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June 2017 Giveaway

QSC KW181 1000W 18" Powered Subwoofer Reviews

4.5 stars based on 39 customer reviews
Questions about the QSC KW181 1000W 18" Powered Subwoofer?

Questions about the QSC KW181 1000W 18" Powered Subwoofer?

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  • from Fairmont City IL. June 20, 2017Music Background:


    Sound amazing I love it I recommend you buy with Sweetwater good deals

  • from midwest June 20, 2017Music Background:
    Drummer with studio

    Where the thunder lives.......

    I am only using one of these bad boys and I am totally down with the powerful bass it delivers .....it fills in the bottom and punches like a MMA fighter, I will probably add one more to even out the mix.....and balance out the columns on the left and right.......

  • from PA June 15, 2017Music Background:
    Drummer/Vocalist (Pittsburgh Area Classic Rock Band)

    Deep, Punchy, Amazing

    If you or your band are looking to add some huge depth, punch, and upgrade your sound then look no further. Adding this sub to you gear will give all the low end you will need. I purchased two of these a month ago. Our band just used them in a live gig situation last weekend. HUGE DIFFERENCE. We kept them at normal mode (instead of deep) and it was more than enough bass to pound into the chest of our audience. I'm sure with the right EQ and setting it to deep mode, it will be even better! We received so many compliments about how tight and good we sounded. QSC is the way to go, and this sub is top notch. Thanks to Tyler Berggren for recommending them to me as this was one of the best purchases I've ever made.

  • from WJSP Entertainment Altamonte Springs FL June 12, 2017Music Background:
    WSJP Entertainment President

    Super Subs

    Omgoodness. Amazing sound , A M A Z I N G .. truly changes everything .

  • from Catonsville, MD December 3, 2016Music Background:
    Mobile DJ

    QSC KW181's Rock

    I enjoyed the extra thump I received when I paired the KW181's with my K8's and K10's. The clarity and quality of sound has my crowds jumping. I enjoyed these so much I also purchased two 152's. I'll be back to get more.

  • from Dallas, TX November 22, 2016Music Background:

    QSC vs Others

    Hello fellow music dudes and dudettes.

    First let me say that I am a huge believer in buying top quality equipment and using it for a long time. I have over 50,000 followers on FB and have always used Technic 1200 turntables (I have 2 pairs) that I purchased in 1987. They still work perfectly. With that said, I constantly have other dj friends that have the latest and greatest "toys" and end up having issues with them. I stick with what got me here. I mainly spin at clubs or venues that have sound systems readily available but lately I have been doing a lot of private events. So I wanted to make sure I had great sound and renting stuff or borrowing all the time just isn't cool and it can cut into the $$.

    Second, let me say, I am not as smart as I think. About 18 months ago I bought a pair of K12's (from Sweetwater) and have had zero problems with them. Just as reliable as a tank. Were they expensive? Heck yeah...but reliability is the most important thing and I have NEVER had any issues.

    Now I ask myself why did I try and go cheap with a sub?

    Well long story longer, I did. I went with what appeared to be a solid 18" sub to compliment my k12's. I also purchased that sub here at Sweetwater. BIG MISTAKE. I had that sub for a grand total of about 1.5 months in which I had about 3 gigs to use the sub...2 of the 3 times the sub didn't work.

    Gig 1 - The first time I used it..the fuse blew out and the only way to get this special fuse was via the internet...which didn't help me much seeing that the sub blew out during sound check 5 hours from start time. I was pissed! So I went without a big sub for that event (local bar). The people didn't notice...I DID (fellas you know how that is)

    Gig 2 -Next event the sub worked but honestly I can say I don't recall feeling like it was all that impressive...I was probably happy that it actually worked at all and didn't notice...

    Gig 3 - Big event and the sub just stops working. I mean light is on...it is transferring sound to the K12 when I plug into the sub....but zero bass. I was DONE! I called my guy here at Sweetwater and told him I wanted this thing GONE...I shipped it back with minimal hassle (Sweetwater handled it well)...and reordered the KW181

    1st gig with KW - Plugged it in...turned it on...deep mode of course...and Rocked with it and another sub for 5 straight hours...never peaked...k12s never peaked...the other house 18 sub was red all night..lol

    Final review - The KW is light enough for me to lift up and carry if necessary. The other one wasn't. But the bottom line is this...are there subs with more boom, of course...its only 88 pounds so if you get the HUGE heavy sub its gonna out perform this sub...simple physics...BUT if you want a sub that you turn on..and BAM works like a charm especially with the K series...save your ducats and get this sub...if you have some place to put it...and can afford it..get two...I hear they are amazing when paired...

