How To Connect A Powered Subwoofer To Passive Speakers? Top Full Guide 2023

How To Connect A Powered Subwoofer To Passive Speakers Top Full Guide 2023

A powered subwoofer is a terrific way to add bass to your passive speaker setup. However, figuring out how to connect can be intimidating, especially if you’re new to audio equipment.

Hookeaudio will show you how to connect a powered subwoofer to passive speakers so you can get the most out of your sound system.

We’ll cover various methods, including using RCA, XLR, and LFE cables, as well as some tips and safety precautions to keep in mind during the setup process.

What are Powered Subwoofers?

What are Powered Subwoofers

Powered subwoofers are speaker systems with an amplifier and a low-frequency driver, usually below 100 Hz. These subwoofers boost bass in home theaters and music systems.

Powered subwoofers have woofer drivers, big speaker cones that produce low-frequency sounds.

The driver’s built-in amplifier powers high-quality bass sounds.

Customers can tailor powered subwoofers with volume, crossover frequency, and phase settings.

With a bookshelf, tower, or satellite speakers, powered subwoofers complete a sound system.

The subwoofer handles low-frequency sounds while the other speakers mid-range and high-frequency sounds. This approach can provide a more balanced and immersive listening experience for music and movies.

How To Connect A Powered Subwoofer To Passive Speakers?


USING STEREO RCA To Connect A Powered Subwoofer To Passive Speakers

Follow these steps to connect a powered subwoofer to passive speakers using stereo RCA cables:

  • Step 1: Check Compatibility – Before connecting the subwoofer, make sure its output impedance matches the passive speakers’. You can find the impedance of your speakers and subwoofer on the product’s specifications sheet.
  • Step 2: Connect the RCA Cables – Plug the left and right “Line Out” or “Audio Out” jacks on your amplifier or receiver with two RCA cables.
  • Step 3: Connect RCA Cables to Subwoofer – Plug the other end of each RCA cable into the “Line In” or “Audio In” jacks on the powered subwoofer.
  • Step 4: Connect Passive Speakers to Subwoofer – Use speaker wire to connect passive speakers to the subwoofer. The subwoofer’s speaker terminals are usually labeled “Speaker Out” or “Satellite Out.” The speakers’ positive (+) and negative (-) terminals should be connected to the subwoofer’s.
  • Step 5: Adjust the Crossover Settings – Match the subwoofer’s crossover frequency to your speakers’. This ensures that the subwoofer only plays frequencies that your speakers cannot produce.
  • Step 6: Adjust the Volume and Phase Settings – This helps to achieve a balanced sound between the subwoofer and the speakers.
  • Step 7: Test the System – Play some music or a movie and test the system to ensure that everything is working correctly. Adjust the volume, phase, and crossover settings if necessary to achieve the desired sound.
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Using XLR cables

Using XLR cables to connect a powered subwoofer to passive speakers

Using XLR cables to connect a powered subwoofer passive speakers offers superior audio quality compared to other cable options. XLR cables transmit a balanced audio signal, which reduces noise and interference and results in a cleaner, clearer sound.

Connect a powered subwoofer to passive speakers using XLR cables to the amplifier or receiver’s line output or audio output connector.

Connect the passive speakers to the subwoofer using a speaker wire. Adjust the subwoofer’s crossover and volume to enhance sound quality and balance with passive speakers.

It’s important to ensure that all equipment supports XLR ins/outs before purchasing XLR cables.

Overall, using XLR cables to connect a powered subwoofer to passive speakers is an excellent way to get high-quality music.


The LFE (Low-Frequency Effects) speaker output is a dedicated output on most home theater receivers. They are made to send a signal with low frequencies to a powerful subwoofer.

An RCA cable connects a powered subwoofer to the LFE output on your receiver or amplifier to connect passive speakers.

Next, connect the passive speakers to the speaker terminals on the receiver or amplifier using a speaker wire.

The LFE output of the receiver or amplifier filters out low-frequency audio and sends it to the subwoofer. The passive speakers will get higher-frequency music.

