The best subwoofers of 2018

Six sensational subwoofers that will shake any room on any budget

best subwoofers

No home theater worth its salt is complete if it doesn’t have a quality subwoofer. Film buff? A solid sub can transform action movies into sensory onslaughts, making sure you feel each explosion rumble the room around you. Music lover? Pick the right subwoofer, and your living room can feel like the main stage at a music festival, given the right tunes.

To experience that sublimity, though, you need to choose the right sub. They’re not exactly a one-size-fits-all proposition (unless you’re swimming in disposable income), but they’re also a little confusing to shop for if you don’t know where and how to look. If you’re Michael Bay, you probably want something powerful, but if you’re just trying to reduce stress on your prized pair of speakers, you don’t need to drop thousands on a sub. That’s why we’re here! Scroll on down to see our selections for the best subwoofers, no matter your preferences.

If you’ve already made your choice, check our subwoofer setup guide to get everything put together correctly and our calibration guide to help maximize performance in any listening space.

At a glance

Product Category Rating
The best SVS SB-16 Ultra 5 out of 5
The best budget subwoofer Monoprice 9723 Powered Subwoofer Not yet rated
The best compact subwoofer GoldenEar Technology SuperSub X Not yet rated
The best hideaway subwoofer Paradigm MilleniaSub Not yet rated
The dark horse subwoofer Definitive Technology ProSub 1000 Not yet rated
The best attractive subwoofer KEF R400b Not yet rated

SVS SB-16 Ultra

The best

svs sound unveils 16 ultra series subwoofers sealed 1

Why you should buy it: It’s our favorite subwoofer ever, built to excel in any and all circumstances.

Who it’s for: Those who want a powerful, versatile subwoofer that cuts no corners.

How much it will cost: $2,000

Why we picked the SVS SB-16 Ultra:

We’ve had the SB-16 Ultra in our testing chambers for many months now — not because we’re too lazy to move it out (though it does weigh in at a hefty 122 pounds), but because we haven’t found anything worthy to take its place. This subwoofer has become our measuring stick, which might actually be unfair to the competition — it’s that good. Beneath a sleek, stylish exterior, the cubic SB-16 houses a monstrous 16-inch Ultra driver with an 8-inch, edge-wound voice coil, and a ridiculous 1,500-watt continuous Sledge amplifier with discrete MOSFET output that tops out at 5,000 watts peak power.

All of this is to say: No matter how you’re using the SB-16, it impresses. Gunshots and explosions in films register with a hefty thump to the chest, and the sub manages low-end instrumentation beautifully, allowing acoustic bass to bounce smoothly while electronic bass and kick drums shake the foundations of your home. For our money, this is the best subwoofer you can buy, period.

Read our full SVS SB-16 Ultra review

Monoprice 9723 Powered Subwoofer

The best budget subwoofer

Why you should buy it: It’s compact, reliable, and just $100.

Who it’s for: Those who want to add some thump on the cheap.

How much it will cost: $100

Why we picked the Monoprice 9723:

If you’re short on cash or if you’re looking for a support subwoofer to put in the bedroom (or office, or whatever your secondary entertainment space may be), don’t stress — there are viable, affordable options out there. For our money (and yours), your best bet is Monoprice’s 12-inch 9723 Powered Subwoofer, which can be acquired for the low, low price of a single Benji. Though this guy won’t knock down any walls, it’s capable of producing full bass that never sounds tinny or boomy.

A nondescript, black-on-black design should help the sub fit comfortably into most rooms without drawing undue attention, and at about 17 inches cubed, it’s big enough to rattle some hardwood. If you’re a casual viewer or listener looking for a budget sub to round out your system, try the Monoprice 9723 on for size.

GoldenEar Technology SuperSub X

The best compact subwoofer

GoldenEar SuperSub X

Why you should buy it: This pint-sized cabinet belies some serious power.

Who it’s for: Those who want a small sub with exceptionally powerful and articulate bass.

How much it will cost: $1,250

Why we picked the GoldenEar Technology SuperSub X:

Like its equally impressive bigger sibling, the SuperSub XXL (and, frankly, most GoldenEar Technology products), the SuperSub X is a very impressive piece of tech. Despite its relatively small frame — 14 x 12.75 x 13.25 inches, 40 pounds — a quartet of transducers make the X both beefy and musical. Two 8-inch long-throw active drivers are located at either end of the subwoofer, while two fixed passive radiators live near the top and bottom, all powered by a 1,400-watt ForceField digital amplifier.

In practice, this means the X produces deep, forceful bass that outpunches its meager size while somehow managing to avoid distortion, vibration, and sloppiness entirely. At $1,250, this is not a particularly cheap subwoofer — in fact, that’s not cheap at all — but if you want the best bass from the smallest box, this is it.

Paradigm MilleniaSub

The best hideaway subwoofer

Why you should buy it: Its thin profile allows for convenient concealment.

Who it’s for: Anyone concerned about the aesthetic of their entertainment space.

How much it will cost: $1,399

Why we picked the Paradigm MilleniaSub:

Yes, the MilleniaSub looks like an oversized router, and no, it won’t work underwater (despite the name). Its weird shape, though, is the main reason we’ve included it on our list. The skinny MilleniaSub can be mounted on your wall, but we see its svelte design as an opportunity to beef up your home theater’s bass without busying up your living space.

The MilenniaSub fits neatly behind couches, chairs, and tables, and the extruded aluminum housing means it weighs just 24 pounds. Back-to-back 14-inch “bipolar” polymer cone woofers are driven by 300 watts (up to 900 watts at peak) for pure low-end rumble, and they’re arranged in a manner that nearly eliminates distortion altogether. The $1,400 price is no small ask, but if you’re truly looking for a classy, concealable subwoofer, look here first.

