Published On: October 28, 2021

Best 8-Inch Subwoofers for Your Home - Premium Sound in a Small Package

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Published On: October 28, 2021

Best 8-Inch Subwoofers for Your Home - Premium Sound in a Small Package

8-inch subs are comparatively compact and affordable. They may not play as loud or deep as some larger subs, but a good 8-inch sub can do a lot for a system without taking up much space.

A quality subwoofer is an indispensable component of a high-fidelity sound system. If you want true full-range sound, you could spend many thousands of dollars on speaker systems and never get there, while adding the right subwoofer solves the problem affordably. And in the world of subwoofers, the most affordable models tend to be in the 8-inch driver category.

While 8-inch subwoofers are on the smaller side, especially sealed models, you'd be surprised at how much punch they are able to pack into a compact. In this article, we're examining some of the best 8-inch subwoofers for you to consider. 

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

Although there are more than four types of subwoofers, the following designs are the most common among consumer models.

Sealed: This is the simplest type of subwoofer design. It is, in essence, just a driver in a sealed box with an amplifier to power it. But looks can be deceiving, modern sealed subwoofers use DSP programming to tailor the response and output of the driver, and how it interacts with the amplifier, so as to maximize the output as well as the fidelity that can be achieved with this type.

Sealed subwoofers are compact and comparatively affordable. However, ported models at similar price points, although larger, tend to offer more output near the port tuning frequency.

Dual-opposed: This type of subwoofer design places two of the same driver at opposite ends of the cabinet. the result is what's called "force cancellation" where the momentum of each of the subwoofer drivers cancels out the other. As a consequence, dual-opposed subwoofer designs are notably free of any vibration imparted by the driver.

With a dual opposed design, you can have a very small enclosure with a comparatively large amount of driver surface area. The result is higher output than you would get from a single driver in a similarly sized cabinet. The only catch is you need a lot of power to overcome the pressure differential in such a small enclosure, so you're paying for a beefier amp as well as two active drivers. This is a relatively uncommon type of design, but it is very effective and likely represents the best way to make an extremely compact subwoofer that still offers high performance.

Ported: A ported sub uses one or more tuned ports to increase output near the tuning frequency. Although this requires a larger cabinet for a given driver size, from a cost-benefit perspective the extra output is typically considered to be worth the compromise, at least in installations where there is room to spare. Ported subwoofers are the most common variety, so there's a ton of different models to choose from. The main thing to know about corded subwoofers is that they usually roll off very steeply below the port tuning frequency, unlike sealed subs that have a more gradual rolloff.

Passive Radiator: Passive radiators are extremely similar to a tuned port. The passive radiator is a driver within the same cabinet as the active driver, but lacking any motor structure. Instead, the diaphragm of the passive radiator is tuned by how much it weighs, as well as its size relative to the main driver. The comparative disadvantage of a passive radiator is higher cost than a tuned port, while the advantages that they are immune to the port distortion sounds that can be an issue with some ported designs.

Frequency Response Specs

Although response specs can be a useful guide, that is only the case if it's an apple-to-apple comparison. But with subwoofers, it's hard to really compare the response spec because it is not tied to the output level. It is often the case that a sub will start to have trouble—running out of power or out of cone excursion—primarily with the lowest notes. So if you can find independent third-party measurements that can help verify the specs, that adds confidence.

Now, if you are dealing with accurate specs, in terms of Hz, you'll find some 8" subs only go down to the 30s while others claim response into the 20s. For a small sub to reach below 30 Hz requires a fair bit of power, so you'll see a correlation between wattage and low-frequency extension. But here's something to keep in mind: A lot of music only has bass down to 35 Hz or so (of course there are bass-heavy genres where this is totally not the case). But movies far more frequently task subs with digging deep.

