active subwoofer: test & recommendations (01/22)

Welcome to our large active subwoofer test 2022. Here we present you all active subwoofers tested by us in more detail. We have compiled detailed background information for you and also added a summary of customer reviews on the net.

With this, we want to make your buying decision easier and help you find the best active subwoofer for you.

You can also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guidebook. If available, we also offer you interesting test videos. Furthermore, you’ll also find some important information on this page, which you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy an active subwoofer.

The most important in a nutshell

  • Active subwoofers adequately reproduce and amplify the low end of music, making them indispensable for some newer music genres and home theater setups
  • Generally, a distinction is made between active and passive subwoofers, with newer subwoofers mostly belonging to the first class. Here you can personalize the sound and the sound reproduction directly on the subwoofer with a variety of controls and equalizers.
  • In home theater systems, a frontfire or downfire subwoofer should be used depending on the needs. The former are compatible with light-hearted environments.

Active subwoofer test: Favorites of the editors

The best all-rounder among the active subwoofers

259,99 EUR

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249,00 EUR

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249,00 EUR

Last price updates: Amazon.en (30.01.22, 22:11), Other stores (23.11.21, 13:15 h)

This subwoofer weighs 9.5 kg with a size of 26.5 x 34×5 x 36.5 cm. In addition, this subwoofer has a compact bass reflex resonance cabinet (265 x 365 x 345 mm). The volume and crossover frequencies are manually adjustable.

Buyers of this subwoofer are consistently satisfied with the sound quality delivered by this subwoofer. In addition, with this subwoofer larger rooms can be sounded without problems.

The active subwoofer with the best price-performance ratio

This subwoofer has the following dimensions: 35 x 35 x 40.5 cm. The product weight is 19 kg. This is an active subwoofer with 120W sine wave and flow-optimized bass reflex. In addition, this subwoofer has a 25 cm long-throw chassis with powerful magnetic drive.

Customers especially praise the high quality at an extremely fair price, as well as the extra features of the active bass equalization and the reproduction of ultra-low bass. Overall, buyers emphasize that this subwoofer can keep up with high-quality and – priced brand subwoofers.

The best active subwoofer for home theater

This subwoofer has a size of 32 x 32 x 43.9 cm and a weight of 9.07 kg. It is a 25 cm active subwoofer with 120 WATT R.M.S. The crossover frequency of 40 to 180 Hz is continuously adjustable. The transmission range is 20 to 180 Hz.

Buyers of this subwoofer are enthusiastic about the compatibility it has with a home theater. In addition, it is emphasized that it can be easily connected and the listening and enjoyment of the home theater expands. In particular, buyers praise the high-quality workmanship and the massiveness of the reproduced bass.

Also interesting

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an active subwoofer

Active subwoofers adequately reproduce and amplify the low end of music, making them indispensable for some newer music genres and home theater setups

With the help of this guide, the decision for the right active subwoofer should be made easier for you. Within the scope of the guide, you will find a large amount of information, recommendations and tips on the topic of active subwoofers. In addition, basic questions are clarified such as:

  • What exactly is an active subwoofer?
  • How much do subwoofers cost?
  • Which connections are needed?
  • What kind of subwoofers are there and which one is suitable for me??

What are active subwoofers and how do they differ from passive speakers??

If you already own a loudspeaker system, then similar problems can plague you, because these are also designed primarily for the reproduction of the mids and lows of the sound spectrum.

Here a subwoofer can help you, which is explicitly optimized for the representation of low-frequency sound vibrations from 30 to 160 Hz. A subwoofer is therefore a low frequency loudspeaker. The so-called woofer here represents the low-frequency chassis of the full-range speaker box.

This is also the function of the subwoofer – it amplifies low frequencies, which usually includes bass and low bass.

More generally, it can be said that an active subwoofer amplifies the frequencies that are in the lower range of the broadband speakers.

The key difference between active and passive speakers is that the former have a built-in amplifier, while passive speakers work on the one-way principle. This states that all sound-related adjustments to the amplifier of the system are made.

The following table shows basic differences and functionalities between active and passive subwoofers.

