We have the movies to thank for the creation of the subwoofer. They first came into existence in the 60s in their original rather basic format. This was to add some bottom end to home entertainment systems. But it was in the 70s that we started to get those big speakers pumping out incredibly low frequencies to cinema audiences.
Films like “Earthquake” were brought to life because of this sound addition.
The usual frequency range for a basic subwoofer is 20–200 Hz, and this is a basic standard for home consumer products. For professional use, it will drop to below 100Hz and below 80 in some THX systems. Subwoofers are not used alone and form part of a sound design that covers all the frequencies.
Therefore we decided to take a look at the Best PA Subwoofers currently available to find out which is the best option for your PA system. It was only natural that with live performances increasing in volume, that the subwoofer would find its way onto the stage as part of a PA system. And it has become a necessary part of the balance of PA sound these days.
Best PA Subwoofers Product Reviews And Buyers Guide
1 Electro-Voice ZXA1SUB 12” Compact Powered Subwoofer – Best Quality Budget PA Subwoofer
Electro-Voice was established in 1927 in Minnesota. They are not the kind of company that some might think of if you are thinking about sound. But inside the industry, and with those that know them, they have a big reputation for quality.
This subwoofer is a relatively compact unit weighing only 46 pounds. It houses one twelve inch speaker and has a peak rating of 700 watts. That will deliver about 350 watts RMS. As we said, it is a compact unit and measures only 15.75 by 17.5 by 18 inches. This makes it quite portable, and it will be easy to place, whether it is on the floor or mounted.
Nice and efficient…
It has some very good features and includes a 100hZ high-pass filter. This means that the main speakers do not have to handle lower frequencies. This makes the complete system much more efficient.
The frequency response of this speaker is 53Hz–93Hz (-3dB). There are two stereo XLR inputs and two XLR outputs with a switchable polarity.
Built for the road…
It has quite a strong build as you would expect and is made of plywood, which does make it a little lighter. But the material is quite strong and sturdy, and it has a vinyl covering with a mesh grille. It is perfectly able to stand the rigors of being “on the road.”
The impressive element to this speaker is the sound, and many people say it is better than most one by 15-inch cabinets. Maybe it could have had an adjustable crossover rather than it being fixed, but this is not really a dealbreaker. It is the sound that matters.
That, and how tough it is, it passes both tests with flying colors. That certainly makes it a contender for one of the top PA subwoofers.
A superb addition to your system…
This will be an ideal subwoofer to attach to your PA for venues that are medium-sized or smaller. If you are looking for a subwoofer for that size of venue that is compact and easy to move but still tough, this is a good option. It is set at a very reasonable price point.
- Strong build, yet lightweight and easy to move.
- Some very good features and good sonic features at a reasonable price.
- Only for small to medium-sized venues.
2 Electro-Voice ELX200-18SP 18” 1200W Powered Subwoofer – Best Mid-Range PA Subwoofer
We stay with Electro-Voice for another subwoofer. This one is a little more powerful with an 18in speaker. This cabinet has one or two interesting additions. For a start, it has what Electro-Voice calls QuickSmart DSP, which is their version of Digital Signal Processing.
It will allow you to move between four presets for different environments to get the optimum sound performance. They are Music, Speech, Live, and Club settings. You can also adjust the parameters, and it will let you save five presets, which can include crossover matching, volume, and input levels.
It has a similar build to other Electro-Voice products. Being made from robust plywood with a black vinyl covering and a protective black metal grille on the front. There are inset carrying handles on the sides.
It has a class D amplification and has a total peak wattage of 1200 watts. That equates to about 600 watts RMS. When you consider that this cabinet is housing a powerful 18-inch speaker, it is not particularly bulky or heavy.
It measures 23.70 by 20.00 by 22.60 inches and weighs 64 pounds. It is not, therefore, going to be that difficult to carry around or to place mounted or on the floor.
Time for some specs…
This particular speaker has a selectable crossover of 80, 100, 120, and 150Hz. It has a frequency response of 40Hz – 145Hz (-10dB) and a maximum SPL of 132dB. There are two input XLR connections and two output XLR connections.
This is a versatile speaker that will be at home in a variety of operating environments. PA subwoofers are not only used for rock concerts; they appear in other places. It is this variety of capabilities that make some a very good speaker. It is also the reason some are not so good.
