The Best Home Theater Subwoofers For 2020

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The Best Home Theater Subwoofers For 2020


In this picture, The Best Home Theater Subwoofers For 2020 is personified in the form of a speaker driver.

Hey everybody! Hope you’re doing well.

Today we’ll be going over the best home theater subwoofers for 2020. I know firsthand how hard it can be to choose sometimes, so that’s why I decided to offer some insight into some of the best ones you can get currently.

Below is the list of the top picks for year along with a guide under that.

 

The Best For A Very Small Room (8 x 10 feet) – Kanto SUB6GB Powered

 

 

The Best For A Small Room (10 x 12 feet) – Acoustic Audio PSW-6 Down Firing Powered

 

 

The Best For A Medium Room (14 x 16 feet) – Definitive Technology ProSub

 

 

The Best For A Medium To Large Room (16 x 20 feet) – Polk Audio PSW505 12-Inch Powered

 

 

The Best For A Large Room (22 x 25 feet) – BIC America F12 12-Inch 475-Watt Front Firing

 

 

The Best For A Very Large Room (22 x 28 feet) – SVS SB-2000

 

 

The Best Looking – Klipsch Reference R-10SW 10″ 300w Powered

 

 

My Personal Favorite – Polk Audio PSW111

 

 

My Other Personal Favorite – SVS PB1000 10-inch 300 Watt Powered

 

 

The Best High End – SVS PB16-Ultra

 

 

Bonus Mention: Klipsch R-120SW

 

 

Decision Guide 

 

 

 

 

The Best For A Very Small Room (8 x 10 feet) – Kanto SUB6GB Powered


For those of you out there with a really small room who want to improve their listening experience with some good old fashioned bass, then this is the one for you. There’s a class D amplifier that’s able to provide you with up to 200 watts of impressive power.

To make it super simple to understand what that means, basically it’s able to waste less energy making it a lot more efficient. As a result, this allows the sub to hit harder, giving you a more visceral experience. https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/what-class-d-amplification

200 watts is also a really good number for such a small space, so you definitely will notice the impact with this one. There’s a front firing 6-inch driver that’s certainly capable of giving you that really satisfying low end you’re looking for.

The cabinet itself is made of a wood called MDF. For those that don’t know, MDF stands for medium density fibreboard and is basically a combination of smaller wood fibers pressed together into a solid object. The benefit here is that it can help to reduce additional resonance, providing for a much cleaner sound overall.

Over on the back, you get various setting controls which are standard on quality subwoofers. So things like a crossover knob that tells the sub what Hz to take over at, and a volume knob for the subs level itself, means you’ll easily be able to dial it in to the point where it’s perfect for you. In terms of how it looks, it’s a relatively subdued but nice looking subwoofer.

There’s a piano finish on the front that also adds a sense of elegance to it. It has 4 rubber feet on the bottom that helps to isolate the sound from the floor. This is certainly beneficial if you have people living under or next to you; meaning you’ll be able to have awesome bass without disturbing anyone (trust me from experience, that’s a big deal…)

It’s even available in 4 amazing looking colors; glossy black, glossy white, matte grey, and matte black.

 

Pros


  • 200 watts of clean power
  • MDF wood lowers unwanted resonance
  • Plenty of room filling bass at 35 Hz
  • Good for movies and music

 

Cons


  • To be honest with you there really aren’t any

With all the praise it seems to get, it’s pretty obvious that this is a fantastic choice to go with. I’d highly recommend it personally.

 

Kanto SUB6GB Powered

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best For A Small Room (10 x 12 feet) – Acoustic Audio PSW-6 Down Firing Powered


Let’s say you’re in a small college dorm or even a 1 bedroom, and you’re like you know what, I wonder what would work for my room without being too big or inconvenient? Well look no further, this is the one for you.

It has a 6.5-inch woofer that’s described as being down firing. What is that? Well with normal subwoofers, you’ll usually see the driver facing forward and located on the front. But with the down firing model, the driver is placed on the bottom.

By placing it on the bottom, this allows for the bass it produces to be a lot more impactful and tangible. This means that when compared with front firing models, you’ll actually feel the action on screen rather than just hearing it.

That makes movie watching not only an event, but an experience as well. There’s 125 watts of continuous power as well. Think of this as the constant amount of power it typically puts out (you’ll often see this referred to as RMS) It also has a 250-watt peak which is certainly more than enough to satisfy in a smaller room.

The good news is that this little sub can dig deep too, going down to 30Hz. There are options to control the gain and crossover setting which means you’ll really be able to dial in exactly how you want it to sound.

There’s even an auto on switch that can detect when a signal comes in and automatically turn itself on. As far as appearance goes, it’s pretty plain admittedly, but it’s not an ugly design by any means. In fact, the wood has a brushed look that’s pretty attractive in person.

 

Pros


  • Perfect for a dorm or small/room apartment.
  • 125 continuous, 250-watt peak gives you plenty of power in a smaller place.
  • 6.5 inch down firing woofer offers a bass that you can feel.
  • Pretty looking black ash wood enclosure blends in without being too big and in the way.

 

Cons


  • Pretty heavy at 18 pounds.

