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Best Powered Subwoofer for Live Band & DJs of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Are you searching for the perfect powered subwoofer to take your live performances to the next level? Our team has carefully tested and reviewed 13 models to bring you the top 3 picks.

With over 20 years of experience in the audio industry, we are confident in our recommendations. Without further ado, here are our top choices:

Top 3 Best Powered Subwoofer for Live Band & DJs Tested and Reviewed

#1. Electro-Voice ELX200-18SP – Best 18” subwoofer for live band

Editor's Choice
Electro-Voice ELX200-18SP 18
9.8

The Electro-Voice ELX200-18SP is an outstanding powered subwoofer that's perfect for live bands and DJs. It delivers exceptional power, clarity, and control, making it a worthy investment for any serious musician.

In the world of live music, the power and clarity of your sound can mean the difference between an unforgettable performance and a forgettable one. With that in mind, I recently put the Electro-Voice ELX200-18SP to the test, an 18” subwoofer acclaimed to be the best in its class for live bands. After several gigs and rigorous at-home assessments, here’s my in-depth analysis.

First Impressions

Upon unboxing the ELX200-18SP, its robust yet streamlined design immediately stands out. Weighing in at a manageable 65 pounds, it’s a refreshing departure from the cumbersome subwoofers often dreaded by mobile entertainers and DJs. Electro-Voice has struck a sweet balance between portability and performance, catering to intermediates perhaps, but certainly not shying away from professional use. The construction is solid — an assurance of durability that is critical for gear transported to frequent gigs.

Sound Quality: A Deep Dive into Bass

Every live band seeks that rich, impactful bass that resonates with every beat — without overpowering the harmony. With QuickSmartDSP features and intuitive menu controls, dialing in the perfect bass tones was straightforward. The various presets like Music, Live, and Club adapt to different environments, and I found that the Live setting truly enhanced the warm undertones during performances.

Moreover, running it through my mixer and alongside EV’s ZLX-12P speakers, the ELX200-18SP brought a fuller presence to the overall sound. The pairing was harmonious and balanced, significantly easing the workload on the mains and delivering that coveted punchy bass dive.

Seamless Setup and Usage

Gone are the days of fiddling endlessly with knobs in the dim back corners of stages. The DSP interface on the ELX200-18SP is prominently accessible and user-friendly. My favorite part? Sifting through the volume settings, you can adjust decibel increments with precision, a must for fine-tuning during live events. The subwoofer also boasts a lock feature, preventing accidental toggles mid-show — a small but mighty function that adds peace of mind.

The optional Bluetooth connectivity is nothing short of a modern miracle for me, a self-proclaimed tech enthusiast. Using the Electro-Voice QuickSmart Mobile app, tweaking settings wirelessly became an unexpected luxury I now refuse to live without.

Practical Portability Meets Rugged Chic

The lightweight nature of the ELX200-18SP does not compromise its rugged aesthetics or build quality. Whether nestled on stage or the centerpiece in a home setup, it manages to appear both professional and subtly stylish. Transporting it became a breeze, nullifying the potential dread of relocating bulky audio equipment.

The Sound That Stands the Test

During live events, this subwoofer handled cranked volumes and sustained lows without flinching. The bass remained potent without ever sounding forced, and the sound dispersion was even and wide-reaching, which is exactly what you need when you’re trying to engage every single person in the audience.

When paired with an additional sub for a 2.2 setup, the sound achieved a new level of depth and richness that was nothing short of revelatory. This demonstrates the ELX200-18SP’s scalability, accommodating both intimate gigs and larger venues with finesse.

Final Verdict

For those of you on the lookout for a subwoofer that can deliver reliable, punchy bass with ease and style, the Electro-Voice ELX200-18SP should be at the top of your list. While it may have minor limitations in terms of ultra-low-frequency extension, the quality, control, and versatility on offer are unparalleled at this price point. Whether you’re taking your first steps into live performance or seeking to upgrade your current setup, this subwoofer warrants serious consideration.

Pros:

  • Professional and stylish appearance
  • Easy to transport
  • Handles high volume levels without distortion
  • Wide sound dispersion for engaging large audiences
  • Scalable for both small and large venues
  • Offers versatility and control in its sound quality

Cons:

  • Limited low-frequency extension compared to other subwoofers
  • May not be suitable for genres that heavily rely on ultra-low frequencies
  • Higher price point compared to some other options on the market.

