Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
Best Subwoofers 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated July 1, 2019
Best Subwoofers of 2018
Whether you’re looking to upgrade your comfort, style, or accessibility, we have picks to fit a variety of needs and budgets. I have a variety of material used in the construction of subwoofers including metal, plastic, and glass.
After carefully examining the reviews and ratings of the people who have used them earlier this listicle has been made. So, what exactly would anyone want to know about subwoofers? I know most of us don’t really care much about the history and the origin, all we want to know is which of them is the best. Of course, I will spare you the history and go straight on to the best subwoofers.
Test Results and Ratings
№1 – DS18 EXL-B12.4D Extremely Loud 12-Inch 2000 Watts Competition Subwoofer with Power Dual Voice Coil
Why did this subwoofers win the first place?
I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. The product is very strong. Its material is stable and doesn’t crack. I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! The rear part fits perfectly! It is mounted really tight and reliable.
Why did this subwoofers come in second place?
The design quality is top notch and the color is nice. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed. I like this product. For such a low price, I didn’t even hope it to be any better. It’s decently made. Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery.
Why did this subwoofers take third place?
It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time. We are very pleased with the purchase — the product is great! This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. It doesn’t squeaks nor bents. Looks great in my apartment.
Subwoofers Buyer’s Guide
Why You Won’t Like It
One of the best 8-inch subwoofers that you can find belongs to RockFord. This amazing 8-inch subwoofer is simply one of the best because of the features it possess but you don’t have to pay too much for it.
They come in two versions; a or 4-ohm models with 500w maximum power handling and 250 RMS. The subwoofer has Kevlar fiber reinforced paper cones with high-density polyfoam so you know that it is made with quality materials.
It also has high temperature voice coils with Nomex collar as well as a flex fit basket. It allows adjustment so you don’t have to have a hard time doing so. It can also be turned down to 3Hz, but we recommend tuning your box to about 45-50 Hz if you wish to have a better audio experience.
Some features of subwoofer
The subwoofer for car is a complete speaker or speaker system that represents extremely low sound frequencies of 20 to 200 Hz, also known as bass. Although it is not the main speaker, it is essential and indispensable in the sound system to bring the deep bass.
The subwoofer was manufactured and developed in 1960 to increase more bass effects. Until now, the subwoofer becomes popular and is widely used in all forms and is always chosen to install and upgrade the car audio system.
This system, when assembled in the car will enhance the entertainment, brings the melody to the heart, and helps to listeners to enjoy actual music like hearing directly on the stage in order to bring the driver better enjoyment and dispel fatigue on long trips.
Classification of current subwoofers
The higher the car speaker quality is, the more proportional the price is. If you have expertise, knowledge and ingenuity, you can still choose the good quality speaker at reasonable price.
On the market today, the subwoofer has many types, models, sizes, colors depending on preferences, needs of each person but technically, it is divided into two main types: * Passive subwoofer * Active subwoofer
It is a subwoofer integrated amplifier. So, is also known as the active subwoofer. Simply, directly bring the audio to the active subwoofer, you can use without the need for any additional equipment. The active subwoofer has more advantages than passive subwoofer, such as compact, easy to use and mix, suitable for a wide variety of vehicles; therefore, it is popular and often chosen more but the sound quality is lower.
Things to know when choosing the subwoofer for a car
Choosing the subwoofer for a car is not easy; the buyer should learn and consider carefully preventing regretting in the future. The first thing is to identify the car in the three following types:
Next is to choose the subwoofer type after deciding your car. For the sedan, you can choose any products because the area is quite large. But with the car in small size, the active subwoofer will be the optimal choice
Kicker CompVR 07CVR1515-inch 4-Ohm DVC Subwoofer
Kicker products are unique and new, strangle in design. And Kicker CompVR 07CVR15is also one case; the completely injection molding cone along with bended floating border make it look like a wheel.
Kicker CompVR 07CVR15is a special product because it can meet a minimum frequency of 25Hz and a maximum of 500Hz. The average capacity at low of 500 watts is suitable for personnel purpose and maximum only at 1000 Hz. Produced on the KICKER Solo-Baric high technology, the product delivers the clear, outstanding bass.
Bluetooth and wireless streaming
Features and inputs are overrated on sound bars, with one big exception: built-in music streaming.
Bluetooth is the easiest way to wirelessly stream audio from your smartphone or tablet. It works with the music stored on your phone and any music app (think Pandora), plus it’s platform-agnostic — nearly all iOS, Android and Windows phones and tablets have built-in Bluetooth. If your music experience these days revolves around your phone, you really want built-in Bluetooth in your sound bar.
While it’s possible to add Bluetooth later with an adapter, it’s not an ideal solution.
Sarah Tew/CNET ‘s or Logitech’s), but that’s not a great solution since inputs are typically limited on sound bars, and you also need to make sure your sound bar is already turned on and set to the correct input.
Despite its ubiquity, Bluetooth does have its issues: namely you get message alerts interrupting your music and the music cuts out if you leave the room with your phone. The way around this is to get Wi-Fi streaming. There are several competing “open” standards, including Play-Fi, AirPlay and Chromecast — not to mention proprietary manufacturer ones such as Sonos — so it’s worth investigating these options before you buy. The most cost-effective right now is Google’s Chromecast — and even if your sound bar doesn’t have wireless, you can add it with the purchase of a
Do I need to use the remote that comes with the sound bar?
While most sound bars include a remote, they’re pretty crummy quality, and most manufacturers instead rely on you to program the sound bar to respond to commands from your TV’s remote.
