There are many components that go into setting up your sound system- with amps, speakers, subs, receivers, and all types of cables, it can be a bit overwhelming for a newbie. Still, even if you have the experience, you might be wondering about connecting a powered sub and an amp.
While a powered subwoofer (active subwoofer) does not need to be connected to an amplifier since its amp is built-in, you can connect a powered sub to an amp for data transmission only. To do this, connect the two with RCA cables and plug the powered sub into the wall for its power source.
Of course, this scenario is not all too common and really only comes up if you are working with another set of passive speakers that are connected to the active sub.
Still, among a variety of scenarios, you might be wondering how to ensure that your sound system equipment remains safe while you test out the powered connections. Continue reading to learn more about how and why you would want to connect a powered subwoofer to an amplifier.
Also read: Can a Powered Subwoofer Power Speakers?
Why Would You Connect a Powered Subwoofer to an Amplifier?
For those of you who are familiar with subwoofers, you would know that there is a difference between powered and passive subwoofers and their consequential reliance (or non-reliance) on an external subwoofer.
While a powered (active) subwoofer has a built-in amplifier and does not require the use of an external amp, a passive subwoofer relies on an external amplifier for power.
In this case, since a powered subwoofer already has an amplifier built-in, you might be wondering why you would need to connect one to a sub in the first place. Interestingly, there are a variety of reasons this might come up as you are working on your home theater sound system setup.
Mainly, you could be using the amplifier as the source of data transmission or as a place for the information to pass between your passive speakers and the remainder of your sound system setup.
If this is the case, and there are no other workarounds for connecting your passive speakers with your subwoofer (such as if you are using an older amp or your receiver is not capable of connecting each device), then you can carefully connect a powered subwoofer to an amp.
However, you need to ensure that the specifications are in line with one another before you test out this connection on your two pieces of sound equipment or you could risk damaging both your powered subwoofer and your amplifier.
Still, if you plan to connect a powered subwoofer to an amplifier for data transmission purposes (passing along the information rather than the power of an amplifier), then you can do so.
You will connect the powered subwoofer to the amplifier using RCA cables (assuming your passive speakers are connected to your subwoofer), and then connect the powered subwoofer to the wall outlet to provide it a power source.
Again, remember that you want to power the built-in amplifier of a powered subwoofer- not use an external amplifier to supply it with power.
At the end of the day, this type of connection is not ideal or common, so it must be done with care and should only be done when other workarounds are not possible or feasible in your sound system.
And, trust me, I have worked on sound systems for many years, and I know that sometimes it just seems like there is no other way than to try to safely bend the rules.
As long as you take precautions and ensure the safety of your equipment, you can usually find a workaround for your unique sound system equipment dilemmas.
Does a Powered Subwoofer Need an Amplifier?
Ok, so you have gathered your RCA cables and what not and are ready to connect your powered subwoofer. Now, your audio experience will finally have the deep thump that you have been desiring. Still, as you go to plug it in, you might be wondering if it even needs an amplifier in the first place.
A powered subwoofer does not need an external amplifier; it has a built-in amp that supplies it with power. You will most likely connect it to the wall for its power source. Still, if you must connect it to an amp for data transmission purposes (such as when pairing passive speakers), you can connect the powered sub to an amp with RCA cables while plugging in the sub to another power source.
This might be a bit confusing. Odds are that if you are just using your powered subwoofer as it is intended to be used, you will not need to connect it to an amplifier.
Instead, you can connect it to your receiver and allow the receiver to transmit the appropriate audio signals to each speaker and the sub connected to it.
Still, let’s say that you are intending to use a powered subwoofer that has passive speakers designed to be connected to it.
Since the built-in amplifier in the subwoofer will not work to power the passive speakers, you will need to supply them with power somehow, This means that the passive speakers will need to be connected to an external amplifier.
However, if these speakers are designed to be connected to the subwoofer, then you would likely want to connect the subwoofer to the amp with an RCA cable to ensure that the audio signals are not disrupted.
Then, you would connect the powered sub to the wall outlet per usual so that its built-in amplifier can do its job supplying power to the active sub.
This, again, points at the difference between a passive and an active subwoofer. If you were using a passive subwoofer in this specific example (with passive speakers designed to be connected with the sub), then you could use the amp to power all three (assuming it met the specifications and power ratings you would need).
Can You Run a Subwoofer Without an Amp?
As you browse the internet for recommendations on the next piece of sound equipment you bring into your sound system, you might be wondering how to eliminate the need for an additional strain on your current amp setup. Is this possible to avoid when using a subwoofer?
As mentioned, using a powered (active) subwoofer will eliminate the need for an external amp since it relies on a built-in amplifier for power. A passive subwoofer, contrarily, will require the use of an amplifier as a power source since it does not have a built-in amp.
This, again, points to the importance of knowing which kind of subwoofer you are planning to bring into your sound system.
There are many advantages to both types of subwoofers (powered and passive), yet it is incredibly important to choose the type that will work best within the context of your home, budget, and the other elements of your sound system.
Still, choosing a powered sub is becoming more preferable and common for many considering the ability to avoid having to use an amplifier.
This means there is one less connection that you will be required to establish in your sound system- a large advantage to using a powered sub with a built-in amp.
Can I Make a Powered Subwoofer Louder without an Amp?
If you are using a powered (active) subwoofer that does not require the use of an external amplifier (since it has one built-in), you might be wondering how you can make the booming low-frequency audio emissions even louder.
This can seem like a daunting task, but it really just comes down to placement and configuration in your sound system and media room.
To make a powered subwoofer louder without an amplifier, consider more optimized placement like placement in the corner of the room, remove absorptive materials that could be hindering the boom of the bass, and make sure that the crossover controls and specifications have been set to maximum efficiency.
It is totally understandable that you would want your powered subwoofer to sound louder. After all, the use of a subwoofer adds immense audio quality to your sound system and takes it from standard to high-quality in just a few moments.
Truly, once you have opted to incorporate a subwoofer into your sound system, you will see that there is no turning back. Using a subwoofer is almost always worth it as the overall audio experience will benefit greatly.
With that said, you are likely wanting to get the most bang for your buck in terms of your sub. But, if you are using a powered sub and not relying on the external amp for power, then you can get a bit more creative for how to make the most out of your sub and achieve an even louder bass.
Outside of the above recommendations, you can also consider adding another subwoofer to your sound system. While many sound systems only incorporate one subwoofer, the use of two subwoofers is becoming more common, and this will inevitably strengthen the sound of the low-frequency audio emissions made by your subwoofers.
While two might not always be better than one in some instances, when it comes to the use of subwoofers, two subs will be louder than one.
Regardless of your decision, be sure to monitor the specifications on each device that you incorporate into your sound system, and invest in high-quality pieces of sound equipment that are sure to last a lifetime.