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Best subwoofer 2022: Subterranean bass for movies and music

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Boost the low-end impact of your sound system with our pick of the best subwoofers for every budget

Nothing says blockbuster movie like deep bass, and incorporating one of the best subwoofers into your home audio setup is the easiest way to achieve more impactful low-end frequencies.

The lower the frequencies generated, the more a system starts to feel like a genuine home cinema, and effectively integrated bass can also give music some much-needed low-end punch.

All speakers operate on the same basic principle of generating sound by physically moving air. The bigger the driver, the more air being shifted and the lower the frequencies. At the end of the day, there’s no replacement for displacement, so if you want more bass you need the best subwoofer you can afford.

There are a number of things to consider before buying a subwoofer, and you’ll find a comprehensive buying guide answering all of your burning questions located below our pick of the best subwoofers on the market today.

JUMP TO: How to choose the best subwoofer for you


Best subwoofer: At a glance


The best subwoofers to buy in 2022

1. SVS SB-1000 Pro: Best affordable subwoofer

Price: £639 | Buy now from AV.com

The SVS SB-1000 Pro is a fantastic entry-level subwoofer that not only delivers deep and powerful bass at an affordable price, but also includes a host of features usually only found on more expensive mid-range models.

The sealed enclosure is extremely well made, and somehow SVS has managed to cram a redesigned 12in high-excursion driver and upgraded amplification into what is basically a 13in cube. The result is bass performance that’s precise, tight, musical and controlled, with a surprising amount of extension considering the SB-1000 Pro’s diminutive proportions.

This smaller footprint makes installation easier and more discreet, plus it’s relatively flexible in terms of positioning. The inclusion of a smartphone app is also a major benefit, allowing you to set up, adjust, optimise and control the sub without ever leaving the sofa. The SB-1000 Pro offers great value, and you won’t find a better sub for movies, music and gaming at this price.

Key specs – Drivers: 1 x 12in; Enclosure: Sealed; Stated power: 325W RMS; Stated frequency response: 20-270Hz (+/-3dB); Remote control: SVS App; Dimensions (WDH): 330 x 375 x 342mm; Weight: 11.9kg; Finishes: Premium Black Ash, Piano Gloss Black, Gloss White

Buy now from AV.com


2. Sonos Sub (Gen 3): Best wireless subwoofer

Price: £749 | Buy now from Argos

While many of the subwoofers in this guide offer an optional wireless module, the Sonos Sub (Gen 3) is designed purely to be used in a wireless system. Sonos is the master of wireless multiroom music, but the addition of this subwoofer shows the company is also serious about delivering impressive home cinema sound from systems composed of its various speakers.

The Sub (Gen 3) is fairly large, and although Sonos doesn’t mention the size of the drivers, they use a force-cancelling configuration to produce deeper bass. There are also dual acoustic ports for increased low-end extension, and a pair of Class D amplifiers (although once again the actual power rating isn’t given). However, Sonos does claim the Sub (Gen 3) goes down to 25Hz.

Regardless of the specs, the performance is impressive, with plenty of deep bass extension and responsive power. The Sub (Gen 3) sports a slimline cabinet, is easy to set up, flexible in terms of placement, and integrates seamlessly with other Sonos speakers. It also adds a dynamic, controlled and punchy low-end foundation to multichannel systems, providing depth and scale.

Key specs – Drivers: N/A; Enclosure: Ported; Stated power: N/A; Stated frequency response: Down to 25Hz; Remote control: Sonos App; Dimensions (WDH): 402 x 158 x 389mm; Weight: 16kg; Finishes: Matte Black, Matte White

Buy now from Amazon


3. KEF KC62: Best lifestyle subwoofer

Price: £1,499 | Buy now from AV.com

The KEF KC62 almost defies logic because you shouldn’t be able to get bass this deep from such a compact subwoofer. And yet here it is, a boombox the size of a football that somehow manages to produce thrilling low-end extension in a tight, accurate and controlled fashion.

It’s not a magic trick, but rather the clever application of science. Inside the ultra-compact enclosure is a pair of 6.5in Uni-Core force-cancelling drivers, each powered by Class D amps capable of 500W RMS. The resulting bass is completely at odds with the modest dimensions.

