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The best subwoofers you can buy in 2023

If you've found your way to this post, you're likely considering adding a subwoofer to your home audio or home theater setup, and we think that's a great idea. Beyond the obvious ideas about subwoofers — that they add big boom and rumble to your movies as well as a swift kick in the chest with your music — adding lower frequencies can also bring depth, drama, and tension to whatever you're watching, even when it's quieter.

A dedicated subwoofer can also take a significant amount of strain off of your amplifier, resulting in cleaner sound and higher dynamics from the other speakers in your system. Additionally, many of the powered speaker solutions s we're seeing in the market also come with subwoofer-out ports, so you can significantly improve their bass sound.

While the fantastic SVS SB16-Ultra is our favorite, we've also collected a list of alternatives ranging from the budget $130 range to the higher-end $2,000-plus mark, each with its own specific strengths, ranging from auto-equalization to saving on space without giving up the bass. Let's get bumpin'.

SVS SB16-Ultra
SVS SB16 Ultra
The best overall subwoofer
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Monoprice 150-Watt Powered Subwoofer
Monoprice 150-Watt Powered Subwoofer
The best subwoofer on a budget
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Klipsch Reference Series 12 R-121SW
Klipsch Reference Series 12 (R-121SW)
The best subwoofer for the style conscious
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150 Watt Powered Slim Subwoofer
Monoprice SSW-12 Powered Slim Subwoofer
The best hideaway subwoofer
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KEF KC62 Subwoofer
KEF KC62 Subwoofer
The best small subwoofer
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Polk Audio HTS 10 Powered Subwoofer with Power Port Technology
Polk Audio HTS 10 Subwoofer
The dark horse subwoofer
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svs sb16 ultra review sb 16 subwoofer no grill
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

SVS SB16 Ultra

The best overall subwoofer

Pros
  • Gorgeous design
  • Incredibly deep, powerful bass
  • Smooth and articulate
  • Does the work of two subs
  • First-class control app
Cons
  • Could be large for some rooms

The SVS SB-16 Ultra has been on our list for some time, mainly because we haven't found anything worthy to take its place. This subwoofer has become our measuring stick, which might actually be unfair to the competition — it's that good. Beneath a sleek, stylish subwoofer box, the cubic SVS SB16 houses a monstrous 16-inch Ultra driver with an 8-inch, edge-wound voice coil and a ridiculous 1,500-watt continuous Sledge amplifier with discrete MOSFET output that tops out at 5,000 watts peak power.

Additionally, a smartphone app for iOS and Android has upped the SB16 Ultra's game significantly, taking the pain out of setting up your sub by allowing you to fine-tune the speaker from your optimal listening position and create custom presets for different listening situations.

All of this is to say: No matter how you're using the SB16, it impresses. Gunshots and explosions in films register with a hefty thump to the chest, and the sub manages low-end instrumentation beautifully, allowing acoustic bass to bounce smoothly while electronic bass and kick drums shake the foundation of your home. For our money, this is the best subwoofer you can buy, period.

Honorable mention goes to the HSU ULS-15 MK 2 and the Monoprice Monolith range of subwoofers, two of the best-sounding $1,000-plus subwoofers we've checked out recently.

SVS SB16-Ultra
SVS SB16 Ultra
The best overall subwoofer
The Monoprice 150-watt subwoofer.

Monoprice 150-Watt Powered Subwoofer

The best subwoofer on a budget

Pros
  • Delivers 150 watts (200-watt peak)
  • Multiple connection options
  • Excellent price
Cons
  • Lacks the features of more advanced subs

Monoprice has quickly risen through the ranks of AV stardom, outputting top-notch hardware that looks awesome, sounds great, and is priced competitively. And if you're looking for some rumble but don't want the tumble of big-budget prices, look no further than the mighty Monoprice 150-Watt Powered Subwoofer.

Rocking a 12-inch, front-firing driver that peaks at 200 watts, the sub comes with all the standard fare we'd expect from pretty much any reasonable woofer, including gain and frequency adjustments in addition to standard RCA connections and line-level inputs and outputs.

It may not be the fanciest sub on our list, but if you're in need of an awesome-sounding peripheral that won't drain your funds, going Monoprice is always a solid and safe idea.

Monoprice 150-Watt Powered Subwoofer
Monoprice 150-Watt Powered Subwoofer
The best subwoofer on a budget
The Klipsch Reference Series 12 R-121SW set up next to a table.

Klipsch Reference Series 12 (R-121SW)

The best subwoofer for the style conscious

Pros
  • A sleek and stylish aesthetic
  • Powerful digital amplifier
  • Revamped cone design means little distortion
Cons
  • A bit pricey
  • Klipsch-style drivers may not be for everyone

Klipsch is constantly reinventing its own wheel, and when you consider the fact that there aren't many problems to address in the first place, it only goes to show just how much the brand cares about looks and performance. Thus, we arrive at the Klipsch Reference Series 12 R-121SW.

We love the fact that Klipsch went back to the drawing board to create an all-new woofer design. The sub's front-firing 12-inch cone is composed of what the company calls thermoform crystalline polymer, delivering a resounding low-end experience with minimal distortion, and with a much lighter chassis. There's also the onboard digital amplifier, the heart and lungs of the 121SW, supplying up to 400 watts of unequaled power with pinpoint accuracy.

