The best subwoofers you can buy in 2022

When it comes to low-end bass that can be felt as much as it can be heard, We’ve chosen SVS’s SB16 Ultra as the best pick. With its outrageously powerful amp and stylish good looks, it will fill a room with bass you can feel deep in your bones. It’s so good, we gave it a perfect 5 out of 5 in our review, something that rarely happens.

Our team has more than 50 years of consumer and pro audio experience, and much of that time — thousand of hours — has been spent listening to home theater gear, including subwoofers. While the Ultra is our choice, we’ve also collected a list of alternatives, each with its own specific strengths from auto installations to saving on space without giving up the bass.

svs sb16 ultra review sb 16 subwoofer no grill

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

SVS SB16 Ultra

The best subwoofer

Pros

  • Gorgeous design
  • Incredibly deep, powerful bass
  • Smooth and articulate
  • Does the work of two subs
  • First-class control app

Cons

  • Could be large for some rooms

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.

Why we picked the SVS SB16 Ultra:

We’ve had the SB-6 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 subwoofer box, the cubic SB16 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 theSB16, 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.

SVS SB16-Ultra

SVS SB16 Ultra

The best subwoofer

The Dayton Audio SUB-1200 subwoofer front and back.

Dayton Audio SUB-1200

The best budget subwoofer

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Fairly compact
  • Nondescript design blends with anything

Cons

  • You won’t get the same bass accuracy as other models

Why you should buy it: It’s compact, reliable, and highly affordable.

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

Why we picked the Dayton Audio SUB-1200:

It’s okay if you’re short on cash or just looking for a support subwoofer to put in the bedroom (or office, or whatever your secondary entertainment space may be) because viable and affordable options are out there. For our money (and yours), you won’t go wrong with the Dayton Audio SUB-1200, which is much more affordable than many of our other picks. It’s deceptively powerful, despite its 12-inch frame, capable of producing full bass that never sounds tinny or boomy.

So nondescript that it will fit comfortably into most rooms without drawing undue attention, it strikes a nice balance aesthetically and functionally. Big enough to rattle some hardwood, but not rickety enough to make bass go off the rails. That’s why it’s great if you’re a casual viewer or listener looking for a budget sub to round out your system. 

Dayton Audio SUB-1200

Dayton Audio SUB-1200

The best budget subwoofer

The MartinLogan Dynamo 800X subwoofer.

MartinLogan Dynamo 800X

The best compact subwoofer

Pros

  • Compact 13-inch frame
  • Deep, forceful bass
  • Saves on floor space

Cons

  • While it’s impressive, bigger models will still produce bigger bass

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.

Why we picked the MartinLogan Dynamo 800X:

The Dynamo 800X has bigger siblings, but it holds its own as an impressive piece of tech when looking at it punching above its weight. Despite its relatively small frame — 13.7 by 12.4 by 13.1 inches, 30 pounds — its 10-inch driver and amplifier can hit a peak of 600 watts. That’s pretty modest on paper, yet the bass sound coming out in practice is impactful while powered by the Class D amplifier.

It produces a deep, forceful bass that really comes out in particular moments when watching a big movie or listening to music. Fastening the legs tightly can withstand any vibration or rattling from the casing, and it largely avoids any distortion while rumbling along. At its price, this is good value for what you get in a subwoofer — especially when it doesn’t need as much floor space to do its thing. If you want the best bass from the smallest box, the Dynamo 800X gives you that.

MartinLogan Dynamo 800X

MartinLogan Dynamo 800X

The best compact subwoofer

The Sonos Sub in a living space.

Sonos Sub

Best sub for Sonos users

Pros

  • Easy setup
  • Deep, rich bass for movies and music
  • Customizable sound with the Sonos app

Cons

  • Can only use it with a Sonos system
  • Expensive

Why you should buy it: You can easily add bass and impact to any Sonos speaker, or speakers, or create a solid surround sound system.

Who it’s for: Sonos enthusiasts who want to expand what their Sonos system can do.

Why we picked the Sonos Sub:

If you’re already been the proud owner of some Sonos Wi-Fi speakers and were curious about adding a Sonos Sub to either improve the oomph of your music or create a surround sound system for your home theater, then we’re probably not the first to tell you that this is a great idea. While it’s a bit on the expensive side at $750, what you’re getting is some impressive deep bass sound that not only adds well-blended room-filling low end to your tunes but also impact and chest-pounding depth to movies.

Make sure you warn your neighbors first because the Sonos Sub can get loud. Compatible with any Sonos speaker (new or old), including One, Five, Move, and Roam, as well as the Beam and Arc soundbars, adding a Sub (or multiple Subs) to your setup is easy with the Sonos app — and cable-free! You can then use the app to configure your sound, fine-tune the EQ and blend level, and even tweak it to specific rooms with the Trueplay software that measures acoustics and sets the sound accordingly. Music is clear, the bass is tight and never boomy, and you can pretty much place the Sub wherever suits your decor or furniture situation — even under media stands.

But where Sonos enthusiasts might be most intrigued is how easy it is to create a surround sound setup by combining a Sub with other Sonos speakers — for example, the Sonos Beam or Dolby Atmos-capable Arc soundbars in the front with a pair of stand-mounted Ones as rears is a great-sounding configuration that’s easy to do. You can even buy a whole set, ready to go, for just under $1,700. The low-end rumble and atmosphere added to movies and sports is a game-changer.