As long as you know what to expect beforehand (knowing this isn’t one you’d want to use in bigger rooms) then this is a fantastic offering that you’ll definitely love.

 

Acoustic Audio PSW-6 Down Firing Powered

 

Oh yeah, and here’s a short but good article on placement for down firing subwoofers too.

https://www.techwalla.com/articles/downfiring-subwoofer-tips

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best For A Medium Room (14 x 16 feet) – Definitive Technology ProSub


In a medium or average sized room, you’re going to want a subwoofer with enough power to actually rock your movie nights. In that case, the Definitive Technology Prosub fits the bill perfectly.

In fact I think this is the only smaller subwoofer on this list (or even that I’ve seen) that actually punches above its weight class so much so, that I’d still technically recommend it even in larger rooms.

How’s that possible exactly?

Well it has a lot to do with not only its listed rating, but it’s design too. The crazy thing is this is an 8 inch subwoofer with 300 watts of continuous power.

Think about that for a second.

That’s not peak power, that’s the actual amount of useable average power that you’re getting with all of your content every single day. That’s insane.

If the high excursion, front firing 8 inch driver wasn’t enough, there also happens to be an 8 inch low bass radiator included as well. This not only has the added benefits of allowing the driver to be more efficient by not having to move as much, but what it’s also going to do is greatly minimize any sort of distortion so that all you get is a nice clean bass.

It surprisingly also gives it a 27 percent radiating increase over a single 10 inch sub, so you actually end up getting more bass coverage in a smaller size which is pretty impressive.

But if that weren’t enough, it can also go down to 20 Hz!

Given that  I mentioned previously that you’ll want a sub that can at least hit 30 Hz, the fact that this one can hit 20 pretty much says it all. That means you’ll be getting bass so low you’ll be able to feel it and not just hear it. Trust me when I say that little change makes all the difference when it comes to movies.

It’s a new experience entirely.

Another detail that I really like about this one is the individually adjustable rubber feet that allows you to elevate or lower the sub to make sure it has the most stable footing possible. This is great because even if you have an uneven floor, the ability to adjust it means you won’t ever have to worry about it teetering or wobbling, which can be pretty distracting if you’ve ever experienced it.

Finally in terms of dimensions, it measures 15.8 x 10.4 x 12.9 inches, and weighs about 22 pounds.

All in all, this one is actually really impressive and I can’t say enough good about it. It’s hard to not be impressed when you have all this sound coming from such a small package. It’ll definitely wow you.

 

Pros


  • High excursion 8 inch driver allows extremely low bass down to 20 Hz
  • 300 watts of continuous power is beyond anything at this size range
  • 27 percent more bass coverage than a single 10 inch driver
  • Adjustable rubber feet allow you to adjust height individually

 

Cons


  • Slightly heavy at 22 pounds

Like I said before, this is one of those rare exceptions for one that works in almost any room. You’ll love it.

 

Definitive Technology ProSub

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best For A Medium To Large Room (16 x 20 feet) – Polk Audio PSW505 12-Inch Powered


So for those of you out there with a room that’s a little bigger than average but not necessarily large, the Polk PSW505 is the one for you. Being that this is a larger subwoofer with a 12-inch driver, by default it’s able to hit harder. With 300 watts of continuous power and 460 watts of peak power, this thing is able to deliver all the bass for movies you could want.

What’s particularly interesting about this subwoofer is the attention to detail Polk has paid in regards to bass response. So typically, the distinction between most subwoofers comes down to whether they’re ported or not. What’s really different about this one is that it uses a long vent design.

The thought here is that by using a vent, it will be more accurate than a ported variant while being louder than a sealed sub. Think of it as a hybrid essentially. The result is not only a low end that sounds deep, but also more articulate and fast. Have you ever heard a subwoofer that simply sounded boomy with no real tonality differences? Well think of this as the opposite of that.

It’s able to be powerful without losing its definition. Helping this even further is the fact it’s made of real MDF wood. This helps to reduce distortion, and to put it simply, make it just sound better all around.

There’s an auto on toggle that turns on when it senses a signal and turns off automatically after no signal for 15 minutes. This means you won’t have to keep manually switching it on and off. There’s a gain, crossover, and volume dial allowing you to get it to sound exactly how you want it to.

It’s able to go down to 23 Hz which is incredibly low. That means your movies and shows are going to take on an entirely new dimension of exciting.

 

Pros


  • Slot loaded design allows for the incredible accuracy of a sealed sub, with the raw power of a ported one resulting in something new entirely
  • 12-inch driver able to hit with impressive impact
  • MDF wood helps to reduce unwanted resonance
  • Plenty of controls to further dial in the sound exactly how you want it
  • 460-watt peak

 

Cons


  • Heavy at 43 pounds. Large at 18.2 x 15.1 x 16.1

Make no doubt about, this is a sub that’s more than worthy of your attention. It’s an amazing choice.

 

Polk Audio PSW505 12-Inch Powered

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best For A Large Room (22 x 25 feet) – BIC America F12 12-Inch 475-Watt Front Firing


Now for those of you in larger rooms, the need for adequate power starts to become more and more paramount. Without it, you’ll likely be disappointed and we don’t want that. Luckily the BIC F12 is here to save the day! With a 12-inch long throw woofer, this thing is meant for power.

A 475-watt peak means that anything from music to movies will sound absolutely incredible with a bass that you can feel. Instead of this one being a ported or sealed sub, it has what BIC calls a Venturi vent. This allows it to act as a sort of hybrid between the 2, able to get loud like a ported sub, while remaining tight and accurate like a sealed version.

The result is something new entirely, a subwoofer that can pretty much do it all. That’s great news because sometimes you’ll see a subwoofer that’s only good for music or only good for movies, but this certainly isn’t the case at all. It’s powerful yet refined.

Of course you get the things you’d come to expect from a quality subwoofer like crossover and volume settings, but you also get the auto on feature which is extremely helpful if you don’t want to keep turning it on and off. In terms of frequency response, it’s able to go down to 25 Hz which is more than enough to provide that satisfying low end you’d be looking for.

As far as appearance goes, it’s actually an attractive subwoofer. With the grille on, it has a certain subdued characteristic that works. With the grille off, it definitely makes it more of a show off with a metallic material that looks fantastic in person. Either or works honestly.

One of the best things it comes with that not enough manufacturers do, is a full 5-year warranty. So if anything faulty ever happens to it within that span, you’re completely covered. That alone I think makes it worth it in of itself.

 

Pros


  • 12-inch long throw woofer hits very hard
  • Frequency response of 25 Hz provides for plenty of bass extension
  • Venturi vent allows for incredible accuracy with no distortion or chuffing even at high volumes
  • Settings like volume and crossover allows for personal tweaking to get the perfect sound
  • Looks great
  • 5-year warranty

 

Cons


  • Heavy at 42.7 pounds. Large at 21 x 19 x 22

Without a doubt, the F12 is one of the best subwoofers you can get period. It’s an incredible performer that really makes everything you watch that much more impactful.

BIC America F12 12-Inch 475-Watt Front Firing

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best For A Very Large Room (22 x 28 feet) – SVS SB-2000


Now if you need or want true power, the SVS SB-2000 is the one to get. This thing will rock even the biggest of rooms. It has a 12-inch driver that’s capable of 500 watts of continuous power with an impressive 1100 watt peak. That means movies and games will take on an entirely new dimension of amazing.

The awesome thing about this subwoofer is that it’s able to reproduce the sound of much bigger subs while being only a fraction of the size. That means you’ll be able to put it anywhere without having to worry about space.

Now mind you it still is pretty big at 14.6 x 14.2 x 15.4 inches, but nowhere near as big as you’d expect it to be given what it’s capable of.

Aesthetic wise, it’s also a really pretty looking subwoofer. The wood has an almost striped look due to the textured wood grain finish, and the driver even has the SVS logo on it too as an added attention to detail.

The grille is also removable, giving you the option of either sublety or standing out depending on what you personally prefer.

Overall it’s just an all around awesome sub that really manages to maintain its fidelity without distortion even at the highest volumes, while being able to output some truly powerful clean bass at infrasonic levels.

 

Pros


  • 12-inch woofer produces hard hitting bass
  • 500 watts rms and 1100-watt peak gives offers unbelievable power
  • Frequency response of 19 Hz creates a bass that you can feel
  • Sub remains clean even at higher volumes
  • 5 year warranty
  • Looks good

 

Cons


  • Heavy at 35 pounds

This is easily one of the most powerful subwoofers out there bar none. If you have a large room, then this a solid choice.

 

SVS SB-2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Looking – Klipsch Reference R-10SW 10″ 300w Powered


So if you were concerned about getting a sub that not only sounded good, but looked good, then the Reference R-10SW is the one to get. Immediately, the first thing you’ll notice is that beautiful copper woofer with the grille off. It looks incredible, and even with the grille on, it still looks good.

It’s not all looks though as this 10-inch driver is capable of an incredible 300 watts of power. That’s plenty to breathe new life into games and movies. There’s phase, crossover, and volume controls on the back giving you the ability to tweak it to your liking.

There’s also 4 rubber feet on the bottom that helps to separate the bass from the ground. This is ideal if you have people living under you and you don’t want to disturb them.

 

Pros


  • 300-watt power is perfect for normal rooms
  • Copper driver provides ample bass while looking fantastic
  • Various controls to alter settings

 

Cons


  • Heavy at 25 pounds

I’d highly recommend this one for average sized rooms. The fact that it looks amazing is even more of a bonus.

 

Klipsch Reference R-10SW 10″ 300w Powered

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Personal Favorite – Polk Audio PSW111


Now here’s a little over achiever, the Polk PSW111. While this sub only has an 8inch driver and thus in theory should only technically be fit for smaller rooms, this isn’t the case at all. In practice, this small subwoofer is able to punch well above its weight class and deliver something new entirely. It’s a very unique characteristic that’s for sure.

The reason for this is its 300 watts of peak power that allows it be versatile in anything that you play, be it movies or games. It’s Klippel optimized as well. What that means to put it simply, is that the engineers over at Polk were able to use math to calculate exactly how to optimize it from the driver size down to the enclosure. The result is a subwoofer that’s born to perform.

