A subwoofer is a device through which you can hear the lowest bass frequencies while watching a movie or listening to music. Without the base frequencies, a musical composition or sound design of a film is incomplete.
But if you simply cannot hear the bass notes and frequencies of something you are watching or listening to, the experience of it gets completely compromised. You are in danger of missing out on crucial dialogues of a film if the bass cannot be heard clearly enough.
There is no point in investing in a home theater if you cannot enjoy an action-packed film, and there is no way you can enjoy your home theater without a good subwoofer. However, subwoofers are not necessarily priced inexpensively.
Some of them can cost almost as much as your home theater system. To stick to a stipulated budget, the following are reviews of the best home theater subwoofers under $500.
The reviews will be followed by a brief buying guide that should clear up any confusion about what you should look for in a subwoofer under $500.
Quick List: Best Home Theater Subwoofer under $500
The following is a quick glimpse of the subwoofers that have been reviewed below. Each subwoofer has been placed into a specific category for better assessment of its features and attributes:
- Best Subwoofer Overall: Polk Audio psw505 12″ Powered Subwoofer — High Precision Bass with Extreme Power & Wide Soundstage | up to 460 Watts | Big Bass at a Great Value
- Best Looking Home Theatre Subwoofer: Klipsch Reference R-112SW Subwoofer, Cherry
- Best Powered Subwoofer: Definitive Technology Prosub 800 — High Output Compact 300w Powered Subwoofer
- Best Bass Sound: Bic Acoustech PL-200 II Subwoofer — Gloss Black
- Best Budget Option: Yamaha 8″ 100w Powered Subwoofer — Black (NS-SW050BL)
Best Subwoofer Overall
The Polk Audio PSW505 is a 12-inch powered subwoofer that could be one of the best additions to your home theater system. This is a Dynamic Balance woofer that makes the experience of watching movies and sports and listening to music much better. The subwoofer is able to reproduce the sound very accurately, regardless of the nature of what you are watching or listening to. This is also a versatile and fully loaded subwoofer that is a perfect addition to your home theater system. The following are some of the features the subwoofer has to offer:
- The subwoofer has an immense 460-watt power that can provide a high-impact sound.
- The subwoofer can be blended with any speaker but works best with Polk’s Signature Series Speakers.
- It has a detachable front grille.
- It features a magnetically shielded LFE-input to avoid noisy signals.
- It also comes with a Phase Toggle Switch that enables the running of multiple subwoofers.
- The subwoofers have line and speaker-level inputs and outputs, making them extremely versatile.
- The subwoofers can be integrated with existing systems with great ease.
- It comes with a continuously variable 60-120 Hz crossover and a 25-125 Hz frequency response.
- The power of the subwoofer allows you to get a great sound without any distortions.
- The auto power-off feature does not seem to work as advertised.
- Several customers reported issues with durability.
Best Looking Home Theatre Subwoofer
The Klipsch Reference R-112SW subwoofer is an elegant and attractive looking subwoofer to add to your home theater system. This is a Cerametallic woofer with a fiery cherry finish or a copper and black finish. It has an all-digital amplifier that is capable of delivering 600 watts of dynamic power. For a few more dollars, you can also add a wireless kit to this subwoofer, making it a complete system. With this subwoofer, you can truly feel the impact of the sound effects. What’s more, it also brightens your home theater system and the room it is situated in with its elegant look. The following are some of the features the subwoofer has to offer:
- This is a 12-inch spun-copper Cerametallic woofer that comes in a cherry finish or a copper and black finish — both great lookers!
- It has a front-firing slot port that comes with its own exclusive internal flare technology.
- It comes with L/R line-level/LFE RCA inputs, making it compatible with most receivers.
- It offers 600 watts of dynamic power, enabling the subwoofer to provide ground sound and impact.
- Whether you opt for the cherry version or the black and copper version, the subwoofer is a really good looking one.
- You can establish a simple wireless connection by investing in an optional Klipsch WA-2 wireless subwoofer kit.
- The Cerametallic make of the woofer not only gives it an elegant look, but also provides it with durability.
- It offers a low-pass crossover and variable phase control.
- There is sometimes a rattling sound when the subwoofer is played.
- It tends to emit a humming sound even when it has been disconnected from the AVR.
Best Powered Subwoofer
The Definitive Technology Prosub 800 is a high-output, compact 300-watt powered subwoofer that provides an incredible impact. The subwoofer aims to provide you with a movie viewing experience like never before. Unless you feel the ground below you shaking while watching an intense thriller, you are not doing it right — and this is what this powered subwoofer attempts to provide. This is also a highly versatile subwoofer that can complement any audio system with great ease. The following are some of the features of the subwoofer:
- The subwoofer provides 300-watts of RMS, enabling it to have a “soul-shaking” bass.
- It has a high-excursion 8-inch front-mounted direct-radiating woofer which has been pressure-coupled with another 8-inch low bass radiator.
- It comes equipped with Mosfet output devices and an enhanced radiator design that offers 27 percent more area for radiating.
- For better stability, the subwoofer comes with four integrated feet with rubber tips.
- The subwoofer can be added to an existing home theater system or coupled with the ProCenter 100 center channel and ProMonitor 800 satellite speakers.
- It has a wide range of Line-Level and Speaker-Level input and output connections that make it easy to integrate with any audio system.
- It has an award-winning design that reproduces sound with utmost accuracy.
- The subwoofer comes with adjustable feet and can be stable on any surface.
- There’s a rumbling noise on the low frequencies.
- The subwoofer is a good buy for movies but not so much for listening to music.
Best Bass Sound
The Bic Acoustech PL-200 II is a subwoofer with an incredibly powerful bass sound. It comes equipped with a top-quality BASH amplifier. This is a front-firing powered subwoofer that takes on all the responsibility for giving you the perfect bass and surround sound. It also comes in a simple and elegant gloss black finish, making your home theater and the room you place the subwoofer in look even more stylish. The following are some of the features the subwoofer has to offer:
- This is a front-firing 12-inch long-throw powered subwoofer.
- It offers a 1000-watts Dynamic Peak Output and 250 watts of RMS continuous.
- It has a frequency response of 22 Hz — 200 Hz, along with adjustable crossover and volume controls.
- The subwoofer also has a 12-inch Poly-injected surround with high power magnet and a long excursion.
- The subwoofer comes with an eight-year warranty.
- The subwoofer has an incredible 7.2 configuration that allows you to surround yourself with an immersive sound experience.
- The subwoofer comes with an auto on and off feature that allows you to conserve power.
- It has a sensitivity of 110 dB at 30 Hz, enabling the subwoofer to give you an accurate reproduction of the sound.
- It offers a very muscular bass that makes a movie-watching experience even more enhanced.
- Some customers complained of port noise because of loose polyfill or other related issues.
- The volume knob is defective in some cases.
Best Budget Option
The Yamaha 8-inch 100 watts powered subwoofer is one of the best quality subwoofers in the market that does not rip a hole in your pocket. It has a clear, concise and tight bass thanks to the new and improved twister flare port. It is also a great looking subwoofer so it makes for a stylish addition to any room. What’s more, the Yamaha name has been associated with music and sound quality for decades and a Yamaha system attached to your home theater will only do it well. This is a simple and compact subwoofer that does not take up too much space but provides a great experience. The following are some of the features the subwoofer has to offer:
- The 8-inch subwoofer has a new and improved twisted flare port.
- It comes equipped with Advanced Yamaha Active Servo Technology II (YST II).
- It has an 8-inch cone woofer for enhanced sound.
- It has a dynamic power of 200 watts.
- This is a compact, small budget subwoofer that is a great addition to any home theater system.
- The subwoofer offers a clear and tight bass due to the gently twisted flared shape.
- The Advanced YST II offers discrete amp circuitry to make the subwoofer more convenient to use.
- The subwoofer has an accurate low-frequency reproduction.
- It is compatible with and matches a wide variety of sound systems.
- The subwoofer comes with volume control but without frequency control.
- This subwoofer is only suited for smaller rooms.
Things to Consider before Buying
A subwoofer is one of the most integral parts of a home theater system. It is the part of the system that lends it power and thunderous bass. Naturally, when you set out to buy a subwoofer for your home theater system, the need to lock down the one that suits your needs perfectly is important. While there are subwoofers available in a variety of price ranges, for this review and buying guide, the focus is on those that come for less than $500. The following are some of the factors you may want to consider before buying a subwoofer under $500.
The frequency response of a subwoofer is the range of frequencies a subwoofer can support. This range is measured in Hertz (Hz). The subwoofer is the primary element in your home theater that can play bass frequencies. For a home theater, it would be preferable if the subwoofer had a broad frequency response. This will ensure that all frequencies will be played with equal emphasis without some audio responses becoming muddied or being left out altogether. On an average, if a subwoofer boasts a frequency response of 25-200 Hz, that is a broad enough frequency range you should look for. While not all the subwoofers reviewed above have a frequency range this broad, they make up for it in other ways.
