Best Powered Subwoofers

Review & Comparison, Last Update October 17, 2017
Subwoofers are speakers designed for reproducing specifically the low frequencies with the maximum efficiency when they receive a special LFE or general audio signal. We have selected the best subwoofers that deliver an incredibly powerful sound. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Driver diameter
Power
Peak power
Frequency range
Box design
Sound output direction
Controls
Inputs / outputs
Dimensions
 
PROS
The PSW505 subwoofer is capable of automatically turning off if there is no audio signal from a source. The device has a magnetic shielding that prevents any EMI interference if placed near a monitor or a TV.
CONS
A very high output power does not allow using the full subwoofer's potential when used with home theaters.
OUR VERDICT
A very powerful model, which is splendid for making a bass more pronounced and music more lively at any music party.
detailed parameters
Driver diameter
12"
Power
300 W
Peak power
460 W
Frequency range
23 Hz - 160 Hz
Box design
Ported
Sound output direction
Front-firing
Controls
Volume control, Bass adjustment, Phase switch
Inputs / outputs
RCA in, Line in (LFE unfiltered/low frequencies filtered in), Low-frequency filtered stereo out for 2 external speakers
Dimensions
16.1" x 15.1" x 18.2"
PROS
The patented Venturi technology by BIC America implemented in this home subwoofer suppresses environmental noise. The F12 subwoofer is compatible with Dolby Pro-Logic and Dolby Digital/DTS and offers an easy switching between the sources.
CONS
The cabinet of F12 is quite bulky.
OUR VERDICT
BIC F12 powered subwoofer is a high-quality product by the leading acoustic brand that offers impressive sound parameters, convenient controls, and multiple tuning options.
detailed parameters
Driver diameter
12"
Power
150 W
Peak power
475 W
Frequency range
25 Hz - 200 Hz
Box design
Ported
Sound output direction
Front-firing
Controls
Volume control, Crossover adjustment, Phase switch, Automatic signal sensing
Inputs / outputs
RCA LFE input, 2-channel (+/- for each channel) speaker level inputs, 2-channel (+/- for each channel) satellite speaker outputs from the integrated amplifier
Dimensions
17" x 14.75" x 17.25"
PROS
Yamaha SW012 powered subwoofer uses the Advanced YST technology, which allows the driver and the integrated amplifier to operate synchronously for lowering the impedance and achieving an excellent driver linearity. The YST also improves an overall subwoofer response.
CONS
There is no crossover cutoff frequency adjustment and no phase switch on this subwoofer.
OUR VERDICT
This Yamaha model is very simple to operate and is a perfect addition to home theater systems for making their bass really deep.
detailed parameters
Driver diameter
8"
Power
50 W
Peak power
100 W
Frequency range
28 Hz - 200 Hz
Box design
Ported
Sound output direction
Front-firing
Controls
Volume control
Inputs / outputs
Line in
Dimensions
11.42" x 11.42" x 12.9"
PROS
Mica reinforced cellular cone and bass reflex system enable this Sony subwoofer to produce a deep and tight bass. The SACS9 is compatible with the High-Resolution Audio, thus allowing you to listen to audio records and movie soundtracks. You can totally enjoy a high-resolution sound.
CONS
Normal / reversed phase switching is not very convenient.
OUR VERDICT
Sony SACS9 is a powered subwoofer, which offers a perfect bass response and is a treat for audiophiles and music lovers.
detailed parameters
Driver diameter
10"
Power
115 W
Peak power
~250 W
Frequency range
28 Hz - 200 Hz
Box design
Ported
Sound output direction
Front-firing
Controls
Volume control, Crossover adjustment, Phase switch
Inputs / outputs
Line in and speaker level (amplified) combined stereo inputs, Out terminals (+/- each) for 2 satellite speakers from the integrated amplifiers
Dimensions
13.58" x 11.61" x 15.75"
PROS
The Dynamo 300 MartinLogan subwoofer offers stereo left/right line level inputs, a single channel LFE input, and speaker level input clamp terminals. This variety of inputs makes the subwoofer compatible with a wide range of devices starting from power amplifiers to complicated sound processors.
CONS
The highly efficient ported design with a powerful output does not allow placing the subwoofer near the walls and pieces of furniture.
OUR VERDICT
If placed correctly, this compact yet powerful home subwoofer will provide an even distribution of the high-quality sound produced across your room. The Dynamo 300 subwoofer is a marvelous device to boost the bass of your home audio system.
detailed parameters
Driver diameter
8"
Power
75 W
Peak power
150 W
Frequency range
32 Hz - 150 Hz
Box design
Ported
Sound output direction
Down-firing
Controls
Volume control, Crossover adjustment, Phase switch
Inputs / outputs
RCA LFE input (mono), RCA line in (stereo), Stereo speaker level input (4 terminals, +/- for each channel)
Dimensions
14.15" x 12.6" x 13.75"

What is a Powered Subwoofer?

