PA subwoofers help elevate your performance by providing a bold, punchy bass response that smaller loudspeakers can’t offer. An essential addition for DJs but equally crucial for live sound applications.
In this guide, we check out the best PA subwoofers on the market. We’ll cover the leading powered subwoofer options from the top brands in the industry and some superb passive subwoofer options, and if you are on the hunt for a budget PA subwoofer, we have you covered as well.
The Best PA Subwoofer Overall
Let’s start our list with our selection of the best powered subwoofers available today. Powered subwoofers take the hassle out of dealing with external amplifiers and are the go-to choice for mobile performers.
QSC KS118 Review
- Powerful Sound – The KS118 features a powerful 3600W of peak power with a max SPL of 138 dB. It’s loud and punchy without distortion.
- Flexible DSP – The onboard controls give you access to excellent features, including adjustable crossover and a DEEP mode for extra low-frequency depth.
- Extended Warranty – Upon registration of the subwoofer with QSC, you’ll gain access to a lengthy 6-year warranty for extra peace of mind.
- Convenient Casters – The KS118 comes with low noise and heavy-duty swivel casters for easy transportation and setup.
- Big Investment – This level of excellence does come with a high price tag. It’s a significant investment but one that will pay for itself in the long term.
The QSC KS118 is our choice for the best PA subwoofer on the market. It offers a loud and rich bass response that will please even the most fickle bass enthusiast. More importantly, the delivery is tight and controlled without a hint of muddiness.
The extensive tuning flexibility, rugged construction, and modern design complete a near-perfect package. While it’s not cheap, it’s a subwoofer that will not let you down. If you love deep bass, the QSC K118 should be high on your list of options.
Electro-Voice EKX-15SP Review
- Rich Bass Tones – The 15-inch woofer offers clean and satisfying bass at low to medium sound levels. It also maintains a good balance throughout the range.
- QuickSmartDSP – The DSP controls are simple and effective. Choose from a range of presets, including specific presets for Electro-Voice loudspeakers.
- Lightweight – At just 57.7 lbs. (26.17 kg), this is an exceptionally light 15-inch PA subwoofer. Easy to transport and move around.
- Tough Cabinet – The 15mm plywood cabinet with an EV coat is durable and up to the rigors of frequent gigging.
- Grille Rattle – When played close to maximum volume, the front grille does offer a slight rattle, but it’s only noticeable if you are within close proximity of the woofer.
Many subwoofers tend to be a bit overbearing weight-wise, so I’m a big fan of this transport-friendly option from Electro-Voice. It is an excellent choice for solo performers like DJs who need to set up their gear without assistance.
The EKX-15Sp also offers excellent sound quality. The response is clean and engaging, with enough punch and volume for small to medium venues. A well-rounded choice for those that want a lighter-than-average PA subwoofer.
Read our full Electro-Voice EKX-15SP review for more detailed information.
PreSonus ULT18 Review
- Deep Bass – Despite a listed depth of 45Hz, the ULT18 sounds like it goes much lower. Impressive sound quality that hits hard and tight.
- Superb Cabinet – The 18mm Baltic birch cabinet is ultra tough. One of the most robust feeling PA loudspeakers on the market.
- Defeatable LED – The front LED light can be disengaged for clean integration into low-visibility spaces where you want to avoid bright LEDs.
- Manufacturer Backing – Full after-purchase support with a long 6-year warranty. PreSonus also has an excellent reputation for quality.
- No Tuning Options – You’ll have access to a variable Lowpass Filter and Polarity Invert, but it lacks some of the more detailed options of other PA subwoofers.
The PreSonus ULT18 is another excellent powered subwoofer from a brand that has established itself as one of the leaders in the market. Tight and punchy bass response within a dependable cabinet.
The price point might be a little high for budget buyers, but it’s a worthwhile investment thanks to the extended warranty and reliable quality. With a maximum SPL of 135 dB, it also offers ample headroom. A solid choice from an excellent brand.
