The ES250P is the perfect subwoofer for a medium sized home theater or den: it's affordable, looks good, and sounds like most people expect a subwoofer to sound. It has a 12-inch downward-firing woofer puts out plenty of tight, deep bass that leans slightly toward the midbass rather than deepest notes, but does reach into subbass while remaining fairly tight, meaning that rap, pop, and electronic music will get plenty of oomph but won't keep the neighbors awake as long as the volume is kept at reasonable levels; comparable models from Bose or Klisch, like the SW100, focus more on mid bass and tend to sound overly loud and a bit boomier. Make no mistake: the JBL can rattle walls, and will if you crank the volume, but it can also be kept relatively tame.
Please keep in mind that this is an entry level subwoofer; if you are expecting genuine room lock in anything bigger than an average bedroom, or want to use it outdoors, you should expect to spend more money. Some users have reported blown fuses when the unit is pushed to its limits, but JBL has reportedly included a higher quality resistor in newer units, so defects shouldn't be a problem as long as you're buying new. At the price, this is a great subwoofer, and as long as you don't push it to its limits constantly, you should be very satisfied with its performance.
Originally priced at close to $300, the Dynamo must be on the chopping block for a newer model in the near future, because right now it can be had for under $100, which makes it an incredible deal. The Dynamo puts the SW012, the other $100 woofer in this list, to shame, making sound loose and a bit hollow by comparison. Its downward firing cone can produce notes below 50hz with authority while remaining tight and controlled. At 8 inches, its cone is smaller, meaning that it should be bought with a smaller space in mind; bigger rooms will be better served by the F12 or ES250P. But in a bedroom or smaller den, the diminutive Dynamo 300 can really show its stuff, and will really thump if you push it. It sports a balanced sound that only distorts at the limits of its volume and never sounds bloated or boomy unless equalized beyond its intended range. It does have an adjustable crossover, but is generally tame enough that keeping it turned up won't make it intrusive. It takes a bit more breaking in than some woofers, making it a bit of an anomaly considering its size, but once properly burned in it will integrate seamlessly into most mid-fi systems. As long as you aren't expecting it to fill large spaces or pound your heart out of your chest, the Dynamo 300 is a steal at $100 and will not disappoint your wallet or ears.
Bic is not a name in audio that most consumers will be familiar with, but don't let that steer you away: the F12 is a serious value for its current street price. Its 12 inch front-firing woofer can reach below 30hz, admittedly with some distortion, but this is nonetheless a serious feat for a single 12 inch woofer for under $500. It very well balanced for the price, too, lacking the mid bass hump in most consumer-oriented woofers in this price range. Instead the F12 places good emphasis below 80hz, sounding tight, punchy and reasonably well controlled until its limits are seriously pushed. If your room is bigger than 200 square feet, you may want a pair to achieve real room lock, but this could be risky if you live in an apartment or split unit. It comes standard with an adjustable crossover to help find the appropriate transition point with your speakers; if you have nice floor speakers, you may want to keep it around 80hz, but if you're working with just a center and satellites, or your floor speakers aren't the greatest, it should stay above 120 for a full sound.
Like most budget products, the F12 is not fault-free: the grill will rattle a bit if you push it too hard, and you shouldn't expect it to fill 1,000 square feet with chest-thumpimg power. But if you're in a smaller space, or don't need ultimate bass power, the F12 is an amazing value at below $200.
Klipsch has always made decent subwoofers, and the KW-100 is no exception. Its simple, no-frills design language is not as bold or flashy as Klipsch's proprietary gold speaker cones, but then a good subwoofer should stay out of the way, and the KW-100 does just that. It delivers the kind of sound most buyers will be expecting from a solid subwoofer: while it digs below 40hz without getting too muddy, most of the emphasis is above 60hz and the KW-100 will give a pleasant touch of warmth to any system. It can be a touch boomy at times, which is important to remember if you want to watch movies or listen to music late at night, especially if you live in an apartment building. If you are interested in buying a complete system, the KW-100 compliments Klipsch's own Icon series very well, but it should serve its purpse well in any midrange home system.
