Looking for "Best" Subwoofer Suggestions - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 20 Old 06-22-2019, 09:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Looking for "Best" Subwoofer Suggestions

There are tons of subwoofers out there, all shapes and sizes and designs and price points, not to mention distribution models. From retail, name-brand to DIY and everything in between, there's good reason subwoofers are a hobby.

What I'm looking for here are suggestions for best subwoofer. Not the one single "best subwoofer in the world" but rather the broad spectrum of appealing subs that are out there, and reasons why they should be considered. From ultra-cheap 8" subs to 24" monsters, let's see a survey the subwoofer landscape in 2019.

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post #2 of 20 Old 06-22-2019, 07:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post
There are tons of subwoofers out there, all shapes and sizes and designs and price points, not to mention distribution models. From retail, name-brand to DIY and everything in between, there's good reason subwoofers are a hobby.

What I'm looking for here are suggestions for best subwoofer. Not the one single "best subwoofer in the world" but rather the broad spectrum of appealing subs that are out there, and reasons why they should be considered. From ultra-cheap 8" subs to 24" monsters, let's see a survey the subwoofer landscape in 2019.
I would say that the SVS PB16 Ultra is the best. The only reason I say that is because I have the SB16 Ultra and I have heard the PB4000 and I know that it is nuts. I can’t imagine what the ported version of my box can do! It was too big for my room.

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post #3 of 20 Old 06-22-2019, 07:27 PM
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I'm not sure a full Marty using the Dayton 18-22 driver could be beat for anywhere near the price - this is assuming that you have the space for the monster Marty Sub.
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post #4 of 20 Old 06-23-2019, 04:19 AM
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I feel that the SVS PC-4000 is worthy of consideration for the following reasons:

1. The cylinder shape is not only iconic but it provides the user with a lot of placement options even in the most difficult rooms with limited locations and floor space to test and select from.

2. The 3 ports located at the top of the cylinder as opposed to the lower rear or bottom of the sub, helps with localization issues and the dreaded boomy problems in some rooms.

3. It has 3 ports that are configurable from full ported to sealed which makes the sub very versatile and adjustable.

4. The 1200 watt class D amplifier has a line conditioner, surge suppressor, voltage regulator and ground loop isolator built in.

5. The available adjustment such as: Volume, 3 band parametric EQ, low pass filter with 6,12,18 and 24 db slope selection, phase adjustment from 0 to 180, polarity, room gain, port tuning and numerous other system settings all controllable from a remote control or mobile app enables the sub to be easily adjusted for any room or system right from the listening/testing position.

6. The mobile app as mentioned above makes setting up and testing the sub very efficient and convenient.

7. Soundpath isolation feet work as designed and work quite well especially with hardwood floors.

8. 50 pound proprietary driver that houses a lot of technology.

9. SVS reputation, customer service and support as well as a trade up program.
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post #5 of 20 Old 06-23-2019, 06:04 AM
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The Monolith 15 THX. It equals an SVS PB-4000 in output and beats it at 12.5Hz; hangs with a PB16 Ultra and also beats it at 12.5Hz; can hang close to a JTR 1400 and costs less than those subs. If not a DIY sub, you're not going to beat the Monolith 15 THX at its price.
It's a clean, accurate sub that hits very deep with minimal port noise.
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post #6 of 20 Old 06-23-2019, 06:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by H Stevens View Post
I feel that the SVS PC-4000 is worthy of consideration for the following reasons:

1. The cylinder shape is not only iconic but it provides the user with a lot of placement options even in the most difficult rooms with limited locations and floor space to test and select from.

2. The 3 ports located at the top of the cylinder as opposed to the lower rear or bottom of the sub, helps with localization issues and the dreaded boomy problems in some rooms.

3. It has 3 ports that are configurable from full ported to sealed which makes the sub very versatile and adjustable.

4. The 1200 watt class D amplifier has a line conditioner, surge suppressor, voltage regulator and ground loop isolator built in.

