Our Top Pick for 2018: Polk Audio PSW111 Subwoofer
Read our full review.
Purchasing new home audio equipment is an exciting venture. This is especially true when purchasing a new subwoofer. A subwoofer is used to maximize the low frequencies from an audio source. The highs are rolled off to leave you with a smooth and full lower end. Finding a new subwoofer is not difficult given the amount to choose from on today’s market.If you keep your eyes open you can find a great product for just under $200. Use this list as the place to start the search. In no time you will be enjoying music and sound effects as they should be heard.
Let’s Have a Quick Look of Our Top 4 Picks:
|Polk Audio PSW111 Subwoofer (Single, Black)||237 Reviews||$225.98||Buy on Amazon|
|Pioneer SW-8MK2 Andrew Jones Designed 100-Watt Powered Subwoofer||386 Reviews||$159.00||Buy on Amazon|
|MartinLogan Dynamo 300 Home Theater and Stereo Subwoofer [Discontinued by Manufacturer]||339 Reviews||$199.99||Buy on Amazon|
|YST-SW216 10" 100 Watt Powered Subwoofer Black||376 Reviews||$129.95||Buy on Amazon|
#1. Polk Audio PSW111 Subwoofer
Polk Audio is one of those household names that brings to mind superior quality, excellent craftsmanship and sonic responsiveness that is almost unparalleled. Polk has been an innovator since their inception in 1972. Known for their car speakers and home audio equipment Polk Audio is a leading name in the industry. Their PSW111 Subwoofer is no different. It captures all aspects that make Polk so great and goes a step further to deliver to you an amazing listening experience.
The first feature that sets this sub apart from others is the physical design. It is a 12.13 inches x 14 inches x 11 inches black box. The design is minimal, modern and sophisticated. It is not overly large. This box will not stick out when placed in your audio environment. It is made to be unobtrusive. It weighs in at 21 pounds making it a somewhat lightweight device.
The total frequency response for this box is 38Hz-250Hz. This ensures that you will hear the lows as they are meant to be heard. The human ear has a difficult time hearing below 30Hz in most cases. Expect all of your favorite music to respond well with this subwoofer installed. You can hear the lows in electronic music or hip-hop without any noticeable distortion occurring. Classical music, rock and jazz all respond well to the frequency range that is covered with this box.
The woofer itself is 8 inches in diameter. This size is perfect for most listening situations. The internal bracing is all does not resonate, and the enclosure is done with an all MDF setup. This means that this woofer will not rattle or hum in unnecessary ways. Expect only the sharpest and cleanest of sounds to come from this product.
150 Watts of power flow in a continuous fashion. That is more than enough to drive the sound in a powerful yet controlled way. Polk Audio has done their homework when it comes to balancing power output with audio output. It shows in the construction as well as in the actual sound produced.
Hooking this device up is simple. There are multiple installation options available. Line and speaker, LFE and speaker level inputs are all on this box which maximizes your options. This is a “plug and play” device meaning that you do not need to invest in tons of other equipment to use this speaker.
In standby mode this subwoofer will not use up much power at all. This saves you from having a spiked electrical bill at the end of the month due to ridiculous amounts of power being drawn from your stereo system. Polk Audio has guaranteed to be energy efficient where it counts the most.
Users across the globe have nothing but high praise for the PSW111 by Polk Audio. Positive comments include the size and shape, the price, the focused sound and the overall power that this box gives off. It can sound smooth at low volumes while not distorting at higher outputs. This makes the PSW111 ideal for most living and listening situations. Whether you are in an apartment or a home you can expect to never notice the subwoofer. It blends well with the rest of the stereo system. Having a non-invasive sub is key to having the perfect listening setup.
Being that this device is a smaller size than many other subwoofers on the market means that it will not only save you space but it will save you the pain of moving it if need be. The small size does not stop this box from being a powerhouse when needed.
You can find the Polk Audio PSW111 for around $185.00. This keeps it under $200. It is affordable, sleek and powerful.
#2. Pioneer SW-8MK2 Andrew Jones Designed 100-Watt Powered Subwoofer
Pioneer is another well known manufacturer of home audio products. Founded in 1939 in Japan Pioneer has become one of the leading voices in audio innovation due to their commitment to excellency, their forward-thinking designs and their dedication to customer satisfaction. With the SW-8MK2 they have achieved another milestone in subwoofer design, especially for the price.
