How to wire subwoofers? (Includes Subwoofer wiring diagram)

Subwoofer wiring may seem daunting, but with the right information and tools, wiring them can be rewarding.

Let’s explore the basics!

Subs specialize in low-frequency sounds, adding depth and impact to your audio system.

When it comes to wiring a sub, there are a few things to look at.

Determine the type of subwoofer you have

There are two main options here, i.e., you will either use a passive subwoofer or a powered (active) one.

Passive subwoofers need an external amplifier or receiver, while powered subwoofers have built-in amplifiers and only need a line-level input.

I have already explained the key differences between an active and a passive sub in detail over here.

Understanding subwoofers

To understand subwoofers, you need to look at three important components: speaker size, amplification, and enclosure, these all affect the sound quality.

Other things like room acoustics, placement, and crossover settings also matter.

Consider the power requirements

Look at the subwoofer’s RMS (root mean square) wattage and peak power handling capabilities.

Match these ratings with your amplifier or receiver’s capabilities to set up properly and get optimal performance.

Decide where to place your subwoofer

Near a wall or corner can enhance bass response, but avoid blocking vents and other speakers.

If the subwoofer in question is a car subwoofer, we will see how to install that too later below.

Also Read: 2 ohm vs 4 ohm subwoofers: Ohm difference explained

When it comes to wiring the subwoofer, follow these suggestions for optimal results

  • Use good-quality cables: Invest in cables designed for audio applications that provide good conductivity and minimize signal loss.
  • Check polarity: Connect all positive terminals to positive terminals and vice versa. This helps maintain phase coherence and prevents sound cancellation.
  • Consider bi-wiring/bi-amping: If your subwoofer has dual voice coils, connect each coil to a separate channel of your amplifier. This setup can provide better control and power distribution.
  • Ground your subwoofer: This minimizes electrical noise and interference. If required, read the user manual or get professional help if you are still unsure about the grounding procedures.

Preparing for the wiring process

  1. Assess your space: Measure the room and decide where the subwoofer should go. Think about acoustics and furniture placement.
  2. Check power requirements: Make sure the power outlet can handle the subwoofer’s needs. Read the manufacturer’s specifications for wattage and voltage.
  3. Gather tools: Put together a toolkit with wire cutters, strippers, electrical tape, and screwdrivers.
  4. Plan your cable route: Decide how to route the cables from the amp to the subwoofer. Keep them away from interference and high-traffic areas.
  5. Test connections: Test the connections by temporarily connecting the subwoofer to your system. Make adjustments if needed.
  6. Secure cables: Once you’re happy with the connections, use clips or ties to secure the cables neatly.
  7. Label the cables: Use labels or tags to identify each cable, doing this will help you troubleshoot if something goes wrong.
  8. Optimize cable lengths: Measure and cut the cables to the right lengths. That will avoid tangles and clutter.

Tip: If your wires get too tangled, it may not be a good idea to be a DJ… LOL

Also Read: Woofer VS Subwoofer: Difference between woofer and subwoofer explained

Wiring the subwoofer to the amplifier (hook up your subs)

Step 1: Identify the input jacks on the subwoofer and amplifier

The subwoofer usually has an output labeled “SUB OUT” or “LFE OUT”. The amplifier should have matching inputs labeled “SUB IN” or “LFE IN”.

Step 2: Connect them with an RCA audio cable

Plug one end of the RCA cable into the subwoofer’s output and the other into the amplifier’s input. While doing so, ensure that the connections between your sub and the amp are firm.

Step 3: Power on both the subwoofer and amplifier

The next step is to power on the subwoofer and amplifier, followed by adjusting their volume levels to your preference.

Some amplifiers may require additional adjustments in their settings menu.

If confused, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for wiring configurations or crossover settings that are ideal for your sub.

Subwoofer diagram for home connectivity (Passive Sub)

Passive Subwoofer diagram for home connection

Subwoofer diagram for home connectivity (Active Sub)

Active Subwoofer diagram for home connection

Also Read: Subwoofer Low Pass Filter (LPF ) Explained

Subwoofer connectivity for car audio

If you are doing this for the first time, don’t worry; I’ll show you how to wire and the best way to wire and install a subwoofer that compliments the overall car audio system.

Here is the list of things that you should keep in mind before starting the wiring process

Safety First

Before you start with any wiring process, it’s crucial to disconnect your car’s battery terminals.

We don’t want any unexpected sparks or mysterious electric dances to ruin your subwoofer installation plans.

So, safety should always be your top priority!

SVC OR DVC Subwoofers

When dealing with subwoofers, there are a few scenarios to consider: single voice coil (SVC) subwoofers and dual voice coil (DVC) subwoofers.

Let’s explore both SVC and DVC cases:

  • (SVC) Single Voice Coil Subwoofers: For a single voice coil subwoofer, the impedance is straightforward to calculate. If you have one subwoofer with a specific impedance rating (let’s call it “Z”), the impedance of that subwoofer alone is equal to Z.
  • (DVC) Dual Voice Coil Subwoofers: Dual voice coil subwoofers add an extra layer of complexity to the impedance calculation where each voice coil has its own impedance rating.
SVC Connection Diagram
SVC Drivers in Parallel
DVC Connection Diagram
DVC Drivers Parallel Diagram
DVC Drivers in series Illustration

Impedance Calculation

You don’t have to rely solely on your brain’s computational powers to determine the speaker’s impedance.

We live in the age of technology, where online calculators come to our rescue.

Yes, you heard that right!

Simply find an online calculator specifically designed for this purpose, enter the relevant details, and voila! You will get the total impedance of your speaker setup.

That being said, the impedance of a subwoofer can be calculated using the same principles as for any speaker.

