Klipsch R-12SW vs R-120SW – Which is better?

Subwoofers have always been an integral part of a Home Theatre system. The first versions of subwoofers were developed in the 1960s to add bass response to home stereo systems.  

Klipsch, one of the leading brands for home theater systems, offers its two active subwoofers, R-12SW & R-120SW, both powerful and producing quality bass. They have a lot of similarities rather than dissimilarities since R-12SW is the predecessor of R-120SW. However, these dissimilarities can be deal-breaking for others.

I understand that a better choice is a dilemma for others, which is why we are here to help you. We will make a side-by-side comparison to determine the better active subwoofer.

Sound Quality

Klipsch R-12SW 

Klipsch R-12SW Powerful Deep Bass Front Firing 12' Copper-Spun Driver 400W Digital Power Subwoofer 14' X 18.5' X 16'

The Klipsch R-12SW is an entry-level active subwoofer equipped with an all-digital amplifier and produces 400 Watts Peak pure power of bass. Its front-firing design helps the low frequencies to sound fast and airy while at the same time highly impactful.

Even though it has only a 12-inch speaker, its performance with the low notes is impressive. It is good to note that 12-inch active subwoofers with a 400 Watt peak power are a rarity in the audio market.

Audio Specifications of Klipsch R-12SW

TypeSpeaker SizePowerMaximum Acoustic OutputFrequency Response
Klipsch R-12SWActive12-inch400 Watts (Peak)116db29Hz – 120Hz +/- 3dB

The low notes produced by the Klipsch R12-SW are unbelievable for the price. The bass is smooth but powerful. It also plays low frequencies with clarity and without distortion even if the volume is cranked up due to its copper-spun driver, which provides less coloration and distortion than more flexible materials.

Klipsch R-12SW has been the top-selling 12-inch active subwoofer in Amazon lately. Amazon gave an average score of 4.8 stars out of 5 stars from its 3,515 reviews. The reviewers also showed an average score of 4.6 stars out of 5 stars for its sound quality, where many praised its quality for its price.

The Klipsch R-12SW is best used for surround sound systems, where it is used for listening to music and movies in your home. Everyone should remember that a 400 Watts peak power speaker can produce a clear sound for a floor area of almost 75 square meters or approximately good for 30 to 40 persons. This product can deliver all the goods, and those looking for a quality bass sound must consider this subwoofer.

Klispsch R-120SW

Klipsch R-120SW Subwoofer, Black

A newer version of the Klipsch R-12SW, Klipsch R-120SW is an entry-level active subwoofer and can produce 400 watts of dynamic power from its all-digital amplifier. That is some real power. The Klipsch R-120SW shines bright for those buyers who want to hear quality bass sound.

Audio specification of the Klipsch R-120SW:

TypeSpeaker SizePowerMaximum Acoustic OutputFrequency Response
Klipsch R-120SWActive12-inch400 Watts (Peak)116db29Hz – 120Hz +/- 3dB

One of Klipsch R-120SW’s strongest areas is its bass quality. The subwoofer is perfectly tuned, and it delivers a thud sound rather than a pale. It also does not sound muddy even when the volume is cranked up. There is no sacrifice of sound quality for the price.   

Like its predecessor, Klipsch R-120SW is also designed with a front-firing driver, which can deliver deep bass regardless of the position in the room.

Klipsch R-120SW achieved an average of 4.8 stars out of 5 stars from Amazon’s 2,927 reviews. The reviewers also gave 4.6 stars out of 5 stars for sound and bass quality. They loved how crispy and punchy the bass was.

The Klipsch R-120SW performance is impressive as it produces distortion-free bass on higher volume levels. It is excellent for home theater setups, creating a real cinematic experience. The only downside is that it is not that great for music systems. All in all, it is still worth it to buy for its price point.

Build quality

Klipsch R-12SW

For those who are looking for an active subwoofer that can take a beating, Klipsch R-12SW is maybe what you are looking for. Klipsch constructed this beast makes it stable and sturdy, although the drawback is its weight. Its body can stand for a long time.

