You’re setting up your man cave, and you want subwoofers to boost your home theater system. High-quality subwoofers can be expensive, while mediocre subwoofers are cheaply made and may not last long. How do you choose the best home theater subwoofer under $500 for your cave? This review will give you an idea of what to look for and how to choose the best subwoofer for you.
What Makes A Great Subwoofer?
Most home theater speakers have an excellent treble element, but often lack the bass, which allows your music or movie to be an immersive experience. Bass is what brings your film or music to life, and without it, it becomes lifeless.
The best subwoofer under $500 is an objective choice, according to Gary Yacoubian, president, and CEO of SVS. Objective, because subwoofers only do a few things, so it is easier to judge them by those standards.
Subwoofers are designed to take the bass level below human hearing levels, which is 20 Hz. A great subwoofer will be able to go down to 30 Hz, or lower, with a clean bass. The higher-priced subwoofers will go down as little as 30-40 Hz, but experts say that anything more than 30 Hz is a waste because the bass doesn’t get any better from there.
Ideally, internal amplifiers will create a smooth bass sound regardless of how loud the speakers are, and a great subwoofer’s amplifier will hold up to any explosion or drums, without falling flat, distorted, or sounding like a bad washing machine.
Your subwoofer should be able to start and stop immediately with no lag time. If your music suddenly picks up a heavy drum beat or bass guitar, your subwoofer should be able to keep up with that sudden change. Likewise, if it suddenly slows down or goes soft, the subwoofer should stop as well.
What is the Difference Between a Subwoofer and a Speaker?
A subwoofer and speaker are not the same. A speaker projects sound as presented, while a subwoofer enhances the bass, providing full sound. Subwoofers increase the speaker’s output by blending the range of notes and sounds your content produces.
While speakers amplify sound directly from your device, a subwoofer will create the experience of being there in person. A subwoofer extends the low-frequency capability of your speakers.
A choir has a mix of all voice ranges, including bass. Speakers and subwoofers act like a choir. Speakers produce high and mid-range sounds while the subwoofers produce low sounds.
Features of a Great Subwoofer
You don’t need the most expensive subwoofer to get a high-quality unit, but you do want a subwoofer that will give you the purest sound and bass for your money. Affordable subwoofers do not need to be expensive if you shop around for the best price.
The size of the “driver,” or cone, is what moves the sound through the unit. A more significant driver does not necessarily mean that your audio will be better, while a smaller driver does not mean that your audio will be worse. It is good to find a balance in size and other features for the best sound.
Size also matters when it comes to the cone. The larger the surface area of the cone, the deeper the bass will be, up to about 12”. After that size, you begin to lose bass and overall sound quality.
The best size will depend on your preferences. An 8” subwoofer will go best in a bedroom or office, while a 12” subwoofer will go better in a large living room or home theater. If you prefer to “blast” your music or movie, a larger size will accommodate your preference.
The power rating of a subwoofer makes a difference in sound. A large subwoofer with a power rating of 500 watts or more placed in a small room would overpower the room, but a small subwoofer with less than 300 watts in a large room would not be noticed. The size of your subwoofer should match the size of the room you want to place it in, as well as how hard or soft you want your sound to be.
5 Best Subwoofers Under $500
Check out our top five recommendations for the best subwoofer under $500.
Polk Audio PSW111 Compact Subwoofer
Klipsch 12” 400 Watts Wireless Subwoofer
JBL Stage 120 12” 500 Watts Subwoofer
Earthquake Sound FF12 12” Front Firing Subwoofer
Sony HT-S350 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer
The Bottom Line
The best home theater subwoofer for under $500 is the Klipsch with the wireless subwoofer, as it can wirelessly pair with any smart device. It also provides the surround sound that we are looking for in a home theater system, making the entire entertainment experience much better.