Top Picks Subwoofers

Subwoofers
< $999
PSB SubSeries 200: $649
On paper, the SubSeries 200 is a conventional powered subwoofer. But when you see it in person you’ll love its front-panel controls. And when you hear it you won’t believe it costs $649. Reviewer Darryl Wilkinson raved about the 200’s ability to blend seamlessly with PSB’s Imagine W3 soundbar, deliver “exceptionally deep and taut bass” with music, and handle powerful movie passages like the deep, terrifying sound of a submarine breaking through the frozen sea in Resident Evil: Retribution. “Without a doubt, the SubSeries 200 is a standout in the under-$700 subwoofer category.” (HomeTheater.com, Read Full Review)
SVS SB12-NSD: $649
Understated sophistication would be one way to describe the SB12-NSD. Instead of an aggressive subwoofer, you get an elegant 14-inch cube that trades brute force for extension and evenness. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann summed it up this way, “The sealed sub’s low-frequency treatment may not have been as aggressive as some, but I liked the way it reproduced controlled explosions, and its inherent musicality came in even handier during the music demos.” (HomeTheater.com, Read Full Review)
SVS SB-2000/PB-2000: $699/$799
Bass specialist SVS continues to deliver excellent value with the reasonably priced SB-2000, a sealed 14.2-inch cube, and its big brother, the ported PB-2000. If you lean toward music and like tight, powerful bass, go with the SB-2000. If movies and floor-shaking bass is your thing, the PB-2000 is your sub. “In the end, I was pleasantly surprised by the price/performance factor of both subs,” wrote reviewer David Vaughn. Best of all, SVS offers a 45-day trial period and even pays for return shipping if you decide either sub is not for you. (June 2014, Read Full Review)
Gallo CLS-10: $699
One look at the CLS-10’s distinctive shape and you know it’s different—different in a very good way, as it turns out. Commenting on the role it played in conveying the thundering cavalries and heavy-artillery bombardments in War Horse, reviewer mark Fleischmann wrote: “For a 10-incher, it was surprisingly powerful, mustering higher and higher output as the story stepped up its decibel count…The CLS-10 was a manifestly good-sounding sub.” (January 2013, Read Full Review)
Sonos SUB: $699
Easy to setup and a cinch to control via an iOS or Android smartphone, the svelte Sonos SUB (it’s only 6.2 inches deep) sounds as stunning as it looks, delivering bass that reviewer Kim Wilson described as “controlled and musical.” If you’re the owner of a Sonos music system and want to take it to the next level, and maybe even shake the house a bit, there’s only one thing to do: Add a SUB. (October 2012, Read Full Review)
SVS PC12-NSD: $749
The cylindrical design of the PC12-NSD is unique among subwoofers but it’s also functional. The enclosure is rigid, stands tall yet takes up little floor space (making it ideal for corner placement), and houses a beefy 12-inch woofer, powered by a 400-watt amp. Most important, it plays low and loud—very loud—yet delivers bass that is well balanced. Pushing it to its limits, reviewer Brent Butterworth played the Organ Symphony as loud as he could stand it and was blown away by how clear the deepest notes sounded. (SoundandVision.com, Read Full Review)
NHT B-12d: $799
Veteran speaker company NHT is probably best known for its SuperZero bookshelf speaker, which delivers great sound at a bargain price. Although the company is not known for subwoofers, the B-12d is tailor made for audiophiles who value precision over boom. As reviewer Brent Butterworth put it, “It brought out the subtleties of different bassists’ plucking styles—not just with finesse-focused players like Ron Carter, but even with ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill, whose sound turns to mud through most other subs.” (SoundandVision.com, Read Full Review)
Power Sound XV15: $799
Put up against four other comparably priced subwoofers, the XV15 was our pick for “raw home theater power.” If you’re not worried about owning a pretty sub and like your bass big and bold, this is your sub. Reviewer Brent Butterworth wrote: “The bass was nothing less than brutal. When I played the 16-Hz low notes from the Organ Symphony, the XV15 whupped the other subs easily. The whole room pulsated, almost as if some sort of monster had plucked my home off the slab and begun shaking it like a toy.” (SoundandVision.com, Read Full Review)
