No home theatre is complete without a powerful subwoofer. When paired with a quality set of surround sound speakers, a 12" sub can provide you with a dynamic and balanced listening experience that can completely immerse you in the action of any movie or game by emphasizing those deep sounds you can feel.

Choosing the Best Subwoofer

There are countless subwoofers to choose from, and each one has unique features that set it apart from the rest. Here are our top picks for 12" home theatre subwoofers.

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1. Best Overall: SVS SB-2000 Pro

"Top-of-the-line performance, at a mid-range price."

  • Enclosure type: sealed
  • RMS Wattage: 550 Watts
  • Peak power Wattage: 1500 Watts
  • Frequency response: 19 Hz to 240 Hz

The SB-2000 is the "complete package." SVS has packed a powerful 550-watt sledge amplifier and high-excursion driver into an elegant, low-profile sealed enclosure, allowing it to pump out volume levels typically only achievable with a ported enclosure, all while maintaining the punchy bass responsiveness. And with SVS App support you can fine-tune it to blend perfectly with just about any system.

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Pros
  • Available piano black finish
  • Excellent value for money
  • Wide frequency response
Cons
  • Awkward grill design adds to the overall footprint


2. Best Ported: SVS PB-2000 Pro

"Adjustable EQ that will please even the pickiest of audiophiles. "

  • Enclosure type: Ported
  • RMS Wattage: 550 Watts
  • Peak power Wattage: 1,500 Watts
  • Frequency response: 16 Hz to 290 Hz

The SVS PB-2000 Pro takes everything about the beloved PB-2000 and gives it an upgrade. One of the most notable new features of the PB-2000 Pro is the integration of the SVS smartphone app compatibility. Not only does this app give you the ability to adjust volume and EQ, but it also allows you to save presents, allowing you to tailor your audio needs to specific movie genres or individual games.

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Pros
  • Incredible frequency response
  • Available smartphone app for DSP adjustment
  • Simple, easy to use controls
Cons
  • Black ash veneer gives an outdated appearance


3. Best Budget Home Subwoofer: BIC Acoustech Elite Series PL-300

"A feature-rich subwoofer that won't break the bank."

  • Enclosure type: Ported
  • RMS Wattage: 350 Watts
  • Peak power Wattage: 1400 Watts
  • Frequency response: 15 Hz to 200Hz

Don't let the price fool you. The BIC Acoustech Elite Series PL-300 packs some serious punch. This feature-rich subwoofer gives great flexibility to adjust and fine-tune your listening experience. On the back panel, you’ll find volume and phase controls as well as a toggle switch for "Bass Boost," Taking the bass frequencies all the way down to 15 Hz!

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Pros
  • Triple front-facing ports
  • Highly tunable
  • Affordable pricing
Cons
  • Below Average build quality when compared to others in the price range


4. Best Design: Polk Audio HTS 12

"A Subwoofer that doubles as a modern art piece."

Enclosure type: Ported
RMS Wattage: 200W
Peak power Wattage: 400W
Frequency response: 22 Hz to 180 Hz

For many years the formula for subwoofer design has gone almost entirely unchanged: put a big bass speaker in a black wooden box, and call it good. However, when designing the HTS 12, Polk Audio has broken away from this traditional approach.

In addition to its sleek, contoured edges, the HTS 12 combines form and function using Polk's patented "Power Port" technology. This state-of-the-art porting system "smoothly transitions air flow from the subwoofer into the listening area," giving you clean and tight bass while maintaining a uniquely modern appearance.

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Pros
  • Unique, modern design
  • LFE & stereo line-level inputs
  • Less port noise than other subwoofers
Cons
  • Underpowered amplifier


5. Best Subwoofer for Large Rooms: Monolith M12-S

"Earth-Shattering bass, with rock-solid build quality."

Enclosure type: Sealed
RMS Wattage: 500 Watts
Peak power Wattage:
Frequency response: 18 Hz to 200 Hz

Monoprice's Monolith range is the new kid on the block when it comes to home audio equipment, but thanks to the M12-S, the brand is exploding in popularity and quickly building a rock-solid reputation. This 12" sealed subwoofer utilizes a 500 Watt amplifier to deliver dynamic distortion-free lows even at maximum volume, making it ideal for theatre setups up to 2000 cubic feet in size.

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Pros
  • Exceptional build quality
  • THX certified (with two units)
  • Internal cabinet bracing for durability
Cons
  • Heavy


Is a 12-inch Subwoofer Worth the Money?

Most consumer speakers and soundbars do a great job at targeting treble and mid-range audio frequencies; however, most of them cannot deliver lower bass tones that a subwoofer can supply.

Hollywood blockbusters and even modern video games are sonically engineered not only to provide audible bass frequencies but also ones you can physically feel. However, you are essentially missing out on this massive part of the listening experience without a capable subwoofer.

Tips for Choosing a Home Subwoofer
While price can be a major factor when choosing the perfect subwoofer, it shouldn't be the only thing you base your decision on. Though all subwoofers are designed to deliver bass frequencies, each unit does so in a different way.

Here are a few things to consider before pulling the trigger on a sub:

RMS Wattage - With home subwoofers, the RMS power rating refers to the amount of continuous wattage that the amplifier within your sub can produce. Typically the RMS Wattage rating is significantly lower than the max peak Wattage and should be the one you pay the closest attention to when shopping.

Max peak Wattage- Peak Wattage is the amount of power that a subwoofer unit can handle without malfunctioning and sustaining permanent damage. While the peak Watt limit isn't quite as crucial as the RMS power rating, it's still a factor to consider, especially if you are someone who likes to crank up the volume.

Ported vs. sealed Enclosure - There are two types of subwoofer enclosures to choose from: ported and sealed. Ported enclosures have one or more holes (or ports) that allow air to pass out of the unit, resulting in an overall louder sound. Sealed enclosures lack ports, so the air inside is contained. Watt for watt, sealed closures aren't as loud as their ported counterparts but some say they have a tighter, punchier sound.

Frequency response - Frequency response is a way of describing the range of bass frequencies that a subwoofer is capable of producing. Generally, humans cannot hear sounds at levels lower than 20 Hz, so subwoofers that can reach frequencies lower than that will provide tones that you can feel, even if you can't hear them. However, you need a powerful subwoofer to reproduce these deep tones.

The Bottom Line

The purpose of a good subwoofer isn't just to shake your entire house during every action scene in a movie. The lower bass frequencies that a quality 12" sub provides can extend the dynamic range to your home theatre speaker setup, giving you access to an immersive audio experience that you would otherwise be missing out on. The same can be said for music, a great subwoofer will bring out the dynamics of your favorite tunes.


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