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.

(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 Play:3 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 Play:3s, 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