Last Updated on January 13, 2023 by Norvan Martin
So you want to know how to connect a subwoofer that uses a speaker wire to a receiver that has a jack?
If you want to upgrade your home theatre to say a 4k capable system, you may have a problem with the subwoofer/receiver connection.
This is because many modern receivers don’t have connections for subwoofers that use speaker wires and connect to spring clips or binding post-type terminals but for those that use a jack.
Now while connecting a subwoofer to a stereo receiver or amplifier with basic speaker wires may seem like a straightforward process, normally that is not the case. So how do you go about connecting a subwoofer with speaker wire to a receiver that has a jack?
Before you go ahead, you can also check out – How to Connect Subwoofer Pre-Out Cable to Speaker Wires?
Get A Powered Subwoofer
A powered subwoofer is a subwoofer with built-in amplification that you plug into an actual power outlet.
This is especially true if you want to go with a Sony receiver like the Sony STRDH550 for example. This is because many receivers on the market will have the jack-style powered sub-connection.
This jack-style connection is normally one or two RCA-style jacks labeled “Sub,” “Pre-Out,” “Subwoofer,” “SW Out,” “LFE” or any combination of these labels.
In such a case, all you need to do is to connect a coaxial cable with RCA-style plugs or subwoofer cable to the subwoofer output (“Sub Out” or “LFE Out) on your receiver. This is of course if the receiver does not use bare wire or binding post connections.
If you decide to get a powered subwoofer, here are some great choices:
|1||Klipsch R-12SW Powerful Deep Bass Front Firing 12"...||Check on Amazon|
|2||Polk Audio PSW10 10" Powered Subwoofer – Power...||Check on Amazon|
|3||Klipsch R-120SW Subwoofer, Black||Check on Amazon|
Warning: Always ensure all components are OFF before making any connections.
Addressing Other Subwoofer Receiver Connection Issues
1. Using RCA: Subwoofer Connection To Receiver With No Input
In some circumstances, you may get a speaker with two RCA inputs and a subwoofer with one RCA input.
Let’s say your source is a desktop; you should connect the speakers to the green audio jack and the subwoofer to one output with the orange color audio jack (the other jack is for a center channel).
And if you have stereo output, you would split it and connect one L/R output to the speakers and one of the other outputs to the subwoofer.
In addition, a summing circuit to combine the two channels to mono would be a good choice.
2. How To Plug Multiple Speakers Into A Subwoofer
In case you connect two speakers to one output in parallel, you won’t be able to get any benefit from it.
If you are using an amplifier, it can’t put out more power; in fact, it will limit the power output.
On the other hand, if you connect two speakers in series, you still will not get much benefit. What happens is putting out less power as well.
One advantage though, is that you can point the speakers in a slightly different direction to enhance the frequency response at your listening position or improve the stereo imaging; however, this is an involved and technical arrangement.
It’s not much of a difference, but you could benefit a little from linking the two series combinations of two parallel speakers.
All in all, your amp will not put more power out. So you are not going to see much benefit, except with the combination of 4 speakers per channel, simply because you will have extra sensitivity, but you probably won’t even notice any difference.
3. How to Connect RCA Subwoofer Output To Speaker Wire (Red/Black) Subwoofer Input?
How do you connect a subwoofer RCA cable to a speaker wire? If for instance, you have an A/V system that utilizes RCA (SINGLE PLUG) output for the subwoofer channel, and then the subwoofer takes two speaker wire inputs, some may wonder whether there is an adapter that can work in between. Or a simple way to link them together.
Well, there are a couple of questions you should ask yourself:
- Is the subwoofer powered?
- Is the subwoofer not powered?
First, if the subwoofer is powered, you would require an external amp. And if the subwoofer is not powered and you’re double sure no output on the back of the amp, then you need another amplifier or a powered subwoofer, which is a subwoofer designed with a built-in amplifier.
Also, here are other suggestions you can follow. Get an RCA cable, cut on one end and strip it, and then connect the outer wire to the black (which is – Minus) tab of the speaker and the inner wire to the red (+ Plus) tab.
If your subwoofer is unpowered, you have to ensure that you are running a powered subwoofer output from your AV receiver.
The majority of people use powered subwoofers linked to a line-level subwoofer output using RCA jack on the receiver. So, you have to be careful by verifying that the output you are using is meant to power a speaker.
In case you have a powered subwoofer output on the receiver, and you agree to try this, then you must check two critical things:
Crossover Frequency – You better set it high for a small sub if the receiver has a choice of crossover frequency for the subwoofer
Phasing – If your subwoofer is not in phase with other speakers, then your bass sound will be crap. Primarily, this depends on the polarity of the speaker wires, but also can as well depend on speaker placement if your front speakers are not all roughly in the same plane.
Alternatively, you can purchase a cheap powered subwoofer instead. This is because when a subwoofer is not powered, it requires drawing in power from the AV unit to sustain bass effects; however, depending on the receiver, there may be enough power to do that. Due to that, you may inadvertently lessen the punch of your other speakers and diminish your whole sound experience.
4. How To Add A Subwoofer To 2 Channel Stereo Setup?
Usually, an active/ powered subwoofer will have speaker-level inputs and line-level, speaker-level outputs, and sometimes a line-out.
If the sub has a line-out, you can connect the subwoofer in a “loop” in between the power amp and pre-amp by running a pair of interconnects.
You do this from the pre-amp outputs to the sub-line-level inputs, and then another pair of interconnects from the sub-line outs to the power amps.
In this configuration, the low frequencies played by the sub are typically stripped off, and the power amp or main speaker output no longer contains this low-frequency information.
In case your subwoofer doesn’t have the line outs, you can link it using speaker-level inputs.
In this setup, you may have the opportunity to put the sub in a speaker-level “loop” by running speaker cables to the sub, and then back out to the main speakers or you can run speaker cables to the sub and main speakers from the same binding post on your amp.
How Do You Hook Up A Subwoofer To A Receiver Pre-out?
Before you try this connection, make sure the plug is connected to the power outlet. Select the right cables for the connection and connect the cable tip to the subwoofer’s pre-out on the receiver. Then, connect the other end to the left and right RCA line-in inputs on the subwoofer.
So we hope we’ve answered your question on how to connect a subwoofer with speaker wire to a receiver that has a jack.
If you are planning to connect a subwoofer with a speaker wire, you may very well end up having to buy a powered sub if the receiver doesn’t have speaker wire input terminals. If, for instance, you plan to join the wiring amp to the subwoofers, it should be set next to or on the top of the subwoofer enclosure.
In case it’s separate from the subwoofers, ensure it has colored wires to link the ones on the stereo.
You can use more crimp connectors or solder the wires together as required. Otherwise, you can use the existing cables to link it to your sound system. However, if the process is not working for you, you can get a professional to help you with the connection or learn from them.
To learn about other ways to do this, check our article on how to connect a subwoofer to a receiver without subwoofer output.
Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. 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.