Sure, top-notch speakers may guarantee you a crystal clear audio but if you want to make your favorite song sound really vivid and lifelike you will need a subwoofer. However, in case you don’t have a high-grade sound system with a built-in subwoofer it doesn’t mean that you may forget about an immersive sound with deep bass. You can always choose a high-quality subwoofer on your own.
In fact, the best subwoofer is the one which is selected correctly. One wonders, therefore, how to choose a right subwoofer? The answer to this question you can find below.
The Best Subwoofers
How to Choose The Best Subwoofer
Type of Speakers
Before you start looking through the lists of best subwoofers on the net or walking along the rows full of various subwoofer models in the stereo store, check the type of speakers you are using. This is the rule number one as your speakers will identify the key features of your future subwoofer.
Obviously, superb floor-standing speakers (which usually cost a fortune) will require a large and powerful subwoofer. Still, if you are the owner of small bookshelf speakers there is no need to purchase a pricey item. Besides, the size of the subwoofer will be smaller too.
It may sound banal, but it’s always important to take into account the size and acoustics of the room you are going to place a subwoofer in. For example, big rooms need more power, so it’s better to buy more effective subwoofers. Small rooms, on the contrary, do not require big subwoofers.
However, it’s not only about the size of the room. Remember to take into consideration its type. Is it a room with a closed or open plan? The point is that even if the room is not big but it smoothly continues into another one, then you will need something really powerful.
The first reason why you should take into account the size of a subwoofer is quite primitive as it’s about the space a subwoofer will take in your room. There is no sense in buying a larger subwoofer if you don’t have enough room to place it.
The next point is that subwoofer size is one of the main factors which identify the list of important features every best sub should have. Though such an idea is a bit mistaken, the size of the sub does matter. So what does it tell about? Big subwoofers are usually considered to be louder and to produce deeper bass. Well, very often these statements coincide with the reality but size isn’t the only thing that affects the subwoofer performance and you can learn more about it below.
Depth (low bass extension)
Another characteristic which shouldn’t be neglected is a low bass extension. Though it is generally considered that the bigger a subwoofer is the better bass it performs, this statement is false. If a large subwoofer driver has poor motors it will never produce precise bass. As a result, you will get inaccurate and smeared sounding.
That is why you should always pay attention to the quality of drivers. A subwoofer with small drivers (e.g. 10-inch) can easily outperform a subwoofer with the larger ones if its motor magnets are able to generate greater force and provide better control over the drive.
Sensitivity and Frequency
Remember to check SPL (i.e. sensitivity) of your subwoofer. Subs with high SPL need less power to produce high volumes than subs with low SPL level. So, if your head unit is powered enough then there is no need to get a sub with high sensitivity.
One more feature you should pay attention at is frequency. As a subwoofer is responsible for bass, you will need an item that produces only low-frequency sounds.
Your next step is to check the speed criterion. Of course, modern subwoofers are much faster than those which you could find on the market some years ago. They have improved filters and reduced moving mass in the bass engines. Still, nowadays you can find subs with quite different speed and the best thing you may do to choose the perfect one is to check your sound system again.
If your speakers are aimed at naturalness and slow speed then choose a rich warm-sounding subwoofer. But when your sound system requires real speed get ready to pay for it.
Here’s what you should know about impedance before setting up a subwoofer. When your sub has low impedance then it’s easier for an amplifier to provide it with power. The key pitfall, in this case, is the type of the amplifier you are using as not all of them are adjusted to what your subwoofer may need.
Thus, not to get an overheated amplifier because it can’t handle very low resistance level we recommend to always check its specifications before you wire your sub to particular impedance, and that’s the next important factor you should consider. You can learn more about the best type of wiring for your subwoofer here.
Types of Enclosure
As well as all pre-cited features a type of enclosure is one of the characteristics to check before the purchase. Put simply, there are three main types of enclosures you may choose from – sealed, ported and bandpass. Now let’s have a look at each of them.
Sealed enclosure guarantees deep bass. Remember that small subs in sealed enclosures are able to produce much deeper bass than large subwoofers with open enclosures. This type of enclosure provides fast transient response and lower group delay than ported cabinets can offer.
The only drawback of sealed cabinets is that they have acoustical inefficiency. Consequently, there is a lower output and higher distortion. In a word, the sealed enclosure would be the best option if your sound system is not big and the chosen subwoofer can reach a necessary SPL and go as low as you need.
