JL Audio 12W3
Autosound 2000 and a small army of CAR SOUND
installer advisors evaluate JL audio’s latest
by Brian Smith
JL Audio sent us their 12W3 12-inch dual voice coil woofer mounted in a small sealed enclosure of about 1.25 cubic feet. This package is sold by JL Audio as a complete subwoofer system — the CS112-W3 ProWedge. This enclosure is of the wedge-shaped variety with solid MDF construction and plush gray carpeting. It also came with an easy-to-remove, but hard-to-install, durable, tight mesh grille. The input connection features a true five-way binding post connector which will accept banana plugs.

JL really seems to have their stuff together with this box and woofer combo thing. Practically any system they produce is a great addition to a vehicle’s factory system, and if you want to build a custom system, there are few better places to start.

The CS112- W3 ProWedge that we received for this long-term test is no exception and gave us a great platform from which to evaluate the 12W3 subwoofer, which JL supplies in a dual-2 ohm voice coil version in this system. We installed it in one of our daily drivers with a modest system, and something tells us the trunk latch on this car may mysteriously jam if JL ever calls for its return. This sub provides accurate reproduction of any program material, but works especially well with rock-style kick drums, producing that upper bass wallop that you feel in your gut even when played at lower power levels. Extreme low-frequency reproduction is equally impressive. Low organ notes only produce that annoying flapping noise at stupid power levels. Even the torturous upright bass is well resolved, lacking that aggravating one-note emphasis that plagues so many systems.

The impedance curve for this unit shows a maximum of 26.7 ohms and a minimum of 4.9 ohms over its usable range. the voice coils of the 12W3-D2 are wired in series for a nominal 4-ohm load in this application. These values occur at 48 Hz and 90 Hz, respectively. Average impedance measured 10.4 ohms. Out-of-car measurements show a slight rise in response below 100 Hz, followed by a smooth 12 dB-per-octave roll-off below system resonance. In-car measurements show a 1-watt sensitivity of 91.5 dB at 10 Hz and a relatively smooth overall response. About 5 dB of power compression was observed in the lowest frequencies on the 300-watt in-car sweep.

Real-World Testing
As you can see by the above review, we’re excited about the new JL Audio W3 series of woofers here at the Autosound 2000 Test Labs. The series includes 8-, 10-, 12-, and 15-inch cones with the following voice coil arrangements: dual 2-ohm, dual 4-ohm, and dual 6-ohm (except for the 15, which is only available in dual 2- or dual 4-ohm versions). The W3 woofers also boast JL Audio’s patented VRC technology. Let me quote JL Audio; “The VRC cools the voice coil and mechanically locks the critical joint between the spider, cone, and voice coil former, resulting in exceptional reliability.” As for power handling, the 8W3 is specified at 125 watts, while the 10W3, 12W3, and the 15W3 are specified at 250 watts.

The JL Audio ProWedge series of enclosed systems includes four models that use the W3 subwoofers: single 10-inch (CS110-W3), dual 10-inch (CS210-W3), single 12-inch (CS112-W3) and dual 12-inch (CS212-W3) models. These ProWedge systems are applicable to most hatchbacks and sedans.

We asked a number of JL Audio dealers across the U.S. and Canada to put the new W3 series woofers to the test. Here’s what they had to say:

HiFi Buys
Our evaluation of JL Audio’s 12W3 in the PowerWedge enclosure went very well. The woofer performed exceptionally in many different systems. On our display, the woofer didn’t sound quite as loud as the competition, but it had a very smooth response. The woofer was very transparent and had a very nice natural sound to it. I played the woofer on a variety of amps, including an Xtant 3300c, a PPI pc2100, and a small Kenwood unit. Regardless of the power that was sent to the JL 12W3 woofer, it stayed linear and didn’t become boomy or flat.
Inside the car is where this woofer really came to life. The 12W3 is a very strong performer.

Matt MacLauchlin
HiFi Buys
Morrow, GA
Tel: 770-961-8080

Audio Designs
I’m pleased to say that the 12W3/ProWedge combination performed very impressively in a variety of conditions. In a Honda Civic, powered by a PPI2100, the 12W3 more than adequately replaced a 2 x 12 custom box of another popular brand woofer. Everyone at our shop was surprised at the control and smooth response, even on large tracks like Beastie Boys’s “Intergalactic.”

