close up of subwoofer speaker
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Update, 12/07/2022: We’ve reviewed our recommendations and have updated our best soundbar with subwoofer recommendation to the Klipsch Cinema 600 soundbar.

What to Look For in a Subwoofer in 2022

Low frequencies are comparatively uncommon in nature, and when we do hear them, they’re usually a sign of danger. Thunderstorms, earthquakes, and landslides are some reasons you’d hear this low-frequency range in the natural world. Because of this, they’re exciting.

Adding a subwoofer to your home theater setup makes movies and music feel more impactful because of the way our bodies respond to these lower frequencies. Adding a powerful subwoofer to your home audio setup makes a much bigger difference than turning up the bass on your A/V receiver or soundbar.

Low frequencies are harder to reproduce than higher frequencies because of the size of the waveforms. This means you need a larger speaker to reproduce lower frequencies, so subwoofers often have speakers 12 inches or more in diameter. That said, you’ll find an eight-inch subwoofer can be surprisingly powerful.

Because of the size of the speakers, subwoofers tend to take up a fair amount of space. Some companies build low-profile subwoofers that can hide away under a couch, for example, but these are tougher to build, so you’ll find they’re often more expensive than traditional, cube-shaped subwoofers.

Most subwoofers are also powered, meaning they don’t require an external amplifier, but they do need to be plugged into a wall outlet. Typically, you’ll also need to run a cable from your A/V receiver or soundbar to the subwoofer. Wireless subwoofers are available, though you’ll often find them packaged in home-theater-in-a-box or soundbar systems.

While most subwoofers will work equally well for music or movies, you’ll want to remember how you plan to use them. Smaller subwoofers often work fine for home theater systems, but you might need a larger subwoofer to keep up with floor-standing hi-fi speakers, for example.

Finally, subwoofers for your vehicle are almost an entirely different category. These often need to be more shallow to easily mount in a car, and they often don’t come in a bespoke speaker cabinet.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a subwoofer do?
A subwoofer is a speaker that is especially well-suited toward low frequencies, typically from 20 Hz to 160 Hz, or sometimes higher. These frequencies are harder to reproduce, so a dedicated speaker lets your other frequencies focus on midrange and high frequencies.
Where should I place a subwoofer?
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You can place a subwoofer nearly anywhere, and it will work. Typically, putting it either near your sitting position or near your TV are two common choices. Putting your subwoofer in a corner can make it sound lower.
How do I test a subwoofer?
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Your home theater system or A/V receiver often has a test function that will play white noise through every speaker connected, including your subwoofer. You can also watch the cone of the speaker, assuming it’s visible, to see if it’s moving. Another option is playing some music, starting at a low volume, then raising it to see if you can hear the subwoofer working.
How do I connect a subwoofer with a sound bar?
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Many subwoofers connect wirelessly to the subwoofers they come with, so there’s no need to make a connection manually. For a wired subwoofer, you’ll typically run a supplied cable from the soundbar to the subwoofer.
How do I connect a subwoofer to a receiver?
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Receivers connect to subwoofers via a few methods. The first is an RCA cable, running from the Subwoofer output on your receiver to the input of a subwoofer. For a passive subwoofer, you’ll find typical speaker jacks, labeled Subwoofer, on your receiver or integrated amplifier. Connect the subwoofer to this with speaker wire.

Best Subwoofer Overall: Bluesound Pulse SUB+

Bluesound subwoofer on grey background
Bluesound

Pros

  • Low-profile design makes it easier to fit into your room
  • Digital signal processing perfectly sculpts sound
  • Low, powerful bass despite small size

Cons

  • Only wireless when used with the Pulse Soundbar+

Usually, scaling down the size of a subwoofer is a quick route to thin, lifeless sound. That is far from the case with the Bluesound Pulse SUB+ Wireless Powered Subwoofer. While it only packs an eight-inch woofer, it provides powerful bass, and you can put it almost anywhere.

The Bluesound Pulse SUB+ features a slim, low-profile design that makes it easy to find a home for, no matter how large or small your living room might be. Slide it under your couch to keep it out of sight, or place it in the perfect spot for room-filling bass. No matter what, it won’t be in the way.

Looking at the audio performance, the Pulse SUB+ packs 150 watts of power, with digital signal processing (DSP) to ensure perfect audio. This is a solid wattage to start from in the first place, but the DSP makes this subwoofer sound much bigger than the wattage and woofer size would have you imagine.

One minor downside of the Bluesound Pulse SUB+ is that it doesn’t include a hardware remote. Instead, you control everything from the BluOS controller appΒ on your phone or tablet.

If you’re shopping for a soundbar and aren’t seeking a budget option, Bluesound’s Pulse range is worth considering. While it’s great on its own, as we’ve outlined above, Bluesound built the Pulse subwoofer to pair with its Pulse Soundbar+ soundbar, making a solid package for your home theater.

