Will a Subwoofer Work Without Speakers?

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If you are trying to get the low frequencies that a subwoofer can produce without using (or having to use) speakers, you might be wondering how this can work. After all, it seems like they would go hand in hand. This could leave you in a state of confusion.

Will a subwoofer work without speakers?

With the right connection, you can make a subwoofer work without the use of a speaker system. To achieve this, use a line-level RCA converter or speaker-level inputs with a powered subwoofer. With a non-powered subwoofer, use a low-pass crossover to connect to the receiver.

Will a Subwoofer Work Without Speakers_

Of course, there can be many different reasons why you would want to do this.

Whether you are using an older piece of equipment or are simply testing out your new subwoofer, you can use these relatively simple connections to achieve your goal.

Just be sure that you monitor the specific type of receiver and subwoofer that you are using, and avoid attempting to establish a connection if you are unsure that it is stable. Let’s take a closer look.

Also read: Will Underpowering a Subwoofer Damage it?

How to Connect a Subwoofer Without Speakers

As you sit at the stoplight, anxiously awaiting it to turn green so that you can drive off to your destination, you hear the low sound frequencies and the reverberation coming from a car playing a low bass very loudly.

This gets you thinking about how you can reap the benefits of a subwoofer in your own way, even if you are not using speakers.

So, how do you connect a subwoofer without speakers?

With a powered subwoofer, use a line level RCA converter to connect your subwoofer to your receiver choosing whether or not to connect speakers. Another option is to use speaker level inputs. With a non-powered subwoofer, use a low-pass crossover and avoid speaker connection.

While this might seem like it could be problematic, this really should not take too much time, effort, and energy to figure out how to do it.

Connecting a subwoofer without speakers means that you are pairing your receiver to a piece of sound equipment that is responsible for the low sound frequencies. While it is not a speaker, it can help to achieve higher-quality sound effects.

Let’s take a look at the three main options to connect a subwoofer without speakers.

1. Use a Line Level RCA Converter

Use a Line Level RCA Converter

If you are using a powered subwoofer (one that has a built-in audio input and amplifier electronics), then you can use one of two main ways to connect the piece of sound equipment to a receiver without speakers.

The first way is to use a line level RCA converter. To do this, you will want to follow these steps:

Check the specifications of your subwoofer

Before you begin to work on any type of connection with sound equipment, it is important to know what you are working with. In this case, you will want to check for the connection options that your subwoofer has as well as those of the receiver.

You should find pretty standard features including audio inputs and outputs, power options, and so forth. When using this method of connection, you will connect the RCA (typically red and white) ends of the converter to the subwoofer’s RCA input jack (typically one plug at the other end of the Y-cable).

Be sure that your equipment has these specifications if you plan on using this method of establishing a connection.

Purchase all of the necessary equipment

Now that you know that your equipment can work in this way, you can go ahead and purchase any of the equipment that you do not have.

Hopefully, this will just be a simple purchase of a line level RCA converter. Other than this, you will need the subwoofer and the receiver.

Connect the line level RCA converter to the receiver

Now that you have all of the necessary equipment (which is, fortunately, a short list), you can begin to establish the connection between the line level RCA converter and the receiver.

Since the speaker level output will convert to lower output, you can rest assured that both pieces of equipment should be safe.

You will most likely be plugging in the dual end of the Y cable (red and white) to the speaker level inputs on your receiver. This will leave you with the single end of the Y-cable to plug into your subwoofer.

Connect the line level RCA converter to the subwoofer’s input jack

Now that you have connected the line level RCA converter to the receiver, you will need to take the single end of the Y cable and establish the connection on your subwoofer. This should be pretty simple assuming there is a spot for the single RCA input connection to be established.

What the line level RCA converter does is make sure that the audio coming from the speaker input options is at an appropriate level that the subwoofer can handle. This permits the low level signal to be received by the equipment safely.

Run a performance test

Now that you have established a connection between the two pieces of equipment, it is safest to run a performance test before you begin blaring your music or another form of audio. You can look up the best way to run a performance test for your specific piece of equipment.

Begin streaming your audio

Now, you should be all set. It is time to enjoy the newly-connected subwoofer.

2. Use Speaker Level Inputs

Speaker Level Inputs

Another option if you are using a powered subwoofer is to connect your subwoofer without speakers by using a speaker level input.

If you have a subwoofer that has speaker level input options (as opposed to or along with an RCA input/output option), then you can establish this connection. You can even do this while using other speakers, but it is not necessary (especially if you are attempting to do so without).

In using speaker level inputs to connect your subwoofer to a receiver without speakers, consider the following steps:

Check your subwoofer

Again, you are going to want to check that the subwoofer has the option to be able to establish this connection before you go any further.

Along with that, you will want to make sure that your receiver is able to connect in this way. (Although, what type of receiver does not have these input options?)

What you are checking for is two speaker-in connection ports. Instead of the RCA jack connection option, you will be connecting the cables directly from the receiver to the subwoofer. These ports are likely red and white.

Purchase all of the necessary equipment

Fortunately, you should not have to go out and purchase anything unique if you are going with this option. You will use the speaker connection input cables as well as your receiver and subwoofer. Since you likely already own these, you should be in good shape. And, if not, then at least the list is brief.

Connect the subwoofer using speaker level inputs

Now that you have the logistics all worked out, you will run the appropriate audio cable from the speaker level input to your subwoofer.

Make sure that you are pairing the right cables that are appropriate for the specific model of receiver and subwoofer you are using, and consult your user manual if you have any concerns.

Adjust your sound

Now that you have established a connection, you will again want to run a test and make any necessary adjustments before going full-stream.


Once you have run a performance test, and you are in the clear to listen to low sound frequencies, it is time to enjoy the connection you have just established.

3. Use a Low-Pass Crossover

If you are using a non-powered subwoofer (one that does not come with amplifier electronics and a built-in RCA jack), then you can use a low-pass crossover to connect the subwoofer to the receiver without speakers.

Since a non-powered subwoofer is not as common, you might not have this issue. However, these subwoofer enclosures are more popular than you might think, so it is important to know what to do.

To connect your non-powered subwoofer to a receiver without speakers using a low-pass crossover, be sure to follow these steps:

Check your subwoofer

You will need to, again, be sure that you know what you are working with. A non-powered subwoofer is the only type of subwoofer that you can use this connection method with. If your subwoofer does not have internal amplifier electronics, then you are likely using a non-powered subwoofer inside an enclosure.

Purchase all of the necessary equipment

Once you are sure that your subwoofer is non-powered, be sure to purchase a low-pass crossover. These should be labeled pretty well and should not be too hard to connect to your receiver and subwoofer once you have purchased it.

Connect the low-pass crossover

Using one low-pass crossover when there is a single voice coil, or using two low-pass crossovers when there is a dual voice coil, you can connect the audio cables from the receiver to the input options for the subwoofer through the established crossover.

The audio signal will be appropriately transmitted to the subwoofer, so it will receive the low frequency sound that it will then play.

However, since this method cannot be used with the established connection of other speakers, you will not be able to connect them to the same receiver as well.

Enjoy an established connection

Now that you have connected your receiver and your subwoofer, it is time to run a performance test and then begin enjoying streaming your media.

Thanks for reading! Check out my recommended subwoofers for home theater.

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