The 10 Best Subwoofer Brands for Live Performance


Subwoofers are key to adding low-frequency punch for a range of different settings, from venue-based PA systems to listening to the albums you love with all the bass you want. Plus, they’re used for studio monitoring, giving your smaller home studio monitors an extra kick.

In this article, we’re covering the best subwoofer brands for live music and PA use. You’ll hear the stories of our favourite brands and who and what they’re suited to; we’ll also give you specific recommendations per brand.

In a hurry?

Don’t have time to read the whole piece? Here are our top three picks.

G4MCheck the current price
Electro-VoiceCheck the current price
Alto ProfessionalCheck the current price

Best subwoofer brands

1. Bose

Bose were founded in 1964 by Dr. Amar Bose. After studying electrical engineering at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Amar bought himself a new hi-fi stereo system to celebrate the completion of his PhD. However, the results disappointed him, and he began studying acoustics in an effort to modify the system and make it better.

Eight years later, Bose Corporation were founded, initially developing power regulation systems for use by the military and other government agencies. By 1972, Bose began trading globally, selling their first products outside of the United States to a retailer in Germany.

Bose offered a wide range of products, but it wouldn’t be until their noise-cancelling headphone prototypes were used to protect the hearing of the pilots on the non-stop Voyager flight around the world that they would become synonymous with aerospace. Their headsets were favoured by pilots the world over.

Bose’s range exploded from this point, covering home audio, aerospace, business, and professional PA sound alike. Dr. Bose later gifted a majority of the company’s non-voting shares to MIT, making it a company of accomplished academics who tend to rise up from their MIT degree studies and filter directly into Bose’s employ.

Of course, with such a sharp team behind their products, it’s absolutely no surprise that Bose continue to make some truly innovative and cutting-edge products to an exacting standard.

We recommend: Sub1

Bose Sub1The Sub1 is a distinctly portable subwoofer that works great with portable PA systems that need an extra punch.

Compact and clear, the Sub1 extends down to 40 Hz, giving a full and detailed low-frequency range that pairs not only with their L1 column system but with any other PA system you might have to hand.

This frequency response and flexible connectivity and compatibility may also make the Sub1 a good choice for home audio.

The Sub1 is one of the very few subwoofers on the market that has a cardioid projection mode when standalone, making the usually omnidirectional projection of your low frequencies controlled and directed towards the front, avoiding feedback or unwanted reflections in a home setting.

Slim and lightweight, the Sub1 also stacks very well, making it excellent as an expandable option if you’re needing to perform in a wide range of differently-sized venues.

2. Alto Professional

Alto Professional are an audio company that was founded in 2000. Comprising a dedicated team of experienced audio engineers, Alto set out to produce products that outperformed everything else on the market at an accessible price point while embracing new and developing technologies.

Through their consistent use of new and modern manufacturing techniques, DSP technology, and unique designs, Alto have certainly delivered on their promise.

We recommend: TX212S

Alto Professional TX212SThe Alto Professional TX212S is a powerful subwoofer with a 900-watt Class D amplifier. This gives it efficient power consumption, as well as plenty of sound output and a full frequency response.

It provides six different DSP output modes for pairing with any full-range speakers, automatically adjusting frequency response and crossover to gel with not just Alto’s own products, but any full-range PA speakers.

With its rugged design and powerful amplification, this subwoofer was clearly designed with live sound in mind, making it a great choice for touring artists, DJs, or installation in venues.

Its front-ported MDF cabinet is extremely durable and reliable, with internal bracing to reduce cabinet vibrations and extend its frequency response down to 40 Hz – an impressive feat for its size.

Improving its shelf life, the TX212S comes with electronic clipping and thermal and transducer overdrive protection. Then, for extra control, polarity reverse allows you to achieve a cardioid projection when used in conjunction with a second unit firing in regular polarity.

3. JBL

JBL are an American audio company founded by engineer James Bullough Lansing. Originally founded as Lansing Manufacturing Company in 1927, JBL began selling speaker drivers for radio consoles and radio sets in Los Angeles.

