Best Subwoofers

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Steve Scott

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Let’s be completely honest. You can get good, even great sound with a regular set of speakers. 

For most people (at least those who are not so much into audio), those will be more than enough. But don’t say a subwoofer isn’t for you until you’ve tried using one.

You won’t believe just how much of a difference this box can do. Once you start using one, you’ll finally be able to see just how rich and powerful sound can be, especially in the low-end.

Now that you know you should get one, it’s up to you to find a perfect fit. Which sounds easy, right?

Well, not so much. There are so many models on the market. You would have to be a real audio buff to know all or most of them, and their key features.

Luckily, we’re here to help you out. Read our extensive guide on the best subwoofers, and by the end of it, you’ll know just what you need!

See our choice of best bookshelf speakers.

Best Subwoofers - Our Top Picks

1. Best Overall - ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3030

ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3030 Subwoofer 1

Specifications

  • Size: 17 x 18.25 x 17 inches
  • Weight: 50.2 lbs

Key Features

  • Powered subwoofer with passive radiator
  • 12-inch front-firing high-excursion doped paper cone
  • 12-inch down-firing passive radiator
  • 25 to 150 Hz frequency response 
  • 50 to 150 Hz crossover frequency
  • BASH-Tracking amplifier
  • 1000 Watts Peak / 500 Watts RMS max amplifier power
  • LFE RCA input
  • Spiked feet

PROS

  • Fantastic output
  • Rich, tight bass
  • Frequency range
  • Aesthetic appeal
  • You can control it with an app

CONS

  • Price

ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3030 Review

ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3030 Subwoofer 2

It would be hard to find a better subwoofer available today, especially for such a price. And it will probably be more than enough to meet all your needs.

SUB3030 is a beautifully designed model. But it wasn’t only built to look beautiful, but also to output some astonishingly good sound.  

It has a splendid textured wooden construction that comes in a light grey color. And the best part is that it’s built to allow you to find a place for it anywhere in your room.

BASH Technology

The quality of its features is impressive. With it, you get a 12-in front-firing driver with a down-firing 12-inch passive radiator. The amplifier utilizes the latest BASH technology.

This model offers a 500 Watts RMS and 1000 Watts peak, which is more than enough. Also, it has quite an extensive frequency response of 25 to 150Hz.

With the ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3030, there are no physical controls, which you can perceive as a good or a bad thing. It all depends on what you like.

You can control the device with an app that comes for both Android and iOs. Just connect it via Bluetooth, and you can play around with the equalizer or volume controls.

​2. Best Value for Money - BIC America F12

BIC America F12 Subwoofer 1

Specifications

  • Size: 21 x 19 x 22 inches
  • Weight: 42.7 lbs

Key Features

  • 12-inch front-firing powered subwoofer
  • 25Hz - 200Hz frequency response
  • 90 dB sensitivity
  • 12-inch injection molded cone woofer
  • 475 Watts Peak/150 Watts RMS continuous
  • Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • BIC “Venturi” vent for eliminating noise

PROS

  • Value for money
  • Good even for outdoors
  • Dolby Digital and Dolby Pro-Logic
  • Powerful

CONS

  • Big and heavy
  • Grill noise

BIC America F12 Review

BIC America F12 Subwoofer 2

Bic F12 is a close match to ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3030. It’s almost as good, lagging just a little behind in sound quality. 

All in all, this model offers excellent value for money. It is capable of producing some seriously deep and rich bass effects, which makes it a perfect fit for any home theater system.

BIC F12 comes with a 12-inch driver and is able to produce power of 150 Watts RMS and a 475 peak. This means that this subwoofer will have more than enough power to blast through your living room. 

Good for Outdoor Parties

In fact, it would be enough even for larger gatherings and outdoor movie sessions or parties.

BIC F12 has an overall great sound. Even if you try it out at low volume, it won’t sound fuzzy, like many other subwoofers.

This sub can work in 5.1 setup,  as well as 7.1 home theater systems. With it, you also get support for Dolby Digital and Dolby Pro-Logic.

If we were to pick some downsides, the first one would be the design. It’s quite big and bulky, with an uninspiring look. Granted, it’s made of beautiful black MDF, but it just doesn’t sweep you off your feet.

