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Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman
Adjustable crossover and volume
Magnetic shielding for noise reduction
Very affordable and great value
May vibrate at very high volumes
Takes up a lot of space
Can get a little hot
The BIC America Formula F12 Subwoofer is one the best budget subwoofers you can buy. It’s incredibly affordable for the specs, well built, and sounds great. If you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, this subwoofer is for you.
BIC America has been making audio equipment since the 70’s and the BIC F12 Subwoofer is one of the most-discussed budget subwoofers on the market. Despite its horrendously dated website, BIC America is a solid brand that has produced a number of really great, affordable loudspeakers. The F12 lives up to that pedigree and produces punchy and impactful bass that will absolutely rumble your walls.
On the outside, the BIC America F12 Subwoofer is a simple, rectangular black box. It measures in at 17 x 14.75 x 17.25 inches and 42.7 pounds. The enclosure is made from MDF board with a black laminate. On the bottom, four rubber feet help stabilize the woofer and keep it from drifting when the bass gets things shaking. While the speaker sits in front, the back has a port at the bottom and a simple panel for the amplifier.
There’s nothing fancy about this subwoofer’s design, but it’s attractive in a minimalist way.
The cabinet is large, heavy, and solidly constructed from durable materials. The quality, injection molded speaker has an attractive, shiny metallic center that we chose to leave exposed. There’s nothing fancy about this subwoofer’s design, but it’s attractive in a minimalist way.
Basic setup for the BIC America F12 Subwoofer is very simple. We plugged in the power cable, connected our receiver through the sub input, selected our receiver type, and turned on the power. First we tested the volume and crossover frequency with some music, turning the knobs until we found the general range we wanted.
Placement is one of the most important aspects of getting good sound with any subwoofer. Many people have problems with their first subwoofer because they don’t adjust it to find the best placement. There are plenty of resources online that explain how to do this, and we definitely suggest doing your research.
We chose the spot we thought would be best for our F12. While playing music, we adjusted the distance between the wall and our subwoofer, listening carefully for the ideal spot, and when we found the right location, we fine tuned the volume and crossover frequency knobs. From there we listened through our playlist of test songs to make sure we had settings that were suitable for multiple types of music.
If you run into a problem, BIC also has great customer service and their representatives are available to help you with any questions you may have. You can find their contact information on their website.
The F12 has a reputation as one of the best budget subwoofers available in the $200 to $300 price range, and it’s well earned. It has consistent volume, great frequency separation, powerful and impactful bass response that seems louder than it actually is, and is one of the best performers from our listening tests. Even at the lowest frequencies it can handle, the bass exhibits more clarity than other subs we tested.
The F12 has a reputation as one of the best budget subwoofers available in the $200 to $300 price range, and it’s well earned.
When it comes to watching movies with Dolby or DTS HD Audio that have heavy bass, the BIC F12 performs just as well as other subs well beyond its price. Not only does it clearly represent the low notes, you can feel every bit of it. We didn’t notice any muddiness or distortion even at pretty high volumes. As long as you find the right location, this sub sounds great with anything you throw at it.
The BIC America F12 Subwoofer has a $450 (MSRP) price tag but generally sells for around $220. Other commonly recommended budget-friendly subwoofers like the Polk Audio PSW505 and BIC Acoustech PL-200 II run a little more, around $300. Both are technically more powerful, but not enough to warrant the extra cost.
You get a lot of bang for your buck with the BIC F12. It has a great reputation, is well built and comes with a 5 year warranty on parts. Not only is it more than powerful enough for the majority of home theater applications, in our opinion it slightly edges out the competition when it comes to clarity and articulation in the lowest frequencies. Overall, the BIC F12 is a great value for the cost, which is one of the reasons it has become so popular among home enthusiasts.
Both the F12 and Polk Audio PSW505 are powerful and can fill an average room with deep bass. The PSW505 has a slight edge at 460 watts vs. the F12’s 450, but while the PSW505 has 300 watts RMS power, the BIC F12 only has 150 watts.
Each sub has volume control, crossover control and a phase switch, and both are magnetically shielded and have gold plated speaker terminals. The BIC F12 has Dolby Pro Logic, Dolby Digital/DTS, and high-level inputs while the PSW505 has an unfiltered LFE and a stereo-filtered line level input.
There are reports that the PSW505 is not as reliable as the BIC F12 and the speaker grill is not very durable but we haven’t had long enough with the sub to verify that. On the other hand we did verify that the PSW505 has some annoying port noise at high volumes. Overall, we felt like the PSW505 didn’t perform as well when it came to low-end tones and the BIC F12 sounded better with both movies and music.
This competition is a topic of regular debate on audio forums. Both are good, affordable subs that perform well in most audio and video situations, but the BIC F12 sounded a little clearer and more defined than the PSW505.
A great choice for explosive bass.
The BIC America F12 Subwoofer is cheap but it certainly doesn’t sound like it. With its clean and articulate bass response for both audio and video applications, even at high volumes, the sound is clear while still shaking the room. At nearly $100 less than the competition, the F12 is easy to recommend to even the most discerning listener.