The best subwoofers for 2024: Klipsch, KEF, Kanto, and more

If your speaker system needs an extra kick in the low-end, then it might be time to invest in a subwoofer. A good subwoofer (or two) is a key component for any healthy surround sound setup because it takes the strain off whatever floorstanding or bookshelf speakers you’ve got in place to deliver low frequencies that they just aren’t built for. Movies and TV shows featuring explosions, fight sequences, and other hard-hitting scenes are brilliantly enhanced by the presence of a subwoofer.

They’re also amazing for music. Everything from punk to smooth jazz to classical gets a high-quality boost when a sub shows up. The only problem is that there’s a dizzying amount of these specialized speakers to choose from. Fortunately, we’ve compiled this roundup of the best subwoofers you can buy right now.

SVS SB16-Ultra
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
Fluance DB10W 10-inch Low Frequency Powered Subwoofer for Home Theater (Natural Walnut)

Fluance DB10W 10-inch Subwoofer

The best subwoofer on a budget


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Polk Audio HTS 10 Powered Subwoofer with Power Port Technology
Kanto SUB8 Powered Subwoofer

Kanto Sub8 Powered Subwoofer

A boutique woofer for a non-boutique price


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Cambridge Audio Minx X201

svs sb16 ultra review sb 16 subwoofer no grill

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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 Klipsch Reference Series 12 R-121SW set up next to a table.

Klipsch

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

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.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

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

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 Fluance DB10W next to a tower speaker.

Fluance

Fluance DB10W 10-inch Subwoofer

The best subwoofer on a budget

Pros

  • Meshes well with other speakers
  • Classy design
  • Solid price

Cons

  • Doesn’t deliver the deepest bass

Fluance is an awesome AV company, friends. Whether you need a solid set of powered Bluetooth speakers, a full surround sound configuration, or you’re shopping for a sub (which is probably why you’re reading this article), Fluance has got you covered. In terms of the latter, we’re big fans of the Fluance DB10W 10-inch woofer.

Available in Natural Walnut and Black Ash finishes, the DB10W uses MDF material and a front-facing, precision-tuned bass port to deliver clean, distortion-free sound. That’s on top of Fluance’s next-level integrated amp, which ensures you’ll have enough power at low and high volumes.

One of our favorite DB10W features is the auto power-on function. Whenever the DB10W detects an LFE signal, it automatically powers on, and shuts down when you toggle off your AV receiver. You’ll also be able to adjust the sub’s master volume and crossover range (40Hz to 180Hz).

Fluance products are pretty understated and classy-looking too, so even if you’re adding the DB10W to a non-Fluance speaker setup, it should play nicely with whatever cones and drivers you already own.

Fluance DB10W 10-inch Low Frequency Powered Subwoofer for Home Theater (Natural Walnut)

Fluance DB10W 10-inch Subwoofer

The best subwoofer on a budget

The Polk HTS10 subwoofer in a living room.

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Polk Audio HTS 10 Subwoofer

The dark horse subwoofer

Pros

  • Terrific performance for movies and gamings
  • Distortion-reducing tech for noise-free sound
  • Includes crossover and phase adjustments

Cons

  • Not as powerful as other models

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

The Kanto Sub8 in Matte White set up next to a chair.

Kanto

Kanto Sub8 Powered Subwoofer

A boutique woofer for a non-boutique price

Pros

  • Up to 300W peak power
  • Classy design
  • 40Hz to 120Hz crossover adjuster
  • Includes phase switch

Cons

  • May sound muddy when paired with certain speakers

Brands like Kanto are tremendous at delivering the types of speakers that scream “boutique” without smacking you with specialist pricing. In the case of the all-powerful Kanto Sub8, the company has designed a woofer that can be easily integrated with pretty much any speaker brand out there.

Available in Matte Black or Matte White finishes, the Sub8 uses medium-density fiberboard housing to keep vibrations and distortion to a minimum. Rubber feet, a metal grille, and a final layer composed of vinyl are paired with Kanto’s sturdy cabinetry, making for a sub that can respond to audio information in a fast and detailed manner. And at just about 11 inches (both in width and height), the Sub8 is easy enough to tuck away, although the its appearance is one we wouldn’t pass up seeing on a daily basis.

Delivering up to 300 watts of peak power, the Sub8 also includes a high-pass filter (adjustable from 40Hz to 120Hz) and a phase switch, ensuring you’ll be able to match this formidable woofer with any Kanto or non-Kanto surround setup.

Kanto SUB8 Powered Subwoofer

Kanto Sub8 Powered Subwoofer

A boutique woofer for a non-boutique price

The Cambridge Audio Minx X201 Powered Subwoofer.

Klipsch

Cambridge Audio Minx X201

Great for smaller spaces

Pros

  • Rich and punchy sound
  • Takes up very little space
  • Built-in DSP for fine-tuned performance

Cons

  • Somewhat pricey
  • Not the best option for larger spaces and speakers

Not every living room can be the size of a full-on movie theater. For all the apartment dwellers out there, we totally understand the annoyance of trying to fit a surround system into a room with square-footage limitations. This is why we’d like to draw your attention to the Cambridge Audio Minx X201.

Whether you opt for the Gloss Black or Gloss White finish, the Minx X201 is the perfect powered sub for small spaces and smaller speakers. At right around 8.5 inches in height, width, and depth, you’ll be able to fit the X201 into just about any home theater, and it’s packed with incredibly useful audio features too. One of our favorites has got to be the “auto-on” mode, which automatically turns the sub on when an LFE signal is detected.

You’ll also be able to adjust the crossover from 36Hz up to 200Hz, and can choose from zero, 90-degree, and 180-degree phase settings. There’s even a built-in digital signal processor (DSP) that calibrates every audio source to ensure the best low-end delivery for whichever movies, shows, and music you’re listening to.

Cambridge Audio Minx X201

Cambridge Audio Minx X201

Great for smaller spaces

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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