However, the KC62 doesn’t just deliver low-end impact with power and finesse; it also looks gorgeous with its curved aluminium cabinet. There are five presets for easier room placement, and even an optional wireless unit for those who don’t want extra cables in the living room. Whether it’s for movies, music or gaming, the KC62 will blend seamlessly into any room, and effortlessly deliver fast, controlled and subterranean bass that borders on the miraculous.

Key specs – Drivers: 2 x 6.5in; Enclosure: Sealed; Stated power: 2 x 500W RMS; Stated frequency response: 11-200Hz (+/-3dB); Remote control: No; Dimensions (WDH): 256 x 248 x 246mm; Weight: 14kg; Finishes: Carbon Black, Mineral White

Buy now from Amazon


4. SVS SB-3000: Best mid-range subwoofer

Price: £1,275 | Buy now from Amazon

SVS is well known for building subwoofers with room-shaking power and monstrous bass, but with the SB-3000 the company has managed to deliver this subterranean extension from a 15in cube with a remarkably small footprint.

This classy model combines a 13in high-excursion driver with powerful Class D amplification to create an uncompromising subwoofer that can generate exceptional amounts of bass with pinpoint control and flawless tonal accuracy. The result is an exciting and muscular performer that often feels like an iron fist inside a velvet glove.

Whether you’re watching TV or movies, playing games or listening to music, the SB-3000 has you covered with the kind of deep bass extension you can physically feel. The sealed enclosure ensures a level of refinement and musicality that’s genuinely excellent, but still manages to deliver seismic levels of low frequency energy.

This reference subwoofer is beautifully made, sports a curved metal mesh grille, and includes the SVS remote app for easy setup, simple control and effective optimisation. The SB-3000 also won’t break the bank, so whether you’re a hardcore audiophile or home cinema fanatic, this superb subwoofer is sure to please.

Key specs – Drivers: 1 x 13in; Enclosure: Sealed; Stated power: 800W RMS; Stated frequency response: 18-270Hz (+/-3dB); Remote control: SVS App; Dimensions (WDH): 385 x 375 x 451mm; Weight: 24.7kg; Finishes: Black Ash, Piano Gloss Black

Buy now from AV.com


5. REL T/9x: Best subwoofer for music

Price: £1,299 | Buy now from AV.com

REL has long been a company that prides itself on manufacturing subwoofers that sound fantastic with movies and music. The REL T/9x is the perfect example of the latter, incorporating technology from the higher-end Serie S to deliver a sub that oozes class and musicality.

The superior build quality, attractive design and gorgeous finish provides an immediate feeling of luxury. But it’s not all surface charm, and this discreetly compact subwoofer does an awful lot with its 10in driver, 10in passive radiator and 300W RMS of Class A/B power. As a result, the T/9x delivers a fast and transparent performance that combines with surprisingly high output levels and great low-end impact. It’s an impressive achievement, producing plenty of energy and dynamics, while retaining REL’s trademark intimacy, clarity and speed.

As is often the case with REL subwoofers, the T/9x includes high-level connections for use with a stereo amplifier, and it handles music with commendable skill. It’s equally capable when it comes to movies, but if music is your passion this remarkable subwoofer is sure to please.

Key specs – Drivers: 1 x 10in; Enclosure: Sealed; Stated power: 300W RMS; Stated frequency response: Down to 27Hz; Remote control: No; Dimensions (WDH): 370 x 393 x 340mm; Weight: 20.6kg; Finishes: High Gloss Black, High Gloss White

Buy now from AV.com


6. Paradigm Defiance X12: Best high-end subwoofer

Price: £1,740 | Buy now from Touchstone AV

The Paradigm Defiance X12 is a genuinely excellent subwoofer that delivers exceptional performance at a surprisingly competitive price. The 12in driver with its patented ART surround generates bass with remarkable depth and composure.

The X12 manages the clever trick of retaining the speed and control of a sealed unit, while also benefiting from the low-end extension offered by its high-velocity low-turbulence ported design. The ensuing bass enjoys a nuanced and articulate delivery, while also managing to deliver plenty of enjoyable low-end impact.