Active subwoofer Passive subwoofer
Have a built-in amplifier power amplifier Similar design as passive speakers
Bass frequencies are presented as LF signal (low frequency preamplifier signal from the LFE channel from the AV receiver) Works with one-way principle
Have various setting parameters, which can be adjusted directly on the subwoofer or on the receiver All sound adjustments are made on the amplifier of the system

The subwoofer output is recognizable by the mostly concise yellow marked and characteristic RCA socket and by the designations “LFE”, “Sub” and/or “Sub PreOut”.

What does an active subwoofer cost??

The demand increased strongly in the last years and therefore the price was lowered. In addition, more efficiently produced models appeared, which also became cheaper as a result.

A price overview is shown in the table below:

Type Price range
Entry-level models 200€ to 500€
Mid-range models 500€ to 1500€
High power models from 1500€

Why should I choose an active subwoofer??

The lower the frequency, the longer the sound waves that propagate in the room. For example, the wavelength at 50 Hz is about 6.7 m.

Therefore, a much larger volume of air must be made to vibrate in order to reproduce bass tones in the low frequency range. This works much better with a larger diaphragm area than with a small diaphragm area. Therefore, subwoofers are usually much larger than midrange and tweeter speakers.

What features should an active subwoofer have?

You should pay attention to the following criteria:

Criterion Description
Room size With larger room volume, the subwoofer needs more power to fill the entire area with sound. Therefore, the driver size, the efficiency and the enclosure principle are the most important factors here.
Site The subwoofer amplifies low frequencies. These unfold in particular by the fact that the sound waves are reflected at the associated walls. Depending on this, the sound can be distorted, so the subwoofer should always be placed centrally with enough distance to all walls. A sound technician can also be called in for this purpose.
Volume Depending on the intended use, the maximum volume should also be selected.
Usage (movie vs music) For action-packed movies, the low basses (20 to 40 Hz) are particularly relevant. For example, if you want to reproduce an authentic “earthquake feeling” or explosion sounds like in the cinema, then you should make sure that the active subwoofer adequately represents very low frequencies. Furthermore, you should know that frequencies below 25 Hz are not heard but rather felt and sensed.
Equipment Here you should pay attention to whether the subwoofer can be personalized by settings and parameters such as phase adjustment, low and high pass filters, EQ functions or calibration systems.
Design and size Here you should decide according to your preferences, which designs and sizes you prefer.
Budget The price range is, as already shown above, huge. Especially for high quality subwoofers, which should provide sound in large rooms, you should be prepared to pay a higher budget.

Who offers active subwoofers?

Do you already know exactly which subwoofer you want to buy, then you can easily order online and have it delivered. This is where common online stores come in handy:

  • amazon.en
  • ebay.en
  • mediamarkt.en
  • saturn.en
  • cyberport.en
  • alternate.en
  • comtech.en
  • thomann.en
  • recordcase.en

Furthermore, there are a variety of specific technology retailers and companies that offer active subwoofers. They also offer personal advice and information. Include here:

  • Media Market
  • Saturn
  • Samsung
  • Bose
  • JBL
  • Yamaha

The equipment is quite similar for most of the offered products. Therefore also personal references and previous experiences fall here with into the weight with the purchase decision.

It’s important that the active subwoofer needs all the features you have in mind for it.

What are the alternatives to an active subwoofer??

Typical stereo systems often don’t have an independent subwoofer, since this is often not necessary for rock, jazz or classical music, and many listeners don’t mind if the low frequencies are not reproduced in detail.

Here, many multi-way speakers can already reproduce the required bass, of course not as intense as a subwoofer.

However, the music genres hip hop and pop, which are statistically the most frequently consumed, are significantly more bass-heavy than other music genres, and this trend has increased again in recent years.

Decision: What types of active subwoofers are available and which is right for you?

In the field of cabinet subwoofers, v.a. two types of construction developed: Downfire subwoofer and frontfire subwoofer. The advantages and disadvantages of each type we now present to you.

What distinguishes a frontfire subwoofer and what are its advantages and disadvantages??

This type of subwoofer is also called a direct radiating subwoofer. They emit the sound directly to the air in the room and thus function like ordinary loudspeakers. As a result, the energy transfer to the building structure is low.