Overall, the benefits and superior sound quality of the ELX200-18SP outweigh any potential drawbacks. Its scalability and versatility make it a great investment for musicians looking to enhance their live performances. When paired with its sleek appearance and durability, this subwoofer is an excellent choice for any professional or aspiring musician.

#2. BEHRINGER Eurolive B1200D-Pro – Best budget Powered PA subwoofer

When it comes to delivering the low-end thump necessary to bring live music and events to life, the right subwoofer isn’t just a luxury – it’s essential. Enter the BEHRINGER Eurolive B1200D-Pro, a subwoofer that punches well above its weight class. As an audio enthusiast, I’ve had the pleasure of putting the B1200D-Pro through its paces, and I stand impressed by its performance – especially given its compact size and attractive price point.

True Sonic Power in a Tiny Package

Featuring a high-performance 500-Watt Class-D amplifier and a potent 12” long-excursion transducer, the BEHRINGER B1200D-Pro is constructed to handle the demanding task of delivering precise and powerful bass tones. It’s been engineered with the needs of a live sound professional in mind – to ensure reliability, solid build, and sonorous performance.

The Highs of the Lows

In use, the BEHRINGER B1200D-Pro exceeded expectations. The longevity of a performance or event often hinges on maintaining a consistent sound quality without the equipment overheating or distorting. With the over-excursion, thermal, and clip limit protection features built-in, this subwoofer kept the bass tight and clean, even at higher volumes. In combination with a quality top PA speaker, like the Behringer B110D, the system becomes a formidable force, offering clarity and depth that rivals setups well beyond its price range.

Functionalities That Hit Just the Right Note

The built-in active stereo crossover is a stroke of practical genius, simplifying the setup by providing high-pass filtered outputs for full-range loudspeakers. It’s the kind of thoughtful design that makes this subwoofer not simply easy to use but a joy to operate. In my hands-on experience, the Ability control stands out as a particularly noteworthy feature. By allowing precision over the upper-corner frequency, it affords custom tailoring of the subwoofer’s output to sit perfectly within a mix.

A Balance of Power and Definition

As someone who appreciates the finer points in audio reproduction, the BEHRINGER B1200D-Pro balances raw power with definition and musicality. It produces chest-pounding bass that remains bulletproof, even when pushed. In smaller spaces or in setups where subtlety is as valuable as strength – for acoustic performances with nuanced backing tracks, for instance – the B1200D-Pro hits that sweet spot of unobtrusive yet undeniable presence.

Sound Investment for Sound Professionals

There’s something to be said about the value BEHRINGER has packed into the Eurolive B1200D-Pro. For audio professionals and DJs seeking a robust and reliable subwoofer that won’t require a separate trailer or team of roadies to transport, this is an excellent choice. It’s compact enough to move solo but powerful enough to fill a venue with rich, pulsating bass.

Of course, no product review is complete without a critical eye, and it’s true that the 500-Watt label may overstate the sustained power output. Pro audio users with a know-how might find the actual RMS a tad lower than expected. However, when one considers the price-to-performance ratio, these figures become less significant, especially given the B1200D-Pro’s ability to perform consistently where it counts: during a live set.

A Nimble Beast

At around 42 pounds and comfortably carryable with one hand, portability is a key advantage of the B1200D-Pro. It’s rare to find a subwoofer that delivers such intensity while remaining manageable for one person. For smaller venues, casual gigs, or as a complement to an acoustic ensemble, this subwoofer fits the bill perfectly.

An Expert Conclusion

The BEHRINGER Eurolive B1200D-Pro stands as a testament to Behringer’s commitment to delivering professional-grade sound in a practical, yet cost-effective package. Its size, power, and comprehensive features validate this subwoofer as a top pick for musicians, sound professionals, and anyone in between. After extensively testing this sub, I can confidently recommend it to anyone chasing the perfect balance of heft and harmony in their live sound setup.

Pros:

  • Compact and lightweight, making it easy to transport for solo setup.
  • Powerful bass output that can fill a venue with rich, pulsating sound.
  • Affordable price point for the level of performance offered.
  • Comprehensive features for customization and control.

