The Best PA Subwoofers - Powered / Active

The Highest Rated Powered PA Subwoofers

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A venue isn't complete without a great sounding subwoofer to fill the low end and provide the punch needed to get people moving. Having subs also lets your mains focus more on reproducing the midrange and highs, leading to a clearer overall sound.

Subwoofers aren't all built the same. It takes great R&D to engineer enclosures and chambers for the best low frequency reproduction.

Here we look at current market favorites, based on actual owner and user reviews and ratings, including the most recent ones up to late October 2021.

The Best PA Subwoofers

Author & Contributors

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

The Best Powered Subwoofers

Here are the market favorite powered PA subwoofers that you can buy today.

Mackie Thump18S

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 375+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$800
Mackie Thump18 18" Powered PA Subwoofer - 1200W

The Mackie Thump18S is a reasonably priced but powerful subwoofer.

A frequency range 30Hz to 132Hz makes it versatile enough to integrate with main speakers of various sizes.

Power is provided by a 600-watt RMS Class D amplifier while stereo full range and high pass outputs round out the ins and outs of the sub.

A pole enables mounting your main monitors directly on top of the unit.

Features

  • Frequency Response: 30Hz-132Hz (-10dB)
  • Crossover: 140Hz
  • Max SPL: 130dB
  • Power Rating: 600W RMS
  • Drivers: 1 x 18"
  • Input Connectors: 2 x XLR
  • Output Connectors: 4 x XLR
  • Polarity: Not Specified
  • Enclosure Material: 15mm Plywood
  • Dimensions: 26.5" x 22.6" x 22.8"
  • Weight: 82 lbs.

Pros
Many users liked the clean low end with no distortion or excessive overtones. The cabinet is tuned very well for the price. Another thing people love about it is the size; despite being smaller than most subwoofers, it still outputs enough low end for most systems.

Cons
Some complaints about the thermal protect system were brought up in the first run of the product. It may have been addressed in newer runs as the problem has not come up on newer reviews.

Overall
The Mackie Thump 18S goes beyond its price point with clear and punchy bass, compact size and versatile pairing with different types of speakers.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube expert island 90/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Electro-Voice ELX200-18SP

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1199
Electro-Voice ELX200-18SP 18" Powered PA Subwoofer

Subwoofers usually need enough mass to handle low frequencies without rattling. Proper tuning can make subs clearer and more efficient.

The ELX200-18SP from Electro-Voice has enough punch in it to rival even larger enclosures thanks to its tuned enclosure and high peak wattage.

To reign in all this power the ELX200-18SP employs a DSP (Digital Signal Processing) system to ensure that the sub pairs nicely with most powered speaker setups.

It also has useful presets for whatever occasion you might need.

Features

  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-145Hz (-10dB)
  • Crossover: Low Pass 80Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz, 150Hz
  • Max SPL: 132 dB SPL
  • Power Rating: 1200W Peak
  • Drivers: 18" EVS-18L woofer
  • Input Connectors: 2 x XLR-1/4" combo
  • Output Connectors: 2 x XLR (thru)
  • Polarity: Not Specified
  • Enclosure Material: 15mm Plywood with EVCoat
  • Dimensions: 23.62" x 19.96" x 22.6"
  • Weight: 63.93 lbs.

Pros
Tight and clear have been repeated in multiple reviews from everyday users and mobile sound system owners. For small venues, the bass blends well with the mains without turning into a bass-heavy mess. It was also noted to be lighter than similarly priced products.

Cons
Some felt that the bass punch was a bit lacking for EDM and Hip Hop.

Overall
If you need a sub to fill in the bass at intimate gatherings without making it too overwhelming, or if you want a sub that's easier to bring around, the ELX200 - 18SP is the perfect pick.

Electro-Voice EKX-18SP

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 350+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1399
Electro-Voice EKX-18SP 1300W Powered PA Subwoofer
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Powered PA Subwoofer along with the QSC KS118.

The Electro-Voice EKX-18SP has been well received thanks to its big 18" woofer and 1300W amplifier and its most interesting feature is its Cardioid Control Technology which focuses sound projection on to the audience while reducing stage noise.

It also comes with built-in DSP (Digital Signal Processing) that allows for quick setup and matching, be it with your other speakers or the venue it is employed in.

And it is relatively light considering that it comes with an 18" LF Driver.

Features

  • Frequency Response: 35Hz to 180Hz (-10dB)
  • Crossover: Adjustable (80Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz, 150Hz)
  • Max SPL: 134 dB
  • Power Rating: 1300 Watts Peak
  • Drivers: 1 x 18" EVS-18C subwoofer
  • Input Connectors: 2 x XLR-1/4" Combo
  • Output Connectors: 2 x XLR
  • Polarity: Not Specified
  • Enclosure Material: 15mm Wood
  • Dimensions: 20.4" x 23.8" x 24"
  • Weight: 72.3 lbs

Pros
Awesome, amazing and great are just some of the many superlatives that are used to describe the Electro-Voice EKX-18SP's real world performance. It has been proven to work well in various situations, including rock and metal band concerts, DJ and other dance music styles, as well as school and office parties/activities. With its big 18" woofer, many users are impressed with its hard hitting yet clear sound projection.

Cons
While not as heavy as other subs, there are a few users who cautioned that this sub is heavy for the size, and they wish that it came with wheels by default.

Overall
Having said all that, the EKX-18SP is a serious sub-woofer that will fit most musical and event applications, well deserving of its recommendation.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube DJ Andrew Yates 90/100
Sound On Sound Mike Crofts 94/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Electro-Voice ETX-18SP

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$1999
Electro-Voice ETX-18SP 18" Powered Subwoofer 1800W

When it comes to low frequency response, bigger speakers generally perform better, and this is exactly what the Electro-Voice ETX-18SP offers, an 18" woofer paired with a 1,800W Class D amplifier with a maximum SPL of 135dB.

To better manage this powerful sub, Electro-Voice equipped the ETX-18SP with "QuickSmart" DSP, which optimizes sound quality and allows for different presets for different applications.

Finally, it comes with blower-controlled thermal management, that protects internal components from heat damage.

Features

  • Frequency Response: 28Hz-180Hz
  • Crossover: Low Pass adjustable - 80Hz, 100Hz, 120Hz, 150Hz
  • Max SPL: 135 dB SPL @ 1m
  • Power Rating: Watts Peak
  • Drivers: 18"
  • Input Connectors: 2 x XLR-1/4" combo
  • Output Connectors:
  • Polarity: 2 x XLR
  • Enclosure Material: 13-ply 18mm Birch plywood with EV coat and 16 gauge steel grille
  • Dimensions: 21.6" x 26.5" x 35.8"
  • Weight: 114.2 lbs.

Pros
Having deep yet controlled low-end is the main reason why many rate the ETX-18SP highly. There are reports of it working great in various settings including church services, band performances, DJ sets and more. Owners also appreciate its solid build and its versatility to adapt to different situations.

Cons
With its big 18" woofer and equally big thump, the ETX-18SP maybe a bit of overkill for small venue or intimate events. Being on the heavy side, it is better suited to semi-permanent installations instead of touring.

Overall
Get the most low-end per dollar with the Electro-Voice ETX-18SP, especially for venues that hold different types of events and musical performances.

QSC KS118

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$2000
QSC KS118 3600W 18" Powered Subwoofer
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Powered PA Subwoofer along with the Electro-Voice EKX-18SP.

This subwoofer is meant for loud use in medium to big venues, housing an 18" driver that is powered by a 3,600W amplifier.

Built-in DSP expands the functionality of the KS118, allowing for adjustable crossover and savable scenes that can be used to conveniently tweak the subwoofer to match the venue and event requirements.

Another nifty feature is the selectable Deep mode, that further enhances low-end, ideal for electronic musicians, DJs and more. This means that you can switch to a more natural sounding subwoofer, or a deep sounding one, all in one package.

All these are housed inside a cabinet made of 15mm birch wood, with built-in rolling casters.

Features

  • Frequency Response: 41Hz-98Hz (-6 dB)
  • Crossover: Variable
  • Max SPL: 136 dB SPL @ 1m
  • Power Rating: 3600W Peak Class D
  • Drivers: 18"
  • Input Connectors: 2 x XLR-1/4" combo
  • Output Connectors: 2 x XLR
  • Polarity: Not Specified
  • Enclosure Material: 15 mm Birch Plywood
  • Dimensions: 25.2" x 20.5" x 30.9"
  • Weight: 104 lbs.

Pros
Premium sound quality is the main reason why many love the QSC KS118. It's clarity and reach is well appreciated by those using it for events like weddings, while musicians and DJs are impressed with the depth of its deep mode. As expected, most of the owners already own QSC speakers so they know what to expect, but even those who own speakers from other brands are just as impressed. Being reasonably portable is also another reason why the QSC KS118 currently has an almost perfect rating across multiple retail stores.

Cons
Speaking of portability, even with casters, this over-100lb subwoofer can be too heavy for some, especially when you have to carry it up stairs for a regular gig.

Overall
If you've had good experience with QSC loudspeakers, and you have the budget, then this is your best pick. If not, then the KS118 will easily turn you into a fan of the brand.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Sound On Sound Mike Crofts 98/100
Church Production Magazine Loren Alldrin 96/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

JBL SRX828SP

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$2465
JBL SRX828SP

The JBL SRX828SP takes conventional 18" subwoofer design up a notch by incorporating two 18" drivers into a single subwoofer.

This allows the sub to have very high Max SPL, in fact it has the highest Max SPL rating in this guide.

The two 18" woofers are driven by a 2000W Drivecore amplifier from Crown, housed in a thick 18mm plywood cabinet.

Contrasting its traditional wooden cabinet is its built-in DSP with HiQnet, which allows you to control the subwoofer via iOS and Android apps.

Features

  • Frequency Response: 29 Hz to 150 Hz (-10 dB)
  • Crossover: 80 Hz
  • Max SPL: 141 dB
  • Power Rating: 2000 Watts Peak - 1500 Watts Continuous
  • Drivers: 2 x 18"
  • Input Connectors: 2 x XLR/TRS
  • Output Connectors: 2 x XLR
  • Polarity: Not specified
  • Enclosure Material: 18 mm Plywood
  • Dimensions: 22.57" x 47.42" x 26.79"
  • Weight: 145 lbs (65.9 kg)

Pros

Earth shaking, as many users describe it, is a nice way of pointing out the main strength of the JBL SRX828SP, which is its loud projection and low-frequency depth. Stability and reliability are also key factors as to why many rate this sub highly, so much so that it enjoys an almost perfect 5 star rating from users who actually own it.

Cons

The natural downside of having dual 18" speakers is bulk and weight, so if you're looking for a portable carry-on subwoofer, this is not for you.

Overall

If you want nothing less than the loudest and the most low-end capable subwoofer, then get the JBL SRX828SP.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
YouTube Eric Favilla 96/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Check out this video for more information about the SRX Connect app:

Budget Option

This is where we sometimes present additional options which didn't quite fit into our list above but which you may also find interesting and useful - in this case it's a low-cost but respectable option for those on a tight budget.

Behringer Eurolive VQ1800D

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$529
Behringer Eurolive VQ1800D 500W 18" Powered Subwoofer

Budget options can often feel like a compromise. The Behringer Eurolive VQ1800D is a full featured, powerful sub that punches above its weight.

A variable crossover helps in tuning the sub to your room and speakers (more so than fixed crossover points).

Phase controls help with getting proper pairing with speakers to prevent comb filtering and "disappearing bass" in the room.

