4 8s vs. 2 12s - car audio systems

Two 12s or Four 8s: How to Improve Your Car’s Audio System

One of the best ways to upgrade your vehicle’s sound system is to incorporate or enhance the subwoofers you’re using.

When those subs can hit the bottom frequencies consistently while having a higher crossover, you’ll find the music and audio pumping through your setup can be quite delightful.

The question to answer is this one: is it better to run with two 12s or four 8s?

Although there isn’t a technically wrong answer to that question, you will find that some setups work better than others.

You’ll also want to have a subwoofer cabinet for those speakers to ensure the frequency output matches your expectations.

2 12s or 4 8s: Which Is Better?

If your vehicle has minimal space for subs, it’s often better to have two 12s to maximize your sound. When your cabin is extensive, or your installation points are tiny, it’s better to roll with four 8s instead. The quality and power options available from your amp also play a role.

Unless you have a 1980s Mercury, the stock sound system for your vehicle is trash. Some people don’t know this because they haven’t heard anything better.

Once you upgrade those subs, you’ll discover that an entirely new universe of audio bliss awaits your discovery.

How do you prefer to listen to your music? Some people choose a bass with a heavy attack, while others want something closer to a hi-fi setup.

There are a few options between those two extremes that deliver a balanced output that is also worth considering.

Anyone who wants more attack from their system should consider using two 12s for their setup.

The benefit of moving in that direction is the added size for the cone, delivering more sound and power through the individual speakers.

If you want more quality over power, then four 8s is the solution that makes the most sense.

In both setups, you’ll want to maximize the benefits by having custom cabinets built to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Although stock products work in a pinch, the cost of building something yourself is significantly less, which means you can upgrade the quality of your sub’s installation.

What Should I Be Doing with 2 12s?

If you decide that two 12s is your preferred setup, the best installation point is underneath your rear seat.

When you choose this location, you can fill the cabin with the low frequencies you love without compromising the space you have.

When you have passengers riding in the back, you might consider turning the volume down to reduce the vibrations they feel when the music plays. That decision, of course, is optional!

Another placement option for your 2 12s is in the trunk. Most vehicles have enough space in the back to let you install a cabinet without taking up all of the room.

Although you’ll limit your cargo-carrying abilities, the upgraded sound is a fair compromise that’s worth making in most situations.

Do you have a truck that needs better sound? If you have a covered bed, the installation point could be outside of the cabin.

Although this choice might require some vehicle modifications, it’s a reasonable solution for an interior design that doesn’t offer much space.

Amp placement is also an essential component of your two 12s. You’ll need to have some routing options that don’t cause situational interference.

If you can install the speakers behind the seat, it’s usually better to put the amp in the back to reduce potential problems.

Is It Better to Install 4 8s Today?

Although 2 12s can provide you with decent power, it isn’t the best solution for every vehicle.

If you drive a two-seater, have a pickup truck with a short bed, or minimal installation points in the rear, it is often better to choose 4 8s.

When you select the smaller speakers to meet your needs, you’ll find that the max power ratings are a little easier to manage.

If your setup can’t handle a massive amp, the subs won’t have such a taxing result on your supply.

If you’re already driving with an enhanced audio system with two 12s in the back and power flickers occur, you’ll want to upgrade the amp or downgrade the subs.

Since the speakers are relatively small, you can put the 8-inch subs almost anywhere in your vehicle.

As long as you have an access point for the cabinet or modification options off of the stock design, you can incorporate the electronics relatively painlessly.

Most vehicles benefit from having one of the following installation options when choosing four 8s as the preferred setup.

If you find that one of these options doesn’t meet your needs, it might be better to choose two 12s instead.

  • The Four Corners. When you consider yourself an audiophile, this setup is the only way to go when you’ve got four 8s to use. It delivers the closest thing to Dolby that you can get without modifying everything into a home entertainment delivery.
  • Rear Seat Vibrations. If you have enough space under the rear seat, a streamlined cabinet that holds the eight-inch speakers can deliver impressive results. You’ll enhance the attack a little because of how close the subs are to your vehicle’s framework.
  • Attack from the Back. With this option, you’re installing the subs and cabinet in your trunk or behind the cabin on a truck. If you have an extended cab design, you could split the four 8s into two installation points behind the rear seats instead.
  • Down in Front. When there aren’t any other options available, you can put the subs underneath the front seats to keep them out of the way. It’s not the best solution since the volume needs to stay down to prevent the speakers from being overwhelming.

Before you complete the installation, you’ll want to review whatever vehicular codes apply to your community.

Although it is rare, there can be some rules that prohibit specific sub setups. If you have any questions in this area, it helps to speak with a pro familiar with your local needs.

Best 12-Inch Subwoofer for Your System

If you want to have the best sound possible while running two 12s, you’ll want to equip these subs to your audio system.

Skar Audio ZVX-12v2

When you select this option for your audio system, you’ll receive a peak power of 3,000 watts. The RMS power rating is 1,500 watts with this setup.

It comes with a huge triple-stack magnet and a high-temp eight-layer copper voice coil to deliver a consistent performance in almost any condition.

You’ll appreciate the advanced airflow design that provides extra cooling power to the Skar Audio ZVX-12v2 subs.

With the competition-grade paper cone and the foam surround, these speakers deliver some of the best bass that you’ve ever heard!

It’s an impressive attack without reducing the fidelity received when the setup is proper.

Best 8-Inch Subwoofer for Your System

When your preference is to install four 8s with your audio system, you’ll need a subwoofer design that delivers balance without being overwhelming.

The danger with this system is that you can overwhelm the mid-range by trying to achieve more depth.

If you select the best 8-inch subwoofer for your system, you’ll avoid that trouble entirely.

Sundown Audio 8-Inch Subwoofer

With a maximum output of 500 watts, it might seem like this subwoofer is underwhelming at first glance.

Even when you hit your audio system with four, you’ll have the equivalency of 2,000 watts, which some larger subs deliver in one package!

Once you get them installed, you’ll understand why this option is the best.

You’ll get a higher equivalent volume rating than most subs in the industry right now with this speaker.

It also comes with flexible box recommendations, an impressive Q-factor, and a resonance frequency of only 40 Hz. You’ll get some extra attack when you need it without compromising an authentic hi-fi listening experience.

The Verdict: Is It Better to Run 2 12s or 4 8s?

Although there isn’t a technically wrong answer, there are some problems you can run into when purchasing the wrong subs.

If you buy two 12s on the cheaper end of the pricing scale (under $100), the sound won’t be as full.

The lack of power will create more distortion, even when your wiring is perfect. You’ll be stuck with lower volumes or massive vibrations that won’t deliver any fidelity whatsoever.

In that situation, I’d rather go with four 8s. With that option, you need to manage more installation points, but the surrounding qualities will be better.

If you use the Sundown subs, the attack is still present, while the hi-fi replication offers superior performance.

If I had to choose one option, I’d go with the Skar Audio subs because of their overall quality and reputation for long-term strength.

It delivers slightly less fidelity and more attack, but it won’t be overly buzzy when you keep things under control.

At the end of the day, you need to do what you feel is suitable for your needs. What do you prefer? Do you roll with two 12s or four 8s?


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