Mackie DRM18S Review
- Powerful Sub – The DRM18S is an excellent choice for smaller venues. Enough power and output levels to deliver a satisfying bass response.
- Acoustic Correction – The built-in acoustic correction ensures smooth delivery at all volume levels. No mud or distortion. A modern PA subwoofer with features to match.
- Full-Color Display – The back panel features a full-color high-contrast display with an easy-to-access interface for tuning controls.
- Easy Setup – Thanks to the intelligent menu design and extensive features, the DRM118S is easy to incorporate into your existing setup.
- A Little Heavy – While not the heaviest PA subwoofer on the market, it still comes in at a hefty 90 lbs. (40.8 kg).
The latest generation of Mackie DRM powered subwoofers improves on the originals in every way. This PA subwoofer features extensive controls to give you total flexibility over the unit with a modern screen and detailed features.
The build quality is also rugged and dependable. This new series weighs less than its predecessors but is still on the heavier side of things. Despite that, there is little to fault. Reasonable price point supported by exceptional sound quality.
Read our full Mackie DRM18S review for more detailed information.
Electro-Voice ELX200-18SP Review
- Tight Sound – Excellent sound quality for a compact powered subwoofer. Low frequencies are lush and dynamic without muddiness.
- Detailed Controls – Extensive tuning controls ensure you can fine-tune the output to suit your needs. Easy to use and integrate.
- Back Friendly – At just under 64 lbs. (29 kg), it’s relatively easy to transport the unit. An excellent choice for mobile DJs or solo performers that want a lighter PA subwoofer.
- Remote Tuning – Bluetooth functionality opens up access to the QuickSmartMobile app. Configure up to 6 speakers from your mobile. Perfect for assessing room dynamics.
- Tweaking Required For Bands – While exceptional with pre-recorded music, the unit can have issues with live sound applications. You’ll need to fiddle with the tuning options to ensure optimal performance.
The ELX200-18SP is a punchy powered subwoofer that integrates perfectly into a complete PA system with companion Electro-Voice loudspeakers. Crisp and precise bass that delivers low frequencies with ease.
It’s a little hit-and-miss for live sound applications and might not be enough for your needs, but it’s a superb choice for solo performers or DJs. Tough construction and modern features like Bluetooth connectivity also set it apart from other options.
Read our full EV ELX200-18SP review for more detailed information.
Bose F1 Subwoofer Review
- Clean Bose Sound – If you like the Bose sound profile, you’ll love the Bose F1 subwoofer. An iconic sound that is dynamic and rich, albeit a little unbalanced.
- Attractive Design – The clean design philosophy of Bose products extends to this subwoofer. Modern, attractive, and oozing in style.
- Easy To Transport – This lightweight subwoofer comes in at a measly 55 lbs. (25 kg). An excellent alternative to other heavy subwoofers.
- Built-In Bracket – The F1 features built-in brackets for the F1 Model 812 array speaker. Combines well for a complete powered PA system. Though I wish the bracket were a little longer to bring the top speaker to a better height level.
- Could Be Louder – The F1 features excellent sound, but overall volume levels are lower than some might want. Ideal for smaller gigs but not for anything larger.
The Bose F1 is the ideal companion if you have an F1 Model 812. As a complete speaker system, it is among the cleanest, most attractive, and most dynamic options out there. The low weight and compact profile make it an ideal choice for solo performers.
The high build quality is another positive, with enough protections and options to ensure optimal performance for years. While it is a little expensive for a unit this size, the Bose F1 is still worth considering if you like Bose products.
Read our full Bose F1 Subwoofer review for more detailed information.
Bose F1 Subwoofer
Yamaha DXS15XLF Review
- Excellent Bass Extension – The DXS15XLF delivers exceptional low frequencies. With a range down to 31Hz, it features deep bass that is powerful and punchy.