Let's get one thing out of the way: this is the lowest quality unit on this list. It will distort noticeably if it is pushed, and gets muddy below 50hz. In fact it is just above the kind of quality one can expect from a "home a theater in a box" or standard 2.1 computer speaker system. But if you're ready to build your own system, this is a fine place to start, as long as you aren't expecting more than you're paying for. There is no adjustable crossover, digital EQ, or fancy wood finish. But the SW012 puts out plenty of bass for a smaller theater or decent sized bedroom, and will rattle wood floors when cranked up. it doesn't really produce much below 40hz, so it isn't capable of producing room lock without the help of another, more capable woofer, but what it does, it does fairly well. If you want your own genuine surround sound system, but aren't picky and just want a subwoofer, the SW012 will do fine.
While the B&W ASW610 is designed for those who want a more neutral, accurate approach to bass for their home systems, the SW-115 is built for the basshead in all of us. At about the same price point as the 610, the SW-115 is not quite as tame and accurate, featuring Klipsch's characteristic emphasis on mid bass. This is a serious bass powerhouse, delivering 121 db at 30hz from its 15-inch front-firing speaker, and even greater sound pressure levels at higher frequencies. Its bass is tight for the quantity it delivers and has great punch to it: the SW-115 is really capable of delivering that chest-thumping sensation, and can come very close to creating room-lock on its own in a medium sized room (~300 square feet), an impressive feat for a single-woofer unit. It really is a sub for bassheads: anyone used to tamer, punchier bass will probably be disappointed and feel as though the SW-115 puts out too much SPL, making some sound tracks seem unrealistic and overblown if real boom is not what you had in mind. Overall it is a very technically capable subwoofer, one that is sure to impress guests with its thunderous sound, but do be prepared for quite a bit of bass; if that's what you're after, the SW-115 could easily become your favorite part of your system.
Rhythmik Audio F12 Direct Servo Subwoofer
In my experience, most people buying multi-speaker surround setups do so with their home theater experience in mind, wanting that true “surround sound” experience that they get in a movie theater, whereas music-obsessed audiophiles tend to lean more towards the private experience of headphones. If, however, you’re one of the few who will shell out the big bucks just to hear your lossless tunes in their fullest, most spacious format, and really crave that live music sound more than anything, the Rhythmik F12 is one of your best bets. It doesn’t hit quite as hard as, say, the SW-115 at the lowest of lows (20-40 hz), but it is incredibly detailed and tight, and sounds noticeably cleaner than the Klipsch, especially in the midbass. The two occupy opposite ends of the spectrum at this price point, with the Klipsch being the best bet for those trying to recreate full-sized movie theater sound at home, or just shake their foundations, while the F12 achieves impressive SPL with a room-filling sound while remaining as tight as possible. It is an incredibly musical sub, hitting fast and tight while lending just a touch of pleasant warmth to the overall sound of the system it compliments, but never enough to intrude on or discolor the rest of the sound.It tends to sell for $150-$200 more than the ASW610, but if you can stretch your budget and use your system for music more than movies, it’s worth the extra squeeze.
Bowers & Wilkins ASW610 Subwoofer
Just a few drivers and room correction tech shy of B&W's flagship DB1, the ASW610 is a top-notch subwoofer that will fulfill the bass needs of all but the most demanding audiophiles and die-hard bass heads. It delivers deep, clean bass that can be downright vociferous when asked for, but, like its siblings the 608 and DB1, it is generally a polite subwoofer for its size, never producing excessive bass bloat or sounding too boomy. It opts instead for a tight, punchy presentation that is not quite as fast as the smaller 608, but has a fuller body and more volume, and can go noticeably lower with more power and better definition. It digs down to 30hz with authority, and even reaches past without losing too much power, though definition is not quite the cleanest at the lowest of lows, and like nearly all sub-$1000 woofers the 610 can't quite reproduce the earthquake-like bass tones below the range of human hearing. What it does do, it does exceptionally well, and at the going rate of about $700, it represents one of the better values south of a grand; it should fill the needs of most home theater enthusiasts who aren't looking to shake their foundations.
