Those craving for a top-notch quality for their home theater or acoustic systems’ sound need the best subwoofer under 500 dollars. It’s a money-saving decision since these products are the entry-level models from the audiophile’s point of view, but they can reproduce deep bass and balance all the frequencies being hooked up to home equipment.
The list deals with powered (active) subwoofers that are indispensable for commercial acoustic systems and home theaters, as the surround sound AVRs lack a built-in amp for the low-frequency channel. In turn, the active subs are fitted with a crossover to use a room-specific equalizer for proper settings. Even the best subwoofer under 500 dollars is a cheaper solution than investments in a separate crossover or external amp.
The list of models includes items with different power output, frequency response, cones’ sizes, and other parameters that affect the soundstage. One can find a sub in conformity with the room size and layout, musical preferences, and available audio equipment. Note that some of the models below feature extras to look and operate closer to the high-end models.
Best Subwoofer under $500 Reviews
Polk Audio PSW10 – best home theater subwoofer under $500
Looking for the best home theater subwoofer under 500 dollars for a small or mid-sized room? The Polk Audio PSW10’s 100 watts are enough to fill a little space with loud and clear bass. It has a compact design (16.2 x 14 x 14.4 inches) coupled with a large front-wiring 10-inch driver for greater power output, less distortion, and no booming. This powered model focuses on clarity rather than power, boosts the whole surround sound system’s dynamic range, and allows using AVRs without a built-in amplifier for the bass channel.
The sub features a crossover of 80–160 Hz and a frequency response of 40–160 Hz. It ensures quality musical performance, tight and accurate tones regardless of content (games, music, or movies). It’s not recommended to turn the volume all the way up to avoid mud and the sub’s overpowering the music.
The unit is made of MDF board and has a silver-colored front panel. The model is available in black and cherry-colored vinyl finish. The PSW10 has a removable black grille on the front panel, input, and outputs on the back. The sub is equipped with a volume, phase, and Low Pass Control controls. The latter allows adjusting lows for the left and right inputs to integrate them with music while playing the stereo source content. The three-level power control to enable/disable the sub or to leave it in auto mode.
- Both speaker-level and line-level inputs are on board.
- Drums and other percussion-heavy instrumentals sound clearer.
- The sub’s cabinet is robust due to the internal bracing.
- No cables for input, output, or a speaker wire in the package.
- The lack of a magnetic shield causes electrical interference when a sub is next to a TV or PC/laptop.
Video Polk Audio PSW10
Speaking of the best subwoofer for home theater under $500, the Klipsch R-120SW should come to mind. This model is remarkable for its 400 watts of peak power, 29 – 120 Hz of frequency response, 200 watts of RMS, and 12-inch spun-copper Injection Molded Graphite (IMG) diver that makes it strong enough to resist flexing and, as a result, to eliminate distortions. Besides, it looks very attractive with shining exterior and interior surfaces combined with copper pins for the grille.
This powered sub is equipped with an all-digital amplifier to adjust a sub, making it reproduce a true-to-source sound. Phase control and a low-pass crossover adapts a sub to the speakers and makes it blend with them considering the room’s size and layout. They make the bass sound balanced with highs and trebles. The sub’s low-frequency response is in the range of 29 – 120 Hz, adding realism to various sound effects. So, both explosions in movies and double bass passages in hard-rock music are immersive and natural.
The unit is made of a reinforced MDF covered with a textured wood grain vinyl. This model comes with a detachable grille and replaceable feet. The R-120SW has an LED power indicator to display the on/off status of the sub.
- The unit has a full set of inputs (Line level/LFE RCA) to match any model of AVR.
- This model is capable of producing ground-shaking bass even in a large room.
- An extra bass port on the back panel enhances the sound.
- The cabinet and driver are not weatherproof, as a sub is constructed for indoor use.
- The lack of the sub cable input makes people use a Y adaptor.
Video Klipsch R-120SW
Those seeking for the best home subwoofer under 500 bucks should consider the compact (12.5 x 15.7 x 14 inches) Klipsch R-10SW with a 10-inch driver, 150 RMS, and 300 of peak power. Being an active model, it helps create an immersive sound environment with balanced tones in a small or medium-sized room (approximately 14 x 14 feet). The unit is compatible with the receivers that have a preamp subwoofer output. Note that it cannot be connected to an amplifier (speaker) output.
The R-10SW provides clean and tight bass with much oomph. At the same time, it sounds well-balanced at high frequencies. Using the crossover, one can make the sound that is maximally close to reality with just a little coloration. No rattles or vibrations are noticeable, but the sub compliments other speakers despite their brands.
The unit is made of brushed aluminum veneer and painted black. The driver is engineered as an aluminum cone with copper covering. A removable black fabric grille covers the front panel protecting a driver from dust. The standard 3-feet power cord is in the package, but it’s necessary to buy a dedicated subwoofer cable.
- The sub enters the sleeping mode if there is no signal for 10 minutes.
- The low-resonating bass in the range of 40 – 120 Hz is powerful even at low volumes.
- The frequency response rating is at 32 Hz only, which is not low enough for home theaters since many movies hit the rating below 25 Hz and even 20 Hz in some scenes.
- The dials are not categorized on the rear panel that makes it difficult to adjust them blindly.
Video Klipsch R-10SW
BIC America F12 – best powered subwoofer under $500
Both audiophiles and casual listeners should pay attention to the Bic F12 if they want to acquire the best powered subwoofer under $500. This powered sub is rated at 475 watts of the peak and 150 watts of RMS power.
It reproduces a clean bass without hums with different tracks, whether it deals with rock, country, or classical music. The distortion is not noticeable at all volume levels. The unit features good frequency separation, for example, sub-bass from melodic bass and instrumental layers.
It can be connected to a receiver with an RCA or regular subwoofer output. It’s also possible to hook a sub up to a receiver with a regular speaker output if it allows customizing the output for that line. Besides, a shielded subwoofer cable is crucial in this case.
This model is magnetically shielded and can boast gold plated terminals. It comes with a detachable black cloth rack instead of a durable hardcover. That’s why it starts vibrating and producing the flopping sounds when the sub works at high power and volumes.
- No port rattle is audible.
- The unit has a convenient 180-degree phase switch, quality inputs, and knobs on the amplifier.
- The sub is fitted with Dolby Digital/DTS and Dolby Pro Logic inputs.
- The sub is rather big, having 17 x 14.8 x 17 inches in size, and extremely heavy, weighing 41.2 pounds.
- It overpowers other speakers sometimes.
Video BIC America F12
Yamaha NS-SW050BL – best subwoofer for music under $500
It’s rather challenging to choose the best subwoofer for music under 500 bucks among tons of subwoofers on the market, but the Yamaha NS-SW050BL is worth sharing. It matches multi-channel acoustic systems installed in small and mid-sized rooms about 15 x 30 feet since it has a relatively small 8-inch driver and a 100-watt dynamic power.
This powered subwoofer with an active speaker delivers a small amount of tight and not booming low frequencies. Still, their quality is flawless and helps create a surround sound stage with well-balanced tones. The entire range of frequencies sounds crisp, detailed, and warm.
The NS-SW050BL features a neat design with input and volume knob on the back panel. The power switch is also there close to the bottom. A curved thick plastic grill on the front panel is not removable. It’s a portable device with small dimensions (13.4 x 11.5 x 11.5 inches) and a weight of just 18.7 pounds that makes it easier to find a proper place for it in a small room.
- The unit is equipped with branded Twisted Flare Port to minimize the noise of air turbulence.
- The Advanced YST II tech makes the low range response (28–200 Hz) more accurate and stable and ensures natural and energetic bass.
- The sub can hardly be integrated with the high-end music systems because of only 50 watts of RMS and a small driver.
- It lacks the crossover frequency dial.
The R-12SW might become the best music subwoofer under $500 thanks to its versatility that lets the users enjoy bright lows while watching movies and listening to music. This device features 400 watts of dynamic power that is enough for large spaces. It’s even recommended to turn down the bass in a small room to avoid unnecessary rattle.
The unit has a 12-inch copper driver. The latter is a front-firing cone that broadens the scope for its placement. The low-frequency response of 29 – 120 Hz ensures distortion-free bass for a wide range of audio and video content.