Ported and Bandpass Enclosure
A ported type of enclosure won’t provide you with such deep bass as sealed cabinets do. Still, it has its own advantages you should be aware of. Ported cabinets deliver louder sound and would be a perfect match in case they are tuned low enough. Besides, ported enclosure is a great choice for a big studio.
Bandpass enclosure is quite similar to ported as its bass isn’t very deep too. In fact, this is a very old type of enclosure which is usually used for home sub/satellite speakers and car audio systems. You can learn more about the difference between bandpass, sealed and ported enclosures here.
Passive and Powered Subwoofers
All subwoofers can be divided into two types: passive and powered. If passive subs need an external amplifier to work then powered subs are equipped with an internal amplifier and you’ll have just to plug it into the mains. In fact, powered subwoofers are more frequently used. As to the passive subwoofers, they require a good guide to be set up correctly.
Front-firing and Down-firing Subwoofers
Front-firing subs have their drivers on the front of the body while down-firing subs – on the bottom. This difference doesn’t affect the performance and is more important for the comfort of use. Sure, if your subwoofer is placed somewhere underneath your PC or TV set then the front-firing type is a better choice.
Wireless and Wired Subwoofers
Here’s another classification of subwoofers. All subs can be divided into wired and wireless. The main plus of wireless subwoofers is the absence of set up. Just plug such subwoofer in and voilà – it works! As to the drawbacks (unfortunately, they do exist) wireless subwoofers do not provide such great sound as wired subs can deliver. Of course, it’s not a universal truth but this rule usually works. So, if you have a 7.1 speaker system then it’s better to look for a wired subwoofer.
The range of the wattage is responsible for the loudness of the sub. Consequently, the more watts a subwoofer has the louder it is. Note that subwoofers with higher watts (up to 4,000W) are more expensive than those with low wattage.
One more point to pay attention at when you are checking the wattage of the sub is RMS, i.e. continuous wattage. RMS is responsible for the volume and the general power, and if a sub has RMS of up to 1,000W then the item must be quite qualitative. As to the peak wattage, it’s not as crucial as RMS. This specification will tell you about how loud the sub can go.
To make your life easier and to save you from a long-lasting search of the perfect subwoofer, we have compiled the list of the best subs to choose from.
11 Best Subwoofers To Buy in 2018
Klipsch Reference R-112SW Subwoofer
The Best Home-Theater Subwoofer
Need the best subwoofer for your home theater (remember to check our list of the best home theater speakers)? Klipsch Reference R-112SW is one of the best options to purchase.
This stylish sub with a 12-inch spun copper front-wiring woofer will surprise you with lifelike deep bass.
Besides, thanks to a built-in amplifier this subwoofer guarantees accurate sounding and its low pass crossover together with phase control lets you decide which bass level is perfect namely for you.
- excellent bass
- phase control
- stylish look
- poor high-frequency response
BIC America F12
Budget Subwoofer With Good Sound Quality
BIC America subwoofer has not only a reasonable price but also a nice patented BIC “Venturi” vent that reduces port noise and lets you enjoy deep bass to the full.
As well as Klipsch Reference R-112SW this subwoofer has adjustable crossover and volume control.
In a word, you get a nice bass sound for an affordable price.
- good sound quality
- powerful bass output
- sturdy build
- affordable price
- 5-year warranty
- gets hot when used for a long period of time
- a bit bulky
Emotiva Audio 200 Watts 10-Inch Subwoofer
Great 10-inch subwoofer
Another item worth a gander for home theatre is Emotiva Audio 200 Watts 10-Inch subwoofer. Behind its robust aluminum former there is hidden a 10-inch low-frequency driver that comes with 1.5-inch copper voice Coil. It’s also designed with injection molded mineral filled polypropylene cone and big rubber roll surround. This emotive sub is equipped with crossover, phase and level control too, and that’s one of the best features that allow this subwoofer match almost any sound system or room.
- robust build
- reasonable price
- crossover, phase and level control
- port noise
ELAC S10EQ DebutSeries 400 Watt Powered Subwoofer
Powered Subwoofer With a Deep Bass
If you belong to the category of customers who appreciate control most of all then ELAC S10EQ DebutSeries 400 Watt Powered subwoofer will be the best option to satisfy your needs and preferences.
This sub comes with an advanced digital control system. All you have to do to get access to it is to download the ELAC SubEQ app for your iOS or Android device. Such app together with your smartphone’s microphone will automatically adjust the sub performance to your room dimensions.
