Subwoofers reproduce low frequencies with utmost clarity, allowing you to hear the deep tones in music and the lowest of voices. It features a woofer in a fitted boxed enclosure, and if you are looking to set up a home theater, then it helps to have a subwoofer to pair with your speakers.
The way a subwoofer works is by the receiver sending low-frequency signals via electrical current, to the subwoofer. The subwoofer amplifies the current and converts it to sound, through the use of a magnetic coil, which causes the vibration of the cone.
Types of Subwoofers
Benefits of Subwoofers
Subwoofers offer clarity, without any distortion that you may already be experiencing with your current speakers. They work alongside speakers to provide impeccable sounds that, without the subwoofer, you would not be able to hear. When adequately attuned, it creates the opportunity for audio perfection, where all your speakers will be living up to their full potential. In turn, giving a bigger and cleaner sound.
Surprisingly, for under $200, you can still achieve this. You will easily notice the difference in quality with the volume low, just as much as you’ll hear the difference in power when you turn that volume knob up!
Choosing a Cheap but High-Quality Subwoofer
Power Output/Volume/Sound Quality
The deep bass that is reproduced by subwoofers by such low frequencies is dependent upon the power output, i.e., the amount of power that the subwoofer can handle continuously. The volume is easy to adjust, regardless of which subwoofer you opt for.
The lower the minimum hertz (Hz), the lower the sound the sub is capable of producing. The typical subwoofer only has one voice coil. However, dual voice coil (DVC) subs are becoming more popular and more widely available, and DVC subwoofers allow for a variety of wiring options for optimization of sound and give you more flexibility on amplifier choices.
Impedance refers to the amount of signal that can be run from your amplifier to your subwoofer and is measured in ohms. The impedance specifications between your subwoofer and amplifier should match. Otherwise, it could lead to poor sound quality and potentially overheating.
Sensitivity (measured in decibels) is a measurement of how loud a speaker will get with a given amount of power. Therefore, if a subwoofer is rated at 80dB, with one watt of power, it will produce this output when measured from one meter away. This means that a subwoofer with a high sensitivity rating will require less power to reach a high output.
Wired or Wireless
Many subwoofers are still hardwired to your speaker system, although there are newer models that can connect wirelessly. Wireless capability eliminates the need for a long connection cable and usually comes with a transmitter kit that can be plugged into any output of your home receiver.
Cone Size & Subwoofer Dimensions
The design of subwoofers does not differ from each other, no matter what the purpose is. Typically, they are a square shape, with a cone size speaker inside of it. However, the size of the subwoofer depends on the size of the room that you will be using it in. Most subwoofers are available with either ten- or twelve-inch cones – with ten inches being perfectly enough for the majority of home theatre systems.
There are extra features that make them unique. Such features include things such as detachable grilles, high current amplifiers, phase controls, etc. These additional features assist in emphasizing and improving the quality of sound.
All subwoofers are designed to be rigid to withstand a few knocks, primarily if used for car audio. Subwoofers are usually constructed using materials such as poly fiber and MDF, which make them even more durable. Most subwoofers come with a warranty of some sort; however, be sure to check.
5 Best Subwoofers Under $200 Reviewed
1. Sony SACS9
Our Top subwoofer Under $200
28 – 200 Hz
11 5/8" x 13 5/8" x 15 3/4"
34.5W (rms) 115W (peak)
2 years Labor and Parts
Sony has many years of experience in developing a wide range of audio gear and electronics. This is why, when it comes to the best subwoofer under $200, Sony is trusted in delivering superior rich sounds. This subwoofer includes a built-in amplifier, with up to 115W power output, and although it is not the most compact subwoofer, it is perfect for easy installation in small spaces.
Any unwanted vibrations are dealt with in two ways: by acoustically absorbing waves generated from the rear pressure of the unit, and dampening vibrations within the cabinet itself. This suppresses the vibration in the cabinet, as fluctuation is detrimental for accurate bass.
