If you’re looking for the best sound possible, then wiring a subwoofer to a receiver can greatly improve your listening experience. Without a receiver and a subwoofer, the highs and lows of the music will be missing. Connecting your subwoofer to your receiver will provide deeper bass and crisper high notes, giving you a more enriching and realistic sound quality.
In this blog post, Hooke Audio will answer the question of how to connect subwoofer to receiver.
- 1 What is a Subwoofer?
- 2 Subwoofers For Home Stereo
- 3 How Subwoofers Produce Bass
- 4 What is a low-level subwoofer connection?
- 5 What is a high-level subwoofer connection?
- 6 How To Connect Subwoofer To Receiver
- 7 Why Do You Need A Subwoofer?
- 8 Stereo vs surround sound receiver output differences
What is a Subwoofer?
A subwoofer simply means a speaker that produces bass and lower frequencies sounds. It reproduces LFE (lower frequency effect) and provides the necessary bass effect for movies and music. One of the most essential components of a home theatre is its subwoofers.
Subwoofers For Home Stereo
There are two types of home stereo subs: one powered (“active”), and one non-powered (“passive”)
Powered subwoofers work with a low-signal signal that is amplified by the speaker amplifier, power supply, and crossover. These subwoofers are the most popular and can be connected to receivers using an RCA input jack.
Passive subwoofers (non-powered), are simply subwoofer speakers that are placed inside the bass enclosure. They can be wired directly to the speaker terminals, or a passive crossover. These subs are rarer.
How Subwoofers Produce Bass
Subwoofers work by being placed inside an enclosure that is designed for them. They produce deep bass when listening to music with low-end sounds.
A low-pass crossover allows only bass frequencies to pass and be produced in order to produce a clear-sounding bass response. It is difficult to connect a subwoofer with a signal that doesn’t have a crossover.
A receiver’s subwoofer output jack is usually limited to passing bass, whether it comes from stereo music production or the “.1” subwoofer channel (dedicated Subwoofer content) of a surround-sound system.
When you see references to the “5.1” and “2.1” speaker system or surround sound audio system for movies (or surround sound), the first number is the number of main speakers. The “.1”, which is used to denote a sound channel that only allows for subwoofer or bass use, is used.
What is a low-level subwoofer connection?
SVS uses the term “line level” instead of “low-level”. It is the same thing.
A low-level subwoofer input is most commonly used when an AV receiver is being used for surround sound audio.
Most AV receivers have a subwoofer pre-out at the back. This subwoofer will be labeled as either a sub (or LFE).
Two types of low-frequency sound will be sent by the AV receiver to your subwoofer.
1. The LFE track in surround sound movies. LFE is for low-frequency effects. Multi-channel soundtracks are typically 5.1. They may be 7.1 at times. A special LFE track containing low-frequency special effects is called ‘.1″.
When the soundtrack is mixed, there’s a channel of audio that is reserved for low-end sounds and rumbles. This is the LFE track. This channel is typically sent to the subwoofer, which is a speaker that is specifically designed to play low-end sounds. If you don’t have a subwoofer, full-range speakers will reproduce the LFE track.
2. Bass management is another feature of AV receivers. You can set an AV receiver to send low frequencies to the subwoofer from any other surround speaker in the room. Why? To improve the sound quality of surround speakers, send low-end frequencies to a speaker specifically designed for low bass. By setting a crossover frequency, bass management can be done for each surround speaker.
This will filter any frequencies below the crossover frequency from the main speaker to the subwoofer via the low-level output. You can have a different crossover frequency for each speaker or one. Although you don’t need to enable bass management on your AV receivers, most people do.
You don’t need to limit your surround sound movie listening. Many people love listening to music through their stereo speakers and subwoofer.
This is a 2.1 speaker system.
These rules still apply. Although there is no LFE channel for music, the bass management of the AV receiver will transmit some low-end frequencies to the subwoofer.
For example, the kick drum or low bass guitar notes.
