How To Connect A Subwoofer Directly to the Pre Out on an AV Receiver

Norvan Martin

Can I connect a subwoofer to pre out? This is a regular question for persons who do not have a dedicated amplifier and want to connect their subwoofer to their AV receiver. The quick answer is yes, you can connect a subwoofer to the pre-out on an AV receiver if the subwoofer is active or powered (i.e. it has an internal amplifier). Here are the quick steps below:

  1. You will need a standard RCA male-to-male or mono cable (for example the FosPower Digital Audio Coaxial RCA Male to RCA Male Cable) and an active (powered) subwoofer.
  2. Find the pre-out jacks on your amplifier or receiver. These jacks look like standard RCA jacks except that they are normally colored white or red and are usually labeled “Pre-Out” or “Subwoofer Out”.
  3. Next, connect one end of your RCA cable to the pre-out jack on your receiver. 
  4. Connect the other end of the RCA cable to the input jack on your subwoofer. In case your subwoofer has two RCA inputs, use the left (white) jack.
  5. Turn on your receiver and keep the volume low initially.
  6. Next, turn on your subwoofer and adjust the volume and crossover settings according to your preferences. 
  7. Test the connection by playing some bass-rich music. 

Please refer to the illustration below for how to use an RCA cable to connect a subwoofer to a receiver pre-out:

How To Connect A Subwoofer Directly to the Pre Out on an AV Receiver

If you want more details, below we offer step-by-step instructions on how to do that and an overview of what constitutes pre-out.

Can I Connect the Subwoofer To Pre Out?

A subwoofer pre-out is an output port on a receiver that sends low-frequency signals to a subwoofer and can be used to connect a receiver to a subwoofer directly. It is usually a dedicated output labeled “Subwoofer Out” or “Pre-Out”. Of course, pre-out is also designed to be connected to the input of a subwoofer and sends only low-frequency sounds to the subwoofer. The pre-out feature is typically found on higher-end receivers and is important because it can power up a subwoofer without a dedicated, separate amplifier. 

So, can you connect a subwoofer directly to pre-out on a receiver?

Yes, a subwoofer can connect directly to a pre-out. Pre-outs are intended for connecting external amplifiers and powered subwoofers, as they produce low-level audio signals without any amplification effect.

Pre Out With Receiver Subwoofer Setup

To connect a subwoofer to a pre-out, you will require a subwoofer cable equipped with both RCA plugs or just a regular RCA cable. Connect one end of this cable directly to the pre-out on your audio receiver or amplifier while linking its other end directly with its input on your subwoofer.

Make sure your subwoofer comes equipped with its amplifier (i.e. an active or powered subwoofer) if at all possible; not all subwoofers do this feature. Otherwise, connect it directly to a dedicated amplifier or audio receiver equipped with subwoofer outputs to use your subwoofer successfully.

connect active and passive subwoofer to receiver pre out

Connecting a subwoofer to a pre-out is an easy and efficient process that can significantly boost the low-frequency performance of any audio system.

What Is Subwoofer Pre-Out?

Subwoofer pre-out is an audio output found on many stereo receivers and home theater systems that allows the connection of subwoofer speakers for low-frequency sound reproduction such as bass or drum beats.

Subwoofer pre-outs differ from other audio outputs on receivers in that they only transmit low-frequency audio signals directly to a subwoofer rather than transmitting all frequencies at once, giving this speaker the capability to reproduce low frequencies more precisely with greater depth and clarity compared with speakers that cannot handle low frequencies as effectively.

Connect A Subwoofer To Pre Out On An AV Receiver – Step by Step

Integrating a subwoofer with an AV receiver is key in setting up your home theater system. Subwoofers are speakers designed specifically to reproduce low-frequency sound waves and add depth and richness to audio experiences.

Most AV receivers feature a pre-out port to connect subwoofers. If your subwoofer doesn’t feature a pre out, you will need to connect using tape out, or speaker level outputs, or something similar. Here are the steps for connecting a subwoofer to an AV receiver’s pre-out.

Step 1: Check The Type of Subwoofer

Active or powered subwoofers can be connected to a receiver pre-out directly because these subwoofers have their built-in amplifiers. However, passive subwoofers cannot be connected directly to a receiver pre-out as they do not have built-in amplifiers.

passive vs active subwoofers

Remember, a pre-out is an output designed to connect to an external power amplifier, and it does not have enough power to drive a passive subwoofer directly. In this case, to connect a passive subwoofer, you need to use an external power amplifier that can provide enough power to drive your subwoofer.

You would need to connect the pre-out to the input of the external power amplifier, and then connect the passive subwoofer to the output of the power amplifier.

However, if you have an active subwoofer, then you are good to go!

Step 2: Select Your Desired Cable

Step two of connecting your subwoofer to an AV receiver’s pre-out is selecting an appropriate cable that matches up with your setup and your connection type preferences. Which cable you opt for depends upon how you plan to connect. You can use a subwoofer cable or a regular RCA cable.

What Is a Y Adapter Cable

If your subwoofer only features one RCA input, use an individual cable from this source to link it directly with the pre-out on your AV receiver’s pre-out port.

rca cables

If your subwoofer features both left and right RCA inputs, a Y-cable must be used to connect it to the pre-out on your AV receiver.

The use of an appropriate cable is vital to connect your subwoofer and AV receiver correctly and benefit from high-quality audio from your system.

Step 3: Connect the RCA Cable To The receiver

Once you have chosen an ideal cable setup for your setup, step three is connecting its tip with your subwoofer’s pre-out.

av receiver pre out

AV receivers usually include such pre-outs on their rear panels labeled accordingly.

Step 4: Connect the Other End to the Left and Right RCA Line-In Inputs on the Sub

Step four of connecting your subwoofer to your AV receiver pre-out is connecting one end of a cable to either of its left and right RCA line-in inputs located on your sub. These can typically be found behind it with labels to identify them as such.

To connect the cable, insert its RCA connectors into both line-in inputs on your subwoofer ensuring all connections are secure and the cables fully inserted.

Once all steps have been completed, turn your subwoofer and AV receiver on, test their audio performance, and double-check any connections or cables for looseness if any problems arise. If problems do occur, double-check that they’re secured correctly before continuing further with the installation steps. If anything seems amiss during testing, double-check connections to ensure everything’s operating perfectly before making further decisions about future steps.


As mentioned previously, connecting a subwoofer to an AV receiver requires selecting an appropriate cable that suits your setup, connecting its tip to the subwoofer’s pre-out on the receiver, and the other end connecting with either left and right RCA line-in inputs on your sub. By following these steps you can ensure both components of your system are securely linked so you can enjoy high-quality sound from it.

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Norvan Martin is the founder of He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin