A subwoofer is indispensable for those who crave heavy bass. The expensive models are almost guaranteed to bring you reverberating low notes, but how well do budget options fare? Will you just waste your money and end up getting an expensive option anyway?
To answer your question, our expert team has tested and reviewed the best budget subwoofers.
Reviews of the Best Budget Subwoofers
1. Klipsch R-100SW 10” Subwoofer
The Klipsch R-100W is a sub with an all-digital amplifier with a whopping peak power of 300 watts. It features one large woofer cone made of spun copper that front-fires for the optimal audio relay.
The sub comes with a volume low pass crossover and phase control with Line level/LFE RCA inputs to work with many of your home theater speakers and soundbar for sound quality.
The frequency response of the Klipsch R-100SW sits nicely at 32Hz – 120Hz +/- 3dB, a preferred level recommended by our experts. Budget subs can still deliver premium sound quality at an affordable price.
2. Rockford Fosgate R2S-1X10
Many people lack the space to accommodate a bulky subwoofer, and that is where the Rockford Fosgate R2S-1X10 with a shallow enclosure comes in.
The housing of the sub is covered in a carpet felt that will protect the construction and not muffle the sound from the subwoofer. The subwoofer will come with everything you need for a quick and easy setup.
The connection port features a high flow and low noise design and these slim subwoofers are the perfect addition to a sound system without a lot of space. Even with a smaller design, like the top 10-inch subwoofers in the market, it has a 200 watt RMS.
3. Polk Audio PSW10
The PSW10 is the premium option on our list that brings extra deep bass to your home theater system. It also features a 10 inch woofer that adds depth to your content and balances the overall sound.
You can expect to play your movies or music without any distortion even at impressive volumes. You will get the best low frequencies with emphatic bass that blends well with your content.
The Polk Audio subwoofer has a built-in 50 watts RMS amp that will double the amp power to an optimal 100 watts. The 80-160 Hz crossover and 40-160 Hz frequency response will integrate into any home system or heavy audio speakers like Polk and Klipsch.
Budget Subwoofers Buyer’s Guide
In this section, our experts will break down each feature of each best budget subwoofer to help you decide what the best choice is for your living space.
Size and Design
The best size and design of the subwoofer will vary for everyone. The driver size will directly impact the size of the subwoofer.
Larger drivers generally deliver more power, but not all living spaces can accommodate big drivers. Long throw drivers will provide the best linear sound that other subwoofers can’t. However, there are medium-sized subwoofers such as the SVS SB-1000 that can still deliver powerful bass.
Look at your home theater setup and determine how much space you have. Think about where you will be placing your subwoofer. Independent subwoofers are not far off in size, but there are ones that are extra slim and can be used in your car as well.
Common sizes of subwoofers include 8-inch, 10-inch, and up to 12-inch in measurement. Your top choice should be one that blends in well with your audio system and speaker set like the KEF Q100 and Q150 for better surround sound quality. Aside from the models on our list, a few other suggestions our experts have is the Monoprice 9723, Dayton Audio sub, and ones from Bic America.
Next, think about the flooring. Does your subwoofer require rubber feet to protect your floors or to elevate it off the ground?
What material and color would you like? The appearance of the subwoofer is largely personal preference, but the materials chosen such as aluminum can impact the performance. Aluminum is great for heat dispersion and a voice coil will further help to keep your device cool.
The next part is whether or not you can control your subwoofer directly. Does it have a volume control and a control panel. Our experts have found that ones with basic controls make a great addition to your home system in terms of convenience.
A big question to ask yourself before you pull the trigger on a subwoofer is why do you want it? The best subwoofers are ones that live up to your reasonable expectations. What sort of enhancements do you want the sub to bring to your viewing experience?
For movies, there are specific subwoofers out there that can integrate seamlessly into your home theater especially when you are using a subwoofer pre-out. Since movies are where the full spectrum of sound is explored, our experts recommend models that can produce the low frequency signals with the appropriate frequency response range.
Dayton Audio sub models and the ones on our list are amazing at the full spectrum of sound. Remember, the size does matter in terms of power, so look for at least a 12-inch subwoofer if you want powerful bass. Make sure the subwoofer has both high and low level inputs. Speaker level inputs are imperative for optimal sound production.
For music, the same logic applies. A premium 12-inch subwoofer will be able to deliver more powerful bass and the best frequency range.
If you want a portable subwoofer, then one with a shallow mount like the Rockford Fosgate model on our list is your best bet. It’s slim in design and also lightweight. You can use the subwoofer in your home theater or in your car.
Knowing what your sub will be used for and what your expectations will be can contribute to the best choice when looking for subwoofers.
Passive or Powered Subwoofer?
