Affordable for a subwoofer, Compact and cleanly designed, Well-controlled sound
Limited sub-bass extension, A touch tubby at higher volumes
The SUB8 is clean, detailed and very user-friendly making it one of the easiest ways to upgrade your current audio setup without over-extending your budget.
Kanto Audio from Canada have taken the market by storm in recent years with their appealing designs and balanced tunings that are simply easy to enjoy and easy to recommend. However, besides speakers, Kanto also provides a medley of accessories in addition to two subwoofers to complement their own and third-party speakers. The SUB8 is the larger of their two subwoofer offerings, featuring an 8″ paper cone driver and an acoustic MDF enclosure similar to their stereo speakers. At $290 USD, the SUB8 is reasonably priced and effectively augments any stereo speaker system with deeper, more impactful and more room-filling bass. You can read all about the YU6 here and treat yourself to a set here.
I would like to thank Kanto Audio very much for their quick communication and for providing me with the SUB8 for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the subwoofer free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.
The SUB8’s design language is congruent with the rest of Kanto Audio’s product line-up. That is to say, clean, minimalist and simply pleasing to the eye. It is very compact considering the driver size, with a cuboid design measuring in at just under 30cm in all regards. Its acoustic MDF enclosure is fairly substantial in terms of weight, granting a solid feel and a general impression of quality. Like their speakers, the SUB8 is available in myriad colours and finishes making it is easy to match or contrast to any setup.
The front-firing paper cone driver is covered by a metal grill while the base has 4 rubber feet that prevent wandering during use. The main interfaces and controls can be found on the rear, an RCA input in addition to volume, crossover, and phase (0/180°). A power switch is accompanied by a toggle to auto power-on and off based upon the presence or absence of a source signal. It’s a handy feature, but in the event that users experience humming, this can be disabled. The sub is powered by a 2-pin power cable that can be swapped with a longer unit in-case of a tricky setup.
The SUB8 covers a frequency range from 35Hz to 175Hz (40-120Hz adjustable filters) and offers 250W peak power output or 125W Total RMS. As such, it can be paired with fairly small satellite speakers that extend just into the mid-bass. However, users will no doubt experience better results using larger speakers and setting the subwoofer crossover to a lower frequency. Given its size, this 40Hz figure is respectable if not quite extending into the guttural frequency ranges offered by larger units. Still, in small to medium-sized rooms, the SUB8 is easily adequate, filling the space with rich bass and a sense of physical slam at the very bottom that isn’t provided by many 2.0 speaker sets. In larger spaces, the SUB8 can struggle to provide the same extension though it does provide plenty of fullness.
Most importantly, the SUB8 offers a tight bass presentation. It is well -controlled and decays quickly. As such, it is best suited towards music where it provides admirable detail retrieval, texture, and definition. On the contrary, for films requiring deep, wall-shaking rumble the SUB8 cannot overcome its physical size although it does effectively augment 2.0 speaker sets with additional depth and impact. The SUB8 is also effective for gaming where its agility benefits rapid effects such as automatic gunfire while providing extra dimension to racing games without incurring offensive drone. The SUB8 may not provide the most powerful, physical bass, though it is a high-quality and tactile sound that effectively augments any 2.0 speaker set and is perfectly at home in small to medium-sized rooms.
Energy E:XL-S8: The Energy is an older unit but still in a similar price and performance class. It also offers an 8” driver though it has a 50% larger housing sitting at 45cm tall. Immediately, this can be appreciated in films and larger rooms where the Energy provides a little more extension and slam. However, the Energy is also substantially boomier with poor control resulting in a sloppy presentation. The faster SUB8 is substantially more detailed, each note has a lot more definition and it is easier to place as it isn’t ported like the Energy sub. As such, the Energy is only just serviceable for films and music while the SUB8 is excellent for music and still respectable for films on behalf of its quality. The SUB8 also has the benefit of the more compact, sleek design and it has more settings via its rear controls. It is also less prone to buzzing though both have effective auto power settings.
The vast majority of speaker users do not look into purchasing a subwoofer as they require extra effort to set up and are often more expensive than the stereo speakers themselves. However, having a subwoofer substantially enhances the versatility and engagement of any setup. The SUB8 is especially appealing due to its accessible price point in addition to its nimble presentation that works perfectly for music and games. This makes it an excellent choice for computer setups and smaller TV setups, though users with larger spaces will want to look towards something more substantial. Regardless, the SUB8 is clean, detailed and very user-friendly making it one of the easiest ways to upgrade your current audio setup without over-extending your budget.
The Kanto Audio SUB8 is available from Amazon (International) for $289 USD at the time of writing. Please see my affiliate link for the most updated pricing, availability and configurations.