How To Connect A Powered Subwoofer To Passive Speakers? (Easy Steps)

The vast majority of speakers available for purchase are of the passive variety, which means they must be connected to an amplifier using a regular speaker wire.

The subwoofers in the vast majority of sound systems that are compatible are typically active speakers.

Therefore, you will run into an issue if you are unable to properly connect powered subwoofers to passive speakers.

You might be wondering, Does it have the ability to “join the club” and function with powered as well as non-powered speakers? Or perhaps it is necessary to utilize extra equipment in order to redirect everything.

I will provide you with some straightforward advice and pointers on how to connect your subwoofer in the hopes that it will be of use to you.

Can You Use Passive Speakers With An Active Subwoofer?

inbuilt amplifier of the powered subwoofer

Before, knowing the answer to the question of How to connect a powered subwoofer to passive speakers?

It is necessary for you to know the distinction between those. Even if you are certain that you understand the distinctions between active and passive subwoofers, you may still be unsure about how these distinctions impact the types of speakers that can be connected to your sound source.

Also, the inbuilt amplifier of the powered subwoofer changes the source from which the subwoofer receives its power; therefore, what else can it change?

You have the exciting option of using either an active or passive subwoofer.

However, because the inbuilt amplifier of the powered subwoofer does not supply power to the external amplifier, you will need to connect a separate amplifier to the speakers in order to supply them with a significant amount of electrical energy.

It stresses the importance of being prepared with an alternative power supply that may be utilized with your loudspeakers, regardless of the type of subwoofer you have.

Although you will want to connect the speakers and subwoofer to one another, Instead of being a source of energy, this is an example to assist the units of the sound system in working together more effectively.

A solid connection must be established between the amplifiers, speakers, and subwoofers in order to produce a sound environment that is of top quality while using a panoramic sound system.

Here is where art and science collaborate to produce a one-of-a-kind listening experience for you, your family, and your friends. For this reason, ensuring that these connections are made correctly is of the utmost significance for the overall quality of the listening experience.

For instance, you need to make sure that each component of the system is receiving the appropriate amount of power, that audio signals are being sent and received accurately by each piece of apparatus, and that each subwoofer is positioned in the most advantageous manner for the speaker.

After this sensible setup has been accomplished, you will then be able to enjoy the sound quality the way you had planned to.

Integrating Your Active Subwoofer To Passive Speakers

Connecting a powered subwoofer to passive speakers can be done using one of three methods: the crossover method, the AUX mix method, or XLR cables. The aforementioned methods each come with their own set of benefits and drawbacks.

When you employ the crossover approach, you will need to make use of a crossover network in order to run the output of your mixing console.

It will distribute the signals to each speaker at even frequencies so that they may all hear them.

After you have succeeded with this process, you will have no further need to be concerned about the subwoofer. However, this is contingent upon the level of experience had by the mixing engineer.

The AUX mix approach, on the other hand, involves making use of an auxiliary mix that has been tailored particularly for the subwoofer. It’s auxiliary transmit is going to be derived, and then the signals are going to be separated into the speakers.

The bass and kick drums, both of which have a low-frequency composition, are the primary focus of this technique. It can also work to your benefit because it eliminates the possibility of low tones disrupting the overall quality of the sound.

All that is required of you at this point is to pay close attention to my directions and make certain that you connect the appropriate wires or cables to the appropriate inputs or ports.

The following list outlines the most dependable and time-tested approaches to integrating a powered subwoofer with a pair of passive speakers in a home audio system. Let’s go ahead and investigate each one of them.

Method #1: Using The Stereo RCA Interface

RCA connectors are one type of electrical connector. These connectors also referred to as phono connectors, are frequently employed in audio and video-related applications.

The design that the Radio Corporation of America introduced in the early 1940s for the purpose of the internal connection of the pickup to the chassis in home radio-phonograph consoles is where the name “RCA” originates from.

When it was first designed, it was to be a low-cost and easy design, with the primary purpose of facilitating the matching and detachment of components during console maintenance. Later designs incorporated improvements but were still able to work with earlier ones.

Connectors are currently utilized in a wide variety of various applications, including audiovisual, vehicle entertainment, and general consumer electronics, to name a few. In certain circumstances, the phono connector or the Cinch connector may be chosen for the RCA connector.

Imagine that you discover an LFE subwoofer signal is incompatible with an amplifier or an adaptor.

Another possibility is that the subwoofer does not have any LFE feedback. Instead, the subwoofer might have paired RCA plugs on the right and left sides of the device (R and L). Or, on the rear of the speaker, they might have spring clips like some regular speakers do.

  1. To get started, use an RCA cable to connect the left output of the subwoofer to the left input of the amplifier.
  2. The next step is to use a different RCA cable to link the right output of the subwoofer to the right input of the amplifier.
  3. At this point, you will need to take the speaker wire and connect the left output of the amplifier to the left input of the left speaker.
  4. In the final step, ensure that the right speaker’s input is connected to the right output of the amplifier.

