A subwoofer is an integral part of home theater systems. Without investing in a subwoofer that can create long-awaited deep bass sounds, your audio content is less enjoyable. It is vital to find a model that does not only produce excellent sound quality, but will not leave you disappointed, too. Our audio experts have reviewed the best subwoofers to help you out in your purchase.
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SVS PB-1000 Subwoofer
The SVS PB-1000 is excellent for power. With 700 watts, the SVS subwoofer can improve your surround sound system by providing deep and accurate bass sounds. The brand uses a ported cabinet for sonic accuracy, and it is rigid enough to handle all the interior vibrations to promise distortion-free sound.
The built-in advanced DSP, or digital signal processor, allows the subwoofer to blend in well with a speaker system. The black ash wood grain exterior gives the subwoofer a sophisticated look, and the cloth grille can be removed for unhindered sound production.
ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3030
As a powered subwoofer, the ELAC Debut Sub3030 doesn’t require the use of another amplifier, so you won’t need to worry about compatibility and time wasted on research. The Sub3030 comes at a premium price for various reasons, and one of those is the Bluetooth control. You can have full command over your subwoofer and other subs you may integrate into your system via the ELAC app.
The smart subwoofer can utilize your smartphone mic and the app to calibrate its system and optimize the bass frequencies to suit your room. The Sub3030 has a long-throw driver that is adequate for most of the sound profiles we have today.
Another great subwoofer for your home theater system is the Sony SACS9, and the price is even more enticing. For under 100, you get a 10” powered subwoofer with a foamed mica cellular reinforced woofer for virtually zero distortion.
It has a built-in amplifier that can handle up to a 115-watt output. The simplistic yet premium all-black cabinet dampens the vibrations to ensure a clean and tight bass sound. The subwoofer has a frequency response between 28 Hz to 200 Hz, which is an ideal range our sonic specialists recommend.
Our audio team were also surprised by the light weight of the SACS9 that doesn’t hinder maximum bass production.
Polk Audio PSW10 10" Powered Subwoofer
Polk has established themselves as a decently-priced and very reliable brand. The Polk Audio PSW10 is another powered sub that can boost your home theater sound. The sub is small enough to fit into tight spaces and features a dynamic balance woofer that can produce ideal low frequencies.
The PSW10 is ready to support the other speakers you have in your system and deliver balanced sound at any volume. The amp delivers up to 100 watts at peak power and 50 watts at RMS power, making the subwoofer more suited for smaller spaces.
Bowers & Wilkins ASW608 Compact Powered Subwoofer
The Bowers & Wilkins ASW608 is an excellent subwoofer for your stereo system. The speaker driver is 8 inches, powered by a 200-watt class D amplifier. Bowers & Wilkins incorporates their anti-resonance plug, which is an acoustic innovation previously seen on their loudspeaker.
The size of this particular subwoofer is very compact making it an excellent recommendation by our acoustic team for small to medium spaces. The front-firing woofer projects the sound directly to your seating area and pairs well with the brand’s satellite speakers and floorstanding speakers.
Definitive Technology SuperCube 2000 Ultra-Compact 7 1/2" Powered Subwoofer
Definitive Technology makes excellent floorstanding speakers, and their subs were equally impressive to our sound engineers. The SuperCube 2000 is a very small powered subwoofer that only measures at 7-½ inches.
Don’t let the small size fool you, the SuperCube 2000 is a very powerful home theater component with an amp that can handle up to 650 watts! The woofer is high-tech with bass radiators for deep and loud bass.
The cabinet has internal bracings that make it tone down the resonance that exudes from the subwoofer. If you need to connect the SuperCube 2000 to a receiver, the sub features RCA outputs and LFE inputs.
Klipsch R-100SW 10" Subwoofer
It’s hard not to have a best subwoofer or speaker review without Klipsch. This is the brand that features copper-spun IMG woofers and reduces distortion. The Klipsch R-100SW is a powerful subwoofer that has an all-digital amplifier built in that can handle 300 watts.