Also, since the bass is so tight and strong, it might cause some noise coming from the grill. When you blast it at high volume, the grill might end up making some noise. 

However, you can always take off the grill, and solve this problem instantly.

​Check out our guide on the best stereo amps.

​3. Best Budget - Monoprice 9723

Monoprice 9723 Subwoofer 1

Specifications

  • Size: 17 x 17.3 x 17.5 inches
  • Weight: 40.9 lbs

Key Features

  • 200 Watts Peak/150 watts RMS
  • 50 - 250 Hz frequency response
  • 12-inch powered subwoofer
  • 12-inch reinforced driver
  • 50 - 150 Hz lowpass crossover

PROS

  • Powerful output
  • Price tag
  • Solid construction
  • Precise bass
  • Bass depth and clarity, unmatched in that price range
  • No vibration

CONS

  • Dull design
  • Can be too noisy sometimes

Monoprice 9723 Review

Monoprice 9723 Subwoofer 2

Let’s be clear about something. There’s nothing visual about this model that will sweep you off your feet. 

In fact, it looks rather boring and monotonous. Then again, since it’s a subwoofer that will probably sit somewhere in the corner of your room, it won’t matter anyway. 

What matters is the performance and overall sound quality. And Monoprice 9723 has a lot to offer in that area. 

More Than Enough Bass Strength

It offers a surprising amount of power that will be able to shake and rattle even the hardest floors. 

This model hits you with such strength that it’s most likely you’ll only need this one. That is unless you plan to use it in a very large room.

In all honesty, it can’t match the power and tenacity of some much more expensive models. But considering the price and the sound quality you get for it, then we must say that this subwoofer is an absolute steal.

​4. Best High-End - SVS SB-3000

SVS SB-3000 Subwoofer 1

Specifications

  • Size: 15.2 x 17.8 x 15.6 inches
  • Weight: 54.5 lbs

Key Features

  • Sealed-box powered subwoofer 
  • 13-inch aluminum cone driver
  • 18 - 270Hz frequency response
  • 800 Watts RMS/2500 Watts Peak output power
  • 16 ohms impedance

PROS

  • Amazing performance
  • Sleek and modern design
  • A nice and user-friendly accompanying app
  • Customizable to your needs with DSP

CONS

  • It’s expensive

SVS SB-3000 Review

SVS SB-3000 Subwoofer 2

When SVS puts something on the market, you can bet it’s going to be something amazing. These guys know their stuff.

Bear in mind that this is a high-end product. Therefore, if you’re on a low budget, this might not be a sub for you.

But, you could say it’s worth all that money. It has 800 Watts of amplification, a front-firing driver, and the frequency response of 18Hz.

Best for Movies and TV

This sub shines, especially when it comes to movies and TV-watching. You’ll be able to hear every blast and gunshot so clearly, that you’ll think it’s happening right there in your room.

You can use Digital Signal Processing to tweak and adjust the subwoofer to your liking. Also, you can control the entire settings by using a dedicated app, which makes things a lot easier for you.

This is a nicely designed model, which comes in an MDF cabinet, which is quite sturdy and compact. In fact, it’s predecessors were also massive, even more so. And they cost more, which turned out to be a bit much for some folks.

But the manufacturers decided to make this model a little more accessible to people. That being said, this is still a high-end model, and only those who take their bass seriously should go with this one.

5. Best Wireless - Sonos Sub

Sonos Sub 1

Specifications

  • Size: 15.3 x 15.8 x 6.2 inches
  • Weight: 36.3 lbs

Key Features

  • Powered subwoofer
  • 2 force-canceling face-to-face drivers
  • Frequency response 34 - 96 Hz
  • 2 class-D amplifiers

PROS

  • Straightforward setup process
  • Ease of use
  • Modern design
  • Compact
  • Wireless connection

CONS

  • Only compatible with Sonos gear
  • Heavy and large

Sonos Sub Review

Sonos Sub 2

When it comes to wireless subwoofers, it would be a challenge to find a better one than Sonos Sub. It’s a remarkable, high-quality model that made to work alongside other Sonos equipment.