The measure of the power output is directly proportional to the volume that a subwoofer can produce. If a subwoofer is powerful, it does not necessarily mean it will be loud beyond measure. The volume can be controlled so you do not need to listen to the subwoofer at the highest volume if you do not wish to. The power output is simply a measure of how loud the subwoofer can get. A more powerful subwoofer will have a better quality of sound even in the middle range of volume when played in a room. Compared to that, a weaker subwoofer will distort the sound even if it is played at its loudest.
The dimensions of a subwoofer relate to its size. Typically, the larger the subwoofer is the more powerful it, therefore, the better the quality of sound it can offer. When the subwoofer is large, it can house a larger and better cone (more on that in the next section). However, it is not always feasible to invest in a large subwoofer. The size of the subwoofer you should buy depends on how much space you have. If you have a small room, a large subwoofer may fail to do you any good. In that case, you should look for a subwoofer that is a better fit with the rest of your sound system. You may have to look around the room to see where the sound is the best. Accordingly, the size of the subwoofer can be determined.
The cone is the main component of a subwoofer. When an audio signal is inputted, the cone moves accordingly and pushes air. This pushing of air is what creates the vibration which in turn produces the sound. The larger the size of the cone is, the better the quality of sound you can expect. This is because bass signals have relatively long wavelengths. A large cone, therefore, will be able to push more air over a longer distance and produce sounds of a low-frequency with ease. Among the subwoofers that have been reviewed above, most of them have subwoofers that have a 12-inch cone. This is a decent size for a cone. But as several components come together to create a subwoofer, a large cone alone will not be able to ensure that the sound quality you get will be a good one. But a large cone size is certainly a good place to start.
Finally, the warranty that a subwoofer comes with is of the utmost importance. Granted, $500 is not a very hefty sum of money in the larger scheme of things but it is still a fairly big amount to spend on an electronic product. This is easily a mid-budget investment as there are plenty of subwoofers that come for a lot cheaper. Therefore, it would be good to have some assurance that the product you are buying will not die a premature death. Most of the subwoofers mentioned above come with a two-year review, which is a standard that any manufacturer should offer. However, there are a few that offer as many as 5-8 years of warranty which is a far greater reassurance that the product will last for a long time.
There are a few common doubts that people tend to have when they set out to buy subwoofers under $500. The following are some of the frequently asked questions, the answers to which you may find helpful:
What Are the Reliable Brands When It Comes to Subwoofers?
There are a variety of brands and big names in the business when it comes to subwoofers. A lot of the popular names have already been mentioned in the reviews above. But for the sake of repetition, some of the popular and trusted names you can consider are Polk Audio, BIC Acoustech, Klipsch, Yamaha and Definitive Technology. All five companies boast of great quality, value for money and in most cases also great customer service after the product has been purchased.
Some of the names that have not been included above include Rockville, Bose, Sonos, etc.
How Is a Subwoofer Setup?
A good subwoofer should not be complicated to set up at all. It typically requires an audio receiver that comes along with a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system in addition to other speakers. You will also need a standard RCA cable to connect the subwoofer to the receiver. Connecting the subwoofer to the audio receiver and setting it up does not require as much work as finding the right position to place the subwoofer. It may require some hit and trial, and you may be required to move the subwoofer around and test different spots in the room out to check if you can find the best acoustics. All subwoofers will come with an instruction manual that should describe in detail what is required of you to set the system up. If all else fails (which is unlikely), you can always enlist the support of a professional who can come and set up the whole thing for you.
How Is a Subwoofer Different from a Woofer?
This is a very common confusion and understandably so! The terms ‘woofer’ and ‘subwoofer’ are often used interchangeably, therefore, creating confusion. The key is in taking note of how the device is being implemented. A subwoofer, typically, will have a limited frequency response range. More often than not, 400 Hz is the threshold of the frequency response range in a subwoofer, also known as a raw speaker or driver. A woofer, on the other hand, can have frequency responses as high as 2500 Hz or even higher. But if a woofer with a broad frequency range is used only below 80 Hz it could be called a subwoofer because of how it is being implemented. Depending on whether or not a device with a broad frequency range can reach its upper limit, its implementation is decided.
The subwoofers that have been reviewed above are some of the best in the market. Each subwoofer has been placed in its category and is the leader within its respective category. Good subwoofers can be difficult to come by. There are plenty of permutations and combinations that determine whether a subwoofer will be a good fit for your home theater or not. Even if you get a subwoofer that is perfect for you on paper, the acoustics of your room may not agree with it. But if you keep in mind all the factors to consider mentioned above, there is a good chance that you will find the subwoofer that is perfect for you without looking in too many places. So get down to the market and use the information provided above to find the best subwoofer for your home system.
Last update on 2020-07-13 at 01:03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API