Subwoofers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes for car stereos, home theatres, and massive sound systems. While they’re all designed to boost the bass and knock your socks off, most are big, clunky, and tend to stick out like a sore thumb.
So what’s the solution?
If you want a subwoofer for your stereo or home cinema that won’t sit out in the middle of the room, taking up floor space and looking like a utility box, put it in the wall. The best in wall subwoofers sound great mounted in any wall while taking up no floor space and looking cool, too.
So, let’s take a look at the top models currently on the market and find the perfect one for you.
Top 8 Best In Wall Subwoofers You Should Buy in 2021 Reviews
1 Acoustic Audio HDS10 10″ In-Wall Passive Subwoofer – Best Budget In-Wall Subwoofer
I’m going to start with the most affordable in-wall subwoofer and work my way upwards. Let’s see just how much you should invest to get a good-sounding speaker.
The HDS10 by Acoustic Audio is a good start. This speaker costs just a squeak over 50 smackeroos and has a pretty big voice for that price. It can handle from 20 up to 300 Amps, so that’s impressively powerful for a cheaper speaker. Of course, being a 10-inch cone doesn’t hurt.
Let’s look at the construction here…
The cone itself is a Kevlar-like fiber-reinforced woven construction that should stand up to some heavy-hitting. This is surrounded by a butyl rubber surround which keeps it flexible. The mount is plastic but still pretty sturdy. This is covered by a thin metal mesh grille.
The trim and grille are both white, though you can paint over the grille to match your wall if you want. Just be sure to give it a light coat so that the holes don’t get clogged up with paint.
This isn’t the best speaker on the market. While the manufacturer claims a frequency response of 26Hz up to 200Hz, I don’t think you’re getting a lot of action in the lower ranges. At the same time, what you do hear is fairly clear and accurate.
However, I found that there was a bit of internal rattle in this speaker when pushed up to high volumes. The other problem is that when you let this speaker rip, the grille tends to come popping off. I guess you could fix this with a little bit of glue because otherwise, it’s more than a bit annoying.
- Very affordable at only $50.
- Decent power and okay sound up to medium-high levels.
- Grille can slip off when played loudly.
- Speaker rattles at high volumes.
2 Monoprice Caliber Series 10″ In-Wall Subwoofer – Best Low Cost In-Wall Subwoofer
As the first of two Monoprice offerings on this list of the best in wall subwoofers, this speaker costs a little more than the Acoustic Audio model we just saw. About $15 more, to be precise, but construction-wise, they’re very similar.
Both this Caliber speaker and the HDS10 are 10” cones made from woven fiber. Here it’s “Aramid,” which is the same as Kevlar, just not the same brand name. This tough cone is designed to stand up to some serious boom boom, and I think it will retain its stiffness and original shape over a long period of use.
The thin metal grille here is also considered paintable. The plastic trim is not really, though; in practice, you could paint it with a spray can if you wanted to change the color. Maybe also spray over a protective clear coat to prevent scratches.
It’s a shame these don’t come in colors other than white. At least black and brown would be great to match standard speaker colors.
The sound here is noticeably better than the HDS10. The bass is deeper and more robust. This speaker is also 300W, so you can crank it up and get a chest-rattling boom out of it. There’s no rattle at high volume, although at the max, you will hear a bit of distortion.
Overall, a good little affordable speaker. My only complaint is the flimsiness of the wall mounting clips. They do a good job preventing wall rattles but are weak plastic and seem like they’ll break easily with just a bit too much tension.
- Affordable price.
- Paintable grille.
- Decent sound and good power.
- Mounting clips are cheap, flimsy plastic, so extra care must be taken during installation.
- Distortion can be heard at max volume.
3 OSD IWS10 10″ In-Wall Subwoofer – Best Small Room In-Wall Subwoofer
In my review, I have three different products from OST or Optimal Speaker Design. The first is this 10” sub that looks a whole lot like the previous two speakers we’ve already seen.
So how is it different?