Active subwoofers are the systems containing specialized low-frequency speakers (also called drivers) and integrated amplifiers, which are intended for the use in split speaker systems providing a more elaborate bass reproduction. Thus, subwoofers can enrich the sound of your speaker system with more authoritative and informative low-register sound rendering and increase the overall loudness of an acoustic system. We should note that active subwoofers are not self-sufficient acoustic devices as they require tweeters and mid-range speakers (as well as a low-pass crossover filter) for a full-scale and comprehensive reproduction of audible sound. Powered subwoofers make listening to your favorite music or watching movies on home theater systems much more enjoyable.

If you own a car and wish to equip it with a high-quality speaker system you definitely should check our car speakers review to make the right choice and be able to revel in luxurious sound.

Best Powered Subwoofers

What Features to Compare

Sound Performance

When choosing a low-frequency driver or a subwoofer in other words you should first consider its sound performance. In general, the bigger the driver is, the richer and lower, in terms of frequency response, the sound it can reproduce due to its overall power. As a tradeoff for deeper bass, you get the bigger speaker dimensions and weight, though. Actually, the acoustic power and the frequency range, which a speaker can reproduce with adequate fidelity, are two main parameters of a sound performance. The output power of a subwoofer speaker of 100W is enough for covering small premises and enforcing the low-end range of an existing speaker system. Nevertheless, if you want to have a more powerful speaker system that provides sound for large rooms and halls or if you are searching for a professional-grade speaker, you should focus on subwoofers with higher output power. The sound reproduction in low-frequency range occurs within the following sub-ranges (octaves): low bass (20-40 Hz), middle bass (40-80 Hz), and high bass (80-160 Hz). The vast majority of powered subwoofers are capable of Hi-Fi audio playback in 40-200 Hz range while top-tier subwoofers can go as low as 20 Hz.

Box Design

After defining the target sound parameters, you need to pay your attention to a box design of a subwoofer to pick the best option for a required positioning. In terms of sound direction, the drivers are of two main types: front-firing or down-firing. With that, the sound performance of low-frequency speakers is much less dependent on the output sound direction as the one of the tweeters. Despite the fact that some reviewers report a front-firing box design to provide slightly better impulse response values than a down-firing design, none of the designs is inherently superior. Regardless of the box design, you have to pay attention to subwoofer positioning as the sound waves travel in the same way after leaving a subwoofer box. Also, you should think about the measures of decoupling a subwoofer box from the floor to avoid the transmitting of box shaking into the floor.

From the point of view of box ports, box designs are divided into sealed ones (no ports) and ported ones (with a tuned port or a bass reflex). Sealed subwoofers are considered to reproduce the low-frequency sound with more accuracy and evenness. As the air does not move in and out of the sealed box when a speaker operates it acts like a shock absorber and smoothly modulates the forward and backward motion of the speaker cone. The powered subwoofers with sealed boxes are the best those who like critical listening or who are fans of jazz, classical, and acoustic music. The subwoofers with a ported box are equipped with a special port (ported enclosure), through which the air travels out of the box, thus enforcing the sound. Due to a higher efficiency of ported subwoofers, they require a slightly smaller amplifier power to achieve the same loudness level as sealed subwoofers. The bass produced by ported subwoofers is a bit 'boomier' and less accurate than the one from the sealed subwoofers, thus the former suit better for those who like more bass-heavy music such as hard rock, hip hop or electronic dance music.

Controls

Please, make sure that the powered subwoofer you consider meets your demands in terms of controls, which allow tuning the subwoofer to organically fit the main speakers in your existing or desired acoustic system. It is advisable for your powered subwoofer to have not only a volume control but also a tone control, crossover frequency control (defines the higher limit of the frequency range in a sound signal, which will be reproduced by a subwoofer) and frequency attenuator. It is also important for a subwoofer to offer a phase control that enables you to synchronize the sound waves from all the speakers so that they all reach a target location at the same time. Powered subwoofers use a line in for receiving an audio signal, which may be made as mono input socket or an RCA stereo socket. This input interface connects a subwoofer to an audio signal source (receiver, DAC, other devices with an analog line out). Some powered subwoofers support the connection to a receiver or an amplifier via the inputs that pass an audio signal directly to subwoofer speakers, bypassing the built-in subwoofer amplifier. A useful addition is a special clamp terminal that makes it possible to connect external speakers to your powered subwoofer and feed a signal from the built-in subwoofer amplifier to these external speakers.

