Home studios are becoming more and more popular these days thanks in large part to all of the technology currently available that can transform your small spare bedroom and its lackluster acoustics into a real music studio. Monitor choice plays a big part in music production and overall end result. By opting to use a studio monitor subwoofer, you ensure that you accurately hear the low notes; additionally, studio monitor subwoofers can free up your other monitors for the mid and high notes they were originally designed for, so it’s something that makes sense on a variety of levels.
The Benefits of Buying a Studio Monitor Subwoofer
The biggest benefit of buying a studio monitor subwoofer is, without a doubt, the way the subwoofer increases your ability to accurately hear the bass notes on your track. Low notes can be quite difficult to hear properly on standard monitors, which really only portray the middles and highs faithfully. Subwoofers are purpose-designed for low notes, which means their inner architecture itself is designed to produce the low notes on your track with very high fidelity.
Another benefit of buying a studio monitor subwoofer is what it adds to the home studio itself. Large professional studios are designed by acoustic experts who understand the physics behind soundwaves and how they interact with the environment. The result is a studio where the room itself plays a part in accurately portraying the sounds artists are playing. The custom acoustic design just isn’t going to be present in your home studio, no matter how well-versed you are in the principles of acoustics or how much time you put in improving the acoustics of your studio. A subwoofer is a very simple way to enhance the way bass notes come across in a small place, allowing you to accurately hear the music as it truly sounds.
Because of the increase in audio fidelity in the low notes, a subwoofer can help ensure that you as the producer or engineer can ensure the bass lines in your track match up with what you’re hearing from your monitor. That level of accuracy means that your work will sound the way you want it to. Poor acoustics can lead to badly mixed tracks, so this is also an intuitive solution to a pretty common beginner issue of the track sounding nothing like what you hear on your monitor as well.
What to Look for When Buying a Studio Monitor Subwoofer
The first thing to consider when buying a studio monitor subwoofer is to think about the size of the subwoofer you’re looking at versus the size of your recording studio. If you have a home studio in your spare bedroom or attic, chances are the acoustics aren’t anywhere near optimal. And that’s not the fault of the acoustical upgrades you’ve made, nor does it signal a lack of acoustical expertise on your part. Rather, it’s due to the fact that small rooms don’t play well with low notes. Low notes are low frequency soundwaves. Soundwaves are literally waves of sound, hence the name. They may be invisible to the naked eye, but they’re quite huge. Low frequency waves are the biggest soundwaves because the waves they form happen at lower frequencies (meaning less often), so they’re sort of stretched, if you will, which means a small room could see the low frequency soundwaves literally crawling up the walls if powered by a very large, powerful subwoofer. The best way to minimize this issue is to match the size of your subwoofer to the size of your studio.
Another important thing to consider is frequency range. The lower the frequency, the deeper the bass. These stats are typically listed on the product specs, but they’re important to ensure you get the low notes you need.
Subwoofers carry with them a broad range of capabilities from the bare bones to the fancy. How many doodads are on the one you choose is ultimately preference or needs-based. However, something important to note are features of modern convenience. Namely, features that will allow you to hook up your subwoofer to your iPhone or other mobile devices as well as other monitors. Both of these features are pretty common on newer subwoofers and they go a lot towards ensuring better workflow.
Tips On How to Choose the Best Studio Monitor Subwoofer for Your Needs
There are a few things to consider when looking for the best studio monitor subwoofer for your needs. Consider the following:
- Ensure the frequency range suits your needs
- Match size of subwoofer to the size of your studio space: bigger with bigger, smaller with smaller; remember a huge subwoofer in a small space will distort sound and potentially mess up your mix.
- If you work with your iPad or other mobile devices, ensure that the subwoofer you’re looking at can interface with them.
- Go for a subwoofer that has the level of phase customization you need; this can very a lot, so it’s important to check.
Studio Monitor Subwoofer Reviews
Cerwin Vega XD8s Active Studio Subwoofer
Easily aligns with desktop monitors
Thanks to the crossover selection switch, the polarity switch, and the volume knob, the Cerwin Vega XD8s Active Studio Subwoofer can be easily aligned with any desktop monitor.
Multi-density fiberboard wood enclosures
The XD8s is made of multi-density fiberboard (MDF) wood enclosures. The result is the sort of audio fidelity, especially at low frequencies, that you can only get from wood.
The 1/8” auxiliary input allows you to switch the source from your desktop to the iPhone, iPad or any other compatible mobile or media device, greatly improving workflow for the modern home producer.
The XD8s Active Studio Subwoofer features a system remote connection port, located discreetly on the back, which allows you to interface with the provided remote control. With the remote feature, you can easily control the system’s volume.
What to like about the Cerwin Vega XD8s Active Studio Subwoofer:
- Compact enough to fit under your desk while still providing robust and heavy bass sounds
- Remote control
- Aux input allows for the transition to mobile devices like iPhone and iPad as your source
- MDF wood construction
- Polarity switch
- Crossover selection switch
- Volume knob
- Frequency range: 32Hz-390Hz
- 80W amp
- Magnetically shielded so you don’t have to worry about interference
- 3-year warranty
What to consider:
- Some find the auto-shutoff feature that occurs when the sub isn’t in use to be annoying
- The subwoofer may get a bit warm during use, but fortunately it doesn’t get too hot—it’s also pretty simple to set up some cooling fans, if you’re worried about it.
Yamaha HS8 Studio Subwoofer
The large 8” size on the Yamaha HS8 Studio Subwoofer provides the robust monitor experience every large home studio needs for next-level audio production. While this larger size may overwhelm a small studio, it’s perfect for when you need the long soundwaves of low notes to really hit their sweet spot in a large recording room.
