Pros / This subwoofer produced the best results in our movie listening test.
Cons / It doesn’t have speaker level inputs or outputs, so you can’t connect it to older two-channel receivers that don’t have dedicated subwoofer outputs.
Verdict / The Emotiva BasX Sub 12 is the best-sounding 12-inch subwoofer we tested. It performed consistently well in all phases of our listening tests.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it is no longer available. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
The Emotiva BasX Sub 12 is reasonably priced, looks good, and most importantly, sounds great. The only reason it isn’t our top-ranked 12-inch home subwoofer is it’s missing a couple features the Polk Audio DSW 660 has, including speaker level inputs and outputs and remote volume control. If you don’t need those features, we highly recommend this subwoofer because of its amazing sound quality and attractive design, which is why it earns our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award.
To test home subwoofers, we watched action movie scenes and listened to a variety of music. In one test, we watched a clip from the James Bond movie “Skyfall” that has a 15 second rumbling effect, which proved impossible for some of the subs to accurately recreate and maintain sound quality through. However, the Emotiva had no problem projecting the chest-pounding, devastatingly low rumbles. There was no sign of volume loss, and the frequency separation was the most discernable of all the subs we tested. That makes it easy for us to recommend this subwoofer to anyone who enjoys feeling every low-frequency effect while watching movies.
The Sub 12’s 25Hz low-frequency rating also makes it our best pick for listening to music with electronic bass. We listened to a variety of recorded music and live concert footage that uses electronic instruments, such as synthesizers and processed electric bass guitars, for bass reinforcement. This Emotiva sub produced accurate and impactful results in this test.
This subwoofer has an adjustable crossover on the back panel to dial in the low-frequency starting point. Its crossover range goes from 50Hz to 150Hz. We suggest using the crossover in the AV receiver if it has an LFE output, but if it doesn’t, you should set it on the subwoofer at around 80Hz and move up from there based on your listening preferences.
The Sub 12’s built-in amplifier has a continuous power rating of 300 watts. That is the second-highest continuous power rating in our test group, and it means the amplifier was running at 50 percent of its total amplification during our tests. We conducted all the listening tests at 85 decibels in our 500-square-foot testing room, and some of the subwoofers needed to be turned up to 80 or 90 percent to reach the same volume.
When turned up to maximum capacity, this subwoofer could easily overpower the other components in a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system. Because you can run the powerful amplifier at less than full capacity and still get a pleasant mix of bass, midrange and treble frequencies from your audio system, it doesn’t have to work as hard and the components don’t wear as fast. As such, this Emotiva model will last much longer than a subwoofer that requires more power to achieve the same frequency mix.
The cabinet that houses the Emotiva Sub 12’s powerful amplifier and 12-inch woofer is made from acoustically inert high-density fiberboard (HDF). This is the only subwoofer cabinet in our test group that is not made from the less-dense medium-density fiberboard (MDF). The HDF cabinet makes this subwoofer more durable and more acoustically neutral than any other model we tested. It also means it is the heaviest speaker we tested.
This sub doesn’t have speaker-level inputs and outputs, so your AV receiver needs to have a subwoofer output or LFE output to connect the speaker to your audio system.
Help & Support
Emotiva covers the speaker and amplifier in the Sub 12 for three years. That is a below-average speaker warranty but an above-average amplifier warranty. You can reach the manufacturer by phone or email if you have questions. We found Emotiva’s customer support representatives to be friendly and knowledgeable about the company’s products when we reached out with questions. There are also some good tutorials on Emotiva’s website about how to set up a 5.1 system.
The Emotiva BasX Sub 12 is the best-sounding 12-inch subwoofer we tested. It makes up for its missing features with its quality low-frequency response. If you enjoy watching action movies, this subwoofer’s powerful low-end reproduction will keep you from falling asleep, and if you do, you can expect to be awaken by quality bass in your face.