If you're looking for a rock-solid woofer from a name that ensures reliability, the Klipsch Reference Series 12 R-121SW is certainly the way to go.

Klipsch Reference Series 12 R-121SW
Klipsch Reference Series 12 (R-121SW)
The best subwoofer for the style conscious
The Monoprice SSW-12 hidden under a couch.

Monoprice SSW-12 Powered Slim Subwoofer

The best hideaway subwoofer

Pros
  • A subwoofer you can hide under the couch
  • 150 watts of pulse-pounding sound
  • Multiple inputs and outputs
  • Reasonable price
Cons
  • Lacks more advanced features
  • Wider profile may not be ideal for some

The ideal home theater has room for every speaker and component imaginable, but fantasy AV doesn't always align with smaller floor plans and apartment dwellings. And for those of us who want to add a subwoofer to our home theaters, sometimes going big is simply not an option. Thankfully, Monoprice is here to save the day with its SSW-12 Slim Subwoofer, a terrific-sounding sub you can scoot under the couch.

Capable of outputting 150 watts from its down-firing 12-inch driver, the enclosure's ported design helps to maximize low-end frequencies without causing unnecessary vibrations throughout the slim chassis. There are also plenty of hookups to get the SSW-12 wired up to your receiver, from RCA connections to line-level ins and outs.

150 Watt Powered Slim Subwoofer
Monoprice SSW-12 Powered Slim Subwoofer
The best hideaway subwoofer
The KEF KC62 subwoofer.

KEF KC62 Subwoofer

The best small subwoofer

Pros
  • Can deliver up to 1,000 watts
  • Incredibly small footprint
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Plenty of EQ options
Cons
  • Very expensive

KEF is one of those speaker brands that is always coming up with new ways to blow our minds, and the KC62 Subwoofer (available in black and white finishes) is a jaw-dropping sub that's no bigger than a basketball. And the craziest part? This basketball can deliver up to 1,000 watts of smooth, thumping low-end. We're not kidding.

That's on top of two 6.5-inch Uni-Core force-canceling drivers, an assortment of EQ options to truly dial in the sound, and a cabinet tailor-made to reduce unwanted distortion and vibrations. Yes, it's more expensive than a majority of the woofers you'll find in this roundup, but KEF is simply one of the best brands money can buy, and just look at it, for Pete's sake.

How can something so small be so powerful? Thank KEF for that.

KEF KC62 Subwoofer
KEF KC62 Subwoofer
The best small subwoofer
The Polk HTS10 subwoofer in a living room.

Polk Audio HTS 10 Subwoofer

The dark horse subwoofer

The Polk Audio HTS 10 is an unsung gem in the world of subwoofers, and we're glad to have unearthed it.

Utilizing Polk's impressive Dynamic Balance Technology, this 10-inch front-firing woofer is engineered to evenly distribute sound throughout your theater space. That's on top of Polk's distortion-reducing tech that ensures every last decibel is as articulate and profound as can be.

You'll also get adjustments for volume, low-pass filtering, and phase toggle — and, rest assured, wattage juggernauts. While the HTS 10 won't reach the peak heights of something like the KEF62, you can expect peak wattage to hit around 200, which is plenty of thud for most music, movies, and games.

Polk Audio HTS 10 Powered Subwoofer with Power Port Technology
Polk Audio HTS 10 Subwoofer
The dark horse subwoofer

Frequently Asked Questions

Are bigger subwoofers better?

They can be. Larger woofers can produce more accurate, room-filling bass with a bigger "shake" factor than smaller models. But that's only one consideration. A poorly constructed large subwoofer may rattle too much, for example, while smaller models with plenty of power can still do a great job.

Does my speaker system need a subwoofer?

It's a really, really good idea. Home theater systems are generally designed with a subwoofer in mind. So are the latest movie audio standards.

Can I use two subwoofers at once?

You can, although it isn't common in home setups. Just make sure that your receiver can handle two subwoofer connections. Some people prefer using two smaller woofers that they can strategically place in their theater to get the best multi-directional bass.

Wait, is there a difference between a woofer and a subwoofer?

The terms are frequently used interchangeably. Traditionally, a "woofer" can refer to a driver that has a higher frequency response than a subwoofer, less dedicated to pure bass sound, and more likely to be part of a speaker than a standalone unit.

How do you test?

We run the subwoofer for several hours before beginning any critical evaluation. While there is much debate over whether the "break-in effect" is real, we prefer to get that factor covered so it doesn't play a role in our evaluation one way or another.

Our subwoofer tests take place in at least two different rooms, any of which we are intimately familiar with, and we generally test the subwoofer in three locations that we know offer the best possible response within those rooms. Testing material includes everything from test tone sweeps to blockbuster movies and a selection of music from multiple genres. We seek to learn how deep a sub can play, how visceral the low bass response is, how well it can be adjusted to integrate with both small and large satellite speakers, and how musically accurate it is capable of playing.

We hope for a versatile subwoofer, which can not only belt out the big bass notes needed for a high-impact action movie, but one which can also stay tight and tuneful when playing acoustic upright bass, or reproducing the classic Fender P-bass tone. A good subwoofer will avoid tubby, boomy sound that lacks definition, and instead integrate itself seamlessly into a larger audio system, calling attention to itself only during instances in which its pure muscle can't be ignored.

If you've already made your choice, check our subwoofer setup guide to get everything put together correctly and our calibration guide to help maximize performance in any listening space.

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