Best subwoofers 2022: deep bass for music and movies

Best Subwoofers Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best subwoofers you can buy in 2022.

Who doesn't like bass? Whether you have a stereo system or a home cinema system, there's a lot to be said for bringing a subwoofer to the party. 

It's not just all-action movies and dancefloor classics that rely on bass to sound their best. Low frequencies can add tension and drama to more subtle scenes and songs. And a dedicated bass speaker is often the best way to do it. 

Read on for our pick of the best subwoofers for stereo and surround sound systems, and check out the best speaker packages you can buy if you're looking to create the best home cinema system too.

Best subwoofers: Q Acoustics QB12

A terrific subwoofer that balances punch and precision. (Image credit: Future)
Upgrade your 3000i or Concept 5.1 package.

Specifications

Dimensions (hwd): 40 x 40 x 45 cm
Drivers: 1x 300mm (12in) Paper-Kevlar, Aluminum cone long-throw
Power output: 400 watts
Weight: 21.5kg

Reasons to buy

+
Punchy and powerful
+
Doesn’t impose sonically
+
Well integrated

Reasons to avoid

-
Not easily accommodated

The QB12 smashes through the action like a steam train, hitting you right in the stomach and taking your whole body along with it. It isn’t just brute force, though: it’s precise, detailed and really rather dynamic.

There are three things to consider before you get your wallet out to buy a QB12 subwoofer: space, your budget and your neighbours. Because if you’re in the market for a plus-sized Q Acoustics surround speaker package, or aiming to upgrade the low-end response in your current home cinema set-up, those are the only things standing in your way.

Read the full review: Q Acoustics QB12

Best subwoofers: B&W ASW610

Incredible amounts of power and dynamism from this deceptively compact subwoofer. (Image credit: B&W)
The B&W ASW610 sounds bigger than it looks and more expensive than its price-tag.

Specifications

Dimensions (hwd): 31 x 31 x 35 cm
Drivers: 250mm (10in) paper / Aramid fibre cone long-throw
Power output: 200 watts
Weight: 12.5kg

Reasons to buy

+
Well-extended bass for its size
+
Good finish
+
Small and well-equipped

Reasons to avoid

-
Nothing of note

This B&W sub's diminutive form disguises a formidably powerful and terrifically dynamic design, its 200W amplifier controlling the excursions of its 25cm Kevlar/paper drive unit in impressive style.

There's depth, drive and authority to belie its size, with a brilliant blend of power and musicality. It can deliver bass with subtlety and speed, making it a genuine all-rounder when it comes to delivering solid bass as part of a hi-fi or home cinema system.

Read the full review: B&W ASW610

Best subwoofers: Sonos Sub Mini

The smaller, capable Sonos Sub Mini is pricey and has limited appeal. (Image credit: Sonos)
The Sonos Sub gets a mini-me, but is it a biter?

Specifications

Dimensions (HxWxD): 31 x 23 x 23cm
Drivers: 2x 8in
Power output:
Weight: 6.35kg

Reasons to buy

+
Snappy delivery
+
No distracting vibrations
+
Discreet build

Reasons to avoid

-
Narrow frequency response
-
Pricey
-
Lumpy integration

If you want to add some bass on a budget, the new Sonos Sub Mini is worth considering. Smaller than the full-sized Sonos Sub (below), it offers snappy delivery and a discreet build at a price that's... well, not actually all that cheap, it turns out. 

We imagine this is Sonos' take on "budget" device. It fits neatly into existing Sonos systems, but we imagine it's also a rather niche product that won't be for everyone. For smaller spaces, however, it could well fit the bill.

Read the full review: Sonos Sub Mini

Best subwoofers: Sonos Sub

An effective way to boost your Sonos multi-room system's sound. (Image credit: Sonos)
This slim, wireless subwoofer is a solid addition to a Sonos music or cinema system.

Specifications

Dimensions (hwd): 39 x 40 x 16 cm
Drivers: 2 x powered drivers
Power output: n/a
Weight: 16kg

Reasons to buy

+
Versatile placement
+
Simple set-up
+
Integrates well

Reasons to avoid

-
A little expensive
-
Not the punchiest

The addition of a sub to the wireless multi-room specialist’s range showed the company cared about sound, not least home cinema sound, and perhaps recognised the slight weakness of its small-but-effective One and Play:5 systems.

It's large and fairly minimal but we're impressed by what it can do. Similar sonic characteristics ensure the Sonos Sub integrates well with the company's other wireless speakers, and the extra weight, power and scale is obvious. With music, bass lines are controlled nicely, albeit a little on the fat side. Flick the Sub on and off, and the differences in dynamics are apparent.

Read the full review: Sonos Sub

How we test subwoofers

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year, from TVs to speakers, headphones to hi-fi systems. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them? Allow us to explain.

The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years collective experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics – and that includes subwoofers. We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in Reading and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our in-house testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency across all products. We always ensure we spend plenty of time with each subwoofer, setting them up correctly, testing them with the right speakers, as part of a surround speaker package, in different positions and with different music and films.

All new subwoofers are tested in comparison with rival subwoofers at the same price (and often cheaper and more expensive alternatives, too), and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than a single reviewer, helping to ensure consistency and avoid individual subjectivity. That's why our reviews are trusted by retailers and manufacturers, as well as consumers, the world over.

From all of our reviews, we choose the top subwoofers to feature in this Best Buy. That's why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended here, or on any other Best Buy page, you can rest assured you're getting a What Hi-Fi?-approved product.

You can read more about how we test and review products on What Hi-Fi? here.

MORE:

Kashfia Kabir
Hi-Fi and Audio Editor

Kashfia is the Hi-Fi and Audio Editor of What Hi-Fi? and first joined the brand over 10 years ago. During her time in the consumer tech industry, she has reviewed hundreds of products, been to countless trade shows across the world and fallen in love with hi-fi kit much bigger than her. In her spare time, Kash can be found catching up with TV shows, tending to an ever-growing houseplant collection and hanging out with her cat Jolene.

  • KEFfanboi
    Honestly I’ve rarely seen such an underwhelming lineup of mediocre subwoofers.
    Reply
  • Deswizard
    You've been with this company for ten years and this is the best you could do? Three mediocre subs and quit? I'm disappointed.
    Reply