Spec Overview and Comparison Table
|Speaker Type||powered, ported||(<-- same)||(<-- same)||(<-- same)|
|Continuous Power||80 W||100 W||120 W||150 W|
|Response Range||40 - 140 Hz||30 - 140||25 - 140||23 - 140|
|Warranty||5 years||(<-- same)||(<-- same)||(<-- same)|
Review and Discussion
Dayton Audio is certainly on our list of favorite audio companies because they consistently produce really great speakers at very competitive prices, particularly so when it comes to bass reproduction, which is often the first thing that gets compromised when making a budget-tier speaker. Suffice to say we are happy, and also not surprised, that their lineup of home theater box subwoofers continues that trend – all four, from what we’ve seen, bring unmatched value and design to the table vs the respective competition. These subs were a good value at their original MSRP when they came out several years ago, but now discounted? they’re honestly a steal – that’s one great thing, as we constantly say, about older generation audio products: they don’t depreciate like most other electronics, yet they’ll get significantly discounted as they age and newer products come out.
Once you control for price, there are three primarily important subwoofer specs: power output, response range, and driver size – you want your subwoofer to be able to adequately fill the room and match the main speakers it’s paired with; you want it to fully reproduce the entire range of bass waves; and, a bigger driver and cabinet that houses it is going to better produce lower frequency bass waves.
With budget speakers you’re pretty happy if you can find something where two out of these three are the highest available, but from what we’ve seen, each of these Dayton subwoofers are unbeaten in all three of these primary specs. Adding to that, Dayton is one of only two companies that we’ve seen that has a full five year warranty on their subwoofers that includes electronics.
And they look good too, which is always a nice bonus for budget speakers which usually have a fairly plain box design. The curved vertical edges and vinyl finish is understated, but slick. Each also has the option to remove the grill if you’d like to expose the driver. The 12 and 15 inch subs get pretty large and heavy, and they’ll likely have to rest on a hard surface so that the bottom facing port functions optimally, but that’s a totally fair concession.
Our Overall Take, As Compared to the Competition
We know this review sounds more like a rave, but, these budget subwoofers are so clearly the best in just about every respect. We strongly recommend opting for the larger 12 or 15 inch versions – for relatively little more money that’s well worth the investment, you get power and range that’s quite excellent overall, and something that can adequately augment pretty much any pair of home theater speakers and will last for many years.
And what about any viable competition? Well, the BIC America F12 (reviewed here) is equally excellent for the price, and also has that really cool metallic driver design if that’s something you like enough to consider, but is just barely inched out spec wise by both the Sub-1200 and Sub-1500. Any of the three are great choices honestly, and we’d say the best pick might just depend on whatever’s the best deal at the time.
Polk’s older and similarly discounted PSW505 (reviewed here) might also give a run for the money – it has a higher operating power and slightly higher response ceiling, if you need more room to set the crossover, but it’s a little more expensive, has a plain-jane design, and a slightly inferior warranty (5 years on the driver/cabinet, but only 3 years on the amp and other electronics.