The MDF enclosure with black polymer veneer coating can boast a minimum of vibration. The detachable mesh is strong and easy to remove. The sub has 14 x 18.5 x 16 inches in size and weight 33 pounds. Its controls for customization are on the back. It deals with level control for a sub’s volume along with other elements of the system, the phase control, and low-pass crossover. The LFE and stereo inputs make the sub compatible with new and old receivers. There is a power indicator on the front panel to show the sub’s status.
- The sub’s phase switch works flawlessly when it balances the overlapping frequencies between the main speakers and the sub, reducing the amount of unwanted mid-bass.
- The R-12SW is a ported model with a front-firing port on the back to make the bass more efficient.
- The Standby mode lasts for 20 minutes that is rather long compared with many other models’ 10 or 15 minutes.
- The driver rattles sometimes.
- The range of bass notes is limited that doesn’t matter for home theaters but not enough for acoustic systems.
While discussing options for buying the best musical subwoofer under $500, let’s consider the Polk Audio HTS with a 10-inch down-firing woofer and 200 watts of power that extends strong bass throughout the mid-sized spaces. The branded Power Port tech ensures deep bass response and less port noise thanks to the high-quality turbulence-smoothing diffuser.
This model reproduces a clean and crisp bass that stays precise even at high volumes. It produces well-balanced bass being connected to the acoustic systems. The good frequency response (25 – 180 Hz) makes the sub produce powerful beats when it is integrated into the home theater system. However, the bass is a bit booming and overpowers the movie’s sounds and voices.
The sub is a compact (14 x 13 x 14 inches) but a bit heavy (37.8 pounds) model. It is made as a cube with rounded corners, removable grill on the front panel, and small rubber feet. All the inputs and controls are on the back. It’s possible to use RCA input to run a signal directly to the sub or to connect it with the receiver. The controls allow adjusting the volume and low pass to the user’s liking.
- The unit has both LFE and stereo levels to become a component of either 2-channel music or multi-channel home theater systems.
- The sub is available in different colors: classic brown walnut and washed black.
- The unit has a low-throw driver with a nonlinear excursion that might cause distortions sometimes.
- The sub is not magnetically shielded, limiting the scope of placement. It should be on the floor only far from other devices’ screens and monitors.
The SVS SB-1000 meets the requirements of the best subwoofer for home theater under $500, having a 12-inch driver and 720-watt peak power (300 RMS). The appliance is fitted with FEA-optimized internal motor tech to provide powerful output with a minimum of distortions.
It produces clear and deep lows in the range of 24 –260 Hz throughout the large rooms. The built-in digital signal processor (DSP) helps the sub blend with other components of home theater and music systems, regardless of the channels’ number.
This model comes in black, ash, and black colors. It is a compact (14 x 13 x 13.5 inches) and relatively lightweight (27 pounds) device with inputs and controls on the back. It also has a powder-coated removable grill. The power indicator is under the grill, showing blue light when the sub is on and red when it is off. The sub is a sealed model, meaning no port on the rear or side panel. This feature makes it work at peak power for louder lows but, at the same time, allows producing the more accurate bass. The sub’s cabinet is rigidly braced and the woofer is made of fiber composite with a rubber surround.
- A vented construction provides proper cooling.
- The sub features extremely low power consumption of 0.5 Watt in a standby mode compared with other similar subs.
- A cutoff for deep bass under 35 Hz is audible.
- Although the panels are made of MDF that makes the sub durable, the side and back panels are thinner than a front one.
Video SVS SB-1000
This self-powered two-ported model is remarkable for its 1000 Watts of dynamic power to help create an immersive soundstage in the largest rooms. It has an outstanding BASH amplifier that can save the built-in amp’s energy and prevent it from heating at peak power. The sub reproduces clear lows without distortion and handles bass nuances well without overpowering other frequencies.
The lows come through the shiny metallic 12-inch poly-injected driver with foam surround for greater extension and retraction. In this way, the driver moves forward and backward further, contributing to greater airflow and, as a result, louder and deeper tones. The downside is that the driver flaps while moving.
The sub has all the necessary controls to choose a configuration that meets the home theater or acoustic system components’ requirements. The unit has an auxiliary input on the rear panel along with RCA one for older equipment.