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Polk Audio PSW505 Powered Subwoofer

Rendition Classics

Actually, there is no need to reinvent the wheel in the design and engineering of subwoofers as they tend to be simple yet performing. The casing of Polk Audio PSW505 model is made of MDF natural wood veneer. This rugged casing is assembled in such a way to fully dampen the driver vibrations and smoothen the driver’s resonance, which makes it possible to produce the sound free of distortions and maintain a good subwoofer sensitivity. The PSW505 subwoofer has a ported design and is capable of filling your room with a powerful and rich bass. Having a front-firing driver positioning, this powered subwoofer is the best fit for placing it in a corner of your room or between two speakers. The back panel of the device accommodates all the controls and connection interfaces. The subwoofer has an adjustable crossover cut-off frequency, phase selector and, needless to say, it has a volume control, owing to which you will be able to tune it perfectly for blending with other speakers of your system. For feeding an audio signal from a receiver or an amplifier to this powered subwoofer, you can use either two RCA line-in inputs or the LFE in, which bypasses the subwoofer's built-in low pass filter. The PSW505 subwoofer is also equipped with binding posts for stereo speaker level inputs and two speaker outs (left and right for each speaker). Such configuration enables you to connect two satellite speakers to this powered subwoofer by Polk Audio. The dedicated powered subwoofer reviews suggest using this high-quality subwoofer not only for home theater systems but also to boost the low frequencies response of a music system for making your parties more enjoyable. 

Review of Polk Audio PSW505 Powered Subwoofer

Good Sound Should be Affordable for All

This is the motto Polk Audio company has been adherent to while releasing their music systems for many years. Long ago in 1971 the founders George Klopfer and Sandy Gross started to hand-assemble the speakers in a protest to the production presented on the American market at the time. They were tech educated and had a good ear for music, but what was more important, they had a clear understanding of how the sound system should have looked and sounded. That’s how the company has started that now has over 70 patents in sound system production all over the world. This subwoofer is surely one of the most powerful among the peers with incredibly high power level. The system relies on powerful 12” low-frequency driver which is responsible for sound reproduction. With regards to the power, it equals 300W and grows in volume up to 460 W of its peak power. The all above-mentioned characteristics make it a suitable option for all customers who look for a budget-friendly sound system with an excellent, rich and deep sounding.

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
Unboxing: Polk Audio PSW505 12-inch Powered Subwoofer
Polk Audio PSW505 Powered Subwoofer
Polk Audio PSW505 Powered Subwoofer
 

BIC America F12 Front Firing Powered Subwoofer

Metal Style

The design of F12 powered subwoofer was developed by the specialists of the BIC America company. The casing of this subwoofer is manufactured from sturdy materials and has a black laminate finish with injection molding technology for some elements. As the BIC engineers decided on the front-firing driver positioning, we recommend you to thoroughly select the placement for this powered subwoofer to achieve the maximum quality of the sound reproduction on your acoustic system. If you remove the acoustic grill, you will see a stylish 12-inch low-frequency driver. This home subwoofer by BIC has a potent built-in amplifier capable of delivering 450W of peak output power. The sound covers the band of 25 - 200 Hz of the audible range, which makes it quite comprehensive in terms of bass reproduction. Despite an insignificant roll off below the 30 Hz mark, the F12 subwoofer shows an awesome sound performance, which makes it one of the best subs on the market. The patented Venturi technology by BIC implemented in this music system or home theater subwoofer helps eliminate the port noise.

Review of BIC America F12 Front Firing Powered Subwoofer

Choose a Connection to Your Liking

This powerful subwoofer by BIC America has all the necessary connection ports onboard for pairing it with various receivers, amplifiers, speakers and other audio devices. We advise you to be more careful in selecting interconnection cables to avoid signal degradation and noise. Obviously, the double shielding of the cables you use will enable the powered subwoofer to deliver the ultimate performance and high-quality sound. It's interesting that this powered subwoofer can be paired with Dolby Pro-Logic and Dolby Digital/DTS systems due to the availability of corresponding input, which also allows for easy switching between different sources. The capabilities of F12 subwoofer include a volume control, adjustable crossover, and automatic signal sensing with a phase switch enabling you to fine tune this subwoofer for using it in almost any system and enjoy a rich bass.

