Short list of musical subwoofers

I plan to invest a "musical" subwoofer to augment the music listening experience of my current two-channel sound system. After a few digging over the acting forum and on-line reviews, it seems the following budgetary sealed (primarily) subwoofers are often mentioned and raved:

- Rythmic L12 (18Hz; sealed, servo controlled; 300 watts RMS; $609);

- RSL Speedwoofer 10S (24Hz; front ported; 350 watts; $428);

- Rel T5x (8 in; 32Hz@-6db; 125 watts; $680)

- SVS SB 1000 (24Hz, sealed; 300 watts; $450) or 2000 (19Hz; sealed; 500 watts; $600);

All above claim to have quick, accurate bass that is good for music listening. Rel, although not being able to extend to 20Hz, has been highly rated for easy integration into the sound system. I am not even sure if being able to get down low and/or the wattage of the active amp are critical to the musical application. My living room is about 25 ft wide and 20 ft deep. I do have limited budget but if others are warranted for a higher price tag in your opinion I am willing to bump up the budget. You inputs are highly appreciated.


I would go with Rel as I have always found them to be very musical and easy to integrate into ones system.

Rel is my choice. I've had them for 20 years and they have served me well. My room is also big. The new one I have put out 550 watts. I can't go past one third the volume. Remember the Rel is mean to augment the bass. So the sub should blend in with the mains and not be heard. Iow great wattage is not necessary to blend. The important thing Imo is to get the proper sub for the room.. one Rel T5 will not be enough for your room imo.. But I'd say that is the case with all the ones listed.

A while back @midareff1 started a thread asking for input on musical subs. Long story short he ordered the Martin Logan Dynamo 800x. He loves it!

Used Vandersteen 2Wq, BUT I’d take two SVS SB1000 Pro subs over one of any of the others.  Having two subs for music trumps quality in most cases IMHO.  Best of luck. 


i have tried hsu, vandy, velodyne, nht, carver subs over the years, some of them can work fine but i like rel's the best

Rythmik servo subs are fantastic for music. Very clean and very fast. The amps provided with the subs are also very customizable. They integrate really well for music. 

Starting my two channel journey, I had two SVS1000 from a past go at hometheater. When I listen at lower volume or when between songs, I can hear a hiss/static from my subs that interrupts my music experience. With the trade up program SVS offers, I figured it impossible for subs on up the line to have the same issue. I moved to a pair of SVS3000. I want silence when there’s suppose to be silence. With no signal, The 3000’s have the same hiss, SVS calls it noise floor. I contacted SVS and described the problem. Quick fast the new sub amps arrived for a swap. Changed them out and hiss is still there. Emailed SVS and they recommend going on up the line. I don’t have room for larger subs and that doesn’t sound like the path I want to take with a company.

JL audio

Phantom V2

i sold several subs after I felt like they were sucking the life out of my two channel system. Including Rel and B and W. JL sounds amazing.

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The price and the reviews outside of AG for the RSL Speedwoofer have always intrigued me. For HT I’d definitely try, but I haven’t seen too many reviews for them being musical. Regardless, I’d love to hear a review from someone who uses them in strictly a 2-channel application. Out of the ones you mentioned, I’d probably go with the Rythmik L12 (I’ve been looking at purchasing a pair in the future).

I also was once a REL believer.

But then for fun I replaced 2 REL S/812s with 2 Rythmic G22s (the dual opposing 12 inch subs). They just integrate much, much better with my system and I can fine tune that integration. In addition there is now more bottom end.

This as my experience with my components.

I have been through many subs and recently replaced my Martin Logans with REL s/812's.  My only recommendation would be to make sure whatever you land on get a pair.

Good Luck! 

I'm usually just a lurker here, but I keep seeing people post about subs and never see anyone mention my favorite.  I very much love my dual Seaton Submersive HP+ subs I got earlier this year.  I heard first of Mark Seaton's subs from my audio calibrator who told me, of all the subs he has heard and measured while doing 20,000+ calibrations, Seaton Submersive HP+ is the one he would buy.


I am very happy with my SVS SB-2000 and how it works with the Revel F36.

I would assume that the new SVS SB-2000 Pro is even better considering it's app integration and deep extension.

I really like the Rel Tx5 i bought a short time ago. It was easy to install and sounds great. I'm on a budget and feel it's all I need. Good luck...

I have the two SVS SB2000 subs in my system and really fills in the stage even at lower listening levels. I’m very happy with them and for the price I think it’s fair. 

