Which DJ subwoofer should I get?
You can get real deep into forums reading about which subwoofer to get, and I mean real deep into the interwebs of reviews. I've found this is so subjective depending on what type of gigs you do, what brands you like, and how deep and punchy do you want-the list can go on before you even start to think about making a purchase. You have to factor in transportation-can you fit it in your vehicle and can you lift it by yourself. Also think to yourself, "do I want to be lifting and transporting this thing??".
Depending on how many gigs you're doing, you may be better off renting. Yes it's sexy owning the latest and greatest equipment, but speaking from personal experience, I've purchased some gear I thought was awesome and I've used it 2 times over the last year and I definitely haven't recouped my investment on it--yet. I could've rented this same gear, paid the rental fee and still had $1k in my bank account. Another rental example on a QSC KW181: I can rent one of these powered subs for $100 a night. At the time of this article, I can buy one for $999 since #QSC just came out with the new version, the KS118 which I'll talk about later in this article. That being said, my break-even point is 10 gigs-of bringing just 1 KW181. In those 10 gigs, chances are you may need 2 KW181's depending on how many people and the venue. Now you're looking at owning 2 and you're over $2k invested. Again, you really need to evaluate the types of gigs you're doing or plan on doing, and base your decision on that.
Are you doing mainly weddings? You can get away with a 12" compact sub. You want that bass centered on the dancefloor, not necessarily in the back of the room where Uncle Rico is having a conversation with Grandma Ma. A 18" sub or heaven forbid 2 18" subs will be absolute overkill and although may think it sounds amazing--you need to cater to your audience.
One sound piece of advice I can tell you if you're a beginner reading this, STAY AWAY FROM CHEAP BEGINNER SUBS. It may be tempting to see a #Behringer sub at #Guitarcenter for $300 bucks but you will get what you pay for and you'll be stuck with it. There is not a great aftermarket for selling used subs and you'll end up just owning a piece of junk. I know it's tough because you're excited and starting off and you want to buy a full set-up and hit the ground running but pace yourself, there are a lot of options out there and spend your money wisely. I'm convinced that more money is spent on DJ equipment than people spending money on actual DJ services. They've made it so easy to become a DJ and technology is always changing that brands like #PioneerDJ, #Denon #Chauvet #QSC just to name a few are constantly coming out with new products and new gadgets to dangle in front of you.
Now to the part of the article that you came for: which subwoofer should I buy? Again there are so many variables into this but I will put my personal opinion below because that's what works for me and there's no right or wrong answer on YOUR setup.
I'll break this into 2 recommendations: a compact sub which I'll classify as a 12" or 15" and a 18" sub. I have been in multiple sound/audio shops and have heard dozens of subs and speakers for comparisons and the judgement I'm making is based off my ears and interaction and I do not classify myself as an audiophile by any means.
This to me was a tie between the #Yamaha DXS12mkll and the QSC KS112. Both are 12'' subs and compact and portable. The Yamaha weighs in at 66lbs and delivers 950w of power, with a class D amplifier driving the 2.5" voice coil magnet. The QSC KS112 weighs in at 62lbs and has casters on it so it's easy to move around. It's class D amplifier puts out a continuous 1,000 watts of power and compliments well with the k12.2 series tops. Not to be confused with the with KS212C which is the dual cardioid configuration which is $500 more than the KS112 and puts it out of the "compact" and portable realm in my opinion. QSC FTW with the 6 year warranty which is amazing. As an honorable mention, I will also add the #JBL PRX815XLFW. This is a 15" sub so you'll a bit deeper and punchier than the 12" but I still put this in the compact category and could be a good fit if you're in between.
This is ideally where you want to be and if you have the space to transport, store at home, and the money, this class will give you that bass you are really looking for. Just like in the more compact category, there isn't a clear winner here but there are 2 that I absolutely love and simple answer is that you can't go wrong with either of them. As someone who has used the QSC KW181's, I'll admit that I'm sounding like a fanboy but you can't deny the performance of these subs and if you do, I"ll put you in that box of people that I just can't please.
As much as I'd love to say that the new QSC KS118 is the winner, I think there are a couple others that warrant your attention. The QSC KS118 is the 18" sub replacing the older KW181 and if you haven't heard these subs, you're missing out. Would I suggest selling your KW181's to get these, short answer is "sure", but don't rush. These are a tad heavier than the 181's but they pack more power and virtually indestructible. Right now these sell for $1500 and you can pick up the older KW181 for $1,000. If it were completely a budget, this would be a toss up to me, $5 bills is $5 bills--that'll get you some lights or other equipment and you're still getting a banging 18" sub with the KW181. However, I personally would go with the newer KS118 and with the additional power of these, you can get away with bringing a single sub to your gig which is a plus.
The JBL SRX818 should be on your radar as this 18" sub weighs in at 87lbs, offers a 2000 watt power rating, and has the only 3" neodymium voice coil compression drivers in it's class giving you tons of power and still sounding crystal clear. This is $100 more than the QSC KS118 and totally worth it.
That rounds up my summary of which subs you should look at. My last piece of advice would be to pull the trigger when you find one you like. Don't go too deep down the review holes of the internet--you'll always second guess yourself when in reality, you are picking what you like, not someone else.