I also tested the 12W3 in my Lincoln Town Car on a 2-day, thousand-mile trip. I was pleased that the 12W3 had a very tight response and a good attack through a number of adverse musical passages, including Grieg’s “Peer Gynt Suite #1 — Opus 46,” Depeche Mode’s “Penn 6-5000,” and Track #13 on the Trainspotting soundtrack. All of these selections were crisp and clear with no noticeable run-on. Powered with an older PPI2075 amp, the 12W3 reached an SPL of 125 dB, showing good efficiency without going watt-crazy.

While driving on the interstate through the mountains, playing “Another Brick in the Wall — Part 1,” the resonant background frequency at 39 Hz vibrated the car so much that I thought I had wandered onto the rumble strip. Stopping at the next rest stop, I could see the speaker cone had close to a 1-inch throw — definitely capable of moving lots of air. Musically, the 12W3 made the miles fly by. We also tried it freestanding in our shop and it was smooth, even above 100 Hz. All in all, the JL Audio 12W3 is very impressive speaker.

Edward Goed
Audio Designs
Hicksville, NY
Tel: 516-938-0157

Detailed Sounds
The JL Audio 10W3 ProWedge box I was sent for evaluation contained a single 10-inch, dual 6-ohm woofer. The voice coils were wired in parallel for a net nominal impedance of 3 ohms. The box itself was a sealed MDF enclosure and rather compact. I used a Zapco Z100X (100 x 1 @ 4 ohms) as my test amplifier, and we mounted it all in a 1994 Honda Civic Coupe.

The JL Audio ProWedge box with the 10W3 sounded excellent. The bass was extremely accurate. At the same time, it was deep and very linear. Mid-bass transition was also superb. I tried a wide range of music, including rap, pop, classical, rock, and jazz at both high and low volume levels. It seemed that no matter what I threw at the box, it handled it with ease.

My only complaint is that other single 10-inch boxes that I’ve tried seemed like they had more output as far as SPL, even though their sound quality was not as good. This can probably be attributed to the combination of a mono amplifier and a dual 6-ohm voice coil. If JL Audio had sent a dual 4-ohm speaker, the amplifier would have produced more output and, therefore, increased overall volume.

Keith W. Harrison
Detailed Sounds
Caldwell, NJ
Tel: 973-403-0457

Alarms on the Move
The vehicle we chose was a 1995 Honda Civic two-door with a Clarion 6575 AM/FM/Single Disc player and a Precision Power 450 amplifier (4 x 50) with the built-in subwoofer crossover. We used two MB Quart 218s (6.5-inch separates) and the JL Audio 12W3 in the ProWedge enclosure. The back channels of the PPI amp were bridged mono and fed into the JL Audio 12W3. It was crossed over at 90 Hz. The box was placed in the center of the back hatch in the event that the customer wanted to remove the system for baggage. We fired the subwoofer back towards the rear of the vehicle for maximum effect.

The 12W3 really filled in this system and the bass was very tight. The bottom end was so loud that we had to turn down the gains of the rear channel amplifier. The best part is that since this customer races on weekends, he can easily remove the box while racing.
In one statement, I’d have to say, “Lots of bang for the buck.” Our shop will start ordering more of the 12W3s.

Lee Steiner
Alarms on the Move
Stratford, CT
Tel: 203-377-222

Superior Sound
Balance — JL Audio has certainly redefined the meaning of the word with their new W3 Series of woofers. The 12W3 in the PowerWedge enclosure we tested exhibited tremendous power handling which leads to increased SPL potential. But we also noticed that the system was very natural sounding. In fact, the lower octave on the JL 12W3 leaves most other woofers sounding rather wimpy. Good job guys.

William Bibb
Superior Sound
Waynesboro, VA
Tel: 540-943-4444

Audio Unlimited
We found the JL Audio CS110-W3 ProWedge to be well-constructed with many usable features. We particularly liked the well-designed grill that allowed maximum travel from the dual 2-ohm voice coil motor. We also noticed a 5-way gold binding post that permitted virtually any type of connection to be made. The angles of the box allowed for multiple mounting options.

The test vehicle we used for our evaluation was a 1996 Honda Accord with a Pioneer Premier DEH-P200 head unit and an MTX 275 amplifier with the crossover set to approximately 80 Hz.