Bowers & Wilkins ASW608 Subwoofer
Not all home theaters are designed to replicate floor-shaking cinema-style bass; some folks just want good, clean lows that can portray music and sound tracks accurately without waking the dead. The ASW608 was designed with the tamer crowd in mind, and delivers every bit as much quality and depth, and in some cases more, compared to many full-sized subs in its price range. It can reach 30hz without distorting, and remains clean and tight, but does lose a bit of chutzpah beyond that. Still, for an 8-inch single woofer, the 608 generates very impressive sound, and is every bit as detailed and textured as its bigger, more expensive sibling, the 610, until the very lowest notes are reached. It is the perfect sub for a medium sized master bedroom, and will provide a smaller space with excellent vibrations and enhance dimensionality that might be smeared by a more powerful unit in such a space. It showcases excellent speed, better than the 610, and even without the full slam of its older brother it still delivers a very satisfying punch so long as it isn't asked to fill a large room.
The XLS-12S falls into the same category as the ASW608: it is not a subwoofer designed to recreate realistic actions scenes or rumble out the deep, palpable bass notes in pipe organ or modern dance music. This is scene by many enthusiasts as a hardware limitation, and from a technical perspective it is: the XLS-12S responds with -3dB below neutrality at 38hz, which means that sounds from certain types of music will be "missing."
This becomes a benefit for those who don't want deep, rumbling, true-to-life bass response, either due to personal preference or space limitations. There are plenty of audio enthusiasts who live with nothing but a few layers of sheet rock and plywood between their systems and where their neighbors sleep, eat and raise their kids, and scores of jazz, classical, and acoustic lovers who want to relax with and listen to their music without feeling it in the chest: such music lovers are exactly who the XLS-12S is built for. It delivers excellent detail between 50-150hz, meaning that music still sounds full and well-textured, but deep, wall-rattling subbass notes are slightly muted, audible yet not powerful enough to be nauseating or intrusive. It can recreate an excellent sense of dimensionality, even without rumbling LF, and movie soundtracks still sound full and engaging. Don't let specification-obsessed enthusiasts and number-crunching wannabe-elitists lead you astray: Cerwin Vega has a quality product in the XLS-12S, and a stylish one at that, and if you're after a full sound but slightly tamer deep bass presentation, the XLS-12S is worth a look.
Bowers & Wilkins DB1 Subwoofer
Over the last two years, the DB1 has become a familiar face in both the homes of the wealthy and the finest studios in the world. Known to reproduce the lowest frequencies audible by the human ear with astonishing realism and authority, it is the subwoofer of choice for those who can afford it. While not quite capable of the final few minute inches of bone-shaking bass as the Sub 2 or Captivator, the DB1 has an incredibly musical, accurate approach to bass, and while its twin 12-inch woofers are capable of rumbling wooden floors and waking neighbors, it is tight and accurate in its overall presentation compared to the Captivator, and downright tame next to the Sub 2. Its built-in room compensation tech ensures the best sound for your space of choice, automatically adjusting the gain and relative frequency response to best suit your room and produce optimal room lock, that much sought-after sensation of physical, room-filling bass response. This makes it a much better choice than the Captivator or Epik Empire for most buyers; unless you are, or are willing to employ, a true speaker enthusiast and engineer who can consciously hear the minute differences that will make or break a sound system's ultimate performance, and build or adjust your room and setup accordingly, the DB-1 is a much smarter buy and infinitely easier to use, which is why it receives my highest recommendation for most potential buyers.
Paradigm Signature Sub 2
Paradigm may not have the commercial exposure of companies like MartlinLogan or Bowers & Wilkins, but with the advent of the Sub 2, I have a feeling they will be gaining popularity rapidly, given just how much bass is used in modern music and the ever-broadening market for upscale home audio. The Sub 2 is, to my knowledge, the most powerful single-unit traditional subwoofer in production, and accomplishes this feat with style. Its six 10-inch woofers are housed in a handsome enlosure crafted from your choice of piano-finish black, black ash, or cherry, which can easily be mistaken for a fancy side table adjacent to your seating arrangement, although resting a full glass on the Sub 2 could be a risky endeavor.