This 100 Watt subwoofer comes in a natural black finish on a beautiful wooden box. It has dimensions of 14.19 inches x 12.19 inches x 12.19 inches which makes it of moderate size in comparison to other models in the category. It weighs just over 20 pounds. It is not too heavy to be a strain to install nor is it too light to be moved by accidental contact. The box is of sturdy construction. It is made to keep the rumbling at a low. In fact you can expect no distortion to come from this subwoofer.
Rattling and other unwanted sounds are eliminated by keeping the box low to the ground. It also features vented enclosure which helps the bass frequencies to boom without losing sonic quality. The frequency range is from 38Hz to 150Hz. This ensures that all genres of music will sound as they should to the natural range of frequencies picked up by the human ear. Included is a crossover adjustment which keeps the lows from getting too muddy with the lower mids and mids.
The SW-8MK2 is controlled by a 100 Watt amplifier. This is more than enough to get the job done. Your music, movies or any other sound that flows through this subwoofer will resonate in sonic perfection – all without killing your power bill.
The phase adjustment can be used to further customize the sound. No matter the room that this sub is placed in you can be sure to find the sweet spot. It will match the acoustics of the environment in the smoothest fashion. Room size is not a factor in determining how well this woofer responds. You have maximum control over the way in which lows are spread out from this box.
Installation is as simple as connecting the correct wires to the back of this box. Fine tune it with the phase controls and the crossover and you are ready to listen. Your home audio will be changed in ways you did not expect.
Other customers tend to agree that for the price the Pioneer SW-8MK2 is a steal. Many are impressed with the amount of lows that come from this box despite its small size. When it is used in conjunction with a full stereo system it performs best. It blends in without overshadowing other frequencies.
You can grab a SW-8MK2 for just $159.99. This is a bargain. It stays under the $200 range and is sure to leave you with some extra cash. In the long run you will be saving yourself time and money because this one is built to last. Expect to get plenty of use from this woofer.
#3. MartinLogan Dynamo 300 Home Theater and Stereo Subwoofer
Since 1979 MartinLogan has been delivering premium home audio products to satisfied customers across the world. While not being as large or as popular as some of the aforementioned companies MartinLogan is still a safe bet when looking for a new subwoofer. Their devices are strong, clear and elegant. The Dynamo 300 is not an exception. It comes in a fine package and will meet most – if not all – home audio needs.
This 8-inch cone subwoofer is housed in a solid wooden box. It has a smooth black finish that adds a bit of modern minimalism to your home. The box is constructed in such a manner that extra rattling is avoided. It is low to the ground with dimensions of 13.8 x 12.6 x 14.2 inches and will not be an eyesore. It weighs 21.5 pounds making it comparable to other models.
Power output is at 75 Watts. The peak wattage is at 150 Watts. This gives you plenty of punch to the lows while reducing power usage. It is not quite as powerful as some of the others on this list but it gets the job done. If you are looking for more power you might want to move on. For the majority of your home listening needs this device will work just fine.
The Dynamo 3000 has a frequency range that is similar to most subwoofers in its class. Expect to see anywhere from 45HZ to 150Hz. This does not hit the lows quite as well as some others but will suffice for most home listening needs. If you need lower frequencies to be hit you might want to move on.
Users tend to enjoy the overall design and functionality of this product. The accuracy of the sound is noted, as is the compact size. It almost seems as if this woofer is made more for movies rather than as a premier music woofer. This is not an issue. If anything it can be a bonus because you do not always need to hear those super low frequencies. The cutoff is so minute of a difference that in most situations you will more than likely not notice.
Pricing is fair for this model given what it can do. You can find it at most online retailers for around $119.99. This is a competitive price that speaks volumes. It is absolutely worth checking out if you need something compact, well-designed and that sounds great without getting too complicated.
#4. Yamaha YST-SW216BL Subwoofer
Last on this list is the YST-SW216BL Subwoofer by Yamaha. Yamaha is known for making a wide range of products including but not limited to:
- Musical instruments
- Home audio equipment
- Power sports vehicles
Their home audio equipment is good. It is nothing fancy. It does what it sets out to do and that is to provide you with a clean sounding system without breaking your bank.
The YST-SW216BL is a fine subwoofer. It features a modest size of 13.34 inches x 15.19 inches x 13.34 inches and a weight of 28.7 pounds. This is heavier than all of the other subwoofers on this list. That also makes it one of the sturdiest. Accidental moving of this box is difficult. It has a 10-inch cone driver that also includes protective magnetic shielding. All in all this package ensures that extra noise does not come from this box.