- Digital Signal Processing – The onboard DSP opens up a treasure trove of flexibility. The XTENDED LF mode is particularly impressive. Bass lovers will be pleased.
- Rock Solid Construction – Ultra-tough cabinet and high-quality components while maintaining a relatively reasonable weight.
- No Vibrations – As with all Yamaha products, the attention to detail is superb. Dual damper ensures no vibrations and clean linearity even when pushed to its limits.
- Not Budget Friendly – If you are looking for an affordable PA subwoofer, you’ll need to look elsewhere. A fantastic unit, but be prepared to spend accordingly.
The Yamaha DXS15XLF is one of the best powered subwoofers on the market if you want your low frequencies to be as low as possible. Excellent bass tones that offer punch while retaining a balanced sound.
The industrial strength build quality will also appeal to touring acts that depend on reliable gear. While not the most attractive subwoofer, there is no denying the sheer power and effortless delivery the DXS15XLF offers.
JBL EON718S Review
- Balanced Audio – The JBL EON718S offers detailed and defined bass that doesn’t suffer from muddiness or overt boom. Clean and balanced output.
- Bluetooth Functionality – Bluetooth functionality opens up remote tuning capabilities and streaming functionality. Convenient modern feature to have up your sleeve.
- Good Weight Rating – Not too heavy but also not featherweight. An excellent balanced between size and weight. I’d still recommend a trolley or casters, though.
- Clean Styling – Modern aesthetics that ensure your setup looks and sounds professional.
- Underwhelming Overall Level – While it lists 1500W at peak, the reality is that the EON718S doesn’t hit as hard as other 18-inch subwoofers. Not the best choice for DJs that demand bone-rattling bass.
The JBL EON718S is a capable subwoofer with accurate bass response down to 31HZ, but it does lack power. A solid choice for applications where epic bass is not required but a little underwhelming for bass-heavy applications.
High build quality and modern features are highlights that help set it apart from more basic subwoofers. If you prefer clarity and precision over chest-thumping output levels, the JBL EON718S is an excellent choice.
Pioneer XPRS1182S Review
- Satisfying Kick – This subwoofer falls under the Pioneer DJ sub-label of products, and I can see why. Punchy and satisfying bass with ample definition for DJ applications.
- Easy To Use – The simple back panel makes this a straightforward subwoofer to use. While a bit restrictive, it also has an elegance in its simplicity.
- Heavy Duty Cabinet – The rigid wooden cabinet helps create a richer low-frequency response while adding a good amount of heft and dependability to the unit.
- Good Value – Firmly priced to compete with some of the other popular choices in the market. Good value choice that delivers in the sound department.
- Minimal Features – While I enjoy the simplicity, it is not as thorough as other current-gen subwoofers. Some might find it too restrictive.
Pioneer DJ is the firm favorite for DJ gear, but they have had difficulty breaking into the PA system market. With this latest series of XPRS tops and subs, Pioneer finally has a competitive and impressive lineup for DJs and other PA applications.
While it might not have all the bells and whistles, it offers stable and reliable performance with powerful bass and clean distortion-free delivery. The largest 18-inch powered subwoofer in the lineup is my favorite and is among the best PA subwoofers on the market.
Mackie Thump118S Review
- Clean Delivery – The Thump118S lives up to its name with a rich and lush bass response that gives life to kick drums and bass guitars.
- Not Overly Heavy – The durable cabinet comes in at 66.5 lbs. (30.2 kg), which is much lighter than other 18-inch PA subwoofers.
- Slick Design – The new generation of Mackie products features a clean, modern design aesthetic that is eye-catching and attractive.
- Reasonable Price Point – While not an actual budget offering, it is noticeably cheaper than other PA subwoofers in this price bracket. Great value for money.
- XLR Only – The rear connections only offer XLR. Other subwoofers offer more versatile combo jacks.
The entry-level orientated Thump series from Mackie is a fantastic entry point if you want a solid PA system without spending heaps of money. The 18-inch Thump118S powered subwoofer offers excellent performance and loud output with 132 dB Max SPL.