Bringing the party alive for a little over $150, this subwoofer has a ten-inch cone-shaped speaker, which can move around more air, resulting in low-end resonance. It comes equipped with Mica Reinforced Cellular fiber woofers that are rigid, holding the shape of the cone, even when moving at high pressure and speed.
This is so that you can drive the bass harder without compromising audio quality. Therefore, you can push the bass harder without compromising audio quality.
2. Polk Audio PSW10
Best Home Theater Subwoofer Under $200
16.2 x 14 x 14.4 inches
50W (RMS) 100W (peak)
The entire construction of the Polk subwoofer is developed to withstand standing waves and resonance. Its wooden cabinet features a high current amplifier and a low pass filter. This means that the natural vibration and humming that are often associated with deep notes, at a high volume, won't occur.
The amplifier has a 100 W dynamic power rating and a 50 W continuous power rating, which keeps your subwoofer steady and stable even at extreme volume levels. Alongside this, the subwoofer is easy to install and connect to any system. The unit, which is activated automatically when the whole system is turned on, has a detachable grille on the front, and four feet to raise the sub off the floor to avoid overheating.
This subwoofer is the perfect solution for your small to medium size room, and the best 10 inch home theater subwoofer under $200.
3. KLIPSCH K100-SW
Best Studio Subwoofer Under $200
32 - 120 Hz
14 x 12.5 x 15.7 inches
100W (RMS) 250W (peak)
This ten-inch front-firing subwoofer is lightweight and produces a tremendous low bass that can be felt wherever you are in a room. This is thanks to its wide dispersion pattern and all digital amplifier. This built-in amplifier efficiently delivers ample power, which gives you amazing low-frequency responses, with minimal distortion and minimal cone break up.
The subwoofers grille is flexible and strong, not to mention the fact that it can be removed, and can, therefore, be customized to how you want it to look. There is also an LED power indicator, which is on the front of the unit.
For $200, this versatile subwoofer has low pass crossover with great phase control, and its Line/LFE inputs allow for compatibility with most receivers. This poly-fiber woofer is lightweight yet rigid and has a low pass crossover and phase control. This will enable you to blend the subwoofer's low-frequency tones with other Klipsch speakers, as well as establish the ideal level of bass.
This sleek subwoofer, with a brushed polymer veneer finish, is the best studio subwoofer under $200.
4. JBL GT-BassPro12
Best Car Subwoofer Under $200
35 - 120 Hz
12 x 22.4 x 14.5 inches
150W (RMS) 450W (peak)
This JBL subwoofer is built with a die-cast aluminum basket and hi-roll rubber surround, with a polypropylene cone; this gives solid sounds under all conditions. We have rated this as the best powered car subwoofer under $200. It has a slipstream port design that delivers deep bass, reducing port noise. This powered subwoofer is the easy way to add high-output, low-distortion bass to a car audio system, as the built-in 150-watt amplifier is matched perfectly to the subwoofer.
The subwoofer turns on automatically through signal sensing when the head unit sends an audio signal. It also has a remote control and a vented polepiece, which helps to cool the subwoofer's motor, for improved power handling and lower power compression. Alongside this, the subwoofer has flexible connects that allow you to connect it to any car audio system.
It uses oversized, stacked magnets to increase magnetic flux for higher outputs and cone motion control. Not to mention the oversized speaker protection bars, to help keep the woofer cone safe and project a sleek muscular look.If this subwoofer is just a bit too big and you want an alternative which is on par, check out this similar one:
5. MTX Audio Terminator
Best Dual Car Subwoofer Under $200
10 - 150 Hz
14 x 29 x 13 inches
400W (RMS) 800W (peak)
The cabinet of this polished-looking subwoofer is ruggedly constructed using 5/8" MDF and aviation grade black carpet. This means that the way it’s built allows for easy installation. It houses two twelve-inch subwoofers, which has the power to equalize the sound output in sync with the bass, producing very high-quality sounds that are perfect for car audio.
Ridiculously affordable at just under $150, this subwoofer is the best twelve-inch dual subwoofer for car audio. The sealed enclosure subwoofers power handling is 800 watts at its peak. You will be able to hear every bass note coming through.