The inclusion of a remote app and ARC room correction make for useful features you won’t find on competing subwoofers with more power and deeper frequency response. Setup and control are both easy thanks to this app, and ARC ensures that the bass is smooth and perfectly integrated with the rest of the system.

The design is simple and unassuming, the build quality is excellent and the overall package is very impressive. There’s even an optional wireless module to eliminate cables and keep installation tidy. Paradigm is often associated with very high-end speakers, but in the case of the Defiance X12 subwoofer, it’s taken the mid-range by storm.

Key specs – Drivers: 1 x 12in; Enclosure: Ported; Stated power: 650W RMS; Stated frequency response: 20-230Hz (+/-3dB); Remote control: Subwoofer Control App; Dimensions (WDH): 457 x 494 x 493mm; Weight: 28.1kg; Finishes: Satin Black

Buy now from Touchstone AV


7. MK X12+: Best subwoofer for home cinema

Price: £3,995 | Buy now from Emotivv

MK has done more to pioneer the concept of subwoofers in the home than just about any other manufacturer, and the X12+ is an upgraded version of its highly regarded THX Ultra-certified predecessor. This latest model employs a pair of newly developed 12in carbon fibre drivers in a push-pull architecture to reduce distortion and increase bass extension. Two Class D amps each deliver 600W RMS, ensuring the X12+ has power to spare as it dives the infrasonic depths.

The resulting subwoofer is seismic in terms of its low-end slam, but also surprisingly detailed and articulate in the process. This makes it ideal for handling today’s bass-heavy blockbuster soundtracks, and you won’t find a better subwoofer for giving movies depth and scale.

The design is fairly basic, with a simple matte finish, but given MK speakers and subwoofers are regularly used on mixing stages around the world, that’s not surprising. This is a no-nonsense THX-certified subwoofer that’s the choice of the professionals, making the X12+ perfect for any self-respecting movie fan.

Key specs – Drivers: 2 x 12in; Enclosure: Sealed; Stated power: 600W RMS; Stated frequency response: 18-200Hz (+/-3dB); Remote control: No; Dimensions (WDH): 450 x 385 x 728mm; Weight: 45.9kg; Finishes: Satin Black

Buy now from Emotivv


How to choose the best subwoofer for you

What size speaker driver does my subwoofer need?

As mentioned in the introduction, the more air a driver can displace, the lower the frequencies it can generate. This means that when it comes to subwoofers, size does matter.

While the built-in amplification will play a role in the amount of energy a sub can produce, as a general rule of thumb, the bigger the driver the better. For deep bass you should be looking for a sub with a driver that is at least 10in, but you could consider a 12in or even larger woofer. Interestingly, a big driver doesn’t necessarily mean the subwoofer has to be huge, and there are a number of sealed units that manage to cram 12in drivers into surprisingly compact cabinets.

Does driver orientation matter for subwoofers?

How the driver is mounted will be a factor, with a choice of forward, downward or sideways. Since bass is non-directional, the design doesn’t actually make a massive difference to performance, but which is best for you will depend on where you want to position the subwoofer. If it’s at the front of the room and near your main speakers, then a forward-firing sub can be a good choice.

A side-firing sub can also work well at the front of the room, and depending on which side the driver is mounted, you could position it between one of the main left or right speakers and the centre speaker. However, you should avoid corners, especially if they’re located on the firing side.

There are subwoofers that employ two drivers firing to the left and right simultaneously, which use force-cancelling to generate increased output from smaller cabinets. This type of subwoofer also works well at the front of the room, and can be used in corners.

A downward-firing subwoofer mounts the bass driver in the bottom, and this approach works well in corners. The output of this style of subwoofer can be increased by using it on a solid floor, though doing so is best avoided if your room is on an upper floor with people below.

Finally, there are subs that combine a forward-firing driver with a downward-firing driver, often in a push-pull configuration where the two drivers are out of phase with each other. This approach can eliminate harmonic distortions and increase the output of the subwoofer.

