A good subwoofer provides the foundation for turning a good home stereo into a great one. It transforms watching a movie on the couch into a home-theater experience. Music takes on concert-quality sound, and even regular TV sounds better.
You don’t need a subwoofer just to shake the building. But if you want to build a good home audio system, you need one to provide a full dynamic range of sound and add resonant warmth to music. A good subwoofer complements your existing speakers, freeing them to produce mid- and high-range frequency sounds. The right one is like a great bass player — noticeable when they need to be and always there providing support.
There’s more to picking a subwoofer than just choosing the biggest, most powerful option. We’ll cover what to look for and our recommendations for the best subwoofers of 2022.
How We Picked the Best Subwoofers
To select the subwoofers on this list, I looked at the leading brands and compared the specs, features, and costs. Experience also factors into this mix, as well as evaluating each model based on power, sensitivity, and frequency range.
In addition to my own research, I looked at other reviews from professional sources as well as individuals. Lower-cost subwoofers with equal or better features and quality scored better than more expensive subs with the same specs. Finally, I factored in the different criteria experts use to consider speakers to organize this list into categories.
Best Subwoofers: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: SVS SB-1000 Pro
Why It Made The Cut: The SVS SB-1000 Pro is the best overall pick for the best subwoofer because of its combination of sound quality, sturdy build quality, and reasonable price.
— Dimensions: 13.5 inches H x 13 inches W x 14.76 inches D
— RMS Power: 325 watts
— Frequency Response: 20 Hz (hertz) to 270 Hz
— Powerful with a clean sound
— Great quality
— Attractive design
— Reasonably affordable price
— Not a good fit for larger rooms
SVS produces some of the best subwoofers for home audio, and it’s hard to go wrong with any of its models. However, the SVS SB-1000 Pro stands out with its attractive style and reasonable price. It’s compact but provides a really clear, crisp bass sound that complements just about any set of speakers.
Cranking out 325 watts of power, the SB-1000 Pro sounds amazing, providing concert-quality home audio for movies and music. It won’t overpower a small to medium-size room but may get lost in a larger space. There are more powerful subwoofers but very few that sound as good. And for below $1,000, nothing touches it for sound quality.
SVS also offers a ported version of this subwoofer, the PB-1000 Pro, and if you need more power, check out the SB-3000, a 13-inch subwoofer that packs a monster 800 watts RMS and 2,500 watts of peak power. Both of these other SVS subwoofers are great options, but the SB-1000 offers the best combination of flexibility and sound quality. For more options, here are the best home Bluetooth speakers.
Best Wireless: Sonos Sub Wireless Subwoofer (Gen 3)
Why It Made The Cut: If you own a set of Sonos speakers or a Sonos soundbar, look no further than the company’s latest wireless subwoofer.
— Dimensions: 5.3 inches H x 15.8 inches W x 6.2 inches D
— RMS Power: Unknown / not rated
— Frequency Response: 25 Hz to 250 Hz
— Great sound quality
— Amazing aesthetics
— Easy to place anywhere
— Compatible with Sonos speakers only
Wireless subwoofers offer some great benefits, including minimal setup and lots of options for placement. The best of these speakers is the Sonos Sub. It not only sounds great but also looks great, with its open hole in the middle.
The hole is functional, holding two ports and identical drivers that cancel out each other’s vibration. There is no rattle, only enhanced response and sound. Better still, you can stand the sub vertically, on its side, or under your couch and get a great bass response.
The downside is compatibility. It works only with Sonos speakers. So if you want to add this subwoofer to any other set of speakers, you’re out of luck. It’s like an Apple device — a great product, but compatible only within its own ecosystem.
As with an Apple product, the Sonos Sub is easy to set up and just works. It connects wirelessly with a push of a button and automatically adjusts to whatever you’re playing to provide the right amount of bass. It adds theatrical bass for home theater and warm resonance for any music. If you have a Sonos soundbar or speakers, it’s the best way to go.
Best for Home Theater: Klipsch SPL-120
Why It Made The Cut: Klipsch’s SPL-120 offers a big, towering bass sound that rivals movie theaters and will turn your music into a concert-quality experience.
— Dimensions: 17.75 inches H x 14.7 inches W x 19.9 inches D
— RMS Power: 300 watts
— Frequency Response: 24 Hz to 125 Hz
— Thundering, clear bass
— Wired and wireless setup options
— Excellent build quality
— Integrates with multiple audio systems
— Klipsch makes a cheaper sub that sounds almost as good
Klipsch claims to have been pissing off the neighbors since 1946. That swagger carries over to the SPL-120, which delivers thundering, clear bass. It will make your home-theater experience rival that of your local multiplex, without the sticky floors and gum under the seats.
The driver is made out of a composite of materials, including spun copper, and the surround is extremely solid. The combination of speaker materials and housing minimize vibration and distortion at certain frequencies. And the result is bass that won’t drown out other sounds.
With 300 watts of power, the SPL-120 sounds good in any room and won’t get lost in a larger space. You have the option of hooking it up with cable or wireless, with an optional wireless adapter kit. You can also integrate it into two audio systems, and the sources can be used at the same time.
Whether you actually decide to piss off the neighbors is your business. But it’s clear Klipsch knows its business and has delivered the goods since 1946.
Best Small: Polk Audio PSW111
Why It Made The Cut: Polk Audio’s PSW111 is ideal for smaller rooms and proves great bass sound can come from a small subwoofer.
