Tag Archives: best subwoofers for home audio

Best Subwoofers “The List”

Best Subwoofers For Home Theater **AND** Music.

**Everyone** wants better bass, whether they realize it or not. Even people who scoff, and say it’s not important, or that they aren’t interested, are quickly “converted” once they hear the difference.

It’s undeniable, and so much better than what most people are used to! From blockbuster movies to Diana Krall, nearly everything sounds better when you can actually hear **ALL** of the bass.

Traditional, run of the mill subwoofers basically filter out real depth, which is not good. 

This isn’t just about loudness, almost any typical, basic, run of the mill sub can be loud.

It’s about the Depth of Presentation, or truly **SOUNDING DEEP**.

Your local theater rarely dips under 40 hertz with any meaning, while many of these subwoofers will routinely drop to 14 hertz in room, which is likely lower than you can hear.

Most subs are relatively quiet under 30 hertz, compared to their output above 40 hertz. The Blue line represents a subwoofer that is powerful down to 14 Hertz in room. I personally can’t hear under 17 hertz, making this subwoofer truly “full range” and “bottomless”. It actually gets a little louder as it goes deeper, better matching human hearing. Above measurements taken from my listening position, after Audyssey room correction, using Room EQ Wizard.

Most subwoofers, easily more than 90% of ALL 10″-18″ subs (regardless of wattage, rated frequency response, and price), are TOO SHALLOW SOUNDING, both in extension and in “Depth of Presentation”.

“Depth of Presentation” is important, because your hearing fades as the frequencies get deeper.

Some people assume that’s why they can’t hear the deep stuff, but it’s actually the “typical subwoofer” that is to blame. It’s definitely audible, but most subs just don’t produce *enough* of it.

Few subs can plumb the depths, like they really should.

Good bass is not about what your neighbors can hear (like that guy next to you at the stoplight), it’s about what YOU can hear.

If you have an extra-large room (greater than 600 sq ft), you may need to look at the bigger subs, while those with large rooms and smaller have no such limitations on this particular list, so long as you go dual like you should.

You can always turn a sub down, and it should always be volume matched to your main speakers, regardless of room size.

Big subs like these DO NOT mean overpowering “boom boom”, they mean “articulate” bottom end sound reproduction, which will include blowing your mind with movies like Jurassic Park and Hacksaw Ridge, and shows like my personal favorite, Cosmos.

Amazing content with the proper subs.

Cosmos was particularly surprising. It’s not all about punch, but a lot of low rumbling sounds too. It’s an impressive series too, bass aside. Dr. Tyson has a great way of explaining things.

If the source material is bass heavy, these subs will respond appropriately, while still remaining balanced, and not intrusive at all with regular content, when properly set up. 

Tom Petty’s (RIP, I love his music) “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” will NOT rock your world with bass, it just wasn’t mastered that way.  Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters”, “Lord’s of Summer”, and “Murder One” are truly an experience, if you enjoy their music.

Metallica’s album, “Hardwired… To Self Destruct” is excellent for bass. “Lords of Summer” is what I use to set subwoofer levels by ear. I used to use several songs, but I get it set right away with 1 song now. 

These subs should all do as they’re told, no more, no less. They should be thrilling, yet not intrusive. You can run them too loud of course, but integrated properly, they are true to the content.

The following subwoofers are known for great bass, a DRASTIC departure from more commonly known names that tend to inflate their numbers, but totally lose composure at lower levels. All of these should play with real authority to 20 Hertz, not just make “measurable noise” at that depth.

It’s my opinion that a subwoofer is not a **quality subwoofer* if it can’t play the entire humanly audible bass spectrum, down to 20 hertz, with clear, low distortion authority. Impeccable manners are also a must, and more rare than you might imagine.

Since I have not listened to every single sub out there, the only subs I can personally vouch for on this list are labeled “VERIFIED”. 

Others I shy away from, often due to customer service concerns, like shipping policies that are outdated and prohibitive. If you’re asking your prospective customers to take a leap of faith by buying a product they’ve never heard, you should make it easier if they decide they don’t like it.

No subs over $3,500 will make the list for the sake of value and relative sanity.

As you can see, the list is pretty short. Great bass is truly rare. Keep in mind that going dual is SUPER important, and I would make it a STRONG priority instead of getting the largest sub possible.

If you are going this far, you might as well do it right! You will need a pretty big room to strain any of these if you listen at “normal person” levels (loud, with plenty of oomph, but not ear damaging, headache inducing, foundation crumbling loud).

If you want serious power, more authority, and super convincing realism (a truly believable thunderstorm in your room), go with the higher end models, like dual PB-3000’s or PB-16 Ultras.