With this acoustic device by BIC America in your house, you are in for a treat of tasty bass and overall sound. F12 can be a valuable addition to any home theater system as a home theater subwoofer, so you and your friends can immerse yourselves in the atmosphere of your favorite movies and enjoy every sound this device makes.

BIC America F12 Front Firing Powered Subwoofer in the use

More Products to Consider

Along with the powered subwoofer, customers often purchase some audio receivers. We would like to recommend the Denon AVR-S510BT 5.2 receiver as a perfect addition to this one of the best subwoofers by BIC.

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
BIC America F12 Subwoofer Unboxing!
BIC America F12 Front Firing Powered Subwoofer
BIC America F12 Front Firing Powered Subwoofer
 

Yamaha YST-SW012 Front-Firing Active Subwoofer

The Technology is the Juice

If you are one of those who want to have an inexpensive but high-quality and powerful subwoofer, we suggest paying your attention to this model. This Yamaha subwoofer will be a perceptible addition to your speaker system in respect of low-frequency reproduction. With the 8-inch low-frequency driver, the subwoofer is capable of delivering up to 100W of peak power. Just as many other models from this Yamaha series, this home subwoofer utilizes the Advanced YST technology. The aforementioned sophisticated technology makes the driver and the built-in amplifier with the Active Servo Technology interact in a specific way to automatically adjust the speaker impedance (complex impedance), which allows maintaining very good speaker linearity. Within the YST technology framework, the use of line port in the subwoofer cabinet allows achieving a high sound pressure level in order to improve the subwoofer efficiency and response. The manufacturer opted for ultra-durable wood fiber panels as a structural material for this subwoofer; the case is covered with a special thick absorptive material from the inside to suppress the structure resonance. As the engineering research shows, the use of absorptive material can significantly reduce the level of unwanted noise and sound distortion the subwoofer produces.

Review of Yamaha YST-SW012 Front-Firing Active Subwoofer

Place it Anywhere You Want

When one looks at the dimensions of Yamaha YST-SW012 subwoofer, it becomes clear that SW012 fits any room. With a continuous output power of 50 W, this model meets the power requirements for using it as a home theater subwoofer. This powered subwoofer is quite compact that is why you can place it on the floor or on the shelf near your TV to establish a low-frequency sound source. The subwoofer design is clear and minimalistic that is why it blends with any modern interior. To bring this Yamaha subwoofer into operation, you just need to connect it to an audio signal source via the line input on the back panel. This simple connection is easy to do even at home with the help of a reliable cable with a double shielding. If you need a highly powerful and compact bass enforcement for your system, you really need to consider this subwoofer model by Yamaha. The proprietary ported design of YST-SW012 powered subwoofer will let you feel the low register of an audio record or a movie in its entirety.

Yamaha YST-SW012 Front-Firing Active Subwoofer in the use

More Products to Consider

When establishing a decent sound system at home, the Yamaha RX-V379BL 5.1 audio receiver will definitely come in handy. It will help you connect up to 6 speakers and adjust their sound.

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
Review of Powerful Yamaha YST-SW012 8-Inch Front-Firing Active Subwoofer
Yamaha YST-SW012 Front-Firing Active Subwoofer
Yamaha YST-SW012 Front-Firing Active Subwoofer
 

Sony SACS9 Active Subwoofer

In Search for Perfect Parameters

Some powered subwoofer reviews consider the models with a 10-inch driver to be optimal for home use. The subwoofers of this size are not as bulky as their peers with 12” diameter drivers, though they possess enough power to enrich the lower register of the majority of sound systems. The SACS9 model by SONY has all the necessary parameters in stock for making your system more potent. The SACS9 model offers 115W of the peak power, which is surely sufficient for the use as a home theater receiver. This home subwoofer combines powerful sound with a compact and attractive design. The elegant black finish of the subwoofer cabinet easily makes it an organic part of any home and studio environment. The minimized baffle design enables the device to minimize the sound distortion, producing a clear and accurate sound. The driver this Sony powered subwoofer is built on has a rigid structure with its diaphragm, preserving the original shape even at high loads. Owing to the cone foamed-mica cellular material, you can crank up the volume without any sound quality degradation.