There are line level LFE RCA inputs that increase the compatibility of the R-100SW with your receiver. The Klipsch subwoofer also features a low pass crossover and phase control for you to fine tune the device to your liking.
The front-firing woofer is excellent for placement flexibility and the subwoofer also has an auto-on feature that syncs with the rest of your system.
(For other models, we also reviewed the Klipsch R-10SWi here)
Yamaha 8" 100W Powered Subwoofer (NS-SW050BL)
The Yamaha 8-inch single powered subwoofer is another affordable option. As it’s powered, there is no need for an external amplifier. What sets the Yamaha NS-SW050BL apart from its competitors? It’s the twisted flare port that contributes to clean and tight bass.
You know exactly what you’re getting with the Yamaha subwoofer as the brand is known for exceptional products and service. This unit also features Advanced YST II, which is Yamaha Active Servo Technology that lowers impedance by blending the speaker and amp functions into one.
The Yamaha subwoofer is one of the smallest and lightest we have on the list, which makes it ideal for small rooms.
JBL Stage 100P 10" 300 Watts Powered Subwoofer
The JBL Stage powered subwoofer joins our audio team’s list of best subwoofers. It features a unique two-tone design that can be revealed once the grille is removed. As a product under the brand, the Stage possesses all of JBL’s engineering for clean and rich bass.
Part of what’s integrated into the subwoofer is JBL’s waveguide design that strives to deliver as accurate bass tones as possible. The Stage subwoofer also has a small profile but it is heavier compared to the other models we have on the list in a similar size.
Bose Bass Module 700
If you have a Bose system, then you must look into the Bose Bass Module 700. It’s a little pricier than others, but it comes in two different colors and pairs easily with other devices from the brand.
The glass top finish adds a touch of elegance and sophistication to the design that will surely complement your other speakers. The Bose Bass Module is a very small subwoofer but it still hits the frequency range needed for all our modern audio quality and visual content.
One of the best parts about the Bose Bass Module 700 is it is one of the most convenient wireless subs out there.
Subwoofer Buyer’s Guide
As you can see from our best subwoofer reviews, these devices come in many sizes and colors with different designs and capabilities. How do you narrow down the choices and find the best one for you? Our team will answer that question with a checklist of important features to look for.
Design and Size
How big of a subwoofer do you need and do you want down-firing subwoofers or ones that project directly towards you?
The size of your subwoofer depends on the space you have available. If you intend to create an entertainment space in a small room, then our audio experts recommend smaller subs. These subwoofers are small in size but possess enough power to fill your small space.
What’s a small subwoofer? We’re looking at options around 8 inches. The Bose Bass Module and the Yamaha 8-inch sub are great examples of units fitting for small setups. Even if you have a large room, you can still purchase a small sub because you can opt for two subwoofers to punctuate your content.
If you just want one, the best subwoofers for a large room are 12 inches and over. Our sonic professionals feel that subs at 10 inches are the perfect balance between size and power, and can do well in most rooms.
The next question is about the design. How does the subwoofer fire the low bass tones? There are two types: downward-firing and front-firing subs. The difference between the two is the direction from which the bass is projected to your listening spot.
For avid audiophiles, there may be a noticeable difference. For the everyday listener the difference between the two types of subwoofers is negligible. Our sound engineers advise the front-firing type for people who plan to place the subwoofer at the front of the room, closer to their main speakers.
Placing them at the front of the room will guarantee the bass a better route to reach your listening spot. Downward-firing subs can also be placed at the front of the room, but the sound travels through the ground. This means you could lose precious bass as the audio makes its way to you, but you get more vibrations and rumble effects.
To make the most out of downward-firing speakers, our team of experts suggest placing it behind you, or in the corner, but definitely away from your main system. Of course, you should consider the setup of your room and the acoustics to find the best location. It may take some trial and error, but our recommendations are a good general guideline.
The enclosure is what keeps all the inner components safe from damage and works with the woofer to produce the perfect sonic experience. You want an enclosure that is structured and durable. The ones that are well-built will help reduce vibrations and lower distortion. Depending on the brand, the materials and build will vary. However, our team recommends MDF cabinets for the best support.
