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Affordable Subwoofer Shootout: SVS, REL, ELAC, and Monoprice

Looking for a new subwoofer for your home theater or 2-channel system? We invited SVS, REL, ELAC, and Monoprice to battle it out.

REL HT/1003, SVS SB-1000 Pro, ELAC SUB3010 and Monoprice Monolith M-10 V2 Subwoofers Group

As an audio engineer, I’ve always been curious about subwoofers but until now, I’ve never had the opportunity to actually test and compare multiple subs at once. I was expecting to notice little to no difference switching between the different subwoofers because I assumed that room acoustics would have a far more profound effect on the proliferation of sub frequencies in a space than the specs/design of a given subwoofer. So I was surprised to find that each sub had its own distinct character, strengths, and weaknesses.

A couple years ago, on a whim, I purchased an ELAC SUB3010 after ELAC hit me with a well-timed B-Stock sale advertisement. I was mixing some tracks for a pop/dance/rock band at the time and I was curious how the mixes would translate to a 2.1 system. I was also excited to test out ELAC’s “Auto-EQ” feature which still seems uncharacteristically innovative for a subwoofer that I only paid a couple hundred USD for. 

For the purposes of this comparison/review, Ecoustics had the following subwoofers sent to me:

  • Monoprice Monolith M-10 
  • REL HT/1003
  • SVS SB-1000 Pro

ELAC SUB3010

  • 32.1 lbs
  • 10” Speaker
  • 10” Passive radiator
  • 200 Watts RMS BASH
ELAC SUB3010 Subwoofer with cat
ELAC SUB3010

The ELAC has some of the most exciting features of the lot – namely the one I already mentioned, “Auto-EQ.” Auto-EQ, and the rest of the ELAC’s features can only be accessed via their smartphone app. Once you’ve connected the app to the 3010 via bluetooth, the app instructs you to place your smartphone next to the sub and press GO. Pressing GO initiates what sounds like a sine sweep while the app records the frequency response through your phone’s microphone.

Then the app instructs you to press GO again but with the smartphone in your listening position. The sine sweep is triggered again as the app records the frequency response from the listening position.

The application then calculates what EQ needs to be applied in order to make up for the effects the room acoustics have on the listening position frequency response. In theory, this is a very user-friendly way to achieve something very exciting. In practice, I’ve gotten mixed results.

Since acquiring the 3010, I’ve changed rooms/apartments a number of times and in each new location, I’ve had different luck getting the “Auto-EQ” to do something that sounded beneficial. In some rooms, the “Auto-EQ” really did the trick – balancing out spectral peaks and valleys in an otherwise problematic acoustical space.

In other rooms, I much preferred the sound of the sub without the “Auto-EQ” feature enabled. Other features available via the smartphone app include adjustable level, sweepable phase, adjustable delay between 0 and 20ms, adjustable low pass filter between 40Hz and 150Hz, and eight bands of parametric EQ. All of these features together make for a remarkably flexible subwoofer.

Monoprice Monolith M-10 V2

  • 72.5 lbs
  • 10” Speaker
  • Ported (pluggable) 
  • 500 Watts RMS Class D
Monoprice Monolith M-10 V2 Subwoofer Front
Monoprice Monolith M-10 V2

The Monoprice Monolith M-10 V2 has some similar features to the ELAC but they’re only accessible on the back of the subwoofer itself. On the back of the M-10, you’ll find adjustable crossover, adjustable phase, adjustable level, a crossover on/off switch, an EQ switch (Extended vs THX,) and an auto on/off switch. I think it’s worth noting that the lack of a smartphone app or remote makes the M-10 more difficult to dial in (than the ELAC or SVS) because you have to keep making adjustments and then returning to the listening position to re-evaluate. The EQ switch, which made a very slight adjustment in my room, is much less useful, in my opinion, than the adjustable parametric EQ’s available with the SVS and the ELAC.

It’s probably worth noting here that the Monolith M-10 is twice the size and weight of the other subwoofers in this roundup. At 72.5 lbs, I was unable to move the M-10 around the room without help. 