Sonos Sub

Sonos Sub

Best sub for Sonos users

The Paradigm MilleniaSub.

Paradigm MilleniaSub

The best hideaway subwoofer

Pros

  • Can be mounted in many places
  • Dual 14-inch cone woofers
  • Very low distortion

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Some may not like the modern look

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.

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 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 MilleniaSub 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 $1,500 price is no small ask, but if you’re truly looking for a classy, concealable subwoofer, start here first.

Paradigm MilleniaSub

Paradigm MilleniaSub

The best hideaway subwoofer

The Polk Audio PSW10 Subwoofer.

Polk Audio PSW10 Subwoofer

The dark horse subwoofer

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Very, very compact
  • Works with existing systems
  • Good for small setups

Cons

  • Low wattage compared to other models

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 a lower price.

Why we picked the Polk Audio PSW10 Subwoofer:

Those looking for a more affordable subwoofer that still delivers will find this 10-inch Polk speaker an ideal solution: It offers a simple, durable design with a detachable subwoofer encloser, including speaker and line-level inputs as well as speaker-level outputs, a low pass filter, and a phase toggle switch on the back. It also has a built-in 50-watt RMS amp for bass boost that you can enable for an overall 100 watts of sound power. It offers 80-160Hz crossover and 40-160Hz frequency response.

The Polk Audio Subwoofer is designed to work with any existing system (including sound systems put together by aspiring musicians), but you can choose to bundle it with a centra channel speaker if you prefer the most compatibility possible.

Polk Audio PSW10 Subwoofer

Polk Audio PSW10 Subwoofer

The dark horse subwoofer

The Klipsch Reference Series 12 on a shelf.

Klipsch Reference Series 12 (R-12SW)

The best attractive subwoofer

Pros

  • A subwoofer you can show off
  • 400W Class-D amplifiers
  • Reaches lows without rattling

Why you should buy it: Any home theater looks better with it, and its value and performance are worth every penny.

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

Why we picked the Klipsch Reference Series 12 (R-12SW):

Klipsch has carved out a pretty solid reputation in the home theater space, which is probably why we shouldn’t have been surprised at how awesome the Reference Series 12 is. This subwoofer is available at a bargain these days, coming with a 12-inch driver powered by 400W Class-D amplifiers. Klipsch managed to build this pretty light in weight at only 30 pounds, but what’s inside is rigid, making it possible to reach deeper into the lows without rattling its cage.

Your options for placement are also more varied because of the subwoofer’s looks. Klipsch includes a cloth grille to cover the front, but the copper cone looks so much better when exposed. It does lack in extra features, so what you’re getting is a workhorse that sticks to one job. It’s just great that the Series 12 looks so good doing it every time you play some music or watch a movie. The combination of looks, performance, and price won’t have you regretting the purchase.

Klipsch Reference Series 12

Klipsch Reference Series 12 (R-12SW)

The best attractive subwoofer

The Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12.

Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12

The best car subwoofer

Pros

  • Perfect for outfitting vehicles
  • 1,200W of power
  • Anodized aluminum voice coils for durability

Cons

  • Only for serious car upgrades

Why you should buy it: It adds extra-powerful bass to vehicle sound quality.

Who it’s for: Those serious about outfitting their vehicle with the best sound system.

Why we picked the Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12:

If you are looking to outfit a vehicle with the best sound system possible, you’ll need an impressive subwoofer that’s also designed for use in a car — and that means turning to Rockford Fosgate. This powerful 12-inch, dual 4-ohm subwoofer is guaranteed to pump things up, and the anodized aluminum voice coils will ensure the speaker lasts without suffering too much from wear, tear, or heat. It’s also designed in every way to be easy to install in vehicles, with a rubber over-mold and protective magnet cover to guard against dust.

With the 600-watt RMS, the P3D4-12 can reach 1,200 watts of max power. Oh, and everything comes with a full one-year warranty if anything goes wrong with the sealed subwoofer. There’s no better way to get real bass delivery on a vehicle system that’s ready for the best tailgating experience in the world.

Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12

Rockford Fosgate P3D4-12

The best car subwoofer

Frequently Asked Questions

Are bigger subwoofers better?

They can be. Larger woofers can produce more accurate, room-filling bass with a bigger “shake” factor than smaller models. But that’s only one consideration. A poorly constructed large subwoofer may rattle too much, for example, while smaller models with plenty of power can still do a great job.

Does my speaker system need a subwoofer?

It’s a really, really good idea. Home theater systems are generally designed with a subwoofer in mind. So are the latest movie audio standards.

Can I use two subwoofers at once?

You can, although it isn’t common in home setups. Just make sure that your receiver can handle two subwoofer connections. Some people prefer using two smaller woofers that they can strategically place in their theater to get the best multi-directional bass.

Wait, is there a difference between a woofer and a subwoofer?

The terms are frequently used interchangeably. Traditionally, a “woofer” can refer to a driver that has a higher frequency response than a subwoofer, less dedicated to pure bass sound, and more likely to be part of a speaker than a standalone unit.

How do you test?

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.

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.

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