Subwoofers are difficult to pick out for home use. They don’t follow a trend with price, with features and design being specific to the speaker that holds them. That’s not a bad thing, though. This means that models across all price points can narrow in on an excellent price to performance ratio. We’re going to help you find the best subwoofer for your needs and budget.
What Makes A Good Subwoofer?
Not all models are made equal, and the proof of price not equaling quality couldn’t be truer. Therefore, it’s paramount to consider what exactly you’re looking for when picking out one for you.
Performance is the main focus of any piece of audio equipment. For a general rule, a larger woofer will allow a more low-end response. For this reason, you have to look at the frequency response. If the rated response is far below what should be expected from the woofer size, you’re probably going to have an obtuse low-end. A good subwoofer goes low, but not so low that the woofer can’t handle the workload.
Speaking of workload, the amp is another important area of consideration. First off, the amp has to be high enough to support the volume being pushed out. It’s not always the case, but the wattage can be a good indicator of how loud the sub can get. Not only that, but a high headroom amp means the sub sound cleaner at lower volumes. A good buy has enough headroom to support the volume it’s trying to push out. If your amp doesn’t have enough headroom, it’ll distort and sound like garbage.
Lastly, a good pick has enough features to make it a contender within a full system. Things like tuneable crossover and phase reversal are essential. You may also wish to have a remote control or several connectivity options, such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
How to Choose The Best Subwoofer
So, how do you pick one Don’t rush into purchasing the first subwoofer you see for a reasonable price by a brand you recognize. Instead, research and outline what you’re looking for so you can make the best decision based on your needs. Below are some helpful factors to consider during your search.
The first is the aesthetic of the subwoofer. Nothing is worse than mismatching speakers. Subwoofers stand out on their own, usually bringing an equal balance to the look for a system. For that reason, you have to take your other speakers (click here to check out some bookshelf speakers) into consideration before making a choice. If you’re like me and consider your speakers as much as a piece of furniture as a piece of audio equipment, this is paramount.
Next, you’re going to want to consider your room size. Small rooms with massive boxes will prove problematic. Bass builds up in corners, so if you’re pushing too much low-end in a small room, you are going to have issues with uneven distribution. Some areas will have too much bass and others, not enough. So, consider how big your room is.
If you have a large, open room, a large subwoofer would be a great option to carry the sound. But if you intend on storing the audio system in a small hideaway, you’ll require a smaller design.
Looking at where the box will sit is important. Porting is the point of contention here. If your sub is going to sit up against a wall, a rear-ported design is going to suck. You’re going to have a low-end pressure constantly firing against the wall. Look at where the speaker will sit and consider the porting of the sub in question before making your purchase.
Size of The Audio System
It can be difficult choosing the size of your audio system, but this is an important factor to consider. On average, the larger the woofer’s size, the deeper the bass will play. Consequently, people tend to rush into the biggest powered subwoofer they can find, but this doesn’t always enhance the sound.
The Amount of Power You Need
Another important consideration is the amount of power your subwoofer needs, or you might need to purchase a separate amp to carry the sound. To help you make this decision, the higher the amp’s wattage, the thicker and heavier the bass. On the other hand, a lower wattage means less bass and more treble. This depends on the size of the room, your preferences, and the genre of music you prefer listening to.
During your search, you’ll find that subwoofers with a higher amp’s wattage are more expensive. So, generally speaking, go for as high an amp wattage as your budget will allow.
Wired or Wireless?
The industry is seeing a large demand for wireless powered subwoofers. These types of subwoofers are powered by a built-in amplifier, which means you don’t have cords traipsing throughout your home. A wireless sound system comes with a transmitter kit that sends audio signals to your subwoofer to power the sound to create a low-frequency sound.
Find The Best Subwoofer For Home Use From Our Selection
Polk Audio’s PSW505 is a massive, 12-inch subwoofer that cranks out low-end like it’s no one’s business. Combined with a beautiful real wood veneer finish, this subwoofer is a winner. At 56 pounds, it’s about the heaviest we’ve come across and feels extremely robust, so carefully consider where you’d locate this audio system before purchasing it.
