Polk’s bread and butter is affordably priced HiFi quality loudspeakers, and they are, for the time being at least, the pretty clear front runner when it comes to inexpensive subwoofers. Their current PSW lineup consists of four budget-tier powered subwoofers that vary in size, power, and certain design specs. The PSW111 is the smallest of them, with an 8 inch driver, yet packs a lot of power with a very inexpensive price tag.
Speaker type: powered, bottom ported
Nominal power handling: 150 watts
Peak power handling: 300 watts
Sensitivity: not specified by manufacturer
Frequency response range: 36 – 250 Hz (+/- 3dB)
Unit weight: 20.5 lbs
Unit dimensions: 14.25 x 17 x 14.5 inches (width x depth x height)
Warranty: 3 years (amplifier), 5 years (driver)
User manual and spec sheet: here and here
Review and Discussion
High powered subwoofers can get quite expensive too, yet they’re still often essentially needed to augment similarly powered main speakers. Polk has addressed this quite nicely with the PSW111 – a 150 watt subwoofer can match a pair of respectable floorstanding speakers, yet we’ve seen it go for less than $200. The driver is only 8 inches – the smallest home theater subs get – and the unit weighs a modest 20 lbs, which appeals to those who are prioritizing compactness and ease of placement. It’s bottom ported though, hence the corner stands, so it will need to rest on a hard surface for optimal performance.
The response floor is a little high at 36 Hz, and some might argue it needs to be lower to cover the full range of audible bass, but, generally it’s more important that it takes the brunt off the main speakers having to reproduce all the lows with mid-range woofers. A good subwoofer isn’t necessarily the loudest one with the deepest possible bass – it needs to blend well with the main speakers, which often means you can’t really hear it specifically unless you really try to pay attention to it.
The speaker looks pretty plain with it’s grainy black finish and front covering foam-grill. The design is pretty similar across all of Polk’s budget tier loudspeakers. Cooler designs admittedly exist, if that’s something you care about, but are generally reserved for higher end speakers. All Polk subs come with a 3 and 5 year warranty on the amp and driver respectively, which is quite good for this price range, where 1-2 years of coverage is more or less average.
Our Take, As Compared to the Competition
It’s nice to see Polk put out a sub that’s this powerful for such a cheap price. That said, it might be overkill for many, and a larger, less powerful subwoofer with a larger response range might actually do better, not to mention while being significantly cheaper.