Having the right subwoofer can really a difference in the quality of your audio experience. If you are working with audio from a PC, there is no better way to enjoy immersive sound than with external speakers and a good sub. However, people often get confused about hooking up their sub to their PC.
In this article, we will show how to connect a subwoofer to a computer with two detailed and step by step methods.
What Is A Subwoofer?
A subwoofer is a loudspeaker that reproduces low-pitched frequencies such as bass and sub-bass – they are all about that bass! A subwoofer converts low-pitched audio signals into sounds that general woofers aren’t able to produce. Yes, there’s a difference between subwoofers and woofers.
The result is a deep, full-bodied experience that you can feel if your speaker system is set up just right.
How to Connect a Subwoofer to a Computer Step By Step
Connecting your subwoofer requires two simple steps, which you can follow with this guide.
To successfully connect your subwoofer to your computer, you’ll likely need a few adapters depending on the method you choose.
If you are using your subwoofer with a computer speaker system, your speaker system may have a subwoofer output or a set of line outputs. These can be connected directly to the subwoofer.
If that’s not the case and neither is present, then you will have to get a Y-adapter or a 3.5mm to dual RCA.
These can easily be found on Amazon or other online retail stores. Keep in mind that you can also purchase a computer speaker with a subwoofer built-in if you want to.
By the way, we do have a more detailed article on how to connect a complete 5.1 surround sound system to a laptop if that’s what you are looking to do.
Method 1: Using a 3.5mm Y-splitter
A Y-splitter cable or subwoofer Y adapter cable is normally used to connect AV receivers to subwoofers as they add an additional 3db in extra headroom.
In our case, we will be using it to convert the mono output from the computer to a stereo input for the sub.
Here is how you will use it to connect your subwoofer to your computer:
- You’ll need to plug the Y-adapter into your computer’s audio output. Connect it to the green audio output.
- Then connect one leg of the Y-adapter to your computer speakers using a 3.5 mm to RCA cable (most computer speakers include this cable).
- Finally, join the other end of the Y-adapter to the subwoofer’s line inputs ( “line in” on the sub) using another 3.5-mm to RCA cable. You could also connect the stereo RCA from “line out” on the sub to “line in” on your speakers. Doing this, the sub will pass through the signal to your speakers.
- Adjust the crossover frequency on your subwoofer. Here is a guide on how to adjust your subwoofer crossover frequency.
This is a simple and hassle-free solution and probably the most logical method to hook up your subwoofer and speakers to your computer.
Method 1: Using a 3.5mm to dual RCA cable
A 3.5 mm to dual RCA cable converts a 3.5mm headphone-style input into the left/right RCA connections.
In most cases, you will need to purchase this cable as most subs only came with a single white RCA male-to-male for connecting to an amp.
Hee is how you connect the sub using the 3.5 mm cable:
Before you connect, keep in mind that there is no such thing as a 2.1 channel signal when it comes to computers. In other words, there is no separate LFE for a stereo signal. Computers only do full-range output.
However, we typically use the orange/yellow output on the motherboard for LFE output i.e the “.1” channel even though it’s not truly LFE. This is why the internal crossover within your sub should limit it to play low frequencies.
- Connect the 3.5 mm end to the yellow audio output on the computer. This output is a center/subwoofer dual output. So, when you connect the 3.5mm/RCA to this output, either the white or the red RCA will become the subwoofer out. To find out which it is, plug the white and red RCA plug in one at a time and see which one makes the sub play sound.
- You can leave the other sub input channel empty.
Method 1: USB Soundcard (For Newer Computers and Laptops)
This method is for newer computers that do not have audio outs directly on the motherboard.
In this case, you will need to use a sound card USB to 3.5mm female headphone external audio card connected to a 3.5mm to stereo audio jack. This will take sound signals from the computer and convert them into left and right speaker outputs.