Dimensions of the Klipsch R-12SW:

Klipsch R-12SW16” / 40.64cm14” / 35.56cm18.5” / 47cm33lb (15kg)

The Klipsch R-12SW’s cabinet is made from medium density fiber (MDF) wood wrapped with a brushed black polymer veneer. The brushed veneer is comparable to those high-end active subwoofers because of its texture which is better than those standard flat black wraps usually used in the industry.  

Klipsch R-12SW uses a rubber surround for securing the speaker to the cabinet, which can hold up for many years without deteriorating, unlike inexpensive foams that cheaper brands use.

Its front has a removable clothe grill and was designed to have minimal curves around its edges, allowing it to reach the corners of the front panel and still maintain its beautiful appearance.  

The design of this subwoofer is impressive as it is difficult to deliver a 116db maximum output level for a 12-inch speaker. The speaker also uses copper, which is less flexible than other materials normally used and can minimize distortion, especially at lower frequencies.

It is also more durable than plastic and paper. Four thick rubber feet are also attached below the cabinet to help reduce the impact of vibrations when playing music at a high volume level.

Amazon also gave a score of 4.7 stars out of 5 stars for the quality of materials used.

I am lost for words of how good the Klipsch R-12SW was built. It is really impressive for its price. This thing is a beast. You can’t go wrong with this one.

Klipsch R-120SW

The Klipsch R-120SW is built to last. The material used for its construction is high-quality to ensure its durability and longevity. Just like its predecessor, the Klipsch R-120SW can also take a beating.

Dimensions Klipsch R-120SW:

Klipsch R-120SW16.5” / 41.9 cm14” / 35.56cm19.2” / 48.8cm31lb (14.1kg)

Just like the Klipsch R-12SW, the Klipsch R-120SW is also made from medium density fiber (MDF) board but is finished with black textured wood grain vinyl. The textured vinyl of the subwoofer deflects light, which gives an elegant shine. Its appearance perfectly blends with the complexion of the room.

The textured surface of the subwoofer is more-resistant to smudges and fingerprints. Although it is not immune from smudges, there is lesser maintenance in textured surfaces than smooth surfaces.

The subwoofer’s grille protector is just ordinary but its contrasts nicely with the Klipsch logo and the metallic symbol above it. It also allows you to choose whether the grille is on or off. There are also four thick rubber feet attached below the frame of the subwoofer to reduce the impact of vibrations, especially when it is played on a very loud volume.

The subwoofer uses High Excursion IMG (injection-molded graphite) woofer. This technology helps the woofer to operate at its maximum displacement without damaging itself.

This means that the sound can be amplified more without any distortion. It also uses a copper-spun woofer which is lightweight but is sturdy enough to produce high-quality sounds in a louder volume without any damage.

The only downside for the Klipsch R-120SW is that even though it is lighter than the Klipsch R-12SW, it is still rather heavy for its size.

Amazon gave the Klipsch R-120SW a score of 4.7 stars out of 5 stars for the quality of materials used in its construction.

Klipsch R-120SW aesthetics is really impressive. It is also durable and can last for a long time due to the materials used for constructing it. It may be pricier than the R-12SW, but the Klipsch R-120SW is still worth its price for its overall quality.


Klipsch R-12SW

Klipsch R-12SW Powerful Deep Bass Front Firing 12' Copper-Spun Driver 400W Digital Power Subwoofer 14' X 18.5' X 16'

The Klipsch R-12SW has a pair of RCA audio inputs. The left audio input can also be used as the low-frequency effects input. All of its controls are located in the back panel of the subwoofer. This includes the on/auto/off switch, a phase switch, a gain knob, and an adjustable low-pass filter.

The gain knob allows you to increase or decrease the audio signal from the receiver to the subwoofer. This knob works like a volume knob. With zero gain or no input, it only produces the same level as the other speakers connected to the receiver.

If you want to hear more bass when you are watching a movie or listening to music, you increase the gain by adjusting the knob.

Turning on the phase switch can add an electric delay to the audio signal. Switching to 180-degrees, it reverses the polarity of the subwoofer and can improve its frequency response when setting the subwoofer opposite to the speakers.

