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When it comes to creating a home theater, one of the most important features is the subwoofer.
Designed for low-pitched audio frequencies, subwoofers are in control of the bass sounds and often help to make music and movies sound ‘fuller’ or more complete. With this in mind, I’ve created a guide to help people find a subwoofer on various budgets!
My Top Picks for Home Theater Subwoofers
After several hours of researching and testing, I now feel satisfied with my selections and believe that you will be too.
Subwoofers and home theaters shouldn’t be restricted to those with the most money, so I’ve included something for everyone on this list! Click on the links below to check the current prices on Amazon.
- Best Budget: Dayton Audio SUB-1500
- Best Mid-range: Sonos Sub (Gen 3) Wireless Subwoofer
- Best High-end: KEF KC62 Subwoofer
Best Budget Subwoofer: Dayton Audio SUB-1500
What I liked about the Dayton Audio Sub-1500
Right off the bat, The Dayton Sub-1500 headlines a flush-fit round grille and an intrusive textured vinyl finish to impart a sleek, professional look to your room.
This unit is quite large, with dimensions of 21.6″ × 20.6″ × 21.6″, and includes a down-firing bass port and a 15″ driver.
The driver is comparatively larger than many other models in this price range, providing a deep couch-shaking rumble that is unexpected from small drivers. The Sub-1500 also has a port with a down-firing design to make the output sound as natural and clean as possible.
The Sub-1500 comes with four additional feet, making it stand stable on all surfaces. This rigid structure also completely excludes any vibration, while the vented enclosure ensures that the output is clean and clear.
Coming towards the connectivity, the back panel of Sub-1500 features all the necessary input ports, from the RCA stereo line and LFE inputs to the speaker’s outputs. These ports are well-made and perfectly connect with other devices to deliver noise-free sound.
The panel also has multiple dials and switches. The most important ones are the crossover frequency tuner and the phase switch. They match all speakers to the same system and fire them in unison to deliver a high-quality sound.
However, if for some reason you are still not satisfied with the output, you can always tweak the settings further until you get the right sound. On the flip side, this can be pretty time-consuming since you will have to do it separately for each audio.
Discussing the sound quality of this Sub, it is not wrong to say that this budget subwoofer satisfactorily gets the job done.
With Dayton Sub-1500, we are talking about 150 watts maximum output power and 4 ohms impedance which means that volume and bass are not a problem you will have to worry about with the Sub-1500.
Simultaneously, its wide crossover frequency range from 23 Hz to 140 Hz makes this model compatible with most setups. It also includes an active amplifier to handle even the lowest frequencies and leave no notes untouched.
However, my favorite feature of the Sub-1500 is its auto/off mode. It automatically turns on the amplifier when a signal is present and displays the status through its power LED. It is set to be red when the amp is off or in rest mode and turns green as soon as the unit gets activated.
To add to its glory, Sub-1500 also comes with a 2-year warranty to let the customers buy and use it with complete peace of mind.
What I found missing
The Dayton Sub-1500 is a great option for movies, but for music? Not so much. Granted, its downward-firing port delivers powerful bass, but as seen in other budget subs, this bass is not as deep as the pricier models and may not work well at higher frequencies.
I also noticed that the frequency response started to roll off quickly after 30 Hz, and even though the bass was still accurate, the muddiness of the sound was pretty hard to ignore.
Moreover, with its large casing, Sub-1500 lies on the heavy side and might not fit in all spaces. So before investing all your hard-earned money in it (not that you should not), I advise considering your desired area and the product’s dimensions to ensure that both are compatible.
Best Mid-range: Sonos Sub (Gen 3) Wireless Subwoofer
What I liked about the Sonos Sub (Gen 3)
Sonos introduced the world’s first-ever wireless subwoofer in 2012. This third-generation iteration is the manufacturer’s latest and best product to date, and here is why.
Sonos Sub Gen-3 is designed to enhance the bass of any Sonos speaker and can even be used with other brands’ models if powered with Sonos Amp.
At first glance, you will notice the refined look of the Sub. With its smooth, rounded corners and a cutout right in the center for bass drivers, this third-gen Sub is as visually arresting as it can get. It has solid rubber feet to maintain stability and prevent it from jumping up and around during its operation.
One smart and coveted feature I thoroughly enjoyed is its dual force-canceling drivers, which work together to stabilize the cabinet and tamper the vibrations. You don’t have to be an audiophile to feel the difference this small addition can make.
You will hear way less distortion, noise, and buzz since the drivers will ensure the best connectivity between the Sub and the speaker to provide an ultimate listening experience.