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I have bass array consisting of two Rel T5's, one Rel T7i and an SVS SB2000 and I love what they do for the overall sound.

I'm running my 15 year old SVS PB12's with two SB-1000 Pro's.  3 subs fill a large room and compliment Klipsch Belle's wonderfully.  I wish the phone app worked with the PB12's.  Tuning from the listening position is a very nice feature.

However, I am curious about REL due to the group think and have been corresponding with Dermot O'Deady at REL about the S/812.

REL for me too… tried many others, stuck with REL. And this was before Audiogon for me… So no group think.

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My Vandy 2Wq subs are very musical.  I would assume the newer model is as well.  But only when used with the battery-biased outboard crossovers.

MartinLogan Dynamo 1600 X.  Deep, musical bass. What sold me was ARC built in plus simultaneous input input flexibility (LFE + PreOut) making it perfect for Stereo and Movies.  

Rythmik sealed with a plate amp option that has the PEQ feature which offers some additional control on taming room nodes.

The continuously variable phase control 0-180degrees is another important feature - I would never buy another sub that didn't have this feature.  It made a huge difference for my room and setup for proper integration.


REL subs seem to be the only company/product that the majority of Audiogoners can agree on. I've never seen anything like it. Are there dissenters? Of course, but we're talking "majority" here.

Of the subs on your list, I’ve only auditioned the SVS and REL brands, and I auditioned them head-to-head. The REL was a HT model, and it integrated so much better than SVS. Based on that audition, I went with a single REL HT 1205 in my small HT space (no room for two subs), and it was a nice upgrade over the more affordable sub I had been running.


Describing a sub as "musical" is odd. Turn everything else off except the subwoofer and play a record. Does that sound musical? Aside from the sub moaning and thudding away you will also get to hear the rest of your environment buzz and rattle. The music masks it. Subs add visceral impact to the music and when used correctly unload the bass from the main speaker increasing headroom and lowering distortion. I suppose you could say they make the main speakers more musical. None of the subs mentioned incorporate a high pass filter for the main speakers so one might assume that none of them are musical.

If you are at all handy look at the subwoofer kits Parts Express sells. They are a bargain. Two of them with a two way crossover would be substantially more musical than anything above.

Any sub must have EQ, variable filter orders, continuous phase, invert and separate music and LFE input if using with HT.

If the system does not have active DSP, then getting it in the sub does wonders for integration.

The Martin-Logan X series tick all the boxes in a reasonable price range.

You should roll the bottom out of the mains to improve dynamic range. This is simple with a first order passive filter.

see ieLogical SubterraneanHomesickBlues for a primer on integrating subs

Twenty years ago REL were top drawer. Today, a geegaw marketing outfit whose verbiage is mostly malarky. FanBoys love the bling.

@carlsbad no my comment was aimed at first learning more about the OP before making a recommendation. Your system ;-) Best to you

@mijostyn I think the musical is an as compared to overblown HT bass ( my words ). I like to have variable Q.


@bondmanp ya man ;-) Hipass puts the main amp in what I call the vandy loafing zone…magic midrange happens, and as you know the high level drive preserves the transfer function of the main amp. I love the new Sub 3 ;-) not required if you are careful w setup and run vandertones ( free )

Best to you



I would go with REL T9i. It is front firing like the X and since it is the prior model you can get a good deal. $600-$700. Later you can pick up another since people will continue to upgrade. Don’t worry about the 20hz unless for HT. You will be happier with this. The T9 down fires for the active sub vs the T9i which front fires. Most prefer the front active woofer. I have the down firing version but I have upgraded to two JL Audio F110s and the CR1 crossover. I am going to incorporate the RELs in the back of the room when I have time to set it up properly. 

Subwoofer/s systems are an altogether separate component that should maintain their relevance through future main speaker upgrades. I'd suggest saving for a system with measured frequency control options or an outboard room optimization / equalization product with much more integration flexibility and detailed room tunable performance. 

Beware of responses that include brand comparisons and fail to include the model, installation and application details. 

On the other hand if those differences aren't important you should be just fine with -6dB @ 32Hz and simply reducing the crossover and gain until the thing doesn't draw attention to itself. All the best.

@tomic601 , For me there is only accurate and not accurate.