5. The available adjustment such as: Volume, 3 band parametric EQ, low pass filter with 6,12,18 and 24 db slope selection, phase adjustment from 0 to 180, polarity, room gain, port tuning and numerous other system settings all controllable from a remote control or mobile app enables the sub to be easily adjusted for any room or system right from the listening/testing position.

6. The mobile app as mentioned above makes setting up and testing the sub very efficient and convenient.

7. Soundpath isolation feet work as designed and work quite well especially with hardwood floors.

8. 50 pound proprietary driver that houses a lot of technology.

9. SVS reputation, customer service and support as well as a trade up program.
Love the list/breakdown. Thx.

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post #7 of 20 Old 06-23-2019, 07:18 AM
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I think anything DIY can beat anything manufactured.
And you get to make whatever size fits with whatever you can afford.
And amp it as much as you like.

Sealed subs are as easy as can be: a sealed box.
And, even if you're like me, premade boxes are easy to find.
Go DIY.
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post #8 of 20 Old 06-23-2019, 07:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic
Not the one single "best subwoofer in the world" but rather the broad spectrum of appealing subs that are out there, and reasons why they should be considered.

The massive DIY boxes & drivers easily the best performance to value ratio, if you're on a budget; and if you're not, probably the best possible to be had if money is no limit.

Like with manufactured subs, DIY design, aesthetics, finish etc. will vary from poor to as magnificent as can be, according to skill, budget, time & imagination.
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post #9 of 20 Old 06-23-2019, 11:15 AM
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Imo...there is not a singular best sub...every individual has different needs....seen and heard a bunch of subs...both diy & commercial...I just happen to choose the one sub that had (✓) in every box...that met, equals or exceeds my requirements.

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post #10 of 20 Old 06-23-2019, 11:28 AM
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Best subwoofer(s)

Short answer--there is not one.

Long answer--Custom built and powered subwoofers, along the lines of 4 of them (minimum) with proper parametric EQ, dynamic EQ to protect the driver (or building) bass management with many measurements to match the room/building, your personal frequency response requirements, distortion limits, space limits and SPL requirements.

Eventually, we all have to climb out of the rabbit hole and determine wants VS needs VS cost VS space available.

I've been building subs for decades--blame that on car audio! The good thing about car audio is you have a very limited space, limited areas where subwoofers can be installed and you don't have unlimited power available to power the subwoofers. A great way to learn the limits quickly be they frying batteries/alternators, blowing the glass out of the vehicle to attempting the uber sub build to actually fit in the car.

The first question is frequency response, 20 Hz? 16Hz? 8 Hz or4 whatever you desire but that is the first real world limit. The physical building will resonate at a specific frequency, everyone does not live in an underground bunker to the first puzzle is how low can you go? Then you have SPL requirements--how loud at your listening position and at what frequency? The good thing about subs is the more you add, the more even your frequency response will be, the lower power you need for a specific SPL and it lowers distortion as you add more.

When people ask me, I tell them to go to a THX certified theater and watch an action film and determine what you want be it more SPL, less SPL or deeper frequency response. For most people that ask me those questions, they are not well versed in reference levels, frequency response, SPL and that sort of thing. If they really don't know much, they find it much easier to understand by comparing their wants to what a THX theater provides. The makes a HUGE difference in what is required for their system be it "half as loud" (-10 dB frome reference) "a little quieter than the theater (-3dB) or they want refference because that is what they want the system to do. Once they go past iMax levels (105dB at MLP for mids/highs and 118dB peaks for bass response at around 20 to 25Hz) then I step asside as they will need more electrical power than provided in typical rooms, might need some constuction to beef up the room and so on.

For most normal people, I tell them to get an AVR with pre-amp outs so if they need more power for the mains--they can add it if needed. Start off with two subwoofers that meet the frequency response they desire be it 16, 20 or 25 Hz and add more of those same subwoofers until their frequency response smoothness, distortion and SPL levels are met. Generally speaking, if they have the space I'll direct them towards ported if they want reference levels in the 16Hz to 25Hz range and want to start with two subwoofers. If they want 5 to 15Hz performance and cost, quanity and size is not an issue--then I direct them towards sealed subs and keep stacking them until the budget is blown, the breakers blow, drywall damage happens or they become content. The greatness of sealed subs is you can use EQ (within limits) to get the frequency response correct down low when the room dominates the response. You might need quite a few subwoofers to do that but they will know that going in.