Review of Sony SACS9 Active Subwoofer

Sony Knows What’s What

The Sony company, which was founded in 1946 has been producing high-quality electronics for 70 years with a focus on convenience. Sony SACS9 Active Subwoofer is equipped with special audio outs, which enables a connection of 2 satellite speakers. If you are planning to establish a multi-channel audio system in your house, it will be reasonable to use a receiver or a power amplifier, too. The SACS9 model is paired with a sound signal source via the line in. This Sony powered subwoofer has the volume, phase, and higher cutoff frequency controls to provide a seamless integration with other speakers of your home theater or acoustic system.

Sony SACS9 Active Subwoofer in the use

More Products to Consider

This Sony powered subwoofer is an amazing addition to a set of floor-standing Sony SCCS3 3-Way speakers as together they turn any room into a small cinema.

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Sony SACS9 Active Subwoofer
Sony SACS9 Active Subwoofer
 

MartinLogan Dynamo Home Theater and Stereo Subwoofer

Unconventional Design

At a glance, this subwoofer may seem no different from its counterparts but after taking a closer look we found a significant distinction. The cabinet of MartinLogan subwoofer is designed in such a way that the port and the driver are facing the floor to ensure an even sound propagation. The subwoofer uses a low-frequency driver with a cone diameter of 8 inches that is capable of outputting only 75W in a continuous mode, thus the down-firing design is justified as it provides a bigger range of sound waves propagation with such a moderate power. It is not recommended to place the Dynamo Home Theater and Stereo Subwoofer near the walls or pieces of furniture in order to avoid the low-frequency hum or buzz in them. Thus, it is optimal to stand this home theater subwoofer alongside your TV. With that, regardless of subwoofer’s cabinet direction, the low-frequency sound waves (produced by this model) travel evenly in all directions along the floor.

Review of MartinLogan Dynamo Home Theater and Stereo Subwoofer

Setting has Never Been so Easy

The Dynamo 300 is furnished with all the controls required for adjusting the volume and switching the phase of the sound produced as well as for the adjustment of lows. All the controls and connections of the Dynamo 300 are placed on the back panel, so you can easily access them anytime you need. The device has two RCA line-in level inputs (left and right) for the connection to external preamplifiers or devices with a line out, and four clamp terminal inputs for feeding an amplified signal (receiver, amplifier, etc.) to the subwoofer. If you decide to connect the MartinLogan Dynamo 300 to Dolby Surround systems with a built-in sound processor, we highly recommend using the LFE input, which allows bypassing the internal subwoofer crossover. The phase switch offers 0 and 180 degrees options to synchronize the subwoofer output with satellite speakers. You can also select between On, Auto or Standby power supply modes depending on sound playback conditions.

Summing up, we should point out that this music system and home theater subwoofer by MartinLogan is a splendid model for a personal use that makes your sound system’s response reach as low as 32 Hz and improves the overall sound playback quality in your room. We consider this Dynamo 300 powered subwoofer to be a good addition to your multi-channel or stereo video/music sound system for you to enjoy your favorite movies, cartoons or music.

MartinLogan Dynamo Home Theater and Stereo Subwoofer in the use

A Useful Application

Room acoustics analysis software

Have you heard about a special software application, which enables an easy measurement of room acoustics? In this app you can analyze the sound parameters of your room and determine the correct placement of a subwoofer or middle-frequency speakers and tweeters.

More Products to Consider

We would like to draw your attention to MartinLogan Motion 8, which will become a splendid center channel enforcement of your speaker system that is preferred by many customers.

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
Audio Advisor - MartinLogan Dynamo 300 Subwoofer
MartinLogan Dynamo Home Theater and Stereo Subwoofer
MartinLogan Dynamo Home Theater and Stereo Subwoofer
 

Infographics

Comparison of Powered Subwoofers

Sources:

1. Joshua Crane, Home Theater Subwoofers Bying Guide, CRUTCHFIELD. June 29, 2016.

2. How to Choose the Right Subwoofer for Your Sound System, eBay. July 20, 2013.

3. Geoffrey Morrison, How to pick up the right subwoofer, CNET. March 13, 2013.

4. Scott Steinberg, Choosing a SubwooferDigital Trends. March 13, 2009.

5. Brent Butterworth, How to Choose Subwoofer for Surround Sound or Stereo, Home Theather. October 12, 2015.

6. Subwoofer How to Guide, Parts Express.

7. Steve Munz, Sealed vs Ported Subwoofers: Which Is Right For You?, Audioholics. April 01, 2014.

8. Subwoofer, Wikipedia.

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