How to Add Power to a Passive Subwoofer

  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 50-500
What You'll Need
Left and right cable speakers (typically red and white)
Subwoofer instruction manual
What You'll Need
Left and right cable speakers (typically red and white)
Subwoofer instruction manual

When you set out to buy your first subwoofer, the first thing that you need to take into consideration is whether or not to choose an active or a passive subwoofer. In the most concise wording, an active subwoofer is one that you have to plug into a wall, whereas a passive subwoofer draws all of its power from your receiver.

So if you do not have any extra outlets available to use, go with a passive subwoofer. While you don’t lose or gain any quality one way or the other, an active subwoofer draws away energy from the receiver, which means there is less for it to produce sound from the other speakers in your entertainment system.

What is a Subwoofer?

A subwoofer is a loudspeaker. In can range anywhere from 8 to 21 inches. The main purpose of the speaker is to play the lowest pitched frequencies from your television to your ears. Essentially the subwoofer is used to play out all of the bass contained within the television programs you watch. It was in the 1960’s that the first subwoofer was created in order to give audiences a more solid connection with the films that they were watching.

The film Earthquake was the first to use a subwoofer to generate the low, deep rumblings of an actual earthquake for the audience. Yet surprisingly, when the first home entertainment systems were created, the speakers were designed to reduce as much bass production as possible.

Step 1 - Setting Up Your Passive Subwoofer

To begin with, on the back of your receiver you will see a setting for either “Yes” or “No” which is linked directly to your subwoofer. This is referring to whether or not you have an active or a passive subwoofer. With your passive subwoofer, be sure that the setting is on “Yes.” By setting it to “Yes,” you are telling your receiver to send all of the bass information through the “sub-out” connection on the back. All of this information is then transferred down into your subwoofer.

Step 2 - Check the Other Speakers

On the other speakers that are attached to the entertainment system, DO NOT set them to “Small.” Using the “Small” setting will tell all of your speakers to reduce all bass and attempt to send it to your passive subwoofer, yet the subwoofer cannot read this information and there will be NO BASS AT ALL.

Step 3 - Choose Either Front or All

You have 2 options when it comes to setting up the final portion of your subwoofer. You can either choose to hook it up to your front and left speakers, or to all the terminals.

Step 4 - Connecting to Front Speakers

When you are linking the subwoofer to your system, you can make the choice to hook up the subwoofer into your front left and right speakers. If you choose this setup, be sure to have your speaker lines set to “Large,” your center and surrounding speakers to “Small” and for your subwoofer to be set up “No.” Remember, you only set your subwoofer to “Yes” if it is connected directly to the receiver.

Step 5 - Connecting to All Terminals

When the subwoofer is directly linked to all of the terminals, your settings should be “Large” and “No.” In this instance, all of your speakers will be linked into the subwoofer itself and not the receiver.