The low-pass filter knob is used to cut higher frequencies and only to allow the low bass frequencies to pass through the subwoofers. The Klipsch R-12SW has a frequency response of 29Hz – 120Hz, and by using the low-pass filter, you can adjust the cutoff of the upper range frequencies from 120Hz down to 40Hz.

The low-frequency effects mode is activated when you turn the low-pass filter knob to the right completely. This mode is used for connecting the subwoofer to the dedicated subwoofer output on an amplifier/receiver, and it allows the receiver to send only the low frequencies to the subwoofer instead of the entire audio signal, resulting in clearer audio.

Available low-pass filter settings:

  • 40Hz
  • 80Hz
  • 120Hz
  • LFE (Low-Frequency Effect)

The only thing that I try to search in a subwoofer is whether it has a built-in crossover or low-pass filter. This is to make sure that the subwoofer will last for a long time. The Klipsch R-12SW has it. For the price, it is worth it even though it does not have Bluetooth connectivity.

Klipsch R-120SW

Klipsch R-120SW Subwoofer, Black

The Klipsch R-120SW has identical controls with the Klipsch R-12SW. 

It still has a gain knob that allows you to increase or decrease the level of volume you hear. It still has a phase switch that allows reversing the polarity of the subwoofer to improve its frequency response.

Lastly, it has a low pass filter, which is very important for all subwoofers. It enables you to cut higher frequencies so that only low frequencies will be produced by the subwoofer. 

The Klipsch R-120SW and Klipsch R-12SW have the same available low-pass filter settings.


Klipsch R-12SW

Amazon gave a score of 4.6 stars out of 5 stars for its value for money. Many reviewers praised its price point, saying that it is the “best bang for your buck” when it comes to 12-inch active subwoofers.

This product is the crossover of budget-friendly price and impressive performance. This is a great subwoofer for the price. You really can’t go wrong with this.

Klipsch R-120SW

Amazone gave a score of 4.7 stars out of 5 stars for its value for money. Even though it is pricier than the Klipsch R-12SW, many still like its price point due to its improved aesthetics compared to its predecessor.

This product is really great for its price. The improvement on the aesthetics will really be my deciding factor if I will have to choose against the Klipsch R-12SW. Its appearance really looks great for the price I am paying. Even if it is more expensive, choosing Klipsch R-120SW is still a great choice.

Pros and Cons

Klipsch R-12SW


  • User-friendly controls
  • Can be loud enough without losing audio quality
  • Digital amplifier prevents distortion on louder volumes
  • Budget-friendly price
  • Five-year warranty
  • Projects great bass sounds
  • Has crossover and low-pass filter controls


  • Heavy
  • Bulky size (You can view smaller subs here)
  • Short power cord
  • Better for home theater systems than music systems
  • The bright green power indicator is too bright at night

Klipsch R-120SW


  • High Excursion copper-spun IMG woofer
  • Great bass reflex
  • All-digital amplifier
  • Little to no distortion in higher volume
  • Front-firing driver
  • Five-year warranty
  • Good build quality
  • Elegant design
  • Room placement flexibility


  • Heavy
  • Fairly expensive
  • Low pitched notes below 29Hz can be harder to hear
  • Not that great for music
  • Lacking any USB connectivity or even Bluetooth

Which is better?

Both products have their strengths and weaknesses. But If I will have the option to choose, I’ll go for the cheaper of the two, Klipsch R-12SW. I am not an aesthetics guy, so the design would not be an issue for me. Having a difference of more than twice its price is a deal-breaker for me. 

I am not saying that the Klipsch R-120SW is bad, but it is a better option for those persons who give importance to aesthetics.

Whichever you choose for the two, you are not making a mistake. There is a reason why these two subwoofer models have been frequently used, and it is really difficult to choose between the two. 

I hope this helps and answers the questions going inside your head with these subwoofers. Wishing you the best of luck in your next purchase!

About Shawn Shepherd

Hi, I'm the owner of the Hifi Guide and have been an audio lover enthusiast for over 16 years. I have a Bachelor's degree in Sound Engineering and I work on producing content for the Hifi Guide in my spare time. My love for audio stemmed from my Dad who was an audio technician, and now I share my knowledge here on this website!