How To Install Subwoofer? Top Full Guide 2022

How To Install Subwoofer? Top Full Guide 2022
  • Anthony

In this post, Hooke Audio will provide an easy-to-follow guide on how to install subwoofer. The process of installing a subwoofer can be tedious and inconvenient for those who are unsure about the best way to tackle the project. To help, we’ve created a step-by-step guide that will tell you the easiest and most professional way to install your new subwoofer. Keep reading this article to learn how to complete the install and enjoy all your music with added bass!

Subwoofer Installation

It is possible to install a subwoofer in even small cars. You have a few options for where to place the subwoofer, including behind the back seat or in your trunk. Your vehicle’s design will determine the best place. The subwoofers’ sound quality will depend on the car’s design and the fabric used inside. To get the best sound, move the subwoofer around in your car before you settle on a single location.

Types of subwoofers

There are several types of subwoofers. A car amplifier-powered subwoofer is the most popular option for car enthusiasts. The active powered subwoofer can be used in both vehicles and home theater systems. You can use active powered subwoofers with or without amplifiers.

Before you start

To help you see the bigger picture, I will explain the essential elements required for a great sound system and a successful installation.

Electric connections

  • Connect a +12V battery to a fuse
  • Solid connection to the car’s metal body
  • +12V “remote-on” lead that turns the amplifier on/off with the stereo or ignition
  • An audio signal source (radio/head unit) for the amplifier
  • The wiring from the amp to the subwoofer

Subwoofer details

The subwoofer is a speaker that produces heavy bass.

A bass enclosure to mount the subwoofer (or a pre-assembled box).

Amplification with a low pass crossover feature and sufficient power to drive your subwoofer (150W or more) is recommended

It is easy to locate a +12V connection at a vehicle’s battery and route the power wire to the location you have chosen.

However, in modern vehicles, it is sometimes harder to locate a +12V cable for the remote control that turns on the factory stereo or ignition switch (normally, the accessory position).

Because modern vehicles use more wiring that is connected to computerized signals, and not 12V, this is why. They are often lower voltages or a data signal bus, and cannot be used for this purpose.

You will save time and frustration by getting the right parts and tools the first time. Before you start, make sure to have the basics.

Planning time

It can be difficult to install a subwoofer into your car. This depends on what vehicle you have and how much work it will take. You should prepare for additional work if you are adding a subwoofer into a factory system.

For adding a subwoofer or aftermarket stereo to a system, it takes about 3-5 hours and for factory systems, about 4.5 hours.

The right tools can make all the difference! Don’t rush and don’t struggle with the wrong tools.

It doesn’t take a lot to get the best deals, but being a good shopper can help you save a lot of money.

They are usually basic tools, and relatively cheap. You’ll find great deals if you shop carefully.

How To Install Subwoofer

Step 1: Parts

Step 1: Parts

  • Subwoofer box
  • Subwoofer speaker (see the next step)
  • Amplifier (see the next step).
  • Wiring Kits (or any combination of the above)
  • For power, -10 gauge or thicker, 20-foot insulated wire
  • Ground wire, insulated wire 3 feet in length (ten-gauge or thicker)
  • 18 or 16 Gauge, 15-foot wire
  • RCA cables 15 feet long or longer (you will need two or more or one with red and white).
  • In-line fuse 50 amps and higher
  • Some speaker wire
  • 4 small wood screws
  • Wire metal coat hanger
  • Crimp connectors
  • Basic tools

Depending on the amp’s power, thicker wires will be needed for the ground and power wires. For amps with extremely powerful amplifiers, you may need a wire of 0 gauge.

Walmart also sells amplifier kits, as do other stores. These kits will tell you how much power they can handle.

Step 2: Selecting an amp and speaker

This step can be tricky. It is important to select the speaker and amp that produce the most power without blowing each other.

You want the RMS values of the amplifier and subwoofer speakers to be the same. RMS refers to the maximum power that a speaker can send without it going down. The RMS also refers to the power that an amplifier can output without heating up.