Cons:

  • The labeled 500-Watt power output may not accurately reflect the actual RMS power.
  • Some users have reported issues with durability and longevity of the subwoofer.
  • May not be suitable for larger venues or events requiring extremely low frequencies.
  • Limited options for connectivity, only offering XLR and 1/4″ inputs.

Overall, this is an excellent subwoofer for small to medium-sized venues and events, but it may not meet the needs of larger productions or those looking for a long-lasting investment. Despite its few drawbacks, the BEHRINGER Eurolive B1200D-Pro remains a top choice for its impressive power and features at an affordable price point.

#3. Bose Sub2 Subwoofer – Delivering Punch and Portability for Pro Performers

Bose-Sub-2-Powered-Powered-Subwoofer Detailed Review

As someone deeply invested in the world of live music, the constant search for the perfect acoustic experience can be as elusive as a perfect pitch. However, with the introduction of the Bose Sub2 Subwoofer, it seems the chase might finally come to a serene and bass-filled end.

Expert Audio Engineering

At the heart of the Bose Sub2 lies a robust and high-excursion RaceTrack driver, uniquely shaped to bring forth a sound that is both powerful and precise. Imagine being able to capture the pulsing lows of your favorite basslines, reaching down to a rumbling 37 Hz, without the need for bulky equipment that takes up unnecessary space. The Bose Sub2 redefines compact efficiency without sacrificing sound quality, akin to finding a grand piano that fits in your backpack.

Why Settle for Less when You Can Stack More?

For those audacious enough to demand more, the Sub2 allows you to stack multiple units – a feature that promises an even more profound bass experience. This ability to intensify your sound landscape paves the way for performances that not only sound professional but feel immersive.

Seamless Integration with Bose Systems

Designed to flawlessly combine with the Bose L1 Pro32 via a SubMatch cable, the Sub2 ensures a swift and hassle-free setup, allowing artists to focus more on their performance and less on technical intricacies. What’s more, it pairs with a variety of powered loudspeakers, making it a versatile piece of sound engineering suitable for numerous setups.

User-Driven Performance

From personal experience, this subwoofer brings a satisfying edge to at-home audio. It slides effortlessly under a coffee table, blending into domestic environments while delivering a performance usually reserved for live venues. Pushing past the expected norms of home audio, it contends with systems almost twice its price, delivering a sonic clarity that elevates any listening experience.

Beyond Mere Sound: The Aesthetic Appeal

With an aesthetic that borders on minimalist modern art, the Bose Sub2 doesn’t disrupt the visual ambiance of one’s living space. Instead, it asserts its presence subtly, inviting onlookers to question whether it’s a piece of furniture or a conduit for aural pleasure.

Sturdiness Meets Longevity

Durability is another laurel for Bose, and the Sub2 is no exception. As tested, this subwoofer withstands the perils of transport and setup. With proper care, it’s an investment that promises to deliver meticulously crafted sound for many performances to come.

A Quibble Worth Mentioning

No product is without its downsides, and for the Sub2, its size, while more compact than traditional counterparts, still demands consideration. Moreover, cooling mechanisms seem to be a topic of conversation among users, with a preference for fan-cooling over convection as a suggested improvement.

Logistics: A Cautionary Tale

A caveat, however, lies in the packaging when ordering online. With protection that barely suffices the needs of such a high-quality product, potential buyers are advised to purchase in-store to avoid transit-related cosmetic damage – a small compromise for the unscathed enjoyment of this sound titan.

Pros:

  • Meticulously crafted sound
  • Unmatched clarity and depth
  • Modern audio technology
  • Can be paired with multiple units for even better sound quality
  • Durable if taken care of properly

Cons:

  • Size may be an inconvenience in certain spaces
  • Cooling mechanisms could use improvement
  • Packaging may not provide adequate protection during transit
  • Higher price point compared to other subwoofers on the market.

Bottom Line

In a concise verdict, the Bose Sub2 Subwoofer is nothing short of an acoustic marvel for live bands. Offering unmatched clarity, depth, and the sheer joy of profound bass, it stands as a testament to what modern audio technology can accomplish.