This model is made of MDF with hand-rubbed lacquer on the top and a removable fabric grille on the front. It is heavy and large, weighing 42.9 pounds and being 17.25 x 14.875 x 19.5 inches in size. Generally, this model can boast a durable horizontally and vertically braced construction with the vinyl wrap without seams, tight screws, and rubber feet.
- Even 50% of the volume is enough to fill a room with powerful bass.
- Two flared ports decrease rattle and noise, making the sub’s placement easier.
- Although the unit produces bass in the range of 22 – 200 Hz, lows under 30 Hz are hardly audible in movies.
- The sub doesn’t come out of the standby mode instantly. It’s necessary to increase the volume to make it start working.
Video Bic Acoustech PL200ii
Since the best powered subwoofer under 500 dollars is a real credit to the home music system, bear in mind the portable Yamaha NS-SW100BL with 100 watts of dynamic power. The sub is suitable for small spaces, providing enough bass and taking up little room (it is only 16.2 x 13.9 x 13.9 inches in size). The Advanced YST II tech provides the lows’ linear excursion, meaning fewer distortions. The twisted port on the side panel also adds quality to the bass. It is tight, smooth, and clear. The minimum bass response is 25 Hz and the maximum one is 180 Hz. Note that the sub produces weak mid-bass from 40–100 Hz; that’s why it’s better to calibrate the crossover to 80 Hz.
The sub has a volume control, power indicator, power switch, and input terminal on the back panel. It features a sturdy construction and doesn’t vibrate even at peak power.
- It’s a lightweight model (26.5 pounds).
- The sub comes with either black, walnut, or white finish to choose the model that fits the interior.
- The sub lacks auto mode. A user has to manually turn it on and off.
- It has one RCA input and no LFE input for amps/receivers that don’t have a subwoofer output and built-in crossover.
Is a Subwoofer Really Necessary?
Subwoofers are the crucial elements of home theater systems since they make low-frequency sound effects louder and more realistic. Subs are also important for music systems even if speakers have their own large woofers. Most people used to think that an external sub just adds bass. However, the best $500 subwoofer enhances the sound’s depth and makes it more immersive that allows users to dispense with the equipment’s upgrades. Unlike speakers, the subs get to 40 Hz and lower that reveals the clarity of the bass tones and take the load of the speakers’ amplifiers, saving their performance at high volumes and peak power.
What to Expect Buying a Subwoofer under $500?
The best subwoofers under 500 bucks can enhance the bass and general audio quality, but, unlike the high-end models, they have smaller drivers’ sizes and cannot provide extremely large bass volumes. Nevertheless, it is meaningful for sound reinforcement in large spaces or nightclubs, but it doesn’t influence the sound quality of music systems installed in the small, medium-sized, or even large rooms.
Main Features of the Quality Subwoofer
Before choosing the best subwoofer under $500, one should commit to its drivers’ size. The average 10 – 12 inches are quite enough to take the full advantage of low frequencies. If the users prefer their walls to shake, they can opt for models with 15 or even 18-inch drivers. What else to look for in a quality unit?
- Frequency response in the range of 20–200 Hz. The decent models feature at least 35 Hz of the lowest frequency they can reproduce. In this way, they can save the instruments’ tone and balance within a track. The lower is the bottom threshold of this range, the more bass a sub produces.
- Power of at least 150 watts. The extended bass reproduction needs moving much air, and only powerful models are capable of that. Besides, they provide clear lows without distortions.
- Subwoofer box type. Sealed boxes are not booming, but they provide more punch. Vented models cut off lows, playing louder and with less power. However, they can prevent overheating. Bandpass units give both power and efficiency, but they usually have a narrower frequency range.
- Crossover’s frequency is near 80 Hz (THX standard). However, it is necessary to choose a sub with a crossover 10Hz above the speakers’ frequency range. The right crossover’s frequency provides optimal interaction with speakers.
- Adjustable sound. Many subs are fitted with the pre-set equalization to make adjustments, depending on audio content.
Even if the best sub under 500 dollars is in front of you, just bear in mind how the driver is mounted. Front-firing models direct the sound from the front of the sub’s cabinet right to the listener’s ear. Down-firing items push the sound down that must disturb neighbors on the floor below. The driver’s location doesn’t contribute to sound quality.