If the construction of the subwoofer includes spring clips to use speaker wire, you will be able to connect the subwoofer to the receiver’s speaker output. Using this method is exactly the same as connecting a standard stereo speaker.

In the event that the subwoofer comes with one set of spring clips, you should connect the receiver’s network to the subwoofer and use it as the speaker.

You can use banana clips to plug into the backs of each system rather than using a wire that is just partially covered.

The answer is as simple as that! After you’ve finished making all of the connections, all that’s left to do is turn on your subwoofer and enjoy the high-quality sound.

Method #2: The LFE Speaker Output

The abbreviation “LFE” refers to “low-frequency effects.” It was developed solely with the intention of correctly transmitting the low-frequency tones produced by the subwoofer (which makes sense since the woofer is responsible for the bass).

Even though this is not a mono interface, you still won’t receive the same wide stereo image as you would with RCA cables, and this is something you need to be aware of before moving forward.

Because bass is usually played in mono, the fact that the LFE just has a single connection rather than a pair of cables is more than sufficient.

Each and every audio system receiver, and a few stereo speakers, produce this form of subwoofer output. The LFE channel is only available as a separate output for subwoofers; when you look at it, it will say “Subwoofer,” not “LFE.”

After you have completed the necessary configurations, you will be able to connect the LFE or subwoofer output connector on the receiver or amplifier to the ‘Line In’ or ‘LFE In’ port on the subwoofer. It is really nothing more than a wire across both sides with RCA connections as normal.

The Low-Frequency Effects (LFE) channel is the subwoofer channel that can be found on the majority of surround sound receivers.

It is commonly signified by the “.1” in a 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1 surround sound setup, and it is responsible for delivering the deep bass that contributes to the creation of the distinctive movie theater experience that you may have in your own house.

Using a regular RCA connection, you should be able to connect your powered subwoofer to the LFE output of your surround sound receiver if it has one. The LFE output is most often found on the back of the receiver and will be labeled in a very obvious way.

  1. The left output of the subwoofer should be connected to the left input of the amplifier to begin.
  2. After that, make the connection between the right output of the subwoofer and the right input of the amplifier.
  3. At this point, you will need to take the speaker wire and connect the left output of the amplifier to the left input of the left speaker.
  4. In the final step, ensure that the right speaker’s input is connected to the right output of the amplifier.

The answer is as simple as that! After you’ve finished making all of the connections, all that’s left to do is turn on your subwoofer and enjoy the superior sound quality.

Method #3: XLR Cables

If the speakers and the subwoofer are both capable of supporting the jack cables, then it will be the optimal arrangement.

In point of fact, 3.5mm connectors, which are sometimes referred to as XLR cables, are regarded as being preferable to RCA because they provide a higher quality of sound.

However, in order for this to be successful, our specialists warn us that each of these devices must be able to support XLR cables.

Before going out and buying an XLR cable, it is a good idea to make sure that it is compatible with your equipment. If you are using an extremely outdated gadget, you might not have access to XLR ports. As a result, it is not going to be able to make this connection.

Why Not Route Everything Through The Amp?

Because the external amplifier has more than one input and output set, it is possible that it would be beneficial to connect the speakers and the woofer to it in a manner that is distinct from one another.

For instance, you can keep the RCAs for the sub and use the jacks to connect the passive speakers instead. Because of this, you won’t have to be worried about losing audio quality, maintaining a solid connection, or any other issues.

Even going to such extremes, there are some engineers who include a compressor or a sonic parametric equalizer in the chain.

The cause for this is that there is a possibility that the amplifier does not have sufficient inputs and outputs, or it might offer a wide variety of connection possibilities but not the ones that you require.

In this scenario, you will need to take precautions to ensure that the additional devices and equipment do not “color” the audio in any manner.

  1. The left output of the subwoofer should be connected to the left input of the amplifier to begin.
  2. After that, make the connection between the right output of the subwoofer and the right input of the amplifier.
  3. At this point, you will need to take the speaker wire and connect the left output of the amplifier to the left input of the left speaker.
  4. In the final step, ensure that the right speaker’s input is connected to the right output of the amplifier. The answer is as simple as that! After you’ve finished making all of the connections, all that’s left to do is turn on your subwoofer and enjoy the superior sound quality.

Difference Between Passive And Powered Subwoofer

two different types of subwoofers

There are two different types of subwoofers, which are known respectively as powered or active and passive or non-powered subwoofers. Before continuing on to the following stage in understanding how to connect a powered subwoofer to passive speakers, it is essential to have this information at hand.

Because they are self-sufficient, as their names imply, powered woofers do not require the assistance of a third party in order to be powered up.

They have a power supply and an audio amplifier that is built in, and it’s more than enough for the job.

The latest figures indicate that the vast majority of subwoofers now offered for sale are active.

To begin, transporting an active sub rather than an additional output device is a considerably less difficult and time-consuming task that offers a greater degree of ease and convenience.

