Would 3 10s Vs 2 12s Sealed Be Louder? (Complete Guide)

When you have extra space in your vehicle for the audio system, you have a few options for subwoofers. Typically, three 10s or two 12s can be stored in the same cabinet space. Although the dimensions for each setup would be different, the overall square footage would be similar.

The lower mass can move with slightly more efficiency if you use smaller speakers. When you want specific sound outcomes for your music, this process allows for a more accurate waveform. When selecting the larger ones, make sure they are sealed and braced to avoid losing the energy you generate.

Would 3 10s Vs 2 12s Sealed Be Louder?
Would 3 10s Vs 2 12s Sealed Be Louder?

3 10S VS 2 12S – WOULD 3 10S OR 2 12S SEALED BE LOUDER?

Although three 10s provide more total surface area to work with, the two 12s are still louder when sealed. You’d get more of a surrounding effect from the cabinet if you went with the smaller subs because there’s less mass in the way of its acceleration.

The differences between the three tens and two twelves are almost insignificant. Although people have preferences based on space or manufacturer, having slightly more surface area across multiple speakers will not result in much of a difference.

The only advantage of using three 10s in your setup is that you will have less overall mass for the speakers. When you look at the two 12s for subs instead, you’ll get more airflow that can pass over the speaker, resulting in a slightly higher output.

When considering three 10s or two 12s, the cabinet is the most important aspect of your sub installation. Your box must be well-braced, extremely rigid, and completely sealed. If you have any gaps, you will lose the energy that your subs generate.

When configuring the system, you should also check the amplifier power for your subwoofers. Most people (including myself) agree that you can never have too much clean power going to your speakers. Although you don’t want to overcharge them based on their setup, you can put in more than the bare minimum to make the audio feel natural.

As a final step, make sure you have your stiffening caps in place, because higher ampere numbers necessitate a large amount of instant current to produce the desired results.


A lot of air movement is required to produce a good, clear, and loud bass. A small 4-inch speaker in your car or truck’s dash simply cannot pressurize and ratify enough air to produce acceptable bass. Subwoofers are speakers that are designed to produce sound at frequencies lower than 100 hertz.

These speakers have large voice coils to dissipate heat and suspension designs that allow for a lot of cone movement.

Subwoofers, when installed in a properly designed enclosure, free up the smaller speakers from having to play bass frequencies. Focusing on midrange information reduces cone excursion requirements and reduces distortion.


Although you could compare one manufacturer’s 10s to another’s 12s to get better results (or vice versa), the only way to tell if one sub installation is better than the other is to compare the manufacturers directly.

That means you’ll need to decide on the make and model of your subs before considering three 10s vs. two 12s for your setup. When you take the average surface area of three tens, you get about 236 square inches.

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Depending on the design of the speakers, some brands may give you a little more or less. When working with 12s, you’ll get a median of 226 square inches. Is that difference (10 square inches) significant enough to make a difference in your cabin? In most cases, the answer is “no.”

While some people may believe they are hearing a more complete audio experience, what they are actually hearing is a reflective bounce from the produced sound waves. You’re getting a few more pings around the cabin with your music now that you have three speakers instead of two.

The attack has the same outcome. Although the two 12s will provide more airflow, this advantage will only last until the sound waves begin to reflect off the surfaces. That is why, whether you do a shallow mount or a more expressive setup, your cabinet is essential. If you don’t have a proper box, both the three 10s and the two 12s will sound terrible.

When the installation is done correctly, you should end up about even. If anything, the three 10s are a better option because you’re getting a third sub for your setup. If you use 10s instead of 12s, the cost difference could be in the $300 to $500 range, so keep that in mind when managing your setup.

3 10s Vs 2 12s
3 10s Vs 2 12s



Subwoofers are the speakers that are dedicated to delivering the lowest frequencies in the music you enjoy. Whether you prefer classical or heavy metal, installing a high-quality set of subs will improve the system’s performance.

