Hsu Research STF-1 review: Hsu Research STF-1

  • 1

The Good Sassy budget subwoofer; 8-inch woofer; 150-watt amplifier; seven-year warranty.

The Bad Loses definition at high volume levels.

The Bottom Line Hsu Research's most affordable subwoofer sings with micro satellites.

Visit for details.

8.0 Overall

The Hsu Research STF-1 is one hell of a $299 subwoofer, but it really didn't surprise us; after all, the brand specializes in producing affordable high-performance subwoofers. But Hsu recently broke free of the subwoofers-and-nothing-but-subwoofers strategy when it introduced a superb satellite speaker package, the VT-12 ($299). If you buy the STF-1 and VT-12 combo factory direct, Hsu will knock off $100, bringing the total package price to a very affordable $498.

The STF-1 has a downward-firing 8-inch woofer and a 150-watt amplifier and is available in textured black (pictured) or silver PVC coating. As budget subs go, it's nearly a full-size model, measuring 19 inches high, 10 inches wide, and 16 inches deep. Instead of the usual cheap rubber feet, Hsu includes a decent set of adjustable cone feet. The back panel hosts the unit's volume and 30Hz to 90Hz adjustable crossover controls. Then again, we're sure most STF-1 owners will select the crossover bypass option and let their receiver's internal bass-management system provide the crossover function. Connectivity options include heavy-duty speaker-level inputs and outputs, plus a mono line-level RCA input. The STF-1 can operate on either 120 or 240 volts, and the sub is backed up by a seven-year warranty. (Many subwoofers offer just three years of protection.) A particularly robust MDF cabinet contributes to the STF-1's healthy 43-pound heft; we'd rate the baby Hsu's build quality right up there with that of many $500 subs.

Naturally enough, we mated the STF-1 with the VT-12 satellite package and pumped the Matrix Reloaded DVD to room-filling levels; the Hsu sub/sat system can play nice and loud. The STF-1's robustly deep bass power was impressive, and it was capable of dishing out low-frequency effects like a much larger subwoofer. Despite its extremely dynamic and forceful presence, though, we noted one downside: the sub had a tendency to thicken the bass and lose pitch definition at high volume levels. Still, the STF-1/VT-12 combination was one of the most seamless pairings we've ever heard. Morpheus's deep booming voice has the requisite amount of boom over the VT-12's center speaker, and that's something that most subwoofer/satellite systems can't match.

The STF-1 is the most junior member of the Hsu family of subwoofers. Its larger siblings are the STF-2 ($399), which sports a 10-inch woofer and a 200-watt amplifier, and the STF-3 ($599), which boasts a 12-inch woofer and a 300-watt amp. If the STF line of subwoofers doesn't quite match your needs, Hsu offers seven other models.

Best Speakers for 2020

All best speakers
  • VIZIO SB3621N-E8

    The Vizio SB3621n-E8 is the best budget soundbar we've ever heard, period.

  • Q Acoustics 3020i

    Starting at: $261.75

    The Q Acoustics 3020i bookshelf speakers combine cutting-edge design with excellent sonics.

  • Elac Debut 2.0 B6.2

    Starting at: $299.98

    The Elac Debut B6.2 changes things up with a greater emphasis on build quality and sonic...

  • Sonos One

    Starting at: $197.96

    With great sound, a compact size and the option of either Google Assistant or Alexa, the...

  • ELAC Uni-Fi UB5

    Starting at: $636.10

    The ELAC Uni-Fi UB5 shattered our expectations for the sound quality we could expect from...

More Best Products

All best products