Versatile and practical…
It is well-made and has enough power for various uses at small to medium/large venues. The added additions also make this a good buy. If you are looking for a versatile speaker with a little bit of power, this could be an interesting option. It is getting towards being quite expensive, though.
- Powerfully built with some good additions.
- Selectable crossover and choices of DSP preset.
- It will be a little expensive for some.
3 BEHRINGER EUROLIVE B1200D-PRO – Best Budget PA Subwoofer
Over to our German friends from Behringer for their offering to the world of the PA Subwoofer. I quite like Behringer, not because they produce excellence, because they don’t. Not because they have a very good build quality. But because they are a company that is good at giving people cost-effective options.
Some people can’t afford the big stuff. Behringer makes sure they get at least something to use that has an acceptable quality. I like that attitude. And this Behringer Eurolive B1200D-PRO is a very good option for those who might be on a budget. For that reason, I will consider it as one of the Best Subwoofers for PA Systems. Based on its price point, not just on its performance.
Ready for a surprise?
In fact, you may find that this subwoofer surprises you. It has a twelve-inch speaker with a power rating of 500 watts peak. About 250 RMS or possibly slightly less. It has a maximum SPL of 122 dB, which isn’t the best you will find. There is a +6dB bass boost with frequencies that can be selected between 4Hz and 90Hz.
There are also selectable high-pass filtered outputs that operate between 70Hz to 150Hz, for when you plug in the main speakers.
If size matters…
They are quite a compact unit measuring 17.0 by 14.8 by 16.7 inches and weigh just 43 pounds. They are, therefore, quite easy to carry around.
Controls and connections are located on the back. They include two XLR inputs and two XLR out with two XLR through connections. It has a choice of normal and reverse polarity. It has a reasonably strong build and is made of a very durable strong molded plastic. They are pole-mountable if you choose.
A superb budget option for smaller venues…
There is no doubt that this speaker offers excellent value for money. The sound quality without being exceptional is adequate for many uses. If you are planning to use it in a small venue, then it is ideal. But we wouldn’t go any larger than that. Even in a medium-sized packed venue, it might struggle a little. It will suit most types of music and operations.
But if you are a DJ looking for that heavy bottom thump, then you will do better elsewhere. It really does not provide you with that. As we said, great value for money if it is used in the right environment. It is designed in Germany and built at the Behringer factory in China.
- Decent build quality at a very competitive price.
- Some very good sound options.
- Some will just need a better and more powerful sound than this can offer.
4 PSB SubSeries 100 GLSB Compact Powered Subwoofer – Best Small PA Subwoofer
If you are looking for just about the smallest decent subwoofer you can find, then this may be it. In fact, it is so compact you might even be able to use it as a desktop speaker with your computer. It measures just 7.83 6.38 by 6.38 inches and weighs just 6 pounds. Now that doesn’t leave much of a footprint.
It uses a 50 watt RMS Class D amp with a five and a quarter inch long-throw woofer. It can handle about 100 watts at peak power. But more interestingly, it can go below 40Hz, delivering an accurate and tight sound.
The woofer is a polypropylene construction that is suspended acoustically inside its cabinet, which is resonance-free. This has the effect of creating a very clear sound definition for a speaker of its size. Inside the speaker is also a one and a half-inch voice coil.
It has a frequency response of 39Hz-150Hz with a variable crossover frequency from 50Hz-150Hz. There are left and right RCA inputs and a Low-Frequency effects input (LFE). This will be useful if you ever want to switch between surround sound or two-channel audio.
Good sound for the size…
Of course, being so compact it lacks certain features, there is no fan inside as an example. It is really only suitable for home use or the smallest of gatherings. However, it does give a decent sound considering its size, but it isn’t cheap.
- A very compact speaker that can be used at home.
- Has some decent sound features.
- Some are just going to want something more powerful.
5 BEHRINGER, VQ1800D – Best Value for the Money PA Subwoofer
Back to Behringer for another great value offering. This one though, has a bit more punch about it and some interesting extra features. And this speaker is going to give you a powerful bottom end sound.