It’s made of MDF wood which helps it to reduce resonance that otherwise muddies the sound. This makes it sound incredibly clear, even at the highest volumes. There’s a port on the bottom of the subwoofer that helps to reduce distortion even further. This also gives you a harder hitting bass during intense scenes.

As far as appearance goes, I’ve already alluded to the fact that it’s small, so that just means it’s able to go anywhere while also blending in. The grille has a small logo on it and is removable.

 

Pros


  • Way more power than its small size would suggest
  • 300 watts allows it to excel in all but the very biggest room
  • Real MDF wood allows for low distortion at the highest volumes
  • Small size

 

Cons


Even though it’s small, it’s still heavy at 20 pounds

There’s a reason this is one of my favorite subwoofers. Even though it’s small, it’s able to deliver a certain of bass you wouldn’t expect it to. For a small to normal sized room, this is a perfect choice.

 

Polk Audio PSW111

 

https://easyhometheater.net/polk-audio-psw111-review

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Other Personal Favorite – SVS PB1000 10-inch 300 Watt Powered


Another super fantastic subwoofer for any sized room is the SVS PB1000. With 300 watts of continuous power and a 720 peak, this is one that will take movies to the very next level. What I personally noticed most about this subwoofer was how detailed yet strong it was.

Like it was able to hit extremely hard and then immediately stop. To be able to have that level of control takes an incredible amount of precision, and that speaks volumes about the quality. There’s a 10-inch driver on the front that provides plenty of deep, gut punching bass while being smooth and articulate.

An automatic on switch is included here as well that turns on when it senses a signal. This is important because that means you won’t have to get up to manually turn it on and off.

The port included allows it to remain incredibly clean even at the highest volumes. One of my favorite things about this one is just how versatile it is.

Be it movies, games, shows, etc. it’s able to do it all with ease. It doesn’t hurt that it looks great in person either. The wood takes on an almost striped look that makes it look premium. It’s able to go down to 19 Hz which is just below the threshold of human hearing.

That means that on those really low notes, you’ll feel it rather than just hear it. It’s quite an amazing thing that you’d need really need to experience for yourself to appreciate.

 

Pros


  • 300 watts of continuous power and a 720-watt peak makes movie watching fantastic
  • Port reduces distortion to virtually nothing even at high volumes
  • Automatic on switch means you’ll never have to worry about switching it on and off
  • Looks nice
  • 5 year warranty

 

Cons


  • Heavy at 46 pounds.

All around, this is one of my favorite subwoofers for a reason; this thing can perform with the best of them.

 

SVS PB1000 10-inch 300 Watt Powered

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best High End – SVS PB16-Ultra (Also my other OTHER favorite)


 

Woo…where do I even begin with this one. This subwoofer is definitely a different beast to say the least… Now I’ll just say this right away, with all my years of doing this, I’ve never encountered one quite like this.

My friend has one and after trying it, just wow…

Never have I been so awestruck yet confused in my life. Genuinely didn’t know what bass this low felt like until now and let me tell you, it’s something special.

For starters, there’s an astonishing 16-inch with an 8 inch edge driver that provides a slam like you wouldn’t even believe.

To give you an idea of just how powerful it is, it delivers 1500 watts of continuous power and 5000 watts of peak power via utilization of a class D amplifier.

Here’s the stranger part though. The three holes that you see in the subwoofer are ports (yes this thing has 3) The reason for this is that you can actually change this subwoofers tuning.

So lets say you were in a smaller room listening to music and needed an emphasis on that upper bass thump. By leaving the holes unplugged, you’d get a response of about 15 Hz which is so impressive. But then let’s say you wanted to go as deep as possible when it came to movies.

By plugging 2 of the ports, it’s be able to then drop down to 13 Hz and with the right room setup, that number can drop to 11Hz (and just let me tell you, it’s beyond words)

Like it felt as if it was pressurizing the air itself which really was something that was just next level.

The thing is though, it’s not just the presence of bass that makes it remarkable, it’s the control and precision that it has over it as well that makes it truly noteworthy. There really isn’t anything else like it out there truth be told.

I seriously can’t imagine needing much more than this seeing as how it can physically shake the house if you really wanted it to.

Is it Overkill? Debatable. Is it fun? ABSOLUTELY!

 

Pros


  • Earth shaking bass (quite literally, I mean it was shaking the ground)
  • Multiple tuning ports allow you to choose the frequency it plays at
  • 16 inch-high excursion driver is powerful yet accurate
  • Piano finish is beautiful
  • Has its own app allowing you to tune it from your smartphone
  • Has its own LED display

 

Cons


  • Huge at 37.7 x 29.8 x 27.8
  • Extremely heavy at 200 pounds

 

It’s able to do things I didn’t even think was possible when it comes to bass. It’s beyond impressive.

 

SVS PB16-Ultra

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bonus Mention: Klipsch R-120SW


Had to throw this one on the list simply because it was too good not to.

What makes it so good though?

To be perfectly honest, simply the sound quality. The quality of the bass that this thing can produce is simply amazing. It can go deep but remains controlled at the same time.