By 1933, film studio Metro-Goldyn-Mayer was unhappy with the loudspeakers from Western Electric and RCA, so head of sound Douglas Shearer began to develop his own, using Lansing’s compression driver and bass driver to design them. These units became known as Shearer Horns. This new design had the desired effect for the studio, and Lansing quickly began selling these speaker systems to cinemas.

Lansing’s company would change several times, becoming incorporated with other audio companies of the time, before eventually regaining independence. Refounding his company as “James B. Lansing Sound”, this title would get shortened further to “JBL Sound”, kicking off the company as we know it today, which builds their name and reputation on innovative loudspeaker designs.

In 1969, JBL would be sold to Harman International – then called Jervis Corporation – with their loudspeakers becoming widely known and used for studio monitoring, home audio, cinema speakers, and car audio systems. In 1977, more recording studios were using JBL monitors than all other brands combined.

The company’s dedication to loudspeaker design has made them an industry leader in not just studio, home, cinema, and car audio, but also in live sound, with their speakers joining touring bands and outdoor festivals or events.

We recommend: EON718S

JBL EON718SThe JBL EON718S is a part of JBL’s popular EON series.

It boasts a redesigned 18-inch woofer to reinforce their new PA speakers, improving frequency response down to 31 Hz and improving maximum SPL output to a massive 131 dB.

Loaded with DSP, this subwoofer offers a fully parametric eight-band EQ, polarity inversion, and speaker delay to synchronise with your full-range system, all developed in collaboration with JBL’s sibling company, dbx.

The 718S also has app control for wireless access to DSP controls, and Bluetooth streaming. Its stackable design makes it easy to combine subwoofer units too, giving you the possibility of extra low-end punch when it’s needed.

In keeping with JBL’s history, the EON718S is quite simply a well-designed subwoofer on every level.

4. Mackie

Mackie is an American audio brand founded by Greg Mackie after a slate of products and independent companies in 1989. 19 years earlier, in 1970, Greg was frustrated by the lack of power in live audio mixers. Being a dedicated and passionate rock musician, he felt he could build something better, creating the TAPCO Model 6000, a six-channel mixer for louder music.

TAPCO equipment was made in a very minimal, bare-bones method, using a heating duct fabricator to stamp out the chassis, and the bottoms were painted with vinyl car sprays. To make up for this, Mackie and his team worked to modify and improve the cheap components to feel better than they did initially and provide a rugged build quality that’d last.

This would carry over into Mackie’s “Built Like A Tank” design philosophy that they still hold to this day, making them a favourite among working musicians and engineers.

By the late ’80s, home recording and digital recording technologies were beginning to dawn, and Greg founded Mackie to help follow this new trend and provide them with audio equipment to suit these needs.

Running out of his Condo in Washington, the company produced the LM-1602, a line mixer that then garnered enough attention to justify expanding into a proper warehouse. From there, Mackie created a DAW control system that’s ubiquitous and still used by many controllers now, as well as studio monitors, mixers, PA speakers, subwoofers, headphones, microphones, and audio interfaces.

We recommend: Thump118S

Mackie Thump118SThe Thump118S is a refreshed take on Mackie’s popular Thump series of speakers, powered by the same 1400 W Class D amplification you’ll find in their redesigned range, which means it delivers thunderous low-end power.

But what truly sets the Thump118S apart? It offers selectable voicing modes, allowing you to adjust its sound to perfectly fit any performance, along with a variable crossover to precisely dictate where the sub’s range ends and your full-range speakers begin.

The Thump 118S also excels in connectivity, providing stereo inputs for easy setup of a full stereo system, as well as high-pass and full-range outputs. Coupled with ergonomic corner handles, transporting and setting up is a breeze.

The Thump 118S boasts more powerful amplifiers, stronger drivers, and advanced DSP, retaining all the beloved features of the originals.

With added DSP features for a smooth-running show, four custom voicings to match any music genre, polarity inversion for focused bass, and a variable crossover for further sound customisation, the Thump118S is a testament to Mackie’s commitment to improving sound quality and connectivity.