Do not focus on the peak power when looking at amplifiers and speakers. An amp or speaker can only be powered at peak power for approximately one minute before it stops working or heats up. Subwoofers should be run on their RMS rating, not the peak rating.

Keep the impedance (Ohms), the same for the excellent sound.

Let’s take, for example, the Kenwood KFC W3011. Its ratings are:

  • 400w RMS
  • 1200w Peak
  • 4 Ohm Impedance

The Rockford is a good amp for this speaker, assuming that it is the only one attached to the amp. When it is in “bridged” mode, the amp has these ratings.

  • 400w RMS
  • 4 Ohm Impedance

It is important to choose the right size speaker. Although smaller speakers, such as the 8 or 10 inch, respond faster and punch more than larger ones, they are still not as loud. The louder ones, like the 15+ inch, can be more annoying than the smaller ones with the same wattage. However, they have a slower response and sound more muffled. They also perform better at handling lower frequencies. For a basic system, 12 inches speakers make a great compromise.

You should ensure that the hole in your subwoofer box is the same size as your speaker.

Step 3: Run Wires

Step 3: Run Wires

Wiring the power source from the car battery is the first step. It is crucial to use the power source from the battery, not the fuse box. The fuse box can often be “unclean”, and your engine noise could be amplified through your speakers. You can also blow a fuse easily by using the small ones in the fuse box.

Find an opening in your car’s firewall. This is the opening under the car’s hood, closest to your windshield. The inside of your car should be on the other side of this firewall. I chose to use a hole behind my glove box that was easy to reach from the engine compartment.

The majority of the power cables should be run through the firewall. Make sure you leave enough wire for the battery.

The insulation at the end of the wire where the battery is should be removed. If the fuse is not already attached to the wire, connect the in-line fuse. The fuse should be as close as possible to the battery. Don’t connect the wire yet to the battery. You should tape the area where the fuse was connected to the wire so that you don’t have a short.

The remaining wire should be run under the car’s carpeting or through a wire channel if one exists. This wire should be connected to the trunk.

Once you have the carpeting removed, run the 16 – 18 gauge wires and the RCA cables from your trunk as close as possible to the back of your car stereo head unit. Leave a little slack on both ends.

Step 4: Connecting the Car Audio

Now you need to remove the stereo head unit. You will need to either remove the front console or use a tool that allows you to slide the stereo out using special clips.

Once you’ve taken the stereo apart, take a look at its back. You should see 2 RCA connections. The RCA cables should be run through the back console. They should then be plugged into the two connections at the back.

These connections are not available on your stereo so you will need to connect the wires to the rear speaker wires. You can also get a new stereo with RCA connections. These aren’t too expensive.

Step 5: Connect the remote

Step 5 Connect the remote

The center console will also need the 16-18 gauge wire. This wire informs the amp that your stereo is on and the amp should be.

You should see 1 or 2 of the blue wires coming from the back of your head unit. These wires are known as remote wires. These wires can be labeled with:

  • Remote
  • Rem
  • Amp
  • Amplifier
  • Power Antenna
  • Pwr. Ant.
  • Antenna
  • Or something similar.

If there are two wires, one should be labeled Amp. You can use one of the blue wires. You will need to connect the power antenna’s blue wire to the amp. Connect the 16-18 gauge wire to the appropriate blue wire. The amp will turn on when the stereo turns on.

If the car has a stock stereo and no power antenna, connect the 16-18 gauge wire to the fuse box. The fuse will turn on when accessories are turned on. It will always turn on when the car is turned on. However, it should not make any noise so it’s OK. You can add a switch to turn the amp on/off if it makes noises (e.g. from the engine).

Step 6: Place the speaker in the box

Step 6: Place the speaker in the box

This is fairly obvious, but it’s worth mentioning for those who aren’t sure:

Place the speaker in the box. Make sure that the thin, fragile gasket is attached.

Make sure the connectors that are on the box’s exterior are connected to the speaker within.