I would consider it a mistake to buy one of these to use **as a single**.

Splitting your budget for other subs on this list is a MUCH better choice.

**Dual PB-3000’s** would yield MUCH better results than a **single PB-16 Ultra**.

Gotta go dual! Seriously, it’s everything!!

Most of my audience, would be thrilled with ANY of the following in a dual setup. There isn’t a dog in the bunch, and even the smallest will challenge structural integrity when pushed, that I can absolutely verify!

This will be an evolving list that will change as I listen to more offerings. Generally, ported offerings produce greater output and depth of presentation, and therefore better value over a sealed sub, but that’s just my opinion.

Many prefer sealed, and I can respect that. See my Ported vs Sealed write-up for more on that.

I find ported subs MUCH more comfortable to listen to, and I highly recommend them over sealed for sensitive ears, like those prone to headaches, sensitive ears in general, autism spectrum, Post Concussion Syndrome, Traumatic Brain Injury, and pets.

I have Post Concussion Syndrome, which causes light and sound sensitivity. A canary in the coal mine, poor sound will bother me before it bothers most people. It’s something I prefer NOT to experience, I don’t recommend it. Similar to a horrific hangover. 

This sound sensitivity is why I don’t review sealed subs anymore, but I do respect their positive qualities.

If I was going to go with sealed, I would start with the SB-3000’s. That is where the sealed subs take on a deep, ported box sound, which is a very good thing.

Even the most finicky audiophiles would have a hard time picking these subs apart in any “meaningful” way.

SVS 

Subwoofer101 is the world’s first SVS affiliate. I asked them to start an affiliate program years ago, so I could have a way to support my content.

They have easily been the most supportive of my message about deep bass, which makes sense, because they produce what most “in the know” would consider the gold standard of subwoofers. Their customer service is also legendary.

Rather than producing “man cave only” subwoofers, they produce subs that look nice in multi use, living/family rooms as well, while also producing the deepest sounding subs on this list.

All subs on the list are deep sounding, but so far SVS subs consistently have the deepest sound and depth of presentation, regardless of size or price.

To be certain, they are NOT a “sponsor”, they do not pay me for content, and do not script me in any way.

I’m free to promote ANY company or product I want, including every competitor. I only promote what I believe in, and I give my audience the same advice I give close friends and family.

Affiliate commissions are how I keep going, no matter what product it is, with zero added cost to you. Everything helps, I am a 1 person show.

Ordering Factory Direct through these links ensures full Bill of Rights, including 1 year trade-up, and other benefits that might not be included from dealers (like 45 day return period, trade up, etc…).

PB-2000 BLACK FRIDAY SPECIAL (President’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor day, etc)  (Click here to order Factory Direct)

($) The PB-2000 Original is a 12″ Ported subwoofer. The predecessor to the PB-2000 Pro (my personal favorite for so long, for their performance, price, and size), these subs have been produced for small production runs for BLACK FRIDAY and holiday specials ONLY!!

Get them while you can, and go dual!! If you miss the Black Friday sale, watch the SVS Outlet, gently used products that have the same Bill of Rights and warranty as new, including free shipping, free returns, and 1 year trade up!

PB-1000 Pro (Smartest Buy in Bass) (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($) The PB-1000 Pro is a 12” Ported Subwoofer. Verified!!– Highly recommended for duals under $1,500, the most compact and affordable ported subwoofer on this list!! Isolation highly recommended for wood sub-floors. “Smartest Buy in Bass” due to economics, performance, and the 1 year trade-up. Get started with quality dual subs, and trade up if you feel the need! Free shipping, free returns. 
PB-2000 Pro (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($$) VERIFIED!!! The PB-2000 Pro is a 12″ Ported subwoofer, 550 watts RMS, 1500+ peak! My favorite sub for value, size, and 100% full range bass performance down to 14 hertz measured in my room.

These are the subs I decided to go with in the motorhome theater project. I wanted shocking performance, explosiveness, composure, and of course, depth. These deliver everything I look for, including being attainable.

The PB-3000 and PB-16 Ultra are both more explosive, but if you can’t swing those, or if you are thinking about a single, split your budget for dual PB-2000 Pro’s. Matched duals are vital for amazing bass, and these definitely get it handled!

