Posted on Fri, 28 Nov, 2014
Posted by Peter


Let’s get one thing clear: we like the bass. It’s where the primitive, primordial foundation of the sound truly stems from. It’s where the sound is felt, not heard. A subwoofer is a versatile bit of kit that can be used in both a hi-fi and AV setting, to bring up that base and add a little more feeling to the experience. And a good subwoofer will merely enhance, as opposed to overpower. 

Most home cinema 5.1 speaker packages include a decent subwoofer as standard. However, some of the less expensive ones combine the subwoofer and AV receiver – and sometimes the blu ray player – into a single box. Some of the very low budget ones don’t include a subwoofer at all, favouring woofers built into the speakers. But there isn’t anything out there that can offer quite the same solid, strong bass response of a dedicated subwoofer, especially when it comes to surround sound. And even if you do have a dedicated woofer – does it ever seem… strained? If you can’t feel the bass – you’re missing out. A strong, resonating bass can really make you feel as though you’re living the movie. If you lack a sub – or think current doesn’t quite pack the necessary punch – you’re guaranteed a much more fulfilling home cinema experience by upgrading your sub to one of these.

Remember, the prices were correct at the time of publishing and may be subject to change.

1. Yamaha YST-FSW100 – £119.95



The first entry in this list draws to mind a fireplace – not a bad thing if you want something that will blend in. Subwoofers are not traditionally discreet items, however this slim and compact little woofer has a pretty small footprint, and is designed with discretion in mind. But a small size doesn’t necessarily mean a sacrifice in terms of performance! This cheap and tiny subwoofer has much more to it than you might think – it features Advanced Yamaha Active Servo Technology (Advanced YST), an impedance cancelling technology unique to Yamaha, This results in a clear, linear and well refined bass that will continue to surprise film after film.

Why do we like it?
It’s unique, it’s compact and its surprising. And anything from Yamaha is a guarantee on durability and build quality. And it’s bloody cheap too – you can’t sniff at that.

2. MJ Acoustics Pro 50 MkII – £299.95 (EXCLUSIVE PRICE)


From the understated to the overstated – this is something very special, and something of an exclusive to us (we have the very last few in the UK at a pretty hefty 30% discount, so if you like what you see – you’d best be quick!). The Pro 50 MkIII is a pretty small sub, but it won’t fade into the background. Nope – this unit is loud and proud and knows exactly what it is – and what it wants to be. It features twin crossovers,120watts of power, a newly designed 10” driver packed into a teeny cabinet size of just 280mm square. Designed to integrate nicely with any existing system easily, this little woofer won’t be easily forgotten.

Why do we like it?
There’s a reason we snapped up the last of them. There’s something very special and unique about them – in both the sound and the styling. They are not your standard subwoofer, and we know they won’t last very long.

Why do they like it?
‘If you’re on a budget go for the MJ Acoustics, it sounds excellent for such a small sub, and its definitely the budget all-round choice in this test’ (What Hi-Fi? Magazine)

3. Dali E-12 F – £529



What kind of an Audio Affair list would it be without a mention of Dali? And in their own tradition, they have produced a unit that turns both heads and ears. It features a high performance 12″ aluminium cone and a heavy duty magnet wields a 4-layer, long-stroke voice coil with a heavy duty motor systems – all elevated from the floor by an aluminium base. The front grille can be easily removed, allowing for the striking cone to be on display – if that’s your sort of thing. Either way, you will be rewarded with a powerful, characterful and detailed base whenever this beast is set loose.

Why do we like it?
Soundwise, it somehow manages to be subtle and agile, yet deep and robust. It has to be felt  to be believed. A real corker, but somehow virtually unknown.

4. MJ Acoustics Reference 200 – £695


The second of its kind of this list, the MJ Acoustics Reference 200 steps things up a bit in terms of budget, but you get a lot of bass for your buck. As with anything else from MJ – this is 100% British, from design to manufacture, and has more features than you ever thought possible for a simple subwoofer. Everything is fully controllable and customisable from both its digital display and its remote control, and its built in 200w amplifier guarantees some serious grunt. This is a sub that can handle pretty much anything.

Why do we like it?
It’s pretty stand out, and the iconic styling comes in a choice six finishes, so there’s something for everyone. And we can’t help but have a soft spot for anything bold and British.

Why do they like it?
‘Melodic and rich, the Reference 200 is a state-of-the-art small-footprint sub that offers granite muscle in a velvet glove. It’s certainly the best box that we’ve encountered from the brand, and its extreme versatility will make it the ideal bass backbone for a variety of users.’ (Tech Radar)

5. KEF R400B – £999


But of course, it’s a KEF. The work of art above is not exactly cheap, but you will never regret the spend. This is a relatively compact little woofer – at just 31 square inches, but it contains a thunder that has to be heard to be believed. This is a genuibne audiophile’s subwoofer that will add layers of depth and detail your home cinema system that you will never have noticed before. More than anything, it will command a presence that will be felt right through to your very bones – the 250w class D amp will see to that – and help you immerse yourself, completely and utterly – in the experience of home cinema.

Why do we like it?
KEF are favourites of ours – and this amp sums up quite nicely why. Stunning in every way, with a deep, powerful bass that we just haven’t heard replicated anywhere – or by anything – else.

Of course, subwoofers tned to come in square boxes. And we know that isn’t to everyone’s taste. If you want something that’s a little less… square and boxy, then there are ways around that. The Focal Dome Subwoofer is a super-stylish (yet super-powerful) woffer that brings to mind a mini R2D2. Which we love. If you’re not a Star Wars fan. there’s also the Anthony Gallo TR-1D Subwoofer, which brings to mind a futuristic barrel and the KEF HTB2SE Subwoofer, a disc which can slip neatly into a narrow space. And if floorspace is an issue 9let’s face it – it can be) this nifty Audio Pro Living LV-SUB will hang on a wall. Problem solved.

Apologies for bombarding you with links there. There are probably more options for a woofer out there than you originally thought… and just to prove that point, here’s one more. If money is no object, we suggest you consider the MJ Acoustics Reference 800 MkII. You’ll be £3690 lighter, but the bass will the heaviest money can buy.

We did say we liked the bass. What can we say? There’s some good bass to like.