In theory, it’s not a bad idea: nobody wants another remote to deal with. In practice, it’s sometimes more problematic. After you disable your TV’s internal speakers, some televisions display an annoying status message whenever they receive volume remote commands, which will happen if you’re using your TV remote to control your sound bar.
We are going to help give you a bit of a “cheat sheet” here so that you can hit the ground running when it comes to choosing from amongst the best subwoofers in the best car subwoofer brand options on the planet, giving you every edge and advantage to create a killer system at any price point.
Recommended for who want to install a personalized subwoofer system in their vehicles and looking for more powerful bass.
The component subwoofer is a speaker without any enclosure. Available in different sizes and power, it provides you with an option to personalize according to your size and power needs. The size varies from inches to 1inches. The bigger the size of the subwoofer, more heavy bass you can get.
Component subwoofers are passive and best option for customization. You also have to buy or design a subwoofer box or enclosure for the subwoofer that fits your car to house the component subwoofer. If you are using a large-sized subwoofer, the enclosures are usually placed in the trunk of the vehicle.
How to Customize a Component Subs According to Your Preference?
A subwoofer is the type of loudspeaker that is designed to produce low-pitched audio frequencies commonly known as bass. The range of frequencies for the subwoofer is typically 20 Hz to 200 Hz. The lower the frequency it can play, the better the sound quality it offers.
Subwoofers are made of one or even more than one woofer, which is a technical term for loudspeaker driver. Subwoofers are useless if they are used without the enclosure and amplifier.
Also known as subwoofer box, it is a box that contains subwoofer. It is another key component of the subwoofer that can make a difference in terms of sound production and power handling based on the type and size used.
There are three major types of enclosures available for car subwoofers.
Sealed: These are used to produce clean and accurate bass sound. The most common type of enclosure is carefully airtight sealed and offers optimal power handling.
Ported: These are used to produce big, boomy sound and bigger output. In the ported enclosures, a vent is used to allow air movement into the box that reinforces bass response. The ported enclosure is also commonly known as bass reflex.
Bandpass: These are not common and only used to produce heavy bass. In this type of enclosure, the subwoofer is placed into the sealed box which is attached to another ported chamber.
The two most common types are sealed and ported. Sealed boxes require more power compared to the ported box so you mostly need an external amplifier that can provide the required power.
An amplifier that acts as a power source for subwoofers is another mandatory part of subwoofers. As subwoofers require more power than ordinary speakers to produce low-frequency sound, the amplifier is what turns an ordinary speaker into a subwoofer by providing the required power. It is the amplifier that increases the power of the source component’s audio signal.
If you are buying a powered sub, it will have a built-in amplifier, but if you are buying a passive one, you have to make sure that the external amplifier matches in power with the subwoofer. An unmatched amplifier and subwoofer pair can damage your system or distort the sound.
Tip: When buying a high-powered amplifier, make sure it is not too powerful for your car batteries otherwise it will drain your car batteries very quickly.
This shows that maximum power a subwoofer can handle with a burst of sound. This is not the indication of the actual power that is only measured through RMS power. When looking for the power required by the subwoofer, look for RMS power ratings.
Tip: It is important that the subwoofer’s RMS Power matches with the amplifier’s power output otherwise it will damage the subwoofer.
Another spec to look for is higher sensitivity rating if you want to achieve higher output (louder sound from less power). Also known as efficiency and measured as SPL (Sound Pressure Level), it is mentioned in decibels (dB) units.
Power Acoustik MOFO 15-Inch Competition Subwoofer
The Power Acoustik MOFO 15-Inch Competition Subwoofer Dual 2-Ohm Voice Coils is by far one of the loudest sounding subwoofer that you will ever install in your car! The Power Acoustik MOFO is a 1inch sub that have a power rating capacity of 300 watts and is fitted with 4-spline patent pending heat sink to prevent overheat. It also features dual Conex Spiders and UV coated foam surround. To get the best out of this sub it is usually recommended that either buy or built a custom subwoofer box that is in line with the specifications available at power acoustics website.
Loudest Subwoofer Brands
Because of the huge demand and interest in these types is subs, there are tons of competitive subwoofer brands emerging with different models, sizes and features to satisfy the available and hungry market. One thing that you should however understand is that different factors including the subwoofer box, amplifier system and the overall setup combines to make the perfect subwoofers for competition. So while keeping these factors in mind when shopping around, here are some brands of sub designed to make the loudest noise and buzz;
The underlying difference…
While there may not be that much difference between competition and standard subwoofers, on a closer scrutiny you will begin observing that the former are designed and constructed with bigger structure, weight and are fabricated to produce extra power and bass than the more traditional and standard built subs. also these types have a good mounting depth than the traditional shallow mount subwoofers. and they also come in different sizes including inch subwoofer and 1in subwoofers as well. as hinted earlier, other factors apart from the subwoofer itself plays major and crucial role in determining how competitive and impressive your subwoofer sound output are and one of such factors is the type of custom subwoofer boxes that you have the subwoofer installed in. there are different types of subwoofer boxes with each types having their own strength and weakness. If you seek lots of bass power and volume from your sub with the sound quality not being a factor then you should have your sub installed ported enclosure box.
Size of the woofer
If you’re looking to get a sub floor system which could play loudly and low, then distance is just not an issue, then we recommend going to your biggest size available. Otherwise smaller sub will get the job done if they truly are precisely powered and installed in the right enclosure.
Number of voice coils
Double voice coils subwoofers are a favorite choice among car audio enthusiasts that are seeking more flexibility in relation of wiring that the sound systems. Dual voice best car subwoofer come with just two separate voice coils, every one of them is mounted in one cylinder which is joined to a frequent cone.