Simply put, the bass produced by the Sub 2 is stunning, especially considering its size. It is not by any means intended for use in a smaller space, or, in truth, anything short of a decently sized dedicated home theater, or perhaps the living room of a house with an open layout. It reaches incredibly deep, down to 12 hz, and can reproduce the highly sought-after 20hz frequency with impressive control and authority; most subs can't go below 30hz, and most that can reach this low barely manage to do so. Though the amount of bass produced is enormous, it is never boomy or uncontrolled, and always reproduces the recordings it is fed faithfully, especially when its room correction technology, similar to that of the DB1, is used properly. That said, it is a very powerful unit, so be sure that the rest of your system is on par if you are going to introduce the Sub 2 into your setup.
If you have the cash to throw around, and really want the most powerful, impressive bass that the industry has to offer, look no further: the Sub 2 will have you rattling walls and shocking visitors for years to come.
JTR Captivator 2400 Subwoofer
The Captivator does one thing that most other vented subwoofers simply cannot do: it remains perfectly controlled, tight, and accurate at all times while being capable of producing absolutely enormous SPL. It’s vented design allows it to create positively thunderous bass down to 22hz while consuming slightly less power than a sealed sub for the same output, and for those who like serious SPL and want the maximum possible perceived bass, sticking two of these right underneath your TV or center channel firing in your face will definitely do the trick. It’s 18-inch driver is housed in a simpler design than most woofers in this list; it doesn't incorporate room correction technology or other fancy electronic extras, but as a straight-up subwoofer it is an incredible standalone performer. Even a single Captivator is enough pressurize a fairly large living room or home theater. JTR's fit and finish is legendary amongst audiophiles and the lucky few who have either stumbled across the company through careful research or heard their name through word of mouth, and the captivator is certainly no exception: it is available in a range of custom finishes, including a variety of hardwoods and different colors. The Captivator is a great alternative to the Sub 2 for those who want as much bass as possible, and can be had for much less; it will take a bit of extra effort to set up and tune with your system, but if you're old school or just want to save a bit of cash, the Captivator is a great product.
The DD18 falls into the same category as the DB1: a tight, accurate subwoofer voiced with audiophiles and serious home theater enthusiasts in mind. While fans of ultimate bass power and rumble will doubtless prefer the TRW-17 and Paradigm Sub 2 for their ability to create absolutely insane levels of bass, the DD18 is a much more accurate piece of equipment, designed to reproduce audio faithfully in all but the largest spaces. It’s built-in microphone and digital equalizer system allow the sub to be tuned to fit in seamlessly with your system and space, whatever they may be.
Once properly tuned for a flat response with your system, the DD18 will deliver flat, authoritative bass down to the lowest notes audible to the human ear, and below: the DD18 produced well-defined vibrations down to 15 hz, an impressive feat to be sure. While others can go lower, the definition and control the DD18 is able to maintain at this depth is exceptional when compared to the Paradigm Sub 2; the Sub 2 can go louder at these subterranean frequencies, but is not as tight and accurate, sounding bloated and every so slightly loose next to the DD18’s ultra-taut presentation.
While it’s EQ system is not automatic like the DB1, meaning that you will have to use your own ears and manually adjust the levels using the remote, the DD18 is every bit as technically capable as the DB1, and arguably superior in reproducing some spacial aspects of sound. Ultimately it comes down to a matter of preference, but if you want that last inch of extension, and don’t mind tuning manually, the DD18 may be worth the extra few grand over the B&W.
Epik Empire Subwoofer
The Epik Empire is a solid subwoofer at its quoted MSRP of $1499, but at the going rate of $799, it is an absolute steal. Most woofers in this price range struggle to produce solid notes below 30 hz; the Empire, meanwhile, digs to 20hz without suffering any audible distortion, bloat, or loss in clarity, an incredible feat for anything south of $1500 and unheard of below $1000. The unit itself is simple and understated, with no real frills or extra attention paid to its appearance; it’s basically a black box. No fancy room correction or equalization tech to be found here, this is a subwoofer, pure and simple, and a great one at that. Splitting duties between two 15-inch woofers requires 600 watts, so a substantial amplifier is needed; the Empire is a bargain in price, not power, but if you’ve already got a capable receiver, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. The Empire puts out quite a bit of bass, but nowhere near the about of the TRW-17 or Sub 2, so those looking to fill big home theaters or open floorplan may need a pair, and even so the Empire will never be a true monster like these two; it’s quantity falls more in line with the DD18 and DB1, although it generally produces a bit more midbass than either, meaning it will work well for those who like to have fun with bass-heavy music without being overwhelming in a smaller space. Overall the Empire is a real steal at its introductory price, but even if you have to pay the full $1499, you are still getting every penny’s worth in sound.
