If you’ve chosen a soundbar for lifestyle reasons or to get better sound than what your TV speakers provide, a subwoofer is a necessity. Subwoofers add thrilling immersive bass impact you can hear and feel and allow soundbars to focus on the mid and high frequencies, resulting in a noticeable improvement to the soundstage and overall audio experience. If you’ve never considered adding a subwoofer, you may have asked yourself, what is the best subwoofer for my soundbar?
To properly reproduce bass in music and low frequency effects in movies, a subwoofer needs a powerful motor and amplifier, rigid yet lightweight driver and an acoustically inert cabinet. It also requires careful tuning by an acoustic engineer. Many soundbars come packaged with subwoofers, but these imposter subs are little more than one-note bass boxes where the output is more of a distraction because of its muddying effect and high potential for distortion. Full disclosure, we’re a bit biased, but it’s certainly not what an artist or director intended you to hear.
The best subwoofers deliver massive output and hit the deepest bass notes with ease. Every note should be rendered with pinpoint tonal accuracy, no overhang and blend seamlessly with your soundbar. The best subwoofers effortlessly handle low frequencies without calling attention to themselves or overtaking the soundstage. For more on this, check out our article on What to Listen for When Choosing a Subwoofer.
When choosing the best subwoofer for your soundbar, there are five key things you should consider.
1. Soundbar connections. Some soundbars have proprietary outputs that makes connecting an SVS or other powered subwoofer impossible. Look for a soundbar that accepts a cable like the SVS SoundPath RCA Audio Interconnect Cable or something comparable, and it should work with almost any subwoofer, including all SVS models.
2. Cabinet size. Perhaps the biggest reason for soundbars’ popularity is the minimal visual impact in a room. If lifestyle considerations are an important factor, you’ll likely want a compact subwoofer that can be concealed or discreetly integrated into a home’s décor. For this reason, a sealed cabinet subwoofer is often the best choice because they have much smaller cabinet dimensions and footprints than their ported subwoofer counterparts.
3. Listening preferences and playback levels. In the words of lead SVS Sound Expert, Ed Mullen, “there is no need to over-sub a soundbar.” Soundbars by nature can’t match the output of a 5.1 home theater surround sound speaker system or even a pair of full-range stereo speakers, so you don’t need a massive subwoofer to significantly improve bass response and impact. Of course, if you love to bump dubstep, watch action movies at reference volume levels, a larger, more powerful subwoofer may be right for you.
4. Room Size. If you have an open concept living room or maybe a massive finished basement, the bass from a small subwoofer may lack the ability to energize the space with chest-thumping, seat-rumbling bass. If you have a big space, consider a larger subwoofer or even going dual with two smaller subwoofers to get even bass response throughout the listening area.
5. Subwoofer Accessories. One way to reduce visual impact and open up placement options in a room is to install a wireless subwoofer kit. This is especially useful if the subwoofer is on the opposite side of the room from the soundbar because it removes the need for a subwoofer interconnect cable. Although rare, it’s also possible to run dual subwoofers out of a single subwoofer output on a soundbar by installing an RCA Y-adapter.
The most popular SVS subwoofers for soundbars are the SB-1000 for small to medium-sized rooms and the SB-2000 subwoofer for larger rooms. The combination of compact cabinets, massive output relative to the enclosure size, easy room integration, and three attractive finishes make these SVS models the most popular subwoofers for a soundbar.