On the other hand, powered systems are often quite pricey, and subwoofers do not form an exception to this trend.

And one more thing: even though the sound quality will be better than average, if you’re a genuine listener, I believe you’ll prefer what a solo amplifier brings to the table more than what a built-in amplifier offers.

In order to use a passive subwoofer (which will be less expensive than a powered one), you will always need to pack an additional device (the amp). However, the superior sound quality will make this requirement more than worthwhile.

  • Active subwoofers include a speaker amplifier, power supply, and crossover built right in, and they work by sending out a signal with a low frequency in order to increase the sound quality. These subwoofers are among the most popular and connect to the receiver using an input jack of the RCA type. The receiver is responsible for providing the sound.
  • A passive subwoofer is a subwoofer speaker that is integrated with the bass as an extension. It is simply held together with the speaker’s console or a passive bass crossover. Passive subwoofers are also known as bass reflex subwoofers. These models are not as widely recognized.

If your subwoofer already has speaker-level inputs included, the method will be quite simple and straightforward. Simply connect them directly to the outputs of your speakers, either to the empty speaker console or along with speakers that are already connected to the amplifier.

How To Pick Out The Best Powered Subwoofers To Complement Your Passive Speakers?

You should be aware that selecting the appropriately powered subwoofers for passive speakers involves paying attention to a few fundamental characteristics.

It’s possible that you chose the speakers without being aware of their defining qualities. In this section of the article, we will teach you the major features that you need to take into account in order to choose the appropriate item for you:

1- Power: The power factor of the subwoofer is the first primary consideration to make. When the power is increased, there will also be an increase in the level of explanation.

The power ranges from 120 to 300 watts, which is important to know if you plan to use it for your home theatre or for public speech purposes.

2- Ported or Sealed: If you had to pick between ported and sealed subwoofers, it would be in your best interest to go with the sealed option. When using sealed subwoofers, there is no air circulation inside or outside of the enclosure.

3- Ports And Passive Radiators: Some subwoofers have an additional port that enables more air to escape, which results in a more effective bass response than the sealed ones. Other subwoofers do not have this feature.

In certain other enclosures, a port is replaced with a passive reflector to the speaker in order to achieve improvements in both efficiency and precision.

As a passive reflector, you can make use of a flat panel or a speaker that has been stripped of its armature coils. Instead of reacting directly to the electrically transferred audio output, a passive radiator reacts to the airflow of the powered subwoofer driver.

The active driver in the subwoofer is supplemented by the activity of the passive radiator, which results in an increase in the low-frequency output of the subwoofer.

4- Either Wired Or Wireless: The use of wireless connections in powered subwoofers is becoming increasingly common. The need for a lengthy connecting chord is eliminated thanks to the possibility of establishing a wireless connection between the receiver and the subwoofer.

In most cases, a wireless-enabled subwoofer will come with a transmitter device already installed that can be linked to the sub outputs of any home theater receiver.

The transmitter that is connected to the home theater receiver sends low-frequency sound signals to the wireless subwoofer, which then processes and plays them.

As a consequence of this, the subwoofer’s wireless reader makes it possible for the integrated amplifier to power the speaker driver, which ultimately produces the necessary low-frequency sound.

5- Bass of the Subwoofer: The quality of the bass produced by the subwoofers is the next aspect that should not be overlooked. This is the characteristic that people who like bass look for.

6- Price: The price of the item is the final but certainly not the least important component of the buying guide. You need to stick to the allotted spending money and select an item that is not too expensive. The price of the item must not be prohibitive.

Why Connect A Powered Sub To Passive Speakers?

If you connect powered subwoofers to passive speakers, you will be able to use the full capability of your speaker to produce an amplified bass sound at a high intensity.

You should be able to quickly route an additional amplifier to your speakers now that you are familiar with how to connect your powered subwoofer.

Utilizing active subwoofers makes a significant impact on sound quality. The maximum volume that passive speakers are capable of producing is sufficient.

If you connect active subwoofers to passive speakers, you will be able to enjoy rocking sounds at speaker-level volumes that are far higher. When you connect powered subwoofers to your speakers, the volume of the sound they create will increase.

The speakers have the ability to increase audio tones in the mid-range and high-range, which cannot be reproduced when utilizing simple subwoofers alone.

However, there are occasions when cables can be difficult to understand. If you run into any problems when attempting to connect the two systems, do not hesitate to get assistance from a trained specialist.


My exploration of the world of powered subs and passive speakers has come to an end with this sentence.

As soon as you have an adequate grasp of the subject matter, and of the distinctions between active and passive speakers as well as subwoofers, it will be much simpler for you to connect the various components.

There is nothing difficult about this, particularly if you follow the instructions in my tutorial and take your time with it. As we discovered today, it is possible to use active subwoofers in conjunction with non-active speakers. This was something new to us.

In point of fact, there is more than one approach to using that strategy. Therefore, the decision of how to proceed lies solely within your domain.

Leave a Comment