Polk’s Atrium series speakers are designed to be a complete outdoor solution, with a full range of 6 different mids, the Sat30 satellites, and the Sub 10 woofer. The Sub 10 works very well as both a subwoofer and a piece of in-cognito porch furniture: the folks at Polk claim that an elephant could stand on the Sub 10 without breaking it, so feel free to pile planters, decorations, and anything else on top of it - just not drinks! It can even be painted to match your porch furniture without damaging the sub, as it is fully sealed and entirely waterproof.
The Sub 10 cranks out a decent amount of bass for a 10-inch driver, and while its not the tightest or cleanest, especially compared to Polk’s traditional woofers, it is definitely a quality subwoofer, differentiating itself from budget models with above-par extension, detail, and texture. Between solid sound and a great, versatile design, the Sub 10 and its accompanying Atrium system is probably the best choice for the greatest number of users looking for a well-priced, versatile outdoor sound system.
Klipsch CA-800-TSW Outdoor Subwoofer
While the rest of the woofers in this list are designed to be used incognito, either by blending in with their surroundings or passing themselves off as something other than a speaker, the CA-800-TSW is built to be integrated with a more standard-looking outdoor system. Designed with outdoor concerts, parties, and tailgating in mind, Klipsch’s outdoor sub provides ample bass response down to 50hz; frequencies below this level are harder to maintain at respectable power outdoors as they are felt as much as heard, and without a sealed space in which to resonate, their effects are diminished. The sound pros at Klipsch know this well, and therefore chose to focus more on optimizing the response above 50hz to make what can be appreciated outdoors sound as good as possible, and they succeed. The CA-800-TSW delivers a punchy, full-bodied response that can easily be heard across football fields and other such large outdoor spaces, making it a great choice over the others in this review if you plan on catering to a larger audience. These babies are built to last, too, with a durable plastic enclosure that can withstand a bit of rain; though not built to endure the constant barrage of weather that the more permanent outdoor designs are specced for, it is less fragile and more portable as a result, making it the go-to subwoofer solution for a transportable outdoor audio system.
OWI Inc L.A. Rocker Speaker: Boulder Rock Subwoofer
Let’s be honest, right off the bat: the Rock Sub by Owi Inc is absurdly expensive, particularly considering that it’s meant to be used outdoors. Most audiophiles reserve their big-dollar systems for indoors, which might be a smart idea. That said, the Rock Sub does put out quite a bit of bass, and sounds pretty darn good; whether it’s worth over a grand is up to you, and I will say it’s not nearly on par with traditional speakers in the price range, but then it is both a heavily specialized product and a full-range speaker-subwoofer combination. The bass does dig very deep, hitting hard and tight down to about 50hz before running out of steam, and bottoming out completely right around 30hz. This is a fairly impressive feat, considering the outdoor woofer from Polk, a home theater enthusiast staple, gives up at around 40hz, but then it’s also a dedicated woofer at about a quarter of the price. The full-range response of the Rock sub is respectable, comparing in detail to mid-fi home theater systems, though not offering quite the same sense of dimensionality, which should be a given considering that the reflections afforded to indoor systems, as well as the more sophisticated placement involved in a 5.1 or 7.2 system. The response can be a bit peaky, sounding slightly exaggerated in the highs, and a touch boomy in the midbass region (150-250 hz), but overall the sound is undeniably high quality, and while perhaps not earning the ridiculous tag on its own, when weather-proofing, design, and convenience are taken into account, two to four Rock Subs make a solid solution for a hassle-free, durable outdoor system.