Some people love stereo music that uses the subwoofer driver to fill in the low-end. I love it.
Some people don’t like the sound and prefer to hear the natural sound balance provided by their stereo speakers.
The low-level subwoofer connection can be used for more than just an AV receiver.
You can use the subwoofer’s low-level inputs if you have a stereo amplifier that has left and right pre-out connections or a dedicated sub-out.
- An AV receiver is used with a pre-out subwoofer
- A stereo amplifier is used with a pre-out subwoofer
- Stereo amplifiers with stereo pre-outs are being used
What is a high-level subwoofer connection?
This is the high-level connection at the rear of a Subwoofer.
It is often speaker wire terminals, similar to the connections at the back of an amp.
A Neutrik Speakon connection is another popular high-level type of connection. This is how it looks:
A high-level subwoofer input connector has the advantage that both the speakers and the subwoofer receive the exact same audio signal.
There are no phase issues between the low and mid frequencies. The sound signature of an amplifier will still be heard in both signals.
You would typically use the high-level connection for connecting a subwoofer or amplifier without a dedicated subwoofer output.
This would normally be a stereo amplifier, although older home theater receivers may not have subwoofer outputs.
Some stereo receivers have a subwoofer output, but many don’t.
If you have a stereo amp and speakers to listen to music or movies and would like a system with a subwoofer and a 2.1 system, you can connect the sub to the high-level connector to filter out low frequencies.
There’s another option.
Even if your AV receiver has bass management and sub outputs, you may want to use the low-level connection to watch movies and the high-level connection to listen to music.
A high-level subwoofer connection may be preferred by some people as it can produce a more natural sound. Instead of using digital filtering on the receiver to send low frequencies to sub, If:
Stereo amplifiers are used without subwoofers or pre-outs.
An AV receiver or stereo amplifier is used. However, you prefer the sound of music through the high-level connection.
It doesn’t have to be just music you hear when you use the high-level inputs on your AV receiver.
You can also watch movies. The only problem is that the high-level connection doesn’t offer any bass management or LFE channels.
You should not use a REL subwoofer. REL Acoustics recommends that you use a high-level connection for movie audio and their LFE low-level input.
There are many ways to groom a cat, as they say (not that I have tried it – you cat lovers out here). You decide which one you like.
How To Connect Subwoofer To Receiver
Connect Using The LFE Subwoofer Output
A subwoofer can be connected using the output of a receiver with an LFE (Low-Frequency Effects) cable. This is the preferred method. This type of output is found in almost all home theatre receivers and processors, as well as some stereo receivers.
LFE is a subwoofer-specific output. It may be labeled SUBWOOFER or LFE.
5.1 channel audio is media such as media on DVDs or cable TV. It has a dedicated channel output that contains bass-only content and can be reproduced best by a subwoofer. This is done by connecting the LFE (the subwoofer output jack) on the receiver/amplifier and the LINE IN (or LFE IN) jack on a subwoofer. It is usually one cable with RCA connectors at both ends.
Stereo RCA (Speaker-Level Outputs)
This connection type is useful if your subwoofer doesn’t have LFE input or the receiver doesn’t have LFE output. Stereo RCA connectors are required for subwoofers. If that is the case and your receiver also uses stereo RCA connectors, then you will need to connect an RCA cable between both devices.
RCA cables usually have left and right ports. You must match these on the receiver and subwoofer. For this purpose, you can also use subwoofer-Y connectors.
A line-level converter is a good option for subwoofers that have only one or more RCA inputs (no speakers level inputs), as it allows you to connect them to a receiver without subwoofer output.
What does a line-level converter do?
Line level converters can be small devices that accept speaker wire connections. They then scale down the speaker signal to a low-level signal (RCA Jack) that the subwoofer can receive. These are very useful in-car stereo because they allow you to connect a stereo to an amplifier without RCA outputs.
Although they aren’t used as often for home stereos, they can still be very useful.
What is the cost of line-level converters?
