The best way to connect a subwoofer

February 12, 2018
 by Paul McGowan

13 comments on “The best way to connect a subwoofer”

  1. One downside to using high level outputs to the sub and line level to your left/right speakers is no high pass filter to the main speakers. I wonder if some systems would benefit more from the reduced low frequency “work” placed on the main amp and speakers than the benefit of the matched amplifier output to sub and main speakers. If space and funds permit another option is a high quality out board crossover. I have had good results with the JL Audio CR-1 crossover in my main system.

  2. So the sub should be wired in parallel to the power amp outputs? What cables should one use ? Since really only a low voltage is being read by sub it seems some large cables are not required. In addition an active subs amp's sonic signature would be overlaid upon the main power amps would it not?

  3. If every amp has it's own signature sound, wouldn't the subs built in amp have it's own signature sound? Would it really make that much of a difference to feed the sub with the speaker outputs of the amp instead of a line level from the pre-amp? Also, considering that most sub amps are Class D , the signal is going to be converted to PWM (I've been paying attention!) and then processed to "round the square waves", it seems like any subtle sound signatures of the amp are sure to be lost.

      1. The ear test. Sounds good to me. (pun intended.) I'm assuming your dislike of separate active crossover / amp / passive sub speaker is that when it comes to low frequencies, it's best to have an integrated system that is designed to work together. EQ bumps or dips in the frequency response built into a crossover that are specific to the driver, enclosure and amp?

        1. Yes, but let's go deeper. It's not that I don't like electronic crossovers, it's just that I don't like them as an afterthought. If the designer uses them designing the speaker in the first place then they are actually better.

          1. You’re referring to something like the old JBL BX63a crossover that was designed specifically for their B460 passive sub and not a stand alone unit like a DBX or Rane active crossover?

  4. My own system is Anthem AVN -60 which is a surround sound processor my subwoofer do not have high level imput So I guest my option is to use a y connecter from front l and r out to the subwoofer then I guest another y splitter for it go to r/l stereo input of the subwoofer as when i use XLR input the the rca is disabled . Correct me if wrong

  5. Hi Paul,

    I'm not a guy with a huge system or anything and I'm getting along well with the Pioneer VSX3600 amplifier I got 27 years ago. I'm running a nice pair of Phase Tech Euro 530s and I'm pretty happy with them. That said, I'd be interested in adding a subwoofer to the mix. Looking at you video and also one of your written posts, I'm not sure how I would go abou that when I look at the back of the integrated amplifier. It has A speaker outputs and it has B speaker outputs. Should I hook the sub up to the B speaker outputs and just run a passive sub (or an active sub with High Level inputs)?

    For that matter, if I were to step up into a preamp and a nice 2 channel audiophile amplifier, how would I hook up the sub for that? I understand that the speakers will hook up the the left and right outputs respectively. How do I get signal to a sub? Do I just go from the preamp OR is there a way to meet your recommendation for getting the amplifier's sound signature from the 2-channel amp?

    This is most likely beyond elementary for you guys on this site, but I really want to know. Thanks for your time and I appreciate your incredibly informative site!!!! It has my blood pumping all over again.

    1. Great! We're delighted you've gotten the bug again. The best way to connect the sub is to get a subwoofer with a high level input and then run a set of speaker cables from the output of your receiver or power amplifier to those inputs. Subs today are generally powered so no need to get a passive one and I'd recommend against that.

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