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Most of today’s subwoofers have low-level inputs (either RCA or XLR) since they are designed for home theaters and can be easily connected to numerous AV receivers because most receivers have subwoofer (LFE) outputs. But what to do if your power amp or AV receiver doesn’t have a low-level (aka line-level) subwoofer output? Should you give up on a subwoofer? No, you don’t have to give up – you can just buy a subwoofer with high-level inputs (aka speaker-level inputs). These subwoofers connect to the existing left and right speaker outputs on your amp/receiver and don’t require a dedicated subwoofer output. When built properly, they are actually a much better option than the subwoofers with low-level inputs, especially for music.
Our article about 7 best subwoofers with high-level inputs in 2021 is designed to help you find the best subwoofer for your setup. We will discuss the advantages of subwoofers with high-level inputs, explain how to connect them to the existing speaker system, and give you a few tips on what to pay attention to when buying one. In order to make your search much easier, we have also made a nice selection of the best subwoofers with high-level inputs. If you already know everything you need to know about these subwoofers, just scroll down and see what we have for you.
Table of Contents
- Best Subwoofers With High-Level Inputs – Comparison Table
- Why Should You Buy a Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs?
- 7 Best Subwoofers with High-Level Inputs in 2021
- 1. Best 8in Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs – REL Acoustics T/7i
- 2. Best 12in Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs – Martin Logan Dynamo 1100 X
- 3. Best 10in Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs Under $150 – Polk Audio PSW10
- 4. Best 8in Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs Under $100 – Monoprice 108248
- 5. Best 12in Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs Under $250 – BIC America F12
- 6. Best 8in Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs Under $400 – Definitive Technology Descend DN8
- 7. Best 12in Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs Under $500 – SVS SB-1000
- Q: What are high-level inputs on a subwoofer?
- Q: What is the difference between high-level input and low-level input?
- Q: How do I hook up a subwoofer with high-level inputs to the existing stereo system?
- Q: What should I set my subwoofer crossover to?
- Q: What is the best subwoofer with high-level inputs in 2021?
Best Subwoofers With High-Level Inputs – Comparison Table
|Subwoofers with High-Level Inputs||Rating||Price||Review|
|REL Acoustics T/7i||4.4||Check Amazon||Read Review|
|Martin Logan Dynamo 1100 X||5.0||Check Amazon||Read Review|
|Polk Audio PSW10||4.7||Check Amazon|
|Monoprice 108248||4.4||Check Amazon|
|BIC America F12||4.6||Check Amazon|
|Definitive Technology ProSub 800||4.6||Check Amazon|
|SVS SB-1000||4.6||Check Amazon|
Why Should You Buy a Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs?
Any audiophile will tell you to go for a subwoofer with high-level inputs, even if your power amp or AV receiver has low-level/line-level subwoofer outputs? I can already see you wondering why. It’s actually quite simple.
Subwoofers with high-level inputs connect to the same terminals as your left and right speakers (speaker-level outputs). That way, the speakers and the subwoofers get exactly the same audio signal at exactly the same time (they are perfectly synced). You may think that subwoofers connected via low-level RCA/XLR inputs are also perfectly synced with the speakers, but that’s not the case. You see, the signal coming out of the amp’s subwoofer output has to be processed first by your amp’s multichannel processor and that processing takes some time, which causes just a tiny delay. In most cases, the delay is impossible to notice, but the speakers are still not in perfect sync with the sub.
This is maybe not a big deal when it comes to home theater systems since you just need a huge chest-thumping bass output that brings the explosions to life, but it’s much more important when it comes to stereo systems made for music listening. Especially when it comes to hi-fi systems. In these applications, the role of the subwoofer is much more subtle and it’s not all about the rumble. It’s about coherence, synchronization, articulations, and speed. And you will get that only when using high-level inputs.
So, to conclude, the subwoofers with high-level inputs are a much better choice for both home theater systems and stereo systems made for listening to music. Even if your amp or AV receiver has LFE subwoofer outputs, buying a subwoofer with high-level inputs is the preferred option. And don’t worry about overloading your amp or AV receiver – if the subwoofer is powered (and it always is) it won’t take any of the power output and won’t put any additional burden on your amp. The subwoofer will only take the audio signal.
