How to Connect Subwoofers to a Receiver

Coby McKinley Profile image

Written By:

Updated December 2, 2022

If you’re using premium speakers, you may wonder how to connect subwoofers to a receiver. After all, a high-quality subwoofer offers strong bass frequencies for surround sound movies, music, and video games. While auto setup options work for some models, you need an AV receiver for dedicated subwoofer output. So, stick around to learn how to hook up subwoofers to a receiver.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Plug an RCA cable into your receiver’s subwoofer output jack, and connect the other end to the subwoofer.
  • Adjust your crossover settings to ensure your bass tones blend into your larger stereo setup.
  • Sit in your preferred listening position, and test the sound balance in your space. If you like the results, your setup is complete.

Learning how to set up subwoofers is a good first step, but your theater receiver may offer alternate audio system options that may affect your setup. Additionally, investigating what surround sound is can narrow down the placement options for your stereo speakers and subwoofers.

Insider Tip

If you have an older theater receiver, you may need a wireless subwoofer adapter to match the connection types.

This guide covers most passive and powered subwoofer setups but ensures you learn how to connect subwoofers to a receiver without a subwoofer output. That said, you should consider how to connect a subwoofer to an amplifier if you have a passive subwoofer.

So, whether you have a single subwoofer or multiple speaker connections, you can learn how to set up subwoofers on a receiver.

How to Plug a Subwoofer into a Receiver

STEP 1 Connect the Subwoofer Cable

Find the subwoofer output jack on the receiver, and plug the RCA cable into the unit. The port should be marked SUB or LFE channel. Next, plug the LFE channel cable into the subwoofer.

STEP 2 Adjust the Crossover Setting

The crossover frequency determines when your subwoofer takes over for the speakers. Check your stereo speaker output frequencies to see where your crossover setting should be. For example, if your speakers have a frequency range between 100 Hz and 30 kHz, set your subwoofer’s crossover setting to 100 Hz.

STEP 3 Place the Subwoofer

Since humans aren’t great at pinpointing low-end frequencies, there are many options for where to place the subwoofer. Placing the subwoofer in a corner will maximize the boom, while a center placement produces a more balanced sound.

STEP 4 Test the Audio Output

Ensure your speaker wire connections are secure and connect the subwoofer to a power strip or outlet. Activate your audio equipment and test some of your favorite songs. If your system produces a balanced sound that you like, you’ve completed the setup.

Warning

Your low-end frequencies might lose sound quality if you allow the subwoofer volume to cause vibrations.

STAT: A study from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) shows that always-on audio/video receivers consume up to 40 watts per day, even while on standby. (source)

How to Connect Subwoofers to a Receiver FAQs

How do I connect a wireless subwoofer to an old stereo receiver?

You need a wireless subwoofer adapter to use a wireless model with an old receiver. Plug the adapter into the audio out jack on the receiver, and use the subwoofer to create a wireless connection to the receiver.

Where should I set phase control on a subwoofer?

The phase knob lets users add an electronic delay to their subwoofer compared to the other stereo channels. Most models offer 0 to 180 degrees of delay, but experts often recommend leaving it at 0. That said, your subwoofers might blend with your sound system better with a little delay.

Does my theater system need a subwoofer?

While your theater doesn't need a subwoofer, your listening experience will lack low-end frequencies without one. Experts recommend at least one unit for a decent experience but adding additional subwoofers provide a smoother bass response throughout your listening space.
Coby McKinley Profile image