A subwoofer, also called a sub, is a loudspeaker used to reproduce sounds of low audio frequencies. Even under 500 dollars, there is a good variety of subwoofer options available in the market. But the thing is, you need to choose a particular sub from a huge list based on its driver size, powered ratings, frequency range, and mainly your room size.
So to make your job easier, in this article, I have taken a list of the top 8 affordable subwoofers under $500. I have also explained their features and to whom it is best for in detail. With that said, let me take you through my article.
REVIEWS OF THE BEST SUBWOOFER UNDER 500
1) Polk Audio PSW10 - Best Budget SUBWOOFER
The first on my list is this 50 watts subwoofer from Polk Audio. If you are looking for a mid-sized subwoofer to place on your bookshelf or TV stands, then this can be a good choice. It has a 10-inch subwoofer driver to deliver crisp and clear sounds with negligible distortion.
As this is a wired-powered subwoofer, you have to set up the subwoofer system using the RCA lines provided at the back of the subwoofer. Moving on to the build quality of the Polk Audio PSW10. I really liked the compact structure of this subwoofer. It is only 14.5 inches long, but the thing is it is slightly heavy (26 pounds) as it is made of top-quality MDF.
About its performance: I purchased this PSW10 subwoofer last Christmas, and I expected only a mediocre level performance from it as it costs only less than 200 dollars. But this sub's performance stunned me. The sub has a wide frequency range of 40Hz-to-160Hz, so I could get that loud sound that too with almost negligible distortion.
Overall I am happy that I purchased this product, and I highly recommend you purchase this as it is definitely a steal for the price.
2) Polk Audio PSW505 - BEST SUBWOOFER FOR SMALL ROOM
Next up in my list is a similar version to the PSW10 mentioned above. The PSW505 powered subwoofer is slightly heavier and bulkier when compared to a PSW10 sub. It weighs 48 pounds and has a height of 16 inches.
The driver coil measures 12 inches while the peak power values 460 watts. This means the subwoofer is capable of giving a power-packed performance. The lower frequency range is 23 Hz which means it is capable of handling low bass sounds effectively. The higher frequency value is the same as that of a PSW10 subwoofer (160 Hz).
Another exciting feature in its design is that it includes a magnetic shield casing to place it near your TV comfortably, and you will not hear any distortion or buzzing sounds. The toggle switch on the subwoofer allows you to switch on and off the device easily.
Overall you will get the best feel while listening to melody songs and low bass music with this subwoofer.
3) BIC AMERICA F12 - BEST HOME SUBWOOFER UNDER 500
Were you looking for a large-sized affordable subwoofer system to add to your home theatre? Then this is the one. The BIC AMERICA F12 is 21" inches long and almost 47 pounds in weight. The subwoofer is helpful for home parties where the sound can reach the entire hall and be heard in the next room.
When you compare this front-firing BIC AMERICA F12 subwoofer with Polk PSW10, the bass quality is even more, better here but lesser than PSW505.
The subwoofer has a sturdy build as it is made of MDF material and has got RCA plug-ins at the back for easy connection. The driver coil measures 12" while the subwoofer's peak power accounts to 475 watts. This peak power is definitely higher than PSW505 or a PSW510, but the RMS (amount of load the sub can handle continuously) is slightly low (150 W) in comparison to PS505.
However, for a price point of 210$-230$, it is still one of the best subwoofers in the market.
Lastly, a few words about the Company: The BIC Formula Theater Series carries the legacy of the first Formula Series introduced in 1973. They offer an output capability like the ones in live rock bands or concerts. This sub is the result of all the refinements of the previous subs in its category. As years passed, the BIC Formula Theatre Series became more advanced and took a place in the market. They are listed best in many categories and have great features.
4) KLIPSCH REFERENCE R-10SW - BEST STUDIO SUBWOOFER UNDER 500
Half the price of Polk Audio PS505 but provides the same dynamic bass response! Yes, I'm speaking about the KLIPSCH REFERENCE R-10SW subwoofer with top-notch features like 300W dynamic power (Peak power), a 10" front-firing driver, making it the best companion for a 5.1 surround system.
The Klipsch R-10SW is equipped with a 150W amplifier to give you than extraordinary listening experience while listening to rock music, playing games, or even watching movies. It is flexible and hence can be placed in any room for enhancing the bass on demand.
It provides an amazing wide-frequency response of 32 - 120 Hz with minimal cone breakup and distortion.
This sub gives you an even and smooth dispersion of bass, depending on the size of your room.
You can trust this brand because the company has its value and promises to develop the best features for each model of subs.
5) KLIPSCH R-12SW - BEST POWERED SUBWOOFER UNDER 500
Suppose you want a little more punch than the previous RS-10SW, then what about trying this R-12SW! Similar to the previous sub and walking along the same lines, the R-12SW sub is one of a kind. But the dynamic and continuous power handling capacity of this R-12SW is slightly more. The peak power is 400W, while the RMS value is 200W.