Best Subwoofer Overall

Bluesound Pulse SUB+ Wireless Powered Subwoofer

The Bluesound Pulse SUB+ brings powerful bass nearly anywhere in your home, with a slim fit that lets it fit places other subwoofers can't.

Best Budget Subwoofer: Monoprice 60-Watt Powered Subwoofer

Monoprice Subwoofer on grey background
Monoprice

Pros

  • Multiple inputs make it easy to connect to anything
  • Smaller cabinet makes it easy to hide away
  • Black MDF cabinet looks good anywhere

Cons

  • Relatively low wattage

If you want a solid rumble during the action scenes in movies, but you want to avoid spending too much, the Monoprice 60-Watt Powered Subwoofer is a surprisingly solid option. It doesn’t take up too much space, and even though it only packs 60 watts, it brings some serious low-end audio to your audio.

The Monoprice 60-Watt Powered Subwoofer might only have an eight-inch driver but can still produce frequencies as low as 50 Hz. If you’re using smaller speakers for the rest of your system, the crossover goes up to 150 Hz, meaning the subwoofer can handle the entire low-end audio spectrum without any help from your other speakers.

If you’re using an A/V receiver that doesn’t have a proper subwoofer output, there’s no need to worry. This model takes a standard RCA left/right connection, you can use a standard line out, which the subwoofer will combine into mono for the bass signal. You can also take a standard speaker output from the front left and front right channels and use that.

This being a budget option, you’re not going to find an exotic wood used for the cabinet. That said, this black wood cabinet with a fabric covering for the driver and bass port doesn’t look cheap. Plus, the minimalist design should fit in, no matter your choice of decor.

While it isn’t low-profile like the Bluesound Pulse SUB+, the Monoprice 60-Watt Powered Subwoofer is still on the smaller side. If you’re not certain that you’ll be able to make room for a larger subwoofer, this smaller size is easier to fit next to your TV or by your couch.

Best Budget Subwoofer

Monoprice 60-Watt Powered Subwoofer

The Monoprice 60-Watt Powered Subwoofer might have a low price, but there's nothing small about the bass that this speaker is capable of cranking out.

Best Subwoofer for Home Theaters: MartinLogan Dynamo 600 X

Martin logan subwoofer on purple background
MartinLogan

Pros

  • Plenty of power to match any home theater system
  • Automatic room correction app matches the subwoofer to your room
  • Plenty of inputs

Cons

  • Wireless option is sold separately

Are you looking to make sure your movies sound as good as possible? If the answer is yes, the MartinLogan Dynamo 600 X subwoofer will be perfect for you. Described by the company as audiophile-grade, the Dynamo 600 X features a 10-inch woofer driven by an amplifier with a peak power of 240 watts.

No matter what you’re using for the rest of your sound system, the MartinLogan Dynamo 600 X can connect to it. The subwoofer features a standard LFE subwoofer input, as well as left and right RCA inputs in case your A/V receiver doesn’t have a dedicated subwoofer out. You can even connect using speaker-level inputs if that’s your preferred connection.

When it comes to setting up and controlling the MartinLogan Dynamo 600 X, a pair of apps helps you control everything. The MartinLogan Subwoofer Control app for Apple and Android devices lets you control volume, crossover frequency, and more. It can even run a tone sweep of low frequencies to help you identify anything in your room that may be rattling or resonating.

For a more advanced setup, Anthem ARC app helps you precisely tune the subwoofer to your room. Using the built-in mic on your smartphone, the app can identify issues with how the subwoofer sounds in your room. Then, the built-in DSP in the subwoofer can adjust the sound of the speaker to sound its very best, regardless of where you place it.

If you prefer not to deal with wires and have some spare cash on hand, you can even convert the Dynamo 600 X into a wireless subwoofer. All you need is the MartinLogan SWT-X Wireless Subwoofer Kit, which is sold separately.

Best Subwoofer for Home Theaters

MartinLogan Dynamo 600 X

The MartinLogan Dynamo 600 X is a high-end subwoofer with features to match, including software that adjusts the sound to fit your room and optional wireless connectivity.

Best Subwoofer for Car: Rockford Fosgate Punch P3SD2-12

Rockford Subwoofer on pink background
Rockford

Pros

  • Powerful power handling in a 12-inch woofer design
  • Rigid built prevents distortion
  • Shallow design lets you fit it in your vehicle without giving up space

Cons

  • May not actually hold up to its maximum power rating

Because of their size, finding a subwoofer to fit inside your car can be an exercise in frustration. The Rockford Fosgate Punch P3SD2-12 is a great option, as it’s a 12-inch woofer with a shallow profile, letting you mount it many places inside your car without having to give up much space.