And that’s where one of its most significant weaknesses lies. Since it’s made to work with Sonos speakers only, you won’t be able to use it with other manufacturers.

This can prove to be a hassle if you do not already own some Sonos gear. But, if that doesn’t pose a problem for you, this sub is an excellent choice.

Straightforward Setup

With it, you’ll get some pretty amazing sound quality. And to top it all, the setup process is extremely easy, and you can get it going in a matter of minutes.

It comes packed with two amps, two drivers and two ports. When you look at it, you’ll notice that the Sonos Sub is a bulky subwoofer.

However, it’s modern and eye-catching design will make it easy for you to find its place, upright on flat on its back. This is an important feature, especially if you struggle with a lack of space.

​6. Best Smart Home Compatible - Amazon Echo Sub

Amazon Echo Subwoofer 1

Specifications

  • Size: 8 x 8.3 inches
  • Weight: 9.3 lbs

Key Features

  • Sealed chamber with a 6-inch down-firing woofer
  • 100 Watt class-D amplifier
  • 30Hz low-frequency response
  • 50Hz -200Hz crossover frequency

PROS

  • Price tag
  • Small and compact
  • Nicely designed
  • Easy to set up

CONS

  • You can only use it with Amazon Echo speakers
  • Doesn’t offer to much detailed sound

Amazon Echo Sub Review

Amazon Echo Subwoofer 2

The Amazon Echo Sub is meant to be paired with Amazon Echo speakers. This is a similar downside that we found in Sonos Sub also.

It is a compact sub that comes in a 6-inch package. This makes it perfect for small spaces, or if you don’t want it to clog your room visually.

And it doesn’t hurt that it’s modernly and beautifully designed. Its cylindrical shape just adds to the visual appeal.

Connects With Alexa App

The volume is on a satisfactory level, and the class-D amp makes sure of that. On the other hand, Echo Sub tends to struggle a bit with sound clarity.

It’s easy to connect wirelessly with Alexa App.

This subwoofer is not only beautiful (maybe the best looking of this bunch), but it’s also really affordable.

However, the manufacturers at Amazon managed to make things harder for many, with the Amazon Echo only compatibility.

Best Subwoofers - Buying Guide

Passive or Active Subwoofers?

When it comes to amplification, there can be two types of subwoofers: passive and active. And the difference between those two is pretty straightforward.

Passive subwoofers require an external amp to power them, similar to basic speakers. On the other hand, active (or powered) subwoofers have a built-in amplifier.

If you’re going to get a passive subwoofer, you will need an amp that is capable and powerful enough to output the bass, without hindering the power supply. How much power you’ll need will be determined by the size of the room where you plan on playing the sub. 

Also, another crucial factor will be the sub’s requirements. Take a look at our top computer speakers choice.

active and passive sound system
Easy to Set Up

These subwoofers are easy to set up. You just need to connect the amplifier with the passive subwoofer, just like you would connect the loudspeakers.

Like we’ve mentioned above, active subs are self-contained. They come packed with the amplifier and the sub speaker, all in one. This configuration is made so that the amp’s and sub’s characteristics match each other.

This setup takes the burden off the AV receiver and allows it to focus on powering the mids and highs. Not only that, but powered subwoofers are really easy to get going. You just need one cable from the receiver or a preamp.

So, which one should you choose? Well, either way, you can get a quality subwoofer. Being passive or powered doesn’t determine whether a subwoofer will be good or bad.

In reality, you are more likely to run across powered subwoofers than passive ones. The ease of use and practicality simply makes those a much sounder choice in the end.

Front-Firing or Down-Firing Subwoofers?

Now that we’ve established what powered and passive subwoofers are, we should move on with the rest. As you’ll be able to see down below, there’s more than one way to distinguish subwoofers.

We can also split them into two additional groups: front-firing and down-firing. This categorization depends solely on the driver’s position. 

If the driver is facing in the direction of the floor, then it is a down-firing one. But if the driver is faced towards the front of the device, then it’s a front-firing subwoofer.

Doesn’t Make Much Difference

Then again, you can find specific models that are capable of firing both to the front as well as the back. But, these are more an exception to the rule.