This may of course have something to do with the fact that it has a 12 inch high excursion driver, or the fact it can go down to 29 Hz. Or hey, maybe it’s the fact that it’s 400 watts of pure power. It could even be the firing port that mitigates unwanted sound.

Whatever the case, the thing performs beautifully.

Plus it’s not terribly big either, measuring 19.8 X 14 X 16.8 inches and weighing 31 pounds, so it’s definitely manageable.

It works in all but the absolute biggest of rooms, so no worries about it lacking. In short, I have nothing else to say other than it gets my highest praises. It’s awesome.

In fact I actually wrote a review on it if curious.

 

https://easyhometheater.net/klipsch-r-120sw-review

 

 

Pros


  • Bass quality is fantastic
  • Material is good with managing fingerprints
  • Not insanely big making it versatile in terms of placement
  • Hits hard
  • Works great for music and movies alike
  • Looks amazing

 

Cons


  • Notes below 29Hz are hard to hear
  • Heavy at 31 pounds

 

Klipsch R-120SW

 

 

 

 

I’d like to go over some of the things you should look for when choosing a new subwoofer. Though this won’t be too in depth since I already did a comprehensive overview on subwoofers if you’re curious. https://easyhometheater.net/what-is-a-subwoofer

Besides the center channel speaker, the subwoofer is an extremely close second in terms of the importance in your home theater. It’s the component that’s not only responsible for the bass, but the overall impact of the entire experience itself.

So with that in mind, here’s a few things to be aware of beforehand.

 

Size matters…except when it doesn’t…


 

In this picture, a large subwoofer is shown.

Wait what?

You see when it comes to subwoofers, it’s generally understood and agreed upon that the larger the subwoofer is, the more powerful it’ll be. One of the main reasons for that has to do with what is called its enclosure.

The enclosure is the big wooded box that you see that houses the driver; which is the thing that actually makes the sound.

Now there’s two reasons it’s able to get louder at larger sizes. One, because the sound has more room to travel inside the box.

Two because of its larger size, it can have a much bigger driver capable of a lot more power.

This in turn allows it to push more air (which is often referred to as the excursion, or the amount of force the driver can exude)

However power isn’t everything. Keep in mind that the larger a subwoofer is, the less articulate it may be when compared to a smaller one.

While not always the case, a smaller driver can in a lot of instances react faster than it’s larger counterpart, making it sound more accurate.

Whether you actually notice that difference in practice however, is questionable.

So while a larger subwoofer might be able to output more, there is a chance that it could be perceived as slower to react.

The thing is though, companies nowadays have improved their bass technology so much that this has almost become a nonfactor honestly. That’s part of the reason why I’m a huge proponent of always going big when you can.

I’d rather have an excess of power that I can tone down to match my speakers with a lot of overhead rather than wishing I had more and regretting it.

Funnily enough, the opposite is now true as well. Again thanks to advances in sound technology and plenty of research, companies are also figuring out innovative ways of making smaller subwoofers perform in ways many wouldn’t think possible — sometimes even outperforming their larger counterparts.

So at the end of the day, it really just comes down to the individual product since size isn’t necessarily fully indicative of how it’ll perform now because of all the other factors like cabinet design, power efficiency, and even the type of materials used, at play here.

What I would personally recommend is a  6-8 inch for small rooms like one-bedroom apartments and dorms, and a 10-12 inch for medium to large rooms.

Anything too small in a really big room will be severely lacking so it’s definitely something to keep in mind.

You can use a larger one in a small room as long as your speakers are powerful enough to not be drowned out, provided you set it up right, and it’s not completely in the way. You want to find the perfect balance between power and usability since it’s something you’ll be tasked to deal with daily.

Also keep in mind that the bigger a sub is, the more likely it is that it’ll weigh more and potentially use more electric power too generally speaking. This is barring any special features like eco mode or green power saving mode though, since a growing number are starting to include these to prevent massive power draws (which is pretty awesome)

But yeah, moral of the story, the size of the sub is important, but only to an extent.

 

Type Of Speakers Being Used With The Sub


I alluded to this just a little bit ago, but another thing to think about is the type of speakers you plan on pairing your subwoofer with.

For a smaller bookshelf speaker, a smaller subwoofer would be appropriate since it’ll have less chance of sounding overpowering. But for a larger bookshelf speaker, (one capable of at least 40 watts RMS) going big won’t be an issue.

But if you plan on using tower speakers with it, then certainly go with the bigger size. Besides a better synergy between the tower and the bigger sub, you’ll also not have to worry about a lack in output overall.

However again, this is just a general recommendation and not always a rule of thumb. Keep in mind that it is possible to use smaller speakers with a larger subwoofer if that particular sub can be paired down to match those speakers. But by that point you’re only limiting what it’s capable of so there’s not really a point in going bigger in the first place unless you were thinking about upgrading your speakers in the future too.

Plus with some of the larger more powerful subs, they have a harder time being subtle and you end up in a situation where you have to choose between turning the gain down to the point where it’s almost turned off just for balance, or moving it even slightly above that and receiving way too much bass with no real in between; at least in terms of their compatibility with a smaller speaker.

So if you are going to be using smaller speakers, (either under 40 watts, or smaller than a 4 inch driver) then using a smaller sub may be your best bet.