Now that you know all about the advantages of subwoofers with high-level inputs, we can move onto our selection of 7 best subwoofers with high-level inputs in 2021. Like always, we did our research, identified the most popular brands and models, tested all those subs, compared them, and finally made our selection. The following models are our top picks.
7 Best Subwoofers with High-Level Inputs in 2021
1. Best 8in Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs – REL Acoustics T/7i
REL is one of the most reputable brands when it comes to subwoofers with high-level inputs. REL subs are quite expensive but they are worth it. Subwoofers made by REL are one of our top choices for hi-fi stereo systems but they are also excellent for home theater and surround sound systems. REL T/7i is, in our opinion, the best 8in subwoofer on the market.
Things we like
REL T/7i comes with a removable grille, detachable power cable, 10m-long Neutrik Speakon cable (proprietary cable for high-level inputs), user manual, and a 3-year warranty.
The subwoofer has a very rugged cabinet with a glossy finish (black or white). It’s 12in wide, 14.3in deep, 15in tall, and weighs 36lbs. On the bottom, it has 4 thick and strong feet with rubber tips.
T/7i houses one front-firing 8in Alloy-Fibre driver, paired with a 10in down-firing passive bass radiators.
This is arguably one of the most versatile subwoofers on the market. It can be a part of just any speaker system and connected to any amp or receiver. On the rear panel, you will see a wireless interface socket (you can use it to connect REL’s ARROW wireless adapter), low-level RCA phono input, proprietary high-level input, and another LFE input. The subwoofer also has a phase switch (0°/180°), two bass level dials, a crossover dial, power switch, and power input.
REL T/7i has an adjustable crossover (30Hz-120Hz). It has a built-in Class A/B amplifier with a 200W RMS output. The sub has an extended low-end response – it can reach down to 30Hz at -6dB.
T/7i delivers impactful, very textured, punchy, and accurate bass. It is an excellent choice for smaller to mid-sized rooms and it’s a great match for smaller bookshelf speakers.
If you want a wireless subwoofer, you can buy the ARROW wireless module (sold separately) and connect it to the subwoofer.
Things we don’t like
T/7i is not the best choice for large rooms (400ft2). It’s recommended to either use two T/7i or a larger sub (like T/9i, HT/1205, HT/1508, etc.).
2. Best 12in Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs – Martin Logan Dynamo 1100 X
Martin Logan is a well-known high-end audio brand. We enjoy their speakers but we also love their subwoofer systems. 1100X comes from the next generation of Dynamo subs and it’s one of the most advanced subwoofers on the market. It features various connections (including high and low-level inputs), wireless connectivity (wireless transmitter/receiver kit is sold separately), and it can be controlled with an app. Dynamo 1100X is our favorite 12in subwoofer with high-level inputs.
Things we like
Dynamo 1100X has a simple but still attractive boxy look with interestingly designed rubber feet. What’s also interesting about this sub is that the feet are removable and that you can install them on two sides and use the subwoofer as front-firing or down-firing.
The cabinet is solid and sturdy. It’s 15in wide, 17.1in tall, and 15.6in deep. The cabinet is sealed and houses one front-firing high-excursion polypropylene cone woofer (or down-firing, depending on the orientation you choose).
On the back (or on the top – again, depending on the orientation), you will find all the physical controls and inputs. When it comes to inputs, you have a USB port (for connecting a PC for Anthem Room Correction), dual and single line-level RCA inputs, XLR line-level input, left and right high-level inputs, 12V trigger input, and a wireless module connection (wireless module is sold separately). When it comes to physical controls, you have the bass level dial, power switch, and the app switch (you can select whether you want to control all the settings with an app or disable the app control).
The subwoofer comes with Martin Logan’s subwoofer control app that allows you to perform the initial settings (auto-calibration via Anthem Room Correction). You can also control the volume, set the crossover, phase, change the EQ preset, etc.
Dynamo 1100X has quite an extended bass response (22Hz-200Hz +/-3dB). The crossover is adjustable (35Hz-120Hz). The subwoofer has a 650W RMS power output (1300W peak).