Line level converters are priced between $15 and $25 for a good one. They are connected to the speaker leads on a radio receiver or amplifier. The RCA cables can then be connected to the provided jacks. The internal electronics reduce the output voltage of a receiver’s speaker and help to prevent noise from the audio path.
You may need an RCA Y adapter if you have a subwoofer that has only one RCA input jack. This will allow you to combine the receiver channels on each side of the output into one.
Subwoofers that have 2 (stereo-RCA jack) inputs will require a standard male/male RCA cable.
This means that if you have 2 sets of spring clips (speaker out and speaker in) on your sub, this means that speakers can be connected to it, which connects to a receiver to transmit the audio signal.
To connect using RCA connectors:
- Connect the RCA cable to your subwoofer and select L or R port.
- If the cable splits at one end (i.e. it’s a “y”-cable for either your L or R ports on your sub), you will need to plug them both in.
- You should plug in both the left and right RCA plugs on your receiver for sub-out.
Wireless subwoofers have been increasingly used in recent years, making wireless connections extremely important.
Two major subwoofer wireless connection types exist:
Many wireless subs have built-in wireless receivers. These receivers can be connected to your home theater receiver’s subwoofer line output. You don’t need any additional tools to connect these subs to your home theater receiver.
A wireless transmitter can be connected to any home theatre receiver as well as a powered subwoofer that has a line output. This is for subwoofers that do not have wireless receivers.
Using A Y Splitter Cable
A splitter Y adapter cable can be used to connect your subwoofer and receiver. The cable connects from the sub on the receiver to the R and L inputs of subwoofers. This is usually done to increase the decibel level of subs, improve the bass sound quality (for subwoofers), and reduce hum.
Why Do You Need A Subwoofer?
Better Movie Experience
Many people are confused about why they need a subwoofer when they already have speakers. The majority of speakers in a home theater system can’t reproduce all sound frequencies that they hear.
Without a subwoofer, you won’t get the best sound experience as certain sounds such as the lower frequencies don’t exist.
A subwoofer can enhance your movie experience by combining the low-frequency sound with the surround sound to create a 3D sound effect.
Music Sounds better
A subwoofer will give your music the bass it needs to make you enjoy your music more. You can hear the lyrics and the underlying vocals with the low-frequency feature.
Your subwoofer will provide a complete concert experience in your home theater.
Better Gaming Experience
A subwoofer is a great addition to gamers who love playing adventure and sports games.
The game’s soundtrack and in-game sounds are enhanced by the 3D sound effect. You will have a great time playing Call of Duty and God of War games with a quality subwoofer.
You may have subwoofer inputs and controls.
Although powered subwoofers are usually equipped with multiple inputs and controls it all depends on the model and brand. Here is an example of what you will usually find:
- Power input (AC outlet)
- On/off switch
- RCA input jack, or a pair of jacks
- Subwoofer crossover adjustment
- Subwoofer level adjustment know (the amplifier’s boost level)
The subwoofer input Jack usually connects to one mono (monaural), which means that both stereo channels are combined into a single output jack on a receiver.
Some models include speaker-level inputs so they can be used with the modern and old home stereo receiver without the need for a subwoofer.
Although it’s nice to have this feature, you would need to purchase a subwoofer with the same features and spend more money.
You might find information on the internet that says you must buy another subwoofer if your receiver doesn’t have an output jack. This is simply false.
There are many ways around this problem, as I explained at the beginning.
Stereo vs surround sound receiver output differences
It is important to remember that a subwoofer cannot be connected to a receiver without subwoofer output.
It may not be an issue. The surround sound receiver LFE (low-frequency output) is optional, hence the “.1”. The downside is that the bass channel can sometimes be quite enjoyable for certain movies, particularly action.
You won’t be able to get the same effect if you use a receiver that doesn’t have that output. However, this is only true for surround sound mode. The good news is that in Stereo mode, both old and new receivers have very similar subwoofer behavior when connected.