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Last updated: October 23, 2020
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Looking for the best bass sound possible? The best subwoofer under $500 can ensure that you have a dedicated speaker for bass frequencies, pumping out a loud rumble, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get to this level. Finding the best subwoofers that are affordable can be a difficult task, but our guide is here to help and compare the realistic options.
We’ve created a list of the top subwoofer reviews for models under $500 and judged them on the main criteria people tend to look at when choosing a sub. The type and power is one of the main things that we have considered, as well as detailed information about the size and dimensions (it needs to fit in the space you have earmarked) and, of course, the sound quality and clarity of the sub. Nobody wants a sub that sounds like a low-end buzz with no clarity or accuracy.
The SVS SB-1000 subwoofer gives a surprising level of power for the price. It is towards the top end of the budget when looking for the best powered subwoofer under $500, but it justifies the price. The crossover is 50–160 Hz with a total frequency response of 24–260 Hz, so it is really taking care of the low rumble of music or in a home theater system.
A 12-inch cone means it isn’t the smallest product out there, but this is needed for the pumping bass provided.
300W RMS means that the cone can cope with having 300W of power pumped through it. This is an incredible level of volume that most bassheads will adore. The look of the product is simple, and quality is assured with a 5-year limited warranty, something that is even more impressive when you consider the inbuilt amp.
What makes it special? The very best thing about this is the clarity offered in the bass frequencies. A lot of products on the list have a huge level of power, 300W RMS is not unusual, but to have such a clear and high-fidelity sound to go with this power is a huge bonus.
What cons did we find? Ideally, this sub could cost a little less. It’s not overly expensive, but it does push that $500 budget, so might be a bit pricey for some home theater systems. While it isn’t the most expensive sub, there are cheaper options if you are willing to sacrifice some clarity.
Polk is a brand known for producing some good quality audio equipment that doesn’t cost a fortune, and this sub is one of the best subs under $500 if you are looking for value. It keeps the power level some of the competitors have, with a 300W RMS, but it also has a good sound to go with it.
The slot load venting is designed to lessen any noise that can occur, so you are getting precision sound and a big bass response.
It’s made out of MDF, which does a decent job of caging the large 12-inch “long throw” cone. This is designed to make the sound more inclusive and make it travel around the room better.
The low pass crossover and phase, plus full control over volume, means you can alter the speaker so that the bass doesn’t get too overpowering or give it a boost if it is getting drowned out.
Why are we impressed? It is hard not to like the affordability of this speaker. Some of the elements used to produce it are not the highest of quality, but they are more than good enough for most home audio setups. This costs half of what some of the other best home subwoofer under $500 set you back, with plenty of the benefits of pricier models.
What negatives must you be aware of? If we are to be quite critical, the casing can be quite prone to a bit of rattling when the volume is high. This is only really a problem if you are pushing this sub to its maximum capabilities. Most music and theater users will not have any sort of hum or rattle when listening.
Another option from Polk. The Polk Audio PSW10 10″ Powered Subwoofer is a great model if you need something that powers itself, but it also has some claim to being the best studio subwoofer under $500. The frequency response starting at a low 35 Hz means that it is suitable for studio use, and though this doesn’t have the highest power rating (50W RMS) that is absolutely fine for a controlled studio environment.
It has an adjustable crossover from 80–160 Hz, and the 10-inch cone packs plenty of punch. Polk’s standard 3-year limited warranty is in place with this model.
In spite of being very reasonably priced, this sub has some smart features to help avoid distortion and other unwanted audio glitches.
What do we love it for? The Klippel distortion analyzer is really state of the art and manages to analyze and adjust based on whether there is anything within the build of your own sub that could potentially cause buzz or distortion. This is something we’d really expect to see in more high-end and expensive models. The design and build-quality for the price are pretty impressive. Naturally, we like the price, too. This is one of the most affordable models on our list of the best subwoofers and it could be an option for those on a tight budget.
What were we disappointed with? This is not a great choice for people who want to prioritize power. It’s a good sub in terms of clarity, but for a cinema room or other home theater setup it might not have all the power you are looking for to really rumble with the bass frequencies.
Warranty: 8-year limited on woofer; 5-year limited on amp
At the peak level, this can give a huge sound with a lot of power, all for a relatively reasonable price.
The 1000W peak is absolutely huge, but the continuous RMS is 250W, so you can’t constantly keep it at this sound level. It has an adjustable crossover but this only goes up to 90Hz. Some people would prefer the sub to handle frequencies a little higher than this.
The cone itself is one of the best things about the sub with a high-power magnet, poly-injected 12-inch design featuring a “long throw” feature. This means you don’t have to be as close to the cone to feel the benefits.
What do we love it for? The incredible BASH amplifier included is a brilliant addition and something not many speakers at this range can offer. These amps can deliver loads of power without wasting it and generating unwanted excess heat, for instance.
