Polk PSW111 Powered Subwoofer Reviewed

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Small subwoofers make the audio world a better place. I am not sure how the audiophile community once missed out on this news story, but with a modest sub, any music lover can add the entire lower octave of music to your system. Affordable, easy, and effective. Not a bad package of advantages, right? The Polk PSW111 subwoofer (buy at Crutchfield) is just such a bass supporting solution, as it is a down-firing, 8-inch powered black-box subwoofer with a 300-watt internal amp. There’s no budget for room correction or fancy DSP – just a nice amp and well-braced Polk subwoofer driver. This is a simple, set-it-and-forget-it sub and that is it advantage. Let’s get into what it can do.

Polk PSW111 Subwoofer reviewed
Polk PSW111 subwoofer brings the lower octaves of music to budget-minded audiophiles in smaller system that need some bass support


What Makes the Polk PSW111 Subwoofer Special?

  • You likely need more bass somewhere in your audio life, and the Polk PSW111 has you covered. This small, black cube is designed to bring a little rumble to any room without physically dominating the room with a coffee table sized box.
  • With a sub that is about 14 inches square, you can expect low bass (reported to about 36Hz) but not pants-shaking low bass.
  • At 20 pounds, anybody can place this little black box in a room to get some more low end.
  • There are both RCA line inputs and speaker inputs on the Polk PSW111, although I only used the RCA line input for my testing. 
  • The back panel of the unit is pretty simple, as is the grill attachment. The PSW110 and PSW125 are a little slicker with a circular grill built into the front of the woofer. The grill on the Polk PSW111 is attached more traditionally.
  • Setup is ultra-easy. There’s no app. There’s no room correction. Just set the crossover level to match your main speakers and then set the levels and rock. It is that easy.

Why Should You Care About the Polk PSW111 Subwoofer?

There no good reason not to have full-range sound, even if you have a smaller system. In my case, I used the Polk PSW111 in a nearfield listening configuration with some Orb Audio Mod-1 speakers placed under my computer monitor. The PSW111 sub could be used in audiophile music system as well as smaller home theater configurations without breaking the bank or needing a delivery from a lift-gate truck. 

Polk PSW111 Subwoofer reviewed by Jerry Del Colliano
Here’s a view of the rear of the Polk PSW111 sub and its various inputs

Some Things You Might Not Like About the Polk PSW111 Subwoofer

  • There’s no app control or room correction. It is a very simple sub. 
  • The grill is pretty simplistic even as compared to the sub costing $50 more. The Polk is a black box that goes boom. It doesn’t come in any finishes other than black and it isn’t fancy.
  • The speaker inputs on the sub are pretty plastic-y. 

Listening to the Polk PSW111…

On “D’yer Mak’er” from Led Zeppelin’s Houses of The Holy (AIFF 1440 – CD Quality), John Paul Jones’ deliberate, reggae bassline reaches much lower lows on my Orb Audio system, which in the nearfield was very, very well received. While Polk goes on about how it is “timbre matched” to their speakers, it was notable how well the Polk PSW111 matched with the Orb Audio Mod-1 speakers on my desk. The Orbs image like a monster, but they could ever be expected to have much bass considering their small cabinet size. With the Polk PSW111 nearby, my desktop experience went to very close to full range. 

On a ripped version of the album track “L.A. Woman” from The Doors (AIFF 1440 CD Quality)the fast-moving bassline sets up Robby Krieger’s rifts and Jim Morrison’s vocals nicely. With the bass turned down you lack any heft to Robby’s first power chord at about 1:20 in the track. Once you get a taste for what full-range sound is, it is hard to go back to nearfield computer audio, in my case. The extra octave of music that you can hear with the Polk PSW111 makes the whole musical experience more engaging and experiential. 

Does The Polk PSW111 Subwoofer Have Any Resale Value?

This is another audiophile product that could easily fall into the the “give it away before you sell it category,” as I think that after a few years, a $350 subwoofer is unlikely to owe you very much. It isn’t so huge that you couldn’t box it and sell it on say eBay.com. There are so many different places that you could use such a sub, hidden away (out of sight), that I doubt many people would sell such a sub. It is just too useful and effective. 

Who Is the Competition for the Polk PSW111 Subwoofer?

The small subwoofer that gets a lot of the ink these days is the RSL Speedwoofer 10S MKII at about $400. This 10-inch sub has a 350-watt internal amp and measures very well considering its small size and sleek design. 

Polk’s sister-brand, Definitive Technology (buy at Crutchfield), has 8-inch, black-box subs on the market like the Descend DN8. It has a comparable low frequency extension of about 35 Hz from a smaller, 200-watt amp. It is easy  to speculate that the Polk and Definitive sub both come from the same factory in China or Vietnam. 

Klipsch has a more distinctive looking gold-colored-driver sub that sells for under $300 in the Klipsch Reference R-10Swi (buy at Crutchfield). This actually a 10-inch woofer like the RSL, and reports a 32Hz low end where the 8-inch subs don’t measure quite as low.

Final Thoughts on the Polk PWB111 Subwoofer

There are so many places that would benefit from the low-end musical energy that a Polk PSW111 subwoofer can bring to a small stereo or home theater system. While utilitarian in nature, the Polk PSW111 sub (buy at Crutchfield) is the little black box that can… It can provide that lower octave of music to smaller systems in a way that won’t get in the way or dominate a room. Try one and you will be hooked. The idea that an audiophile system is somehow purer without a sub is just silly. Buy the best speakers that you can afford (or justify) and then supplement the bass with an affordable sub like the $350 Polk PSW111.