You can also take this time to consider the exterior appearance of your subs. What color do you want, and what texture? Some of our team members like wood grain for a more rustic feel but we have other engineers that like the tempered glass top featured on some products like the Bose bass module for a modern touch.
Most subs come in black such as the Sonos Sub Gen 3 we reviewed, but there are ones that offer white versions and the rare ones that have maple or chestnut wood. Keep in mind that you may need to pay extra for the special exteriors, but our team reminds you that it’s not the appearance that matters but the durability of the enclosure.
The best subwoofers have the highest wattage and power rating, right? Not necessarily. To put it simply, the higher the power rating or wattage you get, the louder the subwoofer will be. Just because your subwoofer can hit 1000 watts at peak power, that doesn’t mean it can keep it up over a long time. The RMS power rating is what you should look at.
Manufacturers and brands often advertise the peak power because it’s always higher than the RMS and is obviously more impressive. The RMS is the important figure because it indicates how loud your sub can be at its highest without risking damage to the inner components.
If you ignore the RMS and play your content at peak power consistently, then you can kiss your investment goodbye in a few short weeks. If you blow out your speakers by pushing them too far, most company warranties will not cover the damages. While we understand that the higher number is more enticing, pay attention only to the RMS for consistent playing.
Sensitivity and Impedance
Let’s cover the impedance first. This figure indicates the resistance your subwoofer has to the electrical current. A speaker’s impedance is measured in ohms, with higher numbers being more desirable. The lower the number, the more power your subwoofer will pull from your amp. Over time, a subwoofer with a low impedance will exhaust your amp whereas a sub with a higher impedance will not.
Common impedance numbers are 2, 4, 6 and 8. As a rule of thumb, our audio professionals advise looking for higher numbers.
Next, we move onto the sensitivity. The sensitivity for a subwoofer is the same as a speaker, and it pertains to the loudness. To get the loudest bass, you must consider both the power rating and the sensitivity.
You will also find the subwoofer crossover frequency is vital to your system’s operation. The crossover frequency is the meeting point between your speakers and sub. In other words, it’s where your speakers lose the ability to produce the low tones and your subwoofer kicks in and takes over.
For the best performance, our audio team suggests looking for audio gear with similar crossovers. The ideal choice is one that has crossover adjustments. To understand whether your device has a crossover adjustment and what the frequency is, refer to your subwoofer’s manual.
Aside from the specs, what does the brand incorporate into the speakers to help the sound quality? Just like with soundbars, subwoofers can also come with fancy technology.
For example, Klipsch has copper-spun IMG woofers that are excellent for low resonance and precise bass. JBL has the waveguide design, which can give you smoother bass and Yamaha has Active Servo Technology to eliminate impedance.
Other than proprietary technology, there are also construction and material selection choices that can impact the sound quality. For example, passive radiators will help amplify lower frequencies and help emphasize the sound of kick drums and bass guitars ideal for double bass and rock music.
There are also subwoofers that have smart features that auto-calibrate to the room or your content without any fine tuning. Customizable EQ levels will also afford you the chance to fine tune your bass to your preferred liking.
Passive vs Powered Subs
Aside from the sealed or ported enclosures and the firing direction, there is another category that separates subwoofers – passive vs powered models. The contrast between the two is very straightforward. Powered subwoofers, also known as active subwoofers, have an amplifier built in while passive subwoofers do not. A passive subwoofer requires an external amp.
Passive subs are rarer than their counterparts, especially when it comes to a home system sub. It takes a lot of effort and time to find compatible subs and amps, which is why our team only suggests it for those who want to build their own customised system from the ground up.
Active subs are much more convenient, time-saving and simple to set up. All it requires is running an RCA cable between the powered sub and the amp to get things going.
Ported or Sealed Subwoofer?
Subwoofers can also be separated into two categories, ones with a ported enclosure, also referred to as ported subs, and sealed subwoofers. What’s the difference? It’s what the names suggest – sealed subs are entirely closed off while ported ones have openings.