So, are there any significant differences between the two? Well, it turns out that there aren’t. In terms of bass reproduction, there shouldn’t be too many differences.

The only thing you should pay attention to is positioning. If you aim to place the subwoofer near your speakers or under your TV set, then go with front-firing. On the other hand, if you’re going to 

put it in the corner, or somewhere to your side, then choose down-firing.

But, this shouldn’t be regarded as a strict rule, since it won’t affect the overall performance that much.

Driver Size - Does It Matter?

The driver size is one of the more critical factors that determine a subwoofer’s performance. And in this case, it usually goes “the bigger, the better.”

A larger driver will be able to output a much deeper bass. However, not all big drivers will be able to produce the same level of quality. Some will be more precise, accurate, and fast than the others.

Don’t Choose Just by Driver Size

In the end, it all comes down to the quality of the motor and the amplifier. So, choosing solely judging by the driver size might not be the way to go. 

Subwoofer Driver Size

Sometimes, larger drivers will be more prone to distortion than the smaller ones. This is mainly because a larger area can sometimes be harder to handle. Also, these big drivers will sometimes fail to produce an accurate and clear bass sound.

So, to sum this up, a bigger driver won’t be a guarantee that you’ll get more quality when it comes to bass production.

Ported or Sealed Subwoofers

Next, we get to ported and sealed subwoofers. Ported are those that have one or multiple openings on the body, which allows natural air movement. 

In turn, you are able to get a bigger sound since both the subwoofer and the port(s) are pushing the air.

Huge Volume or Bass Clarity?

On the other hand, sealed subwoofers come in a closed box without any openings and ports on the body. These subwoofers, unlike ported, don’t sacrifice any bass clarity in favor of the huge volume. As a matter of fact, with them, you get a more controlled and sustained sound.

If you’re not going to use a subwoofer in a larger space, or you don’t plan to blast it to max volume, then you should consider getting a sealed subwoofer.

Then again, if you wish to get a bigger sound in a bigger place, then, by all means, go with the ported ones.


Wireless or Wired Subwoofers

It’s pretty easy to pinpoint the difference here. And both of those have their upsides.

The most appealing feature of the wireless subwoofers is that they require no setup. All the settings will be in place, so that makes things much easier for you.

All you have to do is find the best place for them, and plug them in.

But, you’ll often find that wired speakers just sound better. Now, this doesn’t always have to be correct, but it turns out that way more often than not.

subwoofer installation

Subwoofer Placement

Don’t take subwoofer placement for granted. You can get the best subwoofers, and still not get the most out of them if you don’t find them a perfect spot.

Now, this will require some effort on your behalf, since it’s not as easy as you might believe it is. Naturally, you can just drop it somewhere in the corner of the room, or underneath your TV.

But where’s the fun in that? You should do that only if you don’t care all that much.

In theory, the best spot for the subwoofer would be, just like we’ve said, in the corner of the room (slightly removed from the wall) or under a TV set.

But, you can try to play around with the placement. Try the unit in the place where you’ll sit most of the time, turn on some bass-heavy source, and then go around and listen carefully to determine the location where the bass has the deepest output.

That’s the place where you should put your sub.

Subwoofer Crossover

One of the most essential things in subwoofers is a crossover. Basically, it represents a frequency where the subwoofer will begin producing bass notes.

Since your subwoofer can’t guess on its own where the low frequencies start, you need to tell it. 

You need to tell it when to divert the sound from the speakers to the subwoofer. So, if you want to get the best performance, you should always set the crossover point.

For example, if your speakers can’t go lower than 100Hz, then you should set the crossover point at 100Hz. You can find this value in the instruction manual and specifications.

In Conclusion

Although subwoofers are pretty straightforward as a piece of equipment, choosing one is not so easy to do. Hopefully, we have helped you make the right decision.

Take as many factors as possible into account. Things like your room size, the available budget, or the importance of bass output should all be equally considered. Once you determine what you want, and more importantly, need, then go ahead with the purchase.

My name is Steve Scott. Father of 2 and owner of Outdoor Movie HQ. I’ve been involved in the A/V industry for most of my life and built this blog to help people better understand projector technology. Please leave a comment if you have any questions.

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