Another thing we really like is the way the cone really fills the room with sound. At the highest audio levels, it packs a real punch.
What were we disappointed with? The RMS is a significant compromise on the peak power, so you can’t run this at full capacity all the time. Also, the fact that the crossover setting is at such a low frequency is not ideal. A little more control over which frequencies are actually getting sent to this sub and what is being handled here would just make it in contention to be the best home theater subwoofer under $500.
Warranty: 5-year limited on drivers and cabinets; 3-year limited on electronics
We’ve named the Definitive Technology ProSub 800 Powered Subwoofer the best model with adjustable feet. If you are new to buying subwoofers then you might well think this is a fairly irrelevant feature, but if you are looking for the best home theater subwoofer under $500 and want something that can stand freely near your screen or other speakers, this is a great option.
It has 2-by-8-inch cones, a different design to some of the other subs on the list. The peak output is 600W, which is pretty generous, but a 300W RMS is what you will probably be running this sub at more of the time.
Where the crossover is set is up to you, with 40–150 Hz being possible for this subwoofer.
The sub comes with a variety of different connections, so it is easy to hook it up to whatever sound system you are running.
Why is it special? The adjustable feet really make a huge difference. Not only do they mean that you can have a sub that looks fantastic, but adjustable feet also mean a stable cone and level standing of the sub, which reduces the chance of any unwanted buzz or distortion occurring. There is a musical reason to adjustable feet! If you are using this sub on an uneven floor, you can get it perfectly level for perfect sound.
What are the flaws? Some people do not like the 2-by-8-inch design and thinks it lacks some of the “boom” required. A 14-inch cone might be preferable. It’s all a matter of personal preference, but some would say the power doesn’t translate quite as well into a big, room-filling sound.
Warranty: limited 5-year; limited 2-year on electronics
Many people are familiar with the Klipsch name and the Klipsch R-120SW Subwoofer lives up to their brand expectations.
This has a lot of controls, making it a good option for music and home theater options. If you want something that you can put in a room, and it can fire heavy bass no matter where you are sitting, this could be the option for you.
The frequency response is suitable for music or movies, and the crossover is variable so you can set the low-pass to the level you want.
There’s a five-year warranty overall, with two years of this covering the electronics. The build-quality is clear. The high excursion spun-copper Imp woofer cone is one of the most impressive elements and the copper design actually looks great, too.
What are our favorite features? The projection of the sound from this speaker, it doesn’t really matter where in the room it sits, the cone manages to project the audio for a better experience whether you are listening to music or just trying to create a bigger and better cinematic experience. The cone design is another big plus; “Injection Molded Graphite (IMG) woofer cones are exceptionally light while being extremely rigid” is taken from the description of the product.
What could be better? Though this is a well-made model in terms of the electrics inside, some users have found that there is a little buzz at certain frequencies or higher volumes. This could be due to the fact that it has quite a thin MDF frame. In an ideal world, for the money spent, different materials might be a better option. Generally, though, this is not a problem for the vast majority of people.
Warranty: limited 5-year; limited 2-year on electronics
This sort of product is the reason why Klipsch has such a huge reputation in the world of audio and subwoofers especially. A wireless sub has a lot of obvious benefits for playing from multiple audio sources and not having to cope with extra connections and wires.
This has an RMS of 150W, which is fine for most home setups, but it is nowhere near the most powerful option on our list. The 300W peak power is high enough for most home audio.
Of course, being wireless, you can put this anywhere and not have to worry about it. Many people take advantage of this by placing the sub higher up than they otherwise would.
It is easy to connect this to most audio systems, too, which makes for another big positive.
The frequency response is 32–120 Hz, great for bass, and on top of this, the variable low-pass filter means you can adjust the crossover.
What makes it stand out? Obviously, the wireless technology is the main benefit of this model. No more worrying about where you are putting your wires, and the 2.4GHz Wireless Hi-Fi Pre-Paired Transmitter is reliable and connects with most devices with relative ease.
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind? The MDF build is arguably the curse of the Klipsch product once again, as there are some examples of rumble or even distortion. Ideally, you need to use this with an all-Klipsch system to ensure that the wireless functionality reliably works.
Size does matter. There is no reason that you cannot have a powerful subwoofer even if space is at a premium, and the Yamaha YST-FSW150 YST II Down-Firing Active Subwoofer is one of the best for those worried about the dimensions. It’s just 5.9 inches high, which is great for an apartment or small space.
The brand is another thing in the favor of this model! Pretty much everyone has heard of Yamaha and you know you can rely on their quality.
There isn’t a controllable crossover, but the frequency response is 30-150 Hz. On top of this, the RMS output is 75W, which is not massive, but this is because of the small size of the design. If you want something bigger then you will probably get a louder, more powerful sound, but for an average living room, this is suitable.
