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Best subwoofers: deep bass for music and movies

Best Subwoofer Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?'s round-up of the best subwoofers you can buy in 2019.

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 with Black Friday just around the corner, keep an eye out for best bargains. 

(Image credit: B&W)

1. B&W PV1D

The most recent model in the unbeatable dynasty

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 34 x 27 x 26 cm (hwd) | Drivers: 2x 200mm (8in) Paper-Kevlar, Aluminum cone long-throw | Power output: 400 watts | Weight: 87kg

Reasons to Buy

Smart design
Excellent precision and agility
Deep, punchy bass

Reasons to Avoid

Not cheap

The Bowers & Wilkins PV1D is the successor to B&W’s multi-Award-winning PV1, the ‘D’ denoting a digital upgrade that lets you fine-tune the sub with a wide range of EQ options.

The PV1D’s drive units (2 x 20cm) and amplification (400W) have been tweaked too, and the result, says the company, is a sub with all the speed and agility of its predecessor plus considerable additional bass extension.

In use it’s deeply impressive: the PV1D maintains control at crashing volumes, while delivering ample detail, punch and attack. Precision is paramount, and you really feel the big wallops.

Read the full review: B&W PV1D

(Image credit: B&W)

2. B&W ASW610

The B&W ASW610 sounds bigger than it looks and more expensive than its price-tag

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 31 x 31 x 35 cm (hwd) | Drivers: 250mm (10 in) 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 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.

Read the full review: B&W ASW610

(Image credit: Velodyne)

3. Velodyne SPL-1000 Ultra

If you want a small but powerful subwoofer there are few better options

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 34 x 33 x 39 cm (hwd) | Drivers: 10in forward firing, 8in piston diameter | Power output: 1200 watts | Weight: 20kg

Reasons to Buy

Masses of quality bass from a compact cabinet
Good features
Fine build and finish

Reasons to Avoid

Nothing of note

Velodyne’s SPL-1000 Ultra delivers a mass of bass scarcely believable from a sealed 34cm cube. It has both line and speaker level inputs, remote control and offers four preset modes to optimise performance to the source material.

This is a subwoofer that’s fast and agile enough to convince with music, while still having the sort of muscle required to make the most of the heavy-hitting, large-scale film scenes.

Read the full review: Velodyne SPL-1000 Ultra

(Image credit: Sonos)

4. Sonos Sub

This slim, wireless subwoofer is a solid addition to a Sonos music or cinema system

SPECIFICATIONS

Dimensions: 39 x 40 x 16 (hwd) | 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 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