REL HT/1003

  • 10” Speaker
  • 33.3 lbs
  • 300 Watts RMS Class D
REL HT/1003 Subwoofer Front
REL HT/1003

Like the Monoprice, the REL HT/1003 has no remote or smartphone application so adjustments can only be made on the back of the unit. The features on the back of HT/1003 include an auto on switch, a phase flip switch (0 vs 180 degrees), adjustable crossover between 40 and LFE, and adjustable level. The REL is the most straightforward set of features with the least options for adjustments. Notably, the HT/1003 is the only sub that doesn’t have a sweepable phase setting. 

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SVS SB-1000 Pro

  • 12” Speaker
  • 27 lbs
  • 300 Watts RMS Class D
SVS SB-1000 Pro Subwoofer Front
SVS SB-1000 Pro

The SVS, like the ELAC, has a smartphone app that allows you to access all of the sub’s features remotely. Unlike the ELAC, the SVS also has physical controls on the back of the sub. That makes the SVS the only subwoofer of the lot that has both physical and remote controls.

Features on the SB-1000 Pro include level, presets, sweepable low pass filter between 30Hz and 200Hz, sweepable phase, 3 bands of parametric EQ, room gain compensation with adjustable frequency and slope, and the ability to save 3 alternative ‘presets’ with different collections of settings per preset. In my opinion, the SVS wins for the best set of features and customization options.

Sound

REL HT/1003, SVS SB-1000 Pro, ELAC SUB3010 and Monoprice Monolith M-10 V2 Subwoofers in Group with cat

ELAC SUB3010

The Elac Debut 2.0 SUB3010, in my space, sounds the deepest and feels the most immersive. Perhaps due to its downward facing passive radiator, the 3010 seems to effortlessly fill the room with that classic movie theater quality low end physicality in a way that the other subwoofers can’t match.

However, the 3010 also sounds the sloppiest. Sometimes it even sounds like the subwoofer’s impact is hitting slightly behind the mark. The sub’s slow decay isn’t particularly noticeable with films but with music it can, especially with more up-tempo music, sound/feel really wonky as if the bass player/kick drum is constantly dragging behind the rest of the song.

With films however, the ELAC is a lot of fun. The ELAC managed to reproduce what sounded like the most detail in the lowest octaves while watching/listening to the official trailer for Blade Runner 2049. 

Monoprice Monolith M-10 V2 Subwoofer with cats
Monoprice Monolith M-10 V2

Monoprice Monolith M-10 V2

The Monoprice Monolith M-10 V2 did not get along with either room I tested it in. Even after putting in the work adjusting the cutoff, the phase, plugging the port, unplugging the port, flipping the “THX” vs “Extended” EQ switch, etc, etc, the Monolith just didn’t sound as punchy as the SVS or REL, or as deep as the ELAC.

REL HT/1003 Subwoofer with cat
REL HT/1003

REL HT/1003

The REL HT/1003 is hands down the punchiest and snappiest sounding sub of the bunch. The REL sounds like it does the best job keeping up with both my home theater speakers and studio speakers in terms of speed and decay. The REL quickly disappears/grooves into both systems with minimal manipulation of cutoff/phase etc. However, the REL has the least power in the lowest octaves. The lack of REL’s sub frequency potency was obvious and disappointing when using the Blade Runner 2049 official trailer to compare the subwoofers directly. 

SVS SB-1000 Pro Subwoofer with cat
SVS SB-1000 Pro

SVS SB-1000 Pro

The SVS SB-1000 Pro is, in my opinion, the goldilocks subwoofer of the lot in terms of sub frequency power and mid bass punch. The SB-1000 Pro doesn’t sound quite as punchy as the REL or as thunderous as the ELAC, but it gets close enough to both.

The SB-1000 gives the Blade Runner trailer a satisfying amount of rumble and up-tempo music and a satisfying amount of punchiness to the mid bass beyond what the speakers can output on their own. All of this is true even before diving into the myriad of settings and customizations through the app which only improves the subwoofer’s sonic performance.

REL HT/1003, SVS SB-1000 Pro, ELAC SUB3010 and Monoprice Monolith M-10 V2 Subwoofers Group Angle

Conclusion

It’s hard to say which subwoofer is the winner here as they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. If you’re looking for a subwoofer for home theater use exclusively, I would probably recommend the ELAC due to its ground shaking capabilities.

If you’re looking to add a subwoofer to a stereo system that’s only used for music, it’s somewhat of a tossup between the REL and the SVS. The REL is the punchier sounding subwoofer while the SVS is less punchy but has more low end girth to it.