The marriage of a Klippet Optimized low throw woofer with the Dynamic Balance design delivers a tight and punchy low-end that sounds monstrous without being overinflated. There’s no denying that this is one of the best subwoofer options on the market in terms of power. Even set to a low-level, the audio is clear, concise, and rich. Equipped with switching connectors, this comes with an array of sound settings to adjust the audio to your liking. This unit maximizes the bass frequencies with the perfect balance of treble to create a sleek and high-quality sound.
The look of this model has been fairly divisive in our experience. Some people really like the grainy finish, and some simply can not stand it.
And even if we ignore the finish, the placement of the driver and the front port is hardly the most attractive design. If you can get past this, then it’s a very solid choice that delivers a fantastic listening experience across the board.
The PB-2000 sounds amazing. Driven by a 12″ woofer and 500 watts RMS, 1,100 watts peak power Sledge STA-500D DSP amplifier, this subwoofer can easily shake the floor. An experience that will ensure you that you might make the right choice when ordering this masterpiece.
We’ve found that this particular subwoofer has similar specifications to a unit double its price. Peaking at 1,100+ watts, it delivers with exceptional power when you’re listening to music or watching a movie. The frequency-dependent compressor adjusts to create a great balance between bass and treble.
When looking for the best subwoofer, you want one that can absorb the energy in the room (no matter the room’s size). This subwoofer is equipped with a four-inch port that creates jaw-dropping moments in the middle of a movie for a realistic experience.
It’s hard to go wrong with Yamaha for an affordable, but a robust experience. This subwoofer is no exception, with a unique side ported design with a cyclone effect to reduce turbulence of low-end venting. Some key features like Twisted Flare Port and Advanced YST II are nice to have, although you will probably expect a few more.
This Yamaha subwoofer is small and light and positioned on its side, rather than on its bottom, making it easy to set up and convenient to use. The black-washed wood finish creates an expensive appearance given that these are essentially budget speakers. Even the best subwoofer has a box-like design, but we’re a huge fan of Yamaha’s smooth edges and matte finish to make it ideal for a luxury home experience.
Yamaha has omitted two features which we think would have improved this device. Firstly, there is nothing in the way of auto signal sensing which while hardly an essential is a good quality of life improvement. Secondly, there is no tunable crossover. Normally, these would be bigger issues, but the quality of the listening experience makes it hard to worry too much about them.
If you’re searching for the best subwoofer that can obtain low notes with clarity, this unit produces a tight bass while ensuring that no notes are missed, with the equal quality given to the entire spectrum. Its twisted shape helps to prevent any air turbulence and ensures that the sound is as smooth and high-quality as possible.
Polk Audio’s PSW505 is a massive, 12-inch subwoofer that cranks out low-end like it’s no one’s business. Combined with a beautiful real wood veneer finish, this subwoofer is a winner. We can not overstate how heavy and bulky the PSW505 is, and while this is by no means a complaint, it is absolutely something that you will have to consider given that there is a real chance that your current speaker mounts or shelves might not take the weight. At 56 pounds, it’s about the heaviest we’ve come across and feels extremely robust.
The design of the Sub-12HG is unlikely to win any awards for innovation and would look more at home in the early 90s than it does in the current year. If you can get past this, then the build quality is good enough to make up for the lack of aesthetic flair. And, of course, the listening experience more than compensates for this thoroughly minor issue.
Klipsch’s old school, bottom firing subwoofer, is still incredible sounding. The BASH amplifier provides 650W of dynamic power, giving plenty of headroom for most workloads. This an awesome product that will cater to a certain group of audiophiles. Performance is what separates this beauty from most of the competition in its competitive price range.
This more expensive offering from Klipsch proves why the name is so recognized. The 12″ inch copper spun woofer not only sounds amazing but looks the part as well. Its design is simple, though luxurious and the 600 watts of bass sit in a stunning case. It’s also wireless, so moving it around your home for the best spot for sound is easy and convenient. Weighing nearly 50 pounds, it’s great to have an array of places you can store this subwoofer.