— Dimensions: 14 inches H x 11 inches W x 12.2 inches H
— RMS Power: 150 watts
— Frequency Response: 38 Hz to 250 Hz
— Clean, precise bass
— Compact, sleek design
— Easy to use with auto on/off feature
— Integrates well with most home theater setups
— Will get lost (literally and figuratively) in a large room
— Bass is adequate but won’t shake the room
If you need a small subwoofer to provide a little extra low-end sound for your home theater, check out the Polk Audio PSW111. Its clean, precise sound will complement your existing speakers without overwhelming them, remaining balanced and distortion-free even at high volumes. Combine it with a soundbar, loudspeakers, or even just a television, and it will add a little extra kick.
The PSW111 is small and unobtrusive, making it easy to set up anywhere and ideal for small spaces. You can hide it behind a couch, under an end table, or even on a bookcase without anyone knowing it’s there. It’s easy to hook up and comes with adjustable audio controls, making it hassle-free.
It won’t shake the room, and it’s not meant to. What it does really well is enhance your listening experience with crisp, precise bass. It responds well to changes in audio and produces reliable results. Best of all, the Polk adds warmth, expanding the resonance of anything you listen to.
Best Budget: Klipsch R-120SW
Why It Made The Cut: The Klipsch R-120SW offers many of the qualities that make the SPL-120 so good, but for a budget price.
— Dimensions: 19.2 inches H x 14 inches W x 16.5 inches D
— RMS Power: 200 watts
— Frequency Response: 29 Hz to 120 Hz
— Excellent bass sound quality
— Strong build quality
— Integrates with multiple audio systems
— Lacks the power and low-end bass response of other subwoofers
This Klipsch subwoofer won’t get as rowdy as the SPL-120, but it’s close and comes in at a great price. Like all Klipsch speakers, the R-120SW produces tight, clear, and deep bass that really complements movies and music.
The cabinet is the same stylish, high-quality cabinet as the SPL-120, and the subwoofer is made of the same long-lasting composite materials. It also provides the same distortion-free sound that will complement your other speakers.
The only catch is it’s not as powerful as the SPL-120, nor does it provide the same low-end bass response. Rated at 200 watts RMS, the bass frequency range ends at 29 HZ, so you won’t get that subsonic rumble other subwoofers provide. Those two things kept it from getting top honors in this guide, but don’t let that deter you if you are looking for a deal on a great sub.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Subwoofer
The right subwoofer comes down to the one that best matches your existing audio equipment and the size of your family/entertainment room. Your ear will tell you what sounds best, but it’s helpful to consider three things when buying a subwoofer.
Power is measured in watts and determines speaker volume. Subwoofers are no different. The more power your sub can handle, the bigger the rumble of bass thunder. But there are two ratings to look at when choosing a subwoofer:
— RMS power is the speaker’s constant power rating and measures the highest constant or sustained power output a speaker will handle. For that reason, it is more important than peak power. Go beyond the RMS power rating, and you’ll gradually damage the speaker.
— Peak power is the maximum power rating a speaker can handle in short bursts for sounds like thunder or crashing noises. Running constantly at peak rating is a surefire way to bust a speaker.
Sensitivity shows how well a speaker responds to input and is measured in decibels (dB). The more sensitive a speaker is, and the higher the decibel rating, the more volume it will produce. All things being equal, a model with higher sensitivity needs less power to produce the same volume as one with lower sensitivity but more power.
Frequency equals range and is measured in hertz (Hz). The wider the frequency range, the wider the variety of sounds a speaker can make. The frequency indicates how wide a range of sounds your speakers can reproduce. On a subwoofer, the only range to care about is 20 to 200 Hz, which is at the extreme low end of human hearing.
Q: How much do subwoofers cost?
Cheap subwoofers start at around $200. Good-quality subwoofers start at around $500 each and go up from there. Depending on the size of your room, you may want to have more than one subwoofer for your home theater.
Q: What do subwoofers do?
Subwoofers provide that extreme, low-end bass you feel as much as hear. While you can hear bass on a good midrange speaker, it won’t reach frequencies of 60 Hz or lower the way a good subwoofer will.
Q: How do subwoofers differ from speakers?
Subwoofers are speakers. The difference between subwoofers and regular speakers involves frequency range. Subwoofers are used for lower frequencies to project bass and sub-bass sounds. Regular speakers are designed to cover the mid- and upper-range frequencies.
Q: Where should I place my subwoofer?
The best place for a subwoofer varies depending on room size and layout. Start by positioning your subwoofer at the front of the room or near your other speakers. You’ll want to keep at least six inches of separation between the subwoofer, wall, and other speakers for the best low-frequency sound.
Q: Which way should my subwoofer face?
Place the subwoofer so it’s pointed at the main listening area. For example, a front-firing sub should have the speaker facing out toward the room. How you position the subwoofer, and the direction it faces, plays a significant role in its sound and performance.
Q: What’s the difference between a woofer and a subwoofer?
A woofer produces sounds in the low-frequency range, while a subwoofer handles the extreme low-frequency range of 100 Hz and below. Besides the frequency range they handle, the primary differences include size, power output, and pricing.
The reality is you can’t go wrong with any of the brands on this list of the best subwoofers, but the subwoofers from SVS and Klipsch consistently receive top ratings for sound quality and build quality. With those brands, it usually comes down to how much power you want and how much you’re willing to spend. The Sonos Sub is an excellent subwoofer to build a home theater around or as an upgrade, providing you stick with Sonos speakers. Finally, the Polk Audio PSW111 is a fantastic option for smaller rooms or if you just want some extra low-end sound from your existing setup.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.