- advanced control
- great adjustment to surrounding
- deep bass
- lack of physical control
Audioengine S8 8-inch Powered Subwoofer
Stylish 8-inch subwoofer
This stylish subwoofer is equipped with 8-inch subwoofer and dual line-level inputs (both RCA and mini-jack). It also comes with low-frequency effect (LFE) and auto-sleep power saving mode.
Audioengine S8 8-inch Powered Subwoofer has a nice but at the same time robust front-ported MDF cabinet. Having a small size this subwoofer would be a perfect match for bookshelf speakers. What is more, it’s a wireless sub, so you will forget about tangled cords.
- clean sound
- separate volume control
- compact size
- high-quality build
- stylish design
- easy setup
- rattles when reaching the lowest bass range
- not very energy efficient
Polk Audio PSW505
Great Cheap Subwoofer Under $200
This must be the best budget subwoofer on our list. Just for less than $200 you get a well-built subwoofer with real wood veneer finish. Its solid MDF construction with a 1-inch thick front baffle provides accurate and clear sound while its 12-inch driver is great for better linearity. Thanks to long Slot Load Vent you will forget about turbulence, noise and distortion.
As well as the other representatives of the best subwoofers this item comes with adjustable low pass crossover, phase switch and volume control. Note that when the signal is absent for more than 15 minutes the amplifier will turn off.
- small size
- high sound quality
- powerful bass
- durable build
- a bit distorted sound on high volumes
- a bit heavy
Sonos SUB Wireless Subwoofer
The Best Subwoofer Compatible With Alexa
Do you want something really powerful and impressive? Sonos SUB Wireless subwoofer is what you are looking for. This is a real monster in the sub world.
This subwoofer delivers super deep bass that will definitely make your cells tremble and dance together with it.
Sonos SUB comes together with two force-canceling speaker drivers positioned face-to-face. Due to this, there is no chance you will experience any cabinet buzz or rattle. What is more, this subwoofer can be connected to Wi-Fi network.
- excellent deep bass
- accurate sounding without any distortions
- high compatibility
- distant control via the Sonos app
- modern design
JBL LSR310S 10″ Powered Studio Subwoofer
Great Subwoofer for the Money
One more subwoofer that will do incredible things to your audio is JBL LSR310S 10″ Powered Studio sub. Having JBL Patented Slip Stream Port that comes together with the LSR310S low-frequency driver this item provides deep bass of the highest level.
Note that there is also XLF Extended Low Frequency Setting which is responsible for special tuning similar to the one used in nowaday’s nightclubs. Another great thing about this subwoofer is that it can work long hours without getting overheated.
- modern design
- great fine-tuning options
- hefty amplifier
- no preset modes or wireless connectivity
- bass is not very detailed
Definitive Technology ProSub 1000 120v Speaker
Clear Sounding Subwoofer for Music
Here’s one more great choice for home theatre speakers. This sub delivers powerful LFE that guarantees accurate and clear performance. You will enjoy listening to both rock and symphonic music as this subwoofer is suitable for almost any type of audio.
Definitive Technology ProSub 1000 120v speaker is designed with a powerful 300W amplifier combined with 10-inch Low Bass radiator.
- great performance
- stylish look
- easy to connect
- clear sounding
- low price
Bic Acoustech PL-200 II Subwoofer
The Best Subwoofer Under $500
Bic Acoustech PL-200 II Subwoofer comes with 1000W dynamic peak output and 250W RMS. There is an adjustable crossover and volume control. It can also boast of robust build quality.
This subwoofer has a well-balanced performance and a powerful BASH amplifier. Note that all its LEDs, inputs, outputs and buttons are at the back.
- great for home theater
- durable build
- not suitable for small rooms
- a bit boomy
SVS SB-1000 Subwoofer
Great 12-inch subwoofer
Last but not least on our list of the best subwoofers is SVS SB-1000 sub. Its deep and clean bass can’t but impress. Thanks to its compact design it’s easy to hide but its tight bass line will never let you forget its powerful performance. That’s a great option for both bookshelf and PC speakers. SVS SB-1000 subwoofer comes with a hefty 12-inch driver for detailed SPLs and 300W RMS.
- clean bass
- compact design
- good at higher frequencies
- a cutoff for very deep bass
If you know what a perfect bass is then you will look only for the best subwoofer. Check all the necessary specifications mentioned above before your purchase and choose what you really need.