As an affiliate, I may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.
Incorporating a subwoofer into your home theater surround sound setup is a critical step for making the most out of your audio experience. But, if your receiver does not have a dedicated subwoofer output connection, you will need to use a speaker level output. So, how do you connect a subwoofer to speaker level outputs?
You can connect a subwoofer to the high (speaker) level connections with speaker wires or a speaker connector. Check the specifications on your subwoofer beforehand. Using high (speaker) level connections will use the same audio signal for other speakers allowing for more precisely-timed bass.
There are several reasons why you might want to connect your subwoofer to speaker level outputs. Regardless of your reason for doing so, you can establish this connection with relative ease.
Then, you will use the subwoofer filter to adjust the bass effects as they are emitted through the single audio signal received by both the speakers and the subwoofer simultaneously. Let’s take a closer look.
Why Connect a Subwoofer to Speaker Level Outputs?
Before we take a closer look at the steps to connect a subwoofer to speaker level outputs, it is important to understand why you would ever be doing this in the first place.
After all, a subwoofer is designed for low-frequency audio emissions. Why would you want this to be timed with the same audio signal sent to the speakers at a high-level connection?
A subwoofer can be connected to speaker level outputs by default when a subwoofer output connection is not available, such as on older receiver models. However, it can also be done intentionally when listening to music and seeking a more accurate, natural bass with no lag.
The thumping of a subwoofer can be a subtle art, or it can be a drastic explosion that can lift you out of your seat. Either way, when you are in your home theater, the use of a well-incorporated subwoofer can dramatically change the audio experience.
When you are watching a movie and streaming a subwoofer from a subwoofer output, you will inevitably be pleased with the bump of the bass that helps to carry out the special effects from the audio signal emitting low-frequency tones.
However, when a subwoofer output connection is not available on your receiver, you will still want to connect your sub. It is never required to ditch the sub- and you would be sad with the resulting audio experience if you did.
Instead, you can use the high level (aka speaker level) outputs on the back of your receiver. Interestingly, this line-level input is different from the low-level connection that the subwoofer would otherwise be established on. Most often, the subwoofer is connected to the LFE connection for low-frequency effects.
However, when attempting to incorporate a more accurately-timed bass emission that pairs well between the speaker and sub, using speaker level outputs can be a great option. This is why connecting a subwoofer to speaker level outputs can still be a great option for listening to music.
Rather than multiple audio signals being sent and received by the subwoofer and the speakers, you will find that one audio signal is sent to all and read by all pieces of equipment at the same time. Accordingly, the subwoofer filters out low-frequency audio tones and emits the bass more subtly this way.
Still, you can establish a solid connection between your subwoofer and speaker level outputs if you are watching a movie, too. You will likely notice that the audio- such as in a conversation between characters on screen- is enhanced, but the sound effects, like crashes and explosions, are a bit more subtle.
How to Connect a Subwoofer to Speaker Level Outputs
Now that you have a better idea of why you would ever connect a subwoofer to speaker level outputs (as opposed to the LFE subwoofer output connection) in the first place, it is time to take a closer look at how to do so.
By following these steps, you will be able to pair your subwoofer with your older receiver that does not have low-level outputs, and you can also use this intentionally when wanting a more well-timed musical bass performance.
To connect a subwoofer to speaker level outputs, consider the following steps:
1. Check the specifications on your receiver.
Before you begin attempting to connect your subwoofer to the speaker level outputs, you will need to check the specifications on your receiver. This will allow you to see what your options are regarding input and output audio connections.
If you are using a more recent receiver, you will likely find a dedicated subwoofer output. This is meant to connect the subwoofer and streamline the LFE audio signal geared specifically for the subwoofer’s bass emissions.
But, if you are using an older model or simply prefer to establish a connection to the speaker level outputs, then you will want to find the high-level output connections- this is where you will run your wires or connector to your sub.
2. Check the specifications on your subwoofer.
Now that you have checked the specifications on your receiver, it is important to check for the specifications on your subwoofer. Primarily, you are wanting to ensure that the connection you would like to establish is possible through the details on your sub.
With this, you will be looking for the input/output connection options. Specifically, you will want to see if the input connection has multiple components and if it is located on the front, back, or both sides of the subwoofer.
Typically, you will find a connection option on both the front and the back of the subwoofer, but this is not always the case.
Knowing what you are working with before you attempt to establish a connection can help to ensure minimal wasted cost as well as minimal wasted time in setting this up. Hopefully, once you know what you are working with, you can be well on your way to an easy setup.
3. Use two speaker wires to connect to the front and back of the sub on the left and right audio channels.
Once you have figured out what you are working with, you can choose one of two main options for connecting a subwoofer to speaker level outputs.
These options include using two speaker wires to connect to the sub or using a speaker connector to do the same thing with a slightly different type of connection setup.
Likely, one of the most popular options is to use two speaker wires to connect to the front and the back of the subwoofer. You will establish this connection on the left and right audio channels.
To do this, you will run one of the speaker wires from the left and right audio channels to the front of the subwoofer- the way that you would normally connect your sub.
Then, you will run the other wire to the back of the subwoofer. From here, you will use the subwoofer’s filter to adjust the bass emission.
Alternatively, use a speaker connector to establish the high-level audio connection.
As mentioned, if you do not want to use speaker wires and prefer to use a speaker connector (that has one cable to connect to the subwoofer with three ends connecting to the receiver), then this is another great option.
To do this, you will need to find a speaker connector that has the appropriate connection types. What you are looking for is the possibility of connecting the end of the speaker connector to the back of the subwoofer in the input option. Then, you will connect the other three wires to the receiver.
To establish this connection, the most popular option is to connect the wires to two positive ports (the left and right audio channels positives, respectively), and then the remaining wire to one negative port (either the left or right audio channel).
In this way, your subwoofer will receive the same audio signal that is sent to the other speakers (hence, a speaker level connection), but the subwoofer will “sort” through the audio signal and emit the bass tones that it was designed to play in the first place. It simply will not have its own uniquely designed LFE audio signal that is being sent its way.
4. Adjust the filter on the subwoofer to clarify the audio.
Finally, now that you have chosen which type of connection you would like to establish, you will need to adjust the filter on the sub to clarify the audio.
This will ensure that there is no humming from a ground loop and that the low-frequency emissions are being carried out thoroughly and precisely.
Most of adjusting the filter will come down to how the bass sounds when the subwoofer is in use. However, you can always find specialty equipment to run a pure test on the signal emissions for more precise measurements.
5. Enjoy the bass.
Now that you have established your connection, adjusted the filter, and have run a few tests on the bass, you can get to the final step of enjoying the connection that you have established.
Now, by connecting your subwoofer to speaker level outputs (by choice or by default), you can get to the fun part of the more subtle, yet still noticeable, boom of the subwoofer’s bass.