Use the holes at the outer rim to secure the speaker in the box.

Place the subwoofer in your trunk.

Step 7: Connecting the Amp

Step 7: Connecting the Amp

There are several steps to installing an amplifier.

Run the positive wire cable from the car’s battery to hide it under the carpet and trim.

To do this, remove some interior plastic trim such as rocker panel covers. These usually snap off and then snap back in place. Be careful and use a flat-head screwdriver to pry them out if needed. To hide your amp wire, pull back the carpet.

You can then locate the edge of your carpet, which is easy to pull back and wire into.

Run a wire from the car’s engine to the battery

The hardest part of the job is actually getting the wire to your battery. Don’t worry! There’s almost always a gap or hole or plug that you can remove. Or, a rubber wiring harness seal that you can push a screwdriver through.

Use a flashlight to look under the dashboard for a plastic plug.

To make a hole in the rubber seal, you can use a punch or pointed object to help. To pull the wire through, use the “coat hanger trick”.

The coat hanger trick

You can make a wire snake with a pair of pliers by straightening a coat hanger. This is a tool that pulls wires through small spaces.

Once you have done this, wrap the electrical tape around the power cable and attach it to its end.

Push it through the car interior if you don’t have an alternative. Once inside the engine compartment, pull it out by hand.

You should bend the ends so they are round and won’t break easily on any obstacles. To get the best results, wrap electrical tape around the wire to smoothen any sharp edges.

Run the power wire from the back to the car

It may be easier to take out the back seat and locate a space that allows you to run the wire to your back. It is best to try and locate a space where I can stick my fingers or hand into the side of the rear seats (as the base for the top half of the rear seat), to see if there is one.

If not, I’ll use the coat hanger trick which almost always works.

Connect the positive conductor to the fuse holder.

It is easy. This is very simple. Connect the crimping terminal to the positive wire and crimp with vice grip pliers or other strong pliers.

The fuse holder should be placed near the battery at a distance of approximately. Place the fuse holder near the battery with approximately 12” of wire length. This is a general rule to ensure that there’s not too much wire in a short circuit without fuse protection.

It’s not possible! It takes very little for an unprotected, pinched wire to melt the insulation.

Crimp ring terminals such as those shown in the left photograph are highly recommended. And not the ones in the right image (lug terminals).

This is because lug terminals can be more difficult to crimp and may require soldering to ensure the best connection. These 5/16″ ring terminals, like the one on the left, are great and easy to use. They also come in a quality amplifier wiring kit. They are also very affordable.

Don’t worry if the rubber sleeves don’t fit over your wire. You can always remove them if you need to.

Avoid using lug terminals such as those shown here. They are sold in amp kits, but they can also be found in parts shops. They are very difficult to use and require special high-force crimping tools or high heat soldering tools.

They could prevent you from having your amplifier wiring installed. I would hate for that to happen.

Securely connect the positive cable to the battery.

To attach a battery clamp bolt, stud, or bolt to the ring terminal, use it. If necessary, remove corrosion with sandpaper or wire brush.

Connect the ground wire of the amplifier to the bare metal close to the place where the amplifier or subwoofer will be installed.

Attach the crimp terminal to the car’s body (bare metal) using a bolt or factory screw. Another alternative is to use an electric drill and self-tapping screws to drill into the metal. Then, fasten the ring terminal to the car body with a bolt or factory screw.

Connect the remote-on cable to the aftermarket car stereo or signal source

A remote lead output wire (blue, blue, and white) should be available if the stereo is an aftermarket product. This wire is included in your kit.

It will be slightly more difficult if an aftermarket car stereo has not been installed. There are a few options for you in this situation:

The remote wire should be connected to a +12V cable that is switched on with either the ignition switch or the accessory position. This is the first choice.

A specialized adapter that senses music can be connected to a power supply and used to provide remote lead signals

Except in extremely difficult situations, the 2nd option should not be used.