Isolation highly recommended for wood sub-floors. My “Go-To” subwoofer to recommend.
PB-3000 (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
The most surprising subwoofer I’ve ever reviewed, aside from the PB-16 Ultra!! Incredible impact and explosiveness, the PB-3000 sounds like a bigger, more powerful sub than it is!
($$$) VERIFIED!!! The PB-3000 is a 13″ Ported subwoofer, 800 watts RMS, 2,500 watts peak, with SVS App control! 
My favorite *PREMIUM* subwoofer for the value, size, and 100% full range bass performance, and INCREDIBLE IMPACT!
Isolation highly recommended for wood sub-floors.
It’s only about an inch bigger on all sides than the PB-2000, yet it’s performance is much closer to the PB-4000 in terms of raw impact and explosiveness!!
Aside from the outstanding PB-16 Ultra, this has been THE MOST SURPRISING SUBWOOFER I’VE REVIEWED YET!! The Split-Wind voice coil isn’t just cool sounding tech, it makes this sub SOUND BIGGER AND MORE POWERFUL than it is. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!!
PB-4000 (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)

($$$$) VERIFIED!!! The PB-4000 is a 13.5 inch Variable Ported subwoofer. 1,200 watts RMS, 4,200 watts peak. True 13 hertz performance in room, remote control, comprehensive smart phone app. Ultra low distortion, ultra high output. 

Isolation HIGHLY recommended for wood sub-floors. Measure before ordering, very large, very heavy (153.2 pounds!), truck freight shipped on a pallet. Realism, impact, and explosiveness are off the charts!

My only hesitance to recommend the PB-4000 is that the PB-3000 is so close that I couldn’t tell the difference if my eyes were closed! The PB-3000 is noticeably smaller, lighter, and less expensive.

The PB-4000 offers the piano finish, a front display, and a storied legacy from it’s predecessor, the PB-13 Ultra.

Like the PB-3000, it’s performance is only bested by the PB-16 Ultra. If it were me, I’d either go smaller and less expensive (Dual PB-3000’s), or step up and get Dual PB-16 Ultras.

PB16-Ultra (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($$$$) VERIFIED!!! The PB-16  is a 16 inch Variable Ported subwoofer. New SVS Flagship, 1,500 watts RMS, 5,000 peak! That’s 1.5 kilowatt RMS, 5 kilowatt peak, with an **8″ voice coil**! Talk about ultra low distortion, and incredible explosiveness!!
For those who want the best of the best, it’s my favorite “money no object” subwoofer, and **the best bass I’ve heard to date**. Still in 2023!!
Isolation HIGHLY recommended for wood sub-floors. Measure before ordering, very large, VERY heavy (175 pounds!), truck freight shipped on a pallet, yet still with free shipping and FREE RETURNS! 
Realism, impact, and explosiveness are the best I’ve heard so far, and a great spleen massage while still 100% comfortable. TRULY INCREDIBLE!!
PC-2000 Pro (Click Here To Order Factory Direct
PC-2000 Pro 12″ Down Firing Ported Cylinder Subwoofer, 550 watts RMS, 1,500+ watts Peak, Down firing are OK for concrete, but may not be ideal for noisy wood subfloors.

($$) Verified! 12″ Ported Cylinder sub, comes with the Soundpath Subwoofer Isolation System, same internals as the PB-2000 Pro. Down firing subwoofers are OK for concrete, but might not be ideal for wood sub-floors. The Isolation System helps for wood floors (comes stock, no need to order more isolation).

PC-4000 (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)

($$$$) (Not Verified, but same guts as the PB-4000, which is totally Verified!!!) 13.5 inch Variable Ported. 1,200 watts RMS, 4200 watts peak.

Ultra low distortion, ultra high output. Isolation included! Down firing subwoofers are OK for concrete, but may not be ideal for wood sub-floors.

Measure before ordering, very tall (47 Inches). Realism, impact, and explosiveness are incredible!

Monoprice

I’ve been a Monoprice affiliate much longer than SVS, long before their Monolith subs came out, but I was never able to get any response to my inquiries to review their subs, despite several attempts since these subs first came out.

At their customer service line recommendation, I bought a pair of Monolith 15’s, listened during the 30 day return period, and sent them back. 

Shipping is free, but return shipping is the customer’s responsibility, and it will vary, depending on how far you are from their facility in California.

For TWO Monolith 15 subwoofers (266 pounds total, on a pallet) the return freight was over $300 for less than 500 miles.

Return freight for 2 Monolith 15’s could exceed $800 on the East Coast, something to be aware of.

The smaller subs would certainly be cheaper to return. It’s the customer’s responsibility to shop and arrange the freight shipment. 

That said, the Monolith 15’s have the depth of presentation and explosiveness that I look for.

They did a great job with the Monolith 15 THX subwoofer, and I would love to hear more, but I hesitate to fully recommend due to shipping and pretty terrible communication with me (ZERO returned inquiries).    

Monolith 12 (Click here to order Factory Direct)

($$) (NOT VERIFIED) The Monolith 12 is a 500 watt 12″ variable ported subwoofer. Based on previous experience, it would likely not make this list in “THX Mode”, but it MIGHT belong in “Extended Mode” like the 15.

