The Best Home Subwoofers in 2018

Updated on January 8, 2018
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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.

A MartinLogan Dynamo 700W Front Firing/Down Firing Subwoofer.  Subwoofers are an excellent way to fill out the low frequencies and create a full sound, whether you are experiencing a movie, or listening to music.
A MartinLogan Dynamo 700W Front Firing/Down Firing Subwoofer. Subwoofers are an excellent way to fill out the low frequencies and create a full sound, whether you are experiencing a movie, or listening to music.

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.

2018's Best 3 Home Subwoofers

  • Polk Audio PSW505: Clear, deep, and thunderous
  • Yamaha YST-SW216BL: Affordable and punchy
  • MartinLogan Dynamo: Wireless for placement flexibility

Bass speaker.  Low frequencies provide a full sound and it is impossible to achieve a full audio experience without the bass end being represented.  The best subs deliver a clear and deep audio that will enhance both music and movies.
Bass speaker. Low frequencies provide a full sound and it is impossible to achieve a full audio experience without the bass end being represented. The best subs deliver a clear and deep audio that will enhance both music and movies. | Source
The Polk Audio PSW505 provides bass audio that is tight and precise.  Well constructed with sturdy MDF, the Polk has a real wood veneer finish, which gives it a stylish and attractive appearance.
The Polk Audio PSW505 provides bass audio that is tight and precise. Well constructed with sturdy MDF, the Polk has a real wood veneer finish, which gives it a stylish and attractive appearance.

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.

My pros and cons for this subwoofer are below.

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.

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.

Subwoofer Guide: What to Watch out For

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.

Yamaha YST-SW216BL: Affordable and Punchy

I have a Yamaha YST-SW216BL filling out the audio in my bedroom sound system. Its main appeal is excellent value for money. You have to pay hundreds of dollars more to get a better subwoofers.

Here are my pros and cons:

Pros

  • As I mentioned above, value for money.
  • This front-firing subwoofer has enough power to fill any small to medium sized room with bass.
  • Solidly built.
  • Magnetic shielding provides safety and versatility when it comes to placement.

Cons

  • It's an excellent lower price subwoofer, but there are better ones on the market in terms of sound quality, you've just got to be prepared to spend $800.

Rear view of the MartinLogan Dynamo 700W.  This sub is difficult to beat when you compare price with power and accuracy.  Ideal for larger rooms, it delivers bass that is tight and effortless. The built-in wireless enables maximum placement options.
Rear view of the MartinLogan Dynamo 700W. This sub is difficult to beat when you compare price with power and accuracy. Ideal for larger rooms, it delivers bass that is tight and effortless. The built-in wireless enables maximum placement options.

MartinLogan Dynamo: Bluetooth For Placement Flexibility

I've long been a big fan of MartinLogan and chose their Dynamo 700W model for my office area, where I do most of my music listening (I work from home).

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.
  • The built-in wireless receiver gave me enormous flexibility with placement options plus I don't have to deal with unsightly cables.
  • Although defaulted to a down-firing setup, I took advantage of the ability to convert it to a front-firing configuration.

Cons

  • It's certainly not the cheapest subwoofer out there.

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 Paul Goodman

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        Ryan 22 months ago

        I liked the bic woofer sound quality is top notch

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