The rest of the features remain quite the same as that of the R-12SW. The subwoofer is made of good quality MDF board and has a 10" front-firing driver to provide deep and clear bass. The frequency response is wide (32 Hz -120 Hz), which is also a bonus!
The company was founded by Paul W. Klipsch, who was an engineer, inventor, and certified genius. He was determined to make the audio quality of movies and shows a big hit.
He always wanted the world to be a better-sounding place. Hence, the company's tag says, "You're not buying a speaker - you're buying a piece of American audio history." which is true in all senses. The Klipsch company has great respect in the speaker market, and hence its credentialing can be fully trusted.
6) BIC Acoustech PL-200 II - VERSATILE front firing subwoofer
If you are looking for the top home subwoofer under 500 which looks and sounds great then you can check out PL-200 II subwoofer. It is driven by a state-of-the-art BASH amplifier which has the capacity to deliver up to 1000-watts peak output. Thus, there is no doubt about the audio quality of this sub.
Its 8-year warranty makes it valuable and thus gives the consumers a total benefit for buying it. Its design and gross black colour emphasize it looks and makes it a good choice. Its looks make it an impressive addition to your home theatre. This sub is great for use.
7) YAMAHA NS-SW050BL - BEST SUBWOOFER FOR MUSIC
Also called as the compact subwoofer, this sub incorporates a lot of features or Yamaha, advanced technologies and perfect services. As they say "Yamaha knows music", this beautiful sub produces excellent bass and enriches the experience of watching a movie at home or making a mini home theatre, grooving on a song or simply watching TV. This makes your audio system an absolute glory.
Yahama has wide recognition in the world and its services are well known throughout the world. The Yamaha 8" is a perfect sub for your house and looking at the history of its use, its usability and value can be inferred.
8) YAMAHA NS-SW100BL - BEST CAR SUBWOOFER UNDER 500
Similar to the Yamaha 8" 100W sub, this is bigger in size. The features and descriptions of both the subs are almost the same except for a few minor details including the size and price.
As mentioned earlier, Yamaha is a trusted company and has been in the market for years and hence its products can be trusted. Over the years, the subs have upgraded and evolved but the basic quality of Yamaha remains the same. The market trusts the products of Yamaha and their external services are also very good.
PURPOSE OF SUBWOOFER
A simple home theater system consist of soundbars or speakers, AV receiver and subwoofer. Sometimes they are also used in surround sound system for your PC. Subwoofer's main purpose is to amplify the low-frequency range of loudspeakers that mostly cover the higher frequency noises.
Technically speaking, the word "subwoofer" refers to the speaker driver. But in layman terms, the word often refers to the subwoofer driver mounted in a cabinet (a speaker enclosure) with an amplifier. The first subwoofer was made in the 1960s to enhance the bass in home stereo systems.
The frequency range of a subwoofer is between 20 to 200 Hz for basic consumer products, less than 100 Hz for professional sounds used by artists and below 80Hz in THX approved audio systems (normally used in professional theatres or cinema sound systems)
Types of Subwoofers
Subwoofers form a key element in almost any stereo system and hence their role is very crucial in audio systems. Subwoofers have many sizes, types and models. There are mainly two types of subwoofers:
A. Passive subwoofers.
B. Active subwoofers.
Passive subwoofers have a driver, enclosure and an external amplifier. While active subwoofers have a built-in amplifier. They were popular in the 1970s by the introduction of Sensurround sound in movies like Earthquake which produced a very loud low-frequency sound.
IMPORTANCE OF SUBWOOFERS
In-home music or theatre audio system sub-woofers play a crucial role in enhancing LFE (Low-frequency effects). If you don't have a proper subwoofer, you will be missing out on a lot of low pitched sounds. It is the low-frequency sounds, that is responsible for the full, rich, three-dimensional effect that we love in soundtracks or in music.
If those sounds are discarded, you won't be able to experience an overall dimension of the movie or music. With that said, subwoofers are small and hence can be concealed anywhere without taking a lot of space. While a normal audio system with 2 speakers cannot emphasize on the bass, an affordable $500 subwoofer is more than enough to add to your sound system.
How to choose the best subwoofer
Now that you’ve understood the subwoofer types and the top subwoofers under 500$ go through the points given below, which will help you easily purchase the right sub.
While purchasing a brand new sub box, ask yourself this question. Where will you be placing it, and will the space be good enough to accommodate it? This might seem less relevant but remember, if you set the subwoofer in the right place, you can enjoy the clear sound quality with “harsh booming” sounds.
If you will be placing it on a TV shelf or under your working table, then an 8-inch/10-inch will be suitable. However, remember this a larger sub driver (say 12-inches) can create a deeper bass than a small subwoofer driver (6-inches). You can measure it by seeing the subwoofer’s frequency range.
2. FREQUENCY RESPONSE:
The frequency response measured in hertz tells the range of frequencies the subwoofer can handle. A subwoofer with a broader frequency range means it is capable of reproducing sounds at different frequencies.