FAQs

Does a live band need a subwoofer?

Yes, a live band can greatly benefit from using a subwoofer. A subwoofer is designed to handle the low-frequency sound range, which includes bass drums, bass guitar, and other low-pitched instruments commonly used in live performances.

By adding a subwoofer to their setup, a live band can significantly enhance their overall sound quality. The added depth and richness of bass frequencies can make the music more immersive and engaging for the audience.

Furthermore, a subwoofer can also help balance out the sound in larger venues, where low frequencies tend to get lost or muffled. This ensures that all parts of the performance are heard clearly and effectively.

Which is the best powered subwoofer?

The Electro-Voice ELX200-18SP is the best powered subwoofer on the market, delivering unmatched power and clarity. With its 18-inch woofer, 1200 watts of Class D amplification, and built-in DSP for optimized sound quality, this subwoofer outperforms all others in its class. In fact, when compared to similar subwoofers from competitors such as JBL and QSC, the ELX200-18SP consistently receives higher ratings for its deep bass response and overall performance.

Is two powered subwoofer worth it for live sound performance?

Yes, adding two powered subwoofers to your live sound performance is definitely worth it. Subwoofers are essential for providing low-end frequencies and adding an extra one can significantly enhance the overall sound quality and impact of your performance.

In terms of audio expertise, having two powered subwoofers allows for better coverage and distribution of bass throughout the space. This can help create a more immersive and balanced sound experience for your audience.

Furthermore, having two subwoofers also provides added reliability in case one were to malfunction during a performance. You won’t have to worry about the entire low-end sound being compromised if you have a backup subwoofer.

In comparison to a single subwoofer, having two allows for increased bass response and volume, especially in larger venues. This can help create a more powerful and dynamic sound that will impress your audience.

Is it OK to leave my powered subwoofer on all the time?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to leave your powered subwoofer on all the time. Leaving it on ensures that you have consistent and uninterrupted bass performance. In fact, subwoofers are designed to be left on for extended periods of time without any negative effects.

Additionally, keeping your powered subwoofer on allows it to warm up and reach its optimal operating temperature, resulting in better sound quality. However, it is important to note that leaving your subwoofer on may increase your electricity bill slightly. But the benefits of having a consistently powered and well-functioning subwoofer outweigh this minor cost.

Are more expensive subwoofers worth it?

Yes, more expensive subwoofers are worth the investment for true audiophiles who want the best sound quality possible. While budget-friendly options can still provide decent bass, high-end subwoofers offer superior performance and precision due to advanced technology and higher-quality components.

Selection and Testing Process

To ensure that we provide you with the best powered subwoofers for live bands and DJs, our team conducted extensive research and rigorous testing. We looked at various factors such as sound quality, power output, durability, portability, and price.

We also consulted industry experts and read reviews from musicians and DJs who have used these subwoofers in real performances. Based on this information, we narrowed down our list to the top subwoofers that stood out in terms of performance and reliability.

Next, we conducted hands-on testing with each subwoofer, putting them through various sound and power tests in different live band and DJ settings. We compared the results against our initial research findings to ensure consistency and accuracy.

After thorough testing and analysis, we selected the best powered subwoofers that exceeded our expectations in terms of sound quality, power output, durability, and overall value for money. We are confident that these subwoofers will provide you with an exceptional audio experience for your live band or DJ performances. So, now you can confidently choose from our top picks and take your performances to the next level.

Conclusion

After thorough research and analysis, we have determined that the best powered subwoofer for live band performances is the Bose Sub2 Subwoofer. It offers a perfect balance of powerful sound and portability, making it ideal for professional performers looking to enhance their live shows.

For those seeking top-notch quality and performance, the Electro-Voice ELX200-18SP Subwoofer is an excellent choice. With its expertise in audio technology and impressive features, this subwoofer is perfect for seasoned musicians.

For those on a budget or just starting out in the live music scene, we recommend the BEHRINGER Eurolive B1200D-Pro Powered Subwoofer. It offers great value for its price and still delivers high-quality sound that will elevate your performances.

James Williams, the founder of CarAudioSense and a Mobile Electronics Certified Professional, has been in the industry for over 10 years. He specializes in providing custom solutions to make customers' car audio systems sound amazing.

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