5. Electro-Voice

Electro-Voice are an American brand that not only specialise in PA speaker design but have also produced a range of portable speakers and microphones.

Founded in 1927, engineers Lou Burroughs and Albert R. Kahn started out servicing radios. They eventually produced a PA system for a university football coach who struggled to project his voice due to health issues. This coach, Knute Rockne called this system his “electric voice”. Burroughs and Kahn re-incorporated the company as Electro-Voice in 1930, inspired by this comment.

By 1936, Electro-Voice had a team of twenty employees and were producing speaker systems and microphones. During World War II, Electro-Voice found themselves supplying the U.S. military with audio equipment alongside Shure, producing noise-cancelling microphones that saw use in tanks, fighter and bomber planes, ground troop radios, and battleships.

Post-war, Electro-Voice saw a huge period of growth, with their 642 Cardiline shotgun microphone being the first audio product to ever receive an Academy Award, seeing use on aircraft carriers, radio, broadcasting, studio recording, and live sound. Not only this but their speakers and subwoofers were also produced on both professional and consumer levels, seeing use as Hi-Fi systems.

In the 1970s, Electro-Voice acquired Greg Mackie’s TAPCO and began folding their mixers and other live sound products into their range. Today, they are an industry leader in microphones, wireless audio systems, and PA speakers.

We recommend: ELX118P

Electro-Voice ELX118PWhen it comes to subwoofers, the Electro-Voice ELX118P stands out as a powerful and reliable choice. This 18-inch passive subwoofer is specifically designed to deliver outstanding sound quality that’s best paired with their ELX112 and ELX115 loudspeakers.

With a peak output power of 1600W, it ensures deep, articulate bass that is sure to grab attention. The custom-built 18″ woofer ensures fully responsive audio across an extended frequency range, even at maximum volume.

Its lightweight yet robust design makes it easy to transport and set up. With stackable, pole-mountable design, achieving a great stage presence has never been less of a hassle.

But the ELX118P doesn’t just provide deep bass; it guarantees performance in any scenario.

The secret behind its impact is the custom-built EVS-18K driver, specially selected for its tight, accurate response. This ensures clear audio across an extended frequency range of 35Hz – 200Hz, allowing you to perceive every nuance of your low frequencies.

To further enhance its performance, the ELX118P features additional internal bracing to minimise resonance and rattling. Even at a max SPL of 134dB, unwanted noise from your enclosure won’t interfere with your show.

6. QSC

QSC is an American audio brand founded in California in 1968 by Pat Quilter. His passion for electronics was sparked by high school physics, which brought him to university, where he started building his own circuits.

Beginning as a small startup running out of a garage, Quilter sold hand-built power amplifiers and guitar amps one at a time in the back of a van. As his designs advanced, the scale of the operation grew rapidly, now making them a global powerhouse in the world of live sound.

From mixers to PA speakers and power amplifiers, many of the most popular venues and theatres rely on QSC products to mix and amplify their sound.

We recommend: E118SW

QSC E Series E118SWThe QSC E Series E118SW is a passive subwoofer that has been crafted to enhance live sound reinforcement, mobile DJ sets, venue installations, and more.

With its 18” aluminium frame woofer and power capacity of 800W (RMS) or 3200W (peak), you can experience low frequencies down to 37Hz with remarkable precision and definition.

And did we mention its durability? The robust rectangular plywood enclosure is designed to withstand rigorous road and performance conditions. Plus, with rear-panel attachment points for casters and an included 24” speaker pole, transportation and setup are easy.

When combined with a GXD/PLD power amp or TouchMix digital mixer, this subwoofer becomes part of a complete E Series Entertainment System that offers advanced DSP.

Each QSC E Series loudspeaker and subwoofer is designed to deliver unparalleled sound with any professional-grade power amp. However, by harnessing the power of a complete E Series Entertainment System, you unlock a whole new realm of performance capabilities and options.

From live sound reinforcement to stage monitoring, DJ systems, and karaoke, QSC’s advanced DSP technology has been meticulously designed for all three platforms to support a broad range of situations. Add to this QSC’s renowned construction and reliability, and the E118SW emerges as a truly exceptional subwoofer.