Subs come along with a lot of baggage. It is very difficult to keep enclosures from resonating and at the long wavelengths you have at the crossover point phasing and time are critical. All this results in distortion which tends to lessen the impact a sub should have. Digital bass management is extremely helpful bordering on absolutely essential.  There is no commercial subwoofer enclosure that I like short of the Magico Q subs and they are too large for my circumstances. It is better to use multiple smaller subs than one or two very large ones. By smaller I mean 12" drivers vs 15 or 18" ones.  

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@mijostyn no issue w accurate. I live w accurate and flat to 20 hz every day I am in Seattle. with a push pull 12” aluminum honeycomb driver in a carbon fiber wrapped cabinet within a cabinet. 11 bands of analog EQ on both channels. YMMV, and unheard i would never make a claim that your system isn’t perfect, wonderful or exactly suits you.

I am a robot that believes in a large sample size before making claims of “ best “….

I recently decided to go with two subs and started at the bottom pricing of companies that had free trial and return. Got two RSL Speedwoofers. Never returned them as I thought they integrated beautifully with my transmission line Atlantic Technology AT1s. Source is Naim, but my Unitiqute is underpowered for filling a large room with necessary volume, so I'm running through an NAD 268 power amp.

Dave - Stream some Ten Foot Tall Ganja music….that should get tge servo mojo working !

I am a Reggae fool Robot in a dub spin cycle….


Describing a sub as "musical" is odd. Turn everything else off except the subwoofer and play a record. Does that sound musical? Aside from the sub moaning and thudding away you will also get to hear the rest of your environment buzz and rattle. The music masks it. Subs add visceral impact to the music and when used correctly unload the bass from the main speaker increasing headroom and lowering distortion. I suppose you could say they make the main speakers more musical. None of the subs mentioned incorporate a high pass filter for the main speakers so one might assume that none of them are musical.


First, at least I know SVS SB 1000/2000 has a built-in HPF fixed at 80Hz. If you connect RCA line out from preamp/DAC to SW line-in and then connect the SW line-out to power amp, the power amp will filter out anything below 80 Hz (at some slope) and only send the higher freq. to the speakers.  Second, being a "musical" SW is also to do with the connection based on my understanding.  A SW aimed to provide more musical application should have a high-level connection, like Rel T/ series all have high level input via a Neutrik connector, which allows the amp puts out the same analog signal to SW as to the speaker system to achieve better integration.  On the other hand, the Rel HT series (for Home Theater application) do not have a high-level connection.  Mr. Paul Mcgowan provides better explanation for it as below.


Oldhighway...Yea we get you don't like Rel...I think we got the message maybe 8 or 10 post ago...

Missioncoonery, yea kind of like we get the message that you don't like Tekton either, like 600 or 700 posts ago. 

@lanx0003 , That is a great first step. Good for SVS.  I disagree about high level connections. The best way to integrate subwoofers is to use digital bass management which is a combination of "room control", crossover selection and Time/phase correction. If done at 192/24 with a 64 bit processor the corrections and crossover are invisible and the improvement in the system's overall performance is something I wish everyone could hear. All this could be done in the context of an active subwoofer but it doesn't seem the industry thinks consumers will pay for it. Personally I do not like active subwoofers. Passive subs allow much more flexibility and if you build the subs yourself from kits or your own design the savings can be huge. There are many excellent subwoofer drivers available. There is absolutely nothing special about any of the commercial subs. The key to low distortion is large and multiple drivers keeping excursion distances down. 

@tomic601, there is not just one best but several best solutions depending on the room and main speaker type. No system is perfect including mine but perfect is a good target to shoot for. Commercial subs are a matter of what colorations you can tolerate most. There is no such thing as a "musical sub."  You can use subs to make a system more musical. The trick is in doing as little damage as possible. Many people refuse to use subs because the applications they have heard do more damage then good or perhaps they had a bad experience. This is more common than not.  There are contradictions in use that have to be balanced. A good example is the crossover point and slope. The higher the crossover the more you clean up the main speakers but subwoofer drivers produce very colored midrange and you have to keep them low enough to avoid hearing them in the midrange. You can use steeper slopes but doing so can make the sub more noticeable as the transition becomes sharper. Digital bass management allows you to experiment with crossovers to find the right solution for your system. I can change crossover points and slopes on the fly from the listening position and AB solutions. 

If anyone thinks a subwoofer is musical, turn the other speakers off and have a listen. If that is musical perhaps you are smoking too much weed?

Actually 800 post ago but I do see you mix it up a lot on this forum so your error is forgiven 

Big rel above 800 series good. cheap rel more like tin can. Competition better under 800. I own 11 sub.