This subwoofer is on this list tentatively, pending an actual hands on, dual sub review. I can’t say that it will deliver the kind bass that I look for, but I suspect it might, and earn a permanent spot on this list.

Monolith 15 (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)

($$$) (VERIFIED!) The Monolith 15 is a 15″ driver, variable ported subwoofer with 1,000 watts.

It would not make this list in “THX Mode”, but it does belong in “Extended Mode”, with all ports open.

This sub has heavy relative infrasonic bass (under 20 hertz, inaudible), which might be uncomfortable to some people, but can mitigated by THX Mode.

However, THX Mode does reduce the explosiveness of the sub. Overall, it’s great performing subwoofer and a solid buy, based on it’s depth of presentation and explosiveness.   

Outlaw 

While Outlaw is not a direct affiliate for Subwoofer101, you can order them on Amazon:

Ultra X-13 (Click Here To Order On Amazon)

($$$$) Verified. 13″ Variable Ported, down firing Outlaw Flagship, THX Certified. In THX mode, this subwoofer would not make the list, it sounded far too shallow in my opinion.

Other EQ settings were more acceptable, though not as deep sounding as other subs on this list. So far, it’s the shallowest sounding subwoofer on this list, and anything shallower would not qualify.

It’s ability to be hidden is an excellent feature, however. Down firing subwoofers are OK for concrete, but may not be ideal for wood sub-floors.

Isolation HIGHLY recommended for wood sub-floors. Excellent for hiding subwoofers as end tables, so long as the beautiful top is protected from scratching.

HSU
VTF-2

($$) (Not Verified) 12” Variable Ported

VTF-3

($$$) (Not Verified) 15” Variable Ported

VTF-15

($$$) 15” Variable Ported. Verified, MK-1 version. High (max) output, though not as deep “sounding” as other subs on the list.

Shipping policy is painful, especially if you return it, but a good option if you are in the Los Angeles, California area, and can pick up and return in person.

I bought this subwoofer myself, before starting the website and channel, but haven’t been able to get support to hear duals, which is unfortunate. The MK-2 should be better, but I wouldn’t know. 

Rythmik

No returned communication, but a notable mention. Cannot recommend without hearing a set of duals.

LV12R

($$) (Not Verified) 12” Ported

FVX15

($$$) (Not Verified) 15” Variable Ported

FV15HP (Not Verified)

($$$) 15” Variable Ported

$= less than $500 delivered or $1,000 for dual

$$= more than $500 delivered or $1,000 for dual

$$$= more than $800 delivered or $1,600 for dual

$$$$= more than $1,400 delivered or $2,800 for dual

*Pricing changes happen regularly.

Ported = With ports, not sealed.

Variable Ported = Ported, with inserts to change the tuning.

Each brand has it’s own flavor, so to speak, but any of the above subs should satisfy with gusto in most home theater setups (a lot of which are in living rooms like mine).

The smallest, least expensive entry will perform with outstanding depth, clean bass, unobtrusively, but with movie theater quality bass and impact (EASILY deeper than most theaters) that will impress and satisfy when called upon. By no means is the most economical sub to be avoided. See my 1 big sub vs 2 small subs comparison for more on that.

The smallest dual ported subwoofer setup worth having.
The smallest dual subwoofer setup worth having. The early days, before discovering the benefits of isolation, Atmos/DTS:X, increasing subwoofer gain, and turning the speakers in toward the listener. It’s like seeing yourself on a bike with training wheels…

Dividing your bass budget to include 2 matched subs is the ONLY way to go, and any **VERIFIED** sub on this list in a dual configuration should put a Cheshire grin on your face. If not, your sickness is much worse than mine, and you are in serious trouble!

Fortunately, all offer in home review periods. Some require you pay for shipping, others do not.

If you decide to go with one of the above, please follow the links shortly before placing your order. For those that are not linked, please be sure to tell them you heard about their subs on this site.

Phone orders are NOT tracked for any affiliate program, only website orders.

International SVS orders can go through Amazon (click here), if it’s available. In the USA and Canada, it’s best to go Factory Direct (click here) through my links to ensure full Bill of Rights, including 1 year trade-up. 

Canadian orders aren’t tracked through SVS, while Amazon orders are, but going factory direct is better for Canadian customers for the Bill of Rights. I rather you got the trade up instead of me getting credit on Amazon.

Eventually, I would like every listed maker to be a Subwoofer 101 affiliate and become a portal for all quality subwoofers. SVS and Monoprice so far…

Hopefully this will simplify your search for great bass!