Paul has been passionate about playing, recording, and listening to music for over 35 years. Born in the U.K., he now lives in Florida.
I've been listening, recording, and playing music for over thirty years and there's no doubt in my mind that bass frequencies are essential if you require a full listening experience.
The low frequencies delivered by the subwoofer will:
- Fill out the sound and give it depth.
- Enable you to experience low rumbles and thuds fully in both music and movies.
- Allow you to hear all the instruments in a piece of music, not just the ones that fill out the mid and high frequencies.
- Provide a suitable contrast with the higher pitched sounds.
Subwoofers can compliment bookshelf or floorstanding speakers, or work as part of a larger home theater system.
2021's Top 3 Home Subwoofers
Here are my 3 suggestions for home subwoofers.
- Polk Audio PSW505: Clear, deep, and thunderous
- Klipsch R-100SW: Excellent All-rounder for an Affordable Price
- MartinLogan Dynamo 1100: Built-in Wireless Technology for Maximum Placement Flexibility
I give my choices and experiences in more detail below.
Polk Audio PSW505: Clear, Deep, and Thunderous
I've been a big fan of Polk audio technology for a long time. The the Polk Audio PSW505 is an excellent mid-price subwoofer and exactly what I needed for my den area. At high volume, this sub delivers a chest-thumping bass sound that is clear, deep, and loud. I use it for both music and movies and it works well for both.
Polk PSW505 Pros:
- Difficult to beat in terms of value for money in the mid-price category.
- It fills my 20' by 15' room with bass and could deliver way more, it has 300 Watts of power pushing the vibes through a 12-inch long-throw woofer.
- Adjustable low pass crossover, phase switch and volume control lets me fine tune the sound and blend it with my main speakers.
- The on/off switch can detect if there is a signal and automatically turn the sub off when not in use.
- The Polk is magnetically shielded, so I can place it next to my TV safely.
Polk PSW505 Cons:
- It did blow a fuse one time. It stressed me out until I figured out what had happened and replaced the fuse. It's worked fine since then.
Klipsch R-100SW: Excellent All-rounder for an Affordable Price
I have a Klipsch R-100SW 10" subwoofer to fill out the low end in my bedroom sound system. I bought it for online for less than $250. It's an exceptional performer for the price, providing excellent value for money by any standard. I use it for both movies and music when I'm chilling out and it's great for both.
Klipsch R-100SW Pros:
- The depth of the bass is incredible for a sub in this price range.
- This front-firing subwoofer has enough power to fill any small to medium sized room with bass.
- Solidly built. Klipsch products are reliable in my experience.
- Designed to give lots of placement options.
- As I mentioned above, it can't be beaten in terms of value for money.
Klipsch R-100SW Cons:
- It's an exceptional subwoofer for its price range, but there are better ones out there (you really have to be prepared to spend $800+ to experience them though).
MartinLogan Dynamo 1100: Built-in Wireless Technology for Maximum Placement Flexibility
I've long been a huge fan of MartinLogan and chose their Dynamo 1100 model for my office area, where I do most of my music listening (I work from home). I especially love the wireless technology of this sub, which as well as giving me lots of placement options, also means that I have less cables around (less cables equals less stress from my wife). The quality of the MartinLogan is simply awesome, it's in a different class when compared to the other subs in my list.
MartinLogan 1100 Pros:
- High-end bass audio quality that you just can't get with cheaper subs. With the MartinLogan there is plenty of power and accurate delivery in dramatic detail.
- As I mentioned above, the built-in wireless receiver has given me enormous flexibility with placement options, plus I don't have to deal with lots of cables.
- Although defaulted to a down-firing setup, I took advantage of the ability to convert it to a front-firing configuration.
- ETC spikes stop it moving around.
MartinLogan 1100 Cons:
- It's certainly not the cheapest subwoofer out there, though worth every penny in my experience.
Subwoofer Guide: Beginners' Brief Guide
Your chances of buying the best subwoofer for your needs are greatly improved if you understand the basics of what all the various specs mean - that way you can purchase the appropriate sub for your audio system and room.
Audio power comes from low frequencies, the bass, so the importance of subwoofers can never be underestimated. Below is a brief guide to what the most common specifications mean in practice.
- Power - The important thing to note about power is that generally speaking, the more power you have, the better. Having more power doesn't mean that you have to play the sub any louder (unless you want to), but it does mean that it will generally perform better than a lower powered unit at the same volume. Power is normally measured in watts, but there are a few additional complications when it comes to amplification.
- Size - In general, a bigger driver will deliver more bass. Subwoofer drivers are typically around 12 inches in size, although they can be bigger or smaller. The driver size is not the whole story however as power is also a factor. That means the smaller the driver, the more power it needs to deliver the same amount of bass.
- Placement - If volume is your main concern then putting the subwoofer against a wall or in a corner will give it a boost. It won't necessarily be good for sound quality however. The best way to do that is to sit in your favorite listening position and get someone else to try the sub out in different spots. You will be surprised how much the bass output will vary in tone and quality when it is coming from different locations. That's because low frequency sound waves are long and so can interact with the shape and acoustics of a room quite dramatically.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2014 Paul Goodman
Ryan on July 27, 2016:
I liked the bic woofer sound quality is top notch