Definitive Technology SuperCube 4000: $799
A compact box utilizing an 8-inch active driver and two 8-inch passive radiators, this new generation SuperCube is packed with high tech features, including a remote with multiple EQ settings and a Night Mode, a 12 volt trigger input, and some sophisticated DSP that keeps distortion low at all volumes. There’s also a port for a proprietary wireless receiver so you can skip the signal cable and just plug it in wherever there’s a power outlet. Reviewer Darryl Wilkinson wrote, “Considering all the extremely useful features the SuperCube 4000 has combined with its small size, exceptional musicality, and distortion-damping muscle, I think it’s a spectacular bargain for under $800.” (April 2012, Read Full Review)
HSU Research VTF-15H: $879
This 15-inch powered subwoofer is the big driver with the big box, but performs like nobody’s business at a price that should be much more. This was our sentimental favorite subwoofer and a Top Pick of the Year for 2011. Pluggable ports and a wide range of controls allow easier tuning to your room and taste. Said reviewer Tom Norton: “It’s hard to visualize a subwoofer priced this low that needn’t apologize for the quality of its bass, its low-end extension, or its setup flexibility.” (December 2011, Read Full Review)
Cambridge Audio Aero 9: $899
Reviewed as part of the compact, 5.1-channel Aero 2 speaker system , the Aero 9 used its 500 watts of onboard power and two 10-inch woofers—one active, one passive—to bring depth and excitement to movies and music. Referring to his experience watching The Amazing Spider-Man, reviewer Mark Fleischmann wrote: “The Aero 9 handled the bottom end with aplomb, delivering loads of output, and [crossing over to the other speakers] so holistically that the bass often seemed to come from a single large speaker.” (May 2014, Read Full Review)
Definitive Technology SuperCube 6000: $999
A more authoritative version of the SuperCube 4000, the 6000 offers a 9-inch active driver with a pair of 10-inch passive radiators, while touting the same sophisticated DSP and user features. Reviewed with the Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 55 and StudioMonitor 45 compact speakers. (June 2012, Read Full Review)
$1,000-$4,999
GoldenEar ForceField 5 Subwoofer: $1,000
The ForceField 5 with its 12-inch woofer, bottom-mounted flat passive radiator, and 1,500-watt amplifier, is the latest model in this winning subwoofer series from GoldenEar. Noting that this bass box is equipped to serve large rooms with headroom to spare, here’s how reviewer Mark Fleischmann summed up his floor-shaking experience: "I was dumbfounded by how much bass output the sub could muster." If anything, you might need to turn down its level control. (May 2013, Read Full Review)
MartinLogan Dynamo 1000: $1,000
You won’t need any speaker wire to rock out with the versatile Dynamo 1000 subwoofer. Hidden inside the elegant cabinet alongside the 500-watt amp and 12-inch driver is a wireless receiver that pulls bass signals from thin air. Plug the SWT-2 transmitter into the sub output of your A/V receiver or processor and get ready to rumble. And rumble you will. This down-firing Dynamo will shake your room. Prefer a front-firing orientation (as shown)? Simply move the sub’s pedestal feet to the control-panel side. (HomeTheater.com, Read Full Review)
Tannoy TS2.12: $1,024
For just over a thousand bucks you get a bass box built to perform. Highlights include dual side-firing 12-inch drivers—one active and one passive—a 1-inch-thick enclosure elevated on polymer cones, a digital crossover, and a built-in 500-watt (RMS) amplifier with enough oomph to help lay a solid foundation for any kind of music you want to listen to. As reviewer Mark Fleischmann put it: “The sub offered a combination of output and control that couldn’t be faulted” and was especially impressive at producing lots of bass output during the sonically violent storm scenes in Take Shelter. (HomeTheater.com, Read Full Review)
Boston Acoustics MSubwoofer: $1,199