    My thing is this...if its fancy and iffy I don't want it...whether its software or hardware. If you're serious about long term success and you want to have peace of mind at your events...get good equipment...my preference in sound being QSC...is there better sounding equipment..maybe..but will it work EVERYTIME? don't know. QSC does. And yes..it DOES matter what your equipment looks like. You don't want to roll up to an event in a beat up Scooby van...and you don't want your precious and expensive gear looking like it was dropped from King Kongs mouth...so spend the little bit extra and ALWAYS buy the carry/covers for your gear. My k12's look like they are fresh out of the box because of the bags and covers.

    Oh...shout out to Ian at Sweetwater..thats my guy!

    Just my two cents...Kev Out!

  • from N.E. Ind July 18, 2016Music Background:
    Musician, Sound Reinforcement

    Glad I spent the extra for these subs.

    I think everyone else should buy the cheaper subs for your rig, that way mine will always sound superior. Almost went with another brand which I already have a pair of and they were on sale for about half the price, but all their previous reviews said that their owners wish they would have gone with the QSC's. After hearing outside demo's at Gearfest, it was apparent why. Now after using them in an outdoor setting, I'm convinced I made a wise decision.

  • from Hilton Head Island,SC September 26, 2015Music Background:
    Mobile DJ


    First time ordering through Sweetwater and never happier, I asked for you personal opinion and you guided me the smart and sensible way to go. Sweetwater gained a very smart and awesome new employee and I'm honored to call him my friend !! First time oredering new gear and Chris Jett guided me through the smartest way like a brother. I would definitely recommend Sweetwater for all your musical needs !! Thank You again!!

  • from GP, MI September 24, 2015

    What an improvement!

    Great improvement using this along with my K8's. Definitely worth the investment to move to the next level of sound quality!

  • from Caribou, ME June 30, 2015

    You get what you pay for!!

    I've had this sub now for about 6 months and all I can say is WOW!! I had recently heard a fellow musicians Yorkville subs and loved how they made your pant legs quiver. I did not like that you needed an semi to haul them around. After a lot of research I decided to give the QSC's a try and I'm telling my 1 QSC keeps up with his 2 Yorkville's. Spend the extra $$$ and take advantage of the interest free monthly payments if it is available. You will not regret your purchase.

  • from Las Cruces, NM June 2, 2015Music Background:
    Live Sound Reinforcement/Announcing

    QSC KW 181's are too great to pass up!

    I provide sound systems and music for rodeos all over the southwest. I was needing more to my sound system and kept feeling like I needed a bit more. And boy oh boy did I get it in a big way. I already had 8 QSC k12's and liked the clarity and the range with music playback and vocals going thru them. The very little bass they had was nice but just not enough. So I researched relentlessly for a dedicated subwoofer that would compliment the K12's. It had to be versatile, powerful, easy to work with, not weigh a ton and have great sound. And I finally decided on four (4) of the KW181's. I used them for the first time on a three day show and fell in love with them the first song I heard go through them. The bass response was absolutely amazing and the clarity at over 200' was amazing. You could still feel and hear and fell the bass at over 350'. I played some of my favorite songs ranging from Country, rap, Rock, and even Dubstep to put these speakers to the test. They were all set at 12oclock and the volume was turned to a calm "pre-show" setting. It made all of my JBL's sound like crap. They didn't even lose any gusto in the slight breeze. After each 2-3 hour performance I made a point of checking to see if they got warm or hot. The fans weren't on and the plates were just as cool as the breeze outside. I highly recommend these to anyone that wants a little kick and a punch to their sound. You can not go wrong.

  • from ALLENTOWN, PA April 11, 2015

    QSC KW181

    AWESOME.........I just had a GREAT night last night. I had purchased the K12s about a month ago and they sound okay by themselves, but added the KW181 last night and a HUGE difference. The sound quality is clean and crisp with the K12s and KW181. Thanks Chris and his team for helping me with the sound I was looking for out of powered speakers & sub.....Goosebumps all last night....Thanx again.

  • from Largo, FL March 12, 2015Music Background:
    Guitarist, Keyboardist, Live and recording engineer

    Incredible sound

    I've used other subwoofers in the past, but I have to say I was blown away by the sound the KW181 produces in the low end. There's a difference between feeling the low end and hearing the low end. I heard one local band in a venue notorious for bad sound, and I felt the low end, but could not really pick out the bass or hear what notes it was playing. The entire sound was muddy and boomy. Then a few weeks later I heard a friend's band using the KW181's (and 2 KW153's) and I could hear the bass distinctly and the whole sound was crystal clear. Using just one KW181 with 2 K10's a couple weeks ago at a semi-outdoor venue, the bass was full and clear. My drummer kept sound checking his TD-20 kick and commenting how good an investment this was.