For starters, the price. This speaker is close to $90, meaning it’s close to double what you’d pay for the Acoustic Audio HDS10. With a stiff polypropylene cone and rubber surround, it’s not even convincingly more durable. However, the construction of the casing and trim does seem a lot better. Plus, the grille is magnetic here, which helps it stay on much better.
It’s also paintable – this time, both the grille and trim can be painted, and once again, I recommend spraying if possible. Though if you need to match your wall color to keep it looking subtle, you can roll it as well.
On the other hand…
It’s only rated for 200 Watts, which makes it noticeably quieter than either the HDS10 or the Monoprice Caliber. Speakers in the same size and general price categories. All of these are passive speakers that require a bass preamp. However, even with a lot of power in your amp, this speaker doesn’t get nearly as loud as the other two.
Mounting is also different here. The IWS10 comes with a metal mounting bracket. It’s one of the easiest to install in-wall subwoofers, but it rattles. Of course, you can solve the problem by getting a different mounting plate or with a bunch of duct tape. However, that’s certainly an annoyance for a brand new product.
The sound of these speakers is nice and low, smooth, and clear. It sounds a bit better than the previous two, but for more money, less power, and set-up annoyance, there are better options.
- Good, clear bassy sound.
- Both grille and trim are paintable.
- Mounting bracket rattles.
- At 200 Watts, this speaker lacks power.
4 OSD SL800 Dual-Drive Subwoofer – Best Compact In-Wall Subwoofer
We’re going to continue with OSD to give them another chance to get into the best in wall subwoofer championships. Their SL800 is a step in an interesting and overall better direction.
Let’s have a look…
First off, you’re going to notice that this is our first black-grilled speaker. It’s also a much bigger animal at 14.5” x 28”. What’s going on? This is a dual-drive in-wall subwoofer, meaning it has two drivers or two speakers in it. This includes an 8” passive cone and a 10” radiator cone below it. It’s also rated to handle 300 Watts.
At a price of only about $100, you’re getting about double the speaker than the cheaper models we’ve already seen. Both cones are polypropylene in durable rubber surrounds, and they do sound good. They’re set into a sealed and tuned enclosure that also keeps out dust.
But there’s something very important to note here…
This is not truly an in-wall speaker. At a thickness of 5” including feet, it can be slipped in anywhere around your room and can actually stand up on the floor. It has mounting brackets on the back to make it into an “on-wall” speaker that you can mount on drywall plugs.
However, if you want to place this speaker into the wall, you’ll have to build a stud box for it. You’ll also need to cut the drywall perfectly as there’s no trim to help out.
This speaker might just be worth it, though. It has a nice smooth output and a truly clear sound, with enough power to fill up any small to medium-sized room.
- Good price and power.
- Clear sound with no buzz or distortion.
- Not truly an in-wall speaker – but can be mounted in a wall with a lot of extra work.
5 Monoprice Alpha In-Wall Subwoofer – Most Reliable In-Wall Subwoofer
This is Monoprice’s second product on my list. You’ll remember that the first, the Caliber, was affordable and not bad sounding.
So how does the Alpha compare?
The Alpha In-Wall Speaker is a 10” carbon fiber subwoofer speaker that handles 300 Watts of pure pumping power. While the Caliber was also a 10” speaker, this one is made of higher-quality carbon fiber weave, making it stiffer and a lot longer-lasting (without shape distortion) than the Aramid fiber model.
It’s also a lot more resistant to warping than other polymer drivers. It’s also more responsive to power, which means you can get more out of this speaker using less power than with other materials.
The rubber surround also adds to the driver’s durability…
Together, they form a driver that has a claimed frequency response of 33 – 230Hz. And I think this claim is quite accurate. Cranked up, this speaker delivers some pretty solid low frequencies.
Although the real test is to try it with some of the best Songs You Need a Great Subwoofer to Fully Appreciate. Let some bass-heavy beats loose, and this speaker does a solid job handling it. I found the sound impressive for a speaker priced at only a bit over $100.
On the downside, though, these speakers are 6 inches deep. This means they won’t fit in a standard 4½” wall. This greatly limits your choice of where to locate them, as they won’t fit in standard stud walls. If you have a deeper area or a built-out TV or stereo cabinet, however, you’re in luck.