It has a Class D amplifier and an 18-inch speaker. There is also a stereo crossover for use with active two-way speakers. In terms of the quality of the low frequencies, it will compete with most other speakers that cost much more.
Does size matter, really?
One of the important attributes of this speaker is the power that comes from the size of the cabinet. It measures 20.79 by 20.79 by 26.38 inches and weighs 84 pounds, which for the amount of sound it delivers is quite remarkable. The Class D amp makes the difference, of course.
This technology allows you to build lightweight speakers that still produce an enormous amount of power. This speaker could have weighed a lot more than it does but is still very heavy. It has a frequency response of 40Hz – 200kHz and a maximum SPL of 124 dB. There are two XLR inputs and four XLR outputs located on the rear of the unit.
What did we really like about this unit?
The cabinet is made of wood with a metal mesh grille. There are inset handles for carrying. This is a very powerful and practical speaker for use in small to medium venues. At 84 pounds, it isn’t lightweight, but it certainly packs a punch. And with a rugged 18-inch speaker, you can’t expect it to be lightweight.
At its price point, it is a very attractive option.
- A powerful speaker with some good sound options.
- Well-built with a tough enclosure at a great price point.
- Some may find it heavy to carry around.
6 JBL Professional SRX818SP Portable Self-Powered Subwoofer System – Best Premium PA Subwoofer
We all know about JBL. Quality speaker manufacture for decades but also not the cheapest you will find. That exactly describes this subwoofer. A quality product, but it is not cheap.
The build quality is impressive with its tough MDF cabinet and steel mesh grilles. It has been given JBL’s DuraFlex finish. There is no doubt that this has been built to last.
It is quite large in size and of course, very heavy…
Not surprising when you consider that underneath the attractive casing, there is an 18-inch woofer about to bite. It measures 26.89 by 26.92 by 22.62 inches and weighs 87 pounds. Therefore, it is a very heavy unit and will take quite a bit of moving around. It is unlikely it will fit in a standard size vehicle.
It is not fitted with castors, though at this weight and price point, it really ought to be. However, they are available as an optional extra. That might not be a bad idea, assuming you don’t want to visit the doctor with a bad back.
But how does it sound?
The 18-inch speaker has a frequency range of 35 Hz to 120 kHz and a big SPL of 135dB. It has a peak power rating of 1000 watts, which probably gives about 500 watts at RMS. JBL speaker, of course, but a Crown amp that drives it with a big powerful sound. It has a DSP that is configurable.
On the rear panel are the connections with an LCD screen. The ink describing the contents is finished in glow in the dark paint — an interesting but also useful idea.
Quality comes at a cost…
It is a powerful speaker with a good quality build and is fitted with suspension points and mounts for tripod or pole use. It has lots going for it, but it is heavy, and the price point will put some off, even though it is JBL.
- A powerful speaker with some good sound features.
- Tough, rugged build.
- Very heavy, and the price will deter some.
Best PA Subwoofers Buyers Guide
Time for Some Serious Low-Frequency Sounds
What you will be using your subwoofer for will determine what you buy. And that will usually be determined by the size of the venues you will be using it in. If you are going to use it in larger venues, then you will need at least an 18-inch woofer. Depending on the size of the venue, maybe even two. If it is for a medium or smaller size club or venue, 12 inches will be adequate.
The sound options are all quite similar, with frequency responses, and SPL’s all about the same.
The build quality though, will be important…
If you are carrying it to different places, it may take some knocks. A poor build will start to suffer quite quickly. Fortunately, nearly all the speakers we looked at had a strong quality build.
If you are moving it around, the size will also be important. If it is heavy, can you actually carry it on your own? There are some heavy speakers on that list. And transportation of the speaker needs to be a consideration.
The budget also needs to be considered…
There is quite a range of price points. But there are some good quality cost-effective speakers if you have a tight budget.
Looking for more superb subwoofer options?
So, what are the Best PA Subwoofers?
We would be looking for a medium-sized woofer for a PA. Not massive power, just enough to handle small to medium venues. We would want it fairly lightweight to be able to move it around. But also with a strong build.
We would, therefore, go for the …
It features a strong build, yet is lightweight and easy to move. Plus, it sounds great, especially when you consider its affordable price for such quality.
Happy public addressing in the low, low end!