The 8 Best Home Subwoofers of 2021

Add floor-shaking bass to your home theater

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The best home subwoofer will enhance your home theater's sound performance hugely for both moth movies and music. While a typical speaker is more than capable of producing audible bass, a subwoofer specifically targets a lower frequency range that results in that trademark rumble you can feel.

For most systems, our experts think you should just buy the BIC Acoustech PL-200 II Subwoofer.

The Rundown
It has a rich, deep sound with a balanced, energetic bass and a good low-frequency response.
The MDF cabinet has a black-ash finish that makes it look like solid wood.
With a 10-inch front firing driver and radiator, this subwoofer creates a radiation area that’s larger than previous models.
This subwoofer works great for both music and movies, with a booming sound that’s clean and distortion-free.
Much like a subwoofer in a standard wired system, the Sonos Sub will give you a really full, deep low end.
Best smaller subwoofer:
Polk Audio PSW10 at Amazon
It doesn’t take up as much space as the 12-inch units on this list, which is great for smaller spaces like apartments.
It can deliver enough bass to rattle your coffee mug.
Best for Small Spaces:
Yamaha NS-SW050BL at Amazon
It weighs less than 20 pounds, and it measures only 11.5 x 11.5 x 14 inches, so you can tuck it away in a corner.

Best Overall: BIC Acoustec PL-200 II Subwoofer

BIC Acoustec PL-200 II Subwoofer
What We Like
  • 1000W

  • Gold-plated terminals

  • Solid construction

What We Don't Like
  • Not great for small spaces

  • No magnetic shielding

The BIC Acoustech PL-200 II Subwoofer has enough power to really shake all but the biggest living rooms. It has a rich, deep sound with a balanced, energetic bass and a good low-frequency response.

With its simplistic black and copper color scheme, the PL-200 II is an attractive addition to a home theater system, and at less than $300, it’s still (just about) budget friendly.

Our reviewer Benjamin was particularly impressed with how intuitive the setup process was for this subwoofer. Benjamin needed only to plug in power and connect it to the sub out port on the receiver to get things up and running.

Wattage: 250 RMS, 1,000 Peak | Driver Size: 12-inch | Direction: Front-firing

"You can feel the impact even more in your body and this sub is more than capable of making the floor and walls rumble when the bass hits." — Benjamin Zeman, Product Tester

BIC Acoustec PL-200 II Subwoofer

Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman

Best Design: ELAC S10 Debut Series 200 Watt Powered Subwoofer

ELAC S10 Debut Series 200 Watt Powered Subwoofer
What We Like
  • 200 Watts

  • Large frequency response

  • Automatic equalization

What We Don't Like
  • Not wireless

The ELAC Debut 2.0 Series 200 Watt Powered Subwoofer with a 10-inch bass driver will give your movies and music a 'stunning sense of realism' according to our reviewer Erika.There are dials on the back for adjusting the volume and low pass so it'll fit into your system.

Our reviewer was impressed with the design, as the MDF cabinet has a black-ash finish that makes it look like solid wood, but she felt it lacked the punchiness that some other woofers provided.

Wattage: 100 RMS, 200 Peak | Driver Size: 10-inch | Direction: Down-firing

“The reflex port sits on the front face, and ELAC managed to make the port look like a feature that improves the woofer’s appearance, rather than an afterthought that takes away from the overall aesthetic.” Erika Rawes, Tech Writer

Best Large Output: Definitive Technology Prosub 1000 300W 10-Inch Subwoofer

BIC America F12 12-Inch 475-Watt Front-Firing Powered Subwoofer
What We Like
  • Auto on/off

  • Three-year warranty

What We Don't Like
  • Not wireless

If you want a powerful subwoofer, the Definitive Technology Prosub 1000 delivers a whopping 300W of amplifier power to give you that deep thundering bass range to create the ultimate cinematic audio experience. You can customize your audio to fit what you're watching. 