There’s a one-year manufacturer warranty, which doesn’t quite stack up when compared to some of the other options on this list.
Why did it make our list? The size is a huge plus point! Naturally, it comes with compromises, and you shouldn’t go for this if you have endless space and want the loudest sound you can achieve. However, if you are looking for something that will go well in a TV cabinet, for instance, the Yamaha might give you the compact subwoofer under $500 you desire.
What is not ideal about it? We can’t really criticize the power. Though this is not one of the more powerful models on the list, it is just down to the size. The one-year warranty is one of the real downsides, and this simply doesn’t stack up against some of the other models which give up to 8 years of protection.
Your subwoofer inevitably forms a part of the decor in your home, and this means that it is important to think about style and looks. The Audioengine S8 looks fantastic, with a minimalist design suitable for pretty much any home you can imagine.
This model can be used as a part of an Audioengine system or with other brands of speakers. It makes use of the clever downfiring method to give a crisp and clear bass sound. Inputs are simple RCA and mini jacks, but this isn’t the only way you can get audio playing through this sub, as a wireless adapter is also available.
The design has a hand-finished look with a cabinet at the very front of the sub. It’s versatile and sounds good with music as well as in a home theater. 125W of RMS is plenty for most home systems.
The perfect cube design means this option is 11.25 x 11.25 x 11.25 inches.
Why is it special? The way this sub looks is the main thing that drew us in. An ugly-looking speaker system messes with your decor, but this modern and minimalist sub not only provides you with great audio, it fits in a modern “smart home” look.
What are the flaws? This is a bit of an “all-rounder” and as such it doesn’t excel at either home theater or music, it is a solid 7 out of 10 for both. Ideally, slightly higher fidelity and a wireless function built in would make this the ideal subwoofer.
If size isn’t a huge consideration, the Acoustic Audio PSW-15 Down Firing Powered Subwoofer could be ideal for you. It has a lot to like, and the 15-inch cone makes it ideal for giving a big, beefy bass sound. The 600W peak output is fairly high and a reliable 250W RMS is another big benefit.
Naturally, it’s a little large due to the 15-inch cone, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. You might have the space for it.
This has a crossover which can be set between 40 and 140 Hz.
There is a one-year limited warranty on the Acoustic Audio model, and one brilliant added benefit is the fact that it has a natural wood finish, meaning it looks good in a variety of home decors.
Why are we impressed? The big cone allows you to really feel the bass, with frequency response all the way down to 22 Hz. The cone also produces loud volumes, and the 250W RMS allows you to keep pumping the audio through this sub the whole time.
What negatives must you be aware of? There’s a lot to like, but a few disadvantages too. For many people, the one-year warranty will be off-putting. This is a cheaper sub, so there is an element of getting what you pay for. Of course, the size is a consideration, too. For some people, this subwoofer will simply be a bit too big.
Things to Consider
Our buying guide is designed to help you to make your choice on the best subwoofer under $500 for you. We’ve covered all sorts of home subwoofers and only ignored car subs. If you want the best car subwoofer under $500 then you will have to buy a specific product that is wired for use in a vehicle, as they work in a slightly different way to the subs on this list.
Our buying guide helps you to understand all of the terminology and buying requirements so you can ensure that you are making the right choice for your own personal needs. Everyone is looking for something slightly different when it comes to subwoofers.
Subwoofers under $500: What to expect?
If you spend over $500 on a home theater sub or a music sub you will be expecting the very best that the market has to offer. Truth be told, $500 is a budget that can get you a professional sub. At this price, you should probably be expecting:
A sub that is loud enough to fill the room.
Everything you need to get playing audio, all wires should really be included.
A frequency response down to around the 40 Hz or lower mark.
Features to consider before you buy a subwoofer under $500
Still confused? Don’t worry, we explain all of the features you need to think about below, so that you can make a properly informed decision on what is the best subwoofer for you. At $500, you certainly don’t want to choose something that lets you down when it comes to features and functionality.
Power output: Continuous and peak
The power output of a speaker of any kind can be measured. The power output will come with two ratings, continuous and peak, but what do these mean?
Continuous is how much power output the speaker can handle on an ongoing, continuous basis. Long periods of play at this amplitude. “Peak” refers to how much the speakers can handle in short bursts. Playing at this power level for long periods would inevitably cause damage to the speakers.
The frequency response refers to how low the bass can go. Human hearing is 20 Hz to 20 kHz (give or take) and we need a bass response to go down as close to the 20 Hz mark as possible. This gives a real thump and low-end response to the sound.