The RSUB 300 might not be the prettiest outdoor woofer, betraying its true purpose with an easily visible vented grille, but it serves its purpose well, and as long as it’s surrounding by other rocks, plants, or garden flora, it won’t stand out like a sore thumb. The build doesn’t feel as premium as most standard subwoofers, but it is fully weather-proofed and designed to be left outdoors as a permanent part of your backyard setup. The bass it produces is very smooth; it isn’t the tightest, and audiophiles will probably prefer Polk’s Sub 10, which has a flatter response, but it is a very intoxicating sound, putting a bit of extra emphasis above 60hz to create a rich, buttery sound that lovers of a bit of extra midbass will surely appreciate. It works very well in combination with OSD’s OM-SUB200, allowing the cheaper underground unit to recreate the lowest of lows that are felt rather than heard, giving the RSUB300 the freedom to handle midbass duties and create the rich fullness that subwoofers are loved for. If you plan on buying a full outdoor system, this combination can help take it to the next level.
The OM-SU 200 is designed to work in tandem with OSD’s other speakers and subwoofers, and, when paired with the RSUB 300, can help to create an incredibly atmospheric bass presentation. While the bass depth and quality isn’t quite up to par with the RSUB300, once buried, it does help create a very pleasant rumbling sensation, and, if placed properly, can really enhance the outdoor audio experience. Most indoor spaces benefit from LF resonance that is created when omni-directional low frequencies bounce around a sealed indoor space, creating the sensation of more LF than is actually being put out. This is hard to achieve outdoors, given that open space causes bass waves to disperse much more quickly. But with an OM-SUB200 buried beneath your seating area, and preferably an RSUB300 or two (or whatever other outdoor sub you settle on) in the sourrounding area, you can more closely recreate the tactile experience of an indoor system. It won’t do you much good on its own, but in concert with a full system and a more typical outdoor subwoofer, it can definitely help to create that last inch of realism that is missing from many outdoor systems.
In spite of the widespread disdain from audiophiles for wireless technologies of all kinds, including Blueooth, Kleer, and standard 2.4ghz transmission, the Dynamo 1000W leaves no room for doubt about being a true HiFi subwoofer. Slotting in just below the 1500x in MartinLogan's Dynamo series, it is a product that even the snobbiest of snobs can’t turn their noses up at. It digs down to 22hz capably, and maintains power below 30hz: yes, even in wireless mode. Granted, a bit of definition is lost by going wireless, but it still manages to sink into those really low notes, and sounds just as authoritative unless you’re really listening closely for differences.
The 1000W delivers great sound, but it’s no slouch on features either. It’s 12-inch woofer is powered by a 500-watt amplifier that can drive an output of up to 1000 watts when you really want to push it. The standard adjustable crossover is here, but unlike many subs, the 1000W sounds pretty nice all the way up to 120hz, maintaining good control and definition even when the crossover is jacked up. It also features a crossover bypass, for those who prefer to electronically dictate the fine-tunings of their system. It even features the ability to switch between downward-firing and front-firing configurations, a benefit that many serious audio enthusiasts would see as a gimmick considering that bass is omnidirectional in nature, but some do favor one over the other as a matter of preference; if you're unsure of your own, the 1000W will accommodate your curiosity.
WiConnect 10 Inch Wireless Subwoofer
Velodyne’s entry into the world of wireless is a good one, good enough to offer an alternative to the ES150PW for those with a slightly different listening style. While it’s bass is not quite as deep and impactful as the wireless variant of the ES150, it does have noticeably better control in the upper/mid-bass regions: notes above 80hz have less “boom” to them, and while it is a smidge slower than the JBL, the WIC10 is generally tamer and never sounds bloated or boomy. This is great for those who don’t like the big, bold sound of the JBL, or just don’t want quite as much perceived bass in general. It does give out around 33hz, and starts to lose steam at 40; this means that lovers of the big booms of explosions or deep kick drum hits will probably prefer the JBL, and indeed I think the ES150PW is generally a better solution for home theater, but I know quite a few audiophiles who prefer a tamer, softer bass presentation, and plenty of folks who live in apartments with neighbors who will bang on the walls or ceiling or floor if things get too loud; each of these will likely make better use of the Velodyne than the JBL in the long run.
The WIC10’s 10-inch downward firing unit is cabined in black ash and has a fairly distinguished feel to it. Velodyne’s usual solid build quality is notable here, with the fit and finish one would expect from any $400 subwoofer. The WIC10 isn’t an amazing bargain, and wired subs at its price range are generally more technically capable, but if ease of use and a slightly more restrained bass presentation are your top two requirements, by all means, the WiConnect 10 is a solid solution.