 

Ported, Sealed, Or Vented


In this picture, the vent of a sub is shown.

You’ll also want to consider what you’ll be using the sub for, primarily music, primarily movies, or a mix of the two? The reason I bring this up is because there are two different versions of the subwoofer out there that excels in particular situations.

The most common type is one called the ported box design (also often referred to as a bass-reflex design) When a subwoofer produces energy, that energy also moves a lot of air inside.

By having a port, not only does it allow that air to escape, but this process also allows the subwoofer to get louder as a result.

On the other hand, there’s a variant without a port called a sealed box design (often referred to as an acoustic suspension design) Think of this one as just one cohesive box.

Now here’s where it gets super tricky though.

They both have their strengths and weaknesses, but in different scenarios.

But this is what I noticed. Ported designs can usually get louder than sealed ones, and sometimes deeper.

However the sealed version is usually a lot more controlled with its bass.

Best way to put it would be a really accurate and reserved low end.

Ported designs also tend to be a bit bigger than sealed ones though.

So here’s what I’d recommend honestly..

If your focus is mainly movies, then go with the ported version because it’ll be capable of a lot more raw output.

If it’s music, then it’ll depend on the genre. I personally found the sealed version to be better with things like Jazz and classical and the ported one to be better with Rock and Hip Hop.

That’s by no means set in stone, but it is something to note.

There’s also vented, like shown in the picture above, but they aren’t as common. Think of those like a hybrid between the two.

Some subwoofers even use what’s called passive radiators to add additional force to the sound. They’re basically an additional unpowered cone that moves at the same time the powered cone does, to reinforce the total amount of output.

The advantage of these is that you get a bigger sound without having to increase amplifier or enclosure size.

 

Front Firing Or Downward Firing Is Something To Consider


Something else that you may want to keep in mind is that a subwoofer can be either front firing or down firing.

What’s that mean?

It basically means that the driver is located on either the front or the bottom, and thus outputs either forwards or downwards.

Now the real question is does it make a difference, and is one better than the other?

Well the answer to both of those is that it depends. Thing is is that you could argue that front firing is better than down firing variants since outputting the bass downwards can sometimes be a little much in some rooms, and cause it to sound boomy; however that depends on the sub as well as placement.

The plus side of this though is that’ll it’ll take a lot less power to get the same perceived output due to its positioning as well as resonance from objects and the room itself so there’s that.

Downward firing subs also tend to be much more finicky when it comes to placement and the types of floor it’s placed on, so that’s something to keep in mind as well.

Front firing models are much more common and widely used due to the fact that amplified sounds with any sort of thump (like a kick drum for example) produces pressure waves that travel forward, and are allowed to do so much more freely with the driver facing forward.

 

Room Placement


In this picture, an entertainment room is shown.

Another thing to keep in mind is where you’ll actually put the thing (I mean that makes sense right?)

It is commonly recommended to place a subwoofer in a corner because it’ll boost its output, (which is true, even by a few decibels at times) however, this isn’t always the case.

What you’ll actually want to do is first figure out the one you’re getting, obviously, then mark all the spots in your room it could go based on its listed measurements.

I mean it’d kind of suck if you got a subwoofer that didn’t fit in the places you wanted, so this is pretty important.

On top of that and arguably just as important, where you place it relative to your seating position will have a massive impact on how it sounds to your ears.

If you place it in a spot that isn’t optimal, then it’s actually possible to make a good subwoofer sound bad so be careful.

That’s due to the fact that bass interacts differently throughout the room, and if you happen to place it in a deadspot (also known as a null) you’ll hear next to nothing in terms of the low end.

Conversely, if you place it in what’s known as a peak, thing’s will sound boomy and disjointed.

In that same light if done right, you can actually make even a subpar subwoofer sound decent in the right spot, so again, proper placement is a huge component in regards to how things will sound.

In order to place it in the perfect spot for your particular room, you would need to do what’s known as the subwoofer crawl which basically involves you going around the room while your content is playing, and figuring out where it sounds best to your ears.

If you’re still shaky on where to place it and how, don’t worry.

I actually wrote an article that walks you through exactly how to do this, along with a bunch of other tips that’ll have your system sounding absolutely amazing, so certainly go check that out!

https://easyhometheater.net/home-theater-seating-ideas

 

 

Room Treatment


Similar to the level of importance of proper placement in the room, the type of room it’s used in will also matter greatly.

Every object in a room reacts with sound in one way or another, and this greatly effects not only your speakers, but your subwoofer as well. One thing you can do is what’s called treating the room.

This is basically where you add more soft material objects to a room like carpets and couches to minimize reflections since softer materials absorb unwanted sound.

This is where you can also add things like sound panels to further reduce reflections and even noise reducing curtains. You could even go so far as to sound proof your room entirely if you were adamant on not compromising a single thing for the best sound possible.

Yet another thing you can do if you find that the bass is too boomy or if you have neighbors directly below you that might complain about the noise is what’s known as decoupling the sub from the floor. This basically involves elevating the sub off the floor through means of either platforms or rubber feet, and works great in stopping the physical impact & sensation of the sub while still retaining the same sound.