Some subs really struggle to hit the lower sounds and reproduce them if they are in a song. The Acoustic Audio PSW-15 down firing powered subwoofer is an example of one of the subwoofers under $500 that can handle very low sounds, reproducing 22 Hz with no problems (many people can’t even actually hear this low).
Crossover is another technical term you should learn about. The crossover can be thought of as where the subwoofer “takes over” from the other speakers, and where the sound starts to roll off. Each set of speakers is responsible for its own frequencies this way, leaving the sub to handle the bass for the best effects. Many of the models on this list have a range and allow you to choose the crossover. The SVS SB-1000 subwoofer lets you set the crossover to anywhere between 50 Hz and 160 Hz for the best possible results.
When setting the crossover, make sure you don’t end up with a gap in the audio where no speaker is accounting for those frequencies.
The size of the cone is usually the biggest thing to have an impact on the power and response, though the materials they are made out of are important too. A smaller cone may not give you quite so much punch The Yamaha option on the list is an example of this. It is designed to be tiny, so it fits in smaller spaces. While the sound is respectable, it doesn’t have the same hard-hitting bass of some of the bigger cones.
There are different ways of replicating the bass frequencies. Downfiring and front-firing are the two main ones you will see. Downfiring subs “aim” the bass frequencies toward the floor to give more of a deep punch and rumble. These are very good for home theater applications. Front-firing are more of a straightforward sound.
What does the cone of the sub, and the electronics, come encased in? The enclosure is important for a few reasons. It needs to look good, but more importantly it needs to provide you with a stable enclosure so you don’t get loads of buzzing or distorting of the audio because of the fact that the design is not coping with the vibrations.
Most of the subwoofers on our list are good when it comes to compatibility, but you need to check that they work with the specific speaker system you want to set them up with. Some of the wireless subwoofers create a bit more difficulty when it comes to setting up a full-system, and sometimes staying in the same brand can be the solution. For example, the Klipsch R-10SWi 10″ wireless subwoofer works best with other wireless speakers in the same brand.
Dimensions and weight
Think carefully about how much space you have for your subwoofer. If you are looking to kit out your room with five or seven speakers then it could be that you have to really think about this and be clever about the space you allocate and where the speakers will go. The weight is also another consideration when it comes to marking your carpets or just being simple to set up.
This is one of the key considerations when buying any electronic product, but definitely with subwoofers. You might be really surprised to learn about all the different models and just how much they vary in terms of what warranties they can offer. Some of the subs on this list offer just one year, which is okay, but not outstanding. Our editor’s pick, the SVS SB-1000 subwoofer, gives five years, and some others even provide up to 8 years of protection.
It’s tough to include extra features as subs are very simple products in their design. One of the most impressive extras is adjustable feet, which help you to get the sub in the right position and prevent any buzz from an uneven standpoint.
Some subs do also come with wireless adapters so you can turn them into wireless systems if you wish.
Naturally, the subwoofers on our list are all under the $500 mark at the time of writing, but there is a lot of variation within this price point. Some of the more affordable options are actually under $200, and some cheap subs can often do a very good job for music or theater, as long as they are used correctly.
A powered subwoofer works independently of any external amplifier. It does not need to have an amp constantly sending power to the speaker in order for it to work. A passive subwoofer needs another piece of equipment, an amp, to drive the cone. Effectively, powered subs have this inbuilt.
Wireless subwoofers can sound just as good, but you might need to ensure you spend a little more to get a lot of quality and that you don’t lose some of the frequencies that are being sent from a device, for example. Wireless systems can be tough to setup, and it is a good idea to stick with one brand for your wireless subs.
The way bass travels means that it doesn’t matter too much where you place a subwoofer. Some people say to avoid corners as the bass frequencies tend to be “attracted” to corners anyway, so this creates an overloading effect. Most subs will fill the room with bass no matter where they are placed.
Passive radiators require less power to do more work. They use the air pressure generated by small speakers to maximize the sound that is being produced. They create more resonance and reduce the amount a cone has to move to give the same level of vibrations.
Absolutely, a second sub can give more power in the bass frequencies and an “effortless” feel as you are not pushing one subwoofer to its limits to get the same sound, so compression and distortion become less of an issue.
The SVS SB-1000 subwoofer comes out on top of our list. It has the perfect balance between power and clarity, and while it costs a bit more than some people are happy to spend it does come in under the $500 mark. We’ve named it editor’s choice with a 9.9 out of 10 rating.
The Polk Audio PSW505 12″ powered subwoofer is next and gives exceptional value. It is just a tiny bit short of being able to make the top spot on our list. For the money, this could be the best subwoofer under $500 and certainly provides loads of power and projection for your audio setup.
The Polk Audio PSW10 10″ powered subwoofer is another very highly rated model, and has a bit more clarity, without the high level of power. This makes it a really good choice for home studios or audiophile setups, with a rating of 9.7 out of 10 on our list.