And what should be the frequency range for an ideal affordable subwoofer? Well, depending on your preference, the higher frequency range will change; however, every subwoofer is expected to have a lower frequency value close to 20hz (the frequency that the human ear can detect); only then you can hear the subwoofer’s sound.
The power of a subwoofer refers to how loud the subwoofer is capable to play. It is measured in watts. Two specifications are used to represent the power of this device; RMS and peak power. RMS (Root Mean Square) represents the amount of power that a subwoofer can handle when operated continuously. The peak power value is the total amount of power that a subwoofer can handle in short bursts within a specified interval.
Even a mid-range subwoofer can deliver amazing audio output, provided you select one with a higher power rating. A subwoofer power rating will tell you how loud the subwoofer’s sound will be. As you know, the higher the subwoofer’s power rating, the heavier the bass effects will be. You have to look at two power values while purchasing a new subwoofer which are: RMS (Root mean square) and the Peak power of the subwoofer.
RMS will tell you how much power a subwoofer can handle when used continuously. However, peak power will tell you how much load (power) a subwoofer can handle within a time period.
But note this generally subwoofers can go up to 75-80% of the peak power, meaning you can’t always expect 100%of the peak power to be delivered by the device all the time.
4. DRIVER OR CONE
You must have seen this part in every subwoofer, right? This is nothing but the subwoofer driver or subwoofer cone. Have you ever wondered how a subwoofer can give an analog signal? The reason for a subwoofer to achieve that is because of this cone circuitry.
A subwoofer driver is a transducer that will move in response to the audio signal, thereby converting the electrical signals to mechanical signals. Typically, larger cones of about 12 inches are capable of delivering a strong bass and improved sound quality than subwoofers with smaller drivers.
5. DO YOU WANT A PORTED OR A SEALED SUBWOOFER?
The below image is an example of a sealed subwoofer. In a sealed subwoofer, either its front or rear part will be hidden inside the subwoofer box. So you can hear the sound output only from the open end.
However, in a ported subwoofer, as you see in the figure, you will notice a subwoofer provided with one or two ports. These ports act as vents for the air to escape out of the subwoofer box. So which is better, a ported or sealed sub? Well, if you want a smaller-sized subwoofer box, a sealed sub is recommended. However, if you wish to get a heavier bass, a ported sub is suitable.
Impedance matching is very important for every electrical circuit. So when you purchase a new sub, see if the impedance rating (ohms) matches with your amplifier’s impedance value.
NOTE: lower the value of speaker impedance, the more efficiently an amplifier can supply power to it.
7. OTHER FACTORS
Make sure that the subwoofer’s amplifier is strong enough to power the driver. It also becomes important to see that the subwoofer's frequency range and other crossover settings blend perfectly with your main speakers. Also it needs to have a linear driver, an accurate and powerful amplifier and a well designed built cabinet.
1. Which size subwoofer is best for home?
If you’re planning to install a subwoofer on a wall shelf or on a cupboard, an 8-10 inches subwoofer will be suitable. However, if your room space is big and you’re looking for a perfect home theatre experience, then a 12 -15 inches sub is preferred.
2. What makes a subwoofer good?
Though there are many features, you need to consider whether a subwoofer is good or not. I want to justify the two main qualities of a good subwoofer: Firstly, At lower frequencies, there are more chances of the sub to give harsh booming sounds. This means the sub is not capable enough of handling lower frequencies. A good-quality subwoofer should show better handling at lower frequencies (at around 20-30 Hz).
Secondly, even at higher volumes, the subwoofer should be able to deliver sounds with no distortion.
3. Is a 300 watt subwoofer good?
For home use, a subwoofer of 12” driver size and 100-200 watts RMS power is more than enough. But if you wish to amplify the sound levels even more, then a 300-350W subwoofer is most recommended. But make sure the sub's driver cone is large enough to handle the strong bass.
Subwoofers add on to your audio experience and they can provide an enriching experience. Using it for your home theater makes it a big hit for your movie and music experience. They not only enhance the audio quality but also provide greet bass to your TV.
While buying a sub, check the drive and power of the sub well before you move on to buy it. Passive subs are easy to use as compared to active subs so make sure your external and internal connections of the sub are apt. While buying a sub for your system, make sure you consult your dealer and it is fixed properly in your audio system.
The best subwoofer under 500 are a marvel to a boring audio system so if you are someone who loves the thrill and you want an overall three-dimensional experience while watching your favourite movie or TV show. Do not forget to add a subwoofer to your sound system.
Also, you can add 1 or 2 subs to fit well for your speakers. It totally depends on you how you want your theatre to sound while considering the size of the room and your sound system.
Hi, this is Michael. I have been a tech writer for the past four years and have written reviews for a lot of products. I’m a freelancing writer, and somewhere now managed to come with my new website ”Entertheunderworld”. My fundamental moto is to make sure my readers get the best products and honest reviews of the products they spend on.