There is no denying that this is a slightly more massive subwoofer, so it will be quite challenging to store under your seat. However, it is designed to withstand the bumps that you may encounter on the road, leaving this the best 12-inch subwoofer for the car.
This subwoofer will perform well, even during extended play. The way it is designed enables it to continuously refresh the air around the voice coil, dissipating heat in the process.
Additional Subwoofer Features
Speakers & Subwoofers
Speakers produce higher frequencies explicitly, whereas subwoofers are the complete opposite; producing low-frequency sounds, referred to as bass. For this reason, you can never use a subwoofer alone as it will be distorted, nor speakers if you want to hear the full audio potential.
Therefore, subwoofers are a fantastic companion to speakers, especially when setting up a 2.1 system (two satellite speakers and one subwoofer).
Subwoofer Installation/Set-Up Tips
As subwoofers are nondirectional, they can be placed anywhere in a room. However, down-firing subwoofers are advised to be placed in the corner or side of a room. Most subwoofers do not come with the necessary wiring, so be sure to purchase an amp wiring kit.
Firstly, pass the power cable through the firewall that separates the engine compartment from the main cabin, using an existing entry point. Then run the turn-on wire and signal cables - both need to be connected to your stereo.
Run these cables behind the dash, on the opposite side of the car, to the power wire to prevent electrical noise from appearing. After this, look for a nearby bolt to put the ground wire (third connection) into – this should be on the vehicle's bare metal.
For signal, use a subwoofer cable to connect your receiver's subwoofer output, to the LFE (low frequency response) input on the subwoofer.
Correct Placement & Adjustments
There is not a designated space in which a subwoofer should be as the low frequencies are nondirectional. This means that it can be placed anywhere where it sounds best; optimum results depend on the size of the room, furnishing, floor type, and wall construction.
However, typically, the best placement would be the front of the room, either side of the main speakers. Many home theater receivers provide two subwoofer outputs, which enables more flexibility if one does not reflect the results you are looking for or have a very large room.
Setting the speaker size automatically sets a crossover point which cannot be manually tuned. Most subwoofers have a two-position phase switch in the back, so if your sub does not feel quite right, your subwoofer may be out of phase with your speakers. If this is the case, then toggle it to the other setting and see if you get better bass.
The majority of subwoofers also have independent volume controls, which is an easy way to get a little bit more bass or dial back a particularly loud track.
Common Issues & Fixes
Issues with subwoofers are generally caused by one of two things: improper settings or broken receivers. This can be checked by adjusting the settings of the subwoofer and audio system.
One of the most common issues that will occur with a subwoofer is the loss of the bass effect or the entire audio. In most cases, this is because the subwoofer has been installed on a different sound system than the one where it was initially installed.
Audio subwoofer problems can be prevented by regularly cleaning and maintaining both the subwoofer and the audio system where it is connected.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect from subwoofers under $200?
Do not let the price put you off – subwoofers under $200 perform exceedingly well. If you're on a budget, it really is a good place to start.
Do I really need an enclosure for my car subwoofer?
Enclosures for car subwoofers are not necessary, as you can see on the alternative product to the JBL, however, they do accentuate the sounds produced.
What is the difference between 2-ohm vs. 4-ohm subwoofers?
The 4ohm subwoofer produces a softer sound as compared to the 2ohm subwoofer that produces louder sound having the same wattage.
Do all subwoofers need an amp?
If you try to wire your sub to the car stereo, as you do with the car speakers, it won't have enough power to move the speakers. So without a power amp, your car subwoofer is just a bowl with a large magnet
What brands are the most reliable and provide the best warranty terms/customer service?
All of the brands we’ve mentioned in this article are considered to be reliable, and we think you’d be right to choose any of the subwoofers mentioned. In choosing favorites, we are partial to Sony and Polk for their outstanding customer service.
Subwoofers under $200 will offer more than what you might expect at this price point. They offer a pack of punch and will be sure to liven up your party, or even improve your existing home theatre set up. The Sony SACS9 is an immensely versatile and superior product, which is why we call it the best subwoofer under $200.
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