Subwoofer Reviews

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Daniel Kumin  |  Feb 24, 2021  |  3 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Incredible extension from incredibly small design
Highly flexible controls and features
Wireless option
Elegant finish
Minus
Limited peak output
Pricey

THE VERDICT
KEF’s KC62 delivers impressively deep bass in an elegant, ultra-compact package, though its output is best suited for smaller rooms or listening at more moderate levels.

Mankind has sought to get more and deeper bass from smaller and smaller designs ever since the first Neolithic audiophile blew through a conch shell and thought, "Damn, I wish this went lower, louder!"

Leslie Shapiro  |  Feb 10, 2021  |  0 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $749 (Black Matte or White)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive kick from a slim, elegant cabinet
Refined sound
Extensive control via smartphone app
Minus
No remote control
No auto-calibration/room EQ feature

THE VERDICT
Designed to work with or without Bluesound’s Pulse soundbar, the new Pulse Sub+ is a bigger and better take on the company’s original Pulse subwoofer.

What's the one thing lacking in even the best soundbar? If you said "deep, realistic, room-filling, floor-pounding bass," then you are absolutely correct. Bluesound is known for its wireless multiroom audio components and speakers, a family that includes the Pulse soundbar.

Al Griffin  |  Feb 03, 2021  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $3,000 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clean, well-balanced sound
Consistent off-axis performance
Subwoofer control app with Auto-EQ
Excellent value
Minus
Basic looks; black-only finish option

THE VERDICT
Despite its low-key exterior, Elac’s 5.1 Uni-Fi 2.0 system delivers the goods for movies/music and represents an excellent value.

Germany's Elac is a brand that has greatly expanded its presence in the hi-fi and home theater worlds over the past five or so years. While the company itself has been around for considerably longer, back in 2015 it brought on former KEF, Infinity, TAD, and Pioneer chief speaker engineer Andrew Jones to develop new product lines. First out of the gate for Jones was the Debut Series, followed by the Uni-Fi series, both affordable lines designed to pull fresh recruits into the audiophile ranks. New speakers arrived in quick succession, including the upscale but still affordable Adante passive and Navis powered models.

Al Griffin  |  Oct 28, 2020  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $8,360 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great overall sound with movies and music
Integrated Atmos Elevation speakers
Impressive clarity from center speaker
Minus
Pricey sub with limited features
Boxy design for Focal speakers

THE VERDICT
Focal's 5.1.4 Chora system delivers impressive performance for the price and is equally adept at movies and music.

Some may see France's Focal as a maker of $100,000-plus speakers and $4,000 headphones. But while the company does maintain a high profile in the high-end through products like its Utopia towers, the reality is that Focal makes speakers—and headphones—that cover a wide range of price points. It's been nearly ten years since Sound & Vision reviewed a full-scale Focal home theater speaker system—a $25,000 rig with beryllium tweeters. This time out we're looking at the company's affordable new Chora series, a lineup that notably includes speakers with upfiring drivers to handle Dolby Atmos and other immersive audio formats.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 22, 2020  |  8 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value
Subwoofer
Performance
Build Quality
Features
Value
PRICE $20,500 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb overall performance
Impeccable fit and finish
Relatively compact
Minus
Pricey

THE VERDICT
It may be pricey, but this PerformaBe system offers sublime performance with both music and movies.

I've reviewed many Revel surround speaker packages over time, but it's been six years since my last Revel review, a system centered on the Performa F208 tower speaker. At around 13 grand, that system could still be considered an affordable option compared with a full surround package built around the company's flagship Ultima range. Now, with its PerformaBe line, Revel has a mid-price speaker offering to help bridge the gap.

Michael Trei  |  Jun 17, 2020  |  5 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $899 (piano gloss black), $799 (black ash)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Big bass punch from a small form factor
Excellent value
Versatile smartphone control app
Minus
No auto-calibration/room EQ feature

THE VERDICT
The new SB-2000 Pro delivers big punch for a reasonable price, with tremendous fine-tuning capability offered by its smartphone control app.

With 12 different subwoofers in its line, I'm pretty certain that SVS makes more models than any other subwoofer manufacturer. In providing so many options, not only does the company cover a wide range of price points, but they can also offer subwoofers matched to different use cases, from high-end audiophile setups to big, slamming home theater rigs.

Michael Trei  |  Apr 15, 2020  |  4 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $8,000 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Refined sound
Powerful, feature-rich subwoofer
Minus
Tweeter on 60XTi tower sits high off the ground
60XTi tower requires careful placement

THE VERDICT
Upgrades in style and performance take MartinLogan's Motion series speakers to the next level, while its Dynamo 1600X subwoofer is a feature-packed beast.

Ask a car guy to identify any classic American car from the 1950s or 1960s, and most would be able to pin it down to the exact year of production. Back then, the auto companies would change up styling every year, even if the mechanical stuff under the sheet metal remained essentially unchanged. The problem with that approach is that tooling up to build new models every year gets really expensive, so these days most cars have a life cycle of a few years before an all-new generation is introduced. To keep these longer-lasting designs looking fresh, at some point in the life cycle they'll give the car what's known as a facelift, replacing a few key parts like the grille, taillights, and trim to lend it a new look.