  • from Caribou, ME March 4, 2015Music Background:
    Vocalist / Business Owner

    QSC KW181 subwoofer and Sweetwater Rock!!!

    If your looking to rearrange all the crap on your walls than look no further. If I didn't know better I would swear Tommy Lee was on the other side of my wall with his drum kit mounted to it. Sweetwater's service was excellent. There tech support is top notch and I love that you can call anytime. The bag of candy provided with my order was a nice touch. I've ordered from most of the big name sites in the vast and Sweetwater takes it up a notch. Thanks guys.

  • from Fenton, MI February 19, 2015Music Background:
    Pro Musician

    All About that BASS!

    The KW181 Subwoofer is incredible! This sub delivers tons of deep, punchy low end! The cabinet is very sturdy and well designed. It's definitely a well-built, quality sub!

  • from Marion Indiana August 5, 2014Music Background:
    Pro Musician, Live sound engineer.

    Worth every penny

    Yes they are a little pricey, but the first time we turned them loose at an outdoor gig, we knew that Greg Baum, our sales rep, had steered us in the right direction again. If ya wanna feel it, these are the subs you need.

  • from Waunakee WI March 11, 2014Music Background:

    QSC KW181

    I own 4 QSC K12 speakers and had been previously using Electro Voice subs. I wanted something a bit simpler and only one if possible. Tim, my sales guy, suggested the QSC KW181. He was extremely knowledgable. I purchased it and WOW...I LOVE IT!!! I am only using one, and it bangs!! I may buy another, but for the events I do, this one is more than sufficent. When I first received it, I couldn't get it to work correctly (maybe a short or something). Sweetwater had a new one on the way, before I even shipped the old one! Exceptional customer service. The 12-36 mo free financing was awesome too!

  • from Oshkosh, WI January 11, 2014Music Background:
    Guitarist/Live Sound/Recording/Production

    KW181's bring the boom!

    I bough a pair of these to complete my PA with KW153's handling the rest of the frequencies. You get what you pay for, and I have no regrets in this investment. This system is plug and play. The balance of the components and the available power is excellent. The KW181's faithfully produce the frequencies sent to them. When paired with the KW153's the spectrum is balanced without humps or holes in the response (SMAART analysis proves what I hear)

  • from New York City July 7, 2013Music Background:
    DJ & Audio Visual Tech

    The Best

    QSC did it again.. The QSC KW181 is a beast. After buying one, I want back and buy a second one. I use them side by side or stack them if space is limited. They are the best.

  • from Cherry Hill, NJ July 2, 2013Music Background:
    Live Sound Engineer


    KW181 are more expensive then their counterpart, but worth every penny. Amazing low end. I run an 8 piece cover band with a pair of 181s with the K153s. Crystal clear from a hundred yards away. Great for any venue, inside or out!

  • from Turtletown, TN May 20, 2013Music Background:
    Recording engineer and live event sound.

    It is expensive times two but you will be glad you invested in them!

    Been wanting to add a pair of these to my pair of QSC KW-153 for a couple of years now and the 24 months Interest free promotion made me click the buy button. Have used them twice now and my clients are thrilled with the sound. So am I!

  • from Ashaway,RI May 9, 2013Music Background:
    band member 20 yrs Bass.

    GSC KW181

    Bought for home use to go with 2- K12 and 2-KSubs for parties and other shindigs.Inside not a huge difference but outside it sounds like a live band. The concussion of the kick drum to your chest even at 50 feet away is awesome.Gonna have to get a second one.Well worth the money.The only dilemma I have is what reason I can think of for another shindig.Don't forget to invite the neighbors even the deaf ones.

  • from Iowa January 7, 2013Music Background:
    Rodeo Soundman


    Complete BLOWN AWAY!!! I just got 3 of these and paired them with 6 of the k12's. I used the system for the first time this weekend in a 5000 seat arena and they did more than filled it with crystal clear and clean sounding bass. Not only that but during the sound check there was actually stuff falling off the ceiling. I was planning on getting one more later but not sure I'll ever have a need for it. The k12/kw181 might hav ejust replaced sliced bread. Christopher at Sweetwater was awesome to work with and gave me some great ideas on how to make them sound even better. He has made me a Sweetwater customer for life!

