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 actually hear the difference.
It’s UNDENIABLE, and so much better than what most people are used to! From blockbusters to Diana Krall, nearly everything sounds better when you can actually hear ALL of the bass.
This isn’t about loudness, almost any typical sub can be loud. It’s about DEPTH. Your local theater can rarely dip under 40 hertz, while many of these subwoofers will routinely drop to 14 hertz in room, which is most likely lower than you can hear.
The majority of subwoofers, easily more than 90% of 10″-18″ subs (regardless of wattage), are TOO SHALLOW, both in extension and presentation.
Depth of presentation is important, because your hearing fades as the frequency gets deeper. Some people assume that’s why they can’t the deep stuff, but truly it’s the typical subwoofer that is to blame.
Few can plumb the depths like they really should.
Competent and clear thunder, but only when thunder is called for. 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 25×25), 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 don’t 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, but not intrusive.
These subwoofers are known for great bass, a DRASTIC departure from more commonly known names that tend to inflate their numbers, and yet 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, from 100 hertz 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 rather than 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 PB13 Ultras or PB16 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 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.
Even the most persnickety audiophiles would have a hard time picking these apart in any “meaningful” way.
Subwoofer 101 is the world’s first SVS affiliate! 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)
($) 12″ Ported. 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 $499 for the sale, and once they are gone, they are gone!! While these are available, they have dethroned the PB-1000 as the “Smartest Buy in Bass”!! Get them while you can, and go dual!! If you miss the Black Friday sale, watch the SVS Outlet, gently used products that have the same Bill of Rights and warranty as new, including free shipping and 1 year trade up!
PB-1000 (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($) 10” Ported. Verified!!– Highly recommended for duals under $1,000, most compact and affordable 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)
($$) VERIFIED!!! 12″ Ported, 500 watts RMS, 1100 peak. My favorite sub for value, size, and 100% full range bass performance down to 14 Hertz measured in my room. Isolation highly recommended for wood sub-floors. My “Go-To” subwoofer to recommend.
PB12-Plus (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($$$) 12” Variable Ported, isolation highly recommended for wood sub-floors.
PB13-Ultra (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($$$$) 13” Variable ported. Very large rooms, excellent home theater application. Previous SVS flagship. Isolation highly recommended for wood sub-floors.
PB16-Ultra (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($$$$) VERIFIED!!! 16 inch Variable Ported. New SVS Flagship, 1,500 watts RMS, 5,000 peak! True 13 hertz performance, remote control, 8 inch voice coil. For those who want the best of the best. Comprehensive smart phone app with thoughtful adjust-ability including: 3 band graphed PEQ’s, multiple sub adjustment, presets, display lockout, port tuning, room gain compensation, etc, etc, etc… Ultra low distortion, ultra high output. Isolation HIGHLY recommended for wood sub-floors. Measure before ordering, very large, very heavy(175 pounds!), truck freight shipped on a pallet. Realism and impact is off the charts!)
PC-2000 (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($$) 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)
($$$) 12” Variable ported. Cylinder sub, taller, measure before ordering. Down firing subwoofers are OK for concrete, but may not be ideal for wood sub-floors. Isolation HIGHLY recommended for wood sub-floors. Great value option, lower price than PB-12 plus, same internals.
PC13-Ultra (Click Here To Order Factory Direct)
($$$$) 13” Variable Ported. Cylinder sub, very tall, measure before ordering. Down firing subwoofers are OK for concrete, but may not be ideal for wood sub-floors. Isolation HIGHLY recommended for wood sub-floors. Great value option, lower price than PB-13 Ultra, same internals!
While Outlaw is not a direct affiliate for Subwoofer 101, you can order them on Amazon to support this site.
Ultra X-12 (Click Here To Order On Amazon)
Ultra X-13 (Click Here To Order On Amazon)
($$$$) Verified. 13″ Variable Ported down firing, New Outlaw Flagship, THX Certified, though I preferred a setting that was different than the THX mode. Down firing subwoofers are OK for concrete, but may not be ideal for wood sub-floors. Isolation HIGHLY recommended for wood sub-floors. Excellent for hiding subwoofers as end tables, so long as top is protected from scratching.
($$) 12” Variable Ported
($$$) 15” Variable Ported
($$$) 15” Variable Ported. Verified MK-1. High output, very large rooms, true 16 hertz performance.
($$) 12” Ported
($$$) 15” Variable Ported
($$$) 15” Variable Ported
$= less than $500 delivered or $1,000 for dual
$$= 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!