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.
This isn’t just about loudness, almost any typical, basic sub can be loud. It’s about EVEN DEPTH. Your local theater can rarely dip under 40 hertz with any meaning, while many of these subwoofers will routinely drop to 14 hertz in room, which is most likely lower than you can hear.
Most subwoofers, easily more than 90% of 10″-18″ subs (regardless of wattage and price), are TOO SHALLOW, 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 the “typical subwoofer” that’s to blame. It’s definitely audible, most subs just don’t produce enough if 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. (How I level match by ear)
Big subs like these DO NOT mean overpowering “boom boom”, they mean “articulate” 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 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 at all intrusive with regular content.
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”, however, is truly an experience if you enjoy their music.
Metallica’s new album, “Hardwired… To Self Destruct” is excellent for bass.
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 hot 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, these are not subs I can personally vouch for unless “VERIFIED”, but they generally have great reputations. No subs over $2,500 will make the list for the sake of value and relative sanity.
As you can see, the list is pretty short. 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 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-4000’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. Dual PB-3000’s would yield MUCH better results.
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 highly recommend them over sealed for sensitive ears, like those prone to headaches, sensitive ears in general, autism spectrum, and pets.
My own ear 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 apart in any “meaningful” way.
Subwoofer 101 is the world’s first SVS affiliate. Rather than producing “man cave only” subwoofers, they produce subs that look nice in living/family rooms as well, while 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 tone, regardless of size or price.
Follow these links before ordering to support the Subwoofer101 website and YouTube Channel. 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 return period, etc…).
PB12-NSD BLACK FRIDAY SPECIAL (Click here to order Factory Direct)
($) The PB-12 NSD is a 12″ Ported subwoofer. The predecessor to the PB-2000 (my personal favorite so far for performance, price, and size), these subs have been produced for a small production run for BLACK FRIDAY ONLY!! Originally $799, these are $499 for the sale, and once they are gone, they are gone!! While these are available, they have dethroned the PB-1000 as the “Smartest Buy in Bass”!! Get them while you can, and go dual!! If you miss the Black Friday sale, watch the SVS Outlet, gently used products that have the same Bill of Rights and warranty as new, including free shipping and 1 year trade up!
PB-1000 (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($) The PB-1000 is a 10” Ported Subwoofer. Verified!!– Highly recommended for duals under $1,000, the most compact and affordable ported subwoofer on this list, VERY strong value!! Isolation highly recommended for wood sub-floors. “Smartest Buy in Bass” due to ecomomics, performance, and the 1 year trade-up. Get started with quality dual subs, and trade up if you feel the need!
PB-2000 (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($$) VERIFIED!!! The PB-2000 is a 12″ Ported subwoofer, 500 watts RMS, 1100 peak. My favorite sub for value, size, and 100% full range bass performance down to 14 Hertz measured in my room. Isolation highly recommended for wood sub-floors. My “Go-To” subwoofer to recommend.
PB12-Plus (discontinued, but check the Outlet) (Click Here To View Specs)
($$$) 12” Variable Ported, isolation highly recommended for wood sub-floors.
PB-3000 (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($$$) VERIFIED!!! The PB-3000 is a 13″ Ported subwoofer, 800 watts RMS, 2500 watts peak, with SVS App control! My favorite PREMIUM subwoofer for the value, size, and 100% full range bass performance, and INCREDIBLE IMPACT! Isolation highly recommended for wood sub-floors. It’s only about an inch bigger on all sides than the PB-2000, yet it’s performance is closer to the PB-4000 in terms of raw impact! Aside from the outstanding PB-16 Ultra, this has been THE MOST SURPRISING SUBWOOFER I’VE REVIEWED YET!! The Split-Wind voice coil isn’t just cool sounding tech, it makes this sub SOUND BIGGER AND MORE POWERFUL than it is.
PB13-Ultra (Discontinued, Click Here To View Specs or watch The Outlet)
($$$$) 13” Variable ported. Very large rooms, excellent home theater application. Previous SVS flagship. Isolation highly recommended for wood sub-floors.
PB-4000 (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($$$$) The PB-4000 is a 13.5 inch Variable Ported subwoofer. 1,200 watts RMS, 4,200 watts peak. True 13 hertz performance in room, remote control, comprehensive smart phone app with thoughtful adjust-ability including: 3 band graphed PEQ’s, multiple sub adjustment, presets, display lockout, port tuning, room gain compensation, etc, etc, etc… Ultra low distortion, ultra high output. Isolation HIGHLY recommended for wood sub-floors. Measure before ordering, very large, very heavy (153.2 pounds!), truck freight shipped on a pallet. Realism and impact is off the charts!
PB16-Ultra (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($$$$) VERIFIED!!! The PB-16 is a 16 inch Variable Ported subwoofer. New SVS Flagship, 1,500 watts RMS, 5,000 peak! True 13 hertz performance, remote control, 8 inch voice coil. For those who want the best of the best, it’s my favorite “money no object” subwoofer, and the best bass I’ve heard to date. Comprehensive smart phone app with thoughtful adjust-ability including: 3 band graphed PEQ’s, multiple sub adjustment, presets, display lockout, port tuning, room gain compensation, etc, etc, etc… Ultra low distortion, ultra high output. Isolation HIGHLY recommended for wood sub-floors. Measure before ordering, very large, VERY heavy (175 pounds!), truck freight shipped on a pallet. Realism and impact is off the charts!