Subwoofers come in two main categories — passive and powered subwoofer. Passive subwoofers, much like passive soundbars, require an external amplifier. Because you will need extra components to power your subwoofer, this option is not as recommended by our team.
Powered subwoofers are the opposite and they come with their own built-in amplifier. They do not require an additional amp or a power source to perform. You will want a subwoofer that is powered because they are the easiest and most hassle-free option.
You will get great sound from both types of subwoofers and they both have high end and low end models. One thing we will say about passive subwoofers is that they take on the majority of the bass tones, leaving the mids and highs to the receiver and subsequent tweeters. Because of this, you may have cleaner and crisper bass.
Passive subs also allow for more customization. Whichever type you choose will depend greatly on your needs. However, the best subwoofers for people who want minimal hassle are powered and it will do little to affect the price point.
Front-firing or Down-firing?
If you have read any of our soundbar reviews, you will know that drivers can be up, front or down-firing. In the case of a subwoofer, they are either front or down-firing, so which one should you get?
As far as the sound production, they aren’t that different. You can still get amazing bass sound without paying special attention to this part. However, which direction the speakers fire in will have an impact on the placement.
As you can imagine, front-firing subs such as PSW10 vs PSW108, will deliver the sound directly to the listener and a down-firing sub will push the audio signals down to the ground.
A sub should be able to deliver amazing sound without having to fire directly at the listener, but some of us appreciate the straight projection of the sound. The downward-firing speakers will project the sound along the floor, which in some cases can help you feel the bass with its vibrations.
The wattage refers to how much power the sub can handle, and therefore the output level.
Look at the peak output power and the RMS figures. The peak output is the highest point the subwoofer can manage in short intervals. This figure is not designed to be continuous and could damage your subwoofer in the long-run.
The RMS is the more important figure to look into. You want to blast your bass tones at a steady pass without causing damage to the system. The RMS refers to the continued energy output from the subwoofer consistently. For a reasonable price point, you can expect 300-500 watt subs that are great for performance.
Even at a low price range, you would expect your speakers to last a long while. To make sure of this, your subwoofer needs to be well-constructed whether they are the best 12-inch or top-performing 15-inch subs. Look for polypropylene cones, cooper spun woofers, aluminum housing, and rubber surroundings if possible.
Even if you managed to get one of the best and most reliably constructed sub for heavy bass, you still need a warranty. The warranty protects you and your subwoofer just in case there is damage or you are experiencing a blown speaker. Depending on where you plan to purchase the product, our expert team always advises asking the terms of the warranty.
You can find ones with a 1 year all the way up to a 10 year warranty if you look hard enough. As a general rule of thumb, our experts always advise looking for longer warranties.
Technology is something that really lives up to the phrase “you get what you pay for”. However, with a reasonable price range, you can still manage to procure impressive products.
Think about your budget for a subwoofer. Our team weeded out the best budget opinion for you that comes at a good price but still comparable to high-performing subs below 500. These subwoofers deliver impressive and pounding bass. One thing our audio team advises is to never compromise the quality of the bass for the price. You will most likely end up purchasing a better model in the future if you do.
What is the best budget subwoofer?
The best budget subwoofer is the Klipsch R-100SW. This subwoofer has a sturdy construction and features a spun copper woofer that has an output of 300 watts to provide you with the heavy and reverberating bass you crave.
What should I put under my subwoofer?
You should put a protective covering under your subwoofer if you want to protect your floors. There are also elevated subwoofers with feet that can benefit from a soft padding. Any sort of protective covering, especially if you plan on placing your sub on a cabinet or flat surface will help protect it from scuffs.
Can you put a subwoofer behind a couch?
Yes, you can put a subwoofer behind a couch. You can put the subwoofer anywhere that suits you. Putting it behind you or behind a couch is one of the best places and will produce heavy bass tones directly to you with minimal obstructions and vibrations.
Which is better front or down firing subwoofer?
A down-firing subwoofer is better than a forward-firing sub because it pushes the bass frequencies down and they bounce off the floors to create a more 3D  effect. However, the audio difference between the two types of subs are minimal.
Our Top Pick For a Budget Subwoofer: Klipsch R-100SW
Our expert team has landed on the Klipsch R-100SW as the best budget subwoofer on the market. It produces impressive bass with the help of a copper spun woofer. It has its own all-digital amp built-in and a total of 300 watts at its peak energy output. You can also customize the bass to your preferred settings thanks to the subwoofer gain, low pass crossover, and phase controls.
The forward-firing driver delivers the sound directly to your listening spot and affords you more freedom when deciding on the placement of your new subwoofer. The overall size is also small enough to fit in most rooms while providing impressive bass.