That way you still get to enjoy your content without the worries of bothering anyone else in the process. It’s a win win.

 

Using 2 Subwoofers Is Possible


Another thing you may want to consider is getting 2 of them; why?

Well what happens is sound waves interact in every room differently.

As a result, peaks and nulls happen. Like I touched upon earlier, a peak is when soundwaves double upon each other, and a null is when 2 soundwaves cancel each other out (called destructive interference).

The problem arises when the listening area happens to be in one of these peaks or nulls.

What can happen then is either too much, or a complete lack of bass in that area all together.

How weird is that?

By having 2 of them, you can effectively minimize that issue. You’ll also not only get the benefits of a smoother and more authoritative bass, but  also get a 3db increase overall which is pretty nice too.

That’s the equivalent of double in terms of perceived output; so it’ll give you a lot more overhead in terms of power, while of course making things just sound better in general.

Highly recommend that you check out the article I did that talks about this in more detail, and shows you exactly how to hook 2 of them up.

Plus there’s a few secret tips in there for you that you don’t want to miss so certainly give it a look.

https://easyhometheater.net/setting-up-2-subwoofers

 

https://www.svsound.com/blogs/svs/75040195-why-go-dual

 

 

A Wired Or Wireless Subwoofer Is Also An Option


You also have the unique option of going with a wired or wireless sub depending on your preferences, seeing as how arguments can be made in favor of both.

Wireless versions are great because they often allow you to connect more of them to the same network than you’d be able to do with simply a wire and a receiver.

It also affords you the ability to move it anywhere in the room without any cords, giving you a lot more options and freedom when it comes to finding the perfect spot making that a big draw as well.

The potential downside is that if the connection isn’t strong enough or it’s placed too far away from the emitter, it could cause the sound to seem low or even cut out entirely. There’s also the possibility that at extremely high volumes, depending on the quality of the sub, there could even be additional signal noise that could dirty the sound ever so slightly.

Wired versions on the other hand are also great because you don’t have to worry about connection issues and the signal is constant; meaning you’ll always get the same uniform sound.

Of course the drawback here is that it’s wired, so your placement options will be a little more limited, but it’s going to come down again to what you prefer.

Some even have the ability to do both so that may be something you want to go with too.

 

Active Or Passive


Subwoofers can also be active or passive as well. An active sub is one that has it’s own power source and can act independently of a receiver while a passive one is one that needs a receiver to function.

Some have the capability to do both too which is pretty neat.

Passive subwoofers are also typically stronger since their power comes from an external source meaning they’re really only as limited as what they’re hooked up to, (and rated at of course) where as active variants are typically not as strong on average.

Basically it’ll depend on what you prioritize at the end of the day; ease of use or the most power possible.

 

The Material It’s Made Of


The material of the subwoofer is also important, and though many now exist out there currently, you’ll likely want one made of MDF wood. That’s due to the fact that it’s strong, durable, and can withstand extreme temperatures without any signs of warping or expanding.

Plus since the material is thicker, it can resist internal resonances that typically muddy the sound, giving you a much cleaner and pure bass output.

Most subwoofers nowadays are made of this material due to this, but like I mentioned before, since sound research is ongoing, newer alternative materials are being tested and developed all the time. So in the future, it’s always possible that something even better comes along.

 

A High Excursion Subwoofer


Excursion by definition is basically how far the cone of a speaker driver can linearly travel from its resting position and back without actually damaging itself.

When this movement happens, air is moved, and the more air it can move, the more excursion a speaker has; basically meaning the louder it can effectively go.

Subwoofers typically have a higher excursion than smaller speakers because it takes more energy, and thus more air actually being moved to produce those lower end frequencies.

So if a sub is stated as being high excursion, then that means it can produce those lower end tones at a higher volume without a lot of distortion becuse it’s capable of moving a substantial amount of air.

Getting one with this capability is preferable due to that very reason, since that’ll likely mean it can handle those higher volumes while outputting exceptional amounts of powerful, clean bass.

 

Power!


In this picture, electricity around a power button is shown.

The last thing I’ll go over briefly is wattage and frequency response. Wattage is simply a measure of how powerful it is.

But what you’re likely to actually encounter though is two different types of wattage, peak and continuous.

Peak wattage is basically the highest amount of power it’s capable of producing at one given time.

It’s also a number that manufacturers often exaggerate or is taken from an optimal lab result to make it more enticing to buy. So while it may allow you to get a ballpark estimate of how strong it theoretically is, there is a chance that it may not be entirely true in normal every day conditions; especially since you won’t be using it at its max the entire time

The real number you should be concerned with is the continuous amount of power it can produce, often referred to as the Root Square Mean or RMS.

This is a much more accurate number since it’s the amount the sub will typically be using on average when playing content. So the higher the RMS number, the better.

With frequency response, think of that as a measure of how high or low an audio component can go.

It’s a scale that’s measured in hertz. (abbreviated to Hz) With as subwoofer you want this number to be as low as possible.

The lower the number, the better bass you’ll have to put it simply.

