If you want to upgrade your vehicle’s sound system, the first step is to find the subwoofers that will deliver the frequencies you prefer.
You’ve got a couple of options when picking the subs for your setup. Some people prefer using four 8s with their system, while others want to use two 12s.
You will need a cabinet for your subwoofers in either situation, which means you’ve got that cost on top of the speakers themselves.
Is there a better option?
Four 8s vs. Two 12s
Unless you’re driving a hatchback with limited space, you’re almost always better off with four 8s instead of two 12s. By having four smaller subs, you’ll get a better surrounding effect with your music. The mid-range will stay authentic, while the higher tones won’t get drowned out.
Everyone has a different definition of what it means to have a “great bass.” Although the opinions are individualized, they can get put into three basic categories.
- You want subs in your vehicle that rattle the teeth of the people sitting next to you while stopped at a red light.
- The need for bass is strong, but you want it to be an integrated part of the music you’re listening to while driving.
- You want to create a theater experience inside your vehicle’s cabin to replicate your home’s audiophile setup.
If you want to rattle teeth, the better choice for the four 8s vs. two 12s comparison is the latter option. It’ll provide more power and vibration, especially when you have a custom cabinet built for the speakers.
When your preference is to create an audio system with a balanced EQ, you can select four 8s or two 12s.
If your only installation point is in the back, the more prominent speakers work better because you’ll get more sound distribution throughout the cabin
Should your vehicle have a wider cabin (like a sedan or larger), you can get away with using four 8s.
This setup won’t deliver the same bass result because the frequencies are more controlled, but the music will still sound good.
The best option for a theater-like experience in your car is to use four 8s. By installing one in each corner of the cabin, you can replicate the surround sound experience that makes music and movies come alive.
Where Is the Best Place to Put Four 8s?
When you decide to run four 8s with your sound system, you have several installation options to consider.
Each one comes with some specific strengths and weaknesses you’ll want to think about before starting the upgrade work.
|Installation Location||Benefit of This Installation||Disadvantage of This Installation|
|• Each corner of the cabin.||• You get a surround sound experience that makes the music feel like it comes alive.||• You must complete four individual installation points, which aren’t available in every vehicle.|
|• Underneath the rear seat.||• It maximizes the space you have inside the cabin without giving up any seating.||• Anyone who sits on the back seat will feel themselves vibrating when the bass is turned up.|
|• In the trunk.||• You can position the speakers to reflect off the vehicle’s metal frame while using the insulating qualities of a cabinet to create an impressive EQ.||• There won’t be much room to carry anything in your car unless you have rooftop storage or extra space in the cabin.|
|• Under the front seat.||• The bass frequencies have more depth and focus because they’re right underneath where you ride.||• You’ll lose some of the sound balance because the subs will likely be closer to your ears than the rest of your speakers.|
Your amp’s quality matters a lot when you choose four 8s as your installation preference.
If it doesn’t have enough power, you’ll get a lot of distortion in the mix. Since you’ll reflect the sound or try to create a surrounding effect, the lower frequencies can sound like white noise.
Where’s the Best Place to Put Two 12s?
If you run with four 8s, the best installation point is at each corner. When that option isn’t available, you’ll want to consider putting them in a rear cabinet with the distribution pointed for echoing soundwaves.
When you decide that two 12s is how you want to run, the best place for your installation is under the rear seat.
If you select this setup, the amp is usually placed on the back wall to create the results you want for the listening experience.
If there isn’t enough space to install the subs, the next best option is to put them in the trunk or third-seat area for your vehicle.
Should neither option be available, you might want to work with a professional installer to see what is possible for your setup.
Some vehicles face unique challenges that can make it challenging to install one subwoofer, much less two or four of them.
You’ll want to grab an amp for the two 12s setup that will push the subs to their max to create the outcome you prefer. If you run it at the RMS and crank the volume, the sounds will be exceptionally pleasing.
It is possible to mount two 12s in three inches for a shallow setup that won’t create frame interference with your audio.
Fidelity vs. Hitting Hard with Your Subs?
When you choose between four 8s and two 12s for your subwoofer setup, you’re deciding between accuracy or attack. Do you want more musicality in what gets played, or is your only preference to hit hard with the bass?
If you select the four 8s, you’ll notice that each driver won’t get as stressed when trying to achieve the SPL compared to the two 12s. Since each cone gets stiffer in this setup, the sound quality improves dramatically.
It won’t rattle teeth, but you’ll have an excellent listening experience that can rival any decent system.
When you select two 12s, it can be more challenging to reduce the bass frequencies’ muddiness.
It’s not like the older EV 30s with a massive low end and virtually no definition, but it is still noticeable when put up against four 8s with a similar setup.
Although the two 12s deliver more cone surface area per speaker, you have fewer installation choices to consider. The added size can also be problematic if you have a smaller vehicle.
If your installation point has restrictions, you’re almost always forced to choose four 8s over two 12s.
Best Amps to Get for Your Audio System
When you’re ready to upgrade your vehicle’s audio system, here are the subs you’ll want to consider getting for your setup.
Please remember to check the exact model number before purchase as many brands offer the choice to get the four 8s or two 12s setup.
You’ll find that this amp delivers an effective Class-D experience. It provides variable 12-decibel crossovers with the control you need to get the right sound.
A 6dB bass boost puts in those extra frequencies you want to see, while a 24 dB subsonic filter protects your equipment from potential damage.
The Kicker CX amplifier is stable to 1 ohm, ensuring that you have the freedom to manage your setup in almost any way you prefer.
You’ll have the option for vertical or horizontal mounting hardware, creating incredible sound everywhere in the cabin.
When you select this amp for your car’s audio setup, you’ll get 2,200 watts as your maximum output. When you roll at four ohms, it hits 550 watts with accuracy.
The frequency response dips to 10 Hz, using Class-D tech with proprietary components to enhance cooling while reducing the distortion you hear.
The Hifonics BG-2200 Amp does better pushing four 8s than two 12s, although the right setup will let you get the job down.
The bass kicks hard, but you’ll also want to review your connections to ensure everything works as it should. There’s enough vibration that things can rattle apart sometimes.
With 4,700 watts of maximum power, this amp does an excellent job handling almost any setup you might want to run.
It uses a competition-grade SPL Class-D monoblock to deliver results, with peak power reached at 1 ohm. Even your RMS at the measurement is still 3,500 watts.
Although the frequency response only goes to 15 Hz, it can manage up to 270 Hz on the high end.
The Skar Audio SKv2 also gives you an adjustable low-pass filter to get the right tone to your audio. It comes with a remote control for leveling and a heavy-duty heatsink for better cooling and overall playback efficiency.
The Verdict: Is Four 8s or Two 12s Better?
I can see the benefits of both setups when creating or upgrading a car audio system. For me, I prefer more of the hi-fi experience while driving, which means I’d roll with the four 8s whenever possible.
When two 12s get installed correctly, you can achieve a similar outcome with more force on the lower frequencies.
The verdict in the four 8s vs. two 12s debate ultimately relies on your vehicle and sound preference.
As long as you take your system and structure into account, it’s difficult to find a wrong answer in either scenario.