Why is my Subwoofer not Working?

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Updated June 27, 2022

If you are new to the world of professional home audio, you may wonder why your subwoofer is not working. After all, even the best speakers are susceptible to many issues, subwoofers included, especially if your subwoofer has been sounding weak lately. So what are the main reasons for malfunctioning subwoofers and what can you do about it? Keep reading to find out.


  • Subwoofers fail for many reasons, so you’ll have to perform some troubleshooting steps related to the make and model of your active subwoofer or passive variant.
  • Start by checking out the connections, ensuring that each connection is tight and in the right place. This includes the subwoofer cable, the power cable, and any RCA cables.
  • Damaged wiring also leads to subwoofer malfunction, so check the speaker wires, input cables, and power cable for damage or replace them with new cables.

Why are my Subwoofers not Working?

There are many makes and models of subwoofers out there, each of them with its own potential issues. In other words, it is tough to list out every conceivable reason why a subwoofer stops working, just like when you ask why your speakers are not working. With that in mind, we have created a universal list of each common issue impacting subwoofers, along with a simple step to resolve the issue.

Insider Tip

You can also try updating your audio drivers to see if that fixes the issue with your subwoofer.

Faulty Connections

Faulty or improper connections lead to malfunctioning subwoofers, so go around looking for loose connections and tightening as necessary. Do this for every wire leading into and out of the subwoofer, leading from the other speakers, any connected audio devices (like a 3.1 or 5.1 soundbar), and more. It is not just loose connections that cause problems, however, as incorrect connections also cause issues. While checking on the connections, make sure every wire is plugged into the right spot. This tip is also helpful if you are wondering why your volume is not working.

Damaged Wires

Damaged, dusty, or tangled wires lead to comprehensive issues with subwoofers and, really, any speaker. Go around and make sure none of the wires boast any obvious damage and untangle as necessary. If possible, switch out all of the wires and cables for new ones as part of the troubleshooting process. You can do this wire by wire, if you only have one excess wire laying around, or purchase in bulk and do a complete swap out.

Blown Fuse

It is possible the power outlet or fuse associated with the subwoofer is not functioning properly, giving you the illusion that the subwoofer itself is damaged. Many subwoofers feature a standby light which should be illuminated if it is receiving power. Otherwise, head down to the fuse box and give it a good pull to restart the fuse or move the subwoofer to another power outlet located in another part of the house to test it out. Once you are satisfied the issues are not pertaining to your power structure, move on to other troubleshooting steps.


Why isn’t the sub getting power?

If your subwoofer is not receiving power, check the power strip and the audio device’s input signal. You can also check the speaker settings and input ports.

Can subs go bad?

Yes, any item of electronics can go bad, even your average passive subwoofer. The subwoofer fuses could blow, leading to low output levels and reduced sound quality, or there could be all kinds of wiring issues.

What does a bad sub sound like?

A bad subwoofer will feature a reduced volume level, even if it is an active subwoofer. Check the user manual for any model-specific troubleshooting steps.

STAT: The first home audio subwoofers were developed in the 1960s to add bass response to home stereo systems. Subwoofers came into greater popular consciousness in the 1970s with the introduction of Sensurround in movies such as Earthquake, which produced loud low-frequency sounds through large subwoofers. (source)

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