The formula for calculating impedance for a subwoofer is:

Z (Stands for Impedence) = V (for Voltage)/ I (Current) is the formula for measuring impedance.

However, it’s important to note that the impedance of a subwoofer, like other speakers, is not a constant value but rather varies with frequency.

Parallel or Series

Now, here’s where things get a little tricky if you are not clear on your approach.

When it comes to wiring your subwoofers, you have two options i.e., parallel wiring or wiring in series.

Wiring in parallel will actually lower your stereo system’s impedance, while wiring in series will increase it.

So, depending on the current setup of your home or car stereo and your preferences, you need to choose one approach.

Compatible Amplifier

Remember that when connecting a subwoofer to an amplifier or receiver, it is important to ensure that the amplifier’s impedance rating matches or is within the acceptable range for the subwoofer.

Mismatched impedance can lead to improper power transfer and potential damage to the equipment.

Also Read: How to pair soundbar with subwoofer?

Steps to wire your subs

Step 1: Gather the Necessary Materials

Before diving into the wiring process, you’ll need the following items handy:

  • Subwoofer: These are specialized speakers that usually come with enclosures optimized for reproducing low-frequency audio.
  • Amplifier: An amp is responsible for powering the subwoofer and delivering the necessary audio signals.
  • Speaker wire: This wire will be used to connect the subwoofer to the amplifier.
  • Terminal posts: These are connectors that provide a secure connection point for the wires.
  • Wire cutters and strippers: These tools will be needed to prepare the wires for connection.

Step 2: Determine the Wiring Configuration

There are two main wiring options for subwoofers, which we already saw above i.e., series and parallel wiring

The choice depends on the number of subwoofers and their impedance ratings.

To prevent damage to your equipment, it’s crucial to match the impedance of the subwoofers to the amplifier’s capabilities.

Check and read the owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s specifications to determine the ideal configuration for your setup.

Step 3: Wiring in Series or Parallel

If you have multiple subwoofers, the way you connect them will affect the overall impedance load and power distribution. Here are the two wiring options:

  • Series Wiring: Connect the positive terminal of the first subwoofer to the negative terminal of the second subwoofer. Next, the remaining positive and negative terminals should be connected to the amplifier. This wiring method increases the total impedance load.
  • Parallel Wiring: Join the subwoofer’s positive terminals and their negative terminals. Then, connect the resulting positive and negative terminals to the amplifier. The thing with this approach is that this wiring method decreases the total impedance load.

Step 4: Test and Adjust

After completing the wiring, it’s essential to test the system and make any necessary adjustments.

Start by playing audio and ensuring that all subwoofers are functioning correctly.

Use an audio signal with a balanced mix of low frequencies to evaluate the performance of the subwoofers.

If needed, refer to the amplifier’s manual to adjust settings such as gain and crossover frequency for optimal sound reproduction.

Subwoofer diagram for Car Stereo

Subwoofer diagram for car stereo

Also Read: Parts of subwoofers and their fundamentals (Explained)

Testing and troubleshooting

Check connections

Ensure that all the cables are properly connected to their ports.

Loose or faulty connections can cause distorted sound. Check both the input and output connections for any issues.

Verify the power

If the power supply in your car is underpowered, it will not make the sub work at its optimum level; therefore, make sure your subwoofer has enough power.

Check if it is plugged in and if the power outlet works, and also check alternative outlets if needed.

Adjust the settings

Take time to adjust both your audio source (receiver or amplifier) and the subwoofer itself.

Try different levels of bass and volume to find the optimal balance.

Check for warning signs

Watch out for strange sounds, vibrations, or sudden drops in volume. These could be potential problems that need investigation.

Fine-tuning the subwoofer

To get the best sound, don’t miss out on fine-tuning your subwoofer! This involves precise placement, crossover frequency, phase alignment, volume level, and equalization.

Use a dedicated EQ or room correction software to compensate for any deficiencies in the room. Also, follow any specific guidelines provided by the manufacturer for optimal performance.

For a seismic sound experience, wiring a subwoofer is essential. It’ll bring your living room to life with immersive and breathtaking sound.

Also Read: Subwoofer Placement Ideas for deep bass (Find the best spot)

Conclusion

While wiring the sub, you need to remember that using a wire too thin can lead to power loss and weak bass.

On the other hand, using a wire too thick can be costly and awkward to work with, finding the right balance is key.

Also, ensure proper grounding for your subwoofer, grounding eliminates noise and improves the subwoofer’s performance.

Lastly, Investing in a high-quality connector can make a big difference in reliability and durability.

Quality connectors guarantee optimal signal transfer and stop issues like loose connections or signal loss.

Also Read: How to build subwoofer for deep bass?

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I use a mono or stereo amplifier for my subwoofer?

It’s recommended to use a mono amplifier for a subwoofer. Mono amplifiers are specifically designed to handle low-frequency signals and provide sufficient power to drive the subwoofer effectively.

How do I properly ground the amplifier?

To ground the amplifier, connect the ground wire from the amplifier to a metal part of the vehicle’s chassis. Ensure that the connection is secure and free from paint or rust for a good electrical connection.

Can I wire multiple subwoofers to one amplifier?

Yes, it is possible to wire multiple subwoofers to one amplifier. You can either connect them in parallel or series, depending on the impedance and power requirements of the subwoofers and amplifier.

Can subwoofers be connected with a coaxial cable?

Yes, If your subwoofer and audio source have coaxial ports, you can connect them. If your stereo system does not have one, you will need a coaxial converter.

Meet the maestro behind our subwoofer symphony - Hemant Sarkar. With 15+ years of experience in speaker and home appliance troubleshooting, Hemant's expertise shines through in every word he shares. For all things subwoofers and sound systems, you can trust his seasoned guidance. Contact Hemant at hemant (at) subwooferblog.com.