A subwoofer is very important for the complete home cinema experience or to enhance the quality of a soundbar. However, for some people, a subwoofer is a strange piece of equipment that they do not fully understand. This guide is going to help to understand what a subwoofer is and what its main functions are.

We hope that by reading this guide, your questions will be answered so that you can confidently choose your next subwoofer. We plan to educate you on all the aspects of a subwoofer so that you can easily choose the best option out there. They are not overly complex devices, but it is useful to know some basic aspects when it comes to subwoofers in order to make a successful purchase.

Key Facts

  • Assess what your main needs are prior to purchasing a subwoofer. There are active and passive subwoofers, which both have different benefits and uses. If you require a subwoofer with its own amplifier, an active subwoofer is the model for you.
  • There is a wide variety of subwoofers on the market. Some models offer just the right amount of features to be quality devices that are not overly expensive.
  • Ideally, you should choose a device with a power level between 100 and 200 watts (W), as long the technology is efficient. Also keep in mind the range of bass frequencies that the subwoofer is capable of covering.

Ranking: The best subwoofers on the U.S. market

To help you choose a good subwoofer to complement your existing sound system, car stereo or soundbar, we have created a list of what we consider to be the best options on the market. We have selected these products based on their value for money, their features and customer feedback. We highly recommend that you take a close look at this list as we are very confident that your next subwoofer is on this list.

Best subwoofer under $150

The Polk Audio PSW10 relieves your main speakers from performing bass duty and leaves them to produce the mids and highs so that you can experience the complete sound spectrum. This subwoofer brings you maximum bass but will not take up space thanks to the subwoofer’s small 10″ size. For the best low-cost option that still packs plenty of bass, take a look at the Polk Audio PSW10.

Best subwoofer between $150 and $300

Sale

Sony is a quality brand that you can always rely on to deliver long-lasting products. The Sony SACS9 10-inch Active Subwoofer is a 115-watt, amplified subwoofer that is compatible with high-resolution audio. This subwoofer is powerful and compact, making it perfect for installing in small spaces. With a smart black finish, this subwoofer will blend in with most home interiors.

Best subwoofer between $300 and $400

Sale

The Klipsch R-120SW subwoofer is an amazing subwoofer that is designed to deliver awe-inspiring bass for your movies, video games, and music. This subwoofer features a 400-watt all-digital amplifier that powers a front-firing spun-copper IMG woofer. The result is clean, deep bass that will compliment your home sound system. The Klipsch subwoofer is stylishly designed so that it can easily be placed in any room without being an eyesore.

Best subwoofer above $400

If you are looking for the power and intensity of a world-class subwoofer in a small compact 13-inch sealed cabinet design, then the SVS SB-1000 subwoofer is definitely the product for you. This subwoofer is small enough to be hidden discreetly in any room yet powerful enough to energize the space with deep, smooth, and articulate bass.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about subwoofers

If you’re looking to improve the sound at home, whether it is for your TV, home theatre or soundbar, buying a subwoofer is a fantastic idea. A subwoofer will improve the performance of your audio and cinema setup by enhancing the bass and the overall sound experience. To make the best possible selection, it is important that understand a few basics about these devices. In the following section, we will tell you everything you need to know about subwoofers, as well as answer the most frequently asked questions among consumers.

A subwoofer will improve the bass of your sound system.
(Source: Victor Kuznetsov: 79041330/ 123rf.com)

What is a subwoofer and what is it used for?

A subwoofer, overwise simply known as a “sub”, is a loudspeaker whose function is to add bass to any equipment that emits sound. Subwoofers cover low-frequency sounds that normal speakers are unable to reach. The low-frequency sounds typically range between 20 Hz and 80 Hz. There are some subwoofers that have different frequency ranges, but generally speaking, the goal of a sub is to emit low-frequency / bass.

There are many factors that you should take into account when purchasing a subwoofer. You should consider the quality of the materials, the subwoofer technology, the power, the frequency range, and whether the subwoofer is active or passive. We will explain each of these aspects throughout the guide so that you can purchase the best possible subwoofer for your home or business.

Finally, it is also important to know the size of the room in which you install the subwoofer. This is often a determining factor for the size and power of the subwoofer.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of buying a subwoofer?

Now that you know what a subwoofer is, it’s time to find out what subwoofers can do for you and why it is worth buying one. If you enjoy crisp, well-defined bass that significantly improves the experience of watching movies or listening to music, then you’ll probably be tempted to buy one straight away. Take a look at the table below as we explain the main advantages and disadvantages of subwoofers.

Advantages
  • They improve the sound quality
  • These devices enhance the bass
  • They are easy to install / setup
  • There are relatively inexpensive options that provide excellent results
Disadvantages
  • Depending on the model, the price does not always equate to quality
  • A successful choice requires significant research and effort

What types of subwoofers are there?

The first thing you must know about subwoofers is that there are two main types: active and passive. The most recommended subwoofers are active subwoofers. The reason for this is because active subwoofers have their own amplification system and can be plugged directly into the power supply. Active subwoofers are also by far the most common type of subwoofer on the market and have the most variety for you to choose from.

There are several ways to connect an active subwoofer to a soundbar, TV or home theatre system. One of the most recent innovations is wireless subwoofers. That is, a subwoofer that uses WiFi or Bluetooth to connect to the sound source rather than via cable. These types of subs are very easy to set up and can easily be moved from one location to another.

