When it comes to putting together the perfect car audio system everything counts. You have to have the right amp, the right pre-amp, the right hardware and cases, and the right speakers. Speakers come in three basic forms: tweeters, woofers, and subwoofers. Tweeters handle the highest range frequencies, woofers cover the mid-range, and subwoofers push out the lowest frequencies. However, if the music you listen to is all about that bass than you don’t want to have just any subwoofers. No, what you need are some SPL subwoofers.
What we have here is a brief explanation of what an SPL subwoofer is, as well as a run down of some of the best models of these speakers that are available.
Sundown Audio D2 Rev 2
- RMS Power handling: 600 Watts | Mounting Depth: 6" | Overall Diameter w/ Gasket: 10 1/2"
- Thick flat tinsel lead wires tied down to the spider to prevent lead noise and breakage
- Custom tooled triple joint support ring | Custom tooled frame spacer / ventilation ring
- Recommended Box Specs (Sealed): 0.5ft^3 | Recommended Box Specs (Ported): 1.0ft^3
Table of contents
- The Best 15 Inch SPL Subwoofers
- The Best 12 Inch SPL Subwoofers
- The Best 10 Inch SPL Subwoofers
- SQ vs SPL. What’s the difference?
The Best 15 Inch SPL Subwoofers
Our Pick: The Earthquake Sound SubZero 15
This model from Earthquake Sound is far and away our favorite 15 inch SPL subwoofer. It’s USA made three and a quarter inch voice coil consists of an aluminum former and military grade wire winding around the edges for extra durability. This unit also features a turbine cooled transducer coil. This TCT coil and extra pole cooling technology ensure that you never have to worry about these subwoofers overheating, even if you’re pumping music through them all day long in the hot summer months. A PSP terminal allows you to change fuses easily and control impedance in both mono and stereo. We also found that these speakers were extremely easy to install when compared with other subwoofers that have a whopping output of 2500 watts.
Also Great: CERWIN VEGA ST152D Stroker (1200Watts RMS Power Handling Max 15-Inch Dual Voice Coil)
With its textured basket frame and semi-pressed pulp reinforced speaker cone, this 15 inch SPL subwoofer from Cerwin (one of their ‘Stroker’ series) is exceptionally durable. Its elevated motor structure allows for quick natural cooling. If you are looking for an SPL subwoofer that can withstand long excursions on rough roads than this model is an excellent choice. Like all the speakers in the Stroker series, this subwoofer comes in both a 2-ohm and a 4-ohm version.
The Best 12 Inch SPL Subwoofers
Our Pick: JBL W12GTI MKII 12″ Subwoofer
This subwoofer features JBL’s patented differential drive design motor in which two dual voice coils face each other in a neodymium magnetic field. If all of this sounds like too much technical mumbo-jumbo, so let’s put it into terms that everyone can understand: this 12-inch sub is capable of handling an output of 4,000 watts! Simply out, there is no other 12 inch SPL subwoofer that even comes close to this unit when it comes to generating this amount of volume. This speaker features technology developed by the industry-leading JBL professional audio division. In addition to its cast aluminum speaker housing, this model features a kevlar cone and an NBR (nitrile butadiene rubber) surround that effectively prevents unwanted vibrations. Simply put, when it comes to 12 inches (300 millimeters) SPL subs, this speaker from JBL is in a class of its own.
The Best 10 Inch SPL Subwoofers
Our Pick: SA-10 D2 Rev 2 – Sundown Audio 10″ Dual 2-Ohm SA Series Chrome Subwoofer
If you don’t mind having to build or buy a custom enclosure for this sub from Sundown Audio, then it’s definitely worth getting. This Dual 2-Ohm coil subwoofer is one of the best sounding 10 inch SPL subs that are out there right now. At 1,200 watts it may not be the most powerful SPL subwoofer, but it still packs a window rattling bassy punch while still maintaining a high level of tonal detail and spectral balance.
Also Great: Earthquake DBXi Series SPL Car Subwoofer DBXi-10 10 Inch
Our second speaker from Earthquake Sound also features a highly responsive woofer cone made from specialized pressed pulp fiber, a high roll rubber surround for much-needed stiffness and absorption, and a propped cooling system that keeps the speaker within its proper thermal range no matter what the weather is like. Its RMS tops out at 400 watts, which means you can count on this speaker thumping out the booming low end without any unwanted buzzes, clicks, or pops for many years to come.
SQ vs SPL. What’s the difference?
Subwoofers are the loudspeakers that are responsible for reproducing the lower bass frequencies. There are two main categories of subwoofers: SQ and SPL subwoofers. SQ stands for ‘sound quality’, and SQ subwoofers are designed to reproduce frequencies with special attention paid to spectral balance and tonal accuracy, sound imaging ( the relative position of different musical instruments on a soundstage), linearity (the relation between the input signal and output signal, in which the perfect linearity occurs when these two signals are the same), and greater noise reduction. If you really don’t want any distortion muddying your music, than an SQ subwoofer may be the way to go. However, if you’re after powerful bass that you can feel in your gut, then you need an SPL subwoofer.
If you habitually play music that has a lot of thumping bass in your ride than you are going to want to outfit your car or truck with SPL Subwoofers, The SPL refers to ‘sound pressure level’, which is the force exerted by a sound wave on a surface perpendicular to the direction the sound is travelling in. As their name quite rightly suggests, these subwoofers are designed to maximize the sound pressure level; if you want deep, bumping bass that you can really feel in your body, than you need these speakers as part of your car audio set up. There are even SPL subwoofer competitions all across the USA in which car audio enthusiasts compete in order to see whose car audio system has the best bass response.
Unlike sound quality which is largely subjective, the sound pressure level can be objectively measured with a specialized meter. What we have here are the best SPL subwoofers in three different sizes (15, 12, and 10 inches). You may not win any competitions, but if you’re looking for the most bass for your buck than these are all good options.