Can I Connect A Passive Subwoofer To A Receiver?

Norvan Martin
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Wiring a powered subwoofer to a receiver is quite easy. However, what if you have a passive subwoofer? Can you connect a passive subwoofer to a receiver? Well yes, you can, but you need to be careful. In this article, we will show you how to do it and what to look out for. 

Yes, you can connect a passive subwoofer to a receiver by using speaker wire connectors. However, you need to be careful by keeping the subwoofer’s power demands low. The better option is to use an external amplifier between the receiver and the passive subwoofer to supply more power.

Read more to learn about how to complete this connection.

How To Connect A Passive Subwoofer To A Receiver

You will be able to connect a passive subwoofer to a receiver using the speaker connector option we have discussed above. The option you choose will however depend on the type of setup that you intend to achieve. 

Can I Connect A Passive Subwoofer To A Receiver using amplifier

Also, the type of amplifier in your store will affect the form of connection to use. For instance, if you have an AV receiver that is specifically built for an active subwoofer, it will not be recommended that you directly wire the passive sub to it. In that case, you will need to follow the steps below to wire the sub:

  • Connect the subwoofer to an external amp through the pre-out slot (we still recommend doing this instead of connecting the passive sub directly to the receiver)
  • Connect the receiver to the input slot of the amp

Alternatively, connect the passive subwoofer exactly on the slots where you would wire speakers on the receiver. Once you have done that, open the setup menu on the receiver and select large front speakers. 

Which Method Is Better?

Of the two methods, it is recommended that an external amplifier be used when connecting passive speakers to a receiver. This way, you turn the subwoofer into a powered sub and it gets enough power to reproduce the bass. 

Follow the steps below to successfully wire the subwoofer to the receiver. 

Step 1: Check The Subwoofer

Inspect the kind of passive subwoofer you have before attempting the connection. Check whether it has a dual or single voice call woofer system.

Double voice call woofers have multiple wiring options as opposed to single voice call ones. Read the manufacturer’s manual and take into consideration all the manufacturers’ recommendations. 

Step 2: Confirm That You Have The Right RCA Cables

The most commonly used connectivity cables between receivers and subwoofers are RCA. This connection depends on the type of subwoofer available – whether a mono or stereo transmitter.

If the subwoofer is a monotype, only one RCA cable will be used. However, if you are using a stereo sub, you will require two RCA cables. Confirm that the color of the cables matches the ports on the subwoofer where the connection should be done. 

Step 3: Connect The Amplifier 

since passive subwoofers are built to work with any amplifier, you are free to experiment with any amp in your store. However, before attempting any connection on the amplifier:

Step 4: Connect The Amplifier To The Speakers

Once the amp is wired to the subwoofer, it is time to connect the speakers. Check the rear side of the amp for output jacks labeled “Front” or “Main.” Use the outputs to connect the speakers to the amp. 

When wiring the speakers, ensure that the right speaker and the left speaker are connected appropriately.

If your speakers are not labeled as left or right, check if the polarities are mentioned. In that case, the negative terminal of the speaker should be connected to the negative terminal of the amp, while the positive terminal of the speaker should be connected to the positive terminal of the amp.

Step 5: Switch On The System And Fine-Tune The Sound

Once you have completed the connection and the subwoofer and speakers are properly wired to the receiver, switch on the mains power supply and the receiver. Make sure the volume is not too high. Use the bass management on the receiver to control the sound performance. 


Where Do I Connect My Subwoofer To The Receiver?

Receivers are made with many switches, ports, and toggles. It may therefore mean that some wiring is required to complete the connection. There are many ways to connect a subwoofer to a receiver or amplifier, though.

However, you do not need to worry as you will only need pre-out and speaker connectors in most cases. 

The Pre-Out

This section of the receiver is for wiring speakers with built-in amps, in other words, active speakers and subs. Therefore, if you have an active subwoofer, this is the section on the receiver where you get the ports to connect the sub. 