PC-2000 (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($$) Verified! 12″ Ported Cylinder sub, comes with the Soundpath Subwoofer Isolation System, same internals as the PB-2000. Down firing subwoofers are OK for concrete, but may not be ideal for wood sub-floors. The Isolation System helps for wood floors (comes stock, no need to order more isolation).
PC12-Plus (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($$$) 12” Variable ported. Cylinder sub, taller, measure before ordering. Down firing subwoofers are OK for concrete, but may not be ideal for wood sub-floors. Isolation HIGHLY recommended for wood sub-floors. Great value option, lower price than PB-12 plus, same internals.
PC13-Ultra (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($$$$) 13” Variable Ported. Cylinder sub, very tall, measure before ordering. Down firing subwoofers are OK for concrete, but may not be ideal for wood sub-floors. Isolation HIGHLY recommended for wood sub-floors. Great value option, lower price than PB-13 Ultra, same internals!
PC-4000 (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($$$$) (Not Verified, but same guts as the PB-4000, which is Verified!) 13.5 inch Variable Ported. 1,200 watts RMS, 4200 watts peak. True 15 hertz performance, remote control, comprehensive smart phone app with thoughtful adjust-ability including: 3 band graphed PEQ’s, multiple sub adjustment, presets, display lockout, port tuning, room gain compensation, etc, etc, etc… Ultra low distortion, ultra high output. Isolation included! Down firing subwoofers are OK for concrete, but may not be ideal for wood sub-floors. Measure before ordering, very tall (47 Inches). Realism and impact is off the charts!
I’ve been a Monoprice affiliate much longer than SVS, so I would really love to recommend them with confidence. I’m not entirely sure their subs belong on this list, but I’ll list them for your consideration.
I know they will go loud, but it’s the depth of presentation that I’m not sure about, and that is a MAJOR determining factor for being on this list at all.
They have the right earmarks for a subwoofer that I look for, but graphs and figures only go so far.
I will HAPPILY review these subs, and they will probably make this list, but I’m not willing to keep chasing them with unanswered emails. I really want to give my audience some more viable options, and I think these subs just might belong, but I can’t give them an enthusiastic recommendation without hearing them first.
Monolith 12 (Click here to order Factory Direct)
($$) (NOT VERIFIED) The Monolith 12 is a 500 watt 12″ variable ported driver subwoofer. Based on previous experience, it would likely not make this list in “THX Mode”, but it MIGHT belong in “Extended Mode”. 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)
($$$) (NOT VERIFIED) The Monolith 15 is a 15″ driver variable ported subwoofer with 1,000 watts. Based on previous experience, it would likely not make the list in “THX Mode”, but it MIGHT belong in “Extended Mode”. This subwoofer is on this list tentatively, pending an actual hands on, dual sub review. I can’t say that it will deliver the kind bass that I look for, but I suspect it might, and earn a permanent spot on this list.
While Outlaw is not a direct affiliate for Subwoofer 101, you can order them on Amazon to support this site.
Ultra X-12 (Click Here To Order On Amazon)
Ultra X-13 (Click Here To Order On Amazon)
($$$$) Verified. 13″ Variable Ported down firing Outlaw Flagship, THX Certified, though I preferred a setting that was different than the THX mode. In THX mode, this subwoofer would not make the list, it did not “sound” deep enough, while other EQ settings were more acceptable, though not as deep sounding as other subs on this list. Down firing subwoofers are OK for concrete, but may not be ideal for wood sub-floors. Isolation HIGHLY recommended for wood sub-floors. Excellent for hiding subwoofers as end tables, so long as the beautiful top is protected from scratching.
($$) (Not Verified) 12” Variable Ported
($$$) (Not Verified) 15” Variable Ported
($$$) 15” Variable Ported. Verified, MK-1 version. High (max) output, true 16 hertz performance, though not as deep “sounding” as other subs on the list. Shipping policy is painful if you return it, but a good option if you are in the LA, 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.
($$) (Not Verified) 12” Ported
($$$) (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
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.
Dividing your bass budget to include 2 matched subs is the ONLY way to go, and any 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.
SVS, who have been supportive of this site since I first contacted them, offers free shipping, even if you send it back (something that could cost hundreds). Their Bill of Rights is one of the most comprehensive customer protection packages in the industry.
If you decide to go with one of the above, please follow the links shortly before placing your order to help support this site. For those that are not linked, please be sure to tell them you heard about their subs on this site.
Phone orders for SVS are NOT tracked for the 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.
The same is true for Amazon orders, and you can visit my very own “Amazon Influencer Page” here (click here)! Anything you order 24 hours after going to my Amazon page could help this site and my YouTube Channel. The more support I get, the more I can explore the hobby and report my findings.
Eventually, I would like every listed maker to be a Subwoofer 101 affiliate and become a portal for all quality subwoofers. SVS was the first to support this site, but I hope they won’t be the last!
Hopefully this will simplify your search for great bass!