Consider looking to get subs with rubber surrounds. Foam surrounds may also be good, however perhaps not nearly as fantastic as rubber. However, do not purchase subs built with inexpensive materials like urethane, such materials will change not just the quality of the sound that your sub will produce, however it will easily falter.
Pioneer TS-W3003D12″ inch Subwoofer
This unit comes with a massive magnet which is combined with a double spider design to increase true linear motion (something which each subwoofer needs). To get the absolute best performance, Pioneer urges using
To find the absolute best performance, Pioneer urges using a 0.8cubic foot sealed box OR, a 1.7cubic foot ported box. Run an amplifier out of ranging from 450 and 900 watts at two ohms.
Kicker CVR1212″ inch Subwoofer
Frequency response speeds are between 2and 500 Hz (a considerable jump from one other best car subwoofer we reviewed), sound and volume sensitivity is right across 86.dB. From innumerable consumer feedback, this particular model by Kicker hits quite difficult. We highly advise using a mono amplifier ranked between 300 and 600 watts RMS at ohms.
Polk Audio DB1040 10″ inch Subwoofer
Moving down to an infinitely more casual subwoofer, Polk Audio DB1040 is ideal to get a non-violent Sound-System. In 10″ inches in size, this subwoofer hits lots difficult for your money. Compare it to its rivals, and in the majority of situations your decision is with this subwoofer.
This particular woofer includes a single voice coil, equipped with a dark dynamic balance plastic composite cone. Peak handling power is ranked at approximately 540-watt amps, even while the constant running power is currently at 270-watt amps RMS.
Bass is naturally non-directional to the human ears. This usually means that no matter the location at which this equipment is installed, the more bass sound appears to emerge from throughout the car. This can not only avoids listening discomfort, however, also gives you a great deal of options as to where to install the subwoofer.
Here’s Some Of The Most Common Subwoofer Sizes On The Market:
To summarize, whenever choosing a sub for the car or vehicle, you have to consider several things. To begin, the degree of music that you would like to listen to, kind of music, along with confinements of this location. 8″ subwoofers are excellent for leveling out a sound platform while some 15″ will wake up the neighbors. Your best bet is your 10″ or even 12″ subwoofer.
Bear in mind, each one of the top-rated best car subwoofer require an great amplifier. Checkout All the Best Car Amplifiers, and also the Best Subwoofer Amplifiers for information about choosing an amplifier which will fulfill the specs of your subwoofer.
RMS WATTS AND PEAK WATTS
When breaking down a subwoofers power requirements and specification, the first thing to check in is RMS Watts and Peak Watts. RMS wattage outlines the sum of power a subwoofer could handle and output to a continuous basis.
Similar to some power lifters rep maximum, Maximum wattage is actually a dimension of their maximum output signal of the subwoofer until it breaks down and is busted.
VM Audio ECW120
The ECW120 pumps 1500 watts of RMS power and peak power of 3000 watts. Whether you’re enjoying a symphony orchestra or something a little more bass-heavy, the ECW120 delivers the right amount of power for any listening preferences.
The Orion HCCA 1515” inch & Orion HCCA 1010”inch Subwoofers
In addition, it has a net weight of below 100 pounds, which adds up to the convenience of the subwoofer. The basis of a good woofer is the power input and outputs efficiency. The best’ competition subwoofers will have great maximum outputs, for small volumes of input. This is the case for the Orion HCAA 1515” which produces a peak of 4000 watts. Such power is adequate for people who love a cool base, although you can amplify it to ever more power, using the external stereo amplifiers.
To improve on the optimization, the manufacturer has installed a Dual ohm copper coil. The voice coil has interlocks with the aluminium former. This combination not only guarantees durability, but also quality sound productions. The thick outer cover for the subwoofer increased the depth of sound, which promotes the smoothness of sound. With such a thick but flexible cover, you have an assurance of a lifetime service form the subwoofer, at very little maintenance efforts.
Another great Orion production, with great features, that will guarantee you quality and convenience. This best competition subwoofer is an improvement of previous models. Generally, most subwoofers will have a single voice coil. With this single coil, the voice production, in terms of quality and depth is at standard level. Some manufacturers will try to modify this coil, but it will always have very little impact on the sound production.
Due to the optimization, the subwoofer power is at 3000 watts, with different voice modes. The cone a speaker affects the sound quality and the durability of the speaker, while at maximum output. With a polypropylene cone and a rubbery surround cover, the subwoofer guarantees you quality and durability, at the same time. In addition, the rubber surround cover has better flexibility, which has a positive impact on the nature of sound produced.
Many factors increase the vulnerability of the competition subwoofers to power shots. One of them is the inefficient coil cooling system. The developer of this best completion subwoofer has taken care of this by installation of an optimized cooling system. This ensures that you will have to worry less about power shots while using this subwoofer. For uniqueness and convenience, the speaker has a couple of conex spiders, which have loops with permanent stitches. This easen installation and promote the handling convenience.
Power Acoustik MOFO 12
Power AcousticPower Acoustik MOFO 12-Inch Competition Subwoofer Dual 2-Ohm Voice Coils
Skar Audio ZVX-DDual SPL Competition Subwoofer 900 watts RMS
This best competition subwoofer has a variety of speakers under its name. For each variety, the manufacturer altered the size and the orientation of the speakers. In addition, it is possible to get a number of Skar Audio subwoofers, with the same size but different power rates and sub sequential output varieties. When choosing amongst them, price, quality and the specific need comes into play, since each variety has the best of quality that it should have.