  • Independent of the building construction
  • Pleasant listening pleasure
  • Suitable for neighborhoods
  • Sound is only processed via acoustic modality
  • Less brute sound and movie experience
  • More susceptible to sog. “Bass holes”

Here, sound is primarily perceived via the ears. In this way, sound effects such as rumbling or pounding are also psychoacoustically perceived. This type of bass is often perceived as less obtrusive and more pleasant in general.

What distinguishes a downfire subwoofer and what are its advantages and disadvantages??

The sound source of the downfire subwoofer points towards the floor, squeezing out the bass between the floor and the subwoofer. The sound pressure is distributed here in the 360° range and is thus transmitted to the building structure. Thus, the bass is not only noticeable but also audible. Thus, the launching of rockets or the impact of a meteorite can also be perceived physically in addition to the acoustic-visual form.

  • No bass holes
  • Multimodal listening and viewing experience
  • Hard to beat in terms of weightiness and brute force
  • Dependent on the building substance
  • Very strong noise is generated, therefore unsuitable for harmonious coexistence with neighbors
  • Very good systems are needed so that the bass remains audible in addition to the absorbed sound

The decision for frontwire or downfire subwoofer is not always an individual one. Much more has to be considered here, whether you live in a new or an old building, whether the rooms resp. Ceilings are soundproof.

Attention! Especially buildings and apartments that date back to the 50’s are often very noisy. Therefore, a downfire subwoofer is definitely not suitable here, as the neighbors will almost certainly complain.

So a downfire subwoofer is suitable if:

  • you live in a newly built apartment with solid construction.
  • you have unproblematic neighbors and you have agreed on times for the use of the system.
  • you want to experience brute, powerful and mighty action firsthand.

Since a large part of the bass is emitted to the building structure, very powerful power amplifiers should be available, so that the bass remains audible.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate active subwoofers based on these factors

In the following, we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate active subwoofers. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular leggings is suitable for you or not.

In summary, this is:

Required connection

There are a variety of connection options, which depend on the type of amplifier, its connections and the subwoofer used.

Here we only refer to the possibilities of connecting active subwoofers, since hardly any compatible passive subwoofers are still used.

In home theater systems, a frontfire or downfire subwoofer should be used depending on the needs

The active subwoofer always needs a power cable and a source for the mains power supply in addition to the signal cable.

Connection to an AVR

This type of connection is generally the simplest and leads with little effort to the best sonic result. This is due to the fact that only very few stereo amplifiers have an adequate bass management that can cleanly separate frequencies and correct delay times.

Connection to a stereo amplifier with subwoofer output

In addition, there are stereo amplifiers that have a dedicated subwoofer output. Here the connection can be made analog as with the AVR. However, one must pay attention here to the settings, since these must be made manually at the subwoofer, due to missing bass management of the stereo amplifiers.

Connection to a stereo amplifier with stereo pre-out

The connection can also be made via the stereo pre-out channel if the stereo amplifier does not have a subwoofer output. Here the right and left siets can be connected to the subwoofer’s RCA boxes via a stereo RCA cable.

Attention: Not all RCA outputs can be used for this purpose. For example, RCA outputs such as “Tape-Tec”, “Rec Out”, “DAT Rec” or similar cannot be used for subwoofer connection, as they are not included in the volume control of the amplifier.

Connection to a stereo amplifier without pre-outs

The subwoofer can also be connected via the high level outputs. These are actually intended for passive loudspeakers, but can be a remedy if the stereo amplifier does not have a pre-out or subwoofer connection.

Connection to a PC

The connection to a PC depends on the sound card. Regular stereo sound cards require an external crossover, which is also the cleanest solution. Alternatively, the signal can be separated and sent to the subwoofer as well as the stereo amplifier or. Active satellites are distributed.

Furthermore, many sound cards offer an additional output for subwoofers.

Distortion factor

The distortion factor indicates to what extent the signal of the speakers is distorted or how much the input signal is changed.

By default, it is given in percent and thus provides information about the proportion of interference signals in the reproduced overall signal.