Low-frequency sounds are crisp and defined, with enough thump and rumble to satisfy bass lovers. Add a pair of main pa speakers from the Mackie Thump lineup, and you have an affordable and capable system on your hands.
Turbosound IQ15B Review
- Engaging Powered Sub – The IQ15B features balanced output with clean audio signals that can reach as low as 40Hz. Not the most powerful sound available but more than enough for smaller gigs.
- Excellent System Control – Comprehensive system control via the Kark Teknik DSP. Straightforward navigation and settings while offering lots of depth and detail for pros.
- Back-Mounted Castors – These castors make transportation easy while giving you a stable base. An excellent combination that makes setup a breeze.
- Enticing Price – The price point is excellent against competing 15-inch PA subwoofers. Despite the lower price, the quality is still high.
- Deceptive Peak Power Rating – The listed 3000W of peak power might lead people to think this subwoofer is much louder than it is.
Turbosound is another popular brand of loudspeakers and accompanying subwoofers. The IQ15B is an excellent entry-level powered subwoofer for smaller applications. Bass is clear and punchy but isn’t as ground-shaking as other options.
The durable cabinet, extensive connectivity, and DSP are not features that are common at this price point, making it one of the best-value PA systems out there. While not great for larger venues, it is still among the best powered subwoofers available.
The Best Budget PA Subwoofer
It’s no secret that loudspeakers and subwoofers can be expensive. But options are available that won’t hurt your bank balance as much. While I recommend you stretch your budget where possible, the below are reasonable choices for beginners with a tight budget.
Behringer Eurolive B1200D-PRO Review
- Surprisingly Punchy – For a lower-powered subwoofer, the B1200D-PRO offers a decent level of punch and fullness in the low end.
- Low Weight – This lightweight subwoofer comes in at just 43.1 lbs. (19.6 kg). An ideal choice for easy transportation to and from gigs.
- Inexpensive – The aggressive price point makes it an excellent option for those that don’t want to spend too much on their setup.
- Only For Small Gigs – With a low power rating and a max SPL of 122 dB, this subwoofer is only suitable for smaller intimate gigs.
- Lifespan – As with many budget offerings, the potential lifespan is shorter than more professional choices.
The Behringer Eurolive B1200D-PRO is a superb budget option to get started with. It offers a good response, and while not as dynamic as more expensive options, it is a great supplement to smaller 8 or 10-inch tops to round out the low-end.
It’s also a light and nimble subwoofer that features built-in protections to help prevent the possibility of blowing the subwoofer. Add in variable high-cut control, and this little powerhouse is an appealing choice. While far from perfect, at this price, it presents excellent value.
Behringer Eurolive B1200D-PRO
Alto TS312S Review
- Impressive Performance – The TS312S packs a sizeable punch for a small 12-inch woofer. It is clear and defined, especially at low to medium volume levels.
- Small Subwoofer – Compared to larger subwoofers, the Alto is compact and portable with a reasonable weight rating.
- Acceptable Quality – Build quality is impressive for a subwoofer at this price point. Solid cabinet and good components.
- Struggles At High Volume – While respectable at low to medium volume levels, the TS312S does begin to struggle and distort when pushed to its limits.
- Easy Match DSP – The easy-match DSP on the rear to match the subwoofer with TS loudspeakers isn’t the best. You’ll be better off with the high-pass filter option.
The Alto TS312S is another solid little subwoofer well suited for smaller gigs where you want a bit of extra roundness in the low end. It won’t bring the punch and rumble some might need, but it will do a great job in certain situations.
The robust cabinet is a highlight with a splatter-spray finish that is very scuff and bump resistant. Combo inputs are also great for a subwoofer at this price point. If you don’t need epic bass, the ALTO TS312S is a viable choice.