The P3SD2-12 handles 400 watts of continuous power, with a peak capacity of 800 watts. That said, some Amazon reviewsΒ mention that it doesn’t gracefully handle higher wattage, so if you’re planning to crank your stereo, you might want to opt for an amplifier that won’t approach the maximum power.

Rockford has packed the Punch P3SD2-12 with the same features you’ll find on many of its speakers. The StampCast Basket provides a rigid structure for the speaker, preventing flex caused by distortion, while the aluminum voice coil prevents the woofer from overheating during extended use.

The Rockford Fosgate Punch P3SD2-12 is a 2 Ohm speaker, but also comes in a 4 Ohm version, the Rockford Fosgate P3SD4-12.

Best Subwoofer for Car/Best Shallow Mount Subwoofer

Rockford Fosgate Punch P3SD2-12

If you're looking to bring the boom to your vehicle, the Rockford Fosgate Punch P3SD2-12 is capable of delivering all the bass you can handle in a compact design.

Best 12-inch Subwoofer: Klipsch R-12SWI

Klipsch subwoofer on blue and purple background
Klipsch

Pros

  • Pre-paired wireless transmitter makes any system wireless
  • Black and copper look is stunning
  • Injection Molded Graphite design avoids distortion

Cons

  • You pay extra for the wireless transmitter

Klipsch is a well-known and well-loved brand when it comes to audio, whether you’re talking about your hi-fi music system or your home theater. No matter what type of audio system you want to augment, the Klipsch R-12SWI provides solid performance without cluttering your room.

The Klipsch R-12SWI features a 12-inch woofer powered by a 400-watt integrated amplifier. The woofer is an Injection Molded Graphite design, which helps keep the subwoofer relatively lightweight while also avoiding cone breakup and unwanted distortion.

What makes the Klipsch R-12SWI really interesting is the pre-paired wireless transmitter that comes with it. Simply plug the transmitter into your A/V receiver for cable-free hookup, without having to worry about pairing the subwoofer yourself.

When it comes to the inputs, you get two. A standard LFE subwoofer input is joined by an RCA left/right connector on the back for use with A/V receivers without dedicated subwoofer outputs. On the back of the subwoofer, you’ll also find the volume and crossover frequency controls.

The Klipsch R-12SWI has the standard Klipsch black and copper color scheme, which should look great wherever you put it. That said, Klipsch does include a mesh fabric cover to keep the woofer protected.

Best 12-inch Subwoofer

Klipsch R-12SWI

The Klipsch R-12SWI uses a transmitter to add a wireless subwoofer to any A/V receiver, plus it has a stunning look that will fit in nearly anywhere.

Best Soundbar with Subwoofer: Klipsch Cinema 600 Sound Bar 3.1

Klipsch Cinema 600 Sound Bar on blue background
Klipsch

Pros

  • 10-inch subwoofer and 600 watts peak power mean big bass
  • Setting up is easy thanks to the wireless subwoofer
  • Solid wood build is tough and looks great
  • Adjustable subwoofer volume

Cons

  • No wireless connectivity
  • No Dolby Atmos

Full home theater systems are great, but they’re often bulky, difficult to set up, and complicated to use. A soundbar gets you most of the benefits of a home theater system, but they’re much easier to use and sound nearly as good, especially if it’s a model with a subwoofer like the Klipsch Cinema 600 Sound Bar 3.1.

This is a simple, relatively bare-bones soundbar. There aren’t any satellite speakers or complicated connectivity. You get the soundbar itself and the wireless subwoofer, which is pre-paired, so you don’t even need to struggle with this part of the process.

The Cinema 600 is a 3.1-channel soundbar, and there isn’t any support for more complex audio channel setups, like Dolby Atmos. Fortunately, the soundbar does feature 5.1-channel decoding, but you won’t hear the rear surround channels. You connect the soundbar to your TV via HDMI ARC, and there is no Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity.

Looking at the subwoofer itself, this is a 10-inch model, so it offers up plenty of bass. The good news is the subwoofer is level adjustable, so if you find the bass is overpowering or too subtle, you can adjust it to your personal preference.

Klipsch complements the simplicity of the Cinema 600 sound bar with a classic look. Unlike many soundbars, this is constructed out of real wood. This not only makes for a very solid build, but it’s also an aesthetically pleasing design choice.

Best Soundbar with Subwoofer

Klipsch Cinema 600 Sound Bar 3.1

The Klipsch Cinema 600 Sound Bar 3.1 is a soundbar with all the boom you need, courtesy of the 10-inch subwoofer and 600 watts of power. This model keeps it simple, but the wooden build gives it the feel of a modern classic.

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Profile Photo for Kris Wouk Kris Wouk
Kris Wouk is a freelance tech writer and musician with over 10 years of experience as a writer and a lifetime of experience as a gadget fan. He has also written for Digital Trends, MakeUseOf, Android Authority, and Sound Guys. At MakeUseOf, he was Section Editor in charge of the site's Mac coverage.
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