My first impression of the JL Audio ProWedge enclosure was the amazing detail it reproduced. The low-end extension was impressive — even on tracks 1 and 5 of the IASCA Test CD. The detail became more apparent when we listened to Allison Kraus. This CD is hard to reproduce at moderate to high volumes — but the JL Audio 10W3 performed without a glitch. The smooth transitions between 40 and 70 Hz made me appreciate this speaker and box combination.
I would highly recommend this JL Audio system to anyone who appreciates quality playback from his or her favorite CD or MD.

Jeff Matthews
Audio Unlimited
Jonesville, NC
Tel: 910-526-4010

Krazy ‘s Car Clinic
I think that JL Audio has a winner with their ProWedge box loaded with a single 12W3. We disconnected the four JL 81B4 free air subs from an Xtant 2200 in the trunk of my 1994 Dodge Intrepid and hooked up the ProWedge box. The crossover was set to 80 Hz low pass with an 18-dB/octave slope. We ran the musical gamut, playing everything from Metallica to Guiseppe Verdi, and the sub delivered everything we could have asked for. The sound was natural, and the ProWedge box was able to sufficiently fill the Intrepid’s huge cabin with adequate SPL.

I’ve always been a fan of sealed boxes, and this one didn’t disappoint me. The response easily extended to the bottom octave and it rolled off smoothly. I’ve got to say, it’s good bang for the buck.

Ken Gingles
Krazy ‘s Car Clinic
Winnipeg, Manitoba,
Tel: 204-633-6934

(Another) Krazy’s Car Clinic
I placed the JL Audio ProWedge box with the 12W3 woofer in the hatch of my 1993 Geo Storm and powered it with the sub channels of a PPI Pro 650. I fed it 200 watts and set the low pass filter to 60 Hz with an 18-dB/octave slope.

In the garage, the single 12-inch sub had enough jam to provide a physical sensation outside of the car. The sub was evaluated with such artists as Holly Cole, Lisa Stansfield, TLC, the IASCA test disc, and lots of rap and dance music. This sub was definitely impressive with the response always being fast and accurate. The sound played smoothly down to the bottom octave and delivered plenty of shake and rattle. The sub never bottomed out or lost control. For a single 12-inch sub in a small sealed box, the JL 12W3 really rocked. Be afraid.

Craig Gilbert
Krazy’s Car Clinic
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Tel: 204-772-0461

Innovative Audio
This JL Audio 10W3 in the ProWedge enclosure arrived and we installed it into a 1998 Honda Accord. We powered the system with a PPI 2150 bridged mono, and crossed over at 85 Hz. We fired it into the trunk, rear fired it, and it filled the car with plenty of rock solid bass. Although we drove it with twice the rated power, the woofer handled it very well and didn’t get boomy or bottom out.

I was very impressed with the compact size, the value, and the two-year warranty. We will certainly add these JL10W3’s and the ProWedge systems to our line-up.

Brian Ellis
Innovative Audio
Bellevue, WA
Tel: 425-885-2814

Rolling Thunder
We received our JLAudio12W3 woofer in a ProWedge and we started our tests in the showroom. To test power handling, we connected this 12W3 system to 100-watt, 300-watt, 600-watts, and 1400-watt amplifiers. The speaker performed well at all levels; however, it sounded best with the big power.

Next, we placed the ProWedge system into a 1995 Acura Integra. The enclosure was placed inside the trunk and aimed towards the rear of the vehicle. For power, we used a PPI PC-2100 (400 watts, bridged mono) and crossed it over at 90 Hz. We played a variety of music from classical, to jazz, to rap — the results were outstanding. The low frequency extension was incredible, and for output, it seemed like we had more than one woofer back there.

As usual, JL Audio exceeds our expectations when it comes to performance and value.

Jeff Symonds
Rolling Thunder
San Rafael, CA 94901
Tel: 415-456-1681

Ovation Audio
The JL Audio 12W3 in the ProWedge box was an excellent choice for our new location. The VRC (Vented Reinforced Collar) design of the woofer gets more air into the voice coil area and this results in enhanced thermal protection. Therefore, it’s no surprise that we experienced higher SPL with the 12W3 than comparable systems. Performance with the JL Audio ProWedge is reliable, repeatable, and it’s priced to sell. It can’t be beat!

Jerry Ziegler
Ovation Audio
Lexington, KY
Tel: 606-272-0027

Price & Contact: CS110-W3 ProWedge: $299, CS112-W3 ProWedge: $349, 10W3 woofer only: $199, 12W3 woofer only: $229. JL Audio: (954) 443-1100, Web: www.jlaudio.com