  • from Seattle, WA December 17, 2012Music Background:
    25 year serious hobbyist playing keyboards in various bands

    You may want to wear a cup

    I had my K-Sub stolen and decided to replace it with this bad boy. I don't know what to say but WOW is this thing amazing. Punchy, tight, loud, clear.....what else can you ask for?

    You may want to wear a cup standing near this sub as it shakes things up quite a bit.

  • from Grand Forks-ND November 11, 2012Music Background:
    Sound Engineer,recording artist,B.A IN MUSIC /UND

    A must for bands and Soundmen

    I own a major recording studio,a Band,and a Sound & Light Company. I bought 4 QSC 18"SUBS,4 QSC153 3 WAY. They guarantee me a mind blowing show everytime ,I run sound for big name bands like FOGHAT,ZZ TOP,NAZARETH,etc..they were ecstatic with the way these speakers deliver.If you're serious about sound this is the right stuff.Thanks

  • from Cheyenne, WY July 24, 2012Music Background:
    Director of Worship Arts

    Great subs

    Literally, getting two of these leaves us blown away. Great depth and the sound is clear and solid. The range is nearly perfect for our building. This was our first step in upgrading our sound system and it has been a great step.

  • from Fayetteville, North Carolina December 12, 2011Music Background:

    QSC KW181

    I purchased this beast and man, it growls..By far this is the best subwoofer I have ever owned. The Lows are deep and clean. I must admit the price kept me from purchasing this high end speaker for 2 years ,so I upgraded my MAN CARD and purchased 2ea....what a relief to have worldclass sound . I performed our annual company Christmas party and everyone agreed the the quality of sound was immaculate..Much love to Sweetwater,QSC and Ms. Katie Stockman sales rep #1365 who helped me...go KATIE!!!!

  • from Michigan November 27, 2011Music Background:
    23 year professional

    Unbelievable Bass Sound & Thump

    I finally added this sub to my pair of K12s and I'm SO glad I did. I had high hopes that this compact sub would deliver huge, deep, thumpy bass after my experience with the awesome QSC K12s. My expectations were exceeded when I used the KW181 (with K12s) for a gig last night in my rock band. HOLY COW does this speaker produce amazingly clear, deep, thumpy bass. We first sound checked with a recording of LMFAO's Party Rock Anthem and the bar was vibrating with just one of these speakers at half volume.. I didn't even have deep mode on which makes it sound even deeper and it does make a noticeable difference. Deep mode is probably best for playing Club style music and DJing. Our bassist plays really high-quality, super expensive custom basses and the KW181 allowed me to finally hear just how nice his bass guitars can sound. You know that big powerful bass sound you experience at live rock concerts when you're in the front row? This produces that sound. The drums sounded awesome as well. This sub also runs cool all night long. During the night while we were playing I put my hand by the back fan and the air temp was actually cool. Numerous people commented on how awesome mix sounded. My coworker even commented it sounded like he was at a rock concert. I can only imagine what it would sound like having two of these, which is on my wish list for the future. I am totally sold on powered QSC speakers. Excellent job QSC!

  • from Hawaii September 14, 2011Music Background:
    Weekend performer


    So I started with the EON 515's and a 518 Sub. No complaints until I heard the K-series and the KW 181. No comparison here. Yes, the K-series are twice the Watts of my EONs, but the bottom line is, you get what you pay for. I even sold my pair of brand new JBL PRX 612m's, the EONs and the 518 for a pair of K-10's, a pair of K-Subs, and a pair of KW 181's. I'm a convert from JBL to QSC's and I could not have made a better choice. If you think one KW 181 sounds awesome, you gotta here them when there's two of them, side-by-side....INCREDIBLE, house-shaking BASS!! QSC in general, makes awsome speakers with awesome features. GREAT JOB, QSC!!

  • from Spokane, Wa August 23, 2011Music Background:
    Pro Musician,

    Fantastic Woofer

    When my sales rep Alex Moralis recommended the QSC speakers to me, I had never heard of them. Next thing I knew they kept popping up everywhere and I couldn't wait to get some. The QSC KW181 is just an amazing piece of equipment that moves a large volume of air with apparent ease. I truly am blown away buy the performance of this speaker. I am also blown away by the knowledge, expertise and care that Alex delivers every time I need information or order something.
    Thanks Sweetwater and Alex you all Rock!

  • from Maryland January 6, 2011Music Background:
    Recording Enginer, Disc Jockey, Live Sound

    Another Amazing Product From QSC!!!!