Generally, most of these subwoofers have a depth of inches and RMS of at least 900 watts. This combination is suitable for quality voice production, with well-balanced base levels, even at the highest peak of power output. In addition, the strong metallic base of the speaker not only adds up to the unique outlook of the subwoofer, but also to the strength of the speaker. The strength of a subwoofer affects the durability and the firmness, which contributes to quality.
For the voice coil, this competition subwoofer has a 2.5-inch coil. From the design of the coil, it is able to withstand the high temperatures that result from the vibration of the surround system. The frequency is also a very important aspect, when it comes to the quality and presentation of the voice sounds. With a 42Hz frequency amounts, this subwoofer has the best output quality, when compared to the subwoofers within the same range of power inputs and outputs.
The speaker has a grade one-paper cone with a high quality foam surround-cover, which promotes the clarity and outlook of the subwoofer. In addition to this, the speaker has a dual 2-ohm voice coil, which adds up to the quality of base modes available. For power optimization, the speaker has 15oz triple stack ferrite motor that makes it among the best competing subwoofers.
Skar Audio ZVX-8
Skar Audio brings you the meanest, loudest, and most powerful subwoofer we have ever designed with the ZVX-8.
This subwoofer has many modern features and optimizations that make it among the competing subwoofer. Most of the accessories in this speaker are the best in terms of maximal output form minimal input. The power output of any subwoofer relates to its quality and pricing, since it will influence the nature of voice outputs, both in base and normal modes. For this VM ECW120 version, it has RMS power of 1500 watts. This is a very powerful range of speaker outputs.
For peak output, the optimizations by the manufacturer have ensured 3000 watts worth of power. To boost this power, this best competition subwoofer has a dual Voice coils. In addition, the Frequency transuding system combines with this dual core to produce a very efficient voice output. All these accessories lead to more power and depth of the speaker, producing great base and normal voice output.
The unique accessory form this subwoofer is the Wide surround system. In order to support this wide range of radius, this completion subwoofer has a thrust suspension system. With this combination, any power input will have a greater boost and will promote the depth of the sound. Generally, all these factors will require a strong framework, to ensure firmness and promote the quality of the sound produced, when the subwoofer is at its maximum.
With such a wide surround system, it is possible that the coil will overheat. However, for this subwoofer, the manufacturer has installed a high temperature cooling system. In addition, the subwoofer has a depth of 12’, inches, which adds up to the base intensity. Due to the mechanical suspension, this speaker assures you of a pure sound with minimal of unnecessary noises from the movement of the surround cover. The rubber cover is also another feature that promotes durability and quality of this best competition subwoofer.
THD and RMS Power Ratings
In addition, the buyer needs to pay attention to these specifications:
All the amplifiers we reviewed above are of great quality. They have a relatively THD, often less or equal to percent.
The best unit should also be efficient and come in a small size. See the physical dimensions of every amp from the table.
There are lots of buyers who don’t take time to inspect the specs of what they buy. After all, they are confusing. These specs might be hard to comprehend.
Here are some of the features that should be looked at:
Decibel – This is the ratio between the reference point and the value of the measurement. Higher value shows the amp will be louder.
Frequency response – This is simply the pitch or note of a tone. A good amp should be able to handle the pitch within a certain spectrum.
Impedance – This is the resistance to the current flow and is expressed in ohms. Lower impedance means that more current will be needed to produce the required power.
Sensitivity – This is the measure of the efficiency of the amp. With a greater sensitivity, a louder sound can be achieved. This minimizes power usage and heat production.
Total harmonic distortion – This is the change in harmonic current along the amplification of the sound and is expressed as THD. A great car amplifier for subwoofer should have lesser THD as this means lesser change for added accuracy.
If you’re looking for something that won’t require you trying to be handy, the Vehicle-specific subwoofer is the best solution. These subwoofers are mounted into a pre-made enclosure that is designed for the particular car model. Also, they are made to match the interior of the car. The downside to these subwoofers, they are not producing big, loud bass.
These are a great option if you’re looking for something convenient that will save you some time. Enclosed subwoofers are already mounted into a perfect enclosure for said subwoofer. You will need an amplifier to power it, though. The downside to enclosed subwoofers is the reduced choice options.
These subwoofers are mounted in a compact enclosure and powered by an amplifier. Powered subwoofers sound great, and they are effective when it comes to producing bass. However, as they are mounted into a compact enclosure, they don’t have a lot of power to produce window shaking bass.
These are the subwoofers we covered in this article. They are just the speaker itself, without enclosure or amplifier, you are the one who pick out both the enclosure and the amplifier. The component subs come in different sizes, varying from inches to 1inches, and you can choose from a pretty wide variety of subs. These are perfect if you want to personalize your car stereo system.
The size of the woofer
Subwoofers come in sizes varying from inches to 1inches. In theory, larger subwoofers produce louder bass. However, size is not the only factor when it comes to performance, so don’t undervalue the small-sized subs.
Sensitivity rating, type of enclosure and power handling capability also greatly impact the performance. Every subwoofer can produce amazing sound if it is positioned well, and powered well. But if you want something that will shake your car, you should go for the bigger-sized woofer.
The two most important ratings are Continuous power handling (RMS) and peak power handling. Peak power is important, but RMS power is the one you need to pay more attention to. RMS represents how much power a subwoofer can handle continuously for long periods of time. Peak power handling tells you how much power a subwoofer can handle for short periods of time, so try not to base your choice on that number.
This is the effective resistance of an electric circuit to the current flow, and it is measured in ohms. Most subwoofers are rated at Ohm impedance, but there some subwoofers rated at Ohms and Ohms. One more thing is very important, a subwoofer and an amplifier both need to have the same impedance rating in order to work when combined.