Each driver of Sonos Gen 3 is powered by an individual amplifier to bring out the best sound from the Sub’s dual speaker design. Cool, right? What’s cooler is that this unit stars a much faster processor and plenty more internal memory to provide future enhancements.
One feature which makes Sub Gen three outshine others is its super functional Sonos app which automatically matches up to the subwoofer and knows the rough range needed for the crossover.
An accurately set crossover point is essential for blending your subwoofer into a system. And the Sonos app does this perfectly for ascertaining the smoothest bass transitions to the main speakers.
This Sub also works with the TruePlay technology. It means it uses your mobile phone mic to analyze the room’s acoustics and accordingly carry out the fine-tuning for a better outcome.
Now, without beating around the bush, let’s discuss the sound quality of Sonos Gen 3. Unlike the typical subwoofers with a frequency response of 27 to 28 Hz, Gen 3 can go as low as 25 Hz, playing bass sounds that other units cannot.
Its amplifiers have 125 watts of power which is sufficient enough to drive even the most hungry speakers. It is also friendly with architectural and ceiling speakers. And, even though I did not get to test this aspect, it surely makes me feel better just knowing about its presence.
If I have to use one word to describe the audio of Sonos Wireless Sub’s Gen 3, it would be “outclass.” Regardless of the volume, the distortion is nominal, the lows are lower, and the highs are richer, resulting in an outstanding pulse-pounding experience.
What I found missing
There is no debate that the Sonos Gen 3 lives up to its name with its excellent audio, but does it have any drawbacks?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. But don’t worry; it does not involve anything related to sound quality.
This unit needs to be at least within 15 feet of the amp to detect and connect to it; hence, it can cause some trouble when pairing in areas where the wiring is absent.
There is also virtually no difference between this latest Sub and its predecessor. Don’t know about you, but I certainly expected something different for all those additional dollars. The product dimensions and the driver size are essentially the same, and the discrepancy between the sound is hard to notice.
Best High-end: KEF KC62 Subwoofer
What I liked about the KEF KC62?
The KEF KC62 subwoofer almost defies logic because it is impossible to get this deep bass from a unit this small. And yet here it is, a boombox about the size of a basketball that somehow manages to generate remarkable low-end extension in an accurate, controlled, and tight fashion.
Made from extruded aluminum, KEF KC62’s curved cabinet is a perfect blend of form and functionality, providing the best of both worlds. This compact unit is small enough to blend with any decor.
It makes use of an array of innovative technologies to deliver a world-class home theatre experience. The Smart Distortion Control Technology ensures near-to-zero distortion while there is a P-Flex surround for precise movement of the driver. KEF’s Music Integrity Engine further maximizes its performance by optimizing the relationship between the drivers, cabinet, and amplifiers.
On the other hand, the ultra-compact cabinet of KC62 is equipped with the patent-pending Uni-Core technology, which revolutionizes the conventional force-canceling driver to deliver accurate deep bass. And while we are at it, let’s not forget about the placement-dependent EQ, which allows you easily integrate your unit into any room.
The model’s various connection options enable it to pair with almost any audio system, while its SmartConnect allows a maximum of 1000 RWS output from its amplifier. The HPF line output further helps fine-tune integration while the built-in level inputs eliminate any connection issues.
The selling point of KC62 is its five pre-set Room Placement Equalization options. They make sure that the Sub performs the same everywhere, be it in a corner, free space, or next to a wall. There is also a devoted apartment mode that reduces the lowest frequencies for both your and your neighbor’s convenience.
However, at the end of the day, the bass and sound depend on how much air is moved, and this woofer effectively does this through its two 6.5″ drivers and two 500-watt class D amplifiers. These provide a large excursion effect to produce deep, undistorted bass.
While it lies on the pricier side, the KEF KC62 clearly punches above its minimal weight and provides clean, deep bass from every album you throw at it.
Of course, you can spend less on other subs, but their cheap price tag is often accompanied by low performance. Very few high-end subwoofers can come close to the capabilities and breakthrough design of KC62. Listening to this 15″ woofer in a small to a medium-sized room is indeed a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is not to be missed.
What I found missing
KC62 has a few flaws like every other unit, but nothing serious to steer the customers away. With the max output of 105 dB, this unit was quite loud and, when cranked up, filled my medium-sized home theatre with the realistic sound of startling clarity.
But, when I transferred the unit to my living room, the largest room of my house, the results took a drastic turn.
In larger spaces, you will have to blast your KC62 to full volume, and that is when you will notice the laws of physics taking over.
When operated at such loud volume, the amplifier headroom will soon run out of space, and hence, the sound will start to turn unclear and bloomy, especially at lower octaves. You would have to get a larger and, at times, multiple subwoofers in a situation like this. But for small to mid rooms, KC62 is indeed your best bet.