Can You Mix 10″ and 12″ Subwoofers?
Very often, people wonder about mixing and matching subwoofers. Yes, they know they should probably buy the same sub as they already have, but that isn’t always possible. Maybe their current subwoofer is no longer available. Maybe a less expensive option has hit the market with glowing reviews. One defining characteristic of a subwoofer is the driver size. People will refer to their subwoofers by the driver size rather than the actual model number. But does driver size matter that much? Can you mix 10″ and 12″ subwoofers? Let’s discuss.
What Does Driver Size Really Mean?
There are more than just 10″ and 12″ subwoofers out there to mix and match. Subs with 8″ drivers are common and 18″ drivers are becoming more popular. You can also find subs with 15″ and 20″ (or larger) drivers. But 10″ and 12″ drivers are the most common.
When you look at the specs of subwoofer drivers, the larger the driver, the lower and louder it can play. This seems to be a clear case that bigger is clearly better. As we’ve said, when you are using two subwoofers, you want them to have as close as possible to the same performance. That seems to be a clear indication that you shouldn’t or can’t mix 10″ and 12″ subwoofers. Or is it?
A Subwoofer is More than a Driver in a Box
The size of the driver isn’t the only thing that determines the performance of a subwoofer. One very important aspect is the output and power of the amplifier. A large driver is hard to start and stop accurately. To do so requires a lot of power.
Equally important is the enclosure. It needs to be carefully designed, braced, and tuned so that you end up with a subwoofer with a flat frequency response. This usually requires careful engineering as well as some sort of integrated EQ.
So, Is Mixing 10″ and 12″ Subwoofers OK?
To us, asking this question is akin to asking if you can mix woodgrain and gloss black speakers. The finish on the speakers isn’t what determines if two speakers will work well together. The same is true for subwoofer driver size.
A well-designed 10″ subwoofer can and will work well with a 12″ model. The capabilities that should be compared are the extension (how low the subwoofer will play), linearity (flat frequency response), and output (how loud they will play). Driver size can affect these performance metrics but it doesn’t define them. If the two subs have similar specs, and 10″ and 12″ subwoofers absolutely can, then mix away!