Orbitsound ONE P70
This is Orbitsound’s latest speaker. As well as being a soundbar, you can place it upright on its back edge and use it on a shelf as a Bluetooth speaker if you prefer.
Well, you can feed it audio via Bluetooth however you mount it – Orbitsound even includes everything you need to wall mount the P70 in the box.
It’s a little deeper than most soundbars, but this allows room for a small subwoofer, and this makes it neater without compromising too much on sound quality. Overall, this is a great soundbar for a sensible price.
Q Acoustics MSoundbar
Q Acoustics’ latest soundbar may look slightly space age (or is that just us?) but the real appeal is how simple it is to use.
Between 3.5mm, optical, HDMI, and Bluetooth, the Mboasts just about every type of connection you might want, and it’s pretty much plug-and-play, with minimal settings or controls to content with. An LED around the power button lets you know which input is active, and that’s about it.
The size leaves enough space for a pretty hefty subwoofer inside, while the BMR drivers ensure an even spread of sound around the room, making the Ma great option for either TV and film or just playing music from your phone over Bluetooth.
This Yamaha unit is a beast. With dual front speakers and dual built-in subwoofers, it’s a great, affordable option for those who want one product that solves all their TV audio problems.
Its slim, one-body design is really low profile so will sit in front of a slightly raised TV with no problem. The pairing of speakers and subwoofers allows for the best virtual surround sound possible from a single bar unit.
It comes with a remote control that allows for precise fine-tuning of the set up, handy if you use the system for music playback as well as TV.
Sonos has stormed onto the world audio scene at an impressive rate of knots. This, the PLAYBAR is one of its most popular and versatile products and is one of the best soundbars in the world – if not the cheapest.
Sonos’ attraction is its quality and its simplicity. You can use it as a home HiFi system as well as your TV’s speaker. Wireless setup is a breeze with the companion app, which also connects to major streaming services such as Spotify or Apple Music with ease.
If you love the PLAYBAR you can then easily expand your speaker setup around the home with the rest of the Sonos line; speakers can be added, moved and customised with ease and all controlled from your phone or tablet. It’s expensive, but with good reason – it’s one of the best soundbars out there.
This Sony soundbar comes with a subwoofer and is excellent value at just over £100 at the time of writing. The system packs in virtual surround sound processing and an easy way to connect wireless devices with NFC.
The 2.channel system’s two drivers give balanced audio reproduction for your main TV, creating a cinematic experience wherever you decide to place it. This is helped by Sony’s ClearAudio+ technology that automatically optimises depending on the audio format.
If you’re a DJ, musician or live sound engineer, the first thing you will have noticed when looking for professional PA subwoofers is that the market is extremely crowded with an almost endless number of options – this guide will help you decide which subwoofer to get by showing you the highest rated ones currently available.
Surround Sound Formats
You may notice that surround sound systems are referred to in numbers, such as 7.surround sound. This lets you know how many speaker components the system has. A 7.setup boasts eight channels: seven discrete main audio channels, divvied up among seven speakers, and one channel fed to the subwoofer for the low notes.
A 5.surround sound system includes the left and right speakers to sit in the front near the screen, one center channel for vocals, the left and right speakers for either side of your seating area and the subwoofer. The speakers flanking you while you enjoy your audio attack are known as the surround speakers.
A 7.surround sound system has the same basic setup as the 5.1, but also includes a right and left back speaker positioned behind the viewer.
The 9.setup adds another pair speakers to the 7.mix. While the speakers in a smaller setup (in front of, to the side of, and behind you) allow sound effects to freely travel left and right, forward and backward, it takes two more speakers, each mounted a few feet above a corresponding left or right front speaker, to give the noise some opportunity for altitude. Height gives music and audio effects another axis, creating a more immersive experience.
Any of these systems can also incorporate multiple subwoofers, upping the number on the right side of the decimal point. Got a pair of subwoofers? Put them on opposite walls so you receive bass from two directions. Four subwoofers should take up one point each on a diamond surrounding the listener, creating a web of thumping and rattling that will catch anything in the middle and ensure it gets a good shaking. What good do all of these subwoofers do? They even out the bass response and make your movies and music thump a little harder and crisper. One of the first recommendations you will hear from home theater buffs is to add at least one subwoofer if you are rocking a 5.1, 7.1, 9.1, etc setup. It makes a massive difference.
Like a doctoral student collecting new skills, prestige and a series of letters to add to the end of a signature, your sound system can continue to advance into the future. Dolby Atmos, a leap forward in audio technology that breaks from the traditional channel-based system to free the various audio objects in a soundtrack and allow them to move about and come at you in three dimensions—including from above your head—can prompt you to turn your 5.system (one center channel, four speakers, and two subwoofers) into a 5.2.by adding four speakers to ceiling mounts or four speakers that direct sound up to bounce back down toward the viewing area. No longer tethered to a pre-assigned output, these sounds can move to come from the direction that best serves your movie-enjoying experience.
Too much? Your ears (and friends) may disagree, but that’s OK. Keep it simple with a 9.system, creating an encircling perimeter of speakers anchored by two subwoofers.
Must-Have Surround Sound Features
There are several essential components necessary for anyone looking to showcase what a home theater system can do. The cinema-experience-level technology available to everyone these days should get you excited about letting your speakers off the leash to really run wild.
THX-certified standards ensure that the sound being created on the movie-makers’ end is getting its due with the audience on the other end. A production company can pull out all the stops in crafting a scene where a shot ricochets off of a dozen metal objects scattered around the room before hitting the target, but if the system meant to broadcast that intricate series of sound effects is incapable of properly handling the load, nobody’s going to be ducking to avoid taking a bullet to the skull. Be sure to invest in THX-certified speakers—such as the THX UltraSeries from Klipsch, which earned the highest possible certification rating. Boom.