    I exchanged the QSC K-sub for this subwoofer and let me tell you this subwoofer blows the k-sub out of the water. It is about 400$ more but is well worth it. I use it a few times weekly when I DJ and it definitely thumps. It is enough bass for small to mid size venues/bars and gigs. Very clean low end-bass response and can be pushed very far. I use it with the QSC K12's and together I have yet to come close to peaking the system.

    Job Well done again QSC!!!!

  • from Ohio November 18, 2016Music Background:
    Musician/Teacher/Owner- Alpha Audio Services

    QSC KW181

    My 3 piece rock/blues band usually plays smaller indoor venues. Our drummer uses an electronic kit or an acoustic 4 piece, depending upon the venue and volume tolerated by the club owners. For some gigs the PA consists of a single KW181 with a K8 due to it's wide speaker dispersion area and quality sound. With two of these subs and a pair of QSC HPR121's or K12's for tops, the sound is clean and punchy. Self-powered speakers have come a long way and have placed my non-powered speakers, 12gauge speaker cables, amp racks, and active crossovers in retirement. My back doesn't miss the old system either!

  • from United States February 15, 2015Music Background:
    Weekend Warroir

    Extremely Please

    Rugged, compact design; not too heavy at 88 lbs. Having FOUR casters is a big plus, very trans-portable. Simple hook up. Large sound! Ran a pair of these last night with a set of QSC K12s at a parish hall affair. These subs performed just great! Not muddy or woofy sounding, just pure room thumping bottom end. I'd recommend checking these out!

  • from Colorado August 18, 2011Music Background:
    Worship Leader

    Very Nice

    We recently purchased these for our church of 800. We meet in the auditorium of a local high school, and we needed a little bit more low end than our previous subs were providing, so we picked these bad boys up. I gotta say, they've been pretty great so far. I'm a fan of the "deep" mode and the construction is solid. My only complaint is that, while i like the power the "deep" mode provides, the deep mode seems to lose a little bit of clarity. So it's a bit of give and take.

    Another plus for us is, we set up and tear down all of our equipment every week so the wheels on the back were a real help.

    Overall, these subs push the low end frequencies very well in our size of auditorium, I don't know that I would recommend them for a much bigger space than about 800 people.

  • from Maryland April 13, 2017Music Background:

    QSC KW181

    Hey I own 6 of these and they can take a beating. They are great for indoor venues when paired with the KW152 tops, but you have to know the type of sound that you are looking for. Have the 6 subs playing out door at an out door event and what is noticable about the is that they do not throw long like the yorkvilles but they do a great job. Still on the fence with buying 2 more that i can have 4 a side. Down fall is the price point they are at which is a bit high other wise muscially they are great.

  • from July 25, 2016

    QSC KW181s

    These things KICK... Love them...

  • from Jamul, CA January 3, 2013Music Background:
    writing, performing, producing, live, recording


    I do church stuff. In my experience the KW181 holds its own in a mid-sized application. Plug and play but doesn't seem only useful for a party DJ. Sounds great and is pretty low-profile for what you get.

  • from April 28, 2016

    Question the Reliability

    We have 6 of these KW 181's. In two years now we've had 3 failures.
    One failed withing 15 days of ownership. This one wouldn't power up.
    One failed at about 10 months. This one the driver failed. The glue let loose from the magnet to the top plate.
    One failed at about 18 months. This one the driver "froze" where the cone doesn't move.
    The drivers cannot be rebuilt. Replacement parts are reasonably priced though.
    We also run the KLA12's which fail too. The drivers also "freeze" and the electronics have failed.

    Yes they do sound good.

    Someone once told me...These are way to expensive to be built in China.

  • from NY March 20, 2015

    qsc kw 181

    I dont understand the i was blown away comments of kw181 users, i can say i was blown away by the kw 152's but when matched up with a kw181 the kw181 falls flat on its *** as far as spls or that hard punch bass you would expect out of it , does the kw181 help improve the overall sound yes but not much at all .i really wanted this review to be another i was blown away stories or my neighbors freaked out but sorry when both the kw 152 and kw181 were playing side by side deep mode the kw152 was the performer. i read hundreds of threads before buying the kw181 . i should have tested out the yorkville ls 801 first i think thats the sound im looking for i can not feel the kw181 bass at my feet or chest just 5 foot away .its not for me . i hope this helps someone . it cost me shipping both ways in order to help someone out .

Questions about the QSC KW181 1000W 18" Powered Subwoofer?

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