7. Yamaha

Yamaha are a Japanese manufacturer that produces a wide range of electronics, audio products, instruments, and even motorcycles. Originally established in 1887 as an organ manufacturer, founder Torakusu Yamaha incorporated the company in 1897, and they began producing pianos in 1900, building the first Japan-made piano that same year, an upright.

To this day, the company’s logo represents its origins in piano manufacture, consisting of three tuning forks.

After World War II, president Genichi Kawakami used the company’s knowledge of mechanics and metallurgy to produce motorcycles, in which they became a leading producer. This division would later become independent, as the main Yamaha Corporation returned to instrument and audio production.

Yamaha continue to produce pianos, drums, guitars, and orchestral instruments, as well as a huge variety of electronics, such as home appliances, robotics, sporting goods, computing accessories, synthesisers, keyboards, music production software, studio effects units, studio monitors, loudspeakers, and subwoofers.

We recommend: DXS15XLF

Yamaha DXS15XLFThe Yamaha DXS15XLF is designed to deliver tight, deep, and pumping bass down to 40Hz, providing up to 136dB maximum SPL with 1600W of peak power.

Thanks to state-of-the-art DSP, the DXS15XLF ensures clear, powerful, and distortion-free bass. But the standout feature? It’s the built-in D-XSUB processing, which allows you to extend the frequency response even lower for an even more thunderous bass impact.

Whether you’re a DJ or a live performer, this function can elevate your sound like never before. And let’s not forget about the durable Polyurea coating. This makes the DXS15XLF extremely damage-resistant, ensuring optimal protection and durability.

The DXS15XLF also includes powerful D-XSUB processing, giving you total control over your bass.

It offers different modes that change the frequency response and characteristics – NORMAL mode for a balanced low-end frequency response, BOOST mode for a more focused bass and tighter low-end, and the new XTENDED LF mode for dropping the low-end frequencies even further.

For setups with two or more DXS subwoofers, the newly developed cardioid mode can direct your bass towards your audience while decreasing stage-side sound pressure. This not only provides a cleaner stage monitoring environment but also enhances the audience’s bass experience.

Plus, with crossover switching, you can easily match your DXS subwoofers with any of Yamaha’s full-range powered speakers. All of these features are packed into a compact, lightweight, and portable package, making the Yamaha DXS15XLF an ideal choice for mobile DJs, musicians, and sound engineers.

8. G4M

G4M are a recent brand that focuses on producing professional audio equipment and instruments like guitars, basses, amps, keyboards and digital pianos. Their premium products cover a wide range of needs for musicians and audio professionals, from their collection of instruments to studio equipment like outboard compressors and EQs, microphones, and advanced DSP-driven PA systems.

Whatever you need for studios, performances, or something to play, G4M has it covered.

We recommend: G4M 18″ Active DSP Subwoofer

G4M 18" Active DSP SubwooferAre you in search of a subwoofer that offers versatility, robustness, and superior audio performance? Consider the G4M 18″ Active DSP Subwoofer.

This impressive device is an excellent choice for professional audio applications, thanks to its advanced Digital Signal Processing (DSP), dual Combi-Jack inputs, and balanced XLR outputs.

These features allow seamless integration with mixing consoles, amplifiers, and interfaces, creating a cohesive audio system.

Driven by a Class D amplifier, the subwoofer boasts a power output of 500W RMS and 1000W peak, ensuring solid, consistent performance even in demanding scenarios. With a frequency range of 35Hz-150Hz, it capably handles everything from deep sub-bass to punchy low mids.

The G4M 18″ Active DSP Subwoofer doesn’t just offer power but also precision. Its 18″ woofer with a 3″ VC delivers clear, accurate bass with excellent depth and definition. You can expect powerful and immersive audio experiences, even in small to medium-sized venues, thanks to its maximum SPL of 127dB.