This is due to the fact that a stock car audio system provides speakers that are too small to accurately replicate the low-frequency sounds you want while driving. It only takes one subwoofer to make a significant difference in audio performance, so having two or three can provide significant benefits!


If you’re looking for the best subs for your vehicle, whether with three 10s, two 12s, or another configuration, here are some options to consider.

I want my subs to blend into the interior.If you want this look, you should buy vehicle-specific subwoofers.• They’re designed to match the interior of your specific make and model.• You won’t get a massive bass hit with them, but it could deliver above-average sound with three 10s or two 12s.
I don’t want to be bothered by the installation details.When you need a great audio system right away, the best option is to buy a bass package online or from a local dealer.• If you have the speakers shipped to your home, make sure a local installer will do the work.
I want to save space with my subwoofer installation.If you want to save space, powered subs are the way to go.• It’s a simple installation that works well with three 10s or two 12s.• You can even step down to 8s for a smaller vehicle to save even more space while still getting a good sound.
I prefer a 100% custom (bespoke) sub setup.If this is your preferred option, you should look into component subs.• The most important part of this transaction is the box for your speakers.• If you purchase a stock product meant to fit your size, you should take the time (or have your installer do it) to seal each seam to prevent airflow loss.
I want the most effortless installation possible for my vehicle.A sub and enclosure combination is your best option if you want to DIY your installation without having to deal with a lot of building or shaping.• The speakers come pre-mounted to their boxes, eliminating the step of designing and building the system.• Choosing this option also means you have fewer box types and subwoofers to use for your audio system.


Once you’ve decided on the system or subwoofers you want to buy, you should begin comparing the specifications of each product to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible. Here are some of the best resources to review.

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1. Range of Frequency

This spec tells you how low your subwoofers can go. The actual performance will vary, especially if you use a sealed speaker. You’ll get deeper and more accurate sounds with a mounted enclosure than with a shallow mount.

2. Sensitivity

This rating will tell you how much power is required to produce a specific sound. Speakers with higher numbers in this category require less power to produce the same audio as subs with lower numbers.

3. Power

Systems that generate a massive attack require a lot of power to achieve that result. There is no substitute for a large number in this case! Instead of focusing on peak ratings, look for RMS numbers on the units you prefer. The RMS specification is more realistic than peak power ratings because it measures continuous power output and handling.

4. Voice Coils

A dual voice coil subwoofer is a popular choice because it gives you more control over the speaker’s wiring. Most subwoofers use a single coil, which necessitates a specific connection.

5. Impedance

Most subwoofers on the market today have a 4-ohm impedance rating. When you start looking around, you’ll notice that 2 ohm and 8 ohm options are also available today. To ensure you have what your vehicle requires, look for an amp that matches your power rating and this spec.


Purchasing a subwoofer is akin to navigating a minefield. You want the best bass possible, but you probably don’t want to install a rhinoceros-sized sub in your living room.

We’ve broken down the key steps in selecting a subwoofer, from sound quality and volume to price and whether or not to buy a wireless subwoofer.

1. Sound Quality

The first big question that everyone has is, “Will a subwoofer actually improve my bass?” The simple answer is that a dedicated subwoofer will improve your bass regardless of how much or how little you spend. It will become more meaty, richer, and deeper. Subwoofers are specifically designed to boost the low end, and they work extremely well for both music and movies.

2. Subwoofer Size

In the world of subwoofers, size matters. The size of your driver will have a large impact on the range and quality of your bass.

The driver is the subwoofer’s speaker – the circular cone that produces sound. It takes a lot of energy to move bass frequencies through the air. The larger the driver, the more energy it can produce, and thus the larger the cabinet. But just how big is big?

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10″ vs 12″ Subwoofers
10″ vs 12″ Subwoofers

3. Power and Volume

Almost every subwoofer on the market is an active subwoofer, which means it has its own internal amplifier rather than relying on an external amplifier. The internal amplifier is the beating heart of your subwoofer, and its primary function is to power the speaker driver. That power is measured in watts, and understanding it is essential for selecting a good subwoofer.