The stately MSubwoofer, with its gloss-black top and fabric-wrap sides, combines a modest 10-inch front-firing driver with a pair of equally modest side-firing 8-inch passive radiators but don’t let those driver sizes fool you. This sub can woof like a champ thanks to its beefy 500-watt amplifier and well-thought-out design. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann called Boston’s bass box the unexpected star of the show while reviewing it as part of the M25 home theater speaker system: “The MSubwoofer delivered loads of bass output and dynamics without flinching.” (HomeTheater.com, Read Full Review)
Triad InWall Bronze/4 SlimSub with RackAmp 350 DSP: $1,400
If you want the benefits of a good subwoofer but don’t have a place to put one or don’t want a black box in your theater space, the SlimSub is just what the doctor ordered. Its 10-inch driver is housed in a sealed enclosure 4 inches deep, 13.5 inches wide, and designed to sit flush in the wall. When paired with the 350-watt RackAmp, reviewer Darryl Wilkinson was able to achieve an in-room response down to 25 Hz—amazing for an in-wall speaker. As he put it, “The Triad is not only a great subwoofer…it’s a great value, too.” (November 2013, Read Full Review)
Polk DSWmicroPro3000: $1,450
This compact 10-inch sub (with bottom-mounted 10x10-inch passive radiator )boasts Polk’s AutoPRO room-resonance correction feature, along with an IR remote to adjust volume, phase, Night mode, and selectable equalization. Reviewed with the Polk LSiM707 floorstanding speaker system. June 2012, Read Full Review)
Bowers & Wilkins ASW10 CM S2: $1,500
Barely larger than a cubic foot, B&W’s ASW10 CM S2 is a formidable subwoofer that reaches down to 25 Hz with authority and without the boominess you get with so many other subwoofers. Reviewer Daniel Kumin wrote: “The B&W produced a spectacularly musical bottom end on full-orchestral music like the Rachmaninoff 3rd concerto via Lang Lang (Telarc SACD). In a larger room, or for closer to reference-level listening, I would probably want a second sub. But honestly, for my real-life needs…the single B&W sub was fine.” (SoundandVision.com, Read Full Review)
JL Audio e110: $1,500
You will not find a company more dedicated to the craft of building fine subwoofers than JL Audio. These guys know how to build a box that not only looks good but plays loud, clean and low. Reviewer Daniel Kumin wrote: “The longer I listened, the more impressed I became. Musical deep bass, whether from Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra or Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony, was convincingly complete, with even the lowest fundamental tones geologically solid and fully accounted for.” (SoundandVision.com, Read Full Review)
SVS SB13-Ultra: $1,599
SVS is known among enthusiasts for building some of the most powerful subwoofers you can buy. With its 1,000-watt amplifier and custom 13.5-inch woofer, the SB13-Ultra carries on the tradition, handling the subterranean rumble of movie soundtracks with ease and delivering extremely tight and controlled bass with music. Said Reviewer David Vaughn, “No matter how loud I played it, I couldn’t get the sub to bottom out or show any signs of strain... That’s pretty damn impressive.” (February/March 2013, Read Full Review)
KEF R400b: $1,700
With two opposing 9-inch active drivers in a sealed box, the R400b takes a decidedly musical approach to bass reproduction and, reviewer Mark Fleischmann thought it proved itself a stellar (if polite) complement to the R300 Series, one of KEF’s finer compact speaker systems. (August 2012, Read Full Review)
REL Acoustics R-328: $1,799
REL subwoofers are known for the musicality, due in part to their ability to be simultaneously hooked up to both the subwoofer LFE output of your surround processor or receiver and the front speaker outputs. As reviewer Darryl Wilkinson found, "If you’re prepared to spend the time to tune it properly, the R-328 will pay sonic dividends for music lovers." (April 2012, Read Full Review)
Legacy Audio Metro: $1,800
In terms of size and weight, the Metro is big but not beastly. The 68-pound, 16-inch cube is actually Legacy’s smallest subwoofer yet it packs a 500-watt amp, a 12-inch active driver, and a 15-inch passive radiator. Auditioned with Legacy’s Classic HD speaker system, the Metro played a decisive role in recreating the sound of 6,000 cattle hooves during the hair-raising stampede scene in Australia. Reviewer Darryl Wilkinson wrote, “It was a perfect extension for the towers, adding depth to the already significant bass output.” (July August 2013, Read Full Review)