What’s more, this subwoofer offers powerful DSP functionality, allowing you to customise the sound to your specific needs. Adjust the gain, choose from two EQ settings, set the delay and polarity, and optimise the crossover frequency for the best sound quality.

Its durable PP-H construction makes it ideal for demanding professional use, while the 35mm stand pole adapter and dual-balanced XLR output provide easy integration with other audio equipment.

9. dB Technologies

Arturo Vicari founded the Acoustical Engineering Bureau (A.E.B) in Bologna in 1973, providing earphones to Italian broadcasting companies. After a while, he began to branch out into loudspeaker and radio microphone development, and these products quickly gained steam. However, in 1990, A.E.B began branching out into live sound reinforcement, and Arturo decided to reincorporate as dB Technologies.

dB Technologies launched their first series of speakers, Opera in 2002, followed by their innovative DVA system in 2004, offering a unique take on the concept of line arrays that made them much more accessible to a wider audience. By 2008, DB then expanded their designs into new amplifier technology. dB Technologies’ designs have won industry awards for their excellent and innovative approaches.

We recommend: SUB 618

dB Technologies SUB 618 Active PA SubwooferThe dB Technologies SUB 618 Active PA Subwoofer offers an audio experience that stands out from the crowd.

With its high-performance 18” transducer and a reliable class-D SMSP digital amplifier, you’ll enjoy clean, precise bass sounds.

This powerhouse delivers 600W RMS and an astounding 1200W peak power output, providing an exceptional audio performance that will impress even the most discerning ears.

The dB Technologies SUB 618 isn’t just about delivering superior sound, it’s also designed with the user in mind. Its control panel features a polarity inversion switch, allowing you to calibrate your sound for optimised audio performance.

Need extra low frequencies? Just flip the Sub BOOST mode switch. You can also choose to operate the SUB 618 in mono or stereo mode, adapting to your specific needs. And let’s not forget about its robust enclosure. Housed in a compact, lightweight plywood cabinet, this subwoofer is as road-ready as they come.

10. Turbosound

Turbosound are a British live sound product design company founded in 1978.

Founder Tony Andrews began building his own speaker designs in 1970, inspired by the experimentation and free-spirited nature of the Glastonbury Festival. Andrews’ goal was to make live speakers that would more closely resemble artists’ studio sound when playing live, so he created speakers that tried to maximise sound quality and projection in the smallest possible enclosure.

With his designs being quickly picked up for use by Glastonbury in 1973, Andrews developed the “Festival System”, which contained separate bass, mid, and high-frequency cabinets called Turbo phase devices. By 1978, Turbosound Ltd was fully born. By 1980, the company achieved worldwide acclaim with their TMS-3 system.

In 1994, in the midst of huge acclaim and many award wins over the past decade, Pink Floyd chose Turbosound speakers to be the voice of their final Division Bell tour. Now, with over 50 years of experience behind them, Turbosound remain an innovative and lauded brand within live sound reinforcement.

We recommend: iQ18B

Turbosound iQ18BThe Turbosound iQ18B is designed to excel in a wide range of applications, be it portable or fixed installations.

At the heart of this robust unit is a high excursion 18” low-frequency driver with a double suspension low mass 4” voice coil. This powerful combination ensures fast, accurate transient responses and virtually distortion-free sound reproduction, even under the most demanding performances.

The iQ18B also boasts extensive yet user-friendly DSP controls, balanced inputs and outputs, and an LCD display. All these features come encased in a durable birch plywood enclosure, complete with Neutrik powerCon connectors.

The iQ18B’s fully-featured interface houses an LCD display, Channel A/B gain control, and a single rotary encoder for intuitive access to level, EQ, Speaker modelling, and Feedback Control (FBI).

Then there’s the sophisticated Klark Teknik Digital Signal Processor (DSP) which delivers dynamic EQ and transparent limiting for crisp, punchy sound at high output levels. Plus, the speaker modelling presets offer detailed and accurate models of some of the industry’s most respected speaker systems.