4. Wireless vs. Wired Subwoofers

Most subwoofers will need to be directly connected to a wall outlet in order to draw power, as well as to your amplifier in order to receive sound. The former is accomplished, obviously, with the power cable, and the latter with an RCA cable, which is typically included with your subwoofer. What if you want to go completely wireless?

5. Range of Frequency

Every sound has a frequency – how high or low it is. Frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz), and understanding frequency is critical for subwoofers. Because bass notes have a low frequency, a subwoofer capable of reaching the lowest possible frequency is, by definition, a great subwoofer.

6. Front-Firing vs. Down-Firing Subwoofers

The main driver of a front-firing subwoofer faces forward. The driver of a down-firing subwoofer is located on the underside of the subwoofer, pointing down into the floor. There are only minor differences between the two, and which one you choose depends on where you intend to place your subwoofer.

If you know it will be close to the main speakers, you may want to consider a front-firing subwoofer. But, once again, you can choose either one without too many negative consequences.

7. EQ and Room Calibration

Bass, more than any other type of sound, is extremely sensitive to its surroundings. Because of its slow movement and heavy nature, it tends to react poorly in less-than-ideal environments, collecting in corners and becoming muddy and indistinct.

Subwoofer manufacturers are aware of this, which is why many subwoofers include DSP (Digital Signal Path) technology. It’s a method of improving and altering the sound before it’s pushed out the front of the subwoofer, so it interacts with your room in a more pleasing way.

8. Ported vs. Sealed Subwoofers

The world of subwoofers has an odd quirk: the more expensive they are, the more likely they are to have holes punched in them. These are referred to as ported subwoofers, and as the name implies, they have one or more ‘ports’ that lead directly to the interior.

Sealed subwoofers, on the other hand, are devoid of any ports. In general, most subwoofers are sealed – certainly, the vast majority of the models on our list of the best available right now meet this requirement.

9. Hi-Fi vs. Home Theater

Subwoofers are extremely versatile and can be used in music, movie, and gaming setups. The difference here is that when purchasing a subwoofer for a hi-fi system, you almost never need to purchase more than one.

This is not because one subwoofer will not suffice for music – it will – but because most stereo amps do not have the capability of transmitting sound to more than one subwoofer.

10. How Much Do Subwoofers Cost?

You should probably not buy a subwoofer for less than $100. We’ve heard a lot of things below that price point with mixed results.

The good news is that you can get excellent subwoofers for as little as $140, and the results are frequently fantastic if you spend a little more. There are hundreds of subwoofers available between $200 and $1,000, with some real bargains in the middle.

CONCLUSION on 3-10s Vs 2-12s

The best subwoofer for your vehicle may have three 10s or two 12s. It all depends on your preferences and the ease with which the installation can be completed in your vehicle. Personally, I prefer the three tens. They look great when installed, especially with a custom enclosure. I don’t think there’s anything better when they’re mounted correctly!

I’ve also seen some fantastic setups with two 12s. That is why it is a matter of personal preference. When comparing the same subs from a specific brand, it may be better to choose the most affordable option because the differences are minor.

Subwoofer On Car
Subwoofer On Car

Frequently Asked Questions

Are 3 10s better than 2 12s?

The differences between the three tens and two twelves are almost insignificant. Although people have preferences based on space or manufacturer, having slightly more surface area across multiple speakers will not result in much of a difference.

What sounds better, 10s or 12s?

Subwoofer size frequently dictates loudness when designing or upgrading a vehicular audio system. That is, two 12s will be heard louder than two 10s. If your music does not require a deeper bass or a fast attack, the smaller subs will provide more sound consistency.

Are 3 subs better than 2?

The ideal solution is always to send a matched, identical signal to matched, identical subwoofers. In general, three subwoofers sound better than two. The third sub is more likely to even out the room response than to cancel out the other subs.

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