Consider a setup that can best deliver the free-range, real-world-emulating, three-dimensional sound experience of the gotta-have-it-if-you-care-about-movies Dolby Atmos experience mentioned above, including a speaker that bounces everything off of the ceiling, raining down noises and music to soak you with sound effects. We tapped out at a nine-speaker system in our initial explanation of this audio gift to humanity, but the technology can work with up to 34—repeat: 34!—so we’re sorry/not sorry to say that you don’t stand a chance against that level of audio power (but why would you want it any other way?). The Klipsch Reference Premeire Dolby Atmos enabled RP-280FA speaker has a built-in elevation channel that does nothing but blast away at the plaster over your head. Actually, it does do one other thing: win awards.
Klipsch emphasizes Wide Dispersion Surround Technology for all of its surround sound speakers, which ensures the best sound, no matter the home theater system setup. Can’t get fit the speakers exactly where you want them? Don’t worry. You’re still going to feel like you’re in the middle of the action.
Wireless vs. Wired Surround Sound
Wireless surround sound is ideal for people who prize both performance and simplicity. You can place the speakers anywhere without worrying about connecting them to the amplifier or hiding the evidence of those connections.
The fact that wireless systems can hold their own against their wired counterparts is evidence of how far technology has come since sound first electronically made its way from a source to a speaker.
If you’re considering a wireless setup, know that time is of the essence. That means the more modern your speakers, the better. Older wireless systems operated on technology that could interfere with or be disrupted by other wireless signals in the home. They also tended to be more expensive and not as reliable.
Today, wireless technology has advanced to the point that it can deliver the goods. Just know that you will need a special control center. If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry: It’s smart enough to start pumping out the sound you want within minutes of leaving the box.
Slightly limited stereo effect
Not content with dominating the TV world, Samsung now seems to have its sights set on becoming the number one brand for home entertainment audio, too. All this effort has already delivered outstanding results in the shape of both the HW-K850 and, especially, HW-K950 Dolby Atmos soundbars, as well as a range of ground-breaking multi-room wireless speakers.
The Sony HT-ST5000 is the most expensive soundbar on this list, but for the money you’re getting an exceptional piece of equipment that offers support for Dolby’s spatial Atmos technology as well as dealing exceptionally well with more conventional surround sound.
The build quality and design of the soundbar is exceptional, and its general audio performance impresses with its clarity and spatial presentation.
With that said, its high price means it won’t be for everyone, and most people will get everything they need from the Samsung HW-MS650 above. But if you want to have the best high-end soundbar around, the HT-ST5000 is the one to go for.
No HDMI input
The Q Acoustics Msoundbar doesn’t immediately set pulses racing with its slightly prosaic looks, ‘mere’ 2.1-channel sound and lack of any HDMI support. However, you only have to hear what the Mcan do with both music and movies for your doubts about it to evaporate almost instantly. In fact, it sounds so good that it starts to make the idea of trying to deliver more channels from an affordable sound bar look a bit silly.
In fact, though, it sounds so much better than pretty much any rival soundbar in the same price bracket that it’s actually ridiculously good value – especially if you care about music as much as you care about movies.
A bit too big for most TV setups
The Philips Fidelio Bis an impressive bit of kit, and it’s the perfect soundbar for someone who appreciates good cinema sound but has no interest in tearing up their living room to install a 5.surround sound system to use only every now and then. The Benables you to pick and choose your movie moments, and do it on a whim. And it creates a pretty decent surround sound experience too, using both Dolby Digital 5.and DTS Digital Surround decoding.
The combination of convenience and good audio – the raison d’etre of the soundbar – with its transformative surround sound capabilities makes the Fidelio Ba great option for the movie fan who can’t face all the aggravation of a proper 5.installation.
Slightly muddled surround sound
Do you need Dolby Atmos? This more immersive ‘3D bubble of surround sound’ tech is here, created not only by a standard soundbar design, but with a couple of satellite speakers and a subwoofer added. Is that verging on a messy home cinema cinema of old? Perhaps in theory, but this is one of the sleekest implementations of Dolby Atmos yet. Using rear speakers with upward-firing speakers, it actually creates a virtual 5.1.system.
Focal, most known for its excellent sounding speakers (and the recently released Focal Listen headphones), is late to the soundbar space, but its Focal Dimension was worth the wait. The Dimension soundbar is simply gorgeous, with its piano black accents and aluminum unibody construction.
No HDMI ARC
There’s a lot to like about the Sony HT-MT300. Its compact form factor means it’ll fit just about anywhere and its wireless sub lets you put it under the couch for added bass effect.
The soundbar sounds great with both movies and music, but be warned that it does fall on its face when it comes to offering surround sound.
For the price, you get a great sounding, entry-level soundbar that fits just about anywhere and is easy to use and setup. If you’re on a budget and looking for a soundbar to fit into a small setup then the HT-MT300 is a great choice, but if you’re less restricted then you might want to opt for another soundbar on this list.
Narrow sound stage
The LG SH7B is a soundbar system that can do it all. Its feature set and solid sound quality make it a good choice for those with limited space. While music playback and surround sound aren’t mind-blowing, they’re more than respectable at this price.
It’s a breeze to set up since its subwoofer is wireless, though Android users may be frustrated by LG’s buggy app. Sound quality is decent for the price, but in the end loses out to traditional bookshelf speakers in terms of clarity on the high-end. However, if you want a soundbar that can take on every type of media you can throw at it, the LG SH7B is a great option.
