When I first started researching how to assemble a truly great home theater system, I was surprised to find out how important a quality subwoofer actually was. If you are like me and like to immerse yourself into whatever show, movie or video game – a subwoofer helps you do so. Unlike your other speakers, a quality subwoofer delivers the richest, deepest tones possible and helps complete the audio picture. However, with so many models available today, how do you know which ones provide the best quality bass? After years of looking, researching, and testing, I have compiled a list of my favorites.
What are the Best Powered Subwoofers?
- BIC America F12 – Best Budget-Friendly Option
- Cambridge Audio Minx X201 – Best Option for Small Spaces
- ELAC Debut 2.0 SUN3010 – Best Overall Option
- Klipsch Sun-12HG Synergy Series – Best Value Option
- Polk Audio PSW10 – Best Older Model Option
- SONOS Sub – Best Wireless Option
- SVS PB16-Ultra – Best High-End Option
- Theater Solutions SUB8S – Best Slim Profile Option
Below, I explain why each of these powered subwoofers belong on the list, From specs to pros and cons, I hope the list helps you find the right powered subwoofer for your home theater needs.
The Best Powered Subwoofers for Your Home Theater System
A subwoofer is a speaker that is dedicated to playing low-pitch, deep audio frequencies more commonly known as “bass”. A powered subwoofer includes both the speaker and a built-in amplifier. (These speakers are also known as “active subwoofers”.) When using a powered subwoofer, much of the power that would be drawn from your external A/V receiver is reduced. Because of this, powered subwoofers are the most commonly used types. Passive subwoofers, on the other hand, are those that do not include a built-in amplifier and, therefore, drawn their full power from your A/V receiver.
With that, let us take a look at the 8 best powered subwoofers currently available for use with your home theater system.
1. BIC America F12: Best Budget-Friendly Option
The BIC America F12 (on Amazon) is a low-cost solution for a new home theater enthusiast. Accepting inputs for both Dolby Pro Logic and Dolby Digital/DTS, this subwoofer offers full rear control over your volume and crossover frequency. It also automatically senses signals and provides quality sound regardless of the input media.
- 12-inch front-firing woofer
- 150-watt RMS amplifier with a peak of 475-watts
- 25 to 200 Hz frequency response
- 14-3/4-inch wide, 17-inch high, 17-1/4-inch deep
- Typically sells for under $250
- For the cost, the sound quality of the BIC America F12 is exceptional.
- Easy to connect to a receiver, this subwoofer is simple to set up and control, making it ideal for owners new to subwoofer integration.
- Overall aesthetics are rather boring on the BIC America F12.
- This model is a bit underpowered when compared to others on this list.
The Bottom Line: The BIC America F12 is a budget-friendly option for those looking to start investing in a home theater.
2. Cambridge Audio Minx X201: Best Option for Small Spaces
Do not let the diminutive size of the Cambridge Audio Minx X201 (on Amazon) fool you. This little subwoofer packs a punch! As the smallest subwoofer on this list, the Cambridge Audio Minx X201 provides clear, booming bass.
Although this subwoofer is ultra-compact, Cambridge Audio did not skip on the features. The Minx X201 allows users to maintain full control via the rear panel. From phase to crossover, you can adjust the Cambridge Audio Minx X201 as needed.
- 6-1/2-inch front firing woofer
- 6-1/2-inch dual side firing passive radiators
- 200-watt RMS amplifier with a peak of 400-watts
- 36 to 200 Hz frequency response
- 8-1/4-inch wide, 8-5/8-inch high, 10-1/16-inch deep
- Available in black or white
- Typically sells for under $400
- The Cambridge Audio Minx X201 is small enough for even the most compact spaces.
- This subwoofer provides clear bass despite its tiny size.
- The X201 is available in black or white to fit your décor.
- Complete rear panel control allows you to adjust gain, phase and crossover frequency easily.
- The Cambridge Audio Minx X201 is not ideal for medium to large rooms.
The Bottom Line: The Cambridge Audio Minx X201 is an excellent choice for small home theaters or compact spaces.
3. ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3010: Best Overall Option
The ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3010 (on Amazon) was designed to provide potent sound typically produced by much larger subwoofers. Designed with a 10-inch front firing woofer, as well as a 10-inch down firing passive radiator, the ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3010 can be paired with and controlled from your phone or tablet. Why is this important?
Many subwoofers require you to change settings from behind the device. This is not only inconvenient but can also mean you have to continually adjust the sound throughout a dynamic movie to produce the best tones. When you control your subwoofer from your smartphone, however, changing these settings is much easier. In fact, you can control all of the ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3010’s functions through your phone, including output levels and equalization.
- 10-inch high excursion, front-firing woofer
- 10-inch down firing passive radiator
- 200-watt BASH amplifier with a peak of 400-watts
- 28 to 150 Hz frequency response
- 13-15/16-inch wide, 14-11/16-inch high, 15-1/16-inch deep
- Bluetooth 4.0 control from your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet
- Typically sells for under $500
- The ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3010 is a smaller subwoofer that packs in a large amount of sound thanks to the woofer and passive radiator design.
- The smartphone or tablet controls mean you can adjust the ELAC Debut 2.0 whenever you want from wherever you want.
- The ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3010 may sound a bit muddy when played at extremely high levels.
The Bottom Line: The ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3010 is one of the best 10-inch subwoofers for the money.
4. Klipsch Sub-12HG Synergy Series: Best Value Option
The Klipsch Sub-12HG Synergy Series (on Amazon) claims to deliver two of the lowest ten octaves audible to the human ear. With a down-firing 12-inch woofer and rear firing port, this subwoofer provides an outstanding bass response with little to no distortion. In fact, many users have found this unit to be so well-built, they find home theater and stereo sound equally as great when played through the Klipsch Sub-12HG. Because of this, the Klipsch Sub-12HG makes for a versatile subwoofer you can use for all of your entertaining needs.
The Klipsch Sub-12HG also includes an auto-standby mode. Smart enough to automatically detect when a signal is sent to the subwoofer, the Klipsch Such-12HG includes a LED indicator that alerts you to whether the device is in standby or receiving an active signal.
- 12-inch down firing woofer
- 300-watt BASH amplifier with a peak of 650-watts
- 40 to 120 Hz frequency response
- 15-inch wide, 18-inch high, 20-inch deep
- Automatic standby mode, with LED indicator
- Typically sells for under $500
- The Klipsch Sub-12HG has adjustable feet that help reduce vibrations and maintain a level footing.
- The black vinyl veneer cheapens the overall look; a real wood box would look nicer.
- The Klipsch is rather heavy, weighing in at 40 pounds.
The Bottom Line: For a 12-inch subwoofer, the Klipsch Sub-12HG provides quality sound for those on a budget.
5. Polk Audio PSW10: Best Older Model Option
Polk Audio is one of the top names in the speaker industry. The Polk Audio PSW10 (on Amazon) lives up to the lofty standards the brand has become renowned for. Lightweight and relatively small, the Polk Audio PSW10 is an older model that continues to be one of the best sellers today.
Like most of the Polk Audio family of products, the PSW10 is easy to use and integrates almost flawlessly into any home theater system. It features an automatic signal sense that will turn your subwoofer on and off based on inputs. Durable and beautifully finished, the Polk Audio PSW10 has a lot to offer with few cons.
- 10-inch front-firing woofer
- 50-watt RMS amplifier with a peak of 100-watts
- 40 to 160 Hz frequency response
- 14-inch wide, 16.2-inch high, 14.4-inch deep
- Available in black or cherry-colored vinyl
- Typically sells for under $200
- The Polk Audio PSW10 offers quality sound and performance in a compact package.
- This subwoofer includes Polk Audio’s smart sensing technology that automatically turns the subwoofer on and off based on the signal inputs.
- The Polk Audio PSW10 is more affordable than most similarly sized subwoofers available today.
- At only 10-inches, the Polk Audio PSW10 is a bit underpowered for larger rooms.
- This subwoofer lacks magnetic shielding, which means it should be placed away from any LCD televisions.
The Bottom Line: As an older model, the Polk Audio PSW10 still offers quality bass without breaking the bank.
