The Best High-Performance Subwoofer

The Best High-Performance Subwoofer

Our pick

Rogersound Labs Speedwoofer 10S

Rogersound Labs Speedwoofer 10S

Superb all-around performance

The Speedwoofer 10S offers an ideal blend of bass power and finesse, in a compact and affordable package.

Buying Options

$400 from RSL Speakers

The Rogersound Labs Speedwoofer 10S 10-inch subwoofer is a refreshing surprise for those who think subwoofers are nothing but big, ugly boom machines. It sounds great with both music and movies. Despite being half the price of the most expensive model we tested, the Speedwoofer 10S delivered a clear, precise, full sound that made it the favorite in our blind listening tests, and it has more deep-bass output than the best budget (and some not-so-budget) subwoofers we’ve tried. Yet at 16 by 15 by 16¾ inches (HWD), it’s still compact enough to fit unobtrusively into most rooms or even under some end tables. But it’s sold only direct through the Rogersound Labs website.

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Runner-up

Polk Audio HTS 10

Polk Audio HTS 10

If looks matter

This subwoofer combines good performance with a more attractive design than you can get from many subwoofers at this price.

Buying Options

$291* from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $300.

Even though the Polk Audio HTS 10 was the least expensive subwoofer we tested for this guide, it ranked second in our blind listening tests. While its deep-bass output was only about half as loud as that of the Speedwoofer 10S, our panelists concluded that this 10-inch subwoofer’s satisfying, full sound made it good for music and great for home theater. It’s reasonably compact at 16⅝ by 15⅛ by 16⅛ inches (HWD), and its radiused edges and corner-cut grille give it more style than most other subs can muster. Plus, the HTS 10 is available through more retailers than the Speedwoofer 10S, if that matters to you.

Upgrade pick

Hsu Research VTF-2 MK5

Hsu Research VTF-2 MK5

For audiophiles and serious home theater fans

The VTF-2 MK5 is large and powerful, and it offers more tuning options to tailor the sound to your taste and room.

Buying Options

$540 from Hsu Research

For home theater enthusiasts and audiophiles, the Hsu Research VTF-2 MK5 12-inch subwoofer is the stuff of dreams. For those who crave a beautiful living room, however, it may be the stuff of nightmares, as its bulky, 15-by-21-by-22-inch (HWD) physique and basic-black-box design certainly conform to subwoofer stereotypes. In our tests, on average the VTF-2 MK5 played 50 percent louder across the entire measurement range than the Speedwoofer 10S, and our panelists were impressed with its ability to shake their listening chair. The more discerning movie or music fan will appreciate the inclusion of tuning modes that optimize this subwoofer’s sound to taste. Like the Speedwoofer 10S, this model is sold only direct through the manufacturer’s website.

Also great

SVS SB-1000

SVS SB-1000

For small spaces

If you need high performance but don’t have space for a big subwoofer, the SB-1000 is a great choice.

Buying Options

$500 from Amazon

The SVS SB-1000 is a great choice for people who live in small spaces or who are averse to cluttering their living room floor. Measuring 13½ by 13 by 14⅝ inches (HWD), it’s compact enough to hide under many end tables, yet this 12-inch subwoofer actually exceeds the performance of some larger subs we tested. However, it costs more than the Rogersound sub and doesn’t deliver as much of the really low bass. Its punchy, well-defined sound makes it better for music than for action movies, but it’ll do a respectable job with anything you play through it.

Everything we recommend

Our pick

Rogersound Labs Speedwoofer 10S

Rogersound Labs Speedwoofer 10S

Superb all-around performance

The Speedwoofer 10S offers an ideal blend of bass power and finesse, in a compact and affordable package.

Buying Options

$400 from RSL Speakers

Runner-up

Polk Audio HTS 10

Polk Audio HTS 10

If looks matter

This subwoofer combines good performance with a more attractive design than you can get from many subwoofers at this price.

Buying Options

$291* from Amazon

*At the time of publishing, the price was $300.

Upgrade pick

Hsu Research VTF-2 MK5

Hsu Research VTF-2 MK5

For audiophiles and serious home theater fans

The VTF-2 MK5 is large and powerful, and it offers more tuning options to tailor the sound to your taste and room.

Buying Options

$540 from Hsu Research

Also great

SVS SB-1000

SVS SB-1000

For small spaces

If you need high performance but don’t have space for a big subwoofer, the SB-1000 is a great choice.

Buying Options

$500 from Amazon

Source: NY Times – Wirecutter

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