Doesn’t come with a subwoofer
It’s also worth mentioning that, as this isn’t a 2.package, there’s no subwoofer supplied – although Bose will sell you a wireless Acoustimas sub and the ST300 can be partnered with the brand’s Virtually Invisible (i.e. small at 10cm) 300 surround speakers. The system is also compatible with the Bose SoundTouch wireless multiroom system which includes smaller Bluetooth speakers.
The passive models do not have their own amplification. They require you to power them, and they use a lot of power, especially when producing deep bass.
Amplified under seat subwoofers have built-in amplifiers. They are easy to install and uninstall. You can use these subs in a rented car because of their portability. Most of them have slim profiles for convenient installation in tight spaces.
The New Kicker 11HSis finest compact hideaway subwoofer system. It has an inbuilt amplifier with a power rating of 150 watts RMS. Weighing 9.pounds and measuring 13-7/by 3-1/by 9-3/inches, the sub adds some serious bass to your car audio system.
Its compact design is engineered specifically for tight spaces in your car, such as under or behind your car seat. You can even hide it away in the trunk in case you want the bass sound to emerge from the back.
This unique hideaway subwoofer offers a continuous power output of a hundred and fifty watts, and a sensitivity of 9dB at watt for each meter. It consists of both low and high-level inputs, meaning that you can use both factory and aftermarket radio and speakers.
Passive and Powered Subwoofers
Here is all you need to know about subwoofers and what to look for when making a purchase
Bass is what makes sound feels ‘fuller’ and more lifelike, and gives special effects during a movie, that extra punch for a more realistic experience. It also helps enrich music listening irrespective of the music genre.
It is here that subwoofers come into play. It is the subwoofer that allows you to get a deep bass from your sound system, one that no other home theater speaker except for the full-size tower speaker, can really achieve.
Subwoofers play only low frequencies, typically only up to about 100Hz. But unlike the rest of the speakers in your home theater setup, they do so in a way that makes you ‘feel’ rather than just hear the sound.
No movie watching or music listening experience is complete without that deep sense of bass that shakes you up. But before moving on to your subwoofer purchase, there are a few things worth knowing about…
These 10-Inch 200W cont. powered subwoofers are capable of almost the same bass performance — delivering accurate deep bass — of a 12-inch subwoofer, yet they are significantly cheaper than a 12-inch model.
The DSW PRO 500 comes with a number of interesting features, including Polk Room Optimizer which makes it possible to choose the subwoofer response depending on your subwoofer placement in the room. It also comes with multiple hook up options and adjustable rubber/spike feet.
This subwoofer can be used in a down-firing or front-firing configuration.
Apart from giving you further placement options like using it in front-firing when placed in a cabinet, each of these options carry its own benefits. Front-firing yields more accurate bass while down-firing lets you better feel the shake from the bass.
The only thing missing is wireless connectivity; if you are after the convenience of a wireless subwoofer, Polk has a wireless version of the DSW PRO500, the
Wireless Powered Subwoofer
A superb 15-inch subwoofer powered by a 400W digital amplifier and complete with the added convince of wireless audio connectivity.
As highlighted earlier on in this discussion, subwoofers with one of the drivers facing the listener deliver more accurate bass response. Yet, home theater subwoofers come in two major differing design concepts: front-firing and bottom -firing, with each having its pros and cons.
Front-firing subwoofer designs employ a speaker driver mounted on one of the sides or front. These yield the most accurate bass — throwing really deep bass waves towards the listener, leading to a better feel of the subwoofer sound.
Instead, bottom-firing home theater subwoofers use a speaker driver mounted in such a manner as to radiate sound towards the floor. These also produce a similar effect but not to the same extent as front-firing subwoofers. Down-firing subwoofers however, make it possible for the listener to better ‘feel the shake’ from the bass during movie-watching and music listening.
Some home theater subwoofer designs use ports in the enclosure through which they forces out more air to further enhance the low frequency response of the subwoofer. The main scope is to try to improve or extend the lower frequency response of the subwoofer unit — this explaining why these units are generally capable of producing some really deep bass. But in general, overall response of ported subwoofer units is not as clean and accurate as fully enclosed units.
A compromise between ported and fully-enclosed home theater subwoofer designs is the use of passive radiators instead of vented ports to enhance the bass response accuracy of the unit while improving its efficiency. A passive radiator can be either a flat diaphragm or a speaker-shaped diaphragm but without the voice coil.
More Home Theater Subwoofer Features: Crossovers and Equalization
Most subwoofers include a high-pass and a low-pass filter. The high-pass filter is used at the speaker level connection and enables the subwoofer to pass the rest of the high frequencies to the satellites. Instead, the low-pass is used with line-level connections; the latter is variable and limits the subwoofer to frequencies below the selected cross-over frequency.
Note that most surround sound processors found on today’s AV receivers incorporate the necessary low-pass filtering on the LFE (low frequency effects) or subwoofer output, rendering the low-pass filter on the subwoofer unit redundant.
A compact pick with muscular bass
The more compact BIC is almost as good as our main pick but slightly pricier and more difficult to connect to some systems.
The BIC America V1020 is pricier than the Monoprice 9723, but it offers much of the Monoprice’s performance in a somewhat more compact package of 1by 1by 1inches. Despite its smaller size, it still produces a nice sense of shake and impact when you play action movies, hip-hop or rock—just not as much shake as the Monoprice 972It also has a tight, punchy sound that makes it suitable for pop, jazz, and classical music. While it has nicer stereo connectors than our top pick, it has only a mono line input, so it may be a little difficult to use with typical computer audio systems.