The Best Passive PA Subwoofer
Passive subwoofers are the way to go if you prefer more direct control over your speaker system. This can be vital in larger venues where you are dealing with a large number of speakers. You’ll benefit from better projection and greater flexibility to expand the system as required. Below are our top choices if you want to buy a passive sub.
Electro-Voice ELX200-18S Review
- Superb Reach – The ELX200-18S reaches as low as 28Hz. Excellent extension to deliver a full and dynamic bass response.
- Solid Kick – The clarity and punch behind kicks are excellent. Good rumble and definition without boominess throughout the range.
- Rugged Enclosure – The tough 15mm cabinet features a durable polyurea top-coat finish. Designed for the rigors of frequent gigging and transportation.
- Easy To Transport – Speaking of transportation, at just 58.7 lbs. (26.6 kg), this subwoofer is a joy to transport compared to other heavier passive subs.
- Maximum SPL – While the definition and precision are evident, the maximum potential output might not be enough for some applications.
Electro-Voice continues solidifying its reputation as one of the best in the business with the ELX200-18S passive subwoofer. It offers tight and precise tonality with enough grunt to satisfy bass heads.
The ultra-tough enclosure is perfect for both touring gigs and long-term installation. While it could be a little louder, it is still among the best PA subwoofers available today and comes at a very reasonable price.
QSC E118SW Review
- Energetic Bass Response – The E118SW offers a vibrant and dynamic bass response that reaches as low as 32 Hz. Clean and tight with no distortion.
- Loud Output – This passive subwoofer packs a mighty punch. Deep and lush without sounding sloppy or unbalanced.
- Multiple Handles – A total of four handles does make transportation and setup a little easier. A must-have considering how hefty this subwoofer is.
- Textured Finish – The tour-grade finish will keep your subwoofer looking at its best for years to come. The ultra-tough grille is also fantastic.
- Heavy – Be prepared to need a second set of hands to manage this hefty subwoofer. At 95 lbs. (43.1 kg), it’s one of the heaviest passive subwoofers out there.
If you need epic volume levels, this passive subwoofer from QSC should be high on your list of options. But it’s not just loud. It also provides exceptional precision throughout its range and doesn’t skip a beat when put under pressure.
The durable construction and high-quality finish also set it apart from other choices. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s an attractive subwoofer (as much as a square black box can be!). A dependable choice from a brand with a history of excellence.
JBL PRX418S Review
- Potent Delivery – With a Max SPL potential of 130 dB, this subwoofer can be loud enough to handle larger gig types without requiring multiple units.
- Refined Tonality – Loud output is great, but it needs to match with clean tonality. The PRX418S delivers this with detailed and precise bass performance.
- Strong Steel Grille – The rigid 16 gauge steel grille helps protect the 18-inch woofer, and the cabinet is also tough and durable with a DuraFlex coating.
- Good Value – While not the cheapest passive sub, it still represents excellent value for money. An impressive balance between price and performance.
- QA Issues – JBL runs a 100-hour power test on each sub, but some people still come across an occasional dud. I suggest buying from a reputable dealer for added peace of mind.
The JBL PRX418S is among the best pas subwoofers available if you want a passive option. Its robust construction and high-performance capabilities make it an appealing choice as part of a full-range system.
The powerful bass is not overly boomy and retains accuracy. Thanks to the pole mount slot, it can handle heavy speakers on top. If you want your performances to sound good, the PRX418S will fit the bill perfectly.
Mackie DRM18S-P Review
- Impressive Extension – The depth of the delivery is nice and low, reaching 33 Hz. Excellent performance for a passive subwoofer at this price point.
- Superb Value – Speaking of price points, the DRM18S-P offers a lower price than other 18-inch passive subwoofers. A solid choice for people that don’t want to overspend.
- Thick Cabinet – The 18mm plywood cabinet is robust and dependable, with an excellent texture to minimize scuffs and dings.
- Not Heavy – Despite the thick wooden cabinet, the DRM-18S-P maintains a reasonable weight of 75.7 lbs. (34.3 kg).
