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 of an excellent price to performance ratio. Here are the best ones we’ve found.
- Here are Top 10 Best Subwoofers for Home Use in 2020:
- Category Breakdown
- What Makes A Good Subwoofer?
- How to Choose a Subwoofer
Here are Top 10 Best Subwoofers for Home Use in 2020:
AR RATING 90/100
Polk Audio’s PSW505 is a massive, 12-inch subwoofer that cranks out low-end like it’s no one’s business. 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 over-inflated. Combine that with a beautiful real wood veneer finish, and 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.
AR RATING 93/100
No, it’s not the prettiest subwoofer out there. However, 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 the right choice when ordering this masterpiece.
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.
AR RATING 92/100
It’s hard to go wrong with Yamaha for an affordable, but the 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.
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 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.
AR RATING 89/100
The Blue Octave Home FS6 is a compact, 6.5-inch subwoofer that pushes out much more low-end than the size suggests. A tight and response woofer keeps the sound from becoming overpowering, and the elegant design compliments almost any setup without sticking out like a sore thumb. Despite it’s size, the FS6 is a serious subwoofer for the price.
While the default audio performance which Blue Octave have managed to produce in the FS6 is extremely solid and has a great deal of presence and weight for a fairly compact form factor, we would have liked to see some EQ controls so that adjustments can be made to compensate for room size and placement within a listening environment. All in all, a strong choice.
AR RATING 90/100
Polk Audio’s PSW505 is a massive, 12-inch subwoofer that cranks out low-end like it’s no one’s business. 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 over inflated. Combine that with a beautiful real wood veneer finish, and 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.
AR RATING 88/100
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.
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.
AR RATING 88/100
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. 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 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. Whilst 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.
AR RATING 86/100
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. A recommendation that you have to at least consider!
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.
AR RATING 86/100
Another inexpensive option, this subwoofer will get the job done for under $100. The 8” woofer will cripple under extreme load, but will still give you a decent low-end if not pushed too far. We featured this model in our round-up article because there are plenty of people on a budget who want the best bang for their buck.
The cut off for playback is 26 Hz, which is fairly underwhelming but you have to remember that this is a highly affordable subwoofer. In fact, our main criticism is far more superficial: the Acoustic Audio branding on the front of the device makes an otherwise unobtrusive design look needlessly cheap and tacky. It would really benefit from having this covered up.
AR RATING 85/100
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. The Mica Reinforced Cellular cone gives distortion-free bass, keeping the woofer lightweight but rigid under pressure. The price at which it is sold makes it an absolute bargain considering what is put on the table.
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 very minor criticism in the grand scheme of things, and the listening experience more than makes up for this tiny issue. Overall, a very solid choice.
If you’re looking to just 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 speakers. 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-arounder.
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 hear is on performance, and it exceeds all others.
What Makes A Good Subwoofer?
When buying a subwoofer there have to be a few things you consider. Not all models are made equal, and the proof of price not equaling quality couldn’t be more true. Because of that, 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.
How to Choose a Subwoofer
So, how do you pick one? Of course, you need to consider everything in the section above. However, spec sheets don’t always tell the full story, and even highly rated options may not be the fit for you. Other factors come into play.
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.
Finally, looking at where the box will sit is huge. Porting is the point of contention here. If your sub is going to be sitting up against a wall, a rear-ported design is going to suck. You’re going to have 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.
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.