If you prefer to use a standalone amplifier or to utilize more speakers, the pre-out section comes in handy. Besides, some receivers are designed with ports that are labeled as ‘subwoofer’. 

Check out this article to learn more about pre-out.

Speaker Connectors

As we already mentioned, if you have powered speakers, you will need to connect them to the pre-out section of the receiver. However, because you have a passive subwoofer, you will have it wired to one of the speaker connectors. You then connect the speaker wire to the speaker line in the subwoofer.

However, you need to be very careful and ensure that your sub is not pulling too much power beyond what the receiver can supply.

av receiver speaker connections

Below, you can see the speaker in ports on the sub:

passive subwoofer speaker in

You can check out this article to learn more about speaker connection types and this one to learn about subwoofer connection types.

Zone 2 Connectors

A quick and easy way to connect passive speakers to your AV receiver is to use the zone 2 ports on the receiver. 

av receiver zone 2 connect to passive subwoofer

Here is the typical setup:

  1. Loopback the sub’s PreOut to phono (analog line) in.
  2. Activate the Zone 2 port
  3. Enter the AVR’s setting and configure the receiver to play the phono input. This would now become the sub via Zone 2.
  4. Set the Zone 2 midrange (and up) frequency attenuated down. This way, you will be using the AVR itself as a crossover.

However, this may not always work. In most receivers, zone 2 does not have a cross-over. Instead, it supplies a full-range signal.

If you try to try to set a cross-over in the receiver for zone 2, that may not work so well either but you can try. However, some receivers have power in zone 1 for subs.

Receiver Sub out

The sub-out port is popular on some older receivers. This port can power your passive subwoofer. 

receiver subout to connect passive subwoofer

You can then use the receiver’s cutoff to control the frequencies sent to the subwoofer.


What Are Passive Subwoofers?

Subwoofers are speaker systems that are used to reproduce lower-frequency sound signals. Passive subwoofers are built without amplifiers. As a result, they work much like old loudspeaker units. They, therefore, require to be connected to external amplifiers to get powered.

Compared to their active subwoofer counterparts, passive subwoofers are more lightweight since they have fewer components. Besides, they are much easier to maintain. 

Are Passive Subwoofers Better Than Powered Subwoofers?

Well, you may have asked this question once or twice. The truth is, that the actual performance of a subwoofer is not determined by whether it is powered or passive.passive and powered subs

However, one may argue that powered subs are better because they come with in-built amplifiers and are not likely to suffer amplifier limitations. 

The difference is, therefore, particularly in line with the components. For instance, since passive subwoofers do not have internal amplifiers, you will have to stretch your budget a bit for the same size sub. This makes them a little bit more expensive. 

Is Connecting A Passive Subwoofer To A Receiver Dangerous?

Because passive subwoofers require a lot of power to reproduce the bass, the receiver may not deliver the required power for optimal functionality. Therefore, if you connect it directly to the receiver, it may not work optimally. You might blow the receiver if your subwoofer’s impedance is low and you’re not careful. 

How Do You Connect a Passive Subwoofer to An Older Amplifier/Receiver?

A passive sub with speaker-level inputs is easy to connect to an old receiver or amp. Use your speaker wire to connect the device to your speaker outputs on the source unit. After that, match the inputs on the sub.  You can choose to power your speakers from the receiver or amp at the same time.

Can You Connect A Wireless Subwoofer To A Receiver?

Wired subwoofers work almost the same as wired subs. The method of transmitting audio signals is the main difference. You don’t need to worry about the connection cables in this case. You need to connect a transmitter to the amp and then connect the receiver to the subwoofer. For more information, check out our guide on connecting a speaker or subwoofer to a receiver


So, can I connect a passive subwoofer to a receiver? Yes, you can do this through the speaker connectors. It is however recommended that an amplifier be connected across the devices to power the sub. 

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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