- Slightly Boomy – The output is loud and reaches nice and low, but it is ever so slightly boomy in certain regions. Not a dealbreaker but not as refined as more premium choices.
The Mackie DRM18S-P is another powerful subwoofer that can integrate cleanly into various potential setups, whether as a solo sub for a mobile DJ or as part of a more comprehensive in-house installation.
The loud output potential and frequency reach are also impressive for a subwoofer that is noticeably cheaper than much of the competition. If you want a capable subwoofer at an affordable price, the Mackie DRM18S-P is a perfect choice.
Our Expert Buying Guide
When putting together your PA system, you’ll face several options. The options that will be right for you will be unique to your situation. But before you hand over your hard-earned money, there are a few things worth considering.
Passive Vs. Powered Subwoofers
This will be the most critical choice you’ll need to make, and while both are good choices, there are fundamental differences you’ll need to be aware of.
Passive subwoofers don’t contain an internal amplifier. As a result, you’ll need an external amplifier to provide power to the subwoofer. This does open up greater flexibility in system configuration but can also be more complex for beginners.
A passive PA system is an excellent choice for venues like nightclubs.
Powered or active subwoofers have an in-built amplifier designed explicitly for that subwoofer. This type of subwoofer is easier to set up and is often the best choice for simple PA systems with one or two loudspeakers and a subwoofer.
If you are a beginner, I suggest you stick to a powered subwoofer. However, a passive subwoofer will give you greater control and flexibility if you want to establish a broader system.
Power Ratings & Max SPL
The other notable thing to be aware of is the power rating and Max SPL of the subwoofer you purchase.
Companies like to throw out large numbers when it comes to power. But this can often be deceiving and not an accurate indication of the potential output of the unit. While a subwoofer might list 2000W of peak power, it might only be able to handle a much smaller number of continuous power.
Aim to get subwoofers that will be able to provide you with enough volume for your gigs.
Assessing the Max SPL can give you greater insight into how loud the subwoofer can get. But once again, the listed number is just the Peak and will not represent how loud the unit is for continuous use. It also won’t illustrate how good it will sound when it approaches its maximum capacity.
Do not rely on the marketing hype from the manufacturer or even the specs provided, as there is often more than meets the eye. When choosing a subwoofer, it is best to be able to test it in person or read reviews from people you trust before making a decision.
Do PA Speakers Need Subwoofer?
Large PA speakers can do an excellent job of handling low frequencies, but for maximum tonality in lower frequencies, a subwoofer is essential. It will help provide a deeper and more dynamic bass response than just a PA speaker.
Is One Subwoofer Enough For PA System?
One subwoofer and a pair of loudspeakers are enough for most applications to handle small to medium-sized gigs. You may need more subwoofers and speakers to fill the space for larger events.
Are Passive Subwoofers Better?
Passive subwoofers are ideal for larger spaces where multiple subwoofers may be required. They are also often lighter, but they need an external amplifier to power the subwoofer.
Which One Should You Buy?
Selecting the best PA subwoofer for your needs can be a challenge. The types of gigs you play, the size of the room, and the size and quality of your existing loudspeakers can all play a role in determining which subwoofer is right for you.
For budget-conscious buyers, the Behringer Eurolive B1200D-PRO is an excellent starting point. It’s cheap but capable enough to round out the bottom end for smaller gigs.
The passive Electro-Voice ELX200-18S is a fantastic choice for those establishing more comprehensive PA systems. An excellent combination of high build quality, impressive reach, and portability makes it a top choice.
When factoring in all potential variables, the QSC KS118 is our top pick in the powered subwoofers category. Its dynamic and punchy output is perfect for EDM and Hip-Hop but equally excellent for live sound applications.
While I do appreciate the nuances of a passive setup, most people will want to opt for a powered option, and the QSC KS118 is among the very best PA subwoofers you can buy today.