How to Connect a Subwoofer to a Home Audio System

By Nichole Liandi

Home subwoofer
i NL Graphics

A powered subwoofer adds a new dimension of sound to your home audio system. It will improve the bass response in your music and bring out the sound effects in shows played on your home theater system. There are two ways to connect a subwoofer to a home audio system. The one you use will depend on the type of receiver or amplifier in your system.

Examine the back of your subwoofer and identify a single RCA-style input marked as either "Line In" or "LFE." Locate a set of speaker wire terminals marked as either "Speaker In" or "High Level In." There will also be a corresponding set of speaker terminals marked "Speaker Out" or "High Level Out."

Examine the back of your receiver for an RCA output marked "LFE" or "Sub Out." If your receiver has this output, proceed to Step 3. If your receiver does not have this output, proceed to Step 4.

Connect a subwoofer cable from the "LFE" or "Sub Out" RCA connection to the corresponding connection on the subwoofer. This directs the low-frequency information from your receiver to the subwoofer for amplification. It is the most common connection used with home theater receivers in which a channel of information is set aside for low-frequency effects.

Connect speaker wire between the speaker outputs of your receiver and the speaker inputs of the subwoofer. Go from "out" of the receiver to "in" on the subwoofer. Connect the right speaker output of the receiver to the right speaker input of the sub and then the left output to the left input.

Connect speaker wire from the "speaker" or "high level" outputs of the subwoofer to your stereo speakers. The subwoofer will filter out the low frequencies, amplify them, and pass on the rest of the information to the speakers.

If your subwoofer has a "low-pass" control knob, set it to 100 Hz and then adjust to taste as you listen. Setting it higher will send higher notes to the sub, whereas setting it lower will restrict the sub to the very lowest frequencies.

Plug your subwoofer into a 110-volt outlet and power it up.