For example, my brother wants a system in a year or two and yes, he wants reference levels because he wants a theater experience. He does not want a rack of amps, no rewiring the room for more electricity and nothing larger than 4 cubic feet for subwoofers. Frequency response smooth down to around 20 Hz but able to provide 16Hz just for extra kick (-6dB at 16Hz) I told him to get 12" ported subs that can go down that far (data-bass.com) and build two subs to start that do that function. The speakers he likes are 96dB 1w/1m and he will sit around 11 feet or 3.3 meters away. Basically, a 100 WPC or so AVR should do it for him but the pre-amp outs in case the rabbit hole goes deep. Two ported 12's won't do it for him to get reference levels at 20 Hz--but it is a good start. If he wants more, he can add more be it 3 or 4 tweleves up to 8 or more. Say he goes nuts and wants to jam out to the Irene Scene (7 or 8 Hz), he can change the subs to sealed and just keep adding more to gain SPL and efficiency to not strain the breakers. My brother is aware of all the specs and what they mean, he built subwoofers for his car and the boat back in the day.

If I get the wide open question of "best" with no other information--my default is to get the JTR 4000 ULF--get four of them and go. If they want single digits, get 18 to 32 inch sealed subs and keep stacking them until you get there. Not enough information as the room dominate the discussion. For most people, when they talk about subs things become too large once you get past four cubic feet so their choices are 10/12 ported boxes or 15/18" sealed boxes be it off the shelf or DIY (or kits to assemble) I just guide them to get the frequency response exactly what they want first--then keep adding until the distortion, smoothness and SPL requirements are met. Nothing worse than playing musical subs and taking a bath on them financially as they get into the upgrade wallet draining path.

For most people, the vast majority of typical people--if they can get 20Hz at close to reference levels they tend to be content. The monoprice 10" sub, various low tuned 12 or 15" subs will work wonders for them. If they are not sure, I guide them to the subs that can be "tuned" by closing a port or closing all of them for sealed alignment. Always nice to have options! I have a pair of large subs in my garage, I designed them to run either 24Hz ported or sealed so my buddies can play around with them. They are high passed at 21Hz but they get a good idea of what all those jibber-jabber numbers mean. Each sub can punch 118 dB above 30Hz in the model so two of them easily hit reference levels. Interesting to watch as the bass heads demand crazy high SPL then actually hear what 115dB sounds and feels like. Generally, they then adjust their demands.

Personally, I use three ported subs for my HT--they provide reference levels and have a usable frequency response down to around 16Hz (room gain is your friend!) My house will start doing crazy things down at around 10Hz so any thoughts of infrasond at high SPL is a non-starter--building a bunker is a bit much.

For the record, I've had sealed, bandpass, ported, passive radiator and push-pull slot loaded subs but have yet had the motivation to build a horn loaded subwoofer, I'll get there as the Quadhorn looks like a garage addition just to play around with tapped horns.

If WAF is a concern, subs can be built into end tables, side tables and so on as pretty furniture--custom furniture builders will hook you up if you don't have a wood shop laying around. Other options would be Funk Audio with custom finishes or JTR and Danley Sound Labs do custom finishes if you pay the $$$$ for it. Plenty of options for WAF, you are not required to have a bunch of boxes laying around.

Plenty of options be it custom built, stealth furniture subs, 10 inch all the way up to the Powersoft 40" M-Force sub used for night clubs and rock concerts (you asked!) Pierce Audio just rolled out a 33 inch sub and there are plenty of Powersoft, LABGruppen, Danley Sound Labs or Crown amps to power the beasts. Overkill then runs into weight, the Pierce 33 incher uses neodymium magnets to lighted it up--and at 176 pounds I use the "lighten" term very loosely!

The end result is to go over to data-bass.com and read about subs, vearious alignments and so seriously insane subwoofer builds to see what the rabbit hole has in store for you. The great thing about AVS is somebody already has dove off the deep end and plenty of information abounds for the overkill builds. Such is the hobby, from mild to wild there are people that have such systems and can provide tips and guidance to get what you need without taking out a second home loan.

