How to Wire a Subwoofer to a Home Stereo

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Updated October 17, 2022

If you are new to the world of stereo system installation, you may wonder how to wire a subwoofer to a home stereo. Many of the best speakers, after all, are subwoofers, and these speakers require adequate connections to a home stereo for optimal performance. So what are the various methods for wiring the best subwoofers to other components of your stereo system? Keep reading to find out.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Wiring a subwoofer to a home stereo requires different processes depending on available connection types and subwoofer outputs.
  • In most cases, you can use a standard speaker wire or speaker cable to go from the subwoofer’s speaker outputs to the receiver, but don’t forget to include an additional ground wire to avoid crossover frequencies and limit hum with the bass frequencies.
  • Other speaker wire connection options include connecting via optical cable, RCA cable, dedicated subwoofer cable, or going wireless with a Bluetooth connection.

How to Connect a Subwoofer to a Stereo Receiver

There is no universal answer here, just as when learning how to wire a subwoofer. There are plenty of different types of subwoofers out there and plenty of receivers, leading many to learn how to wire a subwoofer without an amp. With that said, making a proper connection is not as difficult as, say, learning how to repair stereo speakers.

Insider Tip

You can also connect many subwoofers directly to powered tower speakers and the like, eliminating the need for a receiver.

Here are various connection methods between subwoofers and stereo receivers so you can move on to building the best home stereo system for you and your family.

Use Stereo Wires

In many cases, a subwoofer connects to a stereo receiver using standard stereo wires. Simply run one end of the wire from the subwoofer to the receiver’s subwoofer input, assuming it takes stereo wires. Keep plenty of extra wiring on hand, just in case you run into some faulty wires or you end up moving the subwoofer further away from the core of the system. Also, remember that the wattage of your receiver dictates the gauge, or thickness, of your stereo wires. For high-watt receivers, go with thinner stereo wires, and vice versa.

Consider Other Connection Types

Modern subwoofer designs are always changing, so many newer models do not even include an input for stereo wires, and the same goes for newer stereo receivers. You will have to connect via another method, such as an optical cable, an RCA cable, or a line-in cable. All of these cables are easier to use than stereo wires, as you won’t have to do any cutting. Before purchasing a subwoofer, make sure the connection methods line up with what is available via your receiver.

STAT: In some cases, you may find an RCA connector marked LFE (Low-Frequency Effects) on a receiver or preamp; hooking up the LFE jacks usually only sends bass special effects of a 5.1-encoded movie to the subwoofer. (source)

Go Bluetooth

There is a third option here. New subwoofers and new receivers both typically include a Bluetooth transmitter of some kind, allowing for a completely wireless connection. This technology has advanced quickly, so there is little or no lag as you use the stereo system.

Home Stereo Subwoofer Wires FAQs

How do I hook up subwoofers to an amp?

Hooking up a subwoofer to an amp is similar to doing the same with a receiver or stereo speakers. Connect via speaker wire terminals, RCA plug, or optical cables.

How can I hook up a graphic equalizer to an amp?

Use speaker cables to accomplish tasks, if warranted. Otherwise, connect via high-level inputs, a dedicated subwoofer output, or speaker terminals. Using an EQ is helpful for making quick adjustments, particularly with theater receivers.

How does a subwoofer produce bass?

A subwoofer excels with bass frequencies due to the design of the speaker, the subwoofer output jack, and the speaker's housing. The housing helps the bass from getting too boomy and overtaking the rest of the signal.
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