did surround sound. This could be heard using subwoofers in home theater systems. It was at this time that subwoofers also became smaller and more accessible to the average user. This was also when subwoofers became widely used in home stereos and for customer car audio systems. Once the 2000s rolled around, subwoofers were universally used in night clubs, churches, concert venues, and in most home theater systems.
Passive versus Powered Subwoofers
There are basically two types of subwoofers: passive and active. The passive subwoofers are the most used when a separate amplifier for bass is necessary, or when a surround sound system’s receiver has a built-in amplifier for the bass channel. When an active, or powered, subwoofer is used, it’s as a single subwoofer, and it’s used as a self-contained speaker rather than as separate speakers.
Features to Look For in a Subwoofer
When you’re looking for a good subwoofer, it’s smart to look for ratings and reviews before you purchase one. When you learn from others, you’ll be more informed about which subwoofers on the market are the best. You also want to keep the following features in mind when conducting your search.
- Driver Size: The larger the driver is the deeper the bass is going to be. But when you get a small driver, you have a faster response time. When the driver is too large, you may not get enough rapid sounds to keep up with the rhythms. The driver size that you choose is a matter of personal preference, in the end. With an 8 inch subwoofer you’re not going to be paying as much, but it won’t deliver the heart-thumping bass that you may want. The most common driver sizes that you will find are 10 or 12 inch, and that’s because these sizes are able to keep up with any track, while reliably reproducing the lower sounds. But if it’s an earth-shattering bass that you’re after, then a 15 inch or 18 inch subwoofer might be the right choice for you.
- Frequency Response: The human ear is capable of hearing sounds as low as 20 hertz. Hz is a unit of measurement of sound wave frequency, and subwoofers that can create sounds that are close to the lowest level are going to be the most expensive. That’s because what you’re paying for is excellent quality. A good subwoofer that comes at a more affordable price is going to come in at about 35 hertz.
Front-Facing versus Down-Firing
Whether you go with a front-facing or down-firing subwoofer is going to come down to your own personal preferences. Neither of these is going to really be better than the other. With a front-firing subwoofer, the speaker is mounted in such a way that it can be heard from the side or front of the device. But a down-firing subwoofer’s speaker radiates sounds downwards, aiming at the ground.
Type of Enclosure
The enclosure of the subwoofer is the box that holds the speaker. The design of this box is going to impact the subwoofer’s performance. The most popular configurations that you’ll find reflect bass reflex and acoustic suspension.
- Bass Reflex: This uses the sound from the back side of the diaphragm to enhance the efficiency of the system when at lower frequencies. With a bass reflex enclosure you get a tuned port to add to and extend the bass response. These are highly efficient in terms of energy use, but they are not as accurate as acoustic suspension subwoofers.
- Acoustic Suspension: This is for reducing bass distortion. Acoustic suspension subwoofers will use a sealed enclosure to provide a greater bass response. This will give you accurate bass results, but it requires more amp power than bass reflex speakers.
The crossover is the electric circuit built into a subwoofer, or any speaker system, and it divides the audio signals and sends the appropriate ones to each speaker. Say that you have a three-way speaker setup, the woofer receives the lowest frequencies, and then the midrange driver gets the mid frequencies, while the tweeter gets the highest frequencies. The crossover boosts the speaker’s performance and will protect each speaker from receiving the wrong frequency. That way each speaker only gets what it can handle. With a good subwoofer, you’ll get a crossover frequency of about 100 hertz.
Getting a large subwoofer doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to fulfill all of your needs. They can range in size from 4 to 20 inches, and even though the biggest ones are going to give you the most intense bass, they can also be quite heavy and obtrusive. If you’re looking for a subwoofer for a small apartment, a 20 inch model is not going to be the smart choice because the size and volume are going to be too great. With smaller subwoofers you can get adequate bass while also enjoying convenience and a compact size.
You should also consider in-wall subwoofers that are going to be built into the walls or ceiling, as this will allow you more floor space. You need to begin by measuring the available space that you have and then try out different models and hear the sound quality that they produce.
12 inch subwoofers are ideal for giving you all the power with none of the bulk. There are lots of different kinds of subwoofers out there, and that’s why it can be daunting when it comes time for you to make a purchase. But take heart, you’re sure to find the subwoofer that is right for you when you do a bit of homework and find something that is going to truly fulfill your needs. The top rated subwoofers mentioned above are the ones that customers love the most because they’re engineered to please, and they create that deep, rich bass that you’re going to love.