Still waiting on the Powersoft M-Force 40" sub build--jus' sayin'
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post #11 of 20 Old 06-23-2019, 03:36 PM
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I'd throw a vote in for the JTR 118. Its a good mix of size, output, cost and WAF (custom finishes) that I don't think any of the other brands out there can meet.
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post #12 of 20 Old 06-23-2019, 06:07 PM
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I'll throw my hat into the ring. Custom built 24" ULF (12Hz tune) vented build from @Funk Audio . 26" (w) x 35” (d) x 60 (h). I have two of these set for delivery in July

Reasons why this will be a top contender:

1) Raw output (should be greater than Cap 4000, currently under test)

2) Does not use SpeakerPower amps.

3) Built in-house

4) Beautiful finish thanks to Nathan.
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post #13 of 20 Old 06-23-2019, 07:08 PM - Thread Starter
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AVS Forum NEVER lets me down when it comes to love of bass. Hardcore to the end. Respect.
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post #14 of 20 Old 06-23-2019, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Todeseng3l View Post
I'll throw my hat into the ring. Custom built 24" ULF (12Hz tune) vented build from @Funk Audio . 26" (w) x 35” (d) x 60 (h). I have two of these set for delivery in July

Reasons why this will be a top contender:

1) Raw output (should be greater than Cap 4000, currently under test)

2) Does not use SpeakerPower amps.

3) Built in-house https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1FNsPnZp2s

4) Beautiful finish thanks to Nathan.
Speaker power amps kick butt, not sure why listed.

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post #15 of 20 Old 06-24-2019, 05:05 AM
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Speaker power amps kick butt, not sure why listed.
I and many other users have found their Torpedo amps to be extremely sensitive to noise resulting in loud hum from subwoofers. Personally I have never had issues with hum on any of my other sensitive equipment or high efficiency speakers, but with the 4kW SpeakerPower amp it was obnoxiously loud. IIRC even Tom (PSA) thinks SpeakerPower amps are more trouble than they are worth, I thought he made a post about this a while back but I couldn't dig it up.

Second, it appears that they have quality control issues with the change of guard after Brian O. (SpeakerPower's founder & principal designer) retired with the rash of amps that made it into the wild causing widespread issues.

It is for these reasons that I am happy my Funk sub does not use a SpeakerPower amp. Again, this is just my opinion based on my own data point and reading of others experiences with the brand (not trying to start a flame war). YMMV, I am sure there are plenty of users that are happy with their SpeakerPower set-up.
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post #16 of 20 Old 06-24-2019, 06:46 AM
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I have no noise from mine.

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post #17 of 20 Old 06-25-2019, 03:23 PM
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@imagic I find it odd with your industry access, trade show attendance and several in home test you have conducted that you are asking such a question.
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post #18 of 20 Old 06-25-2019, 03:46 PM
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Here's my list which is by no means extensive but I'll break it down to what I have listened to and what I haven't (but have read about favorably). These are in no specific order. I know you are also looking for reasons to have these listed but I didn’t give reasons. Here's why, for every reason I give to have one listed, someone else would have a reason not too. Every sub has pros and cons. No one sub is perfect obviously and as you've stated, there is no "best".


What I've heard:

JTR Cap 2400ulf
JTR Cap 118HT
SVS SB-13
Rythmik FV-25
Rythmik FV-18
Seaton JS12

What I haven't heard (but have read about favorably) :

Mono 10,12,15
Rythmik FV-15hp
Rythmik G-25
JTR Cap 4000
JTR S1, S2
SVS PB-16
PSA S36xx
Seaton F18 Master/Slave combo
Rythmik F18

There are a plethora of other good subs out there but these are ones that come to the top of my mind. I would also add that I didn’t list many lower cost/smaller options because I just haven’t researched them much and I personally was looking for much larger options. I also did not list DIY options because that is an even larger rabbit hole that I did not venture into. The cost/performance ratio cannot be beaten.