A number you should shoot for is a one that can reach into 30 Hz range. If it can at least do this then you’re golden. http://www.audiogurus.com/learn/speakers/getting-correct-subwoofer-settings/130

Being that subwoofers are omnidirectional (playing sound in all directions) humans can’t distinguish where bass comes from below a certain frequency (80Hz).

However the lower you go, the more convincing this effect is, thus dramatically improving your movie watching overall. Make sense?

Well that’s really it in the way of you needing to know anything else beforehand.

I truly hope you enjoyed this article on the best home theater subwoofers for 2020.

A proper sub is obviously important, so that’s why I have no doubt in my mind that you’ll love all the choices talked about here.

They’ll easily serve you for many years to come, and they’ll sound great doing so.

Another thing you may want to look into as well that’ll help augment your experience with your new sub is something called a bass shaker.

It’ll basically allow you to feel the bass rather than just hearing it, making things much more immersive.

I talk more about that here.

https://easyhometheater.net/are-bass-shakers-worth-it

 

But that’s all I have for now. If you have any other questions don’t hesitate to ask me or leave a comment below.

Until next time guys, make it easy, keep it simple. 😉

 

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34 Comments so far:

  1. Hi,

    Wow, thank you for so much information regarding subwoofers!

    I know growing up as a teenager you would not anybody unless you had a kicking pair of subwoofers!

    There is nothing like the sound that comes out of them and the surround capability makes you feel like you are apart of the music or movie.

    A must for die hard music and movie lovers!

    I am off now to buy me from your recommendations – much appreciated.

    Regards,

    Philip.

  2. Hello, you have quite a variety of sub woofers to choose from. My question is, is there any that uses Bluetooth technology to connect as i would like to reduce the number of wires in my connection.

  3. This is a very comprehensive list of awesome subwoofers comparison. Thanks a lot for this post 🙂

  4. Hi there!
    I guess you are a pro when it comes to home theater, right? You know, I have never, ever been thinking about buing anything like that but now, after reading 2 of your articles, I’m slowly starting to change my mind…
    Anyway, great article!
    //Patrik

    • Not even close haha, would be cool if I was. Nah I’m just a guy with a passion for it and figure it’d be something others would enjoy too. But that’s awesome to hear, if you ever need help with anything let me know!

  5. My living room space is rather small so I think perhaps the Acoustic Audio PSW-6 Down Firing Powered would be suitable. I like that it’s not too big and there are options to control the gain and crossover settings.

  6. Thank you for a great review of subwoofers.

    Your explanation of subwoofer is so clear and to the point even a non-techie like me could understand it.

    Sadly, Amazon don’t deliver to Turkey so I am going to check out Polk Audio PSW111 at my local electrical shop.

    I have bookmarked your site and will be visiting again.. keep up the good work!

    • Wow I genuinely had no idea about that! Sorry about that man. :/ But awesome and yeah definitely stick around because I have a bunch of things planned coming up.

  7. Hi.

    Great review :).
    It took me a time to read everything lol, but I enjoyed. You made a great work explaining everything. Keep up the great work.

    Will read more of your articles, your whole website seems to be interesting.
    Cheers.

    • Thank you, I seriously appreciate that. Yeah I wanted to be as thorough as possible so I guess it did turn out pretty long haha. But I’m really glad you enjoyed it.

  8. Thanks for the great review mate! I liked the look of the ported speakers, (never knew there was a difference!).

    For me I think the acoustic ones are suitable for me because I have a small room and I think they’d fit really well!

  9. Awesome review! I use subwoofers in my home but, I never knew that there was a such thing as having a subwoofer that could be could for music alone or movies along. I always assumed a subwoofer would be good for anything that you put sound too. I have learned something new. That SVS PB13-Ultra sounds like it is a monster hitting with lots of bass. And, WOW! the weight seems to be extremely heavy, for such a small looking box. I know that subwoofer must carry some heat if it is heavy like that, the watts seem to be extremely high and the box isn’t even that big. Thank you for sharing this review. I found it to be really informative.

    • Yeah that thing hits like you wouldn’t believe but man is it fun! Haha but yeah, it’s definitely a little beast that’s for sure. No problem though, let me know if you need help with anything. 🙂

  10. Wow, what an informative article about home theater, especially for people like me who are not at all good as far as technology is concerned. This article will help me a lot in choosing one, and if any person I know want to have a home theater I will forward this article to him to take ideas and healp. Thank you.

  11. Thank you for this informative post.

    We recently moved to a new home and have been thinking of buying a music system for it. Now i have been surprised to learn that some subwoofers are great for music and others for movies.

    I am sending this link to my wife so that we can look for a compromise, she is in for movies while I am in music.
    Thank you for sharing this info.

  12. This is a very detailed and informative review. I have never dwelled deep into the mechanics that make the sound in sound systems. I see now that they are not all equal and the quality varies as well. The choices you show here makes for a hard selection.

  13. Great reviews Jas. I’m currently running a Dual 8″ Jamo in the lounge but need a more compact woofer for the spare room.
    The SVS PB13-Ultra is stunning and brilliant specs. That’s going in my shopping cart. Thanks for recommendation.

  14. You need to take a look at the Dayton audio sub 1500. No substitute for a 15 “ woofer if you want to shake the room. Great price and well made in Ohio.

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