Features

  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-200Hz (-10dB)
  • Crossover: Variable
  • Max SPL: 124dB SPL
  • Power Rating: 500W
  • Drivers: 1 x 18"
  • Input Connectors: 2 x XLR
  • Output Connectors: 2 x XLR (output), 2 x XLR (thru)
  • Polarity: Not Specified
  • Enclosure Material: 15mm Wood
  • Dimensions: 20.4" x 20.8" x 22.3"
  • Weight: 84.1 lbs.

Pros
Users say that the unit is a great bang for the buck sub. Some users had enough money left over to buy yet another sub along with their main speakers.

Cons
May be underpowered for some venues. On the heavy side. The enclosure is made of particle board and that was seen as a con by some.

Overall
The Behringer Eurolive VQ1800D is a great affordable subwoofer with many good reviews. If you don't mind a heavier sub, this is the one to get when you're on a budget..

Things to Consider When Buying a PA Subwoofer

How Will You Integrate Subs Into Your PA System?

There are several ways of adding subs into your system. One of the simplest is to create a sub-mix on your mixing console where you send the kick drum and bass to the Aux output and then connect that to your powered subwoofer. Other options include running your subwoofers in parallel to your main PA speakers if your subs have high pass filters. In more complex setups you will use a crossover unit to split the frequencies before sending the signal to your subs. It's beyond the scope of this guide to provide comprehensive information on integrating subwoofers so here is an article you might find useful: Using a Powered Subwoofer to Augment Your Existing PA

Your Type of Music & Driver Size

Acoustic performers and folk style bands will find the smaller 12" drivers provide all the bottom end they need, but if you perform bass heavy styles then you'll need larger drivers that are capable of moving a lot more air - this is particularly true for EDM style DJs.

Use as Stage Monitors

Many drummers and sometimes bass players use a subwoofer in addition to a standard stage monitor in order to get a full punchy bottom end on stage.

Portability

Generally speaking, subwoofers aren't entirely portable friendly, being an extra speaker that you have to lug around. But for many, the added effort, space requirements and weight of subs are justified by the sound they produce. Still, it will be wise to weigh your low-frequency needs versus your convenience and mobility. If you're a solo performer with no one to help you carry your gear, then go for lighter subs, or maybe no subs at all. Even with bulky subwoofers, you may want to look for mobility features like built-in rolling casters.

Best PA Subwoofer Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2016 and the current edition was published on November 3, 2021.

For this edition, we looked at the powered PA subs you can readily buy in the USA, resulting in a short list of 42 of the most popular and highly rated powered PA subs - you can see them in the Music Gear Database. We then gathered and analyzed the most recent data from customer and expert reviews, forum discussions and feedback, all of which totaled to over 6,700 sources. All of these data were then fed into the Gearank Algorithm to produce rating scores out of 100 which we used to rank the subwoofers according to actual market sentiment and we selected the highest rated options to recommend above. Finally, we included a budget option, for those who are looking for a good quality yet budget-friendly alternative. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

Aside from endlessly window shopping and watching hours of gear reviews for leisure, he enjoys playing competitive FPS games, MMORPGs and caring for his 5 cats. He is primarily influenced by guitarists like Kurt Ballou and Paul Gilbert. His favorite pieces of gear are his Ibanez RG550RFR, Orange Brent Hinds Terror amplifier and EQD Acapulco Gold fuzz.

Contributors

Alden Acosta: Product research.
Alexander Briones: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: Supplemental writing, Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: By Gearank.com using photographs of the QSC KS118 and Electro-Voice EKX-18SP.

All videos have been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

Comments

When we were doing the

When we were doing the research for this guide it was clear that none of the Turbosound iQ range were rated highly enough to be included in this guide so they didn't make it past the initial screening process.

There have been more ratings published over the last couple months so I re-checked and the situation hasn't changed much except that the Turbosound iQ18B now has a higher Gearank score then it did back then, but still not high enough to be included in this guide, although I did add it to our public music gear database today.

You can see all the Turbosound products in the database here.

I should point out that the purpose of Gearank.com is not to list every piece of music gear out there, instead we focus on highly rated gear that have a realistic potential to be included in our Music Gear Guides.

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