Subwoofers are excellent for listening to music.
(Source: Dmitrimaruta: 51167810/ 123rf.com)

Passive subwoofers do not have their own amplification system and must be used in conjunction with an external amplifier. These subwoofers are not connected directly to the sound source, but rather via an amplifier using AV (Audio / Video) cables. In the past, passive subwoofers were common, but since the expansion of soundbars and stand-alone LCD televisions, the need for an amplifier makes passive subwoofer more expensive and an inferior product.

How else can subwoofers be classified?

It is possible to classify subwoofers in a way other than active or passive. The physical structure of a subwoofer is a way to categorize subwoofers. The most frequent structure used for subwoofers is called Bass Reflex. Another common design for subwoofers is known as the Sealed Box design. There are a few other types of subwoofers, such as the cylindrical design, passive radiator design, and bandpass box design, but the two most common designs are Bass Reflex and Sealed Box.

Below, we have prepared a table to explain the key advantages and disadvantages of the two main types of subwoofer designs.

Subwoofer box design Advantages Disadvantages
Bass Reflex It is the most common subwoofer design used.

It has an external air outlet.

As it is the most common, the choice is more extensive.

This design requires less power to produce good bass.

It provides high-quality bass at low frequencies.

The internal woofer is prone to breaking.

The quality reduces at high volume.

Sealed box No opening and completely sealed.

The sound tends to be more even and does not distort at normal volume.

The sound quality depends on the quality of the seal.

The main focus is on sound quality and bass levels are not as strong.

Trapped air inside the box can create distortion at high volume.

Where should a subwoofer be placed?

You already know that you must take into account the dimensions of the room when choosing a subwoofer. Once you have chosen the subwoofer, you have to figure out where to place it in order to hear the best possible sound. The location in the room and the support that the subwoofer is placed on are two equally important aspects to consider.

When sound is emitted at low frequencies, it is crucial that you take into account the support that the sub is placed on. If the support below the subwoofer is flimsy or poorly secured, it is highly likely that it will create a rattling sound, which will be very annoying. When it comes to the location in the room for your subwoofer, you can carry out various tests to find the best possible spot. Some people claim that by placing the subwoofer in the corner of a room you get more bass. This all depends on the amount of vibration created, the size of the room and other irregularities.

There are economic subwoofers available on the market.
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As a suggestion, try to align the subwoofer as close as possible to the main speakers. If it is possible, place the sub in the middle between the two speakers. Once you’ve found a spot that you think will work well, try playing with the subwoofer’s controls and settings until you find the sound you like best.

Shopping Criteria

To find and buy a subwoofer that best suits your needs, there are a number of shopping criteria that can be followed to guarantee that you make a successful purchase. We have listed the five most important criteria below:

  • Budget
  • Use
  • Type
  • Power
  • Frequency range

Budget

One aspect that you should be very clear about and an aspect that is easy to define is how much you are willing to pay for a subwoofer. The price of subwoofers varies significantly, but as a result, there is a huge range of options with varying quality. It is important that you take into account the quality/price ratio in order to purchase a product that meets your expectations and that you are happy paying for.

Active subwoofers have their own amplification system.
(Source: Shane Cotee: 77029986/ 123rf.com)

Use

Your intended use of a subwoofer is key to making a successful choice. You won’t need to buy the same size subwoofer for a small bedroom as you would for a large classroom or lecture hall. You must remember that the square footage of a room is an important factor.

If you are looking for a subwoofer to enhance and provide bass to an existing sound system, you could probably opt for a cheaper option with good performance. However, if you want to turn your living room into a home theatre with a sound quality that rivals a cinema, you will have to look at higher quality subwoofers that are usually more expensive.

Type

The decision you have to make is between active or passive. The choice should really not be that difficult. Active subwoofers have a number of advantages that are leaving passive subwoofer behind. From a convenience and feature perspective, active subwoofers are far better. What’s more, these are also the most common and most recommended by sound experts. We’ve given you all the facts in the guide, now it’s time for you to decide.

Power

Taking into account all the factors that we have discussed above, the power of a subwoofer is an aspect that you cannot forget. A subwoofer that offers between 150 and 200 W would be sufficient for a room that is approximately 215 square feet. With this as a guide, you will be able to choose a subwoofer that has the right amount of power for the size of the room.

Gary AltunianLifewire

“Getting the best bass response from a subwoofer is one of the most important performance aspects of a good audio system. But it’s also one of the most difficult to achieve”.

The power of a subwoofer is complemented by the technology and the quality of the materials used in the construction of the product. Often it is not necessary to buy the most powerful subwoofer if you can find one that is well-made and produces sound in an efficient way.

Frequency range

When it comes to the subwoofer frequency range, we are talking about the range of low frequencies that the sub can support. Subwoofers are designed to cover the first two musical octaves, that is, ranges between 20 and 80 Hz. This is a sound range that normal speakers do not reach. Ensure that the subwoofer you buy can support frequencies within this range.

Summary

Remember that it is important to take into account the dimensions of the chosen room so that you can improve your sound experience. The subwoofer market is diverse and it is highly likely that you will find a quality product, with sufficient power and good low-frequency range, without blowing your budget.

Consider whether an active or passive subwoofer is better for your situation. We always recommend an active subwoofer, but it depends entirely on your specific circumstances. As with any technology purchase, read the list of materials used to build the product carefully and check that the product comes with a warranty. If you follow all this, you’ll be on the right path to turning your living room into a home theatre with excellent sound and bass.

We hope that you enjoyed reading our guide on subwoofers. Please feel free to comment below and share this guide on your social networks.

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