Speaker type: powered, ported
Continuous power handling: 30 W*
Peak power handling: 100 W
Frequency response range: 38 – 150 Hz
Driver size: 8″
Warranty: 1 year
*When nominal/RMS power isn’t specified by manufacturer, we use an approximation of ~30% of the specified peak/dynamic power for comparison purposes.
Review and Discussion
Pioneer employed renowned audio engineer Andrew Jones to design several decent but inexpensive loudspeakers, including their now flagship SW-8MK2 subwoofer, which remains a very popular budget subwoofer despite being several years old.
The design is pretty plain, boilerplate to most budget-tier subwoofers – a washed-wood cube with the port on the side. It’s a down firing sub, which means you’ll need to place it on a hard surface so that the driver can function optimally. It is quite light at ~ 20lbs and relatively small, so it shouldn’t bee too difficult to move/place.
We’ll say that the benchmark specs don’t look all that great. A 100 W peak power subwoofer will augment a similar budget-tier pair of main speakers (Pioneer makes those too, some of which are actually quite good), but anything higher grade, or a bigger room, and the SW-8MK2 will likely underwhelm. The response floor of 38 Hz is just not that great either – we see actual speakers that go lower than that. While you’re inevitably going to have to compromise on budget speakers, we do like to see a sub go to at least 25 hz or lower. Pioneer offers a 1 year warranty, which comparatively is pretty bare minimum.
Our Overall Take, As Compared to the Competition
Pioneer is a good brand, and Andrew Jones wouldn’t put his name on a bad product. But our main issue is that there are similarly priced competitors which offer so much more. Part of the issue is that 8 inch subwoofers are always going to be limited, and unless you have a strong reason to go with a smaller sub, you’re generally get better performance and value out of a sub with a 10+ inch driver.
The similarly popular Polk PSW10 (reviewed here) has a better response floor, a longer warranty, and currently runs significantly cheaper. Unless you can get lucky and snag the SW-8MK2 at a great deal, we’d say the PSW10 is a better choice.
We’d recommend checking out the Dayton sub-1000 (reviewed here), which is about the same price and has a bigger 10-inch driver better specs all around, not to mention a hard to beat 5 year warranty. Dayton’s box subwoofers are a bit bulkier, but among our favorites because of the sheer quality and value you get for the price.
If you’re willing to increase your budget to the ~$200 range, several vastly superior and really solid subwoofers become available, the kind that can augment any decent pair of main speakers and last for several years or more. Check out the links below for alternative recommendations.