- Good sound at a good price = excellent value for money.
- Solid, durable driver with little distortion.
- Grilles can be painted.
- Can’t be installed in a standard 4½” stud wall.
6 OSD IWS88 Dual In-Wall Subwoofer – Best Value for the Money In-Wall Subwoofer
The folks at Optimum Speaker Design are having one last crack at the ideal in-wall subwoofer. This time, they’re offering the IWS88 Dual In-Wall Subwoofer for our listening pleasure. Why “Dual”? Simple – this speaker features twin 8” drivers. For the same price as the Monoprice Alpha, you can get this double-driver subwoofer instead.
The question is, though, “Is it better?”
While OSD really dropped the ball on their ISW10, I think they’ve managed to do a lot better here and at a very good price to boot. While the construction is the same as the 10” speaker from before, with a polypropylene cone and rubber surround, the small size must help to make these sound better.
They’re also connected with a stiff, reinforced back bridge which must also help. I’m not saying this is the same as having a single 16” sub, but the back bridge adds some power to the mix. A lot more than you would expect from two independent 8” woofers.
Once again, though, the mounting system leaves a bit to be desired. You’ve got dog-ear clips here that clip the speaker right onto your sheetrock. However, they’re finicky and hard to get tight without slipping. On the plus side, though, they don’t buzz once they’re securely tightened like with the ISW10 model.
In the end, I think this is a great in-wall subwoofer for the price. It handles a max power of 350 Watts and really can get loud and low, adding a decent thump to your bass delivery. It may not be as durable over the long-term as the Monoprice Alpha due to its construction, though. But you’ll still get a lot of miles out of it for sure.
- Good sound for a good price.
- More power than we’ve seen so far for the louder low-end.
- Paintable grille and trim.
- Finicky installation.
- Trim and grille come off-white, not pure white.
7 JBL Professional Control 40CS/T – Best In-Wall Subwoofer for Bass
With six down and only two subwoofers left to go, it’s time to get into one of the biggest names in speakers these days. JBL has got a subwoofer that delivers a big punch, which should be no surprise if you know their reputation. Bass is key to the JBL sound.
They call this their “high-impact” subwoofer, probably because it has a maximum power handling of 400 Watts. That’s some superior power, alright, and for 8” cones, these guys put out a whole lot of full and clear low end. If you want one of the most powerful in-wall subwoofers, this could be it.
Why did I say “these guys”?
That’s because these speakers are sold as a pair. That’s great if you want a big room-filling surround sound, but not so good if you only have the money for one. The pair costs around $650, which works out to $325 each. So that’s a lot steeper than what we’ve been looking at so far.
The frequency range of 32 – 300Hz isn’t quite as low as it could be, but you can still get some huge rumble out of these, especially in a set. These drivers are simply polypropylene cones with rubber surrounds, copper coils, and vented aluminum formers. They should give you decent longevity. But the sound, I think, is tremendously clear.
Now, are you ready for the bad news?
I haven’t been entirely honest with you. While these are great-sounding speakers, they’re actually designed as ceiling-mounted speakers, not in-wall speakers.
You can certainly set them up in a wall or a built-out cabinet, but their 13” depth is going to be a very serious limitation to where you can place them. I still think they have a lot of potential, but they won’t be for everyone’s set-up, unfortunately.
- Excellent, powerful sound.
- High-impact bass delivery.
- 13” deep and designed for in-ceiling installation.
- A lot pricier than the competition.
8 Klipsch RW-5802 II In-Wall Subwoofer – Best Premium In-Wall Subwoofer
Now for my final trick, I present to you one dual subwoofer that costs less than the pair of JBLs. Well, it’s not a trick at all. Shouldn’t it cost less?
Well, not really, since you’re getting a dual-driver subwoofer here, and the Klipsch brand reassures you about the quality of the product. It’s just a little over $600, which is nothing, really, for a wonderful sound.
Isn’t that right?
In this case, I don’t think you’re going to be disappointed. Klipsch has twinned a pair of 8” cerametallic cones in a sealed integrated enclosure to produce some serious bass sound. Like most Klipsch speakers, the focus is on accuracy here, and this unit delivers a clear and accurate low end.