You will almost always find a +12V switch wire in your vehicle. Although it may take some time to locate one, using a good multimeter you can locate one and then connect similar to the speaker wiring connections shown below.

Connect the RCA cables – connect speaker wiring if RCA jacks don’t exist

If your car stereo is an aftermarket or non-factory model, remove it and access the rear wiring. If you have RCA jacks, connect to them in the order listed below.

  • Subwoofer output jacks (often marked SUB or SUBW)
  • Use the REAR Jacks if you have at least 4 available.
  • If there are only two, that’s okay.
  • The white jack marks the left channel, while red indicates the right channel.
  • If you have a factory system, connect to the speaker level inputs

You will need to tap the speaker wiring to obtain an audio signal source if there are no RCA jacks or a factory stereo. This can be done while you connect the remote wire to the stereo. You may also have rear speakers, which can be a good option. Speakers in a trunk might have easy access to the speaker wiring.

You need to find wiring information for your vehicle and check at sites like

There are many options for black fabric. I’ve used velvet-like or felt-like materials in custom installations.

All wiring should be connected to the amp/subwoofer

This is the easy part! You’re now in the “home stretch”, which is where you will be most productive. If everything goes according to plan, you will soon have amazing sound.

Turn off the power and remove the fuse from the power wire. Connect the power, ground, and remote wires to the matching terminals. The positive and negative terminals will usually be larger than the rest.

You want a tight, secure connection.

Step 8: Turn on the audio system, and then check for any problems

Turn on your stereo and the ignition by installing the power fuse. The amplifier power light should be on and you should hear the sound. For problems, you can check these items.

Quick Tip

For troubleshooting amplifier issues, use a test meter whenever possible. The test lights won’t provide enough information. Although amplifiers may have a strong ground and a +12V battery connection, they won’t turn off if the remote leads are lower than a certain voltage. It’s crucial to understand what’s happening.

If your sound and power are not coming from you, this could be due to

The poor ground wire for cars (measure continuity between amp negative terminals and metal parts of the car).

Bad fuse or problem with the fuse holder

Remote wire voltage is too low, or +12V is not being supplied at all

There are very few reasons an amp won’t turn on or produce sound.

Adjust the gain and bass settings

Sound adjustments on both the stereo and the amplifier can cause problems. One can have an effect on the sound of your subwoofer, while the other can adjust the sound.

The following is what I recommend:

You can turn off the bass boost and equalizer (EQ), or adjust to mid-level, zero, or none.

Turn the amp to minimum volume or turn off the bass boost controls

Limit the amp gain to a minimum

You should play the music that you are familiar with. Next, adjust the gain with a small screwdriver/bit that fits to get bass performance at the level you like.

Keep in mind that when an SUV hatch is closed, the sound will change slightly, as opposed to when the trunk and/or door are closed.

If your stereo doesn’t have enough bass, or your system is still not sounding right, you can try the bass boost feature on your amp.

The bass boost is a way to increase bass response, usually around 50Hz. These can be used to add some bass extension and “thump” to your stereo system.

How to Install a Powered Subwoofer in a Factory Stereo

Step 1: Unplug Your Battery

It is important to disconnect the negative terminal from the battery before you start any electrical operation. This will protect yourself and your equipment.

Step 2: Connect The Power Wires Together

The firewall that separates the engine compartment and the rest of the cabin should be used to conduct power from the subwoofer’s batteries.

Step 3: Connect The Signal and Power Cords

Next, run the signal and power lines. A line output converter is required because many OEM stereos lack preamp outputs.

Step 4: Attach The Ground Wire

To attach the ground wire to a car chassis, a bolt is required. The ground wire termination must be in contact with the bare metal.

Step 05: Make Wiring Connections

Your vehicle’s negative battery terminal should be reconnected. Before you test your subwoofer powered by an amp, ensure that the built in amp’s gains are turned down.

These steps will help you to understand how to connect a subwoofer to your factory radio.

Note: For factory-installed premium audio systems such as JBL, Bose, and Harmon Kardon, it can be challenging.

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