The frequency response is the most impressive on this list. It ranges from 25Hz to 180Hz. This broad range guarantees that the lowest of lows that you can hear will be heard. It is powered by a 100 Watt amplifier. Together this brings you one of the better sounding woofers in its price range. All music from ambient to harsh noise will sound great through this woofer. It is wired to bring a crisp low output.
The overall impression that this speaker gives is one of premium quality. Customers have enjoyed the sound that this adds for home theater setups. Music lovers have commented on the ability for this device to reach low frequencies with ease without muddying up the sound. The one downside is that at times it can have too much low response. This can be taken as a bonus to some. For rock music listeners or lovers of classical you may have to tone down the bass by a few notches!
The price for the Yamaha YST-SW216BL Subwoofer is only $129.95. This puts it well within budget range. If you are dissatisfied you can easily get it returned and keep looking. However, chances are you will fall in love with this woofer just like hundreds of others have.
Be honest with yourself about your home audio budget. It is vital when shopping for a new entertainment system of any size to be realistic with how much cash you want to dish out for those new toys.
If you are a casual listener it is no problem to find a woofer in the budget range that will sound great. You do not need to spend thousands of dollars on a box that will not be used as often as those should. Look for subwoofers in the $120-$200 price range.
As with all audio equipment you will usually get what you put into it meaning that you will have to spend some money to get a decent sounding sub. That does not mean that you need to blow your savings. A great woofer can be found for a modest price. Do some research on the budget models. See what other users have to say before opening your wallet.
A subwoofer needs to have a minimum frequency range of about 40Hz-150Hz to be considered efficient. Sub frequencies can be tricky to capture well which is why subwoofers exist. They can expand the range that you hear in your home stereo system. They add a fullness that is hard to achieve without a sub.
That is why it is key to look for subs with a solid range of frequency response. Anything below 25Hz is unnecessary in almost every case. Be sure to read about the amplifier and crossover components as well.
Size and Shape
A good subwoofer is also one that blends in without being an eyesore. Look out for boxes that are not much bigger than about 13 inches x 15 inches x 13 inches. Anything larger and you will have a difficult time keeping it from being an obtrusive object.
If it is too small it will more than likely have issues producing the smooth and round sound that it should produce.
Most subs are rectangular or square. This makes them easy to match with existing stereo equipment. The most common color is black. There is little variation in that. Keep that in mind if your home entertainment center has a peculiar design theme to it!
A decent sub also has a good amplifier installed in it. Look for a minimum of 75 Watts of power with around a 150 Watt peak. This is important to ensure that the sub can handle all that is sent through it and that you are getting the most out of it.
Moving around home audio equipment can be a pain if it is all too heavy. This is especially true for subwoofers as they tend to be small enough to warrant shifting around if need be.
Stay in the weight range of 20 to 30 pounds maximum. Anything heavier than 30 pounds is a bit much for an average subwoofer. You do not want to harm your back or lower extremities due to a heavy woofer that is a burden to move.
The nice thing about many subs is that they are light enough to carry in most situations. You will be able to move them efficiently without the need for extra equipment or help. This makes readjusting your entertainment center that much easier.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
The search for the perfect subwoofer can be daunting. This is more daunting if you try to maintain a budget of under $200. However, with diligent research you can find what you need in no time.
The market today has thousands of models of subwoofers to choose from. Each one will try to sell you something a little bit different than the last. All subs do the same thing: provide lower frequency response. If a sub is trying to say that it can do anything more (or less) move on. Do not be fooled by bells and whistles. A subwoofer is a subwoofer, nothing more.
Look out for a good frequency range. This should be the number one priority followed by the size, shape, weight and power output. Each part should function in line with the next to make a complete system.
Read up on what is on the market. Discover what others have to say before throwing any money at a product. This is true not only for modern subwoofers but for every single piece of home audio equipment.
Thankfully there are plenty of passionate audiophiles around that can offer you great advice when shopping around for a new subwoofer. See what they have to say. Educate yourself on what makes a subwoofer premium, and always be honest with yourself – and your wallet – about what you need. In no short time you will be enjoying your favorite tracks, films or television programs with a balanced sound thanks in part to your brand new subwoofer.