If you have any Klipsch reference speakers, you need this sub. Do not let the lack of some features discourage you; this is a great addition to your setup.
Klipsch tends to focus in on single features rather than offering a wide range of varyingly useful extras and additions alongside their devices, and the R-12SW is no different. While this is a good thing in terms of the focus on sound quality having a real difference overall, we would expect a few more features considering that this is at the higher end of the price spectrum.
This MartinLogan subwoofer features a stunning design and for its compact design, delivers exceptional power. The control knobs and sockets are positioned underneath the subwoofer, which can make it slightly difficult to set up and control. Although, given its small size, this is the best subwoofer for hardly noticing it’s there when not in use.
This subwoofer is a lesson in sound. The 10″ woofer and 300W RMS amp look like a step in the opposite direction, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This subwoofer sounds gorgeous, with built-in wireless connectivity being the cherry on top. It’s a recommendation that you have to consider at least!The default audio experience is pretty solid, and we found that it worked well in most of the listening environments in which we tested the Dynamo 700W. The bass has real presence and weight behind it, and the soundstage is broad and immersive. That said, we would have liked to have seen some more EQ options to make minor adjustments in some spaces, particularly to bring the highs up a tad.
The Mica Reinforced Cellular cone gives distortion-free bass, keeping the woofer lightweight but rigid under pressure. The front grille of the device is not a great look and gives the subwoofer a distinctly 80s vibe which may not be best suited to the modern day design aesthetic. That said, this is a minor criticism in the grand scheme of things, and the listening experience more than makes up for this tiny issue.
Sony is another brand that is always solid for a low cost. If you’re looking for a no-frills subwoofer that sounds amazing, this one’s for you. This is potentially the best subwoofer on our list if you don’t intend to play movies or songs at a loud volume. It’s not designed to handle high frequency levels, so you can expect the volume to reduce when you reach +/- 3dB.
If you’re looking just to get the job done, this price bracket is great for you. They don’t provide the best value, with small woofers, inexpensive amplifiers, and a lack of features. They produce low-end and sound good with small workloads. However, if you want low-end that shakes your floor, you’re going to need to jump up in price.
$200 really steps up performance. Larger woofers extend the low-end, but still, inexpensive amps keep them back. You’ll notice a significantly better performing speaker. This is an excellent price point for those looking for a competent performer, but don’t want to spend too much money.
$300 is the perfect sweet spot for subwoofers. Higher quality amplifiers and the addition of important features like phase reversal show up here. All of these models give an amazing price to performance ratio, making them the best option for those who want an all-rounder.
Spending $500 is where things go above and beyond. The refined performance takes a backseat to giant woofers, and amps that easily exceed 450W RMS. If you want booming low-end, plenty of features (including remote functionality), and beautiful aesthetics, this is the price bracket for you.
$1000 takes what seems like a step back. The woofers aren’t as big, and the amps don’t have as much headroom as the $500 bracket. However, higher quality components contribute to a more refined sound that can still shake your house. The focus here is on performance, and it exceeds all others.
The Best Subwoofer From Our List
Hopefully, you found everything in this guide helpful. The models listed above are all great performers across multiple price points; they can be used even with some great soundbars or record players. We made our choices based on value, so if you’re looking for the best subwoofers in particular price brackets, make sure to look at our guides at different price points.
If budget isn’t an issue and you’re interested in the best subwoofer, we’d declare SVS PB-2000 the overall winner from our list. We love that the amp comes with a variety of filters so you can adjust the volume, phase, and gain controls to suit your preferences, what you’re listening to and the size of your room. Also, this subwoofer is protected with compression parameters to prevent the volume from accidentally increasing.
Which out above selections, have you spotted the best subwoofer for you? Or do you know of high-quality units we haven’t mentioned? Share your thoughts and feedback in the comments.