The super-stiff ceramic-aluminum material in the cones is extremely distortion resistant, and that maintains a beautiful clarity of sound. The stiff enclosure also helps to increase the sound, giving great volume for a 300W load.
The frequency response of 45 – 140Hz is the only downside. They sound great – smooth and clean, but I still miss the really, really deep end.
These speakers go up easily and have a really low profile. The magnetic grilles and the trim can both be painted from their factory white color. Or you can leave them off to show the black and copper under faces for an industrial look.
Just be prepared for shaking and buzzing. I don’t mean in the speakers themselves (if they buzz, return them – yours are defective). I mean in your walls.
That massive bass is going to shake everything, so be sure to do some extra reinforcement and add extra screws and maybe even caulk any sheetrock seams around the installation site. You should also put some fiberglass insulation behind the speaker to help keep the sound where you want it.
- Beautiful big and clear sound.
- Powerful and long-lasting.
- Require extra reinforcement on installation.
How to Buy the Best In Wall Subwoofer
Subwoofers are fairly simple machines. But the way they are tweaked and the materials they’re made from can make huge differences in sound quality, volume, and power. Here’s what to look for in a great in-wall subwoofer.
Almost all in-wall subwoofers are passive, which means you’ll need a subwoofer amplifier to power these babies up. The flip side is that you can then run that power over your cables and don’t need to have an outlet within reach like you would need to plug in active speakers. This lets you place them almost anywhere.
There’s no point investing in speakers that you can’t hear or that are too small for the room you want to fill up with a wall of sound. Speakers rated at 200 Watts may do the trick for small rooms, but for medium to big rooms, you’ll need 300 Watts or more.
Furthermore, two subwoofers in a medium or big room will help to distribute sound. However, wattage is not the only factor in making a big sound. Speaker design is critical, and so is the stiffness and design of any housing they’re in.
As we’re talking about in-wall or architectural speakers here, it’s important to remember that installation is a tricky business. If you can do it yourself and have the necessary tools, great. But if not, a contractor might be a major extra cost to take into consideration.
As well as the cost, you have to think of placement. Getting your speakers in the right place is a bit of a trick (see our article on subwoofer placement for some great tips). You will need to cut a hole in the wall, so you want to be sure you have the size and placement of your speakers right before you do. A 10” speaker usually needs a 12” hole, so make sure you can spare it.
As always, price is a big factor in choosing a great speaker. For in-wall speakers, I suggest spending as much as you can. Why? Because if you buy cheap speakers and they fail, or if you want to upgrade later, you may find yourself cutting holes in the wall all over the place. Get something good, and it will last you as long as you need.
Looking for a Great Subwoofer or Other Speakers?
We have you covered. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Subwoofers for Music, the Best 12-Inch Subwoofers, the Best 15-inch Subwoofers, the Best In-Wall Speakers, the Best In-Ceiling Speakers, the Best 7.1 Home Theater System, and the Best High End Home Theater Speakers you can buy in 2021.
You may also like our detailed reviews of the Best Ceiling Speakers For Dolby Atmos, the Best Wireless TV Speakers, the Best Floor Standing Speakers, the Best Bookshelf Speakers, the Best Smart Speakers, the Best Party Speakers, and the Best Computer Speakers Under $100 currently on the market.
What is the Best In Wall Subwoofer?
This is a strange one for me. I rarely recommend the most expensive product on a list. After all, it might be the overall best, but you have to consider what the average person can afford. But this time, I just can’t help myself.
OSD IWS88 Dual is a great all-around in-wall subwoofer for the price. I probably would have recommended it in a flash if I hadn’t heard the Klipsch. But since I did, my enduring love and choice for the best go to the…
This speaker is expensive, I know. But it’s also miles ahead of the competition in terms of sound quality. If you can afford it, get one. That’s what I’m saying.
Whichever speaker you choose, I hope you find that in-wall was the way to go, to save floor space, keep things neat and tidy, and of course, crank the bass that up until now was missing from your life.
Until next time, happy listening.