How to Connect Subwoofers to an Amplifier

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Updated November 18, 2022

Even if you have top-tier speakers, you should understand how to connect subs to an amplifier for an ideal audio experience. Premium subwoofers provide low-end sounds for your audio system, creating bass tones or impactful low-frequency effects. Your subwoofer output needs a power amplifier to ensure a strong signal. Luckily, this guide lets you learn how to connect subwoofers to an amplifier.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The back of your subwoofer will show high-level and low-level inputs, and your setup will differ between those two connection types.
  • A low-level connection uses a single RCA cable to link the amplifier and the subwoofer.
  • A high-level connection uses multiple speaker connections that run between the surround speakers and the subwoofer.

How to Connect Subwoofers to an Amplifier

Learning how to connect a subwoofer to a receiver is a good starting point because most theater receivers have a built-in amplifier. The amplifier converts electrical energy into audio output, and you need one for passive speakers and subwoofers.

Insider Tip

Set your subwoofer’s crossover frequency to the bottom range of your surround speakers to ensure a natural sound balance.

Users can maximize low-end frequencies by adding an external amplifier, even with active subwoofers. That said, you should learn how to bridge a subwoofer for certain stereo system setups.

Keep in mind using an additional amplifier for power might affect how long subwoofers last. That said, learn how to test a subwoofer if you run into bad wiring or audio levels. You can enhance your listening experience by using different audio inputs, so learn how to use TF cards in Bluetooth speakers.

Method 1: Low-Level Subwoofer Connection

STEP 1 Find the LFE Channel Connection

The low-level connection uses a single RCA cable or a mono-channel amplifier wire. You should see a subwoofer output jack on the back of your amplifier, marked LFE.

STEP 2 Find the Low-Level Input Port

Check the back of your subwoofer enclosure and spot the LFE input port.

STEP 3 Connect the RCA Cable

Connect your amp’s dedicated subwoofer output and input with the RCA cable. Pick a cable that is well-insulated to prevent signal interference.

Method 2: High-Level Subwoofer Connection

STEP 1 Access the Subwoofer Speaker Terminals

Your subwoofer’s high-level inputs feature two sets of positive and negative speaker wire terminals. Additionally, one set of terminals covers the left channel while the other handles the right channel. The positive terminals are red, and the negative terminals are black.

STEP 2 Connect the Speaker Wires

Run your left and right speaker wire connections from the receiver as normal. You should have four speaker cables that cover the speaker-level inputs.

STEP 3 Connect the Subwoofer

Find your subwoofer speaker output on the back of the subwoofer enclosure. Start with the black wires, and then connect the positive terminals. Ensure you’ve used the correct subwoofer cables for the left and right channels of audio.

STEP 4 Balance Your Audio

Play some audio and try to find a balanced sound. Adjust the subwoofer volume, crossover settings, and phase controls to blend the low-frequency sounds into the full-range speakers.

Warning

An aftermarket amplifier can damage your stereo subwoofer if it doesn’t match the power requirements for the subwoofer.

STAT: The CDC states that the average surround sound movie setup provides between 70 and 100 decibels, which might be hazardous to your hearing. (source)

How to Connect Subwoofers to an Amplifier FAQs

How do I clean my subwoofer?

Use a dry microfiber cloth or dusting wand to remove dust from the speaker cones and input hardware. Next, employ a damp cloth to wipe the subwoofer enclosure, but never use abrasive cleaners like bleach, alcohol, or ammonia.

What's the best place for subwoofer output?

Placing your subwoofer in the corner should offer the strongest bass signal. That said, placing your subwoofer between your right and left speakers should provide a more natural sound than corner placement.

What can damage a subwoofer?

The most common cause of subwoofer damage is too much signal from a stereo amplifier. By passing too much energy through the subwoofer, you can blow out the speakers. Additionally, if your subwoofers sit in a cold place like a basement or garage, failing to warm them up properly can also damage them.
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