1100X delivers an amazing amount of bass. It’s thick, powerful, and fast. It’s also very layered and detailed, and it’s perfectly controlled and tight. The subwoofer is a great choice for large rooms. It’s equally good for home theater use and for music.
Things we don’t like
The only downside is the price. Dynamo 1100X is priced at $1.300. If you want to make it wireless, it will cost you $200 more.
3. Best 10in Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs Under $150 – Polk Audio PSW10
Polk is always a great choice if you’re looking for something affordable and reliable.PSW10 is a 10in sub, it’s fairly affordable, and it’s a great choice for small and mid-sized rooms.
Things we like
The subwoofer comes with a removable magnetic grille, user manual, and a 3-year limited warranty.
The sub is boxy and simple-looking. It’s 14in wide, 14.4in tall, and 16.1in deep. It weighs 26lbs. The box is made of thick MDF and it’s quite sturdy. The subwoofer is available in two finishes – black oak and cherry woodgrain.
PSW10 houses one front-firing 10in dynamic balanced driver. The cabinet is ported. The bass-reflex port is located in the bottom right corner, under the driver.
One of the best things about PSW10 is its versatility. This sub has both – low-level RCA inputs as well as spring clip high-level inputs and high-level outputs. On the rear panel, you’ll also find a volume dial, crossover dial, phase switch (0°/180°), power switch, and a power cable.
PSW10 has 50W RMS power output (100W peak). The frequency response spans from 35Hz-200Hz, while the crossover frequency can be set to 80-160Hz.
Things we don’t like
The manufacturer used poor quality spring-clip terminals for the high-level inputs.
PSW10 can’t reach those really low lows or the sub-bass frequencies. If you need something stronger, try the larger 12in version (PSW12).
4. Best 8in Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs Under $100 – Monoprice 108248
Looking for the cheapest viable option? Monoprice 108248 might be the answer. Their speakers, headphones (planar magnetic and electrostatic), and audio accessories are quite cheap and usually deliver performance that exceeds the price tag. Monoprice 108428 is an 8in subwoofer and it’s a good choice for small rooms.
Things we like
The subwoofer comes with one RCA Y-cable, manual, and a warranty card. It features a simple boxy shape with a nice black finish and a removable grille protecting the driver. The unit is 13.75in tall, 11.75in wide, and 11.75in deep.
The cabinet is made of MDF. It feels solid and durable. The sub houses one front-firing 8in driver and one front-firing 2.75in bass reflex port.
All the inputs, outputs, and controls are on the back. Monoprice sub has both – high-level inputs and line-level RCA inputs so it can be connected to amps/receivers with and without dedicated sub outputs.
On the back of the sub, you will also find a volume dial, crossover dial, power switch, standby switch, and an undetachable power cable.
The sub’s RMS power output is rated at 60W. The frequency response is 50Hz-250HZ, and the crossover is adjustable (45-150Hz).
The subwoofer delivers a quite punchy and well-controlled sound. It doesn’t really go very low, but it’s still a good match for smaller bookshelf speakers.
Things we don’t like
Monoprice used poor quality spring clips for high-level inputs.
The output of the subwoofer is too small for large rooms. If you like powerful bass, you should probably opt for something bigger, even if your room is small.
5. Best 12in Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs Under $250 – BIC America F12
BIC America F12 is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a large and powerful but also affordable subwoofer with high-level inputs. F12 is a versatile 12in sub with a tempting price tag.
Things we like
The subwoofer comes with a removable grille, detachable power cable, user manual with connection instructions, and a 5-year warranty.
F12 has a sturdy MDF cabinet with a black vinyl finish. It’s 15in wide, 17.5in deep, 17in tall, and weighs 45lbs. It houses one front-firing 12in injection-molded woofer. The cabinet is ported – it has a BIC-patented ‘’Venturi’’ rear-firing bass reflex port. Venturi port is supposed to eliminate the port noise and reduce the distortion. The cabinet is also magnetically shielded.