Make use of the subwoofer’s volume, crossover, and phase controls to fine-tune the sub’s interaction with the passive speakers.

passive subwoofer wiring diagram

Tips and Safety Precautions When Setting Up a Sound System

Tips and Safety Precautions When Setting Up a Sound System

Speaker Wires and Cables Quality

Speaker wires and cables are an important part of setting up a sound system. These wires and cables can greatly affect your system’s sound quality.

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High-quality cables eliminate noise, distortion, and signal loss.

Speaker wires and cables should be chosen based on length, gauge, and kind.

Thicker wires with a lower gauge are typically better for longer cable runs and higher power applications. While thinner wires are better for shorter runs and lower power applications.

Additionally, consider the type of cable, such as copper or silver, and the insulation material used. Good quality insulation can help reduce interference and ensure a cleaner signal.

Overall, buying high-quality speaker wires and cords can make a big difference in how good your system sounds.

Electrical Risks

When setting up a sound system, there are several electrical risks to be aware of:

  • Electrical shock: Unsafely connecting wires or equipment while the system is on can cause electrical shock.
  • Electrical fires: Overloading the system or using improper wiring can lead to electrical fires.
  • Equipment damage: Incorrect voltage or improper grounding can damage or fail equipment.
  • Short circuits: Unconnected or insulated wires can cause short circuits and system damage.
  • Power surges: Power surges can damage the equipment, resulting in costly repairs or replacements.

To reduce these risks, equipment must be grounded, voltage is correct, and connections are secure and insulated.

Read and follow the user manual when setting up and using your sound system.

Power surges can damage equipment, so use surge protectors and inspect the wiring and connections regularly.

Difference Between Active vs Passive Subwoofer

Difference Between Active vs Passive Subwoofer

The main difference between active and passive subwoofers is power. An active subwoofer has its own amplifier, while a passive one needs an external amplifier.

Since they don’t need an amplifier, active sub woofers are easier to set up and can work well in small spaces. They are also often more compact and can provide more accurate and powerful bass.

Passive subwoofers need an amplifier to operate. They take more space and setup time, but they may be connected with a variety of amplifiers for customisation.

Additionally, they can be a good option for larger spaces or for those who already have a separate amplifier.

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The choice between an active or passive subwoofer depends on personal preference, space, and sound quality.


FAQs about how to connect a subwoofer to speakers

How to hook up a powered subwoofer?

RCA, XLR, or LFE cables are used to connect powered subwoofers to receivers and amplifiers. Connect the subwoofer’s input to the receiver’s subwoofer output and adjust both devices’ settings for proper sound output.

To avoid electrical hazards, install the subwoofer in an ideal area and secure all cords.

How to power passive speakers without an amp?

Passive speakers require an amplifier to provide power and amplify the audio signal. It is not possible to power passive speakers without an amplifier.

If you don’t have an amplifier, you can buy one or use powered speakers, which have built-in amplifiers and can be linked to an audio source.

How do you combine active and passive speakers?

Combining active and passive speakers requires a few steps. First, connect the audio source to the mixer or amplifier. Then, connect the output of the mixer or amplifier to the input of the active speaker.

Finally, connect the output of the active speaker to the input of the passive speaker. Make sure to adjust the levels on the mixer or amplifier to balance the sound output between the two speakers. Additionally, ensure that all cables are securely connected to avoid electrical risks.

Does a powered subwoofer need an amplifier?

Powered subwoofers don’t need external amplifiers because they have their own. The powered subwoofer’s amplifier is tailored to its sound quality and performance.

If you connect the powered subwoofer to a larger sound system, you may need to alter the amplifier settings for optimal sound output.

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A powered subwoofer can be connected to passive speakers with the correct cables and a little know-how. To improve sound dispersal, make sure all connections are securely connected and the subwoofer is correctly located.

Considering speaker wire and cable quality and electrical hazards can also improve audio quality.

This article explains how to connect a subwoofer to speakers to upgrade your sound system.

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