Here is how you do it:
- Get a USB to 3.5mm female headphone external audio card like the UGREEN USB Audio Adapter External Stereo Sound Card with 3.5mm Headphone and Microphone Jack. Also get a dual 3.5mm streo audio jack to one 3.5 mm plug like the CERRXIAN 3.5mm Stereo to 2-RCA Male to Female Adapter. You also need two 3.5mm cables to connect to your sub like the TNP 3.5mm Mono Cable .
- Plug the 3.5mm end of the 3.5mm/2RCA adapter into the end of the USB/3.5mm cable marked headphone.
- Connect the 3.5mm cables from the 3.5mm/2RCA to the subwoofer.
- Plug the USB of the USB/3.5mm cable into the USB port of the computer.
Computer and Subwoofer Setup For Highest Sound Quality
After connecting your subwoofer the first thing you need to do is bass management. Not all computers have a bass management feature, but many do. Bass management is a software feature of your PC’s soundcard that allows you to set the crossover frequency on the PC.
The crossover frequency can be set while adjusting listening to the sub, but the standard is normally around 80 Hz. You can set it higher if you wish and then set additional crossover settings on the sub itself. You can also use the volume control in the software volume control to attenuate the signal as you desire.
Subwoofer Control Settings – Crossover and Gain
This step involves setting up the controls of your subwoofer. Basic subwoofers usually have just two knobs that you need to worry about and adjust – the volume and crossover frequency.
Subwoofers are outstanding at making music loud, but only to a certain point. Once you hit a certain level of high frequency, the music may begin to sound buzzy or garbled. The trick to fix this is to set the correct volume.
First, you’ll have to set the crossover – the crossover frequency determines the highest notes the subwoofer will produce. The idea here is to get the subwoofers to pick up where the speakers leave off. we have a detailed guide on how to set the crossover frequency on your sub.
To do this, you first need to check the lowest frequency your speakers are rated to play. You can find this information in the product manual on the manufacturer’s website. You can then set the subwoofer’s crossover frequency slightly higher than the lowest rated frequency on your speakers.
For example, if your speakers have a rated frequency response of 60 Hz to 40 kHz, in that case, you should set the subwoofer’s crossover frequency a little higher than 60 Hz.
Next, adjust the volume or ‘gain’ of the subwoofer. This is another crucial step, but it’s also the easiest. You can tweak this by playing a song and turning the subwoofer down until you can’t hear it anymore. Then, turn the gain up until you can just start to listen to the bass. And there you go!
After this, the whole process is done, and this shouldn’t take you over two minutes.
Q: I’m getting a humming sound with my subwoofer; how do I get rid of this?
A: Hum problems are common with subwoofers because of electromagnetic interference. To fix this issue, first, check the audio connection between the subwoofer and the receiver. A damaged or partially disconnected cable can produce a hum. if there is no input to the sub and there is a hum, we have a detailed guide on fixing subwoofer humming when no input is connected.
Q: What adapters do I need to connect my subwoofer to a PC?
A: You’ll likely need two adapters. If you’re going to be using the subwoofer with a computer sound system, you will have to get a Y-adapter. These can easily be found on Amazon or other online retail stores. You will also need a 3.5-mm–to–RCA cable. If you are using a more modern computer, you will need a 3.5mm/2RCA adapter, a 3.5mm female headphone external audio card, and a USB/3.5mm cable.
Connecting your subwoofer to your PC requires a few cables and some easy steps to follow. If you’re planning on using your PC with a sound system, you need to adjust the proper settings to get the best sound output.
Here’s a quick recap of what you need and how to do it:
The first one is a Y-adapter; you’ll need it to plug the subwoofer and the speaker into your computer’s audio output. These can easily be found on Amazon or other online retail stores.
The second cable is a 3.5-mm–to–RCA cable. You’ll need it to join the other portion of the Y-adapter to the subwoofer’s line inputs.
Thirdly, you can use a combination of a 3.5mm/2RCA adapter, a 3.5mm female headphone external audio card, and a USB/3.5mm cable to connect the sub to a modern desktop computer or a laptop.
This whole setup process should take you under 5 minutes to complete. We hope this helps!