On the back, there’s a set of gold-plated high-level inputs and a set of high-level outputs. There’s also a single low-level RCA input. Furthermore, the subwoofer has a volume/bass level dial, crossover dial, power switch, and phase switch (0°/180°). Finally, at the bottom, there’s a switch for choosing between the digital 5.1/7.1 receiver or Pro-logic receiver. This switch basically allows you to override the crossover filter in your subwoofer in case you want your receiver’s LFE filter to do all the job. When using high-level connections, you should choose the pro-logic receiver.
The subwoofer can go down to 25Hz and up to 200Hz. It has a pretty good power output of 150W continuously (475W peak). The crossover is adjustable (40Hz to 160Hz).
BIC F12 has an amazing bass output. It can really shake your floor and make the action scenes in movies very believable. I mean, it’s not like Martin Logan’s Dynamo sub but then again, it’s so much cheaper than the 1100X.
Things we don’t like
The quantity of bass is truly amazing, but the control over the bass reproduction is not perfect and you may notice some distortion, especially at high volumes. F12 is a great choice for movies, but it’s not equally great for music. The grille also tends to rattle at high volumes.
6. Best 8in Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs Under $400 – Definitive Technology Descend DN8
The next sub on our list of 7 best subwoofers with high-level inputs in 2021 is Definitive Descend DN8. It’s a great-sounding 8in subwoofer offering more thump than any other 8in sub in its price range. It’s significantly pricier than the budget options but the price is still reasonable for a piece of high-end equipment.
Things we like
The Descend DN8 comes with a removable grille, detachable power cable, manual, and a 5-year warranty.
The sub has a rock-solid housing made of MDF with a matte black finish. It’s 10.3in wide, 15.8in deep, and almost 13in tall. On the bottom, of the sub, there’re four adjustable feet with rubber tips for secure placement.
Descend DN8 houses one front-radiating 8in woofer paired with a down-firing 8in bass radiator. The volume (bass level) dial is conveniently located on the right panel so it’s much easier to reach. Most other subs have this dial on the rear panel.
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The subwoofer is versatile and can be used with all kinds of receivers. For the high-level inputs and outputs, the manufacturer used gold-plated 5-way binding posts. The sub also has a line-level RCA input that you can use if your receiver/amp has a SUB output. On the rear panel, you will also find a crossover dial and a power input.
The frequency response of Descend DN8 spans from 20Hz to 150Hz. The crossover is adjustable (40-150Hz). The power output is quite impressive for a relatively small sub (300W RMS).
Descend DN8 has a very good bass response. It’s thick, punchy, nicely layered, and perfectly controlled. According to the product description, thanks to the specific radiator design, the radiating area is 27% larger than the area created by a single 10in sub.
The manufacturer recommends pairing Descend DN8 with the ProCenter 1000 and ProMonitor 800 satellites.
Things we don’t like
Descend DN8 is a great choice for smaller speaker systems (those including smaller bookshelf speakers) and it sounds excellent for small to mid-sized rooms. However, if you have a large room and a pair of powerful floorstanding speakers, you will need something bigger (12in or even 15in sub).
7. Best 12in Subwoofer with High-Level Inputs Under $500 – SVS SB-1000
SVS is also a great choice when it comes to subwoofers. Subs made by SVS are not exactly cheap but are still reasonably priced considering the overall performance and versatility. SVS SB-1000 is our top choice under $500 and it’s perfect for large rooms.
Things we like
SVS SB-1000 is simple and boxy, yet quite attractive. It has a thick and rigid sealed cabinet with rounded edges and tiny feet on the bottom. The sub is available in two finishes – black ash and glossy piano white.
The subwoofer is 13in wide, 14in deep, and 13.5in tall. At 27lbs, it’s one of the lightest 12in subs on the market.
SB-1000 houses one high-excursion 12in front-firing cone woofer. On the back, you have a set of line-level RCA inputs as well as RCA line-level outputs, one set of high-level inputs, 12V DC trigger input, and power input. All the controls are also on the back. You have a dedicated dial for bass level adjustment, a crossover dial, and a phase dial.
The frequency response spans from 24Hz to 260Hz (+/-3dB). The crossover is, as usual, adjustable (50Hz-160Hz), and the RMS power output is rated at 300W (720W peak.)