The cabinet is made of non-resonant material and has permanently joined pieces to reduce rattle and preserve sound quality. It also features adjustable rubber feet to protect your flooring and keep your subwoofer steady on uneven surfaces. With a 10-inch front firing driver and radiator, this subwoofer creates a radiation area that’s larger than previous models. The Prosub has an automatic on/off function, so you shouldn’t have to worry about flipping a switch or unplugging it when not in use.

Wattage: Up to 300 RMS | Driver Size: 10-inch | Direction: Front-firing

Best Bass Response: Klipsch Reference R-112SW Subwoofer

Klipsch Reference R-112SW Subwoofer
What We Like
  • Powerful

  • Wireless adapter optional

  • Elegant design

What We Don't Like
  • Easily scratched

  • Heavy

The Klipsch Reference R-112SW is a legitimately powerful subwoofer. It has a simple yet refined design with spun copper sitting in the middle of the unit. We like the Klipsch reference series because the speakers almost have a steampunk vibe. 

This model’s biggest perk outside of the powerful bass response is the fact that it can be wireless, so you can place the subwoofer wherever it sounds best in your desired room i(f you add the optional Klipsch WA-2 Wireless Subwoofer Kit). With the unit measuring 18.2 x 15.5 x 17.4 inches and weighing nearly 50 pounds, that flexibility of placement will come in handy.

Overall, this subwoofer works great for both music and movies, with a booming sound that’s clean and distortion-free. On the downside, this model can also be easily scratched, so you’ll want to be careful when unboxing it and moving it around the house.

Wattage: 150 RMS, 300 Peak | Driver Size: 10-inch | Direction: Front-firing

Best Wireless: Sonos SUB (Gen 3)

Sonos Sub
What We Like
  • Deep low-end range

  • Modern design

  • Force-canceling drivers

What We Don't Like
  • Cannot connect another subwoofer

  • Heavy

Much like a subwoofer in a standard wired system, the Sonos Sub will give you a really full, deep low end. Sonos has used the same logic of simplicity with this system as the rest of their speaker offerings, giving you a super simple one-button setup that won’t require overthinking to get it going.

When it comes to wireless sound systems, Sonos has really secured its place in the market. You can hardly even talk about Bluetooth speakers without bringing up the company’s multi-room, speaker handoff systems. But when you’re looking at the Play:1s or Play:3s, you can easily forget that these smaller speakers, even if paired in stereo doubles, don’t offer much in the way of low end. That’s where the latest generation of Sonos’s SUB system comes into play. 

The slim, stylish subwoofer can either be displayed on the floor outside the system or slid inside of a cabinet. There are force-canceling drivers positioned inside the cabinet face-to-face that allow for a full, unfettered bass response, so you don't have to worry about cabinet buzzing, rattling or any other artifacts to the sound. And just like the rest of the Sonos family, it can be wirelessly connected to the entire system and controlled with the Sonos app.

Wattage: Unpublished (50-100 estimated) | Driver Size: Dual 6-inch | Direction: Down-firing

Best smaller subwoofer: Polk Audio PSW10

Polk Audio - PSW Series 10" Active Subwoofer - Black
What We Like
  • Minimal distortion

  • Appealing design

  • Smaller than many other subwoofers

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks the full spectrum of more expensive models

The Polk Audio PSW 10-Inch Woofer model offers you a powerful bass response in a compact woofer which is great for smaller spaces like apartments.

It's got some hi-tech tricks to minimize distortion, but you can’t really place it somewhere hidden away. The frequency response range is wide enough to cover all of the low ends, but doesn't offer the full spectrum of depth that some of the more expensive models give you. Round this all out with a white speaker cone in front of the black enclosure, and it gives you a pretty eye-catching look, too.

Wattage: 50 RMS, 100 Peak | Driver Size: 10-inch | Direction: Front-firing

Best Budget: Monoprice 12-Inch 150 Watt Subwoofer

Klipsch Sub-12HG Synergy Series 12-Inch 300-Watt Subwoofer
What We Like
  • Under $150

  • Auto on/off

What We Don't Like
  • Not wireless

The Monoprice 12-inch 150W subwoofer delivers plenty of power and thumping bass with a price point that is more manageable than many of the options on this list. This subwoofer retails under $150, so if you're working on a budget to set up your home theater audio system, it could be a good choice. The cabinet itself is made of black, simulated wood.