There are models on the market that are a mix of the two, but we’re going to focus on the two main types today. Ported subwoofers are louder and support better low bass output, but they lack the same accuracy and precision as sealed ones. Sealed subwoofers may not have as much audio output, but they are the ones our experts recommend for clean and tight bass.
We often see ported subs that are larger, because they tend to emphasize power. It’s also more difficult to distinguish the accuracy of the bass relays in a larger room. The smaller subwoofers are generally sealed to create clear bass suitable for small spaces.
Which one should you choose? Our team says you should ask yourself if you value subwoofer volume or precision. Then look at the size of the sub your venue can accommodate to decide.
Setup: Wired or Wireless Subwoofer?
In today’s society, many people might opt for a wireless subwoofer in a heartbeat. Before you rule out all wired subwoofers, our sound engineers are here to tell you that both types have their benefits and drawbacks.
Let’s start with the seemingly less desirable wired option. You may have both wired and wireless components to your home system. If you have an entirely wireless setup, then by all means, go for the wireless models. However, keep in mind that wired subs sound better in general.
Bluetooth connection can be iffy at times, and a cabled connection not only promises stability, but more power as well. If you have a pretty complex setup such as a full surround sound 7.1 system, then we definitely suggest a wired connection for more reliability.
Wireless subwoofers function like a portable Bluetooth speaker and excels in placement flexibility. You can move your subwoofer around the room as you see fit. It won’t need to be near given that you can control the system with an app or remote control. You won’t be limited by the length of the power cable or speaker wire. It also gives you more opportunities to find the best locations for deep bass notes.
Price and Warranty
As always, our team made sure to include models from under 100 to close to 1000 to satisfy people with different budgets. Rest assured that we picked the best in every price range. The price plays a major role in what features you get, the build, the components and the overall performance.
That’s not to say that expensive units are always better, because there are plenty of times when our team members have found a cheaper device that works just as well as a more expensive model. To find the right price range for you, our experts suggest going through our checklist, deciding on the categories that you value, and finding a corresponding unit from our review list.
You can feel free to use our buyer’s guide as a reference for other models, but the ones we chose are proven to be excellent by our team and other consumers. You may also think about settling for a cheaper unit that does a passable job, but our audio experts advise against that.
For devices that are meant to be used every day, it’s best not to compromise the quality and features for the price. Go for the one you want, even if it is more expensive because it will be worth it in the long run.
As for the warranty, our experts feel finding a brand that offers a comprehensive warranty is crucial for technology. There are so many intricate parts that go into a subwoofer. Even if one malfunctions or breaks, your whole system could fall apart. If the parts are covered under a warranty and the service is also provided, then you won’t need to pay out of pocket.
The length of the warranty will vary from brand to brand, but at the very least you should look for one that has a basic 1-year warranty and a 30-day or more money-back guarantee if possible. It is important to read the fine print to make sure the warranty does not only cover superficial damages and to avoid any stipulations that suggest the company isn’t responsible for certain repairs.
(Got an old amp? Make it functional again by connecting your old amplifier to your subwoofer using these steps)
What are the hardest hitting subs?
The Definitive Technology SuperCube 2000 is the hardest hitting sub. It is one of the most powerful subwoofer models for a home theater, and is our audio team’s top recommendation for larger spaces. There is also a 4000 model that is louder, but the 2000 with a 1300-watt maximum power output.
What's better 2 10 inch subs or 1 12 inch sub?
2 10-inch subs is better than 1 12-inch sub if you are looking for surrounding bass and a harder hit. The 2 10-inch subs can work together to create a better bass soundstage with a more dynamic experience. The single 12-inch sub could sound deeper, but it will lack the same surface coverage and could be a little muddier.
Our Top Pick For a Subwoofer:
Our sound engineers choose the SVS PB-1000 as the best subwoofer. There are many reasons for this final conclusion, and one of them is the high-excursion bass driver. The woofer is capable of clean audio production that is further enhanced by Sledge Amplification. The subwoofer also has a high peak power rating of 700 and 300 RMS for sound expansion.