SVS SB-1000 can push an amazing amount of bass. It’s powerful, rumbling, fast, but also very accurate, perfectly controlled, and surprisingly clean.
Things we don’t like
The distortion is minimal but the grille tends to rattle a little bit at very high volumes. It’s probably smart to remove the grille and use the sub without it.
This is the end of our list of 7 best subwoofers with high-level inputs in 2021. Hopefully, our article helped you understand why you should opt for a subwoofer with high-level inputs and maybe even find a perfect subwoofer for your home theater or stereo system. If you want to find out more about these subwoofers, scroll down to our FAQs section and if you need any advice or want to tell us something about your experience with subwoofers, leave a comment below.
Q: What are high-level inputs on a subwoofer?
A: High-level inputs, also known as speaker-level inputs, can be found on some subwoofers. These inputs are designed to handle much greater voltage than the low-level (aka line-level) RCA inputs. The reason why they have to handle much greater voltage is the fact that they are supposed to be connected to the same speaker outputs as your main speakers (front left and front right). That’s why they are often called speaker-level inputs. Why would you want to use high-level inputs instead of RCA inputs? Well, either because your amp or receiver doesn’t have low-level LFE outputs or because you want a better, more coherent performance from your speakers. Or both.
Q: What is the difference between high-level input and low-level input?
A: As explained in the previous answer, the difference is in the voltage they can handle. High-level inputs can handle higher voltage. Also, high-level inputs are designed to receive the whole audio signal completely intact, while low-level inputs receive only a part of the audio signal determined by the amp/receiver.
Q: How do I hook up a subwoofer with high-level inputs to the existing stereo system?
A: It may seem a bit confusing since you will (in most cases) have to use bare wires, but it’s actually quite simple. Depending on the subwoofer you choose, you may get a cable with a special high-level connector for the subwoofer on one side and bare wires for connecting the subwoofer to the amp on the other side (REL subwoofers, for example). You will have to use the speaker terminals for the front left and front right speakers on your amp/receiver. You are not supposed to disconnect front left and front right speakers – you just have to run two sets of wires from the amp (one for the speakers and one for the subwoofer).
In some cases, the subwoofers will also have high-level outputs. If that’s the case with your sub, you can run just one pair of wires from the amp/receiver to the subwoofer (high-level inputs), and then run the wires from your subwoofer’s high-level outputs to your front left and front right speakers.
Q: What should I set my subwoofer crossover to?
A: In case you know your main speaker’s frequency range or if you have a frequency response curve, set the crossover slightly above the lowest frequency your speakers can deliver (10-20Hz). For example, if the speaker’s frequency response is 50Hz-25kHz, you can set the crossover slightly over 50Hz (60-80Hz). 80Hz is the most common crossover frequency.
Q: What is the best subwoofer with high-level inputs in 2021?
A: We can’t give you just one answer since different setups require different subwoofer sizes and different people have different budgets. Also, not all subs have cones made of the same materials and that can play an important role when trying to combine speakers and subwoofers made by different manufacturers. Some of the most reputable brands are SVS, REL, Definitive Technology, Martin Logan, etc. If you are looking for some suggestions check out our list of 7 best subwoofers with high-level inputs in 2021.
Hello, my name is James Longman.
I’m a writer and editor at AudioReputation. I disassembled my first portable AM/FM radio when I was only 8. At the age of 11, I burned the circuit board on my old boombox cassette player. I’m not going to explain how but it was reckless and stupid.
Since then, I have become much more careful around radios, boomboxes, and other audio devices (at least, I like to think so) but I have never lost the passion for audio equipment. Throughout 20 years of my professional career, I’ve been working for various audio equipment manufacturers and even started building speakers on my own in my little workshop.
I love the work we do here at AudioReputation. Testing, comparing, and evaluating all kinds of audio devices (speakers, soundbars, headphones, home theater systems, etc.) is something I truly enjoy. I try to be unbiased and give you my honest opinion on every piece of equipment I test. Still, you should take my reviews with a pinch of salt and always be just a little bit skeptical. The fact that I liked some speaker or soundbar doesn’t mean that you are going to love it. If you have the opportunity, you should test it/hear it before buying it.