As a rule of thumb: from 5% the distortion becomes audible even for untrained ears. For professional trained listeners it is about 1%.

Chassis

The chassis is a single speaker without a cabinet, which consists of a speaker basket, voice coil, magnet, diaphragm and surround. The chassis is responsible with the diaphragm stroke for the production of sound pressure and dynamic ability of the Subwoofers.

The woofer chassis should have a diameter of at least 12 inches.

The rule is: larger diameters (up to 18 inches) produce more sound pressure, but also a more sluggish displacement behavior.

Crossover

The crossover splits the audio frequencies in multi-way speaker systems into different ranges. Practically all loudspeaker chassis are assigned here in such a way that they get the frequency ranges (bass, mids and treble) assigned, with which they can work most optimally.

Here, too, a distinction is made between passive and active crossovers. Passive crossovers are connected between the amplifier output and the loudspeaker. They work with coils, capacitors and resistors.

Impedance

Impedance is expressed in units of ohms (a measure of current resistance). The Ohm value can be used to find out how much the loudspeaker loads the amplifier in relation to its output impedance (internal resistance).

Amplifier power

The ability to produce maximum power within a short period of time is called peak power. However, this has little informative value about the actual performance.

More important here is the nominal or. Sine power. This means a signal that always remains the same, which is reproduced with a certain power. With the normal or. Music power is the average value of the sine and peak power.

In overviews and manufacturer specifications these values are often given in the following scheme: sine power/pulse power z.B. 200/400 Watt.

Controls for crossover frequency and level

The level indicates the volume of the subwoofer. Here you can regulate the massiveness of the bass or reduce too dominant bass and unpleasant vibrations.

The crossover frequency indicates the frequency range for which the subwoofer is responsible. A harmonious sound image is achieved by matching front speakers and controllers.

Levels and controls can be used to adjust your sound to the room conditions.

Transmission range

The frequency range indicates the frequency range that is reproduced by the subwoofer.

Mid-range models have an overhead range of 30 to 150 Hz. High-class models also manage to reproduce 20 Hz.

Loudspeaker diameter

Depending on the internal processing and special design features (multiple active drivers, passive radiator, etc.), the crossover frequency shows the frequency range.) is the diameter of the speakers. Models that do not have passive radiators or anything else should have a diameter of 25 centimeters, so that they can reproduce the bass powerfully and realistically.

Bass reflex

For enthusiasts: The physical principle behind it is called Helmholtz resonator.

Bass reflex is a specific type of enclosure construction. This is also referred to as “closed. In bass reflex boxes an additional opening is installed, which amplifies the bass in certain frequency ranges.

Trivia: Interesting facts about active subwoofers

How to set up the subwoofer correctly?

When placing a subwoofer, please note that the sound intensity increases by about 3 dB if the subwoofer is placed too close to a wall.

Location Sound increase
Wall 3 dB
Edge 6 dB
Corner 9 dB
Center of the room Bass hole

This allows weak subwoofers to be amplified depending on their location.

What are Free Air Subwoofers?

Free-Air subwoofers are mainly used in the car hi-fi sector. They are suitable to save space, for example, parts of the vehicle (z.B. trunk or reserve cavity) to be used as a resonance chamber.

These subwoofers are usually passive subwoofers and are therefore not discussed further in this guidebook.

This subwoofer has a size of 32 x 32 x 43.9 cm and a weight of 9.07 kg

How to build an active subwoofer yourself?

Active subwoofers can also be made in the self. For this you should consider a few important steps. If you have any questions or uncertainties, you should not take any risks but contact a competent electrician.

You can see how a subwoofer, which also serves as seating furniture, can be built by yourself in the following video:

What to do when the active subwoofer hums?

A problem that can occur more often is that the subwoofer starts to hum and therefore does not reproduce the optimal sound. The Internet can already contribute there first clues to the damage repair.

In addition, you should always contact the specified user or the responsible customer center in case of problems or defects with purchased subwoofers.

How to install an active subwoofer in my home theater?

In a multimodal home cinema, which satisfies a multitude of needs and senses, an appropriate subwoofer can of course not be missing.

Therefore, the following will show you how to best place your subwoofer:

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