I would also add this, my favorite all around sub for cost vs performance, at the moment, for under $2k is the Rythmik FV-18 in either cone flavor. The Mono 15 would also get a nod here too.
If someone is looking for shear output from top to bottom then the JTR Cap 4k is hard to beat. Last but not least, I love the 2400ulf. Come on.........you knew that was coming! Who isn't going to mention the sub they bought.

That’s my $.04

Todd
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post #19 of 20 Old 06-25-2019, 09:35 PM
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I will only list the ones I have heard:

~$1500 - Monoprice Monolith 15"
~$2000 - JTR Captivator 118HT, PSA S3010i
~$2500 - Rythmik FV25HP, Seaton F18, Seaton Submersive.
~$3000 - JTR Captivator 2400ULF
~$4000 - JTR Captivator 4000ULF

Discontinued: JTR Captivator 1400

Bang for the buck (from 2015~now): JTR Captivator 118HT pre-order @ $1,099 + $150 shipping to SoCal. Yes, you read it right. It was less than $1,250 shipped.
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Subwoofer: JTR Captivator 4000ULF.
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post #20 of 20 Old 06-27-2019, 02:08 PM
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I think front loaded horns will be top of the list.
  • Even if you have to build them below ideal (efficiency) size for sake of wife acceptance factor, they're still very efficient as long as you can get the requisite horn length and close to a 2by2 foot horn mouth opening. Especially when placed in a corner.
  • You can hide them as part of walls, floors, ceilings and sofas. Because the woofer itself is not visible.
  • The output will be bar none the highest per dollar because the woofers themselves are dirt cheap.
  • PA woofers (what's usually used in front loaded horns) require almost no amplifier power compared to "subwoofer" drivers.
  • The walls, floor and ceiling of the room can be used as the final section of the horn, so the seating can even end up being inside the horn mouth in some circumstances. Mathematically speaking. Giving you free low end decibels over what the simulated horn suggests.
  • Every time you want an upgrade you can simply add more of the exact same front loaded horn design and you will end up with a lower frequency reach. Whereas normal subwoofer designs don't have that advantage.
  • You can also upgrade woofers without any issues. If you design a horn for a 100 dollar PA 18" woofer with 5mm excursion and 300 watt power handling you can later upgrade to a 1000 dollar PA 18" woofer with 20mm excursion and 2000 watt power handling, and upgrade from your cheapo amplifier to a sanway amplifier with 4000 watts continuous output, and there will be no issues with port velocity or tuning.
  • Midbass won't be lacking because of the PA woofers you use in front loaded horns, allowing you to easily skimp on that in LCRs.
  • Front loaded horns can be structural, for example on the LCR wall, with TV mount and/or mounted LCRs on the horn enclosures themselves.
  • Front loaded horns can often be designed to contain the LCRs themselves (so often your LCR wall takes up no more room with horns than it would with built-in LCRs and no horns).
  • Horns can scare the crap out of anyone who are used to normal home grade subwoofers.
  • A lot of used horns exist on the pro-grade market, many of these can be cheaper than equivalent used home-grade subwoofers because reasons.
  • With PA woofers in horns its very possible within a reasonable price bracket, to build something so loud you never play it close to max volume.
  • A good PA amplifier and PA woofer in a horn, will always have a certain resale value. A much better value than any random home-grade subwoofer. Because people who make money from their sound system are part of your potential customer base if you have pro grade equipment with pro-grade sound output levels.
  • If you go the PA amplifier route to power your horn you can use locking speakon-connector speaker cables and XLR signal cables, and never touch that home-grade nonsense with gold plating and a monster pricetag.
  • With a standalone PA amplifier instead of an amplifier inside the subwoofer, you can place the rack of equipment far from the eyes and ears so you never have look at the blinking LED lights of the 90s ever again.

My two cents :P
18Hurts likes this.

cms, aka driver diaphragm suspension mechanical compliance: 0.000065 meter/Newton or in standard form 6.5e-05 m/N. (smaller number is better)
rms, aka driver diaphragm suspension mechanical resistance: 6.41 Newton.sec/meter. (higher number is better)
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