What Size Subwoofer Do I Need for My Home Theater?

SVS Subwoofer front grille with logo up close

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If you’re looking for that cinema-quality sound in the comfort of your home, a good home theater system and subwoofer can instantly take your home movie experience from drab to fab.

Choosing the right home theater system and subwoofer for your home can be tricky, as most people tend to think that when it comes to subs, the bigger, the better.

This is a common mistake and can significantly affect your sound quality. In this article, we will look at why subwoofers are a great addition to your home theater system, how to choose the best sub for your home, and the benefits of a good subwoofer.

Why Subwoofers are a Necessity

A subwoofer can help improve the bass and overall sound quality of your home theater system. If you, like many others, love that deep bass feeling that you experience in a cinema, you will be happy to know that you can achieve this at home with the help of a good quality subwoofer.

Subwoofers connect to the speakers of a home theater system and clarify the stereo imaging and bass of the movie you are watching or the music you are listening to.

A 12-inch subwoofer is the most popular and common type used in homes for watching movies and listening to music.

SVS Subwoofer front speaker with no grille on it up close
SVS make impressive subwoofers. The SB-2000 is no exception.

Choosing the Best Subwoofer for your home

There is a common misconception that bigger subwoofers will dramatically increase the sound quality produced by a home theater system. The sound quality depends on much more than the size of the subwoofer and more on the size of the room, the type of speakers you are using, and the overall sound you want to achieve.

Your choice of subwoofer ultimately depends on what you watch, how often you would use it, and if it is really worth spending money on.

Before buying just any subwoofer to go with your home theater system, let’s examine what you should consider.

Room size

There is ultimately no rule of thumb for the best size subwoofer in relation to your room size. While some feel that the subwoofer should be bigger for a large room, this is not always the case. Choose your subwoofer based on the size of your room and the overall acoustics.

An open-plan living room would require a larger subwoofer to create that theater-quality sound, while an enclosed room would only need around a 12-inch sub. This is the most common size sub used for home theater systems.

Type of Speakers

The type of speakers you are using should be taken into consideration when purchasing a subwoofer. Floor-standing speakers are able to carry a much heavier load and would pair well with a 12-inch subwoofer.

You can also get two subwoofers if your HiFi allows for it and run them either side of your home theatre set up. Twice the boom!

If you have “bookcase” or compact speakers, a smaller 8 to 10-inch subwoofer is recommended not to distort the sound.

Bluetooth or wireless subwoofers are also commonly used with smaller speakers and provide the same sound quality that a larger subwoofer is capable of.

You really don’t need a lot for smaller set ups like bedrooms, small apartments etc. And in apartments you will want to consider getting an isolation pad or similar to detach the sub from the floor to reduce sound transference to you neighbours.

Type of Sound

Movie and music fans enjoy a subwoofer’s bass and overall sound quality. They can increase the bass of the sound and create a “surround sound” effect when paired with the right speakers.

For those who do not watch tv regularly or are subject to children’s shows as a primary form of entertainment, a subwoofer is considered an unnecessary expense.

To make sure that you are not, in fact, overloading your home theater system when connecting a subwoofer, take note of the wattage. The higher the wattage capabilities of the subwoofer, the more powerful the bass will be. You can see the maximum wattage recommendation on your sub or speakers.

SB-2000 with the grille on front
SB-2000 with Grille On

Subwoofer Buyer’s Guide

Let’s take a look at some of the key elements of a subwoofer and which subwoofer will give you the best sound quality.

Element #1: Sound Quality

Again, sound quality is a key element of a subwoofer. It is important to note that the quality of a subwoofer is not directly related to its price. Depending on your home theater system, a cheaper subwoofer would work just as well as a more expensive model that has the same output.

For the best sound quality, look at the following characteristics of your chosen subwoofer:

  • Size of the subwoofer (choose this according to your room size, the sound you want to achieve, and the type of speakers you have)
  • The power output (a larger output increases the quality and power of the bass)
  • Frequency range (this is the peak wattage or power output that a subwoofer can handle before distortion sets in)

Element #2: Subwoofer Size

As mentioned above, the choice in size of a subwoofer depends on what it will be used for, as well as the overall size of the room. You should not need anything larger than a 12-inch sub for movies, music, and everyday viewing.

It is the safest and most popular choice for many. The broad range and quality of the subwoofer’s sound ultimately depend on the size of the speakers.

Element #3: Power and Volume

Subwoofers have their own internal amplifier. This, in turn, increases both the power and volume of your speakers.

A sub with a higher wattage ensures that you have a clean, distortion-free sound being produced. For the best pairing, ensure that the wattage of your subwoofer amplifier is between 150 to 500 watts for use with home theater systems.

SVS SB-2000 Pro 550 Watt DSP Controlled 12' Sealed Subwoofer (Piano Black)
SVS SB-2000 Pro (550 Watts of Boom Boom.)


Nothing is more enjoyable than watching a movie in surround sound in the comfort of your home. The only way to achieve this clear sound is by investing in a good quality set of speakers or a home theater system and a subwoofer. A 12-inch subwoofer is the most popular choice for pairing with home theater systems and has the best wattage, output, and sound quality.

Subwoofers are available in various sizes, types, and, of course, prices to match your home theater sound needs. Read our buyer’s guide on what to look out for, and let us take the guesswork out of shopping for subwoofers.

SVS Subwoofer from front right view in high gloss finish with grille off

Endless hours of experimentation, professional work, and personal investment in Home Theatre, Hi-Fi, Smart Home Automation and Headphones have come to this.

Former owner of Headphones Canada, a high-end headphone specialty retailer.

This post was last updated on 2023-12-03 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.

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2 thoughts on “What Size Subwoofer Do I Need for My Home Theater?”

  1. For my use-case I would prefer a 10″ driver like the B-Hype M as it’s the same price and has louder & deeper output (I play a lot of deep-bass music) for the same price. An 8″ speaker in my opinion cannot hit the kicks and basses that I would like them to play.

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