Definitive Technology ProSub 1000

The dark horse subwoofer

Definitive Technology ProSub 1000

Why you should buy it: It’s reasonably priced, surprisingly effective, and versatile to boot.

Who it’s for: Those looking for the best possible performance at just a few hundred dollars.

How much it will cost: $499

Why we picked the Definitive Technology ProSub 1000:

The ProSub 1000 punches well above its price point, which hovers under $400 at most retailers. Definitive Technology has a long and storied history of producing excellent bass, and this subwoofer is an outstanding example of that pedigree.

Armed with a 10-inch active driver and a 10-inch passive radiator, you’ll get 300 watts of bass that’s both punchy and poignant, all at a price that is almost too good to be true. The ProSub’s non-resonant MDF cabinets prevent distortion at the lowest frequencies, while its unique, steep “dual-stage” roll-off helps to blend with main speakers.

KEF R400b

The best attractive subwoofer

best subwoofers kef r600b

Why you should buy it: It’s a gorgeous addition to any home theater, and its performance speaks for itself.

Who it’s for: Anyone who wants powerful, tight, and musical low end in an attractive package.

How much it will cost: $1,700

Why we picked the KEF R400b:

We’ve already seen plenty of incredible gear from British-based KEF, including the innovative (and gorgeous) LS50 Wireless, so we weren’t very surprised to find out how awesome the R400b is. This subwoofer features twin 9-inch drivers powered by two 250W class-D amplifiers. KEF mounted the speakers back to back, making for massive-yet-tight low frequencies while keeping unwanted cabinet resonance at bay.

You won’t often find yourself putting a subwoofer in a prominent place, but with the R400b, it wouldn’t be a problem thanks to its eye-catching look, with no visible screws. The $1,300 price tag isn’t cheap, but the combination of looks and performance won’t have you regretting the purchase.

How we test

You’d think a box of bass would be fairly easy to test and evaluate, but given how much a room can affect bass response from a subwoofer — along with the growing number of subs that come with room equalization features that aim to deal with those room-based influences — we’ve developed a fairly extensive process for gathering as much information as we can about a subwoofer’s performance.

Before we get to performance-based evaluations, we take a step back and look at the subwoofer on the whole. Is it bulky or compact? Is it solidly constructed or does it feel a bit flimsy or cheap? How extensive are the connection options and how do those affect connectivity? If there’s an app to help with subwoofer control and settings, is it intuitive and useful?

Once we’ve gathered information on those touch points listed above, we run the subwoofer for several hours before beginning any critical evaluation. While there is much debate over whether the “break-in effect” is real, we prefer to get that factor covered so it doesn’t play a role in our evaluation one way or another.

Our subwoofer tests take place in at least two different rooms, any of which we are intimately familiar with, and we generally test the subwoofer in three locations that we know offer the best possible response within those rooms. Testing material includes everything from test tone sweeps to blockbuster movies and a selection of music from multiple genres. We seek to learn how deep a sub can play, how visceral the low bass response is, how well it can be adjusted to integrate with both small and large satellite speakers, and how musically accurate it is capable of playing.

We hope for a versatile subwoofer, which can not only belt out the big bass notes needed for a high-impact action movie, but one which can also stay tight and tuneful when playing acoustic upright bass, or reproducing the classic Fender P-bass tone. A good subwoofer will avoid tubby, boomy sound that lacks definition, and instead integrate itself seamlessly into a larger audio system, calling attention to itself only during instances in which its pure muscle can’t be ignored.

Photography

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses - something no phone…
Home Theater

Demystify home audio with our ultimate A/V receiver buying guide

Today's A/V receivers are packed with lots of advanced technology and just plain cool features. From understanding watt ratings to Wi-Fi, we explain how to buy one that will last you for years in our ultimate A/V receiver buying guide.
Home Theater

From game consoles to 4K UHD spinners, these are the best Blu-ray players

Streaming may be popular, but the disc isn't dead yet! To get the very best picture and sound quality from your system, you need to be watching Blu-ray or 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. Here are the best Blu-ray players you can buy right now.
Emerging Tech

From flying for fun to pro filmmaking, these are the best drones you can buy

In just the past few years, drones have transformed from a geeky hobbyist affair to a full-on cultural phenomenon. Here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now, no matter what kind of flying you plan to do.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this fall with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Home Theater

Budget TVs are finally worth buying, and you can thank Roku

Not all that long ago, budget TVs were only worth looking at if, well, you were on a budget. Thanks to Roku, not only are budget TVs now a viable option for anyone, but they might even be a better buy than more expensive TVs.
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Curse of La Llorona,’ ‘Jonathan,’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. To simplify things, we round up the best ones each week. On tap this week: New trailers for The Curse of La Llarona, The Kid Who Would Be King, and more.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (October 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: ‘Apostle,’ ‘Daredevil’ season 3, and more

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: Apostle, Daredevil season 3, Making A Murderer season 2, and more.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I.-powered cat toys, wallets, food containers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Home Theater

Google offers a week of free credit after YouTube TV outage, but not for long

Earlier this month, YouTube TV went down for users all around the world, and to make up for it, Google is offering affected users a week of free service. But if you want to grab the credit, you need to act quickly.
Home Theater

How to crack the code and find the best TV resolution for your needs

720p? 1080p? 4K UHD? What does it all mean? Choosing the best resolution for your TV can be tough, but fear not: We’ll break down the dirty details and help you figure out the right resolution for you.