Based on the way it behaved in my space, I wouldn’t recommend the Monolith over the other options in this roundup. However, your mileage may vary! The Monolith has the highest output in watts RMS so it may make more sense in a larger space that requires the M-10’s higher output.

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Specifications

ELAC SUB3010REL HT/1003Monolith M-10 V2SVS SB-1000 Pro
$649$598$549$599
TypePassive radiatorSealedPorted/PluggableSealed
Woofer10”10”10”12”
Cone materialPaperCarbonGlasGlass fiber
Frequency 28-150 HzN/A17-200 Hz20-270 Hz
RMS power200-watts300-watts500-watts325-watts
AmplifierBASHClass DClass DClass D
App ControlYesYes
WirelessOptionalOptional
THXTHX Select Certified
Dimensions14.3 x 13.5 x 13.5”12.5 x 13.7 x 13.8”20.9 x 15 x 18.9”13.5 x 13 x 14.76”
(HxWxD)(364 x 343 x 343 mm)(318 x 347 x 351 mm)(530 x 380 x 480 mm)(342 x 330 x 375 mm)
Weight32.1 lbs33.3 lbs72.5 lbs26 lbs
(14.6 kg)(15.1 kg)(32.9 kg)(11.9 kg)
Warranty3 years speaker / 1 year amplifier3 years5 years5 years

Test Tracks

Where to buy:

SVS SB-1000 Pro – $599 at Amazon | Crutchfield | svsound.com

REL HT/1003 – $598 at Amazon | Adorama

ELAC SUB3010 – $649 at Crutchfield | Adorama

Monolith M-10 V2 – $549 at Amazon | Monoprice

Note: Pricing may vary based on current promotions.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Abraham Sahyoun

    January 14, 2022 at 6:56 am

    Nice review but I recommend you check Earthquake Sound subs with its patented SLAPS technology.
    Some of your readers may like high dB at low frequency. Plus check out tactile transducers as an added experience along with the subs

    • ORT

      January 14, 2022 at 12:31 pm

      Excellent comparison! Personally, I prefer down firing subs. For some reason I have had nothing but bad luck with front firing units as they seem to rattle themselves silly. Dumb, I know… 😉

      I do not know the model number as I am too lazy to lift it but my current favorite is a 10 inch Martin-Logan that I have paired with an Andover Audio Spinbase and my Pro-Ject 50th Anniversary Sgt. Pepper turntable. For a digital source I have one of the much maligned Echobox Explorers (with matching charging stand!) that plays off a MicroSD or via the internet, Pandora, SiriusXM, Amazon Music UHD and my favourite internet station out there…”The Great American Songbook” from of all places, the Netherlands!

      Yes…I am olde. 🙂

      Simple and to my eyes, gorgeous. The sub made up for a lack of bass on the Traditional Jazz and Pop Vocals I prefer (Sinatra!). Thank you for your review and the chance to comment.

      ORT

  2. Matt

    January 14, 2022 at 9:08 am

    I would probably recommend HSU Research or Rythmik based on price to performance.

  3. Dolan Halbrook

    January 14, 2022 at 5:47 pm

    No RSL speedwoofer? It seems like the benchmark in the affordable sub space.

    • Brian Mitchell

      January 14, 2022 at 5:56 pm

      Very good call. The RSL review is coming next. Unfortunately, it was not compared directly with these models by the same reviewer.

  4. Dan O.

    January 14, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    A Cerwin Vega xls series is in the same wattage and price category and I’m certain would have surpassed these contenders.

    • Brian Mitchell

      January 14, 2022 at 7:41 pm

      Do you own the Cerwin Vega XLS? Why do you think it would have surpassed these contenders?

  5. Gene D

    January 14, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    Rhythmic Audio

    After months of comparison, I decided to go with Rythmik f12se. It’s the only equipment I’ve purchased blindly and I couldn’t be happier. It’s matched with Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Grands.

  6. Tim

    January 16, 2022 at 12:07 pm

    Great comparison, thank you. I’ve considered the Elac before but as it would be doing double duty with music/HT i might pass.

    I can couch for Hsu Research. I have an equivalently priced model (vt something) and it is sufficiently musical and reaches down to 18hz, but it’s the size of a steamer trunk due to the 3 cubic feet of interior volume, which helps it to reach such depths at such a low price. T

    • Tim

      January 16, 2022 at 12:07 pm

      *vouch

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