M&K Sound X12 THX: $3,200
M&K started back in the ’70s when Jonas Miller and Ken Kreisel built a studio reference subwoofer for Steely Dan’s Walter Becker. The legacy of this famous brand lives on in its newest sub, the THX-certified X12. Two custom-designed 12-inch drivers arranged in a push-pull configuration and powered by a 400-watt amplifier deliver what reviewer David Vaughn called “everything you could ask for in a subwoofer.” With music, “the bass was tight, clean, and intense, and the frequency transition to my studio monitors was seamless.” With movies, brace yourself for tooth-rattling lows. (SoundandVision.com, Read Full Review)
Sony SA-NA9ES, $4,000
One of the most expensive subwoofers money can buy, the 80-pound SA-NA9ES offers an unexpected surprise: The front and back 10-inch aluminum-coned woofers can be operated in sealed, dual active mode for bass quantity or in active/passive mode where the rear driver becomes passive for more disciplined output. Reviewer Mark Fleischmann sums up his impressions while watching the movie Sinister: “A sudden boom sent a tingling sensation through my spine and limbs, a sensation I don’t recall previously having with an audio system. It may not be one I’d like to feel all the time.” (November 2013, Read Full Review)
$5,000 >
JL Audio Fathom f212: $6,200
JL Audio is perhaps best known in the world of car audio, but their expensive Fathom series subwoofers for home use are among the most coveted in the world of A/V. Darryl Wilkinson tested the f212, with two 12-inch drivers, and it rocked his world. “I have to say that I sincerely hate the folks at JL Audio,” he concluded, “because they have forever ruined any pleasure I might have enjoyed with any other subwoofer. I’ll never be able to listen to another without comparing it to the f212.” (April 2012, Read Full Review)
Paradigm Reference Signature SUB 2: $8,999
Simply put, this is the real deal. A 230-pound, three-sided monster featuring six 10-inch woofers arrayed in pairs, up to 4,500 watts of brute-force power (provided it gets 240-volt service), and measureable output in our lab that was only 3 decibels down at 12 hertz. And to think it all fits into a 24-inch-square footprint. The price will scare away all but the wealthiest and most bass-obsessed enthusiasts, but if you’re among them, pay up your homeowner’s insurance and get down with it. (June 2011, Read Full Review)
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COMMENTS
idaman@q.com's picture

I use you guys for buying electronics but I notice that you never do recommendations of these larger sizes that are under $3000.00.There has to be some good units out there and I am not interested in 3-D and could live without smart features if I can get a best picture at a down to earth price.

kathleen's picture

Has anyone heard of - AZON DEAL UPDATER (google it)? They have a little gold box on the site that spits out any discount promo codes for any product on Amazon. Bought my Samsung HT-E6500 lower than the discounted price. Don't think too many people know about this.

Aschinck's picture

Good afternoon guys.
As a worker in the electronic industry i often look at your top pick to see if some of my products would find a place in it. Recently i realize that for a buyer your list is kind of shitty. First most of the model are 2-3-4 years back. Would it be possible to have a top pick of 2014 and then 2015 product so we can keep a fair track?

thank you

Vrahode's picture

There has been a lot of new technology in viewing surfaces in recent years as the prior post stated. Draper, for example, who I work for has released a new line of surfaces called TecVision that out perform many competitor products through wider viewing cones, more consistent gain, lower gloss levels and even superior angular reflectivity. We would love to send samples and allow the folks at Sound and Vision the opportunity for objective comparison of these recent breakthroughs in screen technology.

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