Should I buy a sealed or ported subwoofer?

Probably the biggest decision you need to make is whether to choose a sealed or ported subwoofer design. As its name suggests, a sealed sub has no openings into its interior, while a ported sub has at least one opening (or port), allowing air to flow freely inside the enclosure.

The benefit of a sealed design is that performance is tighter and more controlled, but at the expense of overall output and extension. Conversely, a ported sub will deliver increased volume and deeper bass extension, while sacrificing a degree of subtlety and definition.

If you have a smaller room, or are thinking of using multiple subs, then a sealed design is probably best because it’s able to deliver a more nuanced performance. If you’ve got a bigger room or plan on using a single sub, a ported model will energise a larger space.

What’s the difference between passive and active subwoofers?

Subwoofers come in two flavours: passive and active. A passive sub requires external power from an amp or AV receiver, whereas an active sub has its amplification built in. All the subs in this guide are of the active variety, raising the question of how much power an active subwoofer requires.

Electrical power is measured in watts (W) and the more wattage available, the louder the sub and the harder you can drive it without distorting, but the higher the price tag. A continuous output of 500W should be more than enough for most people, but if you have the budget you can go higher.

Always look for the RMS (continuous) power output, because this reflects the normal performance of the sub. The peak or dynamic power numbers relate to the maximum output over a short period of time, which can be very deceptive in terms of actual performance.

How do I connect a subwoofer to my audio system?

When it comes to connecting a subwoofer, there are often a number of options available, primarily based around stereo and mono line level inputs using either RCA or balanced XLR connectors. These are also sometimes referred to as low-level or LFE (low frequency effects) connections.

Some subs also include high-level connections that either use speaker terminals or what’s called a Neutrik Speakon connection. The approach uses the same audio signal as the speakers, rather than a filtered low frequency signal, and can be beneficial if music is your priority.

A high-level connection is primarily used for two-channel amplifiers that don’t have a dedicated subwoofer output. However, a multichannel AV amplifier or receiver will have a dedicated subwoofer output, so all you need is a single cable to connect to the LFE input on the sub.

If you don’t like the idea of running subwoofer cables all over your living room, some brands offer optional wireless modules that pass the full-range audio signal with no latency, thus eliminating clutter. Other subs are designed to be used only as part of a wireless system.

READ NEXT: The best HDMI cables

What control options do subwoofers have available?

Some subwoofers come with remote controls, which can be useful for adjusting the volume level while sitting in your primary listening position. A remote may also allow the settings to be tweaked without needing to go over to the subwoofer and fiddle with the controls at the rear.

Manufacturers such as SVS and Paradigm even offer remote apps that allow you to complete setup and control of the subwoofer using a smart device. They also include a degree of bass correction, allowing users to optimise the sub’s performance based on the room’s acoustics.

What’s the best place to put a subwoofer?

This brings us to one of the most intimidating aspects of installing a subwoofer – the best place to position it. We touched on this when discussing the orientation of a subwoofer’s driver, but it’s also important to consider how the shape and dimensions of a particular space affect a sub’s overall bass response.

Sound reflects off walls in an acoustic phenomenon called “standing waves” and these waves result in peaks (nodes) and dips (anti-nodes) in a sub’s response. When placing a subwoofer you want to avoid both to ensure a smooth bass response within the room.

A quick and easy method for finding an optimal sub location in a room is to place the sub in the main listening position and play a low frequency test tone. You can then move around the room, and at certain points the sub will sound louder, and at others you will hardly hear it at all. When you find a spot where the bass sounds balanced and smooth, that’s an optimal location.

READ NEXT: Our favourite bookshelf speakers

Do I need more than one subwoofer?

This may sound crazy, but you can use more than one subwoofer. This doesn’t mean that the bass will be louder or overwhelming, it actually results in a more balanced and smoother performance. In fact, a number of AV receivers and amplifiers offer multiple sub outputs.

Two subs, one in each of the front corners of a room, can eliminate many of the issues related to standing waves, and give the bass a greater sense of scale. A third sub at the rear will provide better bass response in the room, and if you can put a sub in every corner you’ll be amazed at the results.

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