This good 10-inch subwoofer comes in a slim cabinet that slips behind or under couches, or mounts on a wall.
The Dayton Audio SUB-1000L is built for people who would like to get more bass from their system but don’t have space for a subwoofer. It’s only inches thick, slim enough to slip behind many couches and chairs and even under some couches. It can also be attached directly to a wall using an included mounting system. Yet with a beefy 10-inch woofer and a 100-watt amp, it has enough power to work well in a modest home theater system, or in a stereo system with bookshelf speakers.
How we picked
Top row: Polk PSW111, Pioneer SW-8MK2, Yamaha YST-SW01Middle row: Monoprice 14567, Polk PSW110, BIC America V1020, Yamaha YST-SW21Bottom row: Monoprice 605999, Monoprice 973(our top pick), Dayton Audio SUB-1500, Onkyo SKW204.
How we tested
I started with a roughly 10-hour listening session in which I auditioned all of the subwoofers in the same acoustically treated listening room I’ve used to test more than 100 other subwoofers over the past 1years. I have run countless tests and measurements in this room, had many manufacturers set up their subwoofers in it, and, at one point, even had a scientist from Harman International come over to run tests in my room using as many as four separate subwoofers. I know this room’s characteristics (and how they affect speaker performance) extremely well.
To make sure the subwoofer volume levels were set correctly, I first used the Denon receiver’s built-in test tone and a RadioShack sound-pressure level meter to get the setting close. Then I used TrueRTA spectrum analyzer software, a Focusrite Scarlett 2iUSB interface, and a calibrated Earthworks M30 measurement microphone to check the level of the subwoofers relative to the level of the sound coming from the speaker using TrueRTA’s built-in pink noise generator.
After my listening session, I deleted three subwoofers from the test because it was clear they were underperformers. Then I brought Geoff and Lauren in for different testing sessions. For them, the test was blind. I hung a thin black drape to prevent them from seeing which sub was playing and didn’t share the subwoofers’ identities until they’d given me their opinion and ranking of each sub. They used music of their own choosing, and each of them also watched a bass-heavy action movie scene (the opening of Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones or the brontosaurus chase scene from King Kong).
The subwoofers were tested in the same location in the room and concealed behind thin black fabric so Geoff and Lauren wouldn’t know which models they were hearing or what they looked like.
I concluded by running a set of measurements on each subwoofer to confirm our findings. We typically don’t rely on audio measurements at The Wirecutter because they so often fail to tell the whole story of why one product is better or worse than another, but I have found that the CEA-20measurement standard does provide an accurate and easy-to-understand baseline assessment of a subwoofer’s performance.
In its simplest form, CEA-20presents just two numbers, one for a subwoofer’s average maximum output in decibels in the middle of the bass range (63, 50, and 40 Hz) and another for the average output in the lowest bass range (31.5, 25, and 20 Hz). I also ran the measurement at 80 Hz. (These measurements represent the output on the ground at a distance of meter.) The higher the number, the louder the subwoofer will play, and the clearer it will sound even if it’s not cranked to the max.
The Monoprice 972subwoofer was not only the best value of the bunch, but for two panelists it was also a favorite among all of the subs regardless of price.
The CEA-20results for the 972were impressive. In the mid bass, from 40 to 6Hz, it scored 115.dB compared with the 114.dB for the Dayton Audio SUB-1500, 114.0 dB for the BIC V1020, and 108.dB for the Dayton Audio SUB-1000L. In the deep bass, from 20 to 31.Hz, it scored 99.dB compared with 102.dB for the Dayton SUB-1500, 96.dB for the BIC and 97.0 dB for the Dayton SUB-1000L. Though it’s a bit of a toss-up between the 972and the SUB-1500; remember that the 972is much smaller and less expensive.
The Monoprice 972sounds terrific for its price, and its curved sides make it look slightly nicer than the average “big black box” subwoofer.
The 972is one of the few subwoofers we tested that includes inputs and outputs for speaker connections and line-level connections. This isn’t a real big deal, because in this case it doesn’t make any electrical difference whether you connect the cables separately, or just force both sets of cables into the same connectors (as you have to with, for example, the Pioneer SW-8MK2). But it is more convenient.
For a subwoofer, the 972even looks sort of nice, with curved sides and a detachable fabric grille covering the woofer. At 1by 17.2by 17.inches, it’s not small, but it’s also not so huge that it’s hard to fit into an ordinary living room.
Flaws but not dealbreakers
The 972may be too large to fit into smaller spaces such as home offices and bedrooms. The speaker cable connections on it are flimsy; one of the plastic clips popped out when I was testing it, but I was able to get it back into place.
Since we first posted this article, we have learned of complaints about the 972in this thread on the Slickdeals site. Some users have reported receiving scuffed or damaged units, and some have complained that the subwoofer produces inadequate volume or excessive hum. To investigate these issues, we purchased an additional sample of the 9723, using a friend’s credit card and shipping address so that Monoprice wouldn’t know that the subwoofer was going to us. The purchased sample arrived in new condition, and its measured performance closely matched that of the review sample. You can read more about this test in this blog post.
We expect that most, if not all, of the user complaints about hum and volume are due to setup issues, so we have expanded our How to connect a subwoofer and How to adjust a subwoofer sections to address these concerns.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your Subwoofers wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of Subwoofers
- №1 — DS18 EXL-B12.4D Extremely Loud 12-Inch 2000 Watts Competition Subwoofer with Power Dual Voice Coil
- №2 — DS18 SLC-MD12 Select 12-Inch Single Voice Coil Subwoofer 1000 Watts Max Power
- №3 — Polk Audio PSW10 10-Inch Powered Subwoofer