This article is going to be about ridiculousness. Be warned ahead of time, this is not your average blog post, just like the T3 from Rockford Fosgate isn’t your average subwoofer. So, with that out of the way, let's proceed with caution.
I started working with car audio in the early 1990s and by the early 2000s, I was helping fabricate sound competition vehicles. In those days, I saw some ridiculous things. One of the most vivid memories I have of true audio overload happened in 1999. I helped install a purely ridiculous audio set-up in a 1963 VW Transporter Type 2 Samba, known today as a 21-window V-Dub Bus. If memory serves me right, the bus had a total of eight 12” subwoofers. I think the total system power was 8-10,000 watts.
The bass was so overwhelming in that setup that in its first public display, all 21 windows popped out of the frames. It was pretty cool to see, and I got to learn how to make acrylic windows afterward. That bus was so loud, it felt like an earthquake when you were near it. I never was inside when the stereo was cranked up, but people I knew who braved the bus walked away saying “huuh?” all day.
In those days, we didn’t have the extensive speaker options on the market today. We also couldn’t jump on Google and have Amazon Prime next-day deliver the best equipment on the market. No, we had to pick up the phone and call Crutchfield, or Kenwood, or whomever we wanted stuff from. We couldn’t just get plans for a ported sub-box of the internet. Instead, we made friends with high-end cabinet designers, picked their brains for the best way to get what we wanted, and built it. Sometimes it worked. Lots of times it didn’t.
I will be totally honest here -around the time that the internet started making car audio easier, I got way out of it. After having several high-end stereos stolen, I gave up on a stereo in my classic muscle car and just cruised around listening to the delightful burble of a well-built small block V8. It was more than a decade before I really started to get back into what was out there.
Rockford Fosgate and the T3
Last year, I was reviewing subwoofer systems, specifically looking at the “best splurge on the market” for our subwoofer buying guide and I ran across the T3. It was unlike anything I had ever seen and I knew I had to get an opportunity to discuss this thing.
The first thing that you should know about the T3 is that it is simply the most impractical subwoofer on the planet. I mean, it’s massive. Let's forget for a moment the power it puts out and just look at the ridiculous dimensions.
The T3 is Big
The effective radiating cone area measures a tremendous 19”. The speaker requires a cutout of nearly 18” just to mount it in a box. It has an overall depth of nearly 16”. It weighs 106.2 lbs. Yeah, you read that right. This isn’t just another big sub. This is the big sub. You must use a vented box for this speaker, and Rockford Fosgate says the minimum size is eight cubic feet.
A ported box that size will measure 23” high by 30” deep by 3 feet long. Maybe that will fit in your trunk, but it won’t fit in mine. Rockford Fosgate says that you should never put this sub in a sealed or infinite baffle box. Only use a ported enclosure. That limits where and how anyone can install this thing. Most people will install this sucker in a van, bus, or in the bed of a truck. Anyone trying to get this into a passenger car should probably plan on major reconstruction including the removal of the rear seat. No one's going to want to sit there anyway.
The T3 is Powerful
Want to see how quickly your local cops respond to noise complaints? Turn this sucker up and stand back for the show. I would be surprised if you don’t have at least one cruiser outside in minutes. This is earth-shaking power on a different level. It’s not even safe.
The T3 is rated to handle up to 3,000 watts RMS with a peak of 6,000 watts. Cool. Numbers. What those numbers mean is shown in this video
Yeah, the interior of that guys van is literally being torn apart by the bass from a pair of T3s.
Rockford Fosgate installed an absolutely crazy five-inch edge-wound voice coil available in one- or two-ohm versions. The voice coil uses a special push/pull design to get the most response from the T3. A 115 oz. neodymium magnet keeps it all stable.
The T3 is Expensive
What’s the most you ever spent on speakers? Does $600 or $700 sound like a lot for one speaker? Because that’s a down-payment toward the $1,999 MSRP the T3 carries around. Add in the cost of the giant amp, the massive speaker box, and all the other equipment you will need to power the T3 and you are looking at a serious financial investment.
When we start dealing with ridiculousness in the automotive world, two things happen. First, the cost goes up. Second, reliability goes down. This is the same regardless of whether you are trying to squeeze every drop of horsepower out of an engine or every decibel of sound from a stereo.
Rockford Fosgate, of course, built the T3 to be tough. It has a triple-layer glass fiber sandwich stuffed with an aramid honeycomb filling. This gives the cone outstanding rigidity while the injection molded foam surround -a first in car audio tech- allows the cone to produce incredible bass response. An aluminum frame with built-in heat sink fins and venting helps to channel the abusive amounts of heat out of the speaker to prolong life. Even the gapless windings are perfected for heat control and longevity.
Rockford Fosgate provides a one-year warranty covering defects, but you will be out of luck if you overpower and destroy a T3. At least one buyer tore apart a T3 after just over a year of use. Most people running T3 Super Woofers use them exclusively for shows, so they are not getting thrashed too quickly.
Who Buys the T3, Anyway?
The T3 is obviously not a practical speaker for your daily driver. It’s simply too big and too powerful for everyday use. In speaking with Crutchfield and Rockford Fosgate, buyers of the T3 tend to be competitors in sound competitions. That makes sense, as there are really very few times when literally causing an earthquake while driving around in your car is going to be cool. Plus, you probably will lose your hearing pretty quick.
Now, the T3 does make an excellent subwoofer for your party package. I have seen it installed in the bed of trucks and in cargo vans intended for mobile concerts. I can envision it being the cornerstone of a tremendous stereo setup for a toy hauler. Maybe it could be used as a sonic weapon. I’m sure you could at least keep birds out of your trees with it. Probably scares the you-know-what out of ground squirrels, too.
As far as practical goes, this sub is not it. But if it is ridiculousness you are chasing, Rockford Fosgate wants you to know that the T3 Super Woofer is going to get you there.