The phase switch allows you to properly customize your sound to fit your needs.
The HS8 Studio Subwoofer features a 150W amp with more than enough power to allow for precise audio monitoring.
22Hz-120Hz frequency response
The broad range frequency response is another aspect of what makes the Yamaha HS8 Studio Subwoofer famous for its deep, thumping lows, rich middles and strong highs.
What to like about the Yamaha HS8 Studio Subwoofer:
- 8” subwoofer
- Comes in black or white
- 150W amp
- Phase switch
- 22Hz-120Hz frequency
- 1-year warranty
What to consider:
- You might need an additional jack to connect to mobile devices like the iPhone, only because this model came out in 2013 and the versatility of modern iPhones just wasn’t anticipated at that time.
- The 8” model is great for larger studios, but for small studios, the 8” subwoofer may cause the soundwaves to literally bounce up the walls, decreasing audio fidelity and increasing the likelihood of you creating a bad mix as a result; the simple fix for this not-really-a-problem-sort-of-con is to simply size down to the 5” version—especially if your studio is very small.
JBL LSR310S -Watt -Channel Studio Subwoofer
JBL patented Slip Stream Port
JBL’s patented Slip Stream Port is one of the unique features of their LSR310S studio monitor subwoofer. Essentially, it’s designed to work flawlessly in tandem with their low-frequency driver, a big secret behind what makes this subwoofer so formidable.
Designed to be highly compatible with other systems
The XLR and TRS inputs and outputs allow you to use the JBL subwoofer to pump up the bass and extend the low-end frequency on any studio monitor.
Extended Low Frequency setting
The Extended Low Frequency setting, supported by the low-frequency driver and boosted by the Slip Stream Port, works to drive the low-frequency response down to 20Hz. What’s more, it does this without any risk of failure, providing quality bass notes every time.
The powerful 200W Class D amplifier provides the necessary architecture to provide the robust highs and mids and the low lows featured in this subwoofer.
What to like about the JBL LSR310S -Watt -Channel Studio Subwoofer:
- High compatibility with various inputs and outputs
- Connectable to other monitors to boost bass
- Extended Low Frequency Setting allows you to drop the bass down really low while still maintaining quality sound.
- Powerful 200W Class D amp
- JBL Slip Stream Port increases connectivity and works seamlessly the with subwoofer and its driver
What to consider:
- Some have complained that the subwoofer doesn’t actually get down to 20Hz, though it’s important to note that this complaint isn’t common, so it could be an isolated issue or something of that nature.
PreSonus Temblor T10 Powered Studio Subwoofer
The 10” Temblor T10 Powered Studio Subwoofer is a high-powered, ultra-resonant subwoofer option intended for use in large home and professional studio environments.
The 250W Class AB amplifier provides a great foundation for the deep bass and professional applications this subwoofer has to offer.
The lowpass filter allows for flawless crossover transition.
The highpass filter prevents frequencies lower than 80Hz from reaching the main monitors.
The included momentary footswitch allows users to bypass the sub out, highpass filter as well as the subwoofer itself for maximum control.
What to like about the PreSonus Temblor T10 Powered Studio Subwoofer:
- Front-firing bass reflex
- 10” subwoofer
- 250W amp
- Variable lowpass filter
- Switchable highpass filter
- Built-in crossover
- Polarity invert
- Momentary footswitch
- Balanced XLR inputs and outputs
- Balanced TRS inputs and outputs
- Unbalanced RCA inputs
What to consider:
- The large 10” construction will likely cause too much low-frequency soundwave distortion in small spaces; this can be remedied by opting for the smaller size option.
Mackie MR MK3 Series MR10SMK3 10-Inch Powered Studio Subwoofer
The enclosure on this subwoofer is made entirely of wood; additionally, it features acoustic absorption material to further enhance the fidelity of the low notes it provides.
Minimum diffraction waveguide
The minimum diffraction waveguide featured on the MR10SMK3 provides improved architecture for the super-long low-frequency soundwaves produced by bass notes.
This 10” subwoofer is designed to for professional studio quality production, though it’s also a great fit for large home studios with great acoustics for serious musicians and amateur engineers who want to take their art to the next level.
Inputs and outputs
Inputs include both XLR and TRS connections; additionally, there is a balanced TRS output.
What to like about the Mackie MR MK3 Series MR10SMK3 10-Inch Powered Studio Subwoofer:
- 10” subwoofer
- Minimum diffraction waveguide provides superior architecture
- All-wood cabinet improves sound
- XLR and TRS inputs and outputs
- Deep bass notes
- Can be used with other monitors
What to consider:
- Despite the various inputs and outputs, this subwoofer only comes with its own power cable, so you will need to have any other cables you plan on using ready and waiting if you want to use this sub as soon as you get it.
- As always, 10” subwoofers are great for large studios with optimal acoustics, but could be a detriment in small spaces. Size down if you have a small space—especially if the acoustics haven’t been primed.
While there are many commendable offerings among the best studio monitor subwoofers out there, ultimately there can be only one winner: The Cerwin Vega XD8s Active Studio Subwoofer. While there are certainly much larger subwoofers out there, the 8” Cerwin Vega XD8s hits that 8” sweet spot that is ideal for large home studios. Moreover, premium features like wood enclosure construction, adjustable phase options, and featuring an aux input for mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad, the XD8s is not only a quality subwoofer, it’s a subwoofer suited for the needs of audiophiles using technology from this decade!