Product Overview – Best 8-Inch Subwoofers

With so many subwoofers on the market, it might seem like you need audiophile-level knowledge to make a proper choice. Don't worry; we've done the work for you. We'll be reviewing the following 8-inch subwoofers: 

The Best 8-Inch Subwoofers

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Best Overall

SVS 3000 Micro Dual-Opposing Drive Subwoofer

Powerful and precise, this dual-8" subwoofer looks impossibly small given the bass it produces. The cabinet measures a mere 10.9” H X 11.7” W X 10.7” D, and yet this sub can legit play down to 23 Hz thanks to the 800-watt amplifier (2500 W peak). And this is a "smart" subwoofer that features a Bluetooth app that allows for extensive tuning and customization. Given its capability, the price is a bargain even though it's straight-up one of the best 8" subs money can buy.

Best Ported

Paradigm Defiance V8 Subwoofer

Put some quality bass in your listening space with this premium Paradigm 8" sub. Paradigm knows a thing or two about making subwoofers and the Defiance line encompasses its latest offerings. The Defiance V8 has modest specs, listing a 75-watt amp and 34-200 Hz response. But Paradigm does not fudge specs, and you can expect this sub to exceed expectations when it comes to overall performance. Simply put, as a ported design, it does not need as many watts as sealed subs to fully power the 8" driver to its maximum potential.

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Best Sealed

B&W ASW608 MB pwrd subwoofer (Matte black)

A classic sealed sub from a legendary speaker company. Bowers & Wilkins needs no introduction to anyone with audio enthusiast inclinations. The company's iconic speakers are world-famous and used in Abbey Road Studios. The company's products are all proper designs, delivering both high fidelity and high value to discerning listeners.

This may be a simple 8" sealed sub, but in Bowers & Wilkins hands, simple is a formula for excellence. Expect clean, tight bass that's detailed and uncolored. in an attractive compact sub.

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Best Passive Radiator

Definitive Technology Descend DN8 8" Subwoofer (Midnight Black)

Get deep bass out of a tiny box with this Definitive Technology sub that leverages dual passive radiators to enhance the output of its 8" driver. The DN8 measures only 12.8 x 12 x 13.1 inches but packs a wallop. The amp has a 500 W peak rating, and the frequency response is advertised as 35 Hz to 200 Hz. Solid, attractive and capable, this is a great compact subwoofer option from a company known for its dedication to deep bass.

Best Super Premium

GoldenEar SuperSub X 1400w Dual-Plane Subwoofer

Compact powerhouse is both dual-opposed and a passive radiator design. The SuperSub X is a bold attempt to get the maximum amount of bass possible out of a compact sub. Not a micro-sub, mind you, but a rather small sub nonetheless. It succeeds wildly. having proven itself in many demos. The SuperSub X has a 1400W amp to power the dual 8-inch drivers, and the bass it creates is the sort you feel deep in your bones. It can rattle you, shake you, blast you, in other words, there's real gusto, real physicality behind this sub's output.

Yes, it is by far the costliest 8" sub of the bunch. But, you get a lot of performance for the money. If you can only have one sub, and it needs to be as small as possible, this is the one.

Best Under $300

Kanto Sub8 Powered Subwoofer (Matte White)

Just a good sub at a good price. Keep it simple. The Kanto Sub8 is a simple, sealed sub that's got ample power and good looks. The amp is rated at 125 W (250 peak) and the frequency response is listed as 35Hz - 165Hz. Probably not the top choice for a full-on home theater, but this unassuming sub will ass some heft to a living room surround-sound system, or serve as a nice foundation for an affordable sub/satellite system using the bookshelf speakers of your choice.

Best Under $100

Monoprice Premium Select 8in 200-Watt Subwoofer

Is there such a thing as a decent subwoofer for under $100? If anyone can do it, it's Monoprice. By far the most impressive spec for this sub is the price. You get a 8" ported sub with a 100 W RMS (200 W peak) amplifier. It's frequency response is specified at 40 Hz to 1.3 kHz, which isn't all that deep, but if you pair this sub with some extremely affordable bookshelf speakers (also from Monoprice), you can put together a surprisingly robust 2.1 system, for less than you'd pay for dinner for two at a fancy restaurant.


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