6. SONOS Sub: Best Wireless Option
If you own a SONOS system, your options for subwoofers are limited. However, the SONOS Sub (on Amazon) actually makes this list as one of the best wireless powered subwoofers on the market today.
SONOS continually strives to provide quality products that exceed expectations. The SONOS Sub is no exception here. Easily integrated into your SONOS surround sound system, the Sub takes only seconds to set up. Like all other SONOS components, full control is available through your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet device.
- Dual 6-inch oval, noise-canceling front facing woofers
- Dual amplifiers
- 25 to 110 Hz frequency response
- 15-7/8-inch wide, 15-3/8-inch high, 6-5/16-inch deep
- Available in black or white
- Wireless connectivity that can be controlled from your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet
- Typically sells for under $800
- The SONOS Sub has a unique design, available in black or white, that is both eye-catching and modern.
- Strong wireless connectivity means you can connect and control the SONOS Sub from anywhere in the room.
- This subwoofer can sit upright or laid on its back, making placement more versatile than all of the other units on this list.
- There are known issues that may arise when paired with the SONOS Connect: Amp.
- The finish does not truly match other SONOS components available today.
- Like all other SONOS home theater components, this subwoofer will only work with other SONOS products.
The Bottom Line: If you have a SONOS system, you lucked out. The SONOS Sub is one of the best wireless subwoofers available today.
7. SVS PB16-Ultra: Best High-End Option
SVS has become one of the best-known brands when it comes to subwoofers. In fact, a top subwoofer list that does not include at least one SVS model should be considered incomplete!
The SVS PB16-Ultra (on Amazon) is a top of the line monster that can fill even the largest rooms with beautifully rich bass. As one of the most powerful and sophisticated subwoofers available today, this device delivers on both quality sound and features. Ideal for larger spaces, the SVS PB16-Ultra is one of the most advanced models available today. (While SVS has come out with newer models – the Ultra remains one of the best-selling high-end units available today.)
- 16-inch driver and a pair of front-firing woofers, made of fiberglass resin composite and a cast aluminum basket
- 8-inch edge wound voice coil
- 1,500-watt RMS amplifier with a peak of 5,000-watts
- 13 to 360 Hz frequency response (depending on Standard, Extended or Sealed mode selection)
- 21-3/4-inch wide, 25-inch high, 31-inch deep
- Front-mounted 8-digit LED display and controls
- Bluetooth connectivity and control with iOS or Android smartphones or tablets
- Typically sells for under $3,000
- Revolutionary control gives you the ability to adjust the sound easily.
- The SVS PB16-Ultra is considered an industry standard when it comes to sound quality.
- Stunning clarity whether you are listening to gunshots in an action movie to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.
- The quality delivered by the SVS PH16-Ultra comes with a hefty price tag that makes it unaffordable for many.
- Weighing in at 175 pounds, this subwoofer requires at least two people to unbox and move.
The Bottom Line: The SVS PB16-Ultra is the ideal subwoofer for large rooms and serious home theater systems.
8. Theater Solutions SUB8S: Best Slim Profile Option
Space is usually a factor when you start really looking into which subwoofer to add to your home theater. Many models, after all, are rather large and can take up a lot of room. However, that is not true when it comes to the Theater Solutions SUB8S. In fact, the Theater Solutions SUB8S (on Amazon) has a slim profile that makes it ideal for hiding beneath furniture.
- 8-inch down-firing woofer
- Digital drive, high-efficiency amplifier with a peak of 250-watts
- 35 to 150 Hz frequency response
- 16-inch wide, 4-3/4-inch high, 25-inch deep
- Available in black or wood-vinyl finish
- Typically sells for under $200
- The Theater Solutions SUB8S is thin, fitting under couches and inside entertainment centers easily.
- Automatic power functionality allows the Theater Solutions SUB8S to turn itself on and off when the audio signal is provided.
- Volume and crossover frequency controls are located under the device, making it inconvenient to control if placed beneath a couch.
The Bottom Line: If you need a subwoofer that fits easily under your furniture that still delivers on sound, the Theater Solutions SUB8S is for you.