Wattage: 150 RMS, 200 Peak | Driver Size: 12-inch | Direction: Front-firing

Best for Small Spaces: Yamaha NS-SW050BL

Yamaha NS-SW050BL
What We Like
  • Ideal for small spaces

  • Very affordable

  • Simple design goes with most setups

What We Don't Like
  • Few configuration options

The Yamaha NS-SW050 is one of the more compact options on this list, making it a good choice for an apartment or small room. It weighs less than 20 pounds, and it measures only 11.5 x 11.5 x 14 inches, so you can tuck it away in a corner and it won’t take up too much space. Plus, the all-black design helps it blend in well with other speakers and A/V receivers.

At a price of around $120 on sale, this is a solid budget pick for anyone looking to add a compact subwoofer to their home theater without spending too much cash.

Wattage: 50 to 100 | Driver Size: 8-inch | Direction: Front-firing

Final Verdict

If you're looking to add extra bass to your home theater setup, our top pick is the BIC Acoustech PL-200 II Subwoofer, as it has impressive sound quality, a subtle design, and a reasonable price. We also like the power the ELAC S10.2 Debut Series offers (view at Amazon), as it incorporates smart elements into the design that look good and make the subwoofer sound better.

FAQ
  • Do you need a subwoofer?

    Your home audio setup doesn't require a subwoofer to sound good, but having one will add a surprising amount of depth to your audio experience. There are plenty of soundbars and speakers that can sound amazing without a subwoofer, but a subwoofer will make your home theater sound better.

  • Can't you just crank up the bass on your regular speakers?

    Sure you could, but subwoofers operate within different frequencies. By just turning up your bass, you're likely going to do more harm than good both to your equipment and your eardrums by completely drowning out every other audible frequency. Subwoofers make the bass in your audio playback more noticeable by broadcasting in a lower frequency band, which is where that rumble comes from each time there's an explosion or you're listening to a song with heavy bass. Having a broader range of frequencies gives you the best overall listening experience, giving you low, mid, and high tones without too much distortion and without putting unnecessary strain on your equipment.

  • Where is the best place to put your subwoofer?

    Surround sound speakers have placement criteria that make them sound better, but subwoofers are a little different. People often place subwoofers in corners, so the cord can reach the receiver and they’re out of the way. Corner placement can also result in louder sound, but room acoustics can affect the way a subwoofer will sound in different areas. It’s best to test your subwoofer in different placement areas, and see where it sounds best.

BIC Acoustec PL-200 II Subwoofer

Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman

What to Look For in a Home Subwoofer

Size

In general, subwoofers with larger surface areas play deeper sound. But you’ll also want to consider the size of your other speakers to ensure that the overall sound profile is balanced. An 8-inch or 10-inch subwoofer is suitable for basic bookshelf speakers, but if you have tower speakers, look for one that’s 12 inches (or more).

Placement

You’ll need to choose between a front-firing and down-firing subwoofer—and which one is best for your space depends on where you’ll put it. If it’ll sit near your other speakers, we recommend a front-firing subwoofer. But if it’ll be positioned in a corner or on a side wall, go for a down-firing subwoofer.

Power

Subwoofers have built-in amplifiers that are optimized to collaborate with the drivers. This yields maximum performance, so you generally don’t need much power to deliver booming bass. Still, the larger the room, the more powerful the subwoofer you’ll need.

BIC Acoustec PL-200 II

Lifewire / Benjamin Zeman

About Our Trusted Experts

Erika Rawes has been writing professionally for more than a decade, and she’s spent the last five years writing about consumer technology, such as subwoofers for the home. Erika has reviewed roughly 150 gadgets, including computers, peripherals, audiovisual equipment, mobile devices, and smart home gadgets. Erika currently writes for Digital Trends and Lifewire. 

Benjamin Zeman is a business consultant, musician and writer based in southern Vermont. He is an expert in audio equipment, including subwoofers.

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