Whether on their own or part of a system these subs deliver
Surround speakers are essential of course but, if you really want your home setup to replicate the feeling of being at the cinema, you need at least one good subwoofer.The sub is often the most over-looked part of a system but it can be the most important element. Not only will it give greater impact to the effects in a film but it also underpins the other speakers, especially if you're using smaller satellites. The choosing, positioning and equalising of a subwoofer can be something of a black art but essentially, if you place it at the front between the centre and left or right speaker and use your receiver's EQ software then you should be in the ball park. Of course once you slip down that rabbit hole you'll have hours of fun tweaking and fine-tuning the performance of your sub or even subs. As far as choice goes, that will depend on your system and budget. It might be that you want to choose a sub from the same manufacturer as your other speakers and three of the subs on this list were originally reviewed as part of a speaker package. However you could also choose a separate sub and the other two on this list would certainly elevate the low frequency performance of any system. So, in no particular order, here are the best subwoofers that we've reviewed this year.BK Electronics P12-300SB - £379
Essex based manufacturer BK Electronics has been operating very successfully as a direct retailer of subwoofers and accessories for over twenty years. The no nonsense recipe of sound design solidly executed with high quality components has been a winning one and we have positively reviewed previous offerings from the company. The latest design to break cover is the P12-300SB active subwoofer which mates a 12 inch driver to a 300W built-in amplifier in both forward and downward firing configurations. The BK retails for £379 but if it had arrived for review at £600 or even £800, we would still have been seriously impressed. It has the specification, the build and most importantly the performance to more than hold its own against equipment at twice the price point. The P12-300SB could even be the AV bargain of 2015. Nothing at this price or within £200 of it can hold a candle to the all round competence of the BK and it represents the new lower line of where truly great sub bass performance can be bought. The P12-300SB is an unquestionable Best Buy and a superb achievement from BK Electronics.Monitor Audio Bronze W10 - £450
We actually reviewed the Monitor Audio W10 as part of their Bronze 5.1 speaker package. It's a sealed 200W active design that mates a forward-firing powered woofer - in this case a 10 inch version of the C-CAM driver - with a passive radiator. This is common enough in subwoofer design but Monitor Audio has been clever enough to put the radiator on the underside of the cabinet that ensures that the W10 only needs one side given much in the way of space rather than two that would be the case if the radiator was on a horizontal surface. The W10 is DSP controlled but this refers only to the crossover and phase settings being adjusted in the digital domain and not to their being any form of EQ present on the sub. The W10 delivers a confident and authoritative bass performance. It handles sustained low frequency effects extremely well and there is the same impressive detail retrieval to the bass channel that there is to the higher frequencies. The W10 manages to produce meaningful weight with effects but there is no sense of bloat or boom and it manages to do the all-important job of any sub and load a room with a believable sense of pressure. It's also a nicely designed and well made subwoofer that retails for around £450. As a result the W10 wins a gold medal for performance as part of Monitor Audio's latest range of Bronze speakers.Q Acoustics 3070S - £289
Q Acoustics have been consistently delivering speakers and subwoofers that defy expectations for years. Somehow they manage to keep producing products that both sound excellent and offer superb value. The 3070S subwoofer is immediately recognisable as a direct descendent of the previous 2000 Series model. The same distinctive configuration of a pair of 170mm drivers mounted above each other and placed in a tall, thin enclosure has been used and the result is recognisably Q Acoustics. Power comes courtesy of a 140W amplifier and connections are limited to a stereo input but in reality, we can't see too many customers looking to chain them at this price point. To be clear, the 3070 is still the best sub £300 subwoofer we know of and with action material and especially when receiving a dedicated LFE signal, it is powerful and assured. The 3070S was reviewed as part of the Q Acoustics 3000 range and at a cost of only £289 it is certainly worthy of a Best Buy badge.Sunfire XTEQ 12 - £1,800
The Sunfire XTEQ 12 is a subwoofer that uses a 12-inch driver powered by a 3 kilowatt amplifier and coupled with a matching passive radiator. It also includes a dedicated microphone and automated equalisation feature, along with multiple inputs including a balanced XLR connector. The Sunfire XTEQ 12 retails for £1,800 and is a fantastic subwoofer that delivers on the company's promise of creating a speaker that can deliver deep bass from a smaller cabinet. The appearance is about as attractive as a subwoofer can be when you consider that it's essentially a black 13-inch cube. The high gloss finish will look nice in any environment and the build quality is excellent. The entire cabinet sits on Anti-Walking Tread Design (AWTD) feet, designed to stop the subwoofer from moving across the room when it's generating a lot of bass, and thanks to the 3,000W amplifier it can certainly do that. Setup was very straightforward and the excellent Auto-EQ meant that the XTEQ 12 could seamlessly integrate into your room and with your system. The performance was absolutely superb, with a lovely deep bass that was evenly distributed around the room. The diminutive XTEQ 12 certainly have no trouble energising a home cinema setup and the non-ported nature of the XTEQ 12 made it very responsive, allowing it to easily keep pace with the fastest or most complex of tracks. However its three kilowatts of power meant that it could also deliver serious impact when it needed to but always in a controlled manner. As a result the Sunfire XTEQ 12 makes an ideal choice for anyone looking for a sub that can handle movies and music, as well as those seeking deep bass without the huge cabinet.SVS SB1000 - £409
The SB1000 is SVS's smallest subwoofer and as their completely logical naming process suggests, it's a sealed design with a single twelve inch forward firing driver. This is motivated by a 300 watt 'sledge' amplifier which should ensure that there is sufficient oomph for most requirements. The SB1000 is a genuinely compact design judged as a subwoofer, let alone as an SVS sub and there aren't many 12 inch designs we know of that are as small, let alone smaller than this. Around the back, the SB1000 does without some of the DSP wizardry of the more expensive models but still gives you high level, line level and dedicated LFE connections. Unlike an increasing subset of the competition, there is no remote control but all the other controls - including a fully adjustable phase control which gives much greater flexibility than a simple 0-180 switch - are usefully comprehensive and should ensure that the SB1000 is easy enough to get going. We reviewed the subwoofer as part of SVS's Prime range and working away in the background, the SB1000 is something of a star. Given the compact design and lack of radiators or porting, the SB1000 produces genuinely deep, clean bass. At £409 the SVS is unquestionably more expensive than the Q Acoustics 3070S but it delivers a performance that is at once more nuanced and detailed while at the same time allowing for more shove and impact. Thanks to the more conventional shape, it is also easier to accommodate.
So there you have it, five subwoofers that offer value, features and performance that would compliment any home cinema setup. So what are you waiting for, there’s never been a better time to beef up the bass and rattle those foundations.
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