Al Griffin  |  Mar 18, 2020  |  4 comments

Performance
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $5,975 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Crisp, detailed sound
High-performance center speaker
Subwoofer with room correction
Minus
Subwoofer pricey compared with competition

THE VERDICT
Monitor Audio's revamped mid-range Silver system brings notable improvements with no notable increase in price.

In 2020 many of us will get to witness the summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan—on TV at least. Why do I mention that in the first line of a speaker review? Because, like the medals handed out to Olympian champs, speaker lines from Monitor Audio tend to come with names

David Vaughn  |  Mar 11, 2020  |  9 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Powerful output for a compact model
Onboard Digital Automatic Room Optimization
Dual-sub setup option
Minus
Lacks below-20Hz extension
Gloss black finish attracts dust

THE VERDICT
The f110v2 lacks the output and extension of a larger sub, but packs quite a punch given its modest size.

According to Merriam-Webster, a fathom is a unit of length equal to six feet that's used to measure the depth of water. But for JL Audio, Fathom is a family of subwoofers that dig deep into the lower depths of the audio spectrum. The company, which has been around north of forty years, was started by Jim Birch and Lucio Proni, who started building loudspeakers during their summer break back in the 1970s and never stopped.

SV Staff  |  Feb 26, 2020  |  0 comments
Ready to up the ante on your AV investment and take your theater or music setup to the next level? Trade that puny boom box for a subwoofer built to deliver deep, palpable bass that reminds you you’re alive and tricks you into thinking for a moment you’re circling the track in a Shelby Cobra while watching Ford v Ferrari? The editors of Sound & Vision have singled out five outstanding yet reasonably priced subwoofers you must consider if your answer is “yes.” All made our coveted 2019 Top Picks of the Year list and are presented here in ascending price order.
Daniel Kumin  |  Dec 04, 2019  |  1 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,546 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Balanced sound with effortless treble
Solid bass extension
Impressive performance from compact subwoofer
Minus
Center speaker can sound slightly chesty when listening off-axis

THE VERDICT
DALI joins the pantheon of excellent compact, affordable 5.1 speaker packages with this system based around the overachieving Oberon 1.

Over the past 25 years, the Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries company has grown from a small and relatively obscure maker (in the U.S. market, at least) to a much more major player in the world's crowded loudspeaker arena. The Danes' latest move toward the broader marketplace is the Oberon series, an affordable range consisting of two towers, two bookshelf/standmount models, one on-wall, and one center- channel—all two-way, vented- enclosure designs.

Michael Trei  |  Sep 11, 2019  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,900 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Lively and dynamic sound
Optimized for movies
Outstanding value for money
Minus
Awkward form factor
Drab cosmetic

THE VERDICT
By combining the benefits of both THX certification and Dolby Atmos, this superb high-value home theater speaker package from Monoprice knocks it out of the park.

What's in a name? If visions of $10 HDMI and iPhone Lightning cables pop into your head when you hear the name Monoprice, you should know that the company introduced the premium Monolith brand a few years back to move beyond its image as an online peddler of low-cost cables. Think of Monolith as being a bit like Genesis is to Hyundai: a fresh name free of the parent brand's bargain basement associations.

Michael Trei  |  Jul 31, 2019  |  0 comments
Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,499 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clean and tidy sound
Excellent tonal match between models
Superb high-gloss painted finish
Minus
Sound is a bit polite with some material
No wood finish option

THE VERDICT
This RSL CG5 system offers relaxed sound that's easy to like, impressive build quality, and great value.

Everybody loves a great comeback story. Whether it's Tiger Woods winning The Masters after a decade of disappointment, or Apple's return to global dominance after nearly going bust twenty years back, it's nice when someone or something can make a strong return.

Al Griffin  |  May 08, 2019  |  0 comments

Speakers
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $2,144 (as tested)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive performance for price
Surround speakers provide flexible installation options
Subwoofer with app control and room correction
Minus
Basic build quality and looks

THE VERDICT
This entry-level Paradigm speaker package delivers performance reminiscent of the company's higher end models, along with a few sophisticated and well-considered features.

Canada's Paradigm offers a truly impressive range of speakers for audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts alike. The company makes so many speakers, in fact, that I sometimes have trouble keeping track of what's what in the Paradigm lineup. With luscious, hand-lacquered cabinets and Beryllium drivers, the Persona line is the flagship offering, one that Sound & Vision reviewed in a 5.1-channel configuration in our September 2017 issue. While we found plenty to like about that Persona rig, at $31,000 it clearly represented a luxury purchase. Fortunately, the Paradigm family also includes speakers aimed at budget-conscious listeners, such as the Monitor SE series.

David Vaughn  |  Apr 24, 2019  |  9 comments

Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE Price: $1,099 (piano gloss black), $999 (black ash)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Outstanding performance for price
Excellent iOS/Android control app
Compact form factor
Minus
Lacks auto-calibration/room EQ

THE VERDICT
SVS continues its tradition of providing more than ample bass for your buck, this time in a relatively compact subwoofer accompanied by a useful setup and control app.

Over the past 15 years I've reviewed more A/V products than I can count, but the ones I most look forward to watching the FedEx guy hoist off the delivery truck are subwoofers. That's mainly because I love hearing bass—the more the better. Also, the reviewing process gives me an opportunity to revisit some of my favorite movie bass torture-test scenes to see if the latest, greatest subwoofer is up to snuff.

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