Sonos is a brand that markets primarily on convenience, and their products do exactly what they advertise, which is to produce very reasonable sound quality with an extremely easy wireless setup. While most wireless systems involve a bit of tinkering to get up and running, Sonos’s system is as simple as they come, and anyone with a bit of electronic know-how should be able to get the Sonos Sub up and running without much fuss. The Sonos Bridge connects to a WiFi router to transmit signal throughout your home, and the sub just needs to be plugged in and added via your controller of choice, typically a smartphone with the Sonos Controller app. Once connected, the Sonos Sub offers 6 levels of bass response which can be customized based on your room size and personal preference; while the -3 level offers suitable response for a smaller den or master bedroom, the +3 setting will rattle walls and windows in anything less than a large home theater or open floorplan living room. It’s not true hifi bass; those who have owned $500+ subwoofers in the past will notice that the deepest subbass notes below 30hz are missing, beginning to run out of steam at around 45hz, and most of the emphasis comes in above 80hz, making the Sonos Sub a bit tubby in its bass presentation, but those who don’t have experience with serious HiFi components will doubtless be awed with the great response offered by the Sonos Sub.
Anyone with a decent budget looking for solid sound quality and the possibility of expanding their new system into multiple rooms without the hassle of tearing down drywall should definitely consider the Sonos Sub and its matching components. In fact, given that a compromise in sound quality is inherent in all wireless audio tech, the Sonos Sub may just be the smartest choice of all: it is not the best sounding of the lot, but it is the easiest to use, has by far the most features including adjustable bass response, and integrates easily with a relatively affordable, fully wireless system that can be dispersed throughout an apartment or even medium-sized house... and controlled from a smartphone to boot!
JBL ES150PW 500 Watt Subwoofer
Bringing JBL’s world-renowned quality and reliability to the table in yet another segment, the ES150PW is a solid offering that all wireless subs should be judged against. While it can’t compete with the real HiFi stuff like the 1000W, it’s still a very capable subwoofer, and is just as tight and punchy as many of JBL’s wired subs. It hits down to 27hz, whether wired or not, and there is really very little difference noticeably between the two modes; I’d still take the Infinite PS210W in wireless mode over the ES150PW in either configuration, but I have to hand it to JBL: their wireless adapter must be better than Infinity’s, because there really isn’t much lost when going wireless. It loses just a bit of low-end definition below 35hz or so when listening to test tones in wireless mode, but beyond that they sound nearly identical, and I don’t think most users would notice the difference at all.
Overall the JBL’s bass presentation is fast, tight, and punchy, and while there is a little extra response between 50-80hz for my liking, which can make the bass sound over-emphasized at times, it really isn’t much to complain about. Definition is solid all the way up to 150hz, and the build quality is solid, like just about anything JBL. Given the fact that this little guy can be had as low as $250 when on sale on Amazon, it’s an incredible bargain, and outperforms many wired subs at that price, making it a more attractive buy than the Infinity for those who are willing to be patient and want to save a little cash; if you see that deal, jump on it for sure!
Polk Audio PSWi225 8-inch, 100W Wireless Subwoofer
Polk has a great reputation in just about every segment of the audio industry, and is often thought of as a “safe choice” when it comes to audio components: they typically offer a good value at each respective price point, and everything is predictably well-built. The PSWi225 is no exception, and while it’s not at the top of the heap sound-wise, it has nothing to be ashamed of, and competes easily with most wired subwoofers about $100 less than its street price, about what one would typically expect from taking audio components wireless. As expected for both the price range and tech, the PSWi225 begins to run out of steam at around 45hz, sounding woolly and not very well defined in the lowest of lows, and not much can be distinguished below 30 hz. Above that, however, the PSWi225 is punchy, balanced, and fairly well-controlled, sounding great all the way up to 100hz. It isn’t exceptionally fast, but it is detailed and well-textured, suitably so to match up with a decent mid-fi speaker system. It really doesn’t have the most authoritative sound, and personally I would spend the extra $100-$200 on the offerings from JBL or Infinity every time, but if that $150 will be spent on a better receiver or put towards nicer companion speakers, the PSWi225 should do you just fine.