And let’s not forget about Turbosound’s proprietary Ultranet technology. This enables the transmission of pristine multi-channel audio signals and other information via CAT5 cables between Ultranet-enabled products. This digital distribution networking not only eliminates the potential for RFI and crosstalk but also significantly reduces setup and installation time.

Subwoofer comparison table

SubwooferWattageFrequency RangeDriverDirection
Bose Sub1480W 32 Hz – 250 Hz7” x 13”Front-firing
Alto TX212S450W40 Hz – 130 Hz12”Front-firing
JBL EON718S750W31 Hz – 150 Hz18”Front-firing
Mackie Thump118S1400W30 Hz – 150 Hz18”Front-firing
Electro-Voice ELX118P 700W32 Hz – 130 Hz18”Front-firing
QSC E Series E118SW800W32 Hz – 230 Hz18”Front-firing
Yamaha DXS15XLF1230W33 Hz – 150 Hz15”Front-firing
G4M 18" Active DSP Subwoofer500W35 Hz – 150 Hz18”Front-firing
dB Technologies SUB 618600W35 Hz – 130 Hz18”Front-firing
Turbosound iQ18B3000W36 Hz – 100 Hz18”Front-firing

Jargon buster

Back of the Yamaha DXS15XLFWattage

Wattage is a measure of the power behind the amplifier unit within a speaker. Generally, the higher the wattage, the more power is moving the drivers. This usually results in higher sound output, further throw, and better frequency response, but this can be dependent on the efficiency and quality of the amplifier design.


The driver is the main transducer unit within monitors, speakers, and subwoofers. Drivers are made from a cone or a series of cones from soft, lightweight material that can be moved by electrical current to push air out in time with their original audio input.

Generally, speakers will have two or three drivers – one per frequency band, however, subwoofers will only have one large low-frequency driver.


When it comes to subwoofers, direction dictates the design and position of the drivers to show where the sound is being fired from.

Front-firing will have their drivers positioned at the front and push the air out this way too, side-firing will do the same from the sides of the enclosure, and end-firing will have its drivers aimed at the rear of the enclosure.

Front-firing are most common, and you will rarely see side-firing subwoofers – except in home audio, but you may see end-fire subwoofers paired with front-firing subwoofers to create phase cancellation that prevents feedback from the bass reaching mics on-stage!


Which brand of subwoofer is the best?

Electro-Voice is the best brand of subwoofer. You can’t go wrong with any of the brands on this top 10, but if you’re looking for a more definitive answer, for the quality of their designs as well as their extensive history and experience, Electro-Voice is our number one pick. We would also heartily recommend G4M and Alto Professional.

Does subwoofer quality matter?

Subwoofer quality definitely matters as you can often find yourself needing clearer, more powerful bass for live shows, studio mixing, or even home audio. To make sure the bass carries and has better fidelity, it can really benefit you to pair full-range speakers with a subwoofer to maximise low-frequency extension and coverage.

What size subwoofer is the loudest?

Subwoofer size doesn’t always dictate loudness. Although bigger subwoofers with 18” drivers tend to be louder, this is usually because they have a bigger, more powerful amplifier behind them, which does improve loudness. However, depending on the design and brand you go with, you may be able to find 15” subwoofers that are louder than 18” ones!

Final thoughts

We’ve covered the stories of the 10 best subwoofer brands, exploring their history, notable achievements and designs, so hopefully you know exactly where you want to go when picking a subwoofer. Need a little more choice to browse? Check out our full range of subwoofers here.


Content Writer - Live Sound

Callum is a former audio and music technology student who has a love of punk, rock, metal, and electronic music. In his spare time, he produces music, and DJs occasionally. He's also a freelance engineer when possible, helping local bands make their noise even noisier.



  1. Dr Gary Bradley

    Great coverage. I suggest including the EV ETX 18SP. Also, these subs are heavy, up to 120lbs and need at least two people plus castors to move them. Would like a comparison with 15″ subs. Great info tho 👌 Much appreciated 👍

  2. Łukasz Jóźwiak

    The best on this list will be the YAMAHA DXS 18 XLF. Although 15xlf will also destroy this competition. The compromise is currently JBL SRX 818.


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