Published On: November 12, 2021

Best 15-Inch Subwoofers: Dig Deeper

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Published On: November 12, 2021

Best 15-Inch Subwoofers: Dig Deeper

When the goal is clean, deep, loud bass, the old saying about car engines also applies to subwoofers: "There's no replacement for displacement."

Subwoofers are an awesome way to add powerful and deep bass you can feel to your sound system. But subs are not just about brute force, they let you fine-tune the quality of your system’s bass response. Get the displacement you need to achieve your deepest bass desires with these powerful 15″ (and 16″) subwoofers!

Creating deep bass is basic physics, this is, in essence, an air pump, the more air you move the more bass you create, and the air is surprisingly heavy, so it takes a large driver and a powerful motor to dig deep and get loud.

Typically, 15-inch subwoofers pack a serious punch. You can go larger, there are options at 18″, 24″ and even larger. But 15″ (and for the sake of this article also 16″) subs get the job done and then some. For most applications, you can get everything you need from 15″ models, especially if you build a system with dual or quad subs.

Subwoofer Designs: Sealed, Dual-Opposed, Ported & Passive Radiator

Although there are more than four types of subwoofers, these are the most commonly seen varieties:

Sealed: The most basic type of subwoofer design. It’s essentially just a driver in a sealed box with an amplifier to power it. However, appearances can be deceiving; modern sealed subwoofers use DSP programming to tailor the response and output of the driver, as well as how it interacts with the amplifier, in order to maximize the output as well as the fidelity that this type can achieve.

Sealed subwoofers are typically smaller and a little lower priced versus ported with the same driver and amp (from the same brand). However, ported models at comparable price points, despite being larger, tend to provide more output near the port tuning frequency, so you get more decibels per dollar.

Dual-opposed: In this type of subwoofer design, two of the same driver are placed at opposite ends of the cabinet. As a result, “force cancellation” occurs, in which the momentum of each subwoofer driver cancels out the other. As a result, dual-opposed subwoofer designs are notably free of any driver-induced vibration.

A dual opposed design allows for a small enclosure with a relatively large amount of driver surface area. Consequently, the output is greater than that of a single driver in a similarly sized cabinet. The only catch is that overcoming the pressure differential in such a small enclosure requires a lot of power, so you’re paying for a beefier amp as well as two active drivers. This is a relatively uncommon design, but it is very effective and likely represents the best way to make an extremely compact subwoofer that still performs well.

Ported: A ported sub increases output near the tuning frequency by using one or more tuned ports. Although this necessitates a larger cabinet for a given driver size, from a cost-benefit standpoint, the extra output is usually deemed worthwhile, at least in installations where there is room to spare.

Because ported subwoofers are the most common type, there are a plethora of models to choose from. The most important thing to know about corded subwoofers is that they typically roll off very steeply below the port tuning frequency, as opposed to sealed subs, which roll off more gradually.

Passive Radiator: Passive radiators are similar to tuned ports in many ways. The passive radiator is a driver that is housed in the same cabinet as the active driver but does not have a motor structure. Instead, the diaphragm of the passive radiator is tuned by its weight and size in relation to the main driver.

The disadvantage of a passive radiator is that it is more expensive than a tuned port, but the advantage is that it is immune to port distortion sounds, which can be an issue with some ported designs.

Product Overview – Best 15-Inch Subwoofer

There is no such thing as a “Best” subwoofer, but there are subwoofers that are the best for a given application, or budget, or usually some combination of the two. And in some cases, two, three or even four “lesser” subs could easily be as good or better an investment than a single larger and costlier subwoofer. But, if you are shopping for a 15-inch sub, it means you are getting very serious about bass, so this list skews toward performance while keeping a close eye on the price/performance ratio the selections offer.

So take the term “best” with a grain of salt and instead think about what you wish to achieve with your subwoofer system. Do you want to play super deep? Loud? Both? In a large room? Is infrasonic “you can’t hear it but you can feel it” bass important to you? In this list, you’ll find options that’ll help get you to your goal.

The Best 15-Inch Subwoofers

Best Ported Extreme

SVS PB16-Ulta 16" 1500-watt Ported Subwoofer
$3499 $2754.99


Super-low and precise bass that can fill a large room 

Yes, this subwoofer is also 16-inches, which just shows that 16 is the new 15. Choose this flagship SVS ported sub if you want to fill a large room with bass that exerts an undeniable physicality. You will sense the sound, not just hear it. And don’t worry, it’s not just about brute force, this subwoofer is capable of delivering tremendous finesse. It will do true justice to your movies, video games, music, or any audio that demands verisimilitude in deep bass reproduction.

The built-in Sledge STA-1500D amplifier powers this heavy-hitting sub, which features the biggest SVS driver has ever used. It’s rated at 1500 W RMS and 5000+ W peak power (lower RMS, higher peak than the Monoprice). And like other recent subwoofers from SVS, owners may control the PB16-Ultra utilizing the SVS app, and as a nicety, it is also possible to adjust the sub utilizing the front display (in other words you don’t have to go digging behind the sub). It is a very thoughtful design, built to last. The PB16-Ultra weighs in at a rock-solid 174.5 pounds and measures 25″ x 21.7″ x 30.9″ when including the grill.

Feature Highlights

  • Easy (and precise) adjustments with the SVS app, remote control, and LED display
  • Super-low frequency output with bass down to 13 Hz, depending on the port tuning
  • Robust construction to house the big drive unit and maintain sound quality and accuracy
  • Goes toe-to-toe with the Monoprice Monolith 16″ Ported

Best of the Best

Monoprice Monolith 16-inch THX Ultra 2000-Watt Ported Subwoofer
$2299.99


Makes your deep bass dreams come true

One of the most powerful subs out there, this Monolith uses a 16″ driver with a 2000-watt RMS amplifier pushing it. The result is a subwoofer that offers proven (i.e. measured and verified) performance at the very highest echelon of bass reproduction devices. While it’s not inexpensive at $2299.99, you do get what you pay for and then some.

This mighty subwoofer boasts the ability to reproduce 20 Hz to 100 Hz and 90 dB at 1 m, with less than 1% of total harmonic distortion across the entire range. Just make sure you have a friend available to help you install it, this subwoofer weighs 171.6 pounds and measures 25.6″ x 22″ x 28.1″.

Feature Highlights

  • 2000 W amplifier with 3800 W peak.
  • Quad-ported design
  • Tunable ports for different output/response profiles
  • Plays as deep as 14 Hz

Best Sealed Extreme

SVS SB16-Ultra 16" 1500-watt Sealed Subwoofer
$2799 $2299


The tightness and compactness of a sealed sub plus the power and depth of a 1500-watt motor and 16″ driver are what make the SB16-Ultra such a potent option. This is a sub that has no fear of plumbing the depths and exploring the infrasonic realm. For hardcore dedicated home theaters, you might even consider more than one.

For music lovers, this is the fastest way to achieve true full-range audio reproduction. If you like bass-heavy music you can feel, the SB16-Ultra is ready to oblige. And if you are into exquisitely produced acoustic recordings, you’ll appreciate the nuance that is achievable when there is so much reserve capacity for bass making in your system. It’s revelatory!

This is no lightweight subwoofer, it literally weighs 122 pounds, despite being a comparatively compact 20″ H x 19.5″ W x 22.9″ D.

Feature Highlights

  • Adjustments are simple (and precise) thanks to the SVS app
  • Includes remote control
  • Programmable front LED display
  • Infrasonic bass output down to 16 Hz
  • Huge amounts of bass for a subwoofer this size
  • Sealed cabinet

Paradigm Defiance X15 15" 900-watt Ported Subwoofer
$1799.99


Paradigm has deep roots in the subwoofer community, the company has long pursued deep bass reproduction perfection and it subwoofers are known for exceptional performance. With the Defiance X15, the company offers a supremely confident 15-inch powerhouse that incorporates Anthem Room Correction, allowing you to really dial in the base and compensate for the peaks and dips in response that are caused by the room itself.

This subwoofer please deep, its frequency response is rated at 18 Hz to 240 Hz. it’s no lightweight, it weighs 92 pounds, and it’s fairly sizable, with cabinet dimensions of 23 3/16″ W x 24 5/8″ H x 24 5/8″ D, it is very nearly a perfect 2-foot cube. this subwoofer carries a three-year warranty as well as a 60-day moneyback guarantee.

Feature Highlights

  • Built-in room correction w/calibrated mic
  • 3-year warranty
  • Inverted surround
  • Made in Canada
  • Balanced XLR input

Best Passive Radiator

Definitive Technology Descend D15 15" 500-watt Subwoofer
$1799 $1599


The Descend D15 is a rare beast indeed, a 15″ subwoofer that uses passive radiators. Two of them, to be precise, each passive driver measuring 15″ just like the active driver. The passive drivers are mounted opposite one another, on the sides of the sub.

Definitive Technology equipped the D15 with a 500-watt amp that reaches 1500-watt peaks. It is able to play down to 20 Hz, and that spec is +/-3 dB. This modern-looking, high-performance subwoofer measures 24.14″ x 23.44″ x 24.91″.

Best Overall Value

Klipsch SPL-150 15" 400-Watt Ported Subwoofer
$1399.99 $889


Powerful 15-inch subwoofer with crisp and balanced sound

Here’s a 15-inch sub worth listening to. This Klipsch subwoofer has a bit more down-to-earth specs, like 400W RMS and 800W peak power. But it is a good design and it delivers nice, tight bass.

The woofer is lightweight and made of aluminum, with the signature Klipsch copper Cermatallic finish. That and the slotted port give this sub an aesthetic that stands apart. But it’s not just a pretty box, it’s rated at 18 Hz to 125 Hz response, so you’ll get that super deep bass that makes watching movies and listening to electronic music so much fun. The subwoofer weighs 75.4 pounds, measures 19.5 x 21.5 x 23.75″ and comes with a five-year warranty on the driver and a two-year warranty on the amplifier.

Feature Highlights

Slotted port design
Compatible with wireless kit
Variable low-pass crossover

 

Best on a Tight Budget

Dayton Audio SUB-1500 15″ 150 Watt Powered Subwoofer
$259.98


Not the most powerful 15-inch sub, but it outputs impressive, consistent sound for the price

At 150W, it’s not the most powerful speaker on our list, but its big size combined with quality craftsmanship ensures it still packs a satisfying punch.

We did notice the difference in the downward-firing flare port, which reduced port noise at high volumes and low frequencies. It’s a large, modestly spec’d subwoofer at a very fair price, and far more affordable than the others, which is why it made this list. The listed frequency response is an impressive 23 Hz to 140 Hz. This subwoofer weighs 60 pounds and measures 19-3/4″ H x 19-1/4″ W x 19-3/4″ D.

Feature Highlights:

  • Clear sound even at low frequencies
  • Sounds more powerful than its modest specifications let on
  • Undeniably great price

Buying Guide


Need some help narrowing down your 15-inch subwoofer choice? This buying guide will point you in the right direction.

Size

Generally, larger subwoofers produce deeper and louder bass, but the actual output depends on the quality of its construction, cabinet design, and components like the amplifier. There are not shortcuts to building a high performance sub, robust hardware is the key.

Which Size is Right for Me?

15-inch subs are on the larger end of the scale for consumer-focused subwoofers. This is especially true for the ported models. They also weigh a lot. But the reward for investing the money and finding the space is a subwoofer that will not leave you wanting, and that can keep up with today’s high-performance AVRs and speakers systems.

Frequency Response

This is a tough specification to use to make direct comparisons. Some companies are extremely honest about can see response specs and base extension, others publish numbers that are of optimistic derivation. But pretty much know subwoofer maker will tell you at what output level they are getting their numbers. But as a rule of thumb, a larger subwoofer, with a larger driver, a more powerful amplifier is going to offer more capability. With boarded subwoofers of this size, high-end models often offer multiple ports, and by plugging one or more ports, you can tune the subwoofer to a different bass profile, for example favoring extension over output, or vice versa.

Style

Being such a prominent fixture in your stereo set-up, the style of a subwoofer might be an essential consideration. This includes where it might fit in the room, in terms of shape and dimensions, as well as what kind of finishes are available. The larger the sub, the greater the task of getting it to blend in. Of course in a dedicated home theater this doesn’t matter, but your living room?

Of course, this is a subjective decision. Be sure to consider your subwoofer in terms of your entire set-up, and unless you have to prioritize aesthetics, shop for capability first and good looks second. There is no subwoofer that’s gonna win a beauty contest.

Conclusion

15-inch subwoofers pack a serious punch and could be just what you need to elevate your home entertainment system to the next level. Use this guide to pick the ultimate 15-inch sub for your home.

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