Which powered subwoofer is best?

If you have a home theater or speaker setup, you might find that your speakers leave something to be desired. A subwoofer essentially lets you feel the sound and creates a more immersive experience when watching action movies or listening to your favorite hip-hop or electronic dance music.

The best subwoofers crank up the bass and are easy to use. The Klipsch Reference Powered Subwoofer, for example, is a customer favorite as it delivers tight, powerful bass and has a stylish design that makes it perfect for any home theater or speaker setup.

What to know before you buy a powered subwoofer

Powered vs. passive subwoofer

If you’ve been shopping around for a new subwoofer, you may have stumbled across two kinds: powered and passive subwoofers. Powered subwoofers have a built-in amplifier, while passive subwoofers don’t, so they need an external one to power them. Powered subwoofers are more convenient since they’re tweaked for use right out of the box.

Do you need a powered subwoofer?

If you’re more into watching comedy or drama movies, a subwoofer won’t do much to enhance your viewing experience. Subwoofers crank up the bass, so they’re ideal for those who want to experience a booming sound while watching action, adventure or fantasy sequences. For music, subwoofers are great for genres where lows are more pronounced, such as reggae, hip-hop, EDM, jazz, funk and blues.

Size

Generally, the larger the subwoofer, the more powerful it is and the more bass it can deliver. However, it’s not always necessary to have the largest subwoofer possible. An 8-inch or 10-inch subwoofer is more than adequate for complementing smaller speakers, but a 12-inch subwoofer is more suitable if you have tall speakers.

Also, consider the area where you want to use your subwoofer. If it’s a small room such as a bedroom, a smaller subwoofer can deliver enough bass to boost your audio experience, but for areas such as large basements or living rooms, a 12-inch subwoofer might be best.

What to look for in a quality powered subwoofer

Sealed vs. ported closure

The type of closure affects the kind of bass a subwoofer delivers. A sealed subwoofer doesn’t allow airflow, so it reproduces tight and accurate bass. Ported closures are usually bulkier, but they have a built-in air vent that creates a more powerful bass output.

Firing direction

Front-firing subwoofers reproduce sound that radiates from the front, where downward-firing subwoofers shoot toward the floor. Both types deliver excellent bass, but their placement varies. Front-firing subwoofers are better when placed in the center, while downward-firing ones perform better near a wall.

Wireless

Audiophiles and purists often shun the idea of wireless audio connections due to quality concerns, but they offer a convenient way to stream content and listen to your favorite tunes. You still have to connect a wireless powered subwoofer to a power outlet, but there’s no need to connect a cable to a receiver. They’re easier to set up than wired subwoofers, as once they connect to a Wi-Fi network, they’re good to go.

How much you can expect to spend on a powered subwoofer

You can find a powerful subwoofer for a relatively low price. Subwoofers for small-to-medium-sized rooms can cost $100-$200, but if you want something for a larger area with more features and connectivity options, expect to spend $200-$400.

Powered subwoofer FAQ

Can I use more than one powered subwoofer for the same setup?

A. One subwoofer is sufficient for most situations, but you can use an additional one if you want to reduce dead spots and produce a broader soundstage.

How do I connect a subwoofer to my receiver?

A. Most modern powered subwoofers have a low-frequency effect output, which is essentially a simple RCA jack output. This output lets the subwoofer adjust according to the volume level of the primary receiver.

What’s the best powered subwoofer to buy?

Top powered subwoofer

Klipsch Reference Powered Subwoofer

Klipsch Reference Powered Subwoofer

What you need to know: This subwoofer has placement flexibility and delivers booming bass, making it perfect for watching movies and listening to music.

What you’ll love: It has a powerful 10-inch front-firing woofer and a 300-watt all-digital amplifier. It has a compact design, measuring 12.5 by 14  by 15.7 inches, and features low-pass crossover to save power and phase control that helps it integrate with the speakers. It also has an LFE input for compatibility with any receiver.

What you should consider: It doesn’t come with much information on how to tweak your system to achieve optimal equalizer settings.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top powered subwoofer for the money

Polk Audio 10-Inch Powered Subwoofer

Polk Audio 10-Inch Powered Subwoofer

What you need to know: This subwoofer is compact but packs plenty of power and bass for its size, making it perfect for small-to-medium-sized rooms.

What you’ll love: It delivers excellent depth and a crisp, clear sound without any distortion, even at high volume levels and low frequencies. It has a built-in 50-watt RMS amplifier that can be cranked up to 100 watts of dynamic power and a phase toggle for connecting multiple subwoofers.

What you should consider: Some customers report that it makes too much electrical noise when plugged in on standby.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Yamaha 100-Watt Powered Subwoofer

Yamaha 100-Watt Powered Subwoofer

What you need to know: This subwoofer incorporates several advanced bass technologies to deliver a deep, impactful response.

What you’ll love: It has a stylish design and is excellent for watching movies or listening to music in small-to-medium-sized rooms. It has a new Twisted Flare Port, 10-inch cone woofer and a side-firing port for tight bass and accurate sound reproduction.

What you should consider: Many reviewers found the lack of an automatic power feature inconvenient.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Kevin Luna writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
 

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