How to Wire a Subwoofer Without an Amp

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Updated October 17, 2022

If you are new to the world of stereo system setups, you may wonder how to wire a subwoofer without an amp. 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 without relying on an external amp? Keep reading to find out.


  • Wiring a subwoofer to your ampless system is possible, though may require some outside-of-the-box thinking.
  • Start by looking for an amp, as many modern receivers and tower speakers actually include built-in preamps with both a negative terminal and a positive terminal.
  • Consider going with an active subwoofer or biting the bullet and adding an external amplifier into your system and subwoofer box, connecting via RCA cables, power wire, and power cables.

How to Connect a Subwoofer Without an Amp

When learning how to wire a subwoofer to a home stereo, you sometimes come across setups that do not feature a dedicated amp or preamp. When learning how to connect a subwoofer, you have to account for power, as most are passive. Don’t fret, as there are many options here to fix this little hiccup, so you won’t have to wonder why your subwoofer is rattling.

Insider Tip

Remember to use a ground wire if connecting to a receiver with standard speaker wires.

Here are some common methods to connect a subwoofer without an amp so you can move on to learning how to tune a subwoofer.

Amps Lurk Everywhere

Just because you lack a dedicated external preamp does not mean you have no amplification options to get the subwoofer up to the optimal line level. Amps and preamps are often hiding in other stereo system components. Check your stereo receiver, as this likely includes a preamp of some kind that will integrate nicely with a subwoofer. Many modern speakers have amps built in to simplify the connection process, and so on.

Use a Powered Subwoofer

While many subwoofers are passive, modern designs accentuate active speakers. In other words, using an active subwoofer means you do not need an amp at all. The line level coming out of the subwoofer will be amplified enough to integrate with any speaker or receiver you throw at it. Powered subwoofers tend to be pricier than passive models, but the cost may be worth it to eliminate another connection.

STAT: Home-cinema subwoofers are given their own channel, called the .1 or the LFE output (low-frequency effects). (source)

Get an Amp

The simplest option is just to add an amplifier into the mix. There are dedicated subwoofer preamps and plenty of stereo receivers with built-in preamps. There are also many power amplifiers out there that are built exclusively for stereo equipment. In other words, you will be able to get things going without spending too much money and without too many connection-related headaches.

Subwoofer Without Amp FAQs

How do you tune your equalizer?

Tuning an equalizer is a tricky business. Go slowly and carefully, especially with regard to bass frequencies. Pay attention to the stereo pair and adjust the mids and treble to accommodate the rest of your speakers.

What does an amplifier do?

Simply put, an amplifier brings the level up. This allows different pieces of gear to play nice, such as a head unit and subwoofer outputs. When using a passive subwoofer without an amplifier, your levels will be all over the place.

How do you pick the right subwoofer for your car?

Choosing the